Top 10 Tarot Cards for Mental Health Issues

by Brigit on June 5, 2013 in Top 10 Tarot Cards

Moon Reversed

Oftentimes, people turn to the Tarot at a point in their lives when they feel vulnerable, confused or uncertain about their present circumstances. It is not uncommon, then, for the Tarot cards to highlight potential mental health issues such as depression, addiction, bi-polar and anxiety.

As Tarot readers, we need to be prepared for what Tarot cards may indicate these mental health issues.

In this post, I share with you my top 10 Tarot cards for mental health issues. But first, a word of warning about engaging in Tarot readings that may involve mental (or any other) health concerns.

Important! Read This Before You Start

As many of us Tarot readers are not trained psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners, please do not ‘diagnose’ a mental health issue using your Tarot cards. Don’t say, “Oh, it looks like you’re bi-polar. Yes, definitely bi-polar.” This is unethical and can have a very detrimental impact on your client, even if you are right.

Instead, suggest that it is a possible indication of a mental health issue and recommend that your client sees a professional mental health practitioner to investigate further.

Also, never assume that just because you have drawn one of the following cards that there is definitely a mental health issue present. Use your judgement and your intuition and look at the other cards in the reading. Remember that these Tarot cards also have many other possible meanings so consider if the card is actually pointing to a different issue instead.

And finally, if you do see a potential mental health issue, be very mindful of the way you explain this to your client in the reading. Your client may be very sensitive and vulnerable. (Jenne Perlstein wrote an excellent guest post on counselling and the Tarot here that is good background reading for working with these clients.) Suggest that it is a mere possibility that there is a mental health issue and recommend that they seek out professional help to delve deeper into the potential issue. (Always use language such as, “a possibility”, “a potential issue”, “an indication of a mental health issue”, etc.) I also recommend drawing another card to understand what the client can do to overcome the mental health issue and/or what the client has to look forward to in their life.

UPDATE: For more caveats and warnings, please read through the comments provided in the Comments section. A number of people share very relevant and valid points of view that you need to take into consideration before using the Tarot for highlighting potential signs of mental health concerns.

Now with all that said, here are my top 10 Tarot cards for mental health.

Moon reversed

 

Moon reversed – General mental health issues, including fear, anxiety and depression, that haven’t yet been explored or resolved. Recommend that your client works with a trained professional (possibly a hypnotherapist) to uncover some of these deep, subconscious concerns.

Nine of Swords

 

 

Nine of Swords – Anxiety and depression that is spurred on by very negative self-talk. It can also point to insomnia as a result of stress and anxiety and the constant ‘mind chatter’ about everything that is going wrong.

 

Devil

 

Devil – Devil – Addiction and unhealthy attachment. The addiction may be to an actual ‘thing’, such as drugs, alcohol or sex, or to certain situations such as abusive relationships or material wealth.

 

Nine of Wands reversed

 

 

Nine of Wands reversed – Nine of Wands reversed – Paranoia and feeling as if the world is against you. If accompanied by the Nine of Swords, your client might be hearing voices that contribute to the paranoia.

 

Star reversed

 

Star reversed – Star reversed – A lack of faith and a general feeling of hopelessness that may lend itself to depression, deep sadness and anxiety.

 

 

Five of Cups reversed

 

 

Five of Cups reversed – Five of Cups reversed – Depression, often due to a loss of some kind. Your client may be finding it difficult to get out of a rut following a loss or deep regret.

 

Five of Pentacles

 

Five of Pentacles – Five of Pentacles – Anxiety, perhaps as a result of job loss or financial hardship. This card may also point to feeling isolated and unsupported, or not wanting to accept help.

 

Nine of Cups reversed

 

 

Nine of Cups reversed – Nine of Cups reversed – Discontentment and depression because emotional needs are not being fulfilled.

 

Temperance reversed

 

Temperance reversed – Temperance reversed – A possible indication of a chemical imbalance which may lend itself to bi-polar or other mental health issues that are related to the body and brain’s chemical balance.

 

Tower

 

 

Tower – Tower – A major break-down or crisis, or a series of panic attacks. It may be as a result of a major life change that was unexpected or sudden.

 

 

What Tarot cards do you associate with mental health issues? Leave your comments below.

 

Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings eBookWant to learn the meanings of the Tarot cards for mental health and other hot topics? Learn more about the Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings with over 330 pages of detailed Tarot card meanings.

