In general, I love myths. Then again, when I say that — “myths” — I’m talking about lore…legends….stories about epic figures: Deities, heroic types, monsters, forces of nature in humanoid form, that sort of thing.
There’s another kind of myth, though, that I feel is less beneficial to us: it’s the kind that seems to sprout up in and among the positive foliage that populates any field of knowledge, like weeds sucking away some of the nutrients, distracting, getting in the way, and just sort of making the whole place just a bit more unbeautiful than it could be.
Tarot is one such field that’s near and dear to me, and it’s positively riddled with such counter-productive myths. You don’t even have to look hard, and you’ll find yourself dog-paddling amid a deluge of maxims of the variety that state things in the form of, “You must/must not do X, or Tarot won’t work for you!!”
Now, I promise you, if you visit any occult shop in the land, or take yourself to a randomly selected Tarot convention, you will not be obliged to wade through a sorrowful throng of excommunicated former Tarot hopefuls loitering outside, now forever cast out from the fold because they dared to do this or that, left permanently exiled, with their noses pressed up against the window-glass of the Tarot world like starving children in a Dickens novel… I know that I did personally encounter plenty of such myths about Tarot when I was first setting out to learn the field, though, and I thought it might be helpful to post a few of the most common and widespread of these falsehoods here so that anyone out there who might be reading this, but feels some hesitancy about getting deeper into study and practice of Tarot because of some such alarming admonition they’ve heard, can relax and jump on in.
So, a few common and totally unhelpful Tarot myths that I, for one, feel you can disregard:
1) “Someone must give you your first (or even every) Tarot deck…if you buy the deck for yourself, Tarot won’t work for you!!”
Um…yeah, no. To be honest, as it so happens, someone did give me my first-ever Tarot deck, but it wasn’t because I had heard this myth…rather, it was because they had, and they wanted to help me along while observing its dire message. So I appreciated the gesture and the reasoning and intent behind it then, and I still appreciate it to this day…but the deck that this sweet person selected for me also happened to be one with a theme that didn’t resonate with me at all, and it had a very gloomy outlook to boot, so I ended up stashing it in a box in a closet for quite a few years, my burgeoning interest in Tarot semi-extinguished…
Much later, my interest rekindled itself, I dug the deck out of its dusty confines…and I still didn’t groove with it. Instead of quitting again, though, I simply went out to a local occult shop, browsed their terrific selection of decks, picked out a couple that were very much my style, and in the course of that one shop visit, essentially became the practicing esoterican that I consider myself to be today.
Now, one could argue that even though I never took up that first gifted deck as a primary tool in my metaphysical explorations, maybe it still served as a kind of Tarot-charm, keeping the evil spirits at bay, and simply by landing in my inquisitive hands, its work was done, no matter what came later. Maybe had I simply bought for myself a first deck that really spoke to me, despite giving it mad use, maybe my results would have been rendered eternally poor and always off the mark… I don’t know, I can’t refute that kind of take with scientific evidence or first-hand observation, as I’m not Schrodinger’s cat, and I never got a look at parallel universe versions of how things might have otherwise unfolded from that one moment in time. Nevertheless…I feel pretty confident saying that I don’t believe for a second that the results I’ve gotten as a Tarot reader would have varied a whit had I bought my own first deck instead of receiving one as a gift, and I’ve heard from roughly a thousand other readers that they get fabulous results in thriving professional practices despite having purchased their own first decks, so…don’t believe the hype! And p.s.: I’ve bought every single other deck in my collection since, and it’s not like my feedback diminishes in positivity with each new purchase or anything.
Often, myths or superstitions only have as much power over us as we grant them…so if this one really does still bother you, then you can maybe arrange for someone to purchase your deck for you. Sidestep the restriction. The Tarot Powers That Be may admire you for your ingenuity and dedication!
2) “When you acquire a Tarot deck, you must sleep with it under your pillow for seven nights, or else it won’t work for you!!”
Again: no. This particular myth stems from the notion that we and the physical objects in our world around us all have energies that we may radiate, and so if you don’t allow a new deck’s energy to “attune” with your own via this week-long slumber party, you’ll always be battling through a kind of web of interference and static whenever you try to use that deck.
Now, some people are indeed very sensitive to energy flow, and if you’re one of them, and you don’t hate this idea, then by all means do it. I will admit here that as much as I might wish otherwise, I’m not one of those people who can feel crystals speaking to them upon contact, or who can read the imprints of recent emotional interactions in a room just by walking into it…but even I have, on occasion, slept with decks under my pillow. But let me stress here that I never did it because I thought a deck wouldn’t work for me if I didn’t…it was more that I found the whole ritual to be a cool way of me remarking to myself and to the Universe that this new relationship (of me and the new deck, I mean, and the ongoing one I have with Tarot in general) is important to me, and not something I take for granted, that’s all.
In other words, it made me feel good to do it, so I did it. As with Myth #1, above, though, I don’t believe that were I to bring a deck home and just start reading with it, without first going through the extended sleep-over ceremony, that my readings would suffer for it in the slightest. So I’d say that if you feel like doing this, go right ahead upon obtaining a new deck…but if you don’t, then skip this procedure entirely! You’re not obligated to do it just because some pushy stranger on the internet told you it’s a requirement…
3) “You can’t let other people touch your deck…or it won’t work for you!!”
This is another of these myths related to the energies of decks and of people. The idea here is that once you do have a good energetic relationship with your deck in place, letting some other person put their grubby mitts all over the deck might sour and unbalance that delicate relationship, perhaps permanently.
Once again, I don’t buy this. Does your relationship with your spouse come undone just because some other person shakes hands with them or gives them a high-five? I don’t think our relationships are that flimsy — not with people, and not with Tarot decks. Again, though, if you’re the type who’s more sensitive to energetic interplay, then it’s not at all uncommon for Tarot readers to not allow other people to touch their decks. Just politely state to anyone who wants or attempts to touch your cards that you prefer not to permit that. Some people don’t like for others to touch their food or their lucky personal charms, or to sit in their favorite chair…why should Tarot be any different? To put it another way, if you don’t feel comfortable letting other people touch your deck, you don’t have to let them…and if you want them to touch your cards, you can totally have them do so (assuming they’re also okay with that). You should do what feels right to you, and again, don’t take as The Gospel what some unfamiliar party in a book or on the internet proclaims.
And by the way, if you do feel like your deck may become, or already has become, “tainted” with energy you don’t care for, there are methods and techniques for “cleansing” it — a topic for another post!
And speaking of which, this post is running long already, and I only got through three unhelpful Tarot myths…so I may return to this theme in a subsequent post to debunk a few more at some point…for now, though, I encourage you to bust out those cards! Don’t let baseless myths keep you down!