Tarot cards have been around for centuries, but it wasn’t until the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) system was produced (circa 1910) that they became mainstream. Now there literally hundreds of decks to choose from and they are pretty commonplace amongst those of New Age, Pagan, or Wiccan spiritualities. However, along with Tarot cards come the myths about their uses and functions. Many of these myths come from age-old concepts or superstitions, or just misunderstandings, and they really hold no bearing whatsoever in reality.
You can’t buy your first Tarot deck.
Tell that to all the writers, illustrators and publishers of Tarot decks who create decks for people to buy. If a person can’t buy their own deck, how are they to obtain one? Sit around and wait for it to show up under the Christmas or Yule tree or end up sitting alongside the birthday cake? A person can only drop so many hints about wanting a Tarot deck, and if it is given as a gift then the receiver has actually deprived themselves of the joy of looking for and selecting a deck. Also, the receiver takes the risks of obtaining a deck they can’t connect with.
The “can’t” in this myth, one theory holds, is that it is derived from a time when cards were NOT mainstream and available online or in book stores. The “can’t” meant you can’t buy decks because they are not readily available and you must wait until someone passes along a deck to you. It does not mean “can’t” as in if you do cosmic chaos will ensure. Buying a deck will not decrease the value, energy, or power of the cards…that comes from within the reader. And, no bad karma will ensure from self-purchased decks; just ask all the Tarot deck-collectors out there.
Tarot cards are portals to other worlds.
Sure they are, and so is the artwork on book covers or Hallmark greeting cards. Tarot cards are, without impugning their value, pretty pictures on pieces or paper. They are an artist conception and are no more portals to other worlds than any other piece of artwork in existence. Also, they are mass-produced. I find it impossible to believe someone can put that much energy into an image that will be photocopied, shrunk to size, edited, altered, run through printers, and printed a thousand times over. And, if someone CAN put that much energy into a card to cause portals to open, well, we are all-doomed anyway. Tarot cards work based on personal intuition and elemental, numerical and pictorial symbolism. But they do not open portals.
You can’t read for yourself
I have no earthly clue where this myth comes from or why Tarot is the only divination source that claims you can’t do it on yourself. Again, there is no cosmic reason why a person can’t read for themselves. In fact, I don’t know of any Tarot readers who don’t do a reading for themselves at some point. The only problems with self-readings is either not being objective enough or in relying on it too much (such as not even deciding what to wear until consulting Tarot). But, if one thinks they can maintain a semblance of objectivity and not fall into self-fulfilling prophecies, and use Tarot responsibly (not letting it affect their every decision) then a person certainly can read for themselves.
Tarot will cause the events to happen/cause death.
Nothing is set in stone, we know that. Tarot cannot make anything happen to anyone, it simply gives an overview of what could happen in the future or if a person makes a certain decision, but they will never cause the events to happen. Think of it this way: if you skip ahead in a movie or book to see what happens at the end you didn’t cause that ending, you just took a quick peak into “the future.” Tarot cards are like that, they give possible outcomes to a question asked but if the person does not follow through with that then the outcome, obviously, won’t occur. Simply laying cards out won’t cause an event to happen, they only show what can happen.
It is bad if a card is upside down in a reading
I admit, I was guilty of believing this one. I thought all uprights were positive and all reversed were negative. However, I very quickly learned this was not the case. Since every card has multiple meanings it is based primarily upon the reader’s interpretation and intuition of that card then one card can have either positive and negative traits whether it is upside down or right side up. The positivity and negativity of cards also depends on other factors such as: the spread, its position in the spread, the person asking, the question or situation being asked about, and other such variables.
Tarot is a scam
Yes, there are scam artists out there in all fields including insurance scams, health and cosmetic scams, money-making schemes, loan or credit unions, and many more professions and fields. However, a few scams do not make the entire practice or business a scam. There are Tarot readers who charge a fee (hey, we all have to earn a living) and Tarot readers who do it for free. Neither one is better than the other and there is no harm charging a fee and making a business out of it if the customer is willing to pay and is not cheated or asked to pay more than the original agreement.
If I want to pay $25.00 for an half hour reading that’s my choice. If the reading was bad or I feel it wasn’t worth it then I won’t go back there. If I go to a masseuse and pay $50.00 for an hour and I walk out feeling it wasn’t worth the money, I won’t go back there. It’s the same thing. Tarot can be set up as a legitimate business and it is up to each person whether they want to pay or not and whether they feel it was worth the monies paid. But it is no more a scam than any other business venture.
Tarot is evil
The Christian Bible states that divination is the devil’s work so Tarot cards, a form of divination known as Cartomancy, is considered evil. If you believe that then nothing I say will dissuade you from this myth. However, as stated before: Tarot cards are pretty pictures on paper. They are not evil, they don’t predict death, they don’t cause events to happen, they are not portals to other worlds, they can’t be used to go against someone’s free will, and they don’t communicate with demons. Tarot cards are used by the readers’ interpretations and symbolism they attach to the images on the cards. Is listening to that “gut feeling” or “little voice in your head” evil?
Many of the images, such as seen on the Death and Devil cards, are given the most wary of glances because they do look somewhat disturbing, and depending on the deck there may be images that are less then savory. But, there are hundreds of decks out there and many of them have lighter and less macabre imagery to them. That is not to say that the Devil or Death cards as seen in RWS systems are evil either. Death means transformation, change, and the ending of once cycle. The Devil card means bad habits, self-imposed bonds and restrictions, and allowing ones self to be held back or placed in an uncomfortable situation. All of the images are allegorical, archetypal, and esoteric. In short, they are symbolic and not to be taken literally.
Tarot cards don’t work
With an open mind and use of intuition Tarot cards do work. Listening to the advice of a friend works; taking meanings from symbols works (think of the universal symbols for bathroom, a restaurant, gas, or road signs); using your own intuition works; Tarot works. However, a Tarot reading is only as good as the reader. Some people have a natural knack for it, others may need to practice or work with the cards while before being able to deliver a good reading. However, that is the same with anything else. I may need to work harder to understand and do math whereas someone else may have a natural ability to solve long and difficult equations. But with practice and frequent use of the cards anyone can learn Tarot, and Tarot does work.
This article is a revised and shortened version of “Top 20 Tarot Myths” as seen in the book “365 Tarot Articles” which is published independently through Create Space (www.createspace.com) by the author of this article.