It’s harmless, unless the card reader is shady. At best, Tarot reading is talk therapy. There’s some cryptic nonsense involving card meanings of course, but mostly the client gets a chance to talk with someone about their lives, and what they would like to do, and how they might go about doing it. Nothing wrong with that.
If the reader is a crook, they will attempt to convince a vulnerable person that there is something wrong with their aura or their life’s journey is approaching danger, or a jealous someone has put a curse on them. They will then try to bilk the client for return visits or however much they can get out of them.
Buyer beware and all that.
It’s nonsense, but it’s fun nonsense. And what the hell, it might be useful.
I have an ex whose former partner was seriously into this and many other similar concepts. To my ex, this was all just a fun diversion, a goof that could entertain and maybe spur an interesting discussion. I didn’t have much interest in it and the idea of paying for this “service” was laughable to me.
Many moons ago I would occasionally do Tarot readings as a party trick. Barnum statements and general cold reading stuff makes it seem more profound, and for whatever reason “reading” a tragedy involving water in the “deep past” always got a hit. There are supposed meanings to the cards, which help push to whatever conclusion you want to obtain. And then the depictions are pretty much a rohrschach image, again you can take them anywhere. The effect of a reading correlated directly with the level of confidence exhibited by the reader. My typical “takeaway”, after suitable pseudo-mystic curlicues, was that the person needed to empty their medicine cabinet of expired medication, to avoid dire consequences. Many times I was told I had “a gift” - they meant psychic, but that was just their misunderstanding of the actual gift, that of bs.
I have no personal experience with fortune telling, but just want to point out that it is illegal in many jurisdictions. Those laws are rarely enforced - except to bust the scam artist types, so your niece would likely be OK, but there might be some fine-print to scrutinize if she wants to stay within the law.
My wife Pepper Mill is really into Tarot. She has a large collection of Tarot cards, which I have contributed to. She’s so seriously into it that she has a commercially-available deck with three cards that she modeled for. she does readings occasionally. She doesn’t charge (although if she were to be working, as at a Ren Fair, I’m sure she would.) Our daughter MilliCal occasionally plays with these, too.
Of course, as a Physicist and dyed-in-the-Wool skeptic, I don’t believe in this myself. But I still don’t play solitaire with her decks, because I still suspect that if I do I’ll case a volcanic eruption in Rhode Island, or something.
Many, many years ago, I started a thread here doing tarot readings. I did several before I got overwhelmed… and disheartened by how ready people were to apply what I said to what their experience was, no matter how little relevance it seemed to me to apply.
IOW, I found that people will not only accept tarot readings but actively work to make the readings fit their life.
My ex-wife did tarot as a hobby. She made a little money at it, but not much; and certainly not enough to convince her to give up her day job. My impression was that unless you get into all forms of fortune-telling (palm reading, tea leaves, tarot, etc.) and pursue all of those full-time, you’ll never make a living at it.
As an aside, I’ll mention the time my buddies and I played poker with a tarot deck. Take out the Major Arcana, and the Knight cards from the Minor Arcana, and you have a perfectly good deck of 52 cards that you can use to play normal card games. Thanks to my ex, I was familiar with the cards, but my buddies weren’t, and it was an interesting and fun game, though a little weird in spots. “Um … I think I’ve got a flush in–what are those?–wands?”
A long-deceased great-aunt was a spiritualist leader/seer/whatever-their-leadership-was-called and she taught us kids all the tricks. And she was honest to admit at least within the family that they were tricks. Like a lot of businesses it comes down to the owner and how ethical they are. I know bartenders who have bilked people out of thousands and don’t even get me started on lawyers -------- so tell her to go ahead with caution.
Tarot and all things mystical are hot right now and in many places the laws have relaxed to consider it a form of entertainment. But be sure to check the laws in your area; once you move from doing it for fun or as part of a recognized religious practice you can end up arrested and basically fined out of business.
Leaving aside its use for divination, the symbolism of the Rider-Waite tarot deck makes a fascinating field of study. If you did not know, the suits represent the estates of medieval society: Wands (clubs) = peasants; pentacles/coins (diamonds) = merchants; cups (hearts) = clergy; swords (spades) = nobility. And the Major Arcana are an allegory for a path of spiritual development.
This sort of nonsense is apparently alive and well in Portland. In my neighborhood alone there is a crystal store, a psychic storefront, and Ingrid the Rune Woman. Just more schemes to transfer money from your pocket to theirs.
Madame Pepperwinkle used to enjoy going to Psychic Fairs and have a Tarot reading done. Once in awhile she’d insist on a reading for me. Apparently I’m a terrible subject as I try to give nothing away, as nobody has ever managed a good “cold reading” on me.
Well, none of us knew how to play the game of tarot. But we did know how to play poker.
The Rider-Waite deck is beautiful. I believe it was Pamela Coleman Smith that did the art, if memory serves. The fact that every card in the Minor Arcana has a unique illustration incorporating the number and the suit, and representing a rough meaning of the card itself, makes the deck great for beginners, as well as experienced readers. Our poker game was played with a Rider-Waite deck.
Oooo! Cool - the Robin Wood tarot is my favorite deck in my collection (which is small). Robin autographed one of the cards in the deck for me (The Hanged Man, by request).
I’ve done readings for fun. An amazing number of people want them to be “real”, but I agree with what’s been said already. I always emphasized that I wasn’t a psychic and mine were intended for entertainment. I’m not even particularly good with the spiel and yet some people take this really seriously.