I’m Scared of Tarot Readings

In the few months since I’ve come “out of the closet” with my tarot practice, I’ve heard this more than once from friends of mine.

When they find out I read the tarot, I sometimes offer to do a reading for them for free. I like to introduce the way that I read tarot to people that I know, because of the unique ability it has to give insight and empowerment in facing life situations, decisions, or simply self-knowledge.

But I tell you what, I keep hearing from close friends of mine, “I’m too scared.”

What?!

I suppose I’ve worked with the tarot for so many years now in my own life, and seen its positive impact in such a profound way for giving me some objectivity when I’m trying to step outside of my own drama, that I can’t possibly imagine why something so helpful could be seen as scary.

But then again, pop culture isn’t much of a help when trying to educate the public about what tarot actually is, or does.

Wow. That was painful to watch on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin.

(PS If you are not familiar with my unique brand of sarcasm, you can find a primer over at my other blog where I dispense a lot of it. Tarot doesn’t lend itself as well to my sense of humor as the city of Rome does.)

Seriously though. If that’s how tarot gets generally disseminated into mainstream culture, it’s no wonder that people think it’s something ridiculous, or even capable of revealing somewhat ambiguous but always somehow ominous foretellings.

The Young & Restless cast of brilliant actors aside, I’m here to tell you: People! It doesn’t have to be like that! And quite frankly, you don’t even need a thunder and lightning storm outside either. Although it does add to the whole overall “super scary” effect, no?

Pssst! Come in close. Because I have something to tell you:

TAROT IS NOT SCARY.

No, really. Trust me on this one.

The tarot, in its most basic description, is a pack of 78 cards with pictures on them. In the hands of a soap opera actress, it becomes an embarrassing caricature for debased and cheap fortune telling. But in the hands of a skilled practitioner who uses intuition, thoughtfulness, and study, the pictures on those cards can be seamlessly woven into a story that becomes a unique sort of “mandala” or snapshot for a particular moment in your life or a particular situation.

By that I mean, tarot doesn’t need to be used as a party trick to scare people into believing nonsensical predictions like “He’s going to leave you” or “She’s cheating on you” or “You’re going to die at age 33.” Unfortunately people do this, and unfortunately people believe this.

But where does that leave the possibility for using tarot as a practical tool for gaining perspective into life’s never-ending challenges, questions, conundrums and perplexities? From the mundane (“I cannot figure out how to get along with my colleague at work–help!”) to the divine (“What is my soul’s purpose in this lifetime?”) tarot is as versatile as the person who approaches it and their particular way of using the cards.

So the next time you are given an opportunity to have a tarot reading, before dismissing tarot as something that’s “too scary” or saying “I’d never do that, I don’t want to know,” consider this: would you leave your house without knowing your address? Would you get on a plane without knowing where it would touch down? If you saw it was raining outside and your umbrella was sitting by the door, would you go outside without it?

Rhetorical questions. No.

That being the case, if you have a tool at your disposal that can facilitate a solution in your life (key = open door, destination printed on plane ticket = knowing how to pack for trip, umbrella = stay dry when it’s raining) then why not make use of it?

Hence: tarot = when in the right hands, a magnificent and mysterious tool for gaining perspective about self, situations, and life in general.

“It all depends on how we look at things, and not on how things are in themselves. The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.” -Carl G. Jung

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7 comments

  1. I love that you referred to it as a mandala of a moment! And of course the quote by Jung at the end (going to have to swipe that one!) Now honestly I’ve been reading tarot for a while at this point but I had yet to come across someone deliberately say it was scary but I have seen some hedging here and there from people who were familiar with the tarot. Something I do that helps is like you said, “introduce them to how you read”. I have a few tarot reading quirks the flow into my reading style and I think that really helps the connection I have with the people I read for :).

  2. […] SR: Yes, (take out) I spent the first 12 years with tarot reading exclusively for myself. I tended when I started out to be very rational and very Type A, so the cards were a great tool for me to learn about how to gain objective perspective on situations that I had no control over, and to learn how to work within the confines of that reality. I’ll read for friends or family if they ask, even though now that I’ve opened my readings to the public, it’s harder for me to offer free readings anymore to those I know; I simply don’t have the time. Generally though, and unfortunately, while many friends and family are enthusiastic and supportive of my work, many also say they don’t want a reading because “it scares me.” Again, we find that pop culture notions of the ​​tarot have given the average person misconceptions about the ways that the cards can be used. In fact, I addressed this very topic on my site in this post: “I’m Scared of Tarot Readings.”  […]

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