3 of Wands from Mary-El Tarot

Can a Tarot Deck Be Evil?

The simple answer is “no, not really” but the larger answer is a bit more complex. Tarot cards are generally perfectly safe despite the fears some have (often due to their religious upbringing). However, I have personal experience that shows care must be taken to ensure the Tarot deck you use actually suits you.


Lesson #1 – Choose Only Decks That Align With Your Energy

When I first started using Tarot cards decades ago, there were only a handful of choices. Unlike now, when there are dozens of decks readily available for purchase, back in the late 1980’s most of us were limited to whatever we saw at our local chain bookstore. And this was often no more than four or five decks.

Back then, you had to decide if you wanted to buy a deck based solely on its packaging. This meant seeing, at most, a few images of cards on the back of the box before you committed to buying it.

My intuition drove me to purchase my first deck called “The Enchanted Tarot”. It is a beautiful deck created by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber that I still use to this day! The cards are gorgeous, rich, deep, and decidedly (to me) non-threatening without glossing over the more challenging concepts that Tarot can illuminate.

But I also found myself intrigued by another deck, called the Thoth Tarot. My intuition told me it wasn’t right for me, but my brain was just too curious as I read the box. So I bought it anyway.

I made several attempts to give myself readings from it, but found it dark and utterly impenetrable. Each time I tried to use it, I had a vague sense of unease as if I wasn’t supposed to be using it. Eventually, I shoved it away in a box in the back of my closet and forgot about it.

Many years later I participated in a blind Tarot deck gift exchange at a local metaphysical store. I somehow remembered that I still had the Thoth deck so I told myself someone else could still use it. In the exchange, I was chosen first and was delighted when I picked an oracle deck that I connected with immediately (Enchanted Map by Collette Baron Reid). As I watched the participants choose and unwrap their decks, it became clear this exchange really was aligning people’s energies with the energy of the decks.

But as I watched the gift exchange unfold, I grew anxious and wondered if it was the right thing to give the Thoth deck to someone else. Was the deck’s energy just not aligned with me? Or was it inherently “evil” and I was passing this dark energy along to someone else? I suddenly wished I could take it back and destroy the deck but it was too late.

There was one person in this gift exchange that I sensed very dark energy from the moment she walked into the room. She was thin and malnourished, with dark circles under her eyes. She had a slightly crazed look about her and quickly spoke with any stranger who would listen about all the details of the woes and troubles of her life. She appeared the epitome of a lost soul and I sensed intuitively she had addiction issues as well. Throughout the evening, I tried to send her as much white light and positive energy as I could since I sensed the depths of pain within.

As each participant drew numbers for their chance at the blind gift exchange, my intuition told me she was going to choose the Thoth deck I had donated. Sure enough, of the twenty or so gift-wrapped decks remaining in the bag, she reached in and chose that one. As she unwrapped it, her eyes lit up and she expressed that she had always wanted this particular deck!

While I don’t believe the Thoth (or any other) Tarot deck is necessarily inherently “evil”, I did knowingly purchase a deck that did not align with my own energy and later passed that along to a fellow human being. I firmly believe that particular deck had some dark energy connected with it and eventually found its way to an owner that aligned with its energy.

Whether you believe it is because of the deck’s origin, the nature of it’s art and history, or just because I projected my own fears and concerns onto it so long ago, it was hard to see it as anything other than the Law of Attraction at work: like attracts like. Nobody else in that group would have been a match if they had chosen that gift.

I sometimes still think of that young woman and send her positive energy and healing, hoping she has outgrown the deck or found a more positive way to use it than I did.


Lesson #2 – Listen to Your Intuition

Of course, in modern times, dozens or even hundreds of decks became readily available via the Internet. In recent years, I found myself intrigued by some of the new artists’ interpretations of Tarot. Browsing sites like Pinterest for intriguing card art, if a particular card caught my eye I would search for others from that same deck. This eventually led to a couple of deck purchases that were good, and one that was particularly bad.

When I first began browsing, I was mesmerized by a few cards from the Mary-El Tarot. These were done by a clearly talented artist, and because I read intuitively I especially liked that the art was a fairly unique interpretation of the Tarot. I soon found a page that listed the art for all the cards in the deck. And I was stopped in my tracks.

