Myth 1 – “Tarot cards can predict the future”
Predicting the future is not difficult we can all do it. If for example you know someone who is consistently spending more than they earn and paying for it by building up a credit card debt then it’s not hard to predict where that one is heading. Or if you know someone who is expecting a baby you may, based on experience, accurately predict that they will have many months of sleep deprivation and tiredness ahead of them. The Tarot does little more than this. It has centuries of human experience distilled into a simple philosophy and meaning for each card. Another way to look at it is to say the Tarot doesn’t make precise predictions of the future it merely allows us glimpses at some of the likely possibilities.
Myth 2 – “The Tarot come from Ancient Egypt”
The earliest that Tarot can be dated back to is 16th century Italy. There is no evidence of Tarot existing anywhere else in the world prior to this. Some people claim the cards derive from India or China but this is also baseless speculation.
Myth 3 – “Receiving the Death card means someone is about to die”
Unlikely. The whole point of the symbolism of the cards is that they represent deeper life truths. To take any of the cards literally would be to miss out on a layers of meaning and insight. In the case of the Death card, to the medieval mind Death represented an inevitable change and often a passing to a better place. The card represents change and evolution. One can’t, however, rule out the possibility of this occasionally actually signifying a death.
Myth 4 – “Reading Tarot is dabbling in the occult”
There are many claims that the Tarot have Pagan, witchcraft or shamanic roots and some have even implicated the Tarot in devil worship and satanic rites. Another frequent claim is that the Tarot derives from ancient religions now forgotten. None of this is true. Tarot , as has already been said, originated in medieval Italy and the predominant cultural backdrop of that time was christian. The symbolism of the cards is either christian or jewish – new testament or old. The word ‘occult’ merely means ‘hidden’ so in that sense one could say taking a reading is dealing with the occult because one is trying to reveal what is hidden.
Myth 5 – “Reading your own cards will bring misfortune”
This is one which professional readers and those experienced with the cards know not to be true but which often gets repeated. It may have arisen from the fact that Tarot card readers will avoid reading their own cards. Not because it is unlucky but simply because it is not effective. A good Tarot reading requires three parties; the questioner, the reader and the deck. The reader tries to remain objective and reports to the questioner what the cards are saying without any bias or desire to hear a particular message. Playing this role for your own reading is difficult if not impossible.
Myth 6 – “You need to have some psychic ability to read the Tarot”
Most people can learn to read the Tarot to a lesser or greater extent. No psychic powers are necessary because all the wisdom is in the cards and the meanings which have been developed over the years. In fact if one was psychic why would you need to use the Tarot? Tarot works best when the reader drops their preconceptions and feelings about a problem and just lets the cards do the talking.
Myth 7 – “Nobody should ever handle your Tarot deck”
There are some practitioners that wont let anyone else touch their tarot cards. Even when they carry out a reading they wont allow the questioner to shuffle the deck for themselves. In my experience this precious attitude comes from those who want to build up themselves and their deck to be something special. A control thing if you like. This is against the spirit of Tarot which promotes open enquiry and sharing of understanding. Allowing clients to shuffle the cards helps them to feel a part of the process and focus on the problem at hand.
Myth 8 “The Tarot can be used to cast spells or effect other people”
It is sometimes thought that the Tarot can be used to make things happen rather than predict them. To influence someone’s life from afar, for good or evil. This is a long way from what the cards are actually about, which is simply gaining understanding. There is no reason to believe that the Tarot has any power other than that of insight. One of the frequent messages that comes out of Tarot readings is actually how little ability we sometimes have to influence our own lives let alone someone else’s. Put in a nutshell the Tarot would probably say ‘get your own act together before you try to change others’.
Myth 9 – “Different decks give different readings”
This is slightly subjective but in my experience, no. Whatever the deck the meanings derived over four centuries remain the same. Different people will however relate more warmly to some decks rather than others and the images that the client is most comfortable with will create the best atmosphere for a reading. A cynical person might suspect this myth is propagated by the deck manufacturers.
Myth 10 – “It is dangerous to have too many Tarot readings”
There is a belief that people who become obsessed with Tarot and keep taking one reading after another bring themselves bad luck or even risk pushing themselves over the edge. This maybe true in as much as seeking constant advice can be a sign of some sort of impending crisis. Such people may also have been close to the edge anyway. The main thing is that too much advice is bad for anyone and only leads to confusion.