Can you do that? 🎴 Tarot Misconceptions

I have been running a series on my social media accounts for a few weeks now where I give a tip about tarot every Tuesday. It is so aptly named…Tarot Tip Tuesday, because of course it is. This is usually something small, but I wanted to dive deeper into some common misconceptions that people have about tarot – whether they read tarot or not.


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These misconceptions are prevalent throughout the occult community and, sometimes without realizing it, beginners will perpetuate these stereotypes and continue to spread misinformation because that is just what they know.

I have been reading tarot for almost 10 years now and throughout this time, I have seen these be passed from person to person. My goal is to help you open yourself up to practices that you can participate in. So, let’s talk about some things people say about tarot that are just wrong.

:stop_sign: Tarot is a Closed Practice

This is a new misconception that I see people talking about everywhere on Twitter. I honestly can’t trace it back to one person or one group of people, but there are tweets going around telling people that you can’t read tarot if you are not Egyptian :egypt: or part of that culture.

This. Is. Wrong.

From what I can tell, these people are claiming that since tarot incorporates Egyptian mysticism in the imagery, only people from that culture can read tarot.

To combat this misconception, let’s go back to the origins of tarot cards.

Tarot decks were invented in Italy in the 1430s by adding to the existing four-suited pack a fifth suit of 21 specially illustrated cards called trionfi (“triumphs”) and an odd card called il matto (“the fool”). … The trionfi each bore a different allegorical illustration instead of a common suitmark. Such illustrations probably represented characters in medieval reenactments of Roman triumphal processions, similar to floats in a modern festival parade. They were originally unnumbered, so that it was necessary to remember what order they went in. Whether or not trionfi were originally produced independently of standard playing cards, their function, when added to the pack, was to act as a suit superior in power to the other four—a suit of triumphs, or “trumps.” Britannica

Tarot wasn’t used for fortune-telling or divination until around the 1780s in France. The Rider-Waite-Smith deck was created in 1909 by Arthur Edward Waite. The images he commissioned were created by Pamela ‘Pixie’ Coleman Smith, and these are the images we are most familiar with today. Arthur Edward Waite was not Egyptian. He was an American-born British poet who spent his life studying the Western occult. With all this in mind, we can very clearly see that tarot is not a closed cultural practice and reading tarot is not a form of cultural appropriation.

:gift: You Have To Be Gifted Your First Deck

This is absolute nonsense for the modern age. I posted my tarot tip about this a while ago and someone brought up a good point. They said that they suspected this idea of finding a teacher or guide first and that people who know tarot should gift decks to help perpetuate the art and idealogy. However, they recognize that the two most popular decks in creation, The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot and the Thoth Tarot, were created by people who were heavily steeped in mysticism and secrecy. It is possible that his idea that you can’t buy your own deck stems from a time when everything was kept secret.

Today, though? That is absolutely not necessary. Tarot decks are everywhere, and I even bought my Shadowscapes deck at Barnes and Noble a few years ago. Even thrift stores will have tarot decks sometimes. If you want to learn to read tarot, it is 100% acceptable to buy a deck that you resonate with and that you are drawn to. I have heard from some that if you buy your own deck it will be “cursed” or it “won’t work right” because of this misconception. Well, I call bullsh*t.

:open_book: You Have To Read A Certain Way

There are many schools of thought on how to read tarot. There are people who have courses set up specifically to teach those looking to learn. These courses or videos or articles are just one way for someone to learn the cards. Most times your tarot deck is going to come with what we call The Little White Book. This booklet is specific to each deck and oftentimes, the meanings for each card are going to be similar across decks (as long as you are using a standard tarot deck based on RWS and not Thoth or Oracle decks – those are different).

Some people choose to read tarot intuitively. This involves pulling cards and then looking at the imagery, the feeling, and really connecting to the other person’s energy to get a feel for what is going on. This person might see The Tower in a reading and, instead of seeing the crumbling foundations of a person’s belief system, they might instead see inspired action to bring down systemic issues in their community. It varies widely, and that is what is beautiful about reading tarot.

:spiral_notepad: You Have To Memorize Each Card

In the standard Rider-Waite-Smith deck, there is a system in place for each suit, court card, and number. Many people just starting out do not realize this and, instead of learning this system, they instead think they have to memorize the meaning of every single card. The same is true for the Major Arcana. Instead of trying to memorize the individual meaning of every card, it can be helpful to remember the story of The Fool’s Journey.

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Have any of these misconceptions prevented you from moving forward in your tarot journey? Are there other misconceptions that I maybe didn’t talk about? Let me know! Debunking misconceptions and giving accurate information is kind of my thing.

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Did you know that Francisco is working on a tarot course? If you have ever wanted to learn tarot, I have several resources for you.

Here is the Tarot Course information from Spells8.

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I run a series on my YouTube channel called Talk Tarot with Me. You can find that playlist here.

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More sources and information!

The Rider-Waite Deck – Tarot.com

Arther Edward Waite – Wikipedia

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Both my daughters have recently began exploring Tarot, they each have their own deck and consult it every morning. I showed them your youtube channel yesterday with your “Talk Tarot With Me” episodes.

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If I had to wait for someone to give me my first tarot deck, I’d be waiting forever.

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Aww thank you :heart: I hope they enjoy the videos :smiley:

I want to say me too, but my first deck actually was given to me by my mother-in-law :sweat_smile: If that didn’t happen, though, I’m sure I would have had to buy my own.

