What Religion Do Tarot Cards Come From

What Religion Do Tarot Cards Come From

Hey there! Have you ever wondered about the religious origins of tarot cards? Well, in this article, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of tarot cards and explore their religious roots. You might be surprised to learn that tarot cards are actually not tied to any specific religion, but rather draw inspiration from various spiritual and philosophical traditions. From ancient Egypt to medieval Europe, tarot cards have a rich history that has been shaped by different cultures and belief systems. So, if you’re curious to know more about the religious connections of tarot cards, keep reading!

What Religion Do Tarot Cards Come From

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Table of Contents

History of Tarot Cards

Tarot cards have a rich and intriguing history, with origins that trace back centuries ago. These cards, which are often associated with fortune-telling and divination, have deep connections to various religious and spiritual traditions. In this article, we will explore the religious origins and influences of tarot cards, as well as their significance in different belief systems around the world.

Origins of Tarot Cards

The exact origins of tarot cards are still a subject of debate among historians, but it is widely believed that they originated in Europe during the late 14th century. The earliest known tarot decks were hand-painted and created for the noble families of Milan, Italy. These decks, known as “tarot” or “tarocchi” cards, were initially used for playing games rather than divination.

Early Uses of Tarot Cards

Although tarot cards were initially used for entertainment purposes, they gradually began to take on a more mystical and divinatory role. In the 18th century, occultists like Antoine Court de Gébelin and Jean-Baptiste Alliette, better known as Etteilla, popularized the use of tarot cards for divination and fortune-telling. They believed that the symbols and images depicted on the cards held hidden meanings and could provide insight into the future.

Spread of Tarot Cards in Europe

During the 19th and 20th centuries, tarot cards gained popularity throughout Europe, particularly in France and England. The rise of spiritualism and the esoteric movements in these countries contributed to the increased usage of tarot cards as tools for spiritual guidance and self-reflection. These cards became associated with various religious and spiritual practices, with each culture influencing the interpretation and use of the cards.

Tarot Cards and Religion

Tarot Cards as a Divination Tool

In many religious and spiritual traditions, tarot cards are regarded as tools for divination and personal introspection. The act of using tarot cards to gain insight into the past, present, and future aligns with the belief that spiritual forces can communicate through symbols and images. Various religious practitioners, such as psychics, witches, and shamans, incorporate tarot cards into their divinatory practices.

Influence of Christian Symbolism

Christian symbolism has played a significant role in the development and interpretation of tarot cards. The Tarot de Marseille, one of the earliest and most widely used tarot decks, depicts biblical figures and Christian symbols. The imagery of cards such as The Pope, The High Priestess, and The Hierophant reflects the influence of Christian religious hierarchy and reveals how early tarot symbolism was shaped by Christian beliefs.

Tarot Cards in Pagan Religions

Tarot cards, especially those associated with the occult and esoteric traditions, have also found a place within various pagan religions. Pagans often connect tarot cards to their spiritual practices, utilizing them as tools for spellwork, ritual guidance, and contacting deities or spirits. The archetypal images portrayed in the cards can be interpreted through a pagan lens, allowing practitioners to incorporate their beliefs and connections to nature into their tarot readings.

What Religion Do Tarot Cards Come From

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Tarot Cards and Christianity

Views of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church has historically held a skeptical view of tarot cards and regarded the practice of divination as incompatible with Christian doctrine. The church discourages the use of tarot cards and other forms of divination, considering them as forms of fortune-telling that can lead people away from their faith in God and rely on occult or supernatural forces instead.

Tarot as Occult Practice

While tarot cards originated in Europe and have connections to Christian symbolism, they have often been associated with occult practices that are considered outside the realm of orthodox Christianity. The esoteric nature of tarot readings and their association with divination, magic, and mysticism has led many Christian denominations to view the use of tarot cards as incompatible with their religious beliefs.

Christian Interpretations of Tarot Cards

Despite the apprehension towards tarot cards within some Christian communities, there have been attempts to reinterpret the symbolism of the cards within a Christian framework. Some individuals integrate Christian teachings and biblical references into their interpretations of tarot cards, seeking to align the practice of tarot reading with their faith in God. These interpretations often emphasize personal reflection, discernment, and guidance instead of fortune-telling.

