Tarot and Oracle Cards: Good or Evil?

I had a friend, a very devout Catholic, tell me once that if I was going to use tarot cards that I mustn’t call them “tarot,” since the name has been co-opted for evil purposes. Now, if I refused to call myself a Catholic because evil things have been done in the name of Catholicism, I’m sure the devout people in my life would say that such crimes aren’t representative of Catholicism.

Well, fortune-telling isn’t the only or even the best use of tarot. I myself don’t use cards to tell me what the future holds, though I do try to get a feel for a certain path by asking questions about that path. This is not, however, the same as saying, “In five years, you’ll have a child, a house, and a brand new car.”

I think a post clearing up misconceptions about divinatory card-reading needs to start first with a discussion of good and evil. A lot of people think we’re in a big cosmic war of the worlds. I’m sorry to tell you all this, but the devil and demons don’t “prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls,” as is stated in the St. Michael prayer said at the end of many Masses. If you want to find demons, look no further than your mind.

The mind is very powerful. It has the power to create meaning and experiences out of seemingly incongruent things, which I’m not sure if other animals’ minds are able to do. An individual mind can create, for example, things that other minds cannot see or hear, as in the case of psychosis. Or an individual mind can pick up on what Big Mind is doing, which makes a person seem to have superpowers. Minds put together in a collective are very powerful indeed, powerful enough to create the situation in which we all find ourselves: political corruption, war, economic imbalance, starvation, poverty, etc.

When you get in touch with Oneness, the mind stops, and you see Reality, what Yeshua/Jesus called the kingdom of God. Heaven is right in front of you, if you only have the eyes to see. And there are no devils in heaven, only angels, that is, messengers. See, we have all simply forgotten that we are playing roles in God’s big leela. And for those of you who don’t know what leela is, it’s divine play. God is playing all roles at all times. It’s just that our egos, creations of the mind, try very hard to keep us from seeing that.

Marshall Davis said on his podcast The Tao of Christ that the only “sin” is not seeing. Blindness. And once you open your eyes, you see that good and evil are only mental concepts.

As Paul Simon sings in his genius piece “Seven Psalms”:

The Lord is a meal for the poorest of the poor,

A welcome door to the stranger…

The Covid virus is the Lord.

The Lord is the ocean rising.

The Lord is a terrible swift sword,

A simple truth surviving.

– “Seven Psalms” by Paul Simon

Now back to tarot and oracle cards. Are they evil? Well, I’ve answered the question in a roundabout way, but the short answer is no. It’s no more evil than looking at the weather app and seeing what the forecast is.

Is it rational to use tarot and oracle cards? I daresay that it’s not “rational,” because the rational mind can’t make sense of symbolism or synchronicity. To the rational mind, a wand is just a stick and a chalice is just a cup and a coincidence is just a coincidence. Tarot and oracle cards work in the realm of the imagination, that meaning-making and creative aspect of our psyche that can see a stick as a wand and a cup as a chalice and a moment in time as divine timing.

What exactly are we connecting with in tarot and oracle reading? Since in Reality there is only God’s Self, I suppose a proper card reader is connecting with that Divine Reality. I’m sure many card readers think they’re connecting with intuition when it’s really just ego, and I’m sure many card readers think they’re connecting with a spirit when it’s really just mind chattering. A good card reader connects with the Big Picture and this makes them helpful to their clients.

When I read cards, it’s a kind of visio divina, prayer with art. In the sacred space I create around my divination practice, I contemplate Truth, Beauty, and Love. I ask for practical advice and am often surprised at how apropos the answers I receive are.

For example, I quickly learned through card-reading practice that money is not an important factor in finding purpose. I thought I knew this, yet I would go through my day worrying about how we’re going to pay the credit card bills. I don’t get a paycheck. This blog isn’t monetized in any way, and the herbal apothecary where I volunteer is just that: voluntary, not paid. But when I go to the cards, I continually see my purpose is to be a vessel of compassion, love, and healing. Money doesn’t even come up for me in a reading about purpose.

When I read for other people, what I’m tapping into is both the collective consciousness as it shows up in the symbolism on the cards, the individual consciousness of the querent, and my own sense of things, call it intuition or whatever you please. Tarot and oracle cards activate my imagination, enabling me to assist my querent with a difficult problem or a creative blockage. What I’m contacting, ultimately, is the wisdom of God present in the imagination.

As far as fortune-telling goes, time is also just a construct of the mind. The present moment is the only reality. Our every decision creates a ripple effecting the decisions of countless others, thus creating a cosmic kaleidoscope that can’t be summarized in a single image. If someone asked me to read the cards to find out whether they would have children, I would flip the question to something more open-ended, such as, “What do I need to know before I pursue the path of becoming a parent?” My goal in reading for others is that the person I work with walks away wiser and more empowered. Fortune-telling, by its very nature, takes responsibility out of the querent’s hands.

If you take nothing else from this post, take this: tarot and oracle cards are just card stock with pictures on them. The use and abuse of the cards is all in the reader. And the “devil” is your own ego trying to stay in power for as long as possible. Once you see the kingdom of God, the devil is unmasked and no longer has power over you.

Here’s a St. Michael prayer for you, to end this blog post:

“St. Michael the archangel, help us put down our weapons. Free us from the tricks and snares of the ego. May God reveal Truth to us, we humbly pray. And do thou, O slayer of illusions, by the power of God, cast aside all our barriers to seeing the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Amen.”