Correcting Major Misconceptions about Tarot
A “tarot misconception” means that someone interprets a tarot concept or card based on incomplete, faulty, or biased information. As you know, misconceptions can be powerful, especially when more people believe them than not. Exploring commonly held beliefs associated with the tarot seems to be a good starting point for dispelling misconceptions.
The tarot is a religion
If you define religion as the spiritual or emotional attitude of someone who recognizes the existence of a superhuman power or powers, as well as the bond between humanity and divinity, the tarot is a religion. If you define religion asa particular system, the tarot isn’t a religion. The tarot is a symbol code that depicts universal and natural laws and principles that are shared by all the world’s great religio-spiritual traditions.
A paradox: The tarot is both a nondenominational and multidenominational system that can enhance and clarify your understanding of whatever religion or spiritual path you follow.
You must be psychic to work with the tarot
Yes, psychics work with the tarot. But so do hairdressers, secretaries, librarians, painters, rappers, psychologists, engineers, post office employees, teachers, lawyers, and so on. If you can see, and you’ve got the desire and willingness to see yourself and life in new ways, you can work with the tarot! In truth, everyone has this ability; it’s just a question of whether or not you desire to develop it.
The purpose of a tarot reading is to find out about your future
The purpose of a tarot reading is to help you see your past and present thoughts, words, and behaviors more objectively. This sort of understanding can make you more aware of the potential results of your present thoughts, words, and behaviors. Remember that what you think, say, and do today helps to create tomorrow.
Dear tarot reader, please fix me!
If you want to have someone to blame if your life doesn’t work out as promised, this type of tarot is for you. Shirking responsibility for what happens in your life is an act you’ll eventually regret. Shame on the tarot reader who says she/he can “fix” your health problems, career, or legal situation by lighting candles or saying prayers. This person is either out to get your money, playing into the fact that you’re in a highly suggestible state, or just plain ignorant.
The tarot cards can help you look at your options and offer hope, but you must do the repair work yourself. The tarot aims to create Self-dependent (dependent on your higher soul, spirit, Self) and interdependent (not codependent) relationships.
Curses and love spells
One of the tarot’s main objectives is to do no harm. Putting a curse on your enemy actually puts a curse on you. Trying to force someone into a relationship against his or her will eventually backfires. Watch your motivation. What goes around, comes around!
Reversed means the opposite
Thinking that reversed cards mean the exact opposite of what they mean upright is like thinking that people cry only when they’re unhappy. If you’ve ever cried tears of joy, you know that this type of thinking is limited.
For instance, the reversed Strength card in the position of your “past experiences” can indicate weakness, yet it can also show that you’ve refrained from using physical force. The Five of Pentacles reversed in the position of “future possibilities” can indicate a chance to consciously examine inherited ideas about poverty that you hold in your subconscious. The Four of Wands reversed might not mean disruption but rather the holding of a nontraditional attitude or event.
When interpreting reversals, take the position of a reversed card in a spread, the surrounding cards, and other circumstances or influences into consideration.
My life’s this way because . . .
Believing that certain tarot cards are to blame for the state of your life is a huge misconception. (“My day was a mess because I pulled the Judgement card this morning.”) If your day was a mess, it’s because of how you handled what came your way. If you started the day with a seemingly negative card, it was your job to be on the lookout for the chance to be awake and creative.
The tarot aims to assist you in taking responsibility for yourself, not in laying the blame elsewhere.
The tarot is dangerous
Much like the traditional Rorschach inkblots and the imagination-stimulating pictures of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) reflect your unconscious mind, so does the tarot. The tarot’s archetypes depict every possible state of consciousness and every facet of the human personality. When individuals look at the tarot cards and recognize (unconsciously) an unacceptable facet of their personality, they get frightened. Fear also comes from thinking that the image is predicting dire circumstances.
The tarot images can be upsetting and/or possibly dangerous in the hands of someone who is psychologically unbalanced.
Each tarot card has a specific, predetermined meaning (how boring!)
Although each card reflects some core truths, thinking that each tarot card is always read the same way is a misconception and plain old boring. What you see in the card is always a reflection of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state at that time. When these states change, your interpretations change with them. Because you are a constantly transforming being, you may read a card one way today and then see the picture quite differently next month or next year. Beware of building inflexible constructs!
The tarot has no practical use
The belief that the tarot is “for fortune-telling only” has reinforced the attitude that the tarot has no practical use. Knowledge is useless unless it’s applied. The tarot is designed to be lived! Thousands of people have been able to live happier, healthier, and more satisfying lives by living the tarot’s principles (or taking the tarot’s teachings out of the world of intellectual concepts and into the world of the practical application).
Instead of just thinking about how often The Magician card keeps reminding you of the value of paying attention to what’s going on in front of your nose, try to apply what you’ve learned to something as simple as walking your dog and see how different the experience can be.