Tarot Cards in Eastern Religions

Tarot Cards in Hinduism

In Hinduism, tarot cards are not inherently tied to the religious practices or scriptures of the faith. However, some individuals in Hindu communities may incorporate tarot cards into their spiritual practices as a means of self-reflection and seeking guidance. They may interpret the symbolism of the cards within the context of Hindu philosophy and mythology, relating the archetypal images to gods, goddesses, and cosmic principles.

Tarot Cards in Buddhism

Similarly to Hinduism, tarot cards are not an integral part of Buddhist religious practices. However, some Buddhists may use tarot cards as tools for self-reflection, meditation, and exploring the depths of their minds. The symbolic nature of the cards may resonate with Buddhist teachings on impermanence, interconnectedness, and the nature of suffering.

Tarot Cards in Taoism

Taoism, with its emphasis on harmony, balance, and the flow of energy, does not have a direct connection to tarot cards. However, individuals practicing Taoism may find value in the contemplative nature of tarot cards. The yin-yang philosophy, the Five Elements, and other concepts of Taoism could be associated with the symbolism present in the cards, allowing for personal interpretations and insights.

What Religion Do Tarot Cards Come From

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Tarot Cards in New Age Spirituality

Incorporation of Tarot in New Age Practices

Tarot cards have become a prominent tool within the broader New Age movement, which encompasses various spiritual, metaphysical, and personal development practices. New Age practitioners often use tarot cards as a means of gaining personal insight, exploring spiritual themes, and connecting with higher consciousness. The cards provide a visual and symbolic language that resonates with individuals seeking a deeper understanding of themselves and the universe.

Tarot Cards in Wicca and Witchcraft

Tarot cards hold a significant place within Wicca and witchcraft, where they are embraced as powerful tools for divination, spellwork, and spiritual exploration. Witches and Wiccans may use tarot cards to connect with their intuition, communicate with spirits or deities, and gain guidance in their magical practices. The tarot deck’s archetypal images, elemental associations, and astrological symbolism align with the core principles of Wicca and witchcraft.

Tarot Cards in Spiritual Healing

In the realm of spiritual healing, tarot cards can offer insights into emotional, mental, and energetic dynamics. Some therapists and healers incorporate tarot cards into their practices to facilitate self-awareness and assist clients in exploring their inner landscapes. The cards can serve as catalysts for dialogue, personal reflection, and unlocking hidden aspects of one’s psyche. The process of drawing cards and discussing their meanings allows individuals to gain new perspectives and insights into their lives.

Different Tarot Card Decks

Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

The Rider-Waite Tarot, created by the British occultist Arthur Edward Waite and illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, is one of the most well-known and influential tarot decks. The imagery of the Rider-Waite deck, featuring vivid illustrations and rich symbolism, has become the standard for many tarot readers. Its popularity can be attributed to the clarity of its archetypal images and the accessibility of its interpretations.

Thoth Tarot Deck

The Thoth Tarot Deck, designed by the influential occultist Aleister Crowley in collaboration with Lady Frieda Harris, is another widely recognized tarot deck. Crowley’s deck, heavily influenced by his esoteric teachings and the Egyptian pantheon, features intricate and detailed artwork that delves into the depths of occult symbolism. The Thoth Tarot appeals to those who are drawn to a more esoteric, mystical, and complex approach to tarot reading.

Marseille Tarot Deck

The Marseille Tarot Deck, also known as the Tarot de Marseille, represents one of the earliest and most enduring tarot traditions. This deck, which originated in France during the 18th century, consists of simple yet elegant designs that focus primarily on the suit symbols and numerical values. The Marseille Tarot is often favored by traditionalists and purists who appreciate its historical significance and the simplicity of its symbolism.

What Religion Do Tarot Cards Come From

Interpreting Tarot Card Meanings

Major Arcana

The tarot deck is divided into two main sections: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards, each bearing a unique name and number. These cards represent significant archetypal energies and life lessons. When interpreting the Major Arcana, they are often seen as powerful forces that shape one’s spiritual journey, offering insights into personal transformation, spiritual enlightenment, and universal truths.

Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards divided into four suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Each suit represents a different aspect of human experience – passion and creativity (Wands), emotions and relationships (Cups), intellect and communication (Swords), and material reality and abundance (Pentacles). The Minor Arcana cards provide more specific guidance and address everyday situations, challenges, and opportunities.

