I’ve seen this question come up frequently online over the last twenty years. There’s this common idea that you can’t use a deck of tarot cards that you bought yourself. Instead, they must be gifted to you.
But where does this belief come from and is it accurate?
Let’s find out.
The Rules of the Superstition
When I call it a superstition, I mean two things:
- Using tarot cards incorrectly means you attract bad energy
- Your deck needing to be a gift is an urban legend
The reason why there’s so much superstition surrounding tarot is because of its supernatural qualities. Tarot requires a lot of spiritual energy to use correctly, and it can exhaust some readers if they aren’t careful.
Because of this, many in the community believe that your deck must be treated with a lot of care. One of these cares is in how you get your deck in the first place.
There are a few variations on this belief. The most common I see is that only your first tarot deck needs to be a gift. This gift can be the result of finding a random tarot deck in your life or from receiving a present. You can also steal the deck or make your own too. Buying your deck is what’s forbidden.
However, some who believe in the tarot gift superstition assert that all your tarot decks should be gifted.
Origins of the Superstition
I believe the reason this superstition exists is that tarot cards used to be rare and those who used them were outcasts of society.
That meant it wasn’t easy to obtain your own deck unless you were part of a tarot reading tradition or a member of an esoteric community.
But once the commercialization of tarot cards took place, many of the older members of these communities probably felt that the mass-produced decks you could buy cheapened their supernatural effect.
It may also have been perceived that these new tarot decks gave off negative energy. This isn’t unreasonable. Although there’s nothing evil about the mass-produced Ouija boards you can buy at your local store, it’s a real and common phenomenon that they attract bad spirits. Many witches and pagans just won’t touch them for that reason.
The more a culture believes in something, the more negative energy we build up about it in our subconscious. That’s why using a Ouija board can be so dangerous – we’ve been spiritually primed to reach out to bad spirits with our subconscious. That’s hard for a lot of people to avoid, even those who’ve been spiritually awakened.
Tarot cards had a lot of that same energy in the recent past. You likely wouldn’t have known how to use them safely unless you were taught by someone else with firsthand experience.
A deck that you were gifted was likely imbued with the spiritual energy of the gifter, granting it a protective effect. Therefore, I think this superstition was reasonable and founded in truth.
But I don’t think it’s valid anymore.
The New World of Tarot
When I was a preteen, tarot was something most people talked about in whispers. It was seen as evil or a scam, and people feared that it would attract ghosts or demons.
If you didn’t live in a city, there was a good chance you’d never meet a tarot reader or see a tarot deck in your entire life.
I remember buying a tarot deck myself and showing it to my friends. Nobody wanted to try it – even those who weren’t religious or were interested in gothy things. To them, it just wasn’t worth the risk.
That’s not true anymore.
Tarot is a common practice even among many Christians. There are a lot of social media accounts posting spreads and inviting audiences to participate as part of their daily lives. You can buy hundreds or even thousands of different tarot decks, including ones with cheerful, smiling cats.
Most tarot readers nowadays have no problems buying their own decks – even their first decks – and report no spiritual attacks because they broke the tarot gifting superstition. The subconscious fear of tarot is no longer as common and is one that is easily remedied in those who have it.
Feel confident that any tarot deck you get, even one you purchase for yourself, is probably not harboring negative energy. You have a lot of power to use tarot as a spiritual tool to divine your future on your own terms.
But if you do come into a tarot deck as a gift, make sure that the giver is someone you trust. While the decks may not come imbued with energy, someone can put energy into them. This is one of the reasons why most tarot readers prefer new decks – it allows them to control the energy that’s imbued.
Always be consciously aware of the energy that’s been put into your deck and you’ll have an amazing spiritual tool for divination.