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Tarot Myths–Busted!

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on August 10, 2010 | Comments (26)

We’ve all heard various myths about tarot—at least those of us who have studied tarot. But lots of people haven’t studied tarot, so how can they know what to believe or not believe? Many professional readers consider educating the public about tarot, including busting tarot myths.

Author Kim Huggens has listed 4 common tarot myths in her recent book Tarot 101 (an awesome book especially for those who enjoy a course-like structure to their tarot studies as well as plenty of depth mixed with fun). She writes:

Methods of Obtaining a Tarot Deck

Some suggest that only a deck gifted to you will work. I have brought almost all my decks, and I am sure they “work.” I find that the idea that the magic is in the physical deck itself rather than in the skill and ability of the tarot reader leaves no room for improvement. Further , if we all waited to receive a tarot deck as gift before beginning reading, some of us would be waiting forever!

You Must Be Psychic to Be a Tarot Reader/You Are Born with the Gift of Tarot

Obviously, if you believed tarot is a gift and cannot be learned you wouldn’t be reading this book. As to whether you need to be psychic or not, this is a personal belief. I don’t think I am psychic. I may be intuitive, and when I use the cards I may be tapping into something beyond myself, but the term “psychic” is a problematic and overly simple explanation of how tarot works.

Storage and Care of Your Deck

Many people believe you should not let others touch your cards and that they should be stored in a certain way (a black silk cloth, a special bag or box, etc.). This is purely a personal preference. If you believe that your cars work for you because they are linked to your energy through contact, then having others touch your cards may interfere with that contact. If you don’t believe this, then having others touch your cards may not be a problem for you. The same applies to the storage of your deck.

Whom You Can/Cannot Read For

It is often said you cannot read for yourself. I have found this to be true insofar as it is difficult to remain objective and clear when reading for yourself, since you are too close to the issue at hand. You may color the reading with bias, or filter it with your desires or fears. However, objectivity can be learned and practiced, and sometimes there’s nobody else to read for. Others believe they shouldn’t read for people they are close to: you may find your objectivity failing if you are particularly close to the person you are reading for.

Kim has listed some common myths. What are some others that you find still in circulation?

Reader Comments

Written By Tina Brooks
on August 10th, 2010 @ 9:26 am

1. That one cannot read over the internet is a new one.

Of course, any member of AT who has ever given a practice reading can attest to the fact that if you can read in person, you can read over the internet.

2. That Tarot Cards are the tools of the devil.

Many christian sects believe that reading tarot cards consists of cavorting with the Devil, they are evil and thus if you read tarot cards or visit a tarot reader, you will burn in hell with the homosexuals and prostitutes.

I guess the fact that you’re going to burn in hell with other heathens, ought to be enough to debunk this myth especially for any thinking human being.

Written By Lina
on August 10th, 2010 @ 9:29 am

How about the myth/rule that you can’t or shouldn’t read Tarot cards for a pregnant womas or you can not read the cards if you are pregnant your self?

This is an important question for me, because I am a young reader, and thinking about having a baby. Will I have to give up Tarot cards for the time of pregnancy?

Written By Nancy Hendrickson
on August 10th, 2010 @ 9:31 am

My personal favorite is:

Tarot was invented by ____________ (fill in the blank: gypsies, Egyptians, aliens, monks, French mystics, or Kabbalah-ists)

Written By Fred
on August 10th, 2010 @ 10:23 am

I like these Tarot Myths (in no particular order)
A Tarot reading will solve all of my problems.
I’ll keep getting readings until I like what I hear.
A Tarot reading will absolve me of all responsibilities in my life.

Written By jan
on August 10th, 2010 @ 10:56 am

Accepting money for reading Tarot brings death/illness to the reader – which means just every tarot reader I know is doomed 🙂

Written By debbie jarrell
on August 10th, 2010 @ 11:02 am

I too have been told that Tarot cards are a tool of the devil. However, since I’m Pagan, I don’t believe in Heaven/Hell, so I’m certainly not afraid of burning in Hell for all eternity. There are those who tell me that my Tarot cards are what cause any adversity in my life. But for me, my cards focus my thinking and make my path more clear.

