What Does the Bible Say about Tarot Cards?
By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
Using tarot cards can seem like harmless fun. But reading tarot cards is actually a spiritual practice rather than just a game. What does the Bible say about tarot cards? Discovering that reveals what really works when we’re trying to find out more information about ourselves and our futures.
What Are Tarot Cards?
Tarot cards are decks of 78 cards that feature symbols, with 22 cards relating to major life events (called “major arcana”) and 56 cards relating to daily life (called “minor arcana”). In the 1400s, tarot cards were developed in Italy simply as a new type of card game for entertainment. Players used a deck of 78 tarot cards featuring simple images (like the sun and moon and kings and queens) for complex trick-taking card games. But in the 1700s, occultists changed the tarot, creating a new type of deck that featured spiritual symbols on the cards and assigning them ancient meanings without any historical substantiation. They promoted tarot cards as more than entertainment but as a form of divination (seeking spiritual guidance through supernatural rituals rather than through prayer with God).
Now people use tarot cards as a way to seek more information about themselves and their futures, trying to uncover any hidden or secret knowledge. People who use tarot cards – or who visit supposedly psychic tarot card readers – see them as tools for exploring mysteries and learning fascinating information. Reading tarot cards involves dealing some cards into a spread on a table face down, then turning each one over, and trying to interpret symbolic connections between which cards appear and in which positions they appear. The tarot card interpretations are based merely on intuitive feelings, so the reading meanings are subjective.
What Does the Bible Say about Tarot Cards?
Tarot cards were invented after the Bible was written, so the Bible doesn’t specifically mention them. However, the Bible clearly warns people not to participate in divination – and using tarot cards is a type of divination.
God forbids divination, the Bible tells us. In Leviticus 19:26, God exhorts: “Do not practice divination or seek omens.” Deuteronomy 18:9-13 urges staying away from divination and other occult practices: “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices, the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God.” 1 Samuel 15:23 points out that “rebellion is like the sin of divination.”
The Bible also describes situations in which people dishonor God and put themselves in danger through divination. In Jeremiah 14:14, God tells the prophet, Jeremiah, about the Hebrew people: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them, or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries, and the delusions of their own minds.” Then in Jeremiah 27:9-10, God says to the Hebrew people who had been seeking guidance about Babylon apart from him: “So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your interpreters of dreams, your mediums or your sorcerers …They prophesy lies to you…”. 2 Kings 17:17 points out that many people in Israel sinned against God through divination: “They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.” 2 Kings chapter 21 describes how Manasseh, King of Judah, practiced divination, saying of Manasseh in verse 6: “He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.” In Acts 16:16, Paul and Silas describe meeting “a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.” Acts 16:18 tells us: “… Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!’ At that moment, the spirit left her.”
4 Reasons for Christians to Stay Away from Tarot Cards
So, it’s clear from the Bible that divination practices – like using tarot cards – are not acceptable practices for Christians. Here are the key reasons why we should stay away from tarot cards.
1. Our lives are not in the cards; they’re in God’s hands. Even though it can feel exciting to think we can control our lives by using tarot cards to discover secrets, there is absolutely no evidence that tarot cards help us do so. God – not us – is in control, and that’s good news because God wants the best for us. Ephesians 3:20 proclaims that God: “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Tarot cards have no power to help us beyond giving us temporary good feelings. But our lives, and the world, are in God’s hands. Only God knows the secrets we seek. God alone is a reliable and trustworthy source of information about whatever we want to discover.
2. Using tarot cards can make us vulnerable to manipulation by evil spirits. Tarot cards are much more dangerous than they may seem. Reading tarot cards involves seeking spiritual guidance apart from God. If we do that, we open doors for any type of spirit to walk through into our lives. That’s like leaving the doors to our homes open at night and inviting anyone to come in, regardless of whether or not we know and trust them. Evil spirits can easily work through divination practices like tarot cards to lie to us and try to control us. We’re wise to follow the advice in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
3. Knowing ourselves happens best in a relationship with God. We don’t need to turn to tarot cards to learn more about ourselves. If we want to find out more about who we are, who better to ask than our Creator? Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and only God, who made us, can show us all we want to discover about ourselves. As I write in my book Wake Up to Wonder, the more time we spend communicating with God in prayer, the more wondrous information we can learn about both him and ourselves. Rather than using tarot cards to know ourselves more, we should ask God directly to show us more about who we are.
4. We can’t really predict the future through tarot cards, but we can find real hope for the future through God. Reading tarot cards can’t actually tell us what the future holds. The reality is that the future is unpredictable for humans. Only God knows what’s going to happen. God will give us all the guidance we need to move into the future well, including prophetic dreams, when we pray for guidance. If we need a sense of hope about our future, where better to get that than the One who is in control of time? In Jeremiah 29:11-13, God promises: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” The best way to discover more about the hopeful future God has planned for us is simply to ask him, through prayer.
Tarot cards may seem like fun to try, but they’re more than just a game. Divination practices like reading tarot cards can lead us to deception and danger. Thankfully, we don’t need tarot cards when we have a loving God who wants to communicate with us through prayer. Only God can tell us the truth about our lives. We can discover more than we ever thought was possible in relationships with God!
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/HappyNati
Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter and Facebook.