Why Tarot Cards Work

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A friend recently told me that she thought tarot cards are demonic and it got me thinking about my own thoughts about tarot cards. Specifically, why they ARE NOT demonic but it also got me thinking about HOW they work.  

In this article, I will share 3 theories about why tarot cards work. (There are other theories but here are the top three!)

But First…Some Thoughts about Tarot Cards 

Tarot cards are just cards…like playing cards. They take on the meaning you assign them based on your perspective. For example, in Christianity, alcohol (wine) is used in religious ceremonies to represent the blood of Christ and, in this context, it is a good thing.   But alcohol can also be used irresponsibly leading to bodily harm or even death in some situations. In this context, alcohol is now a bad thing. 

So Tarot cards are neutral – they are neither good nor bad.  

The other thing I want to say here is that Tarot cards are best used to see yourself or the situation you are in more clearly. It does a great job of shining a light on something happening in the situation at hand or within your subconscious.

Synchronicity and Patterns 

The first theory is that tarot works through synchronicity and patterns. Both of these mechanisms can act as a catalyst for the individual to reach their own conclusions or realizations about what the tarot cards say about their current situation. 

Synchronicity is a term that Carl Jung used to describe the accuracy of the Chinese iChing which is another divination system that was created in 1000–750 BC.

Synchronicity is when we interpret two separate experiences that are also seemingly unrelated as being meaningfully intertwined, even though there is no evidence that one led to the other or that the two events are linked in any other causal way.

Here are two real-life examples to illustrate how synchronicity shows up in life.

  • You think of a friend or family member and then they call or text you. This experience FEELS magical. It feels like you are uniquely connected to that person. (And this may be true but it is a perfect example of “synchronicity”.)
  • In December 2019, I was doing a reading for the next year and I did a spread where I had a card for each month of the year. For March 2020 I pulled the Tower card and that is obviously when the Covid pandemic started in full force. (If you are new to the tarot, at a high level the Tower represents collapse, chaos, and destruction of an existing way of life.)

Let’s talk about patterns. “Seeing Patterns” is when the human mind assigns personal meaning to symbols, images, or interpretations of the cards. Tarot cards are full of images, symbols, numbers, and colors so their very nature leaves space for different interpretations.

  • For example, let’s say you are doing a reading and you pull out multiple cards from the pentacles suit. The pentacles represent money and the material world. Because the pentacles represent money, it can be interpreted that the situation you are drawing cards for is related to money in some way.

Book Recommendation – “There Are No Accidents” by Robert H. Hopcke

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy 

When it comes to “self-fulfilling prophecy”, it is important to note that this concept applies to any form of divination – not just tarot cards.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is an expectation or belief that can influence a person’s behaviors, which may cause the belief to come true. In tarot, if the cards “predict” a positive outcome in the situation at hand, it is more likely that the outcome will be fulfilled. For example, if you believe you will fail a test you may behave in ways or experience anxiety to a degree that makes it more likely to fail that test. 

Energy of the Individual

There are many tarot readers who believe that it is important to put the energy of the individual into the cards when doing reading. The idea is that when the individual shuffles the deck, the individual activates the cards with the energy of their unconscious mind and intuition. When this happens, the cards drawn will be the information or message that the individual needs to hear as it relates to the situation at hand.

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