The Tarot Closet

Updated: Nov 13

Trigger warning: This post contains themes of psychological abuse, trauma, and religious ideation. I elaborate on my opinion around difficult subjects. These details are solely to remain an authentic storyteller.

Last week, this blog’s inaugural week, I shared stories around my intuition and how the tarot appeared on my radar. I gave you my backstory for how I first used the cards to write The Scars We Choose, and I compared being inspired by the tarot and how intuiting the cards’ meaning felt, to me, much like deciding on the meaning of art. That is because tarot is art, and its images are meant to inspire.

As mentioned in my first two blog posts, the tarot will be a returning guest here on The Intuitive Writer blog, and I will share with you everything there is to learn about my own practice of using the cards to sharpen my intuition and enchant my writing. As such, I want to pause today and do a little tarot housekeeping for you.

On this Magic Monday, I would like for you to consider the magic of curiosity, learning, and appreciation of diverse opinions. Synchronously, I would ask that you consider the practical and quantifiable facts about the tarot. I have three such points to share and I will also “clear the air” on a few preconceived notions and misperceptions about the cards. I am so glad you are here. Let’s get started.

1. The tarot is a set of 78 paper cards that, when arranged together, form a book.

This book contains two sections—the major arcana (grand secrets), which consists of 22 big picture themes, and the minor arcana (lesser secrets), which involves 56 day-to-day considerations. The former is known as “the Fool’s journey,” while the latter cards are referred to as “the pips.” You can look forward to future postings that will cover both the major and minor arcana. Each card displays illustrations—which were/are typically designed with common, religious, numerological, and astrological symbolism.

2. The tarot has many uses.

The cards can be used for self-exploration, journaling, wellness, creative inspiration, divination, and other practices—good and bad, light and dark.

3. The tarot is not evil, “of the devil,” as I was once taught, or blasphemous.

People can be those things, not paper cards.

In paraphrasing an analogy that Theresa Reed, The Tarot Lady, uses to explain this concept, a person can use a hammer to hang a picture or to bludgeon someone to death. Similarly, the tarot can be used for good intentions or for darker means. To be clear, I ONLY use the cards for good practices—to inspire art and writing, healing and wellness.

As you can imagine, given the light versus dark metaphors, my initial intrigue with the tarot frightened me, and I was hesitant to tell anyone I was “dabbling” with the cards. For about six years, I kept my thoughts and practice a secret. In the summer of 2020, when I contemplated sharing my first weekly reading on Instagram, my bones shook with fear. I hesitated to stand in my truth, to remain as authentic a person as I had always strived to show up as—in everything I do.

The bulk of my hesitance surrounded the metaphorical "tarot closet," a construct installed as a result of negative stigma, assumptions, and misperceptions, particularly by religious institutions. Because I was raised a devout Southern Christian (Assembly of God, to be exact), I felt I had to ease out of the tarot closet. Initially, I was concerned with traumatizing family members and being shunned. That had already happened to me more than 25 years ago when I revealed that I was in love with a boy outside of my race. A few close and influential family members threatened to “disown” me. A couple actually did.

Fast forward a quarter century and Teen Mandy—who still loiters around inside me, terrified of rejection and thirsty for acceptance and love—wondered how in the hell those same people were going to respond to me using tarot cards.

You know what I did? How I told them? I didn’t. I said nothing. I shuffled an affirmations oracle deck, I took pictures of the cards, and I posted a fun reading to Instagram. I didn’t ask anyone’s permission. I didn’t need to.

On Writer Wednesday, I will define what it means to be an intuitive writer, with an overview of the intersection between intuition and creativity.

In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.

Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself.

When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.

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