Written By Christina Hans
on August 10th, 2010 @ 11:04 am

How about the myths about the card themselves. Like the death card or the devil. I have had people get very upset when faced with this card in a reading before I can assure them that they do not mean what Hollywood has taught them they mean.

Written By Tara
on August 10th, 2010 @ 11:11 am

I get the whole “please don’t tell me anything bad” a lot. I think a common myth is that the cards will tell you that you are going to die.( or somehow jinx you) I don’t think the cards ever tell you something that you don’t already know on the inside.

Written By Blackbird "BB"
on August 10th, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

Many people believe you should not let others touch your cards and that they should be stored in a certain way (a black silk cloth, a special bag or box, etc.). This is purely a personal preference. If you believe that your cars work for you because they are linked to your energy through contact, then having others touch your cards may interfere with that contact. If you don’t believe this, then having others touch your cards may not be a problem for you. The same applies to the storage of your deck.

I would disagree with this one being a Myth, one should be careful about who touches ones deck, especially if one is more of a pure reader, and less of a “witch” for want of a better word. Allowing a person who is Angry, Depressed, Mentally Ill … ect handle your deck is inviting some pretty upsetting energies into your hands. I know some Readers believe letting the Q handle their cards brings them a truer reading, maybe so, but have a black cloth handy, to wrap the deck till it can be cleansed.

As to
Nancy’s comment, “Tarot was invented by ____________ (fill in the blank: gypsies, Egyptians, aliens, monks, French mystics, or Kabbalah-ists)” Actually I would refer her to Whitley Streibers the Path, which describes quite a profound Mandalla encoded into the trumps of Tarot of Marseilles; to my mind it is a profound marker, and Personally if the Tarot was not invented by Kabbalists, per se, it seems likely to me that at some time early in its history, by the time the Marseielles Tarot was pretty well set down, it was seen by some gnostic group or another a fitting vehicle to encode and share their knowleged in a dangerous world.

but dont take my word for it. Read the Path it is a very short book, but any interested in Tarot is going to read it in One Day, believe me you will be Astonished.

Blessings, BB.

Written By Becca
on August 10th, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

I think that there is legitimacy to the idea that you should be careful who you let touch your deck. People leave energies on objects they touch. I think it must have to do with the neutrinos that scientists describe. Best wishes.

Written By Jen
on August 10th, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

Lina, I never stopped reading cards or casting runes when pregnant. I also read cards while a longterm patient in L&D. The only notable thing about that was that every single reading I did had the Empress in it somewhere. (I find that the Voyager deck is NOT subtle.)

Written By Lore
on August 10th, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

Hi Lina,
I’ve never heard the myth re: pregnant women not doing/getting readings. I’m 9 months pregnant, my kiddo is healthy and the readings I’ve done are sound so methinks that’s definitely chalked up to myth only.

Written By Noir Zackary
on August 10th, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

I love the Tarot is a work of the devil one myself, my Christian neighbor once told me: “They are like playing with baby cobras.” I don’t buy into any of that, and since I’m Wiccan I don’t have to fear burning in hell, nor do I believe in a heaven or hell.
I think they cards can be every insightful if people would just give them a chance. Most of the time, they sly away cause of what their loved ones said etc. It’s unfortunate.

Written By James Broach
on August 10th, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

My favorite is the opposite of Christina’s the cards like Death, the Devil, 10 of Swords and so on NEVER mean anything bad.

In fact a tarot card never means anything bad ever.

Plus if you do not like what you hear don’t worry it’s not like it will really happen…

Written By Chloe
on August 10th, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

Hi Lina,

I just wanted to set your mind at rest – there’s no reason you can’t read for yourself and others while pregnant! I did so, very accurately. In fact, you may find that being pregnant heightens your intuition 😉

As for reading for pregnant women, while you might not want to stress them out if the cards don’t seem very positive to you, and you may be best off avoiding health questions, I have read for pregnant women and neither they nor I have had any problem with it.


