The Tarot & Religion:
A FAQ for Christians (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is Tarot against my religion?
It probably depends on how you use the Tarot. If your religion forbids “fortunetelling” or “divination,” and you follow all of your religion's rules to the letter, make sure you are using the cards appropriately. Try an Archetype Reading. In this practice, we use archetypal images to understand truths from our own unconscious minds and unlock inner creativity. Images may be drawn from a Tarot deck, or if that feels uncomfortable, we can use other image sources.
Does the Bible forbid Tarot cards?
The Bible warns against sorceresses, divination, soothsaying, fortunetelling, mediums, and spiritists. Tarot can be used for divination and fortunetelling; it can be used instead for meditation and exploring archetypes. Many of these Biblical mentions happen early in the Old Testament, alongside verses telling believers not to eat pork, trim their beards, get tattoos, cut the sides of their hair, eat oysters, go to church within 40 days of giving birth, work on the Sabbath, eat fat, touch a goat, or sell land permanently. Some scholars believe rules against divination and so-called 'sorcery' were put in place to keep women from having an active role in spiritual leadership. In our culture as in many olden times, more women tend to practice divination and consult oracles than men do.
I know a Christian who uses Tarot, astrology, and other things that sound like divination to me. How can a Christian do this?
Many modern Christians base their beliefs, and their rules for everyday life, in the New Testament. In Matthew 22:36, a Pharisee asks Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest Commandment in the Law?” Jesus answers, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” He goes on to say, “ ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Such a Christian might read their horoscope and enjoy the thoughts it brings them, without having astrology become more important to their heart, soul, and mind than God. By this standard, modern Christians can feel comfortable eating bacon, cutting their hair, selling land, and exploring the Tarot.
In some Christian and Jewish sects, followers such as the Hasids try to obey every edict (or rule) in the Old Testament, to the letter. They don’t eat pork, trim their beards, touch women who might be menstruating, eat shellfish, or anything else mentioned in Leviticus and elsewhere. For such a person, Tarot and astrology would be strictly out of bounds. As would eating bacon, eating fruit from a tree that was planted fewer than three years ago, or selling off a condo.
Are you a Christian Tarot reader?
No. I am a former born-again Christian who enjoys reading Tarot. In the time of Deuteronomy, I’d have been stoned to death as a sorceress—although, I might have already been struck down by God for eating shrimp, in those days. In the here and now, I use the cards and other means of conducting divination and soothsaying. I also use the cards, however, for non-divination, non-soothsaying: Archetype Readings and Image Readings. I believe each person has to make their own decision about what is right and what is wrong—for them, in this moment in time. The answers are in our hearts.
But how do I find the answer in my heart?
If the idea of consulting the Tarot makes you nervous, perhaps sit with that uncomfortable feeling for a while, breathe into it. Pray. Then ask yourself: Am I afraid that Tarot cards are just plain wrong? Am I afraid that God is opposed to the Tarot? If so, how can I feel okay about eating bacon and shellfish? The answer may come to you immediately. It may not. If your heart immediately says, “No. Don’t use the Tarot,” then you may want to stop right there and forget about Tarot. If not, try The Bible Rule Exercise.
Okay, so what is the Bible Rule Exercise?
Spend some time with the Bible. Read it. Write down each rule you find; there are many. Leviticus is a great place to start this exercise, but you could begin at the beginning, with Genesis. Meditate or pray on each rule. Look up various translations and word roots, keeping in mind that various Church leaders throughout the centuries have determined which stories should stay in the Bible, which ones ought to be tossed out, and how to translate various words from Greek or Hebrew into languages like contemporary English. In other words: do your research! This is why Martin Luther started Protestantism: so that Believers could enter into a personal, prayer-based relationship with God and Jesus Christ, and thanks to Gutenberg, read the Bible all by themselves.
Write down your thoughts, and note whether you obey each rule or not. If not, ask yourself why. Is it because you believe in your heart that this old rule is no longer relevant to God? Is it because other believers in your church don’t follow that rule?
The rule exercise may take weeks or months. It should help you calibrate your own beliefs and your own relationship to the Law of the Word. At the end of all this study, you may feel that your God opposes the Tarot and you do, too. Alternately, you may feel that your own beliefs are more New Testament than Old Testament, more “Love thy neighbor” than “When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten.” Your discomfort with the Tarot may turn out to be more about peer pressure than actual morality. Pray, then decide whether you want your peer group, your parents, or your pastor to make this decision for you—or if you’d like to trust your heart.
I’ve decided I want to look into Tarot. What should I do next?
Some would recommend reading a book on the subject or buying your own cards. My own advice would be to first seek out a minimum of three Tarot readings from practitioners you can trust. Make sure the practitioner understands the issues you bring to the reading. Be very specific with the reader if you want to avoid fortunetelling-style ‘divination.’ (If you’d like to book a reading with me, please specify an Archetype Reading or Image Reading.) I heartily recommend that your first few readings take place in the form of a Conversational Reading, given that you’re bringing difficult issues to the table. Also, avoid the temptation to dive in and immerse yourself in Tarot straight away. Instead, schedule no more than one reading per month, and give yourself time to meditate or pray on how the process is unfolding. After a few months, you might feel comfortable buying a book about Tarot or opening yourself up to receiving your first Tarot deck.
I wish you the best in making this difficult decision.