Learning tarot is something that a lot of people are intrigued about at one point or another in their life. For some, it’s a phase that they dabble in and then move on from. For others it is an opportunity to exploit others. For some it is a lifetime fascination. For still others, it is a part of who they are… or a part of their spirituality.
There are plenty of assumptions about the tarot and plenty of abusers that use the decks for their own purposes. That use the tarot to manipulate people, or to hurt people… or as a game, unintentionally hurting others simply by not understanding or being unwilling to grasp the power that the tarot can possess.
The sad thing is that this type of harmful behavior is going to be the case for no matter what you are talking about. There will be some that respect these different things, and others that won’t. Just as there are those that will appreciate a public garden, and others that will only pause to piss on the flowers.
The thing is that most of those who are truly invested in tarot in some way, whether that is through helping others or helping themselves, acknowledge that tarot is more than just a handful of cards. They aren’t out to hurt people, manipulate people, or use tarot as a game or a weapon. They are seeking to use the tarot to help themselves or others, seek out guidance for themselves or others, to delve into their psyche in order to heal themselves or others.
Tarot is a way to reach into the minds and souls of the self and others, and to find depth… to find answers. Whether a secular or spiritual reader, I think that it’s important to respect and own the responsibility that using something that can do this inherently holds. I find that I sometimes struggle with fresh, brand new beginners because of this. Because they aren’t ready yet to grasp the responsibility behind what they’re seeking to learn. They don’t realize that it’s not a toy or a game, but rather a tool to help that can also harm if we aren’t careful.
For this reason, I try to remind beginners (and even some that have dabbled for quite some time but don’t seem able to grasp the gravity of the tool in their hands) that reading tarot is not just about getting answers. It’s about how you present those answers, either to yourself or to others. It’s about acknowledging that anything that you say can have a huge impact on another person and their life, etc. And therefore, when reading the cards, it’s important to present things in a way they understand and that is empathetic to another person and their journey.
Without empathy, understanding, and a sense of empowerment in the message… the cards can easily become something that can do a great deal of harm instead of good. When people speak of “respecting the tarot” it is this influence… this responsibility… that they are referring to. A responsibility that I feel is absolutely essential, especially in reading for others… but also in reading for yourself.