Written By Aurora
on August 10th, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

My personal favorite that the death card means you or a loved one is going to die a horrible death soon. I had a girl do my tarot a few times and every time that card came up that’s what I was told. I had her stop reading them for the BS I was fed and her and I haven’t spoken in a long time but that wasn’t due to the card readings but other things she did.

Written By Denise
on August 10th, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

When people tell me that Tarot is evil, I usually ask them, “What can be evil about little bits of laminated cardboard with pretty pictures on them?” It usually makes them pause long enough for me to explain and demystify the cards a little.

Written By Shane Harris
on August 10th, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

You know, I would think that a site like Llewellyn would use a word other than ‘myth’ to designate a falsehood.

Especially when the point of the article is to educate the public about how they have been deceived about such things.

I am also concerned that this idea of ‘mythbusting’ is an attempt to bring base objective Saturnine materialism into what is entirely Spirit. I mean, please provide the absolute standard that you are referring to when you designate something ‘mythical’ or not. Considering how extraordinarily varied the experience of the divine is for those hermetically inclined, I am just not convinced there is such a standard.

Written By Eli
on August 10th, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

I utterly disagree about the idea of self-readings being more prone to error. The basic principle of all true occultism is “Know Thyself”. I suppose maybe some people WOULD color and bias the reading, but I can’t see how any halfway skilled reader would be more prone to this than the people they read for, who may not have any knowledge of Tarot themselves, and who, prior to receiving a reading, may literally have spent not five minutes on true self-reflection about their self, their life, and their circumstances. Furthermore, the cards say the same thing no matter who I read for, and I as the person the reading for is the one most qualified to know what the cards refer to, whereas I cannot have any knowledge in most cases about what the cards might refer to for the person being read, nor could I claim to have confidence, in such cases, that they are correctly identifying the meaning of the cards. Same applies to people I know. I suppose someone might be tempted to read themselves or people they know “differently”, perhaps overemphasize the positive and underemphasize the negative or vice versa, but again I think any halfway skilled reader reads the cards the same way no matter who they are reading for, and insight into the actual situations involved is, if anything, very helpful in general. That said, there was one single exception in my experience, which involved an ex-girlfriend, whose readings for me in retrospect were indicating that she was an anchor dragging me down, and I didn’t want to see it, but deep down I knew. It didn’t matter, I didn’t want to break up, and it took a clear physical demonstration of the failure of our relationship to accept it. So… could reading for yourself or people you care about not work? Sometimes, if you’re too close to the situation to want to see it, but even if you read for a total stranger they might not want to see the meaning either and may be more prone to skepticism about your accuracy because they have no previous evidence of it, or even if you got a reading from a total stranger you might still not want to see. I don’t believe that having personal insight into the situation need be a bad thing, in fact in general I have found it a good thing, and have generally found that those I know whom I read for are more inclined to accept what my readings say, even when they’re not pleasant and happy, because they have experience to know how accurate I am, and when they doubt, they don’t doubt for long and invariably come back for more readings, their mind more receptive to what it was previously unwilling to accept.

As to myths I’ve heard: You have to “charge” your cards before they will work. Sometimes they mean holding it and meditating or spell working, sometimes anointing, sometimes putting it out under the light of the full moon, etc… I know this is a myth because I have, more than once, grabbed a deck of playing cards not belonging to me, when nothing else was available, and immediately read without having to “charge” them. Maybe the mere act of shuffling counts as “charging”, but certainly not by the standards others have claimed.

Another myth: You need to be somewhere where there are NO distractions and maintain total focus or the reading won’t be accurate. I’ve done readings in crowded and noisy environments with my concentration on other things, and it has not affected the accuracy of my readings. That said, if you have a hard time focusing in such environments, the more likely consequence would be that your interpretation of the spread would suffer, as opposed to the accuracy of the spread itself.

Written By Pietra di Chiaro Luna
on August 10th, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

As all the Occult Arts or the ones so called that, Tarot has many myths surrounding it… and I think that is mainly because it has been around for sometime now.

I think that these myths can be true for the ones who believe in them… imagine someone who is not comfortable reading to a pregnant woman, for example, having to do so…

As all the Arts, I think tarot takes the hand and the eyes of the reader and that is the beauty of it: it goes as many see… and feel.

