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Common Misconceptions About Tarot

Since tarot cards first started gaining popularity in 15th Century Europe, many misconceptions have been attached to the practice. These misconceptions still remain to this day and typically center around people’s fear of the unknown. The biggest misconception held about tarot is the idea that tarot is a definitive predictor of the future - as if the cards have declared what the outcome of a situation will be and nothing can be done to influence this whatsoever.

Another common misconception is the idea that a tarot card reading with a psychic is able to put an end to all of the querent’s woes. Again, this is not the case as we have far more autonomy and freewill than many people are led to believe. For example, if a querent is wondering if they will get back with an ex and the cards indicate that this reunion is unlikely, this should not prevent the individual taking the course of action that they believe is best. The cards are merely a guide or an indicator of a particular outcome if a situation is left to unfold organically from its current state.

Lastly, and possibly the most unfounded misconception surrounding tarot, is that tarot is a practice to be feared. Admittedly, there are a handful of cards in a tarot deck that bear negative connotations and scary imagery, yet the lessons that these cards teach are of great value and should be welcomed as helpful advice. Outlined down below is a more detailed explanation of what these common misconceptions are and how we can overcome them.

1) Tarot readings will predict the future

The characteristic (or vice) that makes us uniquely human is our obsession with trying to look ahead and forecast the happenings of the future. Unfortunately, as we are all aware, not one thing in life can predict our futures with one hundred percent certainty. This uncertainty, therefore, leaves us feeling anxious and in desire of any procedure that claims it can provide us with divine knowledge of upcoming events. As a result, any tarot reader who claims that they and their cards can predict one’s future with full confidence is a reader to be avoided. 

Conversely, a genuine, well-intentioned reader will remind you that only you have full control of your future. They will remind you that the actions you are taking currently will directly influence what life deals to you down the line and they will stress that by no means are future happenings fixed or unchangeable. If you find that a tarot reading has presented you with information that you dislike, ultimately, you have the power to incite positive change. Tarot is simply a guide used to help us reach this point of clarity, providing us with information that can help us better understand our pasts and presents in order to positively influence our futures. 

2) Tarot readers can solve all your problems

As previously touched on, tarot is only able to guide you down the right path and does not make declarations about future happenings that are certain to occur. Rather, tarot highlights our innermost emotions and encourages us to look at how we can make positive changes as we move forwards. Tarot readers certainly cannot provide a quick fix to your problems - only you can do that. 

Drawing on this, a high-quality tarot reader will be upfront with you and remind you that you need to take responsibility for your own life. Sometimes all of us need that small push to set us going in the right direction, even if the reality of it is a little stark. They will help guide you towards possible outcomes, they will hopefully offer sound advice and a comforting shoulder to lean on, but they will certainly stress that your actions have a direct cause-and-effect on the future happenings of your life.

One thing to bear in mind is that we must be cautious of readers who ask for extra payment in return for drip-feeding you supposed aspects of your future. For instance, if you are encouraged to pay more for these ‘additional insights’ during a reading, you may well be in the presence of a reader who values your money over their practice. Of course, all tarot readers must make a living and their talents should never be taken for granted, but money-hungry con artists disguised as psychics must be avoided at all costs.

3) Tarot is something to be feared

Often people are fearful of readings because they think they will be told definitive truths about their future, some of which may be negative. This isn’t the case as every ‘negative’ card bears positive lessons and ultimately, our freewill and autonomy will always prevail in our futures.

It is not surprising that tarot has been subject to such fears as movies and media have long-portrayed the art of tarot as a dubious, seedy and frightening practice, performed by social outcasts or people involved in dark magic. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as tarot originally began as a light-hearted card game, enjoyed by Italian nobles with the sole purpose to entertain. Only as the cards began to popularize did people begin to use them as prophetic tools and the contentious portrayal of them started to emerge.

With this being said, the imagery on many of the cards can certainly be slightly disconcerting. Notoriously ‘scary’ cards include the tower, death and the devil with all of these cards bearing sinister imagery likely to startle those unaccustomed to tarot. Despite this, when taking a closer look, you will be able to notice subtly positive symbols lurking in these sinister images. For example, within the background of the tower, we can see rain falling from the clouds. As the tower itself is aflame and destruction is all around, one may interpret these rain clouds as a symbol of hope on its way. Likewise, with the death card, you may be able to notice a beaming sun half hidden by the surrounding scenery. Whether you wish to interpret this as a sun rise to indicate new beginnings or a sunset to represent the closing of a chapter, what is evident is that the death card indicates far more than just doom and gloom. Overall, it is important to remember that even the most ‘negative’ cards are packed with positive symbolism. 

Delving into this subject a little deeper, included below are the three main cards that are regularly misconceived in tarot.


As previously mentioned, the death card is probably the most misconstrued card in a tarot deck. Even though many people do not perceive that the card means a literal death will soon occur in one’s life, most people still interpret it as a deeply negative omen. Instead, the death card symbolizes a big change in one’s life - admittedly, this may not necessarily be of a positive nature, as the closing of a chapter can be a very unsettling experience for many of us. However, it often can indicate a positive change of circumstance is on the way. Whether anticipated or not, fresh starts are most definitely beneficial for us and the death card implores us to embrace this process.


The imagery on the tower card is particularly ominous and has therefore painted its reputation as the most undesirable card in the entire deck. The card pictures two individuals dramatically falling from the heights of the tower, conjuring the image of unexpected and catastrophic destruction in one’s life. However, if the card is perceived in a different light, these falling individuals may instead be escaping a particularly harmful situation. While tarot readers should not misinform their clients by suggesting that the tower card is a card to be desired, an honest and caring reader will highlight that better times lie ahead once the storm has calmed. 


Another card with a strongly negative connotation is the devil card. This card understandably may cause alarm for those on the receiving end of it, but fear not! It definitely does not indicate an evil entity lurking in life’s shadows. What it does indicate is that there may be potential strains in one’s life that contribute to unnecessary negativity. This card, therefore, serves as an opportunity to evaluate the different facets of our life and encourages us to take the steps necessary for self-betterment. It can also indicate where we are trapped or constrained by someone or something and breaking free is essential.

At the end of the day, it is only natural to feel alarmed when a tarot card reading presents us with images of death and destruction. We instantly jump the gun and assume the worst about a situation, but this should not be the case as it is important to remember that all ‘scary’ cards have incredibly insightful and positive lessons to teach us. With this in mind, however, we must always remember that our autonomy and freewill prevails in every situation; we may be disappointed by the outcome of a reading but it is well within our power to make steps to change the course of action and seek a different result to the one predicted by the cards. While tarot is unable to simply fix our problems or present us with easy resolutions to difficult situations, it can shed extra light on issues that have been playing on our minds, offering advice and helpful guidance all the while. This is why we will never benefit from fearing what the cards have to tell us, as their sole purpose is to help us reach enlightenment during challenging times.

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