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Debunking the Myths of Tarot and Embracing Tarot’s Benefits

Should I leave my job? How does (s)he feel about me? Am I in the right relationship?

As a tarot reader, I regularly get asked these types of questions, and more. Many times I’m called upon to clarify the many myths and misinformation that have built up around tarot. The most ridiculous one I’ve ever heard says that cat owners who read tarot are susceptible to having their life force drained by their cats in their sleep. I have to wonder who came up with that one…. However, something that has thus far been missing from the roster of tarot related questions I’ve been asked, is probably the most important question of all:

“What are the benefits of getting a tarot reading?”

I can answer that one through personal experience. Mine is a more extreme example, but I credit tarot with saving my life. Tarot, when used properly, allows us to realize our own patterns, especially the ones that keep us stuck in situations that don’t serve us. The cards also reveal the motivations behind complicated behaviour and the energetic blockages that consume our focus. In my case, a large amount of confusion and hurt that surrounded one of my friendships had spiralled me downward into a serious and dangerous depression. Through tarot, I was able to see the situation very differently. The cards and readings I received offered me a sharp change of perspective and this allowed me to see the underlying issues that had coloured the entire exchange between myself and my friend. And once I understood the why’s, I was able to begin releasing all of the hurt that had kept me buried in depression.

And that is the beauty of tarot. It shows us the energy that surrounds our situation from the perspective of “the bigger picture”, which often times we cannot see because our hearts and minds are too involved in what is happening. Tarot reveals both what is blocking us and how we are blocking ourselves. Armed with this new knowledge, we can make wiser decisions. Knowing and understanding why a difficult situation is happening is the first step towards healing it. And the best part of this entire process of self learning and personal enlightenment….. Is that tarot offers guidance on how to push through, avoid pitfalls, find healing, or foster resolutions.

In addition to educating my clients about the benefits of tarot, I’ve sometimes had to contend with tarot-related superstitions. The most common myth is that tarot and tarot users are evil. To me, this one is right up there with cats sucking out your life force. The idea is an historical misconception, deriving from a centuries old ban that the Catholic Church had placed on tarot cards, as the church was inherently against the idea of divination. The church had called tarot the devil’s picture book, and it stuck worse than a bad high school nickname. If one were to look at everything that the church has associated with the idea of the devil at one time or another (the heliocentric model, poetry, dancing, modern medicine, etc.) it makes no sense to continue attaching such stigma to tarot. Doreen Virtue has recently begun to try to break this demonic association with tarot by creating Angelic versions of tarot. But the concept of tarot remains the same whether you call it “Angel tarot”, or just plain tarot.

The second major misconception involves the infamous death card. Let me set that one straight immediately. The Death card does NOT mean you are going to die. Sometimes this card can surface when a person is dealing with the aftermath of a death that has already occurred. But mostly is shows up as a card of transformation. It is not a death in the literal sense, but in a figurative one. It shows that a structure, a relationship, a job, an association, a way of thinking, or a behaviour needs to come to an end, or undergo a shift. It’s an advice card. It tells you to stop hanging on to things that no longer serve your higher good. It tells you that transformations are painful, but necessary. For example, to become a butterfly, a caterpillar must undergo a radical transformation process, in which its entire identity is reformed. But the promise of something better emerges after the transformation. The death card is a card of hope. A promise of the universe filling the painful void of an ending with a new beginning that is beyond the scope of our imagination.

Lastly, but by no means finally, there is the misconception that the cards will predict messages of doom. Except tarot doesn’t actually predict anything. Tarot shows us the energies that currently surround us, and what the outcome of the current line of action is most likely to be. The future is fluid. It is based on free will and choices. If you change the input, the output also changes. So if tarot shows you something negative, it is only providing you with the opportunity to change your behaviour and your energy focus, thus allowing you to change the destination. In this way, tarot functions much like Jacob Marley and the Christmas ghosts did for Ebenezer Scrooge. The Ghost of Christmas past showed Scrooge how holding on to hurt in the past led him to his current situation. The ghost of Christmas present showed him how his current actions and behaviours affected his surroundings. And finally the ghost of Christmas yet-to-come showed Scrooge what would happen if his behaviours continued. Not to scare him, not to sentence him, but to enlighten him. And if I recall, Scrooge woke up the next day resolving to be a better person. Tarot is all three of the Dickens’s Christmas ghosts combined. The only real doom lies in choosing not to adjust and grow.