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“How accurate are your Tarot readings?”

October 14, 2014

I was recently at a party where a man asked me what I do for a living. When I told him I read Tarot cards, he asked, “Oh really? How accurate are you?” I sighed (internally), and then I explained that that’s only a valid question for someone who does predictive readings, which I don’t do; I don’t really believe in such readings. For me (and for a lot of other readers, although not all, of course), a Tarot reading is a way to gain insights into someone’s situation so that they can solve their problems and create the future they want. So, for me, the valid question is “How helpful are you,” and the answer is “Very helpful.”

I’m not sure the guy asking me the question really got it, though. This sort of discussion is usually difficult because the average layperson doesn’t want to give up their mistaken belief that Tarot readings are always fortune telling, even when I show them my business card, which says explicitly: “A fortune helper, not a fortune teller.” Or, as a reader I know once said to me, “It seems that no matter what you tell them, they still say, ‘Yeah, but what’s my future?’”

This all begs the question, why don’t people hear what I’m saying when I provide this explanation? I think this sort of thing is typical for people in any area of life. We all get entrenched ideas, which then become really hard to shake. In fact, once an idea gets stuck in our head, we only hear whatever we’ve become conditioned to hear. Then we get confused and distressed when someone talks about something (like Tarot readings) in a way that conflicts with our preconceived notions. This is what’s called cognitive dissonance, which is a sort of mental discomfort that arises when we are confronted by new information that conflicts with our entrenched beliefs or ideas. Two of Swords RWS2.0 Tarot eCards(Incidentally, this reminds me of the Two of Swords.) When this happens, we try to reduce this distress by actively avoiding any information that might increase it.

So I guess the best I can do in such situations is to present my information and hope that it will eventually percolate down into the other person’s consciousness. And meanwhile, I have to accept that they may continue to cling to their mistaken concept of what I do, at least for a while.

PS: Just a side note that goes off on a bit of a tangent — I make it clear on this website that I am not a fortune-teller. For example, the subtitle at the top of the home page says:
“The Tarot can empower you to create the future you want and transform your life by providing you with insights about yourself and the world around you.
See also a post called “A Fortune Helper, not a Fortune Teller” as well as my Tarot Philosophy page … and now this post.
Nevertheless, I still get Christian fundamentalists abusing my blog’s contact form by sending me tirades that have cherry-picked the Bible in order to condemn fortune-telling. There’s just so much wrong with them doing that, it’s hard to know where to start. I’ll just leave it at this. To those people, I say, “Just stop. You’re only making yourself look foolish.”



From → Readings

  1. Very nice post. I like how you coined the phrase “A Fortune Helper”. And unfortunately, despite the fact that so many brilliant minds in the history of the world have studied occult, Tarot, etc, people associate anybody who helps humanity in this way as some fringe lunatic. (I scoped at, and I can definitely see why.)

    Fortunately, if you have a true gift, you already understand the spectrum of behavior in humanity, so it should not be shocking. I also know that by putting yourself out there (via the internet), you are going to come across those people. I feel that creating a public presence, no matter how large or how small, there are two things you should do to reach more people….CREATE the controversy, and handle the backlash without anger. And breathe….you communicate very well and I for one, Christian that I am, have no problem with your philosophy ,your posts, or your path in life.

    • Thank you from your response.
      I do hope it does not seem I am painting all Christians with the same, broad brush. I realize that Christianity, as with most groups, has its fringe elements. In fact, I do realize the good intentions of the people who (ab)use my contact form to send me long diatribes about how I can save my soul by eschewing “the evils of Tarot.” Of course, we all know what road is paved with good intentions.
      Also, I do hope I’ve handled this bit of backlash amicably; I feel more “facepalm” than anything else.

  2. Hi James, I always find your comments wise, kind, and useful. Your connecting the 2 of Swords to the concept of Cognative Dissonance is particularly helpful. I have been assembling psychological meanings for the R/W/S deck for use by psychotherapists and anyone else interested in this type of reading. I would like to add this one to my collection–appropriately credited to you, of course. May I? I will be presenting on Tarot and Gestalt Therapy at the NY Institute for Gestalt Therapy on Nov. 16. I will be doing experiments with tarot that don’t require a knowledge of the cards. Your post has stimulated me to also handout to them the Brief Dictionary of Psychological Meanings for Tarot Cards that I have been compiling, mostly out of my own knowledge of the cards.
    Love and Light,
    Elinor Greenberg

    • Hi Elinor,
      Thank you for the complements. Yes, absolutely, use my Two of Swords ‘cognitive dissonance’ meaning, and I appreciate your offer to reference it. And best of luck on your presentation next month!
      PS: You might find a few more ideas for psychological meanings in my Pithy Tarot posts (or with my Pithy Tarot app).
      Bright Blessings,

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