Symbolism in Tarot Cards

The symbolism present in tarot cards holds significant meaning and depth, allowing for multiple interpretations and nuances. The images, colors, numbers, and symbols on the cards convey various archetypal themes and concepts that resonate across cultures and belief systems. For example, the High Priestess card represents intuition, wisdom, and the divine feminine, while the Death card symbolizes transformation and the cyclical nature of life.

Tarot Cards and Personal Guidance

Using Tarot Cards for Self-Reflection

One of the most common ways people use tarot cards is for self-reflection and personal growth. Drawing cards and interpreting their meanings can help individuals gain insights into their emotions, beliefs, and life circumstances. Tarot cards can act as mirrors, providing guidance and prompting deeper introspection. They can help individuals navigate challenges, make decisions, and gain clarity about their life’s direction.

Tarot Readings and Spiritual Guidance

Tarot cards can also be used as tools for receiving spiritual guidance from higher realms or connecting with spiritual guides and entities. Many tarot readers offer readings as a way to assist others in seeking answers, finding guidance, and tapping into their intuition. Tarot readings can provide comfort, validation, and a fresh perspective on life’s challenges, helping individuals to connect with their higher selves and the divine energy within.

Developing a Personal Tarot Practice

Individuals interested in tarot cards can develop their own personal tarot practice by studying the symbolism and interpretations of the cards. Engaging in daily or regular tarot card readings can deepen one’s understanding of the messages and meanings behind the cards. Developing a personal connection with the tarot deck allows for a more intuitive and personalized approach to reading the cards, enhancing one’s ability to gain insight and guidance.

What Religion Do Tarot Cards Come From

Criticism and Controversies

Skepticism towards Tarot Cards

Despite the widespread popularity of tarot cards, they have also faced skepticism and criticism. Skeptics often dismiss tarot readings as mere coincidences or tricks of the mind, attributing any accuracy to chance or the power of suggestion. Critics argue that relying on tarot cards for guidance or divination can potentially lead individuals away from taking personal responsibility for their choices and lives.

Religious Opposition to Tarot Cards

Many religious sects and denominations express opposition to the use of tarot cards. These objections stem from a belief that divination practices are contrary to religious teachings or that the interpretations and guidance provided through tarot readings may be deceptive or influenced by dark spiritual forces. Religious opposition to tarot cards often arises from concerns about the potential for spiritual misinformation or exploitation.

Ethical Issues in Tarot Readings

Ethical considerations can arise in the practice of tarot card reading, particularly regarding privacy, boundaries, and the responsibilities of the reader. Tarot readers should be mindful of the power dynamics present during a reading and ensure they maintain confidentiality and respect for the client’s autonomy. Additionally, ethical practice includes providing accurate information, avoiding manipulation or exploitation, and refraining from making excessively fatalistic predictions.

Scientific Approach to Tarot Cards

Psychological Perspectives on Tarot

From a psychological standpoint, tarot cards can be viewed as a tool for self-reflection, introspection, and accessing the unconscious mind. Carl Jung, the renowned Swiss psychologist, recognized the significance of symbols and archetypes in the human psyche. He believed that tarot cards could act as powerful archetypal images that could facilitate personal growth and self-awareness. Psychologists continue to explore the potential therapeutic benefits of tarot card readings.

Quantum Physics and Tarot

In recent years, some individuals have drawn connections between quantum physics and the nature of tarot cards. They propose that the observer effect in quantum experiments, where the act of observation influences the outcome, can be mirrored in tarot readings. They suggest that the act of drawing cards and interpreting their meaning can influence an individual’s consciousness and shape their reality, similar to the quantum theory of observation.

Neuroscience and Tarot Readings

The field of neuroscience has also offered insights into the potential mechanisms behind the efficacy of tarot readings. Some neuroscientists propose that engaging in a tarot reading activates areas of the brain associated with introspection, memory retrieval, and creative thinking. This activation can lead to new perspectives, cognitive flexibility, and an enhanced sense of self-awareness, which contributes to the perceived value of tarot readings.

