The aim of this article is to try to clarify outdated and unnecessary superstitions connected with reading Tarot cards.

Ask any experienced and ethical Tarot card reader if they believe that Tarot cards are evil, the work of the Devil, and only psychics and clairvoyants can read them, they may burst out laughing. I would do the same, honest. The more I use and work with these cards the greater my understanding of their true meaning and capability.

When using the cards with a group of people, who claim to have no knowledge of the Tarot cards, it is always fascinating to hear the response when the Death card is turned over. Sharp intake of breath is putting it mildly, mutterings of, ‘Oh, a death!’. Everyone sat at that table haven’t mislead us, they truly don’t have an understanding of the Death card, they have been lead to believe the wrong meaning for that card and a few others. What then happens is that I end up explaining the correct meaning and convincing them of this fact, with the impression that they’d rather have the drama of the initial meaning.

Most of the cards are made of wood pulp and printer’s ink, fashioned into card shapes with an image on one side and a pattern on the reverse, all 78 cards. Which is exactly what they are and all they ever will be. Even the digital images are just a depiction of a picture of symbols and art work. It is the meanings that are the most interesting part.

Tarot have evolved over the centuries, with their history possibly starting as a playing cards from the 15th century, maybe even earlier. Their development as a tool for divination isn’t very clear, but Man has used many items as a tool for ‘seeing into the future’, including; throwing animal bones, chicken entrails, throwing dice, runes, consuming drugs from plants, staring into bowls of water plus the elegant art of drinking a cup of tea and upending the dregs into the saucer to ‘see’ what the tea leaves have to say. I’ve used the foam off a cappuccino at times, and I know of beer being used too.

Hollywood are also responsible for many of today’s myths, the Devil card’s meaning has been changed so that it has incorrectly be used to depict actual Death in a movie. It is a cheap extra to add atmosphere and fear. Tarot reader’s are portrayed to be mysterious fellows, wearing flowing garments, with turbans, an excess of jewellery and bad taste; actors are invariable portrayed as gypsy fortune tellers in a tent or caravan with a crystal ball on the table. It is all window dressing and hamming it up.

The superstition around Tarot is a work of fiction, possibly built up by persons who desire to add mystery and control; they may fabricate an idea that they have special mastery, secret knowledge and gifts. All an allure to hide their insecurities. If a Tarot reader is any good, they will have nothing to prove – word of mouth will be enough. A wardrobe of unusual clothing is the last thing a decent Tarot card needs to enhance their reputation.

Most of the superstition is fairly recent, it has gathered pace in the last century with the arrival of film, television and a considerable rise in the number of people interested in Tarot. These myths have also increased in volume and been heavily embroidered along the way.

Let’s dispel the most popular:

1. You should never buy your own Tarot Cards

If this was the case then I’d still be waiting for my first deck of cards. I have no idea why or where this began, it doesn’t make sense. It is very much the right thing to do, who else is going to know exactly which style of cards appeal or ‘speak’ to you? Enjoy looking at the various styles in book shops and online, ask to see friends’ cards, do some valuable research and have a collection of varying Tarot decks. You may end up designing your own.

2. Never Let Other People Touch Your Tarot Cards

I can understand if someone is very particular and doesn’t like to let every Tom, Dick or Harry handle their cards; but nothing untoward will happen if others touch your deck. I’ve used the same deck for over 12 years and it does me proud When someone requests to see my cards, they often expect me to refuse, but I happily hand them over and explain a little about them. I give them a good shuffle afterwards. It is an ideal time for them to ask questions and clear up a few myths.

3. Only Psychics can read Tarot Cards

Yes, psychics can read Tarot cards, especially if they have spent time studying them – AND the same applies to everyone else, we all can read them. There are people out there who have an understanding of cards and can read them without any practising, but most of us will have to put some work in. It is possible for us all to learn how to read Tarot cards, as long as we have the right books, or/and an online course, another Tarot card reader to teach us how; we all need a place to start. It does enrich a Tarot reading if the reader is psychic, clairvoyant, and/or intuitive; there are professional readers who do not claim to have any of the previous qualities but have studied and practised until they became more than proficient.

The aim of this article is to try to clarify outdated and unnecessary superstitions connected with reading Tarot cards.

The above answer also applies; doctors, psychologists, people in the police, military people, business people, you name it, they read the cards. There is a deck for everyone too; hundreds of styles of tarot, from Arthurian to Egyptian, Fairies, Lord of the Rings; go online and see for yourself. Out there someone is working on their own deck of cards. Out there is also someone looking for enlightenment, guidance, inner wisdom as they shuffle their Tarot cards. It is for everyone. Why should witches have all the fun?

5. Tarot Cards are Magic

Er, no, definitely not. They are made in a factory, packaged and sent to a wholesaler or shop. Sorry if I spoilt that for you. They are used as a tool by the reader, they symbols, meanings and images trigger off a stream of information. See them for what they are and avoid the myths.

