Submitted by Margaret Ruth on Wed, 2009-05-13 21:23
Every year more and more people use tarot decks for study, meditation, divination or self discovery, but there are still many common myths, misunderstandings, and simple untruths surrounding Tarot cards. Here are some of the more persistent myths about the Tarot that seem to still be around. Notice though, that myths are not necessarily falsehoods. Myths can be symbolic allegories that seek to simplify or explain the human experience. Superstitions are, to me, clearly untrue.
Common Myths about Tarot• The Tarot originated from ancient Egyptian sources
• Tarot was brought to Europe by the Gypsies
• The cards are magical fortune telling devices
• The cards are Not magical fortune telling devices
• No one knows where the Tarot came from
Tarot cards originated during the Renaissance period in Northern Italy but were not used in general for divination but rather for gaming purposes. The esoteric, mysterious element of the Tarot deck was not present until the 19th century. During that time, European mystics adopted Tarot card as one of their many tools for divination and magick. It is mainly due to that adoption that the Tarot still carries a mysterious, aura. And many people at present, including me, use the Tarot for divination and inspiration. But, the truth is that they can be used in many ways, not just for doing intuitive readings.
Common Superstitions about Tarot (that are not true)• Tarot cards must be specially stored: velvet bags, black silk cloths, teak boxes.
• The cards must be seasoned in a special manner: Sleep under pillow, Incense,Crystals,Sage
• Money cannot be exchanged for a deck
• Your first deck must be given to you by someone else
• You must always pick your own first deck
• No one can touch a deck except for the owner
• The cards are evil
• The Death card means someone will die
• Tarot decks are all about the same
• It is bad if a card is upside down in a reading
• Don’t read for yourself
Are tarot cards evil? They are not; they are just cards. Can a mean person read them and think of something mean to say? Sure. But, the cards themselves are just pieces of cardboard. They are tools of the user. Just like the carpenter’s tools, or a dentist’s tools, they can be treated and used however the owner wishes.
When I first started assembling a collection of tarot decks, I had small boys and large dogs. Between these, my cards were handled, messed with, tossed about, and chewed upon. And they still are good cards for me. I just allowed myself to imagine that a bit of doggie breath would REALLY make them special. So, forget special storage, seasoning and not letting others use or touch them. This is good for some readers, and fine if they prefer special treatment, and not necessary for others. And because of this highly individual usage of the decks, it is probably a bad idea to let others pick your decks out for you as a rule.
There used to be a sad superstition about tarot decks that is a real problem for the stores that carry them. Some think that money cannot be exchanged over a tarot deck. This is a real strange one and one that would cause a fair amount of us to go out of business. I haven’t heard this one in a while so I hope it has faded away.
My students are often surprised to find that no historical evidence has been found that the religious authorities opposed tarot decks. One of the best quick reads on the history of the Tarot is The TarotL History Information Sheet, www.villarevak.org//misc/tarotl_1.html, says this: “The Inquisition documented in considerable detail what the church regarded as evidence of heresy and the tarot is never mentioned.”
The Death Card and upside-down cards are not bad omens either. Many readers do not read reversals (as the upside-down ones are called) and, if someone does, reversed cards are not negative in meaning. The Death card is more easily understood as a card of permanent transition; it doesn’t indicate death usually.
Many Tarotists read for themselves or use the cards for mediation or self discovery. It is hard to read for yourself – I call it like trying to cut your own hair – but not impossible. Some of my students are excellent at this from the very beginning, which them makes them much better at this than me. However, it is quite possible to do and highly encouraged!
Comments, questions and ideas are very welcome and strongly encouraged. Contact Margaret Ruth at email@example.com, go to her Facebook page, or www.margaretruth.com.