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.
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.
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 or part of that culture.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I run a series on my YouTube channel called Talk Tarot with Me. You can find that playlist here.
More sources and information!