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Shelley, Sparrow Tarot June 5, 2013 at 7:15 am

Interesting post and sensitively handled. It’s tough just having to go through all these cards in one blog post, their energies collectively like this are incredibly heavy.
I especially like the interpretation of the 9 of Cups reversed as emotional needs not being met. All the loving feelings normally held in the chalices are now buried beneath the man who’s been turned on his head, when normally he’s the one who’s having the last laugh when the card is upright.

Reply

Vickie W June 5, 2013 at 7:22 am

This is great, thanks for posting this Biddy!

Reply

mona June 5, 2013 at 7:49 am

4 or 10 of Swords- a person with suicidal tendencies; some one who likes to cut themselves

Reply

Nupur June 10, 2013 at 7:00 am

Hi Mona,
Never thought of that connection but makes complete sense!

Reply

Alexsandria July 1, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Yes!!! Definitely good cards to add….it also depends on how they come up in your spread as well

Reply

Tria June 5, 2013 at 8:51 am

I’m an acute psych nurse on a MH unit and all I can say is wow…I’ve been practising/studying tarot for over 2 decades and just made a serious aha connection between the cards and mental health.

Reply

Faye June 5, 2013 at 9:26 am

Reversed queen of cups, co-dependant in relationships. Low self esteem. Very interesting read.

Reply

Zac, Gemini Tarot June 5, 2013 at 10:24 am

I find it very interesting that the majority of these cards have numerical values of 5 and 9. This really goes to show you how powerful and useful numerological connections to the Tarot can be! I like the interpretation of the Reversed Temperance as a potential chemical imbalance, I would have never thought to interpret it that way!

Reply

Brigit June 7, 2013 at 2:46 am

Great observation!

Reply

Aasheeshh June 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Thanks Biddy for this wonderful post.Very relevant in these stressful times.
The Tarot hints in a subtle way of the mental health issues involved.
In a health spread they would be more prominent.In a general spread one has to intuitively judge if any mental issues need to be tackled.Cups can generally relate to emotional stress,while swords and wands can denote job related stress,while Pentacles may denote stress related to money.
I think Moon and Temperance reversed are the top two cards which denote mental stress.Somehow they hit you direct with their meaning.
Regards,
Aasheeshh

Reply

Jenne Perlstein June 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Tarot and Mental Health.. proceed with caution!

By EDITOR | Published: JUNE 5, 2013 | Edit
Biddy’s post is very apt, as a follow up to my recent guest blog ,http://www.tarotastrocounselling.com.au/tarot/counselling-tarot-create-powerful-connection-clients-jenne-perlstein-guest-blogger-biddy-tarot/which Brigit referred to. In that blog I focused on some aspects of counselling and Tarot, and in this blog from Brigit, she very clearly points out that in no way should the the cards be used to diagnose a mental health disorder. In my course globalspiritualstudies.com/shop/courses/embracing-more-than-one-modality/counselling-and-mental-health-skills-for-astrologers-and-tarot-readers/ , I also emphasize this. Whilst I go through various common mental health disorders and some indicators / symptoms that may present in the consultation, via interaction with the person, I focus only lightly on the cards in the course, much in the way Brigit offers. It is not about making us as readers experts or counsellors about these issues. I teach the mental health component 1. to offer best practice in fulfilling our ethics of doing ‘no harm,’ and to offer what is best for the client i.e. so we know our limits ! It could be very harmful to engage more deeply with someone who is vulnerable. eg a client becoming more anxious or depressed as a result of the reading 2. to be able to ensure that we can refer on appropriately and how to suggest that 3. that we set boundaries for ourselves so we are not out of our depth or feeling distressed. 4. hopefully enabling you as the reader to not get caught up in any potential manipulation ,dependency or someones delusions etc. 5.It is about giving you permission to move away from the card reading if necessary,and using some of the basic skills I have talked about previously, and in the course, to give emotional l and even physical safety for the client, and you.

Brigits card interpretations are valuable as information for you as the reader, and depending on the context ,not necessarily for you to communicate with the client. If the cards seem potentially too overwhelming or distressing for the client, in conjunction with what you are perceiving and hearing from them, or leading you out of your depth , then, putting it bluntly, BACK OFF! Acknowledge the distress, listen and offer support and then recommend relevant help and REFER on, e.g. their GP, psychologist. psychiatrist , Lifeline , community mental health service, beyond blue etc.If you think the client can hear or acknowledge that there maybe issues, then do so gently, with very open ended questions eg (the 5 of Cups and the Moon is the spread ) ‘you are looking very sad .I am wondering how you are feeling at the moment?’ ….. and thus offering empathy, but allowing the client to speak as they feel comfortable, to lead you as to how far they wish to go, and for you to gauge how’ strong’ they are. Support, and not reading/interpreting more than the person can handle is key. Get to know the support and mental health services in your area.

