Tarot, Witchcraft, and Divination: Teens and tweens seek reassurance from the universe | Great Books

Never proven scientifically, one of the biggest draws to tarot and witchcraft practices is the romance of their ancient provenance and their ancestral, shared rituals and human wisdom.

Photo by WiroKlyngz/Getty Images; Ouija pointer icon by ProVectors/Getty Images

For centuries, humans used divination crafts, such as tarot cards, to predict the future and influence their fate. Currently, #tarot on TikTok, with its youthful demographic, has over 60 billion views. Never proven scientifically, one of the biggest draws to these practices is the romance of their ancient provenance and their ancestral, shared rituals and human wisdom. These antiquated arts are at the forefront of a fortune-telling revolution. Women and LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC folks, left out or discriminated against by traditional religions, looked to these practices for support. The turn of this century saw a rise in white feminist witchcraft, but also a rediscovery of brujería and hoodoo by Latinx and Black communities.

Tarot decks have also been revamped to remove colonialist hierarchies, bias, and binary genderism. A search online finds nonbinary decks, Norse decks, Star Trek cards, and Garbage Pail Kids Tarot. Even the “classic” Rider-Waite Tarot deck, for decades hazy about its origins, now gives credit to its 1909 illustrator Pamela Colman Smith. Yet, male/masculine-identified decks are scarce, maybe because, as witchcraft practitioner Peter Grey astutely observed, “Witchcraft is the recourse of the dispossessed.”

Perhaps in reaction to global warming, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, political conflict, bullyism, and COVID-19, the wish for influence, control, and prediction has skyrocketed. Modern revisions of divination arts shy away from old school magic’s pursuit of wealth, power, sex, and revenge, centering instead on more teen-friendly ideals of healing, empowerment,
self-awareness, and self-care. Certainly Grey’s “dispossessed” describes young people, who lack power and representation but are invested in the future, and intrigued by these ancient arts.

The following are noteworthy, recent print resources to further divination explorations. Some are specifically aimed at tweens and teens, but included, too, are the adult books that are routinely recommended online and in discussion groups. Consider providing or lending tarot decks, Ouija boards, and divination books in communal areas and makerspaces, or anywhere kids hang out at lunch and after school, and where board games and Dungeons & Dragons are popular. Also note that some card decks come with interpretation guides specific to their images.

Books for Tweens & Teens

CASTANEA, Frankie. Spells for Change: A Guide for Modern Witches. Andrews McMeel. 2022. ISBN 9781524871635.
Gr 9 Up–A folk witch provides beginners with foundations to formulate their own practice. Castanea lists materials for spells (crystals, herbs, natural materials), explains the function and procedure of spells, and includes sample spells for things like banishing unwanted energy and a positivity spell. Witchcraft is promoted as activist and environmental, and a bibliography of other resources is included.

CHOWN, Xanna Eve & Emily Anderson. The Teen Witches’ Guide to Crystals: Discover the Secret Forces of the Universe—and Unlock Your Own Hidden Power! illus. by Luna Valentine. Arcturus. 2022. ISBN 9781398815186.
Gr 7-9–An introductory guide to crystals and gemstones, said to carry mysterious powers.

CHOWN, Xanna Eve & Marion Williamson. The Teen Witches’ Guide to Astrology: Discover the Secret Forces of the Universe—and Unlock Your Own Hidden Power! illus. by Luna Valentine. Arcturus. 2022. ISBN 9781398815179.
Gr 7-9–Chown gives tweens and teens information on astrology, zodiac signs, and planetary powers, tying the information to personality traits, predictions, and how people have always thought the stars shaped their lives.

CHOWN, Xanna Eve. The Teen Witches’ Guide to Spells: Discover the Secret Forces of the Universe—and Unlock your Own Hidden Power! illus. by Luna Valentine. Arcturus. 2022. ISBN 9781398815209.
Gr 7-9–From divination and charms, to casting spells and making potions, this book offers practical tips and advice for wannabe witches to learn how to protect friends and family from harm and how to use magic to work through feelings.

CHOWN, Xanna Eve. The Teen Witches’ Guide to Palm Reading: Discover the Secret Forces of the Universe—and Unlock Your Own Hidden Power! illus. by Luna Valentine. 2022. Arcturus. ISBN 9781398815193.
Gr 7-9–An introduction to palmistry, this volume in the series offers instructions for giving readings, understanding the concept of major and minor lines, making predictions, and appreciating this very old art form.

DEAN, Liz. The Ultimate Guide to Divination: The Beginner’s Guide to Using Cards, Crystals, Runes, Palmistry, and More for Insight and Predicting the Future. Fair Winds. 2018. ISBN 9781592337781.
Gr 9 Up–A straightforward guide to multiple forms of divination, great for a beginners or for comparing divination techniques to decide which to pursue. Illustrations and color photos of crystals and cards help learners and make this an inviting introduction. Includes: crystals, stone, wood, reading tea, palmistry, card and tarot reading, numerology, and more.


