Can Tarot Cards Ruin Your Life?

How dangerous-- or not-- are Tarot cards?

A spread of Tarot cards on a table with someone holding one up to the camera

Main image courtesy of Unsplash.

The art of Tarot reading has risen considerably in popularity over the past several years-- thanks partly to the Covid pandemic and the uncertainty that people all over the globe faced in its aftermath. Along with this increase in popularity has come a debunking of many of the negative misconceptions about the practice of Tarot reading-- including clarifying its purposes and looking past its 19th-century associations with the occult. This has led to many more people getting comfortable with using Tarot in their own lives.

However, just because Tarot proves extremely useful to so many people doesn’t mean that it has no downsides at all. There are plenty of things that even experienced Tarot readers encourage beginners to watch out for, and just as many concerns that opponents to the practice raise.

So-- is Tarot dangerous, and can it ruin your life? In order to answer this question, we’ll try to outline the benefits of Tarot as well as its risks. If you’re not quite sure if Tarot is right for you, it’s important to keep a close eye on what you believe and what you’re trying to achieve-- so we’ll try to provide as much information as possible to help you make your decisions.

The History of Tarot

Two people at a table doing a Tarot reading
Tarot wasn’t always associated with divination. Image courtesy of Psychics Directory.

Although Tarot is now associated with divination, it was originally nothing more than a gambling game. Tarocchi emerged as a popular card game around the 15th century-- the deck looked a lot like a normal playing deck, but included a series of special cards called “Trumps” or “Triumphs.”

Over time, the cards’ uses started extending beyond just gambling games. By the 18th century, Tarot was associated-- provocatively-- with the occult and divination. This has resulted in many of the stereotypes and misconceptions that still cling to life surrounding Tarot today-- such as the idea that you should not buy your first deck or the idea that Tarot is a sure-fire way of telling the future outright.

In the past few decades-- and especially the past several years-- many of these misconceptions have fallen to the wayside, and Tarot has become popular for reasons entirely unrelated to the occult, magic, or fortune-telling. Most people today view Tarot reading as a way to tap into your own subconscious and gain a new perspective on current situations in your life-- a method of self-reflection and personal growth, rather than of seeing the future and getting all the answers through supernatural influence.

Benefits of Tarot

A spread of Tarot cards on a table
Many people find Tarot reading useful for personal growth, among other things. Image courtesy of Daily Dot.

Tarot reading hasn’t gotten popular recently for no reason-- for years, plenty of people have found it accurate, useful, and beneficial in a variety of ways.

Those who actively practice Tarot reading usually use it as a tool for self-reflection, not a full-on spiritual guide. The imagery on each card represents different types of situations that occur in some form in everyone’s lives-- like death, love, major life changes, and so on. The layout of these cards during a Tarot reading is meant to be interpreted and woven together into a story that provides insight into a specific question or problem that the reader has.

The combination of unique imagery on each card, its position in a card spread, and the individual problems and questions of the reader results in a unique Tarot reading experience for everyone. According to several people who use Tarot cards regularly, Tarot is extremely accurate precisely because in the modern world, people often read and interpret their own cards-- and, as such, their readings reflect and seem to respond to their own thoughts and behaviors.

Having to put a spread of cards together into a sort of story in order to address a question you have can force you to face your challenges and shortcomings, and once these insights are evident to you, you can learn how to grow past them. People who use Tarot in this way-- as a method of gaining insight into their own behavior-- very frequently report feeling like they’ve grown as a person as a result.

Tarot can also help you make decisions-- although experienced readers warn that you shouldn't rely on the cards to make your decisions for you. Nonetheless, a reading before a major life decision often helps people keep things in perspective and see their situation more clearly. This use for Tarot became more popular during the pandemic as people struggled to make decisions concerning careers, home life, and their health-- and many of them also benefited from Tarot during those difficult times.

Risks of Tarot

A green Tarot card with a bee on it
Although many find Tarot beneficial, there are also plenty of risks to take into account before getting started with it. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Although Tarot can be extremely useful and beneficial for those seeking personal growth, insight, or advice on major life decisions, it’s also not a perfect art-- and it can have plenty of negative effects of varying severity, depending largely on your own attitude toward it. After all, most readers and even many skeptics agree that Tarot reading is, in some way, tied up with your spiritual life-- and that’s something that’s important to keep care of.

First, even those who practice Tarot reading usually say that the cards should not be used to tell the future outright. The future is a tricky thing to predict, whether or not Tarot has been used for this purpose in the past-- and Tarot readers often emphasize the fact that relying on the cards to tell you what you should do or what will happen in your future can lead you to diminish your own free will. This often leads to feelings of helplessness or powerlessness, which can eventually cause your mental health to deteriorate-- and that’s the opposite of the goal of Tarot.

It’s also extremely unadvisable to try and use Tarot cards with bad intentions or as a form of magic-- especially with the intent to harm someone. Tarot readers say that doing this is extremely dangerous, and the consequences can be varied and severe. Although it’s hard to pin down specifically what the dangers of using Tarot cards with bad intentions are, it’s safe to say that they are there-- and that could ruin your life or someone else’s.

Finally, there are spiritual and religious considerations that should be taken into account. Obviously, not everyone is spiritual or religious, but those who are often grow up hearing about the dangers of divination, including Tarot. As such, many people approach Tarot with pre-existing fears about the spiritual forces associated with it, or with skepticism about whether or not it works in the first place.

These things prevent them from gleaning any benefit from Tarot readings, even by the admission of many experienced readers and intuitives. Obviously, if your own conscience is not at rest with the idea of reading the Tarot, then trying to do so anyway may inflict some harm on you-- by saddling you with guilt, disrupting your personal faith, and causing your mental health to deteriorate, even if the spiritual risks you associate with the cards don’t actually come to pass. This deterioration of mental and spiritual health, again, is no one’s goal-- so before taking up Tarot, pay close attention to your mind, heart, and conscience to see if the art is really for you.


A woman with her hand on a table, where six Tarot cards are laid out
Keep in mind your beliefs and goals before starting Tarot. Image courtesy of Kelly's Thoughts on Things.

In the end, whether or not Tarot will ruin your life is largely a matter of personal perspective-- it is up to each individual to weigh their goals with the risks that they associate with the cards in order to decide whether this art is for them.

There are both positive and negative aspects to Tarot reading. It can prove extremely useful to those who are open to the cards and the ideas that they express-- plenty of people insist on the accuracy of their readings, and claim that Tarot has helped them grow spiritually. As a method of self-reflection, a way of gaining insight into difficult situations, and a means of getting a sort of advice on major decisions, Tarot reading can be a positive and healing experience.

However, it’s also worth keeping the risks of Tarot in mind, too. As we’ve discussed, Tarot readers caution against using Tarot as a spiritual crutch and becoming obsessed with the cards-- this can harm your mental health by giving you a sense of helplessness. Using them to predict the future can also prove more harmful than beneficial, and using them with malicious intent is always a bad idea. Besides all that, matters of conscience and personal feelings of guilt or skepticism can interfere with your appreciation of Tarot, and if you give in to those feelings, they can very well hurt you both mentally and spiritually.

The most important thing, in the end, is to stay in touch with yourself and your spiritual and emotional needs in order to determine whether or not you are susceptible to the negative effects of Tarot reading-- you are the only one who can determine whether or not the art is right for you.

Skyler Watkins

Skyler Watkins is an aspiring author and editor located in Columbus, Ohio.
See All Posts >>

You Might Also Like...