Belief in the Tarot

Yesterday a friend told me she didn’t believe in the tarot. To be honest, I’m not sure I believe either, though I don’t exactly know what I mean by that. Obviously, I believe the cards exist because I have a few dozen decks. I believe they’ve been around for centuries. I believe that the cards have meanings, though I don’t know if those meanings are intrinsic or if they are simply assigned, especially since the cards themselves as well as their meanings have changed over the centuries. And I believe that they help people focus and perhaps help them delve deeper into their problems.

Beyond that, I’m not sure what there is to believe. Although people think the tarot is for for telling the future, those who study the cards say that’s not their purpose. Although the cards are said to help develop one’s psychic abilities, I have yet to see any evidence of that. I also don’t know if readings truly reflect anything in the past, present, or future, or if people simply read into the cards what they want to see. Nor do I find any deeper understanding of myself because of my card use. It’s possible, I suppose, that I have no hidden depths or even hidden shallows, that what I know is all there is.

This talk of belief and non-belief has made me wonder if it is necessary to believe in the tarot for it to work. If belief is all it takes, then one can use any sort of cards, such as a regular deck of playing cards (which some people do) or even seed packets, for that matter. Though perhaps “seed packets” are not a good example because in a lot of respects, seed packets can tell the future, at least for most people. Those people plant the seeds, and someday the picture on the packet will come true. In my case, I’m lucky to get a few scraggly seedlings.

If one’s own belief doesn’t matter, then it should be possible to learn something from the cards, if only to understand what they symbolize and what they mean to others.

After all (to continue the gardening metaphor) I have no belief in my ability to grow anything, though sometimes seeds do come up, and sometimes bushes I’ve transplanted do bloom, like this native rose.

Regardless of what I believe, I plan to continue learning the tarot. It’s certainly a multi-faceted study if nothing else.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

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7 Responses to “Belief in the Tarot”

  1. Estragon Says:

    I have no belief in my ability to grow things either. I can only create conditions under which they might grow. Whether they grow and thrive or not is up to them and the universe they inhabit. Wild roses can be pretty amazing in their ability to adapt and thrive.

    I also have no belief in tarot (or horoscopes, palmistry, etc.), but if people find them entertaining, why not? Where I draw the line personally, is when people try to turn them into something more – the modern day equivalent of a king going to war on the basis of interpreting a slain critter’s innards.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That is my gardening philosophy (to the extent that I have one) — plant things, water them when necessary, and then let them decide what they are going to do.

      A lot of people do base their lives on the turn of the cards, but I don’t understand that. Except for minor things where it’s almost impossible to choose among equal and equally insignificant choices, such as what restaurant to go to.

  2. Uthayanan Says:

    Strangely nobody asked me do you believe in chess, baseball, Tennis, cards, or any other games.
    Even I know little about tarot it is interesting point of art, painting, history, interpretation and playing cards.
    I use to play FreeCell with my computer to test my concentration (I have managed to export and use the same game (freecell, solitaire with XP, windows 7 and 10 because I like very much old classic painting)
    The present time I feel I can’t concentrate with tarot even though i feel it is good for mental exercise and learning.
    When I was young I have played lots of cards games, chess, other indoor and outdoor games. I feel all these things help me learn better at any subjects. Easy to integrate in a club or with groups of people.
    Specially curiosity of learning!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s how I feel about the tarot — that it is a good mental exercise. Even if there is nothing there for me in the cards, it’s still worth pursuing for the mental exercise alone.

      One day you’ll be able to concentrate again. It took me a long time, but I think I’m able to concentrate almost as much as I used to. Not as much as I could when I was young, of course. There’s no way I could ever again memorize all the stuff we had to memorize back in my school days.

  3. rami ungar the writer Says:

    You know what? I don’t know if I believe in the Tarot either. Sometimes, the cards are startling accurate in the feedback they give. At other times, they are so off the mark, it’s not even funny (you don’t know how many times it’s told me that I would be getting an acceptance from a publisher in the coming month only to be wrong). Still, it’s fun, I can make a bit of side money with it while telling people at cons about my books. And it’s one heck of a party trick.
    And whether or not I believe, my sister believes that my deck has power. I gave her a reading that turned out to be pretty accurate for her situation. She was both freaked out and intrigued, ha ha!

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