Hope this is of help , and if you feel you need more support, then this blog is a great way , as well as supervision, and potentially my course and possibly more in depth accredited courses.

Reply

Brigit June 7, 2013 at 2:45 am

Thanks for the great advice, Jenne.

Reply

Kalinna June 9, 2013 at 6:39 am

How is it possible for one with a mental issue such as but not limited to depression, bipolar etc be able to give a dependable for lack of a better word reading? Wouldn’t the reader having a mental illness affect the reading?

Kalinna

Reply

Brigit June 10, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Not necessarily. In fact, the Tarot may be part of the healing process or at least the process of coming to understand oneself on a deeper level.

Reply

Kalinna June 11, 2013 at 11:25 am

Interesting response but not quite sure what you mean when you say it can be a process of healing.
Regardless I thank you for your response & time you took to give it.
Blessings,
Kalinna

Reply

Idaly June 16, 2013 at 9:06 am

Greatly explained Jenne!! I’m a psychologist and during therapy session you could encounter an anxiety driven client that is on the verge of experiencing a full blown panic atack. As a responsible mental health practitioner you must be more than proficient to help your client deal with the episode and ensure his/her well-being afterward your therapy session. Most of the time a psychologist must work hand-in-hand with a psychiatrist (MD) in order to ensure your client recieves the correct pharmachological treatment, because therapy alone is not enough to help him/her. Recognizing our limitations and seeking for more specialized help is not a weakness but a a very caring and responsible attitute on behalf of the mental health professional. Treading into unknown waters without proper knowledge could cost your client’s life or possibly yours if the person is totally unstable and is carring a concealed weapon. Be mindful and responsible.

Best regards.

Reply

Manashi June 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Thanks a lot for the post. It was an eye-opener as far as Nine of Cups ( reversed ) & Temperence (reversed) goes. Moon (upright) also is a mental card , as far as Tarot & astrology is concerned. It shows mental depression upto certain extent.
When do we read these cards as mental problem in the spread ? When we see two or more of these cards in a spread / or pertaining to the question of the querent ?
I shall be very thankful if you please answer this query ?
Thanks
Manashi

Reply

Brigit June 7, 2013 at 2:38 am

I would say to use these cards in this way only when you have a strong feeling that it may be a potential issue, or when you have asked specifically around health or well-being.

Reply

Jean Redman June 6, 2013 at 12:43 am

I could not disagree with you more. You said ” Instead, suggest that it is a possible indication of a mental health issue and recommend that your client sees a professional mental health practitioner to investigate further.” In my opinion we as readers are never to suggest what a Doctor might diagnose, never and to suggest that your client has a mental health issue, would be diagnosing. You can talk about How this mental issue manifests, but not that it is a mental issue at all. Understanding what’s considered normal mental health can be tricky. What’s the difference between mental health and mental illness? Sometimes the answer seems clear. For instance, a person who hears voices in his or her head could have schizophrenia. A person who goes on a frenzied shopping spree or starts an ambitious project — such as remodeling the bathroom — without any plans might be having a manic episode caused by bipolar disorder. One that washes their hands over and over, or agoraphobia etc. Discuss the symptoms only and suggest to them to see a professional health practioner, but never, never say its a mental health issue.

Reply

Brigit June 6, 2013 at 8:34 am

Hi Jean,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think you are spot on in what you suggest – to speak only of the symptoms and then leave it to the medical practitioners to diagnose those symptoms. You are certainly clarified this much better than I have in the post, and for that I am grateful.

Brigit

Reply

thepinch June 6, 2013 at 5:02 am

Good Day,

I trust the Biddy Tarot interpretation of mental health issues.

I have been studying Tarot for about 5 years. I also have a mild form of bipolar disorder. That is to say, I usually, but not always, see a problem coming.

Tarot helps to give me a “heads up”. Not just for me, but also for the people around me (surprise, I’m not the only one who’s nuts ;))

Some of these cards were a surprise; I assumed that a reversal would diminish the impact of a card – not always so. Thanks!

Reply

Brigit June 7, 2013 at 2:35 am

Thank-you for sharing. I would be interested to know if you get any particular cards coming up a lot for you, especially when you can feel something coming up. Would you be open to sharing?

Reply

Shelley June 6, 2013 at 6:43 am

2 of Pentacles related to bipolar disorder … finding that balance between high and low can be very challenging!

Reply

Alexsandria July 1, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Agreed! All the twos bounces back and forth via extremes, esp the 2 of swords.