ELIZABETH, Jordannah. Astrology for Black Girls: A Beginner’s Guide for Black Girls Who Look to the Stars. illus. by Chellie Carroll. Running Pr. 2022. ISBN 9780762478576.
Gr 3-7–Elizabeth is interested in giving young readers, in particular tween Black girls, a shared language with other astrologers, and suggests they use the skill relationally. She breaks down signs, houses, and planets, and goes over how to create a birth chart, or a record of the star signs at the moment of a given person’s birth. She also covers how the planetary houses may govern aspects of a person’s life.

KUSBY, Ariel. The Little Witch’s Book of Spells. illus. by Olga Baumert Chronicle. 2020. ISBN 9781452183619.
Gr 3-7–This attractive compendium of spells (freeze bullies, befriend animals, positive change) and activities (fortune-telling, witchy dressing, mermaid baths) incorporates self-empowerment and meditation skills. Also included: lists of flower meanings, symbols, and colors. But some spells fizzle; a jump rope protection, “In this bubble, I am safe, I’m protected by this rope,” ignores spell-casting’s primal energies, that of rhythm and rhyme.

MAGDALENO, Sam. The Big Book of Tarot Meanings: The Beginner’s Guide to Reading the Cards. Fair Winds. 2022. ISBN 9780760373057.
Gr 9 Up–For those intimidated by tarot card spreads, this book empowers users to simply choose cards and read their meanings. It includes action-based interpretations of upright and reversed cards for beginnings, career, money, love, friends and family, health, higher guidance, and outcome. Card descriptions and illustrations are based on the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, though the interpretations work for any tarot deck.

REED, Theresa. Astrology for Real Life: A Workbook for Beginners. Weiser Bks. 2019. ISBN 9781578636563.
----- Astrología Para la Vida Real. Manual de Trabajo. tr. by Julia Fernández Treviño. Editorial sirio. 2021. ISBN 9788418531460. SP
Gr 9 Up
–Reed’s overview helps beginners interpret their own and celebrity chart examples and embeds “Astrocises” for honing astrological skills. Users may find this, along with her slangy terminology, helpful or annoying, depending on their preferred learning method. Minimal illustrations make grasping astrological concepts like aspects difficult for visual learners; it’s better for those who learn via practice. Resource list included.

RUELAS, Valeria. The Mexican Witch Lifestyle: Brujera Spells, Tarot, and Crystal Magic. S. & S./Simon Element. 2022. ISBN 9781982178147.
Gr 9 Up–Ruelas’s brujería skills also address equity issues, so spells against racism, protection for sex workers, Santa Muerte’s connection to LGBTQIA+ culture, and advice on how to avoid cultural appropriation are included along with guides to crystals, yerbas, tarot, and building an altar. A glossary of terminology, explanations of bruja/brujx roles, and step-by-step explanations make this manual beginner-friendly.

SHONE, Sherry. Hoodoo for Everyone: Modern Approaches to Magic, Conjure, Rootwork, and Liberation. North Atlantic. 2022. ISBN 9781623177089.
Gr 9 Up–Shone’s hoodoo, rooted in African American experience, provides “swift urgency” to confront problems, addressing specifically issues the Black community faces. Her updates of traditional practice to include modern knowledge and maintain an ethical practice, and advice on what to take/leave from the Bible and church, will be especially appreciated to those in search of a Black-affirming liberation magic.

TAYLOR, Carole. Astrology: Using the Wisdom of the Stars in Your Everyday Life. DK. 2018. ISBN 9781465464132.
Gr 6 Up–An excellent beginning guide to help learners visually grasp the sometimes daunting overlay of things to interpret, such as zodiac signs, houses, ascendants-descendants, and aspect patterns, as well as the casting and reading of birth charts. Infographics and basic information about sun and rising signs make this book browsable. Includes an index, a glossary, and list of additional resources.

VAN DE CAR, Nikki. The Junior Witch’s Handbook: A Kid’s Guide to White Magic, Spells, and Rituals. illus. by Uta Krogmann. (Junior Handbook Series). Running Pr. 2020. ISBN 9780762469307.
Gr 3-7–One of a series, this title features easy spells for friendship, fulfillment, and family, addressing kid-relevant concerns like empowerment before a test. Other books cover astrology, tarot, and more, all with a positive vibe (for example, readers are assured the tarot death card doesn’t mean actual death). Illustrations show diverse ethnicities but are female-focused.


[Read: Three Kisses, One Midnight]


VAN DE CAR, Nikki. The Junior Astrologer’s Handbook: A Kid’s Guide to Astrological Signs, the Zodiac, and More. illus. by Uta Krogmann. (Junior Handbook Series). Running Pr. 2021. ISBN 9780762499557.
Gr 3-7–Any young reader who wants to go beyond the daily astrology column can find out a little more about the constellations that gave rise to the zodiac, and how to interpret the cues as loose guides to relationships, whether with friends or family, in school or at home. Van De Car includes the connection between the zodiac and nature, aspects of self-care, and touches on the practice of mindfulness.

VAN DE CAR, Nikki. The Junior Tarot Reader’s Handbook: A Kid’s Guide to Reading Cards. illus. by Utta Krogmann. (Junior Handbook Series). Running Pr. 2022. ISBN 9780762479047.
Gr 3-7–This book presents tarot as a way to look for answers and meaning in a lighