Misconceptions about Tarot – part 1

Last time I talked briefly about getting started with learning the Tarot. For today I would like to go over some of the misconceptions I’ve come across about the Tarot. For this, I’ve decided to split them into three groups of three – a small mini-series, if you will. So let’s get started with the first myth about tarot.

You have to be given/or inherit your cards

This is probably one of the most widely held misconceptions about reading tarot. It’s true that I received my first deck as a present, but out of all the many decks I own, only a few were given to me. Further to this, the first person I taught the basics of reading the cards to, did actively choose and buy their own deck. Choosing a deck is a topic I will be covering in the near future, but know that you can buy your own Tarot.

Now there is nothing wrong with receiving a set of cards as a gift, or in inheriting a deck from family or a close friend. The mistaken belief here is purely that this is how it has to be done. It’s more important to have a deck that you feel a strong connection with, whether you buy it for yourself or get it for Christmas as I did than for it to be handed to you. I’ve known people who inherited cards which ultimately they struggled to bond with, and I’ve come across others who had the same experience with a deck they acquired for themselves. The importance here is connection.

There is no wrong, or right way to get your cards – except for perhaps, stealing them. It really isn’t worth the risk. Yes some decks can be expensive but the majority are not. If you are fortunate enough to live somewhere with a shop which caters to spirituality, or a large bookstore, you are perfectly fine to go and pick up the deck that strikes your fancy. Likewise, you are equally fine to ask for it as a gift for any upcoming event that involves the giving/receiving of presents.

You have to start with a Rider Waite deck

If I had to guess where this idea stemmed from, it would be the traditional imagery used by this deck.

Most tarot books I’ve owned, borrowed from libraries and read, have used the images from the Rider Waite. As such it can be easier to start with this style of tarot deck but it really is not mandatory. I’ve never owned a Rider Waite deck, I believe my first deck was a Marseilles style deck which is mostly the same but the minor arcana was a little different.

My second deck is The Vampire tarot and I consider this deck the equivalent of a close friend. I’ve read for lots of people with it and had some interesting experiences due to my habit of taking them everywhere with me when I was younger.

If you’re the type of person who likes to stick to the traditional art then I would highly recommend the Rider Waite. Due to the frequency that it’s cards appear in the many and varied books you can find on reading tarot, it is an extremely accessible set. Again, it’s not mandatory and is purely down to personal preferences.

Personally I like my cards to have a bit more quirkiness to them, as you will see when I include example readings using my cards in the future.

You should start with the whole deck or only the major arcana

This one is an interesting one and was one I wasn’t aware of when I started my tarot journey. In fact, I was only recently reminded of this one when I was looking into the best places to source your cards (for a later post).

I was blessed with the chance to visit a shop that catered to various pagan beliefs and included tarot cards. The owner of the shop came from a family with a rich history of practising such traditions and took a strong interest in my decision to self teach the cards.

My admission to having received my first deck at just 11, and starting to read for others at 12 took him by surprise.

The first thing he asked me was, “So you started with the Major Arcana and then moved to the full deck when you turned 12?” I smiled and said no, I always just used to the full deck. This surprised him, as he’d assumed due to my age (I was in school uniform), that I came from a Pagan or Wicca practising family. Apparently it’s a traditional approach to start with the 22 Major Arcana cards.

However, I can honestly tell you that, hand on heart, from my personal experience you do not need to do this.

Now I’d hope you’re starting to see a pattern here, which is why I grouped these misconceptions together.

You can start how you feel is best for you. Start with the whole deck or just the major cards, but take the time to get to know your deck and it can become a trusted advisor and valued friend.

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