A few of the cards in the deck immediately struck me as having very “dark” energy. I found the images of the The High Priestess and The Hierophant to be twisted and even perverse. I could not imagine giving readings to clients and showing them some of these cards!

Like it had decades before with the Thoth deck, my intuition told me the deck’s energy was clearly just too dark for me. And just like those many years before, I didn’t listen to my intuition and I bought the deck anyway!

I read through the book that accompanied it. I found it thought-provoking and it did seem to explain some of the artists choices in creating some of the art that I found disturbing. I told myself I was being silly for thinking it was too “dark”. After all, I was more confident, mature, and experienced now. So I decided to try reading with the cards only for myself.

Much to my shock, unlike the Thoth deck, I found the Mary-El Tarot to be very readable and accurate! However, each time I used it I could not shake the feeling afterwards that something wasn’t quite right. While I was getting some very accurate intuitive information, I was not sensing the state of calm, detached euphoria that I associate with Spirit. The feeling was more aligned with my ego (“Wow! Look what I can do with these cards!”).

One day, after raising my vibration and meditating, I read for myself using the Mary-El Tarot. Suddenly, I heard a loud “BANG!”  and the light bulb in my room went out! The sound startled me so badly I jumped up and yelped! It felt like my heart was beating out of my chest.

The room where I meditate and do my readings always has a very calm and light energy. I smudge it frequently to help clear the energy of the room. Yet, the compact fluorescent light bulb in this room, the kind of bulb that was supposed to last many years yet was only a few months old, had somehow just popped and died. It has never happened to me before or since in that room or any others in the house.

My intuition immediately told me that it was no coincidence that this happened after reading with this deck. But I still convinced myself the reading had enough value that I could dismiss the warning. After all, there was no real harm done other than having to change a light bulb.

After I did another interesting reading for myself with the same deck a few days later, I was feeling very pleased with my intuitive insight. I opened my journal to write about it. The journal had lain tightly closed and bound during my meditation and the entire time I pulled cards from the deck. As I opened it and began to write, I felt a lump under the page. I flipped the page over to find the “lump” was actually a large black spider that came crawling out of my journal!!!

Once again I was startled out of my calm state, my heart pounding out of my chest. I knew immediately that this was another sign to stop using the deck. I had lived in that house for over a decade and never encountered a single spider in that room prior to that day! I was deeply shaken since I could not fathom where that spider came from. There was simply no way it could have gotten into that bound, closed journal. It was as if it manifested out of nothing.

Spirit was clearly telling me that deck was simply too dark for me, and that any intuitive information obtained from it would come at a price I was unwilling to pay.  Yet the information I had obtained in that read was quite valuable and accurate so I was still somehow reluctant to get rid of the deck.

I decided I wanted time to consider whether there was a better way to protect myself from the deck’s dark energy but still get the value of its readings. I cleansed the deck’s energy, and re-smudged the room again, and then tied the deck back into the silk bag I’d been using for it.  I tucked the bag away deep in the drawer that I keep closed at all times except for retrieving decks during readings.

After about six months, during which I’d used several other decks repeatedly with success and without incident, I remembered the accurate readings I had given with the Mary-El deck. Feeling confident, I decided to give it one last try.

I opened the drawer and pulled out the deck – still tied tightly in its silk bag from the last time I’d used it so many months ago. As soon as I opened the bag, a large black spider came running out of the bag!!! Once again, I was startled to the point of letting out a yelp as my heart began pounding out of my chest.

I realized immediately what a fool I had been to ignore my intuition and the previous signs from Spirit. This time I did not hesitate. I destroyed the deck and even took it out of my home before disposing of it. I vowed never to make the same mistake again, no matter how intriguing a or accurate a deck’s energy might seem to me. If my intuition told me it was too dark for me, it was too dark for me. Period.

I thanked Spirit for the lessons in trusting my own intuition.


Tools of Choice

So was the Mary-el Tarot, or the Thoth deck “evil”? I don’t think so. I’m sure there are good people out there who read with them successfully. But it was clearly, absolutely not the deck for me. Nor was it one that I would ever consider using with my clients, so I should have trusted my intuition and never should have purchased them in the first place.

