Does Tarot work?

Three coloured pentagrams with captions, a Green pentagram captioned Scientific, a Red pentagram captioned Holistic, and a Blue pentagram captioned Spiritual

Does Tarot work? That's the question I get asked most often when I tell people that I know how to read Tarot cards. The answer to that question depends on your understanding of what Tarot is and what misconceptions you might have.

As I attempt to explain in my book The Tarot Trifecta there are 3 main schools of thought when it comes to Tarot that can best be described as the Spiritual, Scientific, and Holistic approach.

Emotional Intelligence

A red heart emoji wearing glasses

When people think of intelligence they usually think first and foremost of knowledge, with the implication being that someone who possesses knowledge is deemed intelligent and someone who lacks it is deemed to lack intelligence. These judgements are misguided and misconstrue what intelligence actually is defined as. Intelligence is the means or the methods that someone uses to solve problems. A person's intelligence isn't measured by what they know but rather by their ability to deal with the things they know nothing about when they are confronted with them. To that end, many people are a lot more intelligent than they give themselves credit for, and perceive many others of being a lot more intelligent than they actually are, simply because they appear knowledgeable.

To know that a carburettor supplies an ignition to an engine, or that a compiler takes human readable code and transforms it into machine readable binary, or that the vagus nerve is the primary component of the nervous system that triggers immune responses, or to be able to name every member of the Kardashian family is not an indicator or intelligence or lack thereof. These all represent subsets of knowledge that a person may or may not acquire and in most cases whether a person possesses these sets of knowledge depends on whether they have use for them in their everyday lives.

The Concepts of Justice and Injustice

Themis the Goddess of Justice blindfolded holding a set of scales.  Image credit Pavel Danilyuk at

The concept of Justice both in Tarot (XI) and in society more widely is often misunderstood. When people think of Justice they tend to think of right and wrong, or virtue and vice, they tend to perceive Justice as being inherently good and Injustice as inherently evil but this isn't necessarily the case and the reason for that is complex.

Justice is not a question of morality; that is a statement which might anger you or make you feel perturbed to read, it might be something you immediately begin to formulate arguments against but in order to survive in the modern world you need to understand this concept in its entirety. I do single out the modern world here because in this age of information where we have access to news and updates from around the world, we are more aware today of injustices being committed than we have ever been. I see the news reports, I see the comments on social media, I hear the message people express so I know the argument you'll already be forming against my statement but my response is that your argument is misplaced.

HALT - Hungry Angry Lonely Tired

A red stop sign with the caption HALT

HALT is an acronym formed from the abbreviation of the words "Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired" and is one of a set of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) tools used for introspection and reframing when we want to try to understand what we are feeling, why we feel that way, and how we can communicate that state to others.