Lately I’ve been doing some research on different Tarot myths, surprisingly finding out that, though there are really bizarre beliefs out there, the most common are worldwide believed.
While most of them are not harmful at all, there are some others that add an unnecessary layer of woo woo that I consider somehow damaging to the image of both Tarot and readers, as well as they could be preventing some potential good readers from getting started.
From the idea of the deck being a kind of entity to the requirement of a specific divine “gift” I’m going to expose my views regarding these well spreaded myths or superstitions.
1. You need a special ability to read Tarot properly.
To me this is one of the most annoying, it is usual for readers to find people who think we can, or even must, know everything about their lives, their thoughts or even know if they are lying. This meets with the idea of the reader as someone who channels a divine superflow of mystic information. I mean, it can happen, but its not mandatory in order to be a great reader.
Study and experience is what makes a good reader, of course intuition takes part on this, but it is not the one and only requirement. I consider that every single human being is in possession of intuitive abilities, not as something paranormal, but as a part of our own being.
As animals we do have that called sixth sense that somehow help us survive, period. The thing is that as humans in what we call the “developed world” we have “lost” this ability as we don’t have a real need of being so aware, and those impulses or intuitions pass along, unnoticed or ignored because of our logical impositions.
Then what? My answer is that learning Tarot is a combo of study + experience + intuition + will to work on it all. Assuming that you can throw away every single book and trust your gut, intuition or insert superpower is as absurd as pretending that learning meanings from a book is the only thing we need to do. When I say study by any means do I want to say that you need to memorize as a parrot without criteria and then go tell your sitter meaning by meaning without relating to the rest of the cards, as well as to the question and context.
Tarot study involves an understanding of the cards and of what works for you, it requires some life experience so we can understand different situation and it requires a lot of practice, a lot of ominous failures and just learning to pay attention to that little inner voice that speaks to us all without exception.
2. A Tarot deck is a kind of entity or something that can be annoyed, offended or have any kind of emotion that will make it help or trick you.
I do cherish my decks, a good bunch of them are gifts from very dear people, some are pristine, some are well used, even written on or modified to adapt to my tiny hands.
The truth is that a deck is a deck, there are lovely pieces of cardboard – on some stockings we can say paper – that can mean the world to us, as a letter from a loved one or a picture of grandma does, but it doesn’t make them any more sensitive to our actions. Does your wallet calendar get mad at you? If you consider this idea to be silly, why would a pack of cards be different?
What I want to say here, is that you don’t need to wrap your cards in purple / black / whatever color silk, neither laying them on an special cloth or sleep with them, nor do they get jealous of other decks and will stop working if they find out you have a wide collection of decks. This applies to any other similar concept. The cards themselves do nothing, it is our work as readers to decipher the messages before our eyes, they have no part in our accuracy or our development, and they won’t bite our hands or try to confuse us because we offended them by placing them at the bottom of our dirty purse.
3. You need to do some ritual in order for the cards to work.
You can do whatever ritual helps you get in the mood for a reading, or sets a nice environment for you, but there is no need. You can put your brand new deck under the moonlight / sunlight for whatever number of days you feel like, but that won’t make it work any better that if you open the cellophane and get started, if it makes you feel better, or connected or bonded it is ok, do it, but the deck doesn’t need a configuration.
The same goes with shuffling. Just shuffle, even if you want to throw the cards over your shoulder and then pick them up, it is alright, your reading won’t be wrong because of how you shuffle or which hand do you shuffle / cut / draw with.
Rituals are ok as long as there are for you, if they make you feel better, but once again, the cards don’t need them to take place.
4. You can’t read for yourself because **insert doom and gloom**.
Actually I’m not very keen on reading for myself, yet I do it now and then. The reason for it is that I am not always in the mood of seeing certain things for myself by myself, and I want someone else to give it a look, specially when it is something I am emotionally involved in. That is it.
There are no curses, no lost of your reading skills and no pacts with the Devil, evil influences or sudden death Final Destination style. It is just a matter of feeling unattached enough to the issue that you can remain objective, if you feel like doing it, do it.
5. There must be an exchange for every reading. / You mustn’t charge for a reading under any circumstances or you will lose your “gift”.
These are two contradictory myths. There are plenty of opinologysts out there who often assure one or the other. As I have already stated, there are no or little “musts” when it comes to Tarot. It is equally alright if you read Tarot as a hobby or if you do it for a living, there is no wrong or right here. Would you judge someone if they like to make patchwork duvets for their family and friends or if they do it for a living? Same thing with Tarot.
6. Nobody can touch your cards or they won’t work.
Again, the cards don’t “work”, the reader is who works. If you decide not allowing others to touch your deck by personal choice it is ok, but it is not a must.
Personally, I don’t believe a pack of cards picks any more energies than any other random object would, so I don’t find the need of cleansing, purifying or whatever, I’d rather smudge the space than the cards, anyway, I don’t have anything personal against smudging the cards, but definetely it doesn’t have anything to do with its “ability” to work.
7. If you get your cards read, you are sealing your fate.
The belief that if you get a Tarot reading saying whatever, makes the prediction happen no matter what goes completely against everything I believe Tarot to be. No matter if it is for better or for worse, Tarot is about analysis, empowerment, choice. It is meant to offer a bigger picture of the situation and its most likely outcome, but it is never set in stone.
If you get a reading where the reader says you’re going to meet someone special and you decide to stay home unshowered, in your pajamas and eating pizza for three months, it won’t happen. The same way that if the reading says you’re about to cross the line to an unbearable depression, doesn’t make it “fate” if you act consequently with the prognostic and do something about it.
It is simple, Tarot tells us what the chances are, but it never takes the responsibility of our lives from our hands. We are the ones in charge!
8. Once you get a reading, you have to get your cards read each (x time) or (doom and gloom).
I can’t stress enough how NOOOOOPE this is. As I said before, there is no doom and gloom attached to Tarot, there is no obligation, it is not a contract. You can have a reading each other month, have one single reading in your entire life, it doesn’t matter.
This is a dangerous belief because it seriously damages the image of good readers, so please, beware of anyone who tries to tell you otherwise, this is a morally questionable technique for getting your querents enslaved under the fear of something bad happening.
Remember: Tarot is guidance, it is a very powerful tool, but it is not an entity and you have the final say in what happens to you.
9. Tarot readers are misfortuned Crazy Cat Ladies / Sirs who will die alone and their lifeless body will be eaten by their hoard of chubby cats.
Again nope. Your life depends on you, and what you do for a living has nothing to do with how happy you are. If you are a mean a****** nobody can stand, believe me, it is not your profession’s fault.
In fact, it is highly usual as well as recommendable that a Tarot reader, who is going to be a guide for others, spends a lot of time getting to know and improve his or herself on every level. And the fact that, as a reader, you will have to face a lot of people’s concerns, and those are not always easy to leave alone at the end of the day, makes having a life as balanced as possible almost a must.
I’m sure there are plenty of other bizarre beliefs out there that haven’t been covered. What are the weirdest myths around Tarot you’ve heard? Feel free to share them in the comments!