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Is Tarot Psychic? How a Tarot Reader Knows Your Business Before You Ask


Sylvia Sky is a widely published author of books and articles about spiritual matters.

This famous Tarot card is symbolic, not literal. It shows people voluntarily chained to their choice of "the devil they know" over "the devil they don't." It represents surrender to a bad habit, temptation, or negativity.

This famous Tarot card is symbolic, not literal. It shows people voluntarily chained to their choice of "the devil they know" over "the devil they don't." It represents surrender to a bad habit, temptation, or negativity.

Tarot Seems Like Magic and Mystery, but It's Not

Most "psychic" hotlines are cashing in on the public confusion about the differences between psychic powers and the ability to read Tarot cards. Maybe you have already noticed how many "psychic" readings are actually Tarot-card readings. When a Tarot reader is able to tell you, a perfect stranger, what is happening in your life, it seems reasonable to think that Tarot readers are "psychics" and "Tarot is psychic." But that isn't true.

Genuine psychic talent is rare—it's given at birth to maybe one in a million people. Tarot-card reading is learned, and studies can begin at any age. While psychic connections are unpredictable, Tarot can be practiced, tested, and called upon at will—no psychic ability is required. Tarot takes several years to learn, but, like driving, anyone sufficiently intelligent and motivated can learn it, improving their skills with time. Experienced practitioners—mostly mature individuals—can read the cards so accurately that it seems like magic.

"Psychic" hotlines should admit it when they are really sending you to Tarot-card readers. This would enhance their credibility, because skilled Tarot readers are better than fake "psychics" or airheaded "clairvoyants" anytime. Unfortunately the Tarot-card readers working for hotlines are reading for dozens of clients per shift, trying to make money for themselves and their employer. Also, they must communicate through the computer's or phone's electromagnetic radiation and far apart from the client's actual presence. These stressful conditions can greatly reduce their accuracy.

A card meaning love and spiritual balance from the Rider-Waite Deck (1907).

A card meaning love and spiritual balance from the Rider-Waite Deck (1907).

Why Tarot Looks "Psychic"

Remember being amazed, as a child, by people who could type without looking at the keyboard, or play piano without sheet music, or knit without taking their eyes from the TV? Their mastery, which came from experience, looked like magic.

What seems "psychic" to a Tarot client is in fact the Tarot reader's mastery of the cards and their symbolism. Each of the 78 Tarot cards has two meanings, one when the card appears right-side up, and another when the card appears upside-down, or "reversed." The Tarot reader is not psychic. Rather, he or she has memorized 156 card meanings and studied to understand each card's complicated and densely packed symbolism.The finest Tarot readers learn to trust the cards and their own intuition, and are empathetic and articulate, conveying the message of the cards in ways each client can understand.

The attraction people feel for Tarot cards is because their symbolism is embedded in human cultural heritage and in our collective unconscious. The Tarot card reader can apply the symbolism on the cards to our contemporary life. For example, the Devil card includes carefully selected multiple symbols that indicate not that "the devil" is after you, but that you feel stuck with a certain habit or way of life you feel too enmeshed to change: You've chosen the devil you know over the devil you don't. The illustrations here are from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, the most popular because it has the clearest symbolism. In some decks the symbolism is more esoteric although the cards' meanings are the same.

True psychic powers are so rare that most of us will never meet a true psychic. It is much easier to find a skilled Tarot card reader, and for best results, meet him or her in person. This way you both know who you are dealing with. Fake Tarot readers do exist, but they can't keep faking because it's spiritually empty and the word gets around.

What the Tarot Card Reader Knows and You Don't

What Seekers Are Most Likely to Ask About

Students of Tarot learn that most clients will ask about one of these topics:

  • Money
  • Love
  • Health
  • Family

Readers learn to breathe deeply, opening their hearts and minds, while they greet you, then shuffle and lay out the cards. They learn that for a question to be properly answered it should be properly framed. Not "How long will Grandma live?"—the Tarot cannot give a date, hour, or guarantee—but "What is Grandma's health outlook for the coming year?" Not "What is my future?" but "What will happen if I continue in my current relationship?" or "What will happen if I quit school to take a job?"

In a good Tarot reading, intelligence, intuition, sincerity, art, empathy, and collective wisdom are all working together. Those are the values of Tarot and Tarot professionals.

The Tarot exists to help people. Many people don't stop to reflect on their lives, or they refuse to see certain realities, or aren't able to gauge for themselves where their current path is leading them. The Tarot-card spread freezes a moment in time and makes visible the invisible path you are on. That's what feels so magical and healthy about Tarot. In the appropriate cases the cards might indicate that a change in the client's habits of thought or behavior will lead to a more desirable outcome.

