The Ethics of Tarot

It’s easy for a tarot reader to get so swept away with what they can see that they don’t stop to consider what they should see, and more importantly, what kind of information they should be sharing!

Ethical concerns in regards to tarot is a topic which comes up often, and most readers with even a little bit of experience will be able to tell you what they’re willing (or unwilling) to read for. Everyone will have a different code of ethics, and this article will focus on some of the more common moral questions, to help you design your own code of ethics.

Do you read for health questions?

Health questions aren’t the most common, but they do come up. You might get asked anything from “Am I pregnant?” to “What is this growth?” I don’t personally tell querents anything that a doctor should tell them.

Why? Because I am most emphatically not a doctor. If you don’t want me to decipher your medical charts, then you also shouldn’t want me consulting the cards to figure out what’s going on with your body. I recommend staying away from health questions, although some readers will tell someone that they see something health-related, and urge the querent to see a doctor.

Do you give financial advice?

Do you work in finance? If not, I would also recommend staying away from giving specific financial advice. The key word here is “specific”.

I won’t tell someone which stocks to buy, but I will tell them if they need to save money or if I’m seeing something about a career change. I will also tell them if I see a period of wealth or hardship, and I will also let them know if a career opportunity will be a good option for them.

Do you offer legal advice?

The same thing that I said about doctors and financial advisors also applies here. If you are not a lawyer, I recommend staying away from giving any legal advice. I will give insights into how the case may develop, or pull a few cards to see what impact the legal situation in question will have on the querent’s life.

The questions regarding health, financial, and legal advice can be pretty straightforward, ethically. My own rule of thumb is that if the question would usually require a professional in that particular field to answer, then it’s not my place to answer it.

This is for my protection as well as the querent’s- I don’t want to lead them down the wrong path because I didn’t understand what I was looking at, and I also do not want anyone to seek legal action against me because my misunderstanding had disastrous consequences for them.

Some readers will take these questions, and I would never say that they’re wrong for doing so- but it is an ethical concern that at some point, you’ll have to find a solution for. I don’t mind doing general readings for querents with these types of questions and giving them an opinion based on what I can see in the cards, to the best of my understanding.

This means that they don’t get a diagnosis of their illness, but it means that maybe I can tell them that yes, they should see that doctor, and here are the things they should keep in mind when they do.

It can be much harder to define boundaries when it comes to questions that might touch on a gray area. It’s impossible to completely see from someone else’s eyes, and there is always going to be context that you don’t know about when someone comes to you for guidance.

Are you willing to perform a third-party reading?

There are a ton of people who might approach you to ask about how their partner feels about them, what’s going on in their adult son/daughter’s life, or if their best friend has feelings for the same person they do.

How far are you willing to venture into someone else’s private business, when they haven’t consented to the reading? Some readers will dive right in, and some stay completely out of it. I am willing to read into someone else’s business to the extent that it will help my querent.

Finding out that your partner or your close friend are not who they say they are is helpful. Snooping into someone else’s private life just because it’s eating you up and you can snoop is definitely not helpful.

How will you handle readings for subjects that you personally disagree with?

If someone is cheating on their partner or is the affair partner for someone else, does that mean that you don’t want to read for their relationship question? What if they want a reading about a lie they’ve been telling to someone close to them? I’m willing to take these questions.

In no way do I condone dishonesty, but I do my best to set that aside and possibly try to help someone sort out a part of their life that isn’t going to plan. I’m honest about what the cards say, even if it’s not the advice that I would give based on my personal values.

Some readers may not want to take these kinds of questions, and that’s completely understandable.

Are you willing to read for illegal activities?

This is one of the few topics that I turn down flat. Yes, I know there are laws that are outdated, don’t make sense, or are unfair. I’m still not ever going to assist my querent in doing something illegal, because at the very least I don’t want to be complicit in illegal activity.

To me, the purpose of a reading is to help the querent make sense of their life and figure out how to improve their situation- encouraging them to break the law will not serve that purpose! Many readers will take questions about illegal activity, which is also a valid choice.

That being said, the same kind of legal problem that may come along with giving health/legal/financial advice can also come up when giving these types of readings.

How will you respond to querents intending to make unhealthy choices?

You can see in the cards that their partner is no good, that the dream they’re chasing won’t give them good results, or that they are way too dependant on their parents… but that’s not what they came to figure out.

You can tell them that the person they’ve fallen in love with is totally wrong for them, but they don’t really care about that– they just want to know when they’ll get married. Plenty of readers will choose not to continue the reading, or will refuse to answer the question. I think that’s fine- if you don’t want to give them bad advice, it can be best not to entertain questions about pursuing a path that won’t be healthy.

However, if you do wish to continue the reading, you may want to reiterate what the cards have shown you, and then approach the question. Saying something like “The cards show me that this is wrong for you because of these reasons, however, if you did want to follow this path, this is what will happen,” will still allow you to answer the question and state your concerns.

How do you approach readings for major life decisions?

Sometimes, you’ll be asked to advise on a choice that would completely alter someone’s life. This is a big responsibility, and it can (and should) feel like a heavy thing that’s being asked of you.

While I would never tell someone to do exactly what a tarot reader or psychic tells them to do without giving it quite a lot of consideration, the fact is that once you give someone advice, they can do whatever they want with it. It’s out there, and it can’t be taken back.

So how do you handle someone asking if they should get a divorce, or have a baby, or move to a different country with $40 and a dream? I don’t think that you need to turn down these questions.

Rather, I think you need to figure out how to approach the reading with respect and give the question appropriate consideration. If you can’t do that, it’s best to be honest. Tell them that there’s no way you can tell them whether or not to have a baby with just three cards and fifteen minutes, or that you need to have more context before you can do the reading.

The cards, the knowledge, and the intuition are only part of the tarot experience. It’s also incredibly important to make sure that you are giving readings that you feel proud of, and that you’re happy with the influence you have on the lives of your querents.


Chelsea is 27, and a professional tarot reader from Southern California. You can find out more about her at her website; Pigeon Sauvage Tarot.

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