Reply

Shelley June 6, 2013 at 6:46 am

Gentle, non judgemental exploration with a low level of inference is the best approach to any delicate issue …

Reply

Brigit June 7, 2013 at 2:35 am

Nicely put – thank-you.

Reply

Deborah June 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I have been reading tarot for many years but have become increasingly more interested in studying the cards. I work with the seriously mentally ill and have heard of individuals who use tarot to work with schizophrenics…I found this article to be very interesting.

Reply

Jody June 7, 2013 at 8:59 am

Great info! I would like to add one caution. Please do not use the terms “mental health” with people, as this term is a definite turn off to people and often associated with “crazy”. It is far better to focus on exactly what you see. Such as ” you may be having some difficulty dealing with your feelings” or anxiety, depression, extreme sadness, loss, grief or what ever cards suggest. Look for confirmation from your client, “does this make sense to you” if they say yes and offer Something like “I am feeling really depressed” then look to see if this condition is also indicated in the future. You can do a spread to see how they might benefit from intervention and that will help you determine what info you might offer. Such as “sometimes when these feelings keep reocurring it can be beneficial to seek some additional support”. “some of my clients find they also need to seek counseling for support or talk to their doctor about what is going on”. If you then see the Emperor, Hermit or Magician, you can tell your client that it looks like, should they feel the need to seek further guidance, that they are likely to get good advice or assistance. I would also recommend that you get a local suicide hot line phone number that you can give to the rare client that says yes, I often feel like killing myself. Ethically, if client says something like this, you should follow through by asking do you feel like harming yourself today? If answer is yes then offer to help them call the hotline and a family member.

Reply

Brigit June 7, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Thanks Jodie – you make a great point about naming the symptom rather than the diagnosis of ‘mental health’. And referring to a help line or professional is a very wise strategy.

Reply

Jenne Perlstein June 8, 2013 at 12:42 am

sorry re the typos in my last comment!!

Reply

jenne perlstein June 8, 2013 at 12:28 am

Jodie…spot on with your approach with clients who maybe showing mental health issues.i doubt brigit or anyone would use ‘mental health, in dialogue with the client. Exactly how you have described is the way to interact with a dustressed sad anxious client. Using their words their description of themselves and suggesting further help is crucial.the knowledge re support resources is also essential.please tefer to post elsewhere in this discussion and my recent blog here on counselling and tarot and info about the course i offer on tarot counselling and mental health.the more discussion about these issues the more skilled and ethical we will be!

Reply

Ilham June 15, 2013 at 10:35 am

Excellent reference to improve Tarot reading. Thanks for keeping share these useful articles.

Reply

Elizabeth June 17, 2013 at 8:15 pm

This is very informative as far as knowing the parameters revolving mental via health issues. We are not doctors nor psychiatric to determine the prognosis of someone conditions. To do this would deemed unethical as a tarot reader and would open door to a liability as a professional tarot reader. An encouragement of seeking professional help would suffice.

Reply

Jane June 19, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Great info, interesting article!

Reply

Johnny June 22, 2013 at 8:16 am

A great blog Biddy. I would consider the (Reversed) Ace of Swords. Lack or difficulty with clear thinking and objectivity. Mostly all the Sword cards are energies of one’s mentality.

Reply

Brigit June 25, 2013 at 7:56 am

Thanks for adding!

Reply

Alexsandria July 1, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Truly enlightening post, Biddy<3 Might I add mass hysteria that the 10 of swords exudes. For example, when someone commits an act of crime or hate that affects others (ie Boston Marathon, Pearl Harbor bombing, 911, the Holocaust, etc.) The 9 of wands rx I would have never thought about being a card of mental illness/dysfunction.

Reply

Alexsandria July 1, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Oh yikes!! I forgot to add the 8 of swords, which is indicative of the “victim player”…They wallow in self-pity, fear, and problems, yet refuse to do anything about it….those that live in denial and it can’t be healthy…and what about the 7 of swords: the habitual, chronic liar???? There are many cards in the deck that can point to mental illness in various forms and depending on how they fall?

