Why Are Mediums Often Interested In Tarot?

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I’m an evidential medium and often use my tarot cards to connect to the spirit world. Really? That statement alone will set off many other mediums wishing to tell me how I am wrong, and such tools are not required for communication with the spirit world, relying only on instincts, intuition and born-with gift to talk to spirit.

I’ve learned from my own experiences of talking about this topic, there is a great deal of snobbery around the use of tools in this work. Mediums act like purists, often in a bragging fashion about how they don’t believe in such ‘crutches’ for this work.

In this article for the ‘WHY’ series, I discuss both sides of the argument and put my case forward why I believe the use of Tarot in mediumship is both powerful and meaningful.

Years ago, one of my circle leaders told me off in front of the group when I declared at one meeting that I’d just bought a set of tarot cards. She made me feel small and assertively told everyone that tarot was not connected with mediumship. It was then that I first learnt that the use of tarot cards in a spiritualist church is strictly banned as it is considered an occult practice.

I was somewhat confused when I moved circle, and my new leader believed in using tarot for mediumship. He had been reading the cards since being introduced to them in his childhood. I appreciated his open-mindedness and shortly after getting a place in his circle chose to do one of his ‘Understanding Tarot‘ courses. 

The point one must understand from that story, and everything else we learn in our development to become a medium, is that much of what is taught us is heavily influenced by the tutor’s opinion. Conflicting opinions are a bane for the eager student. Keep that in mind when you read this article. Some of the content may be based on my opinion and may vary from the opinions of others. 

According to Wikipedia and many other sources, the roots of tarot cards can be traced back to northern Italy, where they originated. They were likely invented in Milan in the early 15th century as a game called Tarocchi.

Research suggests that in the 18th century, in France, the tarot was first used for occult purposes. The artwork became symbolic, and psychics used the tarot as a divination and fortune-telling tool.

Arthur Edward Waite (2 October 1857 – 19 May 1942) was a British poet and scholarly mystic who wrote extensively on occult and esoteric matters, and was the co-creator of the Rider–Waite tarot deck (also called the Rider–Waite–Smith or Waite–Smith deck).

It was in 1910 when AE Waite commissioned London born artist, Pamala Colman Smith to produce designs to a specific brief. To this day, those designs remain the most popular tarot cards, known as the Rider-Waite.

Her designs offer colour, variety, and mystical symbols throughout the cards, which comprise two sets: major and minor arcana (secrets), the minor being made up of four additional elemental sets.

Tarot cards are a valuable tool for mediums, aiding their communication with the spirit world. Here’s why they are commonly used:

  • Symbolism and Messages:
    Tarot decks are rich in symbolism. When a medium struggles to understand a message from Spirit, the symbolism in a card can provide clarity. Each card represents different aspects of life, emotions, and experiences, allowing the medium to interpret the message intended.
  • Building Connection:
    Tarot cards act as prompts, guiding the medium to more specific and deeper meanings for the communication with the spirit connect. As the medium learns to trust their intuition, tarot helps build that connection by providing a structured framework for interpretation.
  • Comfort and Confidence:
    Tarot cards allow the medium to provide messages while maintaining a sense of distance. The greater the medium’s understanding of the symbols on the cards, the greater the detail they can give.
  • Physical Representation:
    Using tarot in a reading with a client offers something tangible that the recipient can see and interact with. A copy of the card spread also allows the client to further investigate the card’s meanings after the reading is complete.

Undoubtedly, the most important factor for any medium is the quality and depth of their connection to spirit.  Tarot cards are not a prerequisite, and many mediums choose not to use tarot as part of their work with the spirit. Tarot cards are helpful and one of the many tools a medium could use.

Mediumship, particularly psychic mediumship,  relies on many ingredients, including intuition, sensitivity, and attunement to energy. Some mediums view tarot cards as a ‘crutch’ because they believe that relying on external tools can hinder the development of their innate psychic abilities. They often argue that true mediumship should come from within, without dependence on external aids.

Whether a medium includes tarot cards in their work is a personal preference. There is no right or wrong approach, though my experience suggests that the deeper the connection to the spirit, the clearer the communication and the less intervention from tarot cards is needed. 

The belief that the spirit world can influence tarot card sequences varies among practitioners. Some consider it possible, while others view tarot cards as a purely symbolic tool.