6.Tarot Cards are Evil

Tarot cards have no magical properties or evil qualities, they are just card. Any decent Tarot Readers will use the cards to assist, enlighten, show alternative possibilities, answer questions, in a variety of good and helpful ways. It would never occur to them to do otherwise. Anyone who professes to use them for evil purpose is deluding themselves and others.

We’ve yet to hear of card manufacturers being accused of evil deeds either.

7. Gypsies Invented Tarot

There is no evidence that gypsies played any part in developing the Tarot cards. Tarot evolved from a card games in the 15th century or earlier, in Europe, using expensive, hand painted gifts ordered by aristocrats, to mass produced woodcuts for the public to purchase.

8. The Tarot Cards Are Never Wrong

The Tarot cards are used to illuminate pathways and choices you have in your life, options and alternatives. The future is not set in stone but sand, it is up to you which future road you take, there may be a few more detours along one route, you’ll possibly end up in the same place. Free will and choice play a large part in your life and the Tarot Cards can reflect that.

9. Tarot Cards Originated In Egypt

This rumour and fallacy was started by Court de Gébelin. He mistakenly interpreted two Egyptian words, believing that they meant Tarot and it was only when the Rosetta Stone was translated after 1799 that his error was made clear.

10. Tarot Cards Cannot Be Read Over the Telephone

Of course they can, it is as simple as the client asking a question and the Tarot Card reader then writes down the query, shuffles the cards and continues with a reading. It also applies to a reading over the internet, it is the same technique. Just because the person, the querant, isn’t sat next to you, doesn’t mean you cannot interact and give them answers with the aid of the Tarot Cards. At times I have typed the answer and printed it out or emailed it, and it is just as valid.

11. Cats Will Sap Your Ability

When this was first suggested to me, my jaw dropped in surprise. Needless to say I invited all four family cats into the room for the readings that evening. Goodness knows where this one started. There isn’t an ounce of truth in it.

12. Pregnant Women Must Not Read The Cards

If this were true, Health Warnings would be printed on the sides of the packets of cards. It is perfectly safe for pregnant ladies to read cards; they may be able to balance the cards on their bump while doing so.

13. You Cannot Read Tarot Cards For Yourself

Yes, of course you can, but write the question down on paper first and use a Tarot Book that you trust for the answers. The trick is to use the book’s answers to the cards for your own response, otherwise you may find it a struggle to be impartial or detached. By writing it all down, you can then verify if later.

You may not want someone else to read for you and this is a method to develop.

14. Your Tarot Cards Must be Wrapped In Silk

Only if you like silk…..I use old silk scarves that are loved and difficult to part with, it keeps the edges of the cards from being scuffed, plus it is a pleasure to touch. As for my ‘working’ deck, that lives in a gadget bag, usually purchased for protecting and carrying of MP3 Players. Two decks and a digital recorder can fit in it. No one has any idea what is inside when I carry it around.

16. Tarot Cards Are The Work Of The Devil

Certainly not. They are the work of people who want to assist others, help them with problems they are having, enhance their lives, discover new techniques to empower themselves, use modern psychology. A lot of those people are from the professional classes, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrist, nurses, scientists, counsellors, etc The cards are a tool for good if you wish. What goes around comes around.

17. The Cards Are Occult

The word occult means hidden. We know that the cards originated as playing cards in the 15th century, with various groups becoming interested in them and attaching their own beliefs and meanings. The word occult has been miss used over the years, attempting to give a misrepresentation of their true use and implying something underhand.

18 The Death Card Means Death

Simply put it means a change. If you want to change careers and this card comes up in a reading, then you may feel a huge sense of relief – depending if you know its true meaning. This is the card that the film makers use to imply that a nasty death is about to occur, without really appreciating what they are doing. Consequently Tarot Readers spend a considerable amount of time pacifying their clients when this card appears. Change.

19. All Tarot Card Readers Can’t Be Trusted

I may be biased when I reply to this! Always go with word of mouth when choosing someone to give you a reading. Any profession can have a charlatan, a con man or woman. Just have some patience and make sure the Tarot Reader is well thought of. If you are in a reading and feeling very unhappy with the way things are going, then make a speedy exit. Ideally you should have a sense of well-being after a reading, a sense of clarification, not feeling as if you have been robbed blind. Use your own instincts here.

20. Reversed Cards Are Always Awful

Some people choose not to use reversed cards when reading, so they stick with the 78 upright meanings. Which does mean that you miss out on another 78 meanings, and some of them are very, very positive. It just means studying a little more when learning them, I suggest you look at some Tarot books on the online book stores which feature the best selling reversed Tarot meanings. It will broaden your knowledge and reading.