All in the Cards

It might be surprising to some who understand Satanists to be unsuperstitious in general to learn that I and other Satanists practice tarot. A lot of people understand tarot as a mystical form of divination or predicting the future. I will admit that, as a Christian, that was how I viewed it. Tarot was one of those mystical, forbidden dark arts that pagans and Wiccans and other people on the periphery of modern society practiced.

Obviously, my opinion on the subject has changed since then.

As a Satanist, I get that nice, naughty little feeling when I get my deck out; it’s a personal form of blasphemy, and that’s always fun. However, I have found that my readings, while not accurate in the sense that they predict what’s going to happen, resonate with me. A common criticism of tarot cards is that the card meanings tend toward vagueness, but I’ve come to realize that is be design. They are meant to be a reflection of what’s going on in your life and offer an outside perspective, and therefore make fantastic tools for reflection rituals and meditation.

I’m not the only Satanist who practices tarot. Stephen Bradford Long is a prominent Satanist who uses tarot as a meditation tool, and Shiva Honey from The Satanic Temple created her own deck of cards. I personally use Ariana Osborne’s The Daemon Tarot in my reflection rituals. That particular deck is great for self-reflection because it has an uncanny tendency to call the reader on their bull shit. This is because the cards represent demons, which in turn represent certain traits, sins, personality flaws, values, and attitudes. She even created a custom spread for this deck, which is the one I use most often.

It’s a six-card spread: five in the shape of a cross with the sixth card flipped face down and set aside. The first card at the top of the spread represents the querent, which is usually the person doing the reading. If you’re doing a reading for somebody else, this card represents them. The second card is the one directly under the first, and that represents the heart of your problem. The card to the left of that represents the best defense in dealing with the problem, and the card to the right is the best offense. “Defense” and “offense” seem like strange words to describe the resolution of a problem to me, so I like to think of those cards as describing actions and attitudes that would be helpful in preventing the problem from progressing further and resolving the problem, respectively. The card directly beneath the heart card represents the direction your problem takes if you follow the cards’ advice. If that’s not a direction you’re interested in going, you can always flip over the facedown card. That card represents a person, action, or attitude that can turn things toward a more favorable outcome for you. Of course, if any of the cards aren’t making sense to you, you can always draw another. Depending on which deck you use, there are 72 other cards to draw inspiration from.

Ms. Osborne suggests having a specific question in mind. Eight times out of ten, I already know – or think I know – what my problem is, I just need help putting it to words, so my question for my deck is usually: “What is my problem?” This works for me because the nature of the cards in The Daemon Tarot allows me to look at myself in ways I don’t normally want to. The cards tell my story in such a way that I’m not quite the hero of my own story that I want to see myself.

This is the reason tarot works so well as a tool for reflection. The cards tell a story, and that story is based entirely on what’s happening in your subconscious – or your heart, soul, or whatever else you want to call it. They allow us to see ourselves as who we really are, not just as we want to see ourselves.

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