What it comes down to is a Tarot deck is just a tool. But the choices we make regarding what tools to bring into our lives, and how we use them, have consequences. So be sure you choose only decks that align with your personal energy as well as the energy you want to bring to those for whom you read.

If you learn to trust your own intuition, as I eventually did, you can easily avoid any “evil” decks that just aren’t right for you.


With Deepest Gratitude,

~Tim Thomas


Gold⭐️ · March 13, 2019 at 8:18 pm

I just came across your article when researching whether to venture into the Thoth cards despite my gut and brain telling me to not venture into that area. The art of many of these cards are very alluring but I can’t get over the origin of the creator. Thanks for sharing and reaffirming my instinct. It’s always reassuring to know that we are not alone in this chaotic world. Many blessings.

    Tim Thomas · March 18, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Thanks, Gold! I’m glad you found this article helpful. Always trust your gut if it is telling you something is not right for you!

    There are a lot of decks beyond just the ones I mentioned in this article – Deviant Moon chief among them – that I find intriguing that were clearly designed by talented people. But I’ve learned my lesson. I trust my intuition now when it tells me a deck is not right for me and I move on to one that feels better to me.

      P · June 3, 2020 at 1:57 am

      Spot on thank you.

Jamie Jo Loudermilk · March 2, 2021 at 8:54 pm

Thank you so much for your insight, and sharing your personal experience. With the nature of our world events and the light that is now being shed on the “Evil” that have been keeping us enslaved, I have been seeing a lot of names and talk about symbology, and things not of the “Light”. I have always loved Tarot, and I am still trying to master it. A long time ago I was given the Aleister Crowley Tarot deck (I just had to look it up and indeed it is the Thoth Tarot). Anyway, I don’t remember if I heard or read something or just got the creeps really bad.. but I got rid of it shortly after. I “Love” all the tarot decks, like I am sure so many out there do, but I find myself questioning the symbolism in some of them. I was wondering if you could give some more examples… of the not so “Light” ones..
I just ordered a couple from Amazon, and now second guessing my purchase, as I looked back at the reviews to see the photos of some of the cards more closely. The Hermetic Tarot, Bianco Nero, What about the “Golden Dawn”? p.s. I just googled Crowley, and says “the most evil man on the planet”… wow… Thank you again.. God Bless

    Tim Thomas · March 3, 2021 at 8:18 am


    It is really about listening to your own intuition about what feels good (and “light”) for you. I don’t think any particular deck is “evil”, but if you are uncomfortable with the symbolism or images of particular cards in a deck, it is probably not right for you. There are plenty of decks out there that will give you a good vibe when you use them – while also not shying away from some of the potentially more challenging cards like The Tower or the 10 of Swords, etc.

    I know for me, personally, the other deck that I was intrigued by and admire the art but ultimately rejected because it just didn’t feel right to me when I looked at all the images was the “Deviant Moon Tarot”. But I’m sure others will feel differently.

    Trust what feels good/right for you.

Ivania · August 29, 2022 at 4:50 am

Thank you so much for writing this insight about these tarot cards. I was looking for information that would challenge the nice reviews on Amazon and the nice reviews the Thoth tarot cards have in Reddit. Although I know about Alister Crowley and his bad reputation, my my logical brain + my intuition both actually rejected these cards. I must recognize that some of the art is very beautiful, but some cards quite shocked me (my intuition) as soon as I laid eyes on them. Ex: The Hierophant. The energy is just not of good spirit. The deck has many shocking-looking cards that my intuition rejected, regardless of who created the cards. My logical brain told me, even before looking at the cards, that if these cards were created by AC, then they certainly get their energy from dark sources. I’m so glad I read your article because it confirmed all my suspicions.

    Tim Thomas · August 29, 2022 at 7:47 am

    Ivania – I’m glad you found this helpful. I know it is tempting when you’re intrigued by the art in certain cards, or find other good reviews that make you want to reconsider. So I’m glad that you trust yourself to know those cards are not right for you.

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.