Tarot cards have many uses for atheists and agnostics. Some just like to point at the Tarot and laugh, which can be very therapeutic. Some also appreciate Tarot decks for the artwork and nothing more. But some do use Tarot cards or any other type of prognostication tool as means to help make decisions.
Tarot cards should not be taken too seriously. Although some people believe the Tarot could be a tool to communicate with spirits, the only thing you really communicate with is your subconscious. However, one’s own subconscious can be just as mysterious to communicate with as it is with the supernatural. You do not need to pay anyone to layout Tarot cards for you. The atheist can use them all by himself or herself.
In his book about the evolution of human intelligence, “The Dragons of Eden” (1977) the late Dr. Carl Sagan mentioned a process called “sideways thinking.” This is when you try to find an answer to one problem by doing something else. It seems the act of dwelling on one problem can blind the thinker to all possibilities. By turning attention to another problem, sometimes answers for the previous problem pop up.
Human brains tend to seek out familiar patterns, shapes, and stories in order to help make sense of the world. If we see a particular pattern developing, the subconscious thinks, “Ah! I know how this story will turn out.” But it may take quite a while for the conscious to register this pattern because of other distractions like bad health, job stress or whatever. All the Tarot cards do is help a person remind their consciousness of the patterns developing in their own lives.
Seeing Shapes in the Clouds
Although Tarot decks usually come with books on what each card means, no one has to use them. The card can mean whatever the card reminds you of. It’s a bit like two people watching shapes in the clouds. The two people will look at the same cloud and see two different images that the cloud suggests to them.
A person may think of a problem, shuffle the cards and randomly pull a card out. The image on that card helps trigger associations in a person’s mind. Perhaps the card is predominately red – what does the color red signify to you? Lust? Danger? Pain? There may be an image on the card of a certain character, like a Fool or Magician. What qualities do those characters have? Are those the qualities you need now?
Sometimes just shuffling the deck, picture side up is a way to calm down after a stressful event. It may also show you calming images at a time when your conscious needs it. The Tarot isn’t for all atheists, but it does have its uses.