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Do I Need To Be Gifted A Tarot Deck? Myths And Truths

    One of the most common myths regarding the Tarot is that you need to be gifted your first deck; otherwise, it will bring you bad luck or incorrect readings. You want to start learning right now – not wait for a prince with a shiny Tarot deck. What should a Tarot beginner do? Take the matter into your own hands, or patiently wait?

    As a general rule, a Tarot deck does not need to be gifted. According to 84% of professional readers, this is an urban legend without grounds in modern practice. There is no evidence a bought tarot deck will bring bad luck or incorrect readings. 

    As the Tarot is a spiritual tool, it is easy to understand it’s surrounded by lore and myths. A common consensus amongst modern-day readers is that this is an urban legend without grounds in modern Tarot practice. 

    DO YOU NEED TO BE GIFTED TAROT DECKS?

    As a general rule, there’s no need for you to feel fear buying your first deck (or second, or third one for that matter). I asked fellow Tarot readers on my social networks for their opinion. This is what I gathered in the “Tarot Professionals” Facebook Group when asking about their views and thoughts.

    In total, I got 100 comments at the time of writing this article. From these comments, I extracted 62 answers. 

    As you notice, the majority of the Tarot readers do follow this rule. 84% do not think that you need to be gifted your deck.Show 5102550100 entriesSearch:

    OpinionCount%
    Yes23%
    No5284%
    Maybe58%
    Don’t know35%
    DO YOU NEED TO BE GIFTED TAROT DECKS?
    A common consensus among Tarot readers is that you don’t need to be gifted your deck.

    84% of the Tarot readers do not think that you need to be gifted your deck.

    Sandra Törnroth

    The readers that felt you needed to be gifted Tarot decks referred to traditions. Most of them were open to the possibility of buying decks. They agreed that nothing terrible wasn’t going to happen if you did.

    It was not an end-all-be-all kind of situation. They felt pride in the tradition and the feeling of passing on the knowledge from teacher to apprentice. 

    In the poll, many of the readers referred to the myth as “urban legend” and “illegitimate knowledge.” The “rule” was followed even though not many knew the origin of it. Many had the opinion that this myth was most commonly spread online and in Tarot communities.  

    To sum things up, you do not have to fear buying your deck. This is what most Tarot readers do. As a big part of the reading experience is connected to the deck and the imagery, it is easier to choose it yourself. You will not be hunted by bad luck or find yourself with a notoriously lying deck.

    Another essential thing to note is that this rule would impact the possibility of being a Tarot deck collector. Collecting decks is something that many Tarot readers enjoy. They want to surround themselves with decks they love and cherish.

    I love collecting Tarot decks I love and enjoy. This is one of my newest addition - The Modern Tarot Reader deck.
    I love collecting Tarot decks I love and enjoy. This is one of my newest addition – The Modern Tarot Reader deck. (Paid Link – Amazon)

    THE MYTH OF GIFTED TAROT CARDS

    One of the most common myths in Tarot is that you have to be gifted Tarot decks, or you end up with faulty readings and bad luck. This myth has been hanging around for a long while and almost every Tarot reader has heard it one time or another. Not many follow it, though. 

    The interesting thing is that there is no clear consensus on what happens if you buy your deck. It is somewhat unclear and varies from the scale “bad luck” to “possession.” The legend seems to change a lot, and almost every reader has their version of the outcomes. This was very clear from the answers I received in the “Tarot Professionals” Facebook thread. 

    The most common variation o the legend is terrible luck and readings that will leave you astray.

    Another version of the legend says you should steal your deck. This is nothing that anyone should do. 

    A common urban legend is that you need to be gifted your Tarot deck our you risk bad luck or incorrect readings. The origin of the tale is unclear but seemed to surface in the 1940-1950s. Most Tarot readers deem this rule obsolete and do not follow it. 

    THE ORIGINS OF THE MYTH

    Where does this somewhat strange legend originate? And why is it so deeply imprinted in the Tarot community? Even friends that do not practice Tarot themselves have heard about it.

    Let’s dig deeper into the subject. To get an overview of the legend, I asked the following questions to peers in the “Tarot Professionals Facebook group” and got over 100 answers: “Why are people saying you need to be gifted a tarot deck? Where does this myth originate? And why?”  This is a summary of the findings. One thing that stands clear is that there seems to be no clear answer. 

    One popular thought was it might have to do something with gatekeeping. This means that there is a somewhat high entry point for new readers. The rule makes it harder to compete with established readers. It also adds a layer of mystique and adds to superstition and air exclusive divine powers.

    THE ORIGINS OF THE MYTH

    Another variant of this is that you need to pass down the cards. In this way, the “magic powers” will follow along from generation to generation. This also creates a kind of elitism, where “enlightened souls” had secret answers not reachable for everyone. This is another form of gatekeeping.

    In history, Tarot cards were very expensive, hard to get, and sometimes against the law. It makes total sense that passing down Tarot cards were necessary for access. Cards were very expensive and even when the modern press came along, it was not for everyone to buy as it is today.   

    The Tarot is also connected to witchcraft which historically was punished with death. This might also be the origin of the legend. The only way to get hold of a deck was to get it in secrecy from another reader, that either made the cards themselves or inherited them. I have no information on how common it was in witchcraft to use cards. A majority of the accused was not witches or magicians at all. 

    Another interesting viewpoint was that it originated from an old practice where the Master’s gifted the cards to their apprentices. The cards were so expensive that you could not afford a deck yourself when starting out. 

    As you see, there are lots of different opinions on the origin of the myth. I think it is a mix-match of many practices that boiled down to an urban legend – or maybe non them. This is often the truth behind most urban legends. 

    IN SUMMARY

    The myth about tarot cards as gifts is officially debunked. There is no need for you to feer the anger of the Tarot God if you buy decks. The majority of readers buy their decks, and there is no evidence anything terrible happens or that the cards give faulty readings.

    The rule is probably an urban legend created from a mix of traditions and a need to gatekeep the market.

    Enjoy the wonders of the Tarot and buy as many or as few decks as you want. As always, there is nothing to fear with the Tarot – and there are no rules to break or follow.

    If you still feel a tangling fear of uncertainty and anxiety. Why not gift yourself a and you will be just fine. 

    Sandra Törnroth

    Intuitive multi-modal tarot reader with a love for crystals and everything esoteric

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