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Can the Tarot be fun?

August 7, 2010

I was feeling a bit blue last night, so my mind began to wander through a list of things I could do that are fun. As is often the case, my thoughts turned to the Tarot, of course, and I thought, “Hey, why don’t I write a blog post about how the Tarot can be fun?”

The Tarot, fun? Well, yeah, it can be. I know, sometimes it all seems so serious, doesn’t it. The other day, for example, there was an extended discussion on a friend’s Facebook page about breaking bad news to clients during a Tarot reading. Now, that’s not fun. But every once in a while, it’s nice to take a break from the serious and somber side of the cards and have a bit of fun with them to sort of perk up your Tarot connection. So, here you go.  Here are a few fun things you can do with the Tarot.


I have quite a few Tarot games described on this blog, but there are only two of them that I have played often. (Note that neither of these games requires that the participants have any familiarity with the Tarot.)

I have played “The Tarot Story” several times with large groups of people (about a dozen), and the story that gets generated usually gets pretty silly, but that’s a big part of the fun. (It helps, by the way, if the people involved have a creative bent.)

The other game I’ve played often is called “Tarot Rummy,” which I heard about from Mary Greer. This one works better in smaller groups, say about four to ten, and although it’s fun too, it tends not to be as silly as “The Tarot Story.” The great thing about this one is that it’s a great way for a group of people to get to know each other, and it’s a great way for people who already know each other to deepen their relationships.  Just one word of warning, though: Tarot Rummy can last a lot longer than you expect. I suggested it at a party once when there were only about six or seven of us left. It was not yet midnight, and I thought it would be a fun way to round out the evening before going home.  The game went so well, and we all got so deep into it, that before we knew it, it was 3am.

Now, the games noted above are for groups of people, but there are other things you can do alone with the cards. One is to create your own stories with the cards, much like what you do with the Tarot Story described above. The easiest way to do this is to deal three cards, lay them in a line, and going left to right, create a story that they might illustrate. This is pretty easy to do with most decks that have illustrated pip cards, such as your trusty Rider Waite Smith deck. That one will work very well since Pamela Smith did a great job of making the cards appear to be scenes from a play. They really draw you in and make you wonder about who the figures in them are, what they’re doing, what they’ll do next, what is happening outside the frame, etc. You know how kids can create a story out of anything?  Well, be like that — let your inner child out with this one.

Another thing you can do is make a list of songs (or novels, movies, etc.) that each of the Major Arcana cards suggests. Years ago, when I was part of an online group called Tarot-L, we did this a few times, and it was always fun to compare each other’s lists. Again, let yourself get silly or crazy with this. Just to give you a start, I created a list of popular songs for the Majors:


The Fool: “Fool on the Hill” (Okay, that was pretty obvious.)

The Magician: “Do you believe in Magic” (The Lovin’ Spoonful)

The High Priestess: “Witchy Woman” (Eagles)

The Empress: “Lady Madonna”

The Emperor: “Cats in the Cradle” (Harry Chapin)

The Hierophant: “Old-Time Religion” (I know that’s stretching the definition of “popular songs”)

The Lovers: “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” (There are, of course, thousands of songs about love and lovers, but there are so many reasons why I think this one is great for this card.)

The Chariot: “Little Red Corvette”

Strength: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”

The Hermit: “Alone Again, Naturally” (Gilbert O’Sullivan)

The Wheel of Fortune: “The Circle Game” (Joni Mitchell)

Justice: “Instant Karma” (John Lennon)

Hanged Man: “Upside Down” (Diana Ross)

Death: “Another One Bites the Dust” (Queen)

Temperance: “The Hokey Pokey“, also known as “The Hokey Cokey” – Just my sense of humor there. 🙂

The Devil: “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”

The Tower: “The Full Catastrophe” (John Mellencamp) — The lyrics to this song will give you a great perspective on this card!

The Star: “Everybody is a Star”

The Moon: “Werewolves of London” (Warren Zevon) – My sense of humor again.

The Sun: “Sunshine Superman” (Donovan)

Judgment: “Forgiving You Was Easy” (Willie Nelson)

The World: “We are the World”


Do you have a list of 22 popular songs to go with the Major Arcana cards?
Do you have any suggestions for fun Tarot games you can play with other people or alone?
Do you have any stories about using Tarot games?
If so, leave a comment here!