Reply

Cary July 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm

These are interesting interpretations for unhealthy or negative states of mind. Ironically, I also see The Devil as a link to addiction and have interpreted it as such on several readings prior to reviewing this post. I find the nine of wands reversed the most surprising interpretation of the lot. It was unexpected, something I had never considered for the card, and very on target. However, I disagree with Brigit’s assessment of The Moon reversed and Five of Cups reversed. To me, the interpretations given are valid in the upright position, not reversed. The Moon reversed and Five of Cups reversed are a RELEASE from those conditions. I’d like to add two cards not mentioned:
Seven of Wands, upright:
this is my traditional ‘paranoia’ card. It is a card of anxiety and fear of the unknown, as well as a fear of change. A man is on a hill. He holds a staff in a confrontational manner, ready for a fight. However, there are no visible enemies in sight, only a suggestion of such. The tops of six wands crest the bottom of the pictures view, yet we do not see who wields them, and it is these six unknown wands that the man on the hill is prepared to do battle with. Is the man fighting real or imagined foes? (Unlike the Five of Wands or Five of Swords where we see the enemies being fought)
Five of Swords, reversed: I’ve always seen this as the card of revenge. This can be a dangerous person with a dangerous state of mind obsessed with getting even for a confrontational defeat or perceived wrongdoing. (Unlike the Five of Cups upright where the person merely cries about defeat) It may also indicate someone with an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Reply

Brigit July 5, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Thanks for sharing, Cary. The beauty of Tarot is that there are so many different interpretations of the cards, and it often comes down to what resonates with you personally.

Reply

Joan July 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

I have schizophrenia and I read tarot cards. When I am getting sick I get 8 swords and the 2 swords and always the Moon. It means I am too scared to make a decision and don’t know who to trust.

Reply

Brigit July 13, 2013 at 2:45 am

Thanks so much for sharing your personal experience, Joan.

Reply

Jennifer July 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Joan,

My son’s schizophrenian on-set 10 years ago and has severely declined. I would appreciate any help and advice you could offer using the tarot.

Reply

Joan July 30, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I don’t know how to help you using the tarot, I am sorry. For me when I read a book or listened to music I could not hear the voices anymore and that helped. I was too afraid to go to the shops alone and would take my kids and focus on them, by focusing on them it lessened the paranoia somewhat. I lost 30 kilos because I was too afraid to eat.

Reply

Emmy August 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

I know it’s late to this discussion, but I was reading tonight and thought I would share my thoughts.
I receive treatment for severe anxiety and depression. I still struggle even with treatment. I think the Tarot would reflect my struggles. If the client is someone new, do not jump to the assumption they have not received treatment. Some clients may be uncomfortable to talk about treatment, but will be seeking and or already having treatment.

I see 5 of pentacles as not just feeling isolated or outside of things, but actually being ostracized due to mental illness. When I was doing group therapy, I knew so many individuals whose family were ashamed of their struggles. I think it’s important to see that some of the judgment and stigma can come from outside the person’s own mind and from those around them. In a reading like this, look for people cards (Court cards, empress/emperor) reversed as those who do not support others.

Another card that doesn’t come up for me usually, but would apply to mental illness is 7 of Cups. It’s definitely to me could be an addict card or possibly a card suggesting delusional thinking. Finally it may just speak to denial of either reality or what is possible. It may suggest depression if the querent thinks certain outcomes are possible only in their dreams.
Interesting post!

Reply

Sophie December 2, 2013 at 11:00 am

I have seen many of these cards in relation to mental health readings throughout the years, particularly in a position indicating an event/situation contributing to the current condition. Notably: 9 or 3 of swords for depression/sorrow/pain, Devil – substance abuse or unhealthy relationships; Wheel of Fortune (reversed or upright) for mood disorders, Temperance reversed – general mental health balance.

What I find even more interesting is the cards that can help on to move forward from these events/circumstances. Here are some of the ones I see frequently in readings:

Magician – Some relate this card with psychosis, specifically schizophrenia. In my experience, it relates more to bipolar mania, reminding us that the creative forces of mania need to be grounded in physical reality to obtain value.
Hierophant – although others don’t always interpret this positively (orthodoxy, conformity), it can also indicate that following through with skills and treatments for a mental health illness can lead to a better outcome.
2 of pentacles – need for balance
5 of cups – reminder not to dwell on loss/negativity

I gave a basic Celtic cross reading to an individual struggling with bipolar disorder, beginning with the moon reversed crossed by the tower followed by the three of swords. The possible outcome was Justice with the outcome as the Knight of Wands reversed (confusion, disruption, breakdown & disharmony). The cards above came out in a subsequent reading that helped the individual navigate her challenges to avoid an unpleasant outcome.

Reply

Monika April 29, 2014 at 4:45 am

What cards would come up for someone who has sociopathic or narcissistic tendencies (disorders)?

Reply

Brigit May 3, 2014 at 5:48 am

Potentially the Nine of Cups reversed, Devil reversed, King of Cups reversed or King of Wands reversed.

Reply

Leave a Comment

*

 Yes! Send me the Biddy Tarot weekly newsletter with FREE Tarot tips & weekly insight 

Previous post:

Next post: