Tarot And The Rules Of Engagement


Be a tarot rebel and go your own way! Image by Skoziner.


Tarot is a long standing esoteric art, and has attracted its fair share of superstitions, which some purport to be the “rules” by which one must engage with the cards. Some of these rules include:

  • Never buy a first deck – it must be given as a gift
  • Tarot cards must be kept wrapped in silk when not in use
  • No one should ever touch your tarot cards but you
  • Women should not read tarot cards during pregnancy or when menstruating
  • Tarot cards allow evil and invite negativity into your household
  • Tarot reading should not take place after 10pm at night
  • True tarot readers are psychics, or work with spirit guides
  • The cards have one concrete meaning as dictated by the book.
  • One must include reversals to have an accurate reading
  • Sleeping with your deck under your pillow will help you connect to the cards
  • Cards should be knocked with a knuckle or tapped on the table 3X before commencing a reading
  • Cards should be cleansed of stagnant energy once per month

While some folks may be adamant about enforcing these or other “rules” I’m here to let you in on a little secret – other than conducting our readings with compassion, integrity, and honesty,  there are no rules in tarot.

Let’s get that sorted straight away, ethics aside:

The first rule of tarot is there are no rules in tarot. The second rule of tarot is that THERE ARE NO RULES in tarot.

Some of these established tarot myths developed from practice. Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon to receive your first deck as a gift from a mentor you had sought out to learn this art. While that is a romantic notion that is sometimes still practiced by those who teach, the fact of the matter is that there is no special charm in being gifted a deck, and no harm in buying one for yourself – tarot is such a deeply personal exercise that it makes sense to find a deck that speaks to you most clearly. Silk has been a customary wrap for cards, but it holds no special powers, and is not as protective as a more sturdy box, pouch, or tin. Most readers prefer to have the seeker hold, shuffle, or cut the cards while focussing on thier question, but may keep a private personal deck for themselves.

Other myths such as women not being able to read during certain times of thier lives have thier roots in religious beliefs, as does the idea that tarot welcomes in evil – the apple of knowledge hasn’t fallen far from the tree in that sense. Not all tarot readers are psychics or work with spirit guides, and neither is necessary in order to get an accurate and insightful reading. We intuitive readers would be out of luck if only by-the-book meanings and reversals were enforced, and while I know many who sleep with the deck under thier pillow, it sounds like an uncomfortable arrangement to me.

Tarot is a system of self-discovery, so discovering what works for YOU as a reader and supports YOUR practice should serve as your guide.

Many of us who read tarot have little rituals to help us connect to our cards and get into the right space to truly tap into thier message – personally, I enjoy working with crystals and have 2 that are dedicated solely to my tarot practice. I also like to engage in a brief meditation to bring myself into being fully present before I work with the cards, and have a shuffle pattern that I enjoy and put intent into. The point here is that it takes some experimentation to find an approach that works specifically for our practice, and one way is not better or more correct than another. If you find that cleansing your deck in the light of the full moon while surrounded by crystals a positive way to connect with and care for your deck – and this is certainly a part of my practice – then go right ahead!



Tarot and crystals set out on the night of the full moon.


The beauty in tarot is in the insight it gives us. Each of us has our own individual path, and the understanding we gain from walking it should not be enforced to fit into anyone else’s mould. Finding our own unique appraoch will serve to enhance our practice, while observing or trying out different methods of practice opens us up to further discovery. So feel free to smash the “rules” to create your own set of guidelines and ritual – like any artform, tarot is well served when it has our own unique signature and fingerprints all over it.