The Psychology of Tarot

There are many misconceptions about tarot cards. From superstitious beliefs that divination is evil or allows you to communicate with the dead to thinking that all card readers must either have psychic abilities or they’re all complete quacks.

Allow me to fill you in on a little secret:

Tarot cards are printed images on paper. They’re manufactured in factories. There’s nothing magical or evil about them. And you don’t have to have “abilities” to use tarot, aside from the ability to connect to your inner self.

The Psychology of Tarot

Fortune teller woman's hands holding blue tarot cards over a white wooden table background.

Tarot reading has more to do with the science of psychology than superstition or magic. Sure, depending on your spiritual beliefs you may use divination tools like tarot as part of your ritual practice and place more emphasis on their “spiritual qualities,” just as many world religions do with objects like prayer beads.

But I love using tarot in my own mindfulness practice because the ritual provides an intimate psychoanalysis that can lead to improved self-understanding and self-reflection.

In fact, the prominent psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung recognized tarot cards as depicting archetypes frequently found in human dreams and mythology. He also noted they have divinatory characteristics similar to those found in astrology and the I-Ching. Jung even went as far as to say the divination aspect of tarot works because “we can predict the future when we know how the present moment evolved from the past.”

A Ritualized Rorschach Test?

A blue inkblot image depicting what a typical Rorschach test would look like.
The Rorschach or inkblot test.

I don’t know about tarot’s ability to predict the future aside from being able to sort out your inner thoughts and becoming more aware of the choices you make that can lead to a certain outcome. That alone can be powerful enough.

Ever the realist, though, I liken tarot reading to a personalized Rorschach test – otherwise known as the “inkblot test.”

The Rorschach test is a psychological test used to analyze a subject’s perception of inkblots on paper. Psychologists can use this information to examine someone’s personality and emotional functioning.

Tarot is a bit like that, except instead of a psychologist giving you the test, you’re pulling cards (or having a reader pull them for you) and interpreting the card meanings through the lens of your subconscious mind.

It’s a powerful tool!

How to Use Tarot as a Mindfulness Technique

A white woman, visible from the chin down, sits behind a wooden table with tarot cards spread out in front of her.

Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed about something, I like to go to my quiet space, light some candles, spritz an essential oil blend, and get into a meditative state with my tarot cards.

This practice has helped me learn so many things about myself. For example, I’ve been able to weigh the pros and cons of two different job offers. Going into the reading, I thought I knew which job I preferred, but surprisingly, after self-reflection through tarot, I realized that I preferred the qualities provided by the job I initially didn’t even think I’d like.

I ended up not getting either job, but the point is that I learned something new about myself that I otherwise wouldn’t have, and I was able to add those list of job qualities to my must-haves moving forward.

Do you use tarot as a tool in your spiritual practice? If not, would you be open to learning more about how you can implement tarot readings into your mindfulness practice?

A version of this article was originally posted on UpChat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s