The Heart of the Matter
When people are getting at whether or not tarot is evil, they’re really asking if they play a part in spells and black magic.
Before I get into the answer of this, I’d like to address something that I think is extremely important.
Questions like these, no matter where you stand on them, have to be understood as coming from a place of fear. Whoever is asking them is a) being brave for asking them in the first place. It shows they’re wanting to learn and expand their knowledge and be open to the possibility that their preconceptions are wrong. They are also b) asking because they don’t understand. When we are confronted with things we don’t understand and view as a potential threat, we get scared, and a lot of secondary emotions and actions come from fear, such as anger, judgement, rejection, and so on.
If we want people who want to judge tarot, astrology, numerology, palmistry, I-Ching, runes—anything along the lines of divination—if we want these people to accept us, then we have to be open and accept where they’re coming from. The average person asking about the ‘dangers’ or ‘evil’ of divination are simply scared.
But there’s a bonus to this:
- They’re talking to you about it, which, for the above reasons already mentioned is a good thing.
- They know that there is something bigger than us at force
- That means that they believe in more than just the physical world
- Because of this, they might be more open to listening to what you have to say about your chosen medium of divination.
How to Address the Fear
Sometimes it can be really frustrating when you get hit with these questions, and you aren’t always going to be met with calm vocalization of questions. People close to you that you love might accuse you of horrible things, might be angry, might be distrusting. I’ve been there, it’s hard.
There are some steps you can take though:
- Breathe out any frustration you’re feeling, or anger, or defense. Matching their emotion will not get either of you anywhere except for pissed off.
- Keep calm, and keep your voice steady when addressing their concerns. Even if they interrupt you, let them. That part is hard—I hate, hate, hate being interrupted, but remembering that this is their issue, not yours, will really help them gain trust in what you have to say.
- Listen to them. When you think they’ve finished talking, count to three before you answer, to give them the chance to begin speaking if they’re not done.
- Do NOT tell them they’re coming from a place of fear. For some people, this might be enlightening, but those people are few and far between. Most people will get more defensive.
- Do NOT match their anger/frustration/fear. It will only confirm whatever is going on in their head about the situation.
Creating an open dialogue between the two of you can be challenging, but once it’s established, it will allow for you to gain and express understanding of where they’re coming from, and hopefully do the same for them. When there is understanding there can be empathy, where there is empathy there can be compassion. By allowing the other person to be heard, by meeting them calmly with rational and solid answers, you can help create a level of understanding.
Are Tarot Cards Evil?
If we are considering your sheltered family who dutifully goes to church every Sunday and says their prayer before every meal, there is a chance they might only have heard the negative side of the tarot rumors.
First of all: I am by no way saying that religious individuals do not a) know in full about tarot or b) do not practice tarot themselves.
There are plenty of tarot decks out there specifically geared toward Christians, and in fact, a lot of imagery comes from Christian traditions. Consider the Rider-Waite depiction of:
- the Three of Coins
- the Hierophant
- the Four of Swords
- the Five of Coins
—just to name a few that come to the top of my head—all of which refer to religious practices or portray a church or a cathedral to refer to faith.
So now, for the answer—as if the above mentioned cards weren’t enough.
No, Tarot Cards are not evil. In fact, nothing is evil. It is only humans that make things good or evil, in my opinion.
What Is Evil?
Humans and Non-Human Animals
If a human kills another human being, it can be argued that that is a source of evil (if we’re looking at things extremely simplistically, and defining evil as say, causing pain and anguish). However, if an animal kills something, it isn’t considered evil. It’s considered to be within its nature, in the natural order of things.
Why is this?
Many philosophers including Kant, Aristotle, and Sartre, believe that the defining essence of what makes a human being is their ability to reason, and be rational. All of them set their whole system of ethics based on this idea—Virtue ethics (Aristotle), Deontology (Kant), and Existentialism (Sartre, not the soul developer of the thought, but mostly associated with it).
Because we have the ability to be rational and reason, we have the ability to know when something is right and wrong. When we can make this distinction, then we are able to have evil acts. An evil act is doing something that is wrong and knowing that it is wrong, and not doing it to serve a higher purpose.
Animals don’t have this rationality. They have instinct. There are animals that are trainable and will act in their own interest—dogs included: they love you, therefore don’t want to hurt you because of their love for you (though this is a whole other philosophical debate). Therefore, they don’t have the ability to be evil.
Furthermore, because of this ability to ration, and because of the understanding of evil I set forth, how on earth would it be possible for a deck of cards to be evil? It would imply that they have their own consciousness and are conducting wrong acts on their own volition, knowing they are wrong.
And the Cards?
There are some who believe that yes, the cards, on some level have their own consciousness, or at least, are the instrument of another consciousness to deliver a message. Let’s say the spirit of Sandra of the ancient house on Commercial street, who died 100 years ago, has a message from beyond the grave that she wants to deliver. Lo and behold! Someone with tarot cards, looking to find someone with a message from beyond the grave walks into the house and she now has her medium.
What can she do with the cards more than manipulate them in a way to give a certain message?
The tarot is a means of speaking, of communicating. First and foremost, it’s a means of communicating with the user’s subconscious, whether that’s the reader or the querant. The cards show us images that resonate with our subconscious and from that we intuitively gain an understanding of what our inner selves are trying to tell us.
They are the messenger, that is all.
One could argue that the cards might deliver an ‘evil’ message, whatever that might be. Something scary perhaps? But surely that then falls under exactly what watching horror movies or reading horror books, or even reading the newspaper does. It plants negative and scary images in our brains. So then what? We somehow relinquish our will and conduct evil acts as a result? Sure, there are some ill people out there who might do that. Might. Some. But I would say that is more the symptom of a system that doesn’t value mental health care, rather than an effect of a deck of cards with pictures on them.
So I ask you, how can cards be evil?
Read Part II of Common Tarot Questions: Do Tarot Cards Work?