I do believe that the spirit world are capable of manipulating the cards. Whether the medium shuffles, reshuffles, cuts and recuts the cards, deals them or allows the client to deal them, appears not to make any difference. The importance is with how good the medium’s connection to the spirit world is and how well they are attuned to their senses. The greater the medium’s understanding of the cards, the symbols and meanings, the better the results. 

There is a myth among mediums and non-mediums that to use tarot cards, one must fully understand each and every meaning associated with each of the 78 cards. This is not so. In fact, many mediums, including myself, don’t rely on the divinitive meaning of a card very often, relying instead on what is being brought to mind when viewing a card.

The images on the cards, particularly with the Rider-Waite versions, offer so many options for interpretation. From colours to scenery, from people within the image, to their actions, from the elements to the objects. The cards are rich in content and anyone can look at a card and describe what they are seeing.

The term “occult” refers to hidden or secret knowledge, practices, or beliefs that go beyond the ordinary and mundane. Occult practices often involve supernatural or mystical elements and are typically associated with esoteric traditions, magic, and divination.

Symbolism and Mysticism: Tarot cards are rich in symbolism. Each card represents archetypal concepts like love, death, justice, and transformation. Readers interpret these symbols to gain insights into a person’s past, present, or future. The mystical nature of these symbols contributes to the perception of tarot as an occult practice.

Divination and Fortune-Telling: Tarot readings involve divination—the attempt to gain knowledge of the future or hidden truths through supernatural means. Critics argue that seeking such knowledge through tarot cards goes against religious teachings and natural order. The act of predicting events using tarot cards is seen as an attempt to manipulate fate, which some consider blasphemous.

Spiritual Connections: Tarot readers often claim to connect with spiritual energies or entities while conducting readings. Whether they believe in spirit guides, intuition, or cosmic forces, this aspect of tarot practice aligns with occult beliefs. Traditional religious institutions may view these connections as incompatible with their teachings.

Secrecy and Initiation: Some tarot practitioners emphasise secrecy and initiation. Learning to read tarot cards often involves joining esoteric circles, attending workshops, or undergoing personal transformation. These rituals and practices contribute to the perception of tarot as an occult pursuit.

The use of tarot cards is a topic of debate within the vast range of religions. Some religions, such as the Catholic movement consider the tarot as a controversial tool and unwelcome within their church. Ironic, considering early tarot originates in Italy and one of the oldest sets remaining is stored at the Vatican!

The Spiritualist National Union of Great Britain does not allow tarot to be used within a church or service. While the Bible doesn’t specifically mention tarot, Christian doctrine views help from magicians, diviners, and even spiritualists as something to be discouraged.

I suspect this is because these organisations want to be in control of the power and what their followers are allowed to believe, according to their doctrine. Tarot cards, for example, are often considered a challenge to the Divine authority and their movement’s interpretations of it.

Being a member of a church, a Christian, or any other religion, doesn’t automatically mean the person lives a spiritual life. Spiritualism, for example, has seven principles to guide a spiritualist into living a spiritual life. However, being a spiritualist doesn’t always mean the person is spiritual.

Some mediums can display egos and act snobbish about others who only read the tarot or are just psychics working with earth-based energy.  They’ll often act like a purist, unacceptable of other methods of communication with the spirit world outside of their own practice method. They proudly suggest that psychics are somehow inferior and unable to connect to the energy of the spirit. 

They’ll use lines like, “Anyone can be a psychic, but not everyone can be a medium.” In my opinion, this is complete nonsense and far from the truth. As I’ve come to understand the spirit world, they will connect and communicate with us however they can. They’re less concerned about who or how and more concerned with connecting and relaying messages. 

That’s not true. If you have eyes, you can view the image on the card. That image will reveal a story, perhaps prompting you to recall a relevant story or incident from your own life. 

The more you study the images, the more that will be revealed. The images are rich in colours and symbols and meanings need not be the divinitive ones associated with the cards. 

If you choose to take your time and study the actual meaning of each card, your knowledge will expand, opening up further ways the spirit world can use them to communicate through the cards to you. 

Quite the opposite. The tarot is fun and exciting and a gateway to another world of synchronicity, clarity, and direction. The wonderful bonus of reading tarot is that you open up a whole new world rich in symbology and meanings.

