When I was a teenager and dabbling with tarot cards with a few of my peers, kids in my school had all sorts of funny things to say about it. Like:
“Every time you do a tarot reading, your life gets shortened!”
“It’s Satanic—you’ll get possessed by the cards!”
“That’s witchcraft. Are you a witch?”
None of these things held any water to it, of course.
For a start, my life is still ongoing. I’m completely self-possessed. And the closest I’ve come to being a witch is getting sorted into Gryffindor on Pottermore. If anything, I feel alarmingly normal. I work an ordinary copywriter job in an ad agency. My family raised me as Buddhist but I’m actually quite agnostic. I don’t even own anything remotely bohemian, come to that.
Rather run-of-the-mill stuff, huh?
Even today, the general public often have quite a mistaken impression of tarot cards, and the people who do tarot readings. But you know what they say. We fear what we don’t understand.
Here are a few reasons people are afraid of tarot readings—and tarot readers! And the reasons that they shouldn’t be.
“I don’t believe in psychic ability or ‘magic tricks’.”
Though there is no doubt that there are genuine psychics out there who can probably predict the future accurately. However, the majority of tarot readers do so from a place of intuition. I doubt you can refute the very real existence of that.
Intuition—the art of just knowing things—is not witchcraft. It’s being human.
Haven’t we all said ‘I saw that coming’? Felt the unease of meeting someone suspicious? Or got an inkling that an opportunity is going to go well?
That’s intuition 101. And that’s what I use to access the tarot.
The best tarot readers have keen instincts, and are deeply intuitive. That’s why I try to consciously sharpen my intuition as much as possible in everyday situations. That comes from learning to trust my gut… even when my logical brain doesn’t want to. It’s a difficult and long process for sure, and requires a lot inner work and self-listening. When I pull cards from the tarot, it’s the same intuition that perceives the story in the cards for the querent.
So no, the ability to read the tarot is not a magic trick. It may feel like it, but it comes from a very human place.
“Tarot cards are witchcraft and unclean.”
Actually, the tarot has a pretty boring origin story.
They used to be playing cards for aristocrats, the only people rich enough to have cards illustrated by artists during their time. When mass production became possible, the cards were adopted by all kinds of common people—most enthusiastically by the pagan folk, which is one of the reasons the tarot became strongly associated with mysticism.
Modern people are afraid of tarot cards because of that perceived mysticism. And because of how accurately it can mirror our psyches, they think it must be magic.
There’s no doubt I feel the magic of tarot cards. But its accuracy can also be answered to by logic, if that’s what makes you comfortable.
While the reader and querent’s individual energies play into the cards that eventually come up, the accuracy of tarot cards lie in its uncanny ability to mirror the human experience.
With 78 cards in one deck, that’s potentially millions of combinations you can draw across endless spreads (2-card, 3-card, up to 10-card Celtic!) that tell specific yet complex stories.
I personally believe every life that’s ever been lived—the layered psyche of our joys, suffering, relationships and self—is reflected in some sort of card combination within the tarot deck. It encompasses the entirety of the human condition; the best in us, and the worst in us.
Which is why so many of us either fear or admire it. And why the psychologist Carl Jung was fascinated by it.
“Getting my fortune told is giving up free will.”
First things first. No one can make you give up free will—not even God has tried.
Most tarot readers believe the future is unwritten. If ever a tarot card is hinting at a problematic future, it’s probably telling you something in the present needs to be fixed—quickly. That in itself means you have the free will to iron things out.
Next thing to bust: it helps to see tarot reading not as a fortune telling, but a tool that helps us access our higher subconscious.
A lot of the time, human beings are blind to the nuances and complexities in our situations. It’s the same reason a conversation with a stranger can be so enlightening—they see things you don’t.
In a similar fashion, tarot cards turn up to illuminate certain behaviors, provide a second perspective, and chart a path to help us navigate our messy lives.
People find tarot cards so alluring is not just because it is accurate, per se. It’s more the fact that the cards can give us specific insights to who we are and what we can be. In that aspect, getting a tarot reading is a good way to get to know yourself better.
“Well, tarot cards sound like baloney. I still don’t believe it.”
And that’s okay. Most of us fear what we don’t understand. But no matter what you believe in, it never hurts to stay open to what life has to offer; it may even help.
If ever you are going through a rough patch and would like a mirror held up to you, consider approaching a tarot reader. You may just be surprised at the insights.
More perspectives on the science and magic of tarot cards:1