Written By Blackbird "BB"
on August 11th, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

You know, I would think that a site like Llewellyn would use a word other than ‘myth’ to designate a falsehood.

Especially when the point of the article is to educate the public about how they have been deceived about such things.

I am also concerned that this idea of ‘mythbusting’ is an attempt to bring base objective Saturnine materialism into what is entirely Spirit

I have to say, I have to cut Llewellyn some slack on this one, as a person who writes about Esoteric Subjects a rather lot myself; the simple fact is English is a very poor language for the discussion.

Take ones Spiritual Path, We speak about a persons “Faith”, or Perhaps we try to avoid that by taking a Non-Denominational, or Non-confessional Approach. As a Pagan and a Gnostic. I personally dont view myself as a person of Faith at all. I ‘Believe’ to the extent it can be called Belief in the Evidence of my own eyes and the validity of my own experiance.

But our Language is a product of a Centuries old struggle between “Faith” and Reason, and as Gnostics, and I believe Paganism is ultimately Gnostic, it is simply going to take us some time to find the right language and some time more to for that language to find acceptance. Blessings, BB.

Written By AarTiana
on August 13th, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

Wow – there are some falsehoods here that even I never heard of before! Need to look into some of these, and why they would turn into the type of superstition that they did hehe!

One of the biggest ones for me: A reading is a fatalistic “must happen” outcome. Nothing is further from the truth – readings are meant to give you a glimpse of energies present, but to EMPOWER the recipient to make better choices with what is going to be arriving for them. For instance, if an accident shows up, many people think there is no way to get out of having that accident – simply not true. If the person decides to pay attention and do things differently due to the warning of these energies, it can be avoided (and sometimes even to the person’s knowledge, as they may see an accident happen that they realized they could have been involved in if they weren’t more careful). Thank you for this great post Barbara!!

Written By Antonius
on August 16th, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

Thanks for the posts, its an eye opener for me. I had a fellow Tarot reader get upset with me yesterday because I do not keep my decks in “natural fiber” bags and I store them in my bedroom. I have a rather large collection and my response was, I get the same energies whether they are stored in a cotton or silk bag or anything I keep them in. I do believe Priests from before the 1600’s read Tarot as part of their daily routines. Anyway thanks for the “myth busters”. Have a blessed day

Written By Adnyl
on October 13th, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

Thank you all for these posts. As far as where I keep my cards, if I’m not using them, I leave them in their original boxes. If I’m using a deck, I put it in an organza bag, because they are pretty. I put the cards and their book in a box that looks like a book, because its easier to put them there and not have anyone’s eyes venturing beyond their intended purpose, asking dumb questions, making nasty comments if its not to their liking. I’ve had others gasp at getting the Death/D’evil card, hanged man, etc, but I have to reassure them that these cards are NOT what they think, we have to look beyond the first glance. Letting others touch the cards may have an effect on them, but only if I allow them to touch them. I breathe a hot breath on my cards to give them my energy. If the reader is pregnant, its possible to add the baby’s energies to the cards. Babies hold a lot of energy while in the womb and they are a blessing. The cards started out as a tool of entertainment among the aristocracy, and began a life of their own. The various artists out there lend their interpretation to them. I have a deck that is totally amazing – from Salvidore Dali. He designed his own deck. I have now about 32 decks (that I have inherited from a Late Sister of Wicca and I believe, she wanted me to have them, to use them and remember her where each deck has a different interpretation. There’s even a deck designed for Alister Crowely . You get what you put in them. When you read the cards, you are a conduit for the Spirits – call them what you wish – God/Goddess – spirits. Study them well.

Written By Curious
on October 25th, 2015 @ 11:28 pm

I am curious. I was told after you had a reading done to never talk about the results to anyone. On account it could disrupt the energies or the balance of the reading. Yet I have heard several people talk about the outcomes of their readings or what was read to them, and things still ended up coming out pretty close to the reading. So what I am wondering is, if it is okay to talk to people about the readings or should I keep that to myself?


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