It’s my opinion that the reason many mediums won’t use tarot is because of a lack of belief in their abilities to understand the cards. Tarot is not the sole method of connecting to the spirit world, it’s an additional source of accurate and concise information that can be incorporated into your reading.

Perhaps so. But understand that the tutor or mentor is seeking to teach you how to connect to the spirit world using your senses and mental abilities. Tarot is not part of that brief.

Also, remember that the tutor who suggests tarot serves no purpose in mediumship is sharing their personal opinion, often based on their lack of understanding of the true power within tarot.

Primarily, as a student of mediumship, your learning should be focused on strengthening and understanding the connection with the spirit world. The better that unfolds, the greater the power from the tarot.

Whenever I have a client booked for a reading at my home, I prepare myself for the reading by asking the tarot a few questions before they arrive. This has always proved to be a rich source of insights I can refer to during the reading. 


Jane had booked two readings for me, to be consecutive, one after the other. I had no knowledge of who the people were. Before the first clients arrived, I used the tarot to find out why they wanted a reading. My interpretation of the cards I laid out suggested that they wanted to hear from their father, now in spirit.

That was enough for me and I moved on to dealing more tarot cards to reveal something about the second sitting, immediately after the first. The tarot suggested this second client was also wanting to hear from her husband in the spirit world. For me, however, the odd thing appeared to be the similarity between this man and the first that I’d connected with for the first reading. I dealt more cards to clarify the situation. I became aware that there was some form of deceit involved, though I could not put my finger on what it was.

Shortly after I’d completed the two pre-reading tarot insight sessions, Jane brought the first two girls to my room. They were sisters. When I started the reading, I knew I had their father with me, (as was suggested in the cards before the meeting). The rest of the reading with the girls was packed with evidence and tears of joy and sadness came from the girls, who were delighted with the reading.

After I said goodbye to the two sisters, a few minutes later, the second client came to the sanctuary, where I was ready for her. The sense of deceit returned and I could not understand why I was feeling this way about the lady.

Shortly into her reading, I became aware that her husband in the spirit world was with me. I described him to her, but I became confused. I made a confession to her. “This man is showing himself exactly as the man I’d had in my earlier reading with the two girls. I can’t change it”.  The lady was tight-lipped and said nothing to me until the end of her reading. She’d received incredible evidence throughout the reading and was bursting at the seams to share something with me. I was so excited to be told that, and finally glad to understand why the tarot had been suggesting there was a deceit. That was the deceit and a welcome one for me!

In closing the reading, I asked if she had any questions or feedback she’d like to share. It was then she revealed the ‘deceit’.

The two sisters from the earlier reading were her daughters. The man was her husband and their father.

The main thread of communication for both those sittings came through my use of the tarot cards prior to the readings taking place. Typically, the humour of the spirit world came through with the deception from the cards that I could not understand! It was at the end of the readings that the truth was revealed.

Jane, my partner, had known these people were coming together and knew of their relationships, but wisely chose to keep it back from me. In fact, while I was reading the first two girls, the mother was in our house in the kitchen waiting.

I feel strongly about the power within the tarot cards. Thanks to one of my early mentors, (Mr Mark Stone), I’d shown interest in the cards and completed one of his full courses on the tarot – a worthwhile investment in my mediumship journey.

I get frustrated when I hear other mediums downplaying the power and use of tarot cards in mediumship. Most of the time it’s because they’ve not wanted to embrace tarot and invest any time into learning it. Of course, the really good mediums might correctly argue that they don’t need to use tarot cards because their depth of connection to the spirit is strong enough. 

That might be so, but just because they don’t use tarot, it doesn’t mean another medium can’t or shouldn’t use it. The tarot is useful not only for psychic and earth-bound energy, but for all forms of spirit communication. 

Nobody doubts the power of the oujji board, though should always be used correctly.  Nobody doubts the power of invoking healing energy, or divination with rods, or automatic and inspired writing. So why doubt the power of the tarot – a far more powerful tool than any of the aforementioned? 

Take a look at this tarot image below, with a pen and paper at hand, and write your answers to the following questions:

  • What do you see first?
  • How would you describe the ground the figure is standing on?
  • Why is she facing away from the house in the background?
  • Is she in danger?
  • What does this depiction suggest to you?


There are no right or wrong answers, however, if you wish to check the ‘official’ meaning of the card, check it out HERE

Envoys of Spirited Talk are welcome to add their comments and points of view in the comments below.

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