  1. Seshat Moon Willow permalink

    I really enjoyed this about the Tarot being fun. I’d never really thought of it that way before. I’m new to learning Tarot, but I so enjoy the thought of have a group of friends participate in the Tarot Story. Thanks so much!!

    • Thanks Seshat
      It’s a great way for you and your friends to deepen your relationship with the Tarot as well as have fun.

  2. Great article.

    Sorry to hear you felt blue, hope you felt better after putting this together.

    The song list is a great idea. I will have to give it some thought and gather my own selections for the album, “The Tarot Journey.” Should make a great cd, don’t you think?

    Love your choice for The Chariot, Prince is one of my favorite singers, before he become formerly known as that is.

    A little humor here on The Moon – Thriller, Micheal Jackson.

    • Thanks Cher. Yes, it perked me up.
      It would make a fun CD, but unfortunately, I don’t have all those songs available.
      Oh yeah, Thriller is a good idea for the Moon too. There are a lot of songs with Moon in the title, but I like using something that’s a bit less obvious sometimes… not always, of course, as my list proves. 😉

  3. Sharon permalink

    Hope your blues passed quickly James. It’s not a pleasant state of mind to be in. When I read your post, I couldn’t help thinking back to when you were at a loss as to why you got the four of cups in a reading for yourself. Maybe it was just one of those moods. As always, enjoying your blog! I remember playing some of those fun tarot games!

    • Thanks for the well wishes, Sharon. The fun of choosing songs for the Majors dissipated the blues quickly. 😀

  4. Karen Borusiewicz permalink

    James – I love you! Your blog brightens my blues 🙂
    Some other suggestions. How about When You Wish Upon a Star for The Star. Wonder if anyone can come up with an all Disney version of songs for the tarot?

    BTW – I love the tarot story telling. It can be such fun. Rachel Pollack and Mary Greer often take that to a different level with the 78 cards in 5 minutes process – challenge yourself to either tell a story or respond to a question by shuffling the deck and then flipping the cards one by one an spontaneously building what you say out loud for each card! Can be fun, imaginative, and pretty profound as the time limit forces you to bypass that inner critic we all have!

    Have fun,

    • Awww, Karen, Thank you!
      I thought about “When you wish upon a star” but was trying for more “popular” tunes (as much as I could, at least.)
      Yes, I’ve seen Rachel and Mary do their “78 card reading in 5 minutes” and it’s quite fun. It is another fun variation on doing the Tarot Story.

  5. My first thought as I read your post was “Huh!!of course Tarot is fun. If it wasn’t, like I would have chosen it as a profession!!!!” :)))))))))
    Then I read your idea of a song for each major arcana and I got excited. I have to get down to make that list!!! I have tons of ideas!! 🙂

  6. Thanks, James! We can all use a pick-me-up!

  7. frustrated artist permalink

    Hi James,
    I recently was contemplating on using the Major Arcana to reference different cities. I heard that some cities have astrological aspects, and i know the tarot has astrological links to. Like the lovers is Virgo, The Sun Leo, Death-Scorpio. So then I was wondering which Tarot Major would refer to New York? I heard Washington DC is ruled by mars and Scorpio and linked it with Death, but in fact would of associated it with the heirophant since it is a political city. In any event, I wondered how you would associated Major cities in the U.S. with the Tarot and maybe afterwards with major cities world wide. Just something to think about and wondered what your thoughts were or if you have done something like this?

    • Sounds like a fun exercise for a future blog post! However, I think I would go with more thematic associations rather than with astrology associations. For example, Las Vegas, being such a sin city, would get the Devil and NYC, the city that never sleeps, might get the Star or Moon and DC would get the Emperor, which I associate with secular rule rather than the religious rule of the Hierophant.
      Fun idea, though. Thanks for the suggestion.

  8. Davina permalink

    Hope you are feeling less blue James. I saw your list, and one jumped out at me based on a film I saw for the first time only recently 🙂 For the Hermit, I liked Castaway starring Tom Hanks. When he returned to civilisation you could see he had a different perspective, and a respect for what he had learned whilst isolated on the island.

    • Thank you, Davina, but notice that this post is from 2 1/2 year ago. Those blues are long gone. 😀
      As for your suggestion, yes, Castaway is a great example of the Hermit.

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