Tarot Cards in Popular Culture

Tarot Cards in Movies and TV Shows

Tarot cards have made frequent appearances in popular culture, particularly in movies and television shows. From the iconic image of the Death card in “The Seventh Seal” to the divination scenes in “Practical Magic” and “The Craft,” tarot cards have become powerful visual symbols that evoke intrigue, mystery, and the supernatural. These appearances in popular media have contributed to the fascination surrounding tarot cards.

Tarot Cards in Literature

Tarot cards have also left their mark on literature, both in fiction and non-fiction works. Authors and poets often incorporate tarot symbolism and themes into their narratives, using the cards as metaphors for life’s mysteries or as a means of exploring characters’ inner worlds. Some books have been specifically dedicated to providing interpretations and insights into the meanings of tarot cards, catering to both beginners and experienced readers.

Tarot Cards in Art and Fashion

The rich symbolism and visual appeal of tarot cards have captivated artists and fashion designers alike. Tarot-inspired artwork can be found in galleries and exhibitions, with artists using the archetypal imagery of the cards to explore themes of the subconscious mind, personal transformation, and spirituality. Tarot motifs have also made their way into the fashion industry, adorning clothing, accessories, and jewelry, allowing individuals to wear their spiritual beliefs and connections.

Misconceptions about Tarot Cards

Tarot Cards as Fortune-Telling Tools

One of the most common misconceptions about tarot cards is that they are solely used for fortune-telling, predicting the future, or providing definitive answers to specific questions. While tarot cards can offer insights into possible outcomes or future trends, their true power lies in their ability to facilitate personal reflection, introspection, and self-discovery. Tarot readings should be approached as tools for guidance and self-awareness rather than as means of predicting future events.

Dangers and Myths of Tarot Cards

Another misconception surrounding tarot cards is the belief that they are inherently dangerous or can invite negative energies into one’s life. This belief often stems from a lack of understanding or a fear of the unknown. Tarot cards, when used responsibly and with intention, can be empowering and provide valuable insights. It is important to approach tarot reading with an open mind, trust in one’s intuition, and maintain personal boundaries.

Misunderstandings about Tarot Card Readers

Tarot card readers are sometimes misunderstood and stereotyped as psychics or fortune-tellers who claim to possess supernatural powers. While some readers might identify as psychic or intuitive, many tarot readers consider their practice to be more focused on psychological interpretations, personal reflections, and spiritual guidance. Tarot readers are individuals who have studied and connected with the symbolism of the cards, offering their insights and interpretations to support others on their personal journeys.

Impact and Relevance of Tarot Cards

Modern Use of Tarot Cards

In today’s world, tarot cards continue to be embraced by individuals from various religious, spiritual, and secular backgrounds. Many people turn to tarot cards as tools for personal growth, self-reflection, and gaining insights into their lives. The accessibility of tarot cards, with numerous books, online resources, and tarot communities available, has made them a popular means of seeking guidance, understanding, and connection.

Personal and Spiritual Growth

Tarot cards have the potential to facilitate personal and spiritual growth by encouraging self-reflection, introspection, and exploration of the unconscious mind. They can act as catalysts for unveiling hidden motivations, understanding patterns, and finding a deeper sense of purpose. Through tarot card readings, individuals are provided with a framework for self-discovery and personal transformation, promoting self-awareness and a greater understanding of their place in the world.

Tarot Cards as Cultural Symbols

Tarot cards have become cultural symbols that represent a wide range of meanings and ideas. They embody the human quest for knowledge, self-understanding, and connection with the divine. Tarot motifs and imagery can be found across various art forms, from literature to visual arts, reflecting the enduring fascination and influence of tarot on culture. Tarot cards serve as a testament to humanity’s never-ending search for wisdom and guidance.


The history and origins of tarot cards reveal their deep connections to various religious and spiritual traditions. While tarot cards do not belong to a specific religion, they have found their place in numerous belief systems around the world. The interpretations and use of tarot cards have evolved and adapted to different cultural and spiritual contexts, shaping and reshaping their significance over the centuries. Regardless of religious affiliation, tarot cards continue to fascinate and hold relevance for those seeking personal growth, spiritual guidance, and a deeper understanding of the human experience. Through the symbolism and archetypal images depicted on the cards, tarot offers a valuable tool for self-reflection, contemplation, and connection with the greater mysteries of life.