Mind Readers or Not?

In my experience, the Tarot is always right although the reader might read the spread incorrectly. Tarot-card readers get tired or have off-days like everyone else. Noise, alcohol, spectators listening in (a couple asked me to read for them while she was seated on his lap. I couldn't wrap my mind around both at once), dirt or mess, pressure to hurry, and electromagnetic pollution can all interfere with accuracy. I personally think remote Tarot reading is not accurate enough to pay for.

  • Some Tarot readers ask clients what their questions or concerns are.
  • Others let the cards reveal the client's question or concerns.
  • Both kinds of readers are legitimate. Tarot readers don't read minds. They read cards.

The Tarot cards and the Tarot spread together form a story. In the traditional 10-card spread, the first two cards reveal your question. The reader knows it's probably about money, health, love, or family, and the cards confirm which of those it is. The Tarot-card reader should be skilled and experienced enough to read the story the cards tell. That is how Tarot "hits the nail on the head" for you and how the reader amazes you.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


brian from uk on November 21, 2019:

Ýes i agree there not magic they just seem like pretty pictures to me but again some of us have had experience s through out our lives very few have.to put it as a human speciies we are connected through some aural field which is connected to the earth and spans out into the universe then one day we meet or we start talking to a perfect stranger and if were open at the time we might get some sort of message but we dont always act on it as it seems strange and not normal unfortunately thats the ego talking as quite often it likes to be in control

Sylvia Sky (author) from USA on June 10, 2015:

Hello, Jean! I am very happy to hear you are having success with psychic development and online readings.

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on June 09, 2015:

I've been taking Intuition and Psychic development classes, and notice that I connect the dots differently in a reading now than I used to. I am clairsentient, and go with what I feel now more than what the cards tell me. The online readings still work out fine.

Sylvia Sky (author) from USA on June 08, 2015:

Tarot works regardless of our opinions on our own or others' giftedness.

Adalheid on June 08, 2015:

You are wrong about long distance readings. And some tarot readers are psychic and actually the cards are just a tool for them, a way to frame or make sense of something.

I don't like tarot readers who are not psychically gifted, there's something missing there, too easy to misinterpret, and I've had bad readings by non-psychic tarot people.

True, the cards never lie, but the interpretation of them is vital. And distance is no barrier to a real psychic.

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on September 08, 2013:

I've had a little experience with online tarot readings now. I don't like it that much, but they have been accurate enough so that my clients seem happy. I try to pick a time where we can both concentrate--they on their question and me on them, and maybe that helps. I know sometimes I have days when no matter what I do, the reading is about myself or someone close who I have on my mind.

Bev G from Wales, UK on September 18, 2012:

This is an interesting and informative article. I like the way you explain exactly how much work goes into learning to read the cards. It is a life-long experience - the tarot always has something to teach you.

I have to disagree with your point about the accuracy or otherwise of long-distance readings - I've done them for years and never had any complaints :-)

My father had a reading done by a psychic reader once - it was incredibly detailed. As you say, few and far between.

Laura on February 04, 2012:

That said, I have seen a human tarot reader who clearly appeared to be channeling _something_ during the course of a reading, and have done online tarot readings which told more of a cogent "story" with the choices of card images displayed than the "randomizer" software code behind such software and websites can explain...

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on January 07, 2012:

Great information. I always wondered about the difference between Tarot and actually being psychic.

Sylvia Sky (author) from USA on October 06, 2011:

Thank you,Julia, for the comment! I would say that the "magic" is the wisdom embodied in and accumulated in the cards. You have probably had one card that kept popping out of the deck while you shuffled that turned out to be a key card in the reading. Who controls that, I don't know!

Julia Gordon-Bramer on October 06, 2011:

Thanks for this. I have explained it this way many times, except for one thing: the "magic" part, to me anyway, is how the right cards always appear. With those 156 potential meanings (and all different), compounded with different meanings in the placement of spreads, there does seem to be a little bit of unexplainable magic from where I sit. :-)

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on October 04, 2011:

Hi Sylvia,

That was such a good explanation. I have trouble with the people who sit there with stone faces, giving me no clue whether they are even hearing me! And the drunk ones who try to debunk tarot, but always want to listen to another's reading. Thanks for telling people the hours of study it takes to learn meanings for 78 cards that mean something else upside down (and not always opposite) and differing by the spread you use. I just wrote an Astrology hub to explain how much work goes into learning how to cast charts after my awful experience with Reddit where they swore at me. Then I answered another question, and one of them was nasty and said "What does psychic mean, or auras?" I wonder if some of them live on this planet. Nice job. Take care.

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