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I don’t think it’s a misconception that each card should not be memorized. Each card has a meaning upright and reversed. There’s a pattern based on numerology that helps with memorizing each card. You can make up your own meanings if you like but you will get better results if stick to the established meanings.

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This is a very helpful guide, @MeganB! The vast world of tarot can feel overwhelming to those just getting started- there is some very reassuring and supportive material that makes for a great stepping stone into what to expect :flower_playing_cards::two_hearts:

I agree with @john4 that there is definitely value in learning and trying to memorize the traditional meanings :+1: But I also think it is important to honor the unique spirit of each individual deck. The decks I’ve worked with all have different ‘personalities’- the same card may take on a different meaning depending on the deck I used and some of the decks are very non-traditional.

In such situations, I always think of what my teacher told me during a Bonsai tree class:

“It is important to learn the rules so that you know the best ways to break them!”

Some of the best inventions come from taking what was known and using a little creativity to apply it in new ways :sparkles: For me, my practice means knowing the traditional definitions but leaving room for additional interpretations- a big task! I’ve got to practice a lot more before I can claim true mastery over the cards :flower_playing_cards::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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I know when I pull cards, I always get a little upset or sad when I see any of the cards reversed, but then I find out the meanings & it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I have a couple of books on the cards that I use for the readings, kind of 2 point of views, but they are very close. I kind of look for the small examples or interpretation of what those meanings are after they give after the meanings. I am still very much learning. I have 2 decks, the Rider Waite Tarot and the Light Seer’s Tarot. I don’t use the Rider Waite as much as I used to, the Light Seers and I am very connected to and it’s like talking to a blunt friend. I appreciate them both.

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Thank you, @MeganB, for all of the week resources and wisdom.

A long time ago I used to care what each card meant both upright and reversed. Intuitive readings, based on the person and cards in front of me, has always been the more accurate approach in my case. There are entire websites devoted to intuitive reading that say learning each individual card is pointless. The creators of these websites bring in tons of money selling classes and books on on this topic because others have said we must learn the old way first and that doesn’t work for many people.

Personally, this is why I work with oracle cards more and more. Oracle cards are open to more interpretation within witchcraft and the general public.

I’ve seen tarot readings given from one witch to another spawn arguments on what the readings actually mean. That’s nonsense. If one doesn’t agree with another’s tarot reading, they’re free to discuss it so that they can learn from each other - but to go into a full-on argument and try to prove each other wrong is to attack each other’s truth.

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This is interesting because I know there are some people who read the cards intuitively and basically throw out the entire little book that comes with their cards. My premise for saying each card doesn’t have to be memorized was meant on its own. Rather than trying to remember exactly what the 8 of Pentacles means, we can instead remember that the number 8 in tarot usually points to mastery and action while pentacles point to material wealth, physical assets, and careers. Using this method, we can then see that the 8 of Pentacles upright is about mastery of a skill for a career, apprenticeship, and practicing something that could benefit your home life.

This is a good practice to have!

I used to be this way, too. Sometimes for me, the reversals mean the exact opposite of the card’s upright meaning. Sometimes it means the meaning of the card upright is being blocked. Sometimes I don’t even read reversals. It’s all dependent on the situation, what guidance I’m receiving, and the deck itself. The Wild Unknown deck is finicky for me on reversals. Sometimes it’s like, Yeah, reversals are cool today! and other times it’s like, Nope. No reversals. Does not compute. No sense-making here today. It varies :woman_shrugging:

That’s asinine :rofl: I would never argue with another reader’s interpretation of the cards in a reading for myself. The whole point of getting a reading from someone else is to be open to their interpretation, their skills, and what they can detect. If I were to get a reading from you, for example, it would be rude and disrespectful of me to tell you that you’re wrong about your interpretation. It’s your energy connected to the cards for a reason.

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I prefer Oracle for a few reasons, too.

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I have seen a few oracle deck imagery on here, but I don’t have my own oracle deck. I would like to own one & learn how to read them, but I think right now I would get too overwhelmed by learning them & the tarot. I will wait a little while & see if one pops up for me & I’m really drawn to it before I get them.

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Kasie, you always make me laugh ! So true tho!:joy::rofl::joy::rofl::joy:

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@MeganB, such great information! Thank you!

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Oracle cards come with books that go with the card pulled. I think it’s easier than tarot. But always go with what you feel is best.

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:grin: Well! I don’t know of anyone around here that does tarot. I know a few people online in the area but not well. Not enough to get a deck from them.

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I have one oracle deck that I’m still getting used to. The meanings of the cards in oracle decks are all different and I think they can be fun to use and read with. It can break up the monotony of reading with tarot over and over again.

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I will have to see if I can find a nice deck. Where would I look for one? I feel like Amazon might be a good place to start or maybe Etsy.

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I always recommend local shops first and avoiding Amazon if you can. See if you have any local metaphysical stores near you. Some local bookstores carry tarot and oracle decks, too. If anything else, you can browse Etsy or Amazon, find a deck you like, and reach out and buy from the publisher or artist themselves.

For example, The Shadowscapes deck is on Amazon (and I bought mine from a local bookstore) but the artist sells copies of the deck on their own site, too :heart:

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I would much rather do that, I will search for the Metaphysical shops in my area. I don’t know that there are any local. I will definitely try though! Thank you!

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You’re welcome!

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