Myths, Tall Tales, and Out Right Fallacies


The other day we met a lovely young lady who was interested in a tandem reading. Jenn was excited, but nervous too. “My grandparents are Christian,” she said with a chuckle. “They’d freak if they knew I was getting a tarot reading.”

Kat and I have encountered this particular fear often during our readings. The myth that divination and card reading are somehow satanic, evil, or dangerous is a pervasive one. In fact, there are so many myths about readings floating around, we decided to take them on in a blog post. I hope you’ve buckled your seat belt, because this week we’re taking on the myths, tall tales and outright fallacies about tarot and oracle readings.

The Myths

There are lot of myths about readings, most perpetuated by popular culture (we’re looking at you, horror movies!). Here are just a few we can safely debunk.

The Death card means you’re going to die!

At this point in the B-movie, Madame Calpurnia looks up from her cards, her eyes wide with fear, and says, “You have to leave. NOW.” The dramatic music surges, and we know the hero or heroine is pretty much going to be monster food by the end of Act Two.

In reality, the Death card indicates change, the death of one phase of your life and the beginning of another. This could mean a separation, the death of an idea, a relationship, or a radical change in perception.

The Devil card is evil.

This is where a lot of people, usually Christians, get freaked out. They see the Devil and all bets are off. They are scared that the Source of All Evil has his eye fixed directly on them, and the cards have just sealed their fate.

Old School Tarot was steeped in Christian imagery, most notably The Hierophant (Pope) and The Devil cards. Since so much of the understanding and communication of the cards come through cultural imagery and context, it’s understandable that these would be the images our European predecessors found most effective. Everybody knew who the Devil was, and the card would definitely get their attention.

However, in the context of the tarot, it’s pretty safe to assume The Devil card is indicative of separation from higher self. My deck shows The Devil as a terrifying mask, grinning and dark, completely obstructing the view of the actual person lurking behind it. When the Devil shows up in a reading, you can look for hidden motives, duplicity, addictions, and hypocrisy…. not some red guy with a pointy tail lurking in the corners to poke you with his pitchfork.

Seeing negative cards spells DOOM!

Some of my cards can seem pretty scary to clients–Ten of Swords, Ten of Wands, and The Tower spring to mind immediately. If you see these cards on the table during your reading, it’s hard not to gulp. Especially when you see words like “ruin,” “oppression,” and the image of an exploding tower in your future.

Kat always says that she loves seeing these cards in a spread. Why? For the same reason you love seeing a traffic notification on your GPS. It’s easier to deal with a crash when it’s several blocks away and you can change your route than it is if you stumble upon it blind. Getting these dark and scary cards in a reading is like getting a heads up so you can avoid that accident at the corner of 40th and Bell. A few adjustments in your routine, and you can minimize the damage or even avoid the whole mess!

The Tall Tales

Aside from the myths, there are a lot of exaggerations about what a tarot reader can do. There is a lot of potential in the cards, but sometimes you just have to call a tall tale a tall tale.

“He told me how  to win the lottery!!!”

Honestly, if a reader tells you they will give you a sure fire way to win big, ask yourself the following question: If this person really does have the keys to the Big Bank, why the heck are they charging me $60 for this reading? Why aren’t they sipping mai tais on a beach on their private island in the Bahamas? If what a reader offers seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“It was like she read my mind!”

Intuitive does not mean mind-reader. A good card reading is a conversation between the reader and the client, with a give and take on both sides that leads to deeper understanding of the issue at hand. “Testing” your reader’s ability by withholding or concealing information may not get you a Skeptic Cookie, but it will waste both your money and your time!

The Outright Fallacies

While some of the stories you hear about readers are myths, others tall tales, there are times when the stories you hear are just plain BS. There are charlatans out there who are just in it for the money, and when they slither out from behind their crystal balls, these are some of the things they may be saying.

She told me there was a curse on me, and that for $200 she could lift the curse.

Friend, run, do not walk, to the nearest exit and do not hand another penny of your hard-earned money to this fraud. Between us, Kat and I have been reading for the better part of sixty years and neither one of us has ever been called to “lift a curse” from a client–especially not for a ridiculous sum of money.

Even if you believe in curses, and even if you believe the cards can detect a curse, a random stranger with a beat up deck of Rider-Waites is not going to be the one to lift that curse. Any positive change in your life (curse or not) has to come from you. Sooner or later, any mistakes or “curses” you’ve picked up along the way have to be repaired–and that can only be done by you. Not Madame Calpurnia and her wi-fi credit card reader.

Reading the cards requires special psychic gifts only certain people can learn.

We all like to believe we are special snowflake unicorns, and card readers are no different in that matter. But the honest truth is, pretty much anyone can learn to read cards. It’s a skill, just like playing tennis or singing. But while anyone can learn to swing a racket or sing an aria, not everyone is going to be Venus and Serena or Pavarotti! Learning to read for yourself can be a very empowering skill, even if you are not a professional. However, even people who read for themselves may want to hire a professional in certain situations.

Be Bold

I was nervous the first time I got a professional reading. I had many of the same fears many of you have–that my reader would see something bad, that I would get scammed, that I would be told something I didn’t like about myself. But a reading should be an empowering experience, especially with a credible and experienced reader. It’s nothing to be afraid of. So why not give it a shot?

Peace and Love,


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Image by Esteban Lopez at


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