I recently saw a Facebook post of someone I know considers herself to be quite the expert tarot reader. Oddly enough she was asking “open minded” family members to give her a tarot deck for the winter holidays. I found this strange as I also happen to know this is someone who believes the myth that for a tarot deck to work for its reader that the deck must be a gift. It wasn’t so strange that this request was coming from someone who believes that myth, but it was an odd request to come from a self-professed expert tarot reader.
After having read that post I thought it might be interesting to write a blog listing the tarot myths I have come across in my years of reading the tarot. As a fledgling tarot reader I’ve believed some of them myself and adhered to them. With experience I have found these to be untrue. Here is a list of the tarot myths I have come across (or at least the ones I remember) in my time as a tarot reader.
● A reader must have their deck given to them./A reader should steal their deck./A reader should never buy a deck for themselves.
○ I’ve purchased most of the decks I’ve ever worked with. This has never presented a problem for me.
● A reader has to sleep with the deck under their pillow for X amount of time to “bond with their new deck”.
○ I tried this with my first deck. The lump under the pillow prevented sleep, so I removed it and never looked back.
● A new deck must be cleansed before using it. There are various methods associated with this practice, but the cleansing in any case indicates a spiritual/energetic cleansing.
○ I’ve done this with decks when I was starting on the path of reading the tarot. I no longer do this and can read with the decks with no issues.
● The cards must be charged in the light of the full moon.
○ Umm…okay… I’ve never done this myself and have never felt the need to do so.
● You’re not supposed to read the cards unless you are barefoot.
○ I’ve read the cards barefoot simply because I happened to be barefoot at the time. I’ve also read the cards while wearing shoes, boots and slippers. I find wearing something on the feet is much more beneficial as bare feet can become a bit of a distraction once they get cold.
● The sitter must shuffle the cards (to get their energies into them).
○ Rubbish! I’ve read for people I’ve never even met over the internet many times.
● Only the reader may handle the cards.
○ More rubbish! I’ve done face to face readings where the sitter has shuffled the cards.
● During a reading the deck must be cut into 3 piles going from right to left using the left hand.
○ I like to do this. It’s a bit of a ritual that I personally find conducive to “setting the mood”. However, I did quite well without doing this before I ever heard the rumor. As far as using my left hand to do it? I just happen to be left-handed and find this more comfortable than using my right hand.
● The reader and sitter must not be wearing anything metal.
○ I don’t believe that I’ve ever done a reading without wearing some sort of silver jewelry. Though there is also a myth that a reader must be wearing silver I simply have always worn a silver ring I purchased prior to reading the tarot.
● The cards should be wrapped in black (or white) silk when not in use.
○ I like to wrap my cards in some sort of silk cloth. Hey! Some myths are just fun, especially when there’s a practical reason for doing so. Though silk in and of itself is not practical, keeping them wrapped in a cloth of some sort can help keep them bound together inside a bag you carry them in. And, no, my silks are not all black or white.
● The cards should be stored in a wooden box.
○ Another practical reason for having them wrapped in cloth: It prevents the wood stain from transferring to the cards. I do have some decks in wooden boxes, but I also use bags and have a couple prized leather tarot cases that I like to use.
● You can’t read the cards for yourself.
○ When I first began reading the cards most of the readings I did were done for myself. Incidentally, reading for oneself can help teach a reader to be more detached from the reading and to not “read into” the spread one’s own baggage.
● The sitter must not tell the reader what their question is.
○ It helps the reader a great deal to know the question (or at very least the subject of the reading) when it comes to framing the interpretation in a proper way. I personally find that it also allows the intuitive input to flow more freely.
● The reader absolutely has to be told the question: Otherwise how will they know how to read the cards?
○ Though it helps to know the question ahead of time a competent reader should be able to get some idea what the reading is about based upon the cards that turn up. I’ve had sitters shocked to find out that I knew exactly what their question was about when they had not told me what the question was. I prefer to know the question ahead of time but will often leave that to the discretion of the sitter once I’ve explained the pro’s and con’s.
● The court cards (Page, Knight [or Princess and Prince], Queen and King) always represent somebody in the sitter’s life.
○ I personally have never found this to be an effective way for me to read the cards.
● A reader’s limbs must not be crossed when doing a reading so the energy will flow freely through their body.
○ My readings tend to be just as effective whether I’m sitting on my bed with my legs crossed (“Indian style”) or sitting in a chair with my feet flat on the floor.
● You should only have a reading once in your lifetime (or any other specified time frame).
○ Getting too many readings on the same subject (from the same or different readers) can cloud an issue, however, there is no set time in which life’s circumstances change. With the exception of someone who may seem to be a “tarot/reading addict” I have no set guidelines on how soon it is too soon to read again on the same subject. Of course, there’s also the issue of getting back to back readings on two completely different issues. I see nothing wrong with that by any means.
● A deck will get angry with you if you don’t use it often enough (or whatever other condition might anger a deck), and you will be unable to get an accurate reading from it.
○ Decks are made of ink and paper. I have to wonder if someone who believes this myth has ever had a book they were reading become angry with them and refuse to tell them it’s story.
● Rather than foretelling what is likely to happen, the cards make things happen by showing up in a reading.
○ Pictures of ink on paper show up and suddenly transform a person’s life simply because they were laid out in a tarot spread? That’s an odd one! The cards do lead the reader to interpret what is most likely to happen with the sitter based upon their current course in life, but to actually leap off the card and make themselves a reality in someone’s life is a big stretch from there.
● A reader must place the deck back into the original order between reading different sitters.
○ I don’t believe I’ve ever done this. And can you imagine being paid by the hour and to take time to do this with 78 cards between every sitter? Uh…yeah…sure!
● A deck you no longer use must be destroyed.
○ I’ve purchased second hand decks before. I’ve never found the life of the previous reader to bleed into my own readings.
● A pregnant woman should not read the cards.
○ Not being a woman I really don’t have any experience with this, but it makes me wonder where people come up with this stuff!
● The cards should not be read on a Sunday.
○ That’s interesting! I’ve never paid any notice of what particular day I was reading the cards. As a matter of fact, today is a Sunday and I just finished listening to an online radio show in which an hour was spent with the hosts giving readings to live callers on the air!
● One should never be paid for reading the cards or that one must not read the cards without being paid.
○ Umm…take your pick?
● A reader should always light a candle and/or incense before beginning a reading.
○ I’ve done both for the fun and kitsch value but have never found it necessary to do so.
● The outcome of a reading cannot be changed through the free will of the sitter.
○ The cards only show the likely outcome should the sitter keep doing things the way they have been. Should they change what they’re doing in regard to the subject at hand, then the outcome changes (and it might be time to get another reading to see how things have changed).
● A deck will not give an accurate reading when riffle shuffled.
○ That’s the only way I can really shuffle well. So much for that one!
● The reader must use a ‘reading cloth” (a cloth upon which the cards are laid).
○ It does protect the cards from a dirty surface under the cloth, but I’ve never found it useful to do so when the surface itself is clean.
● A person with tattoos cannot successfully read the tarot.
○ I didn’t have any tattoos when I started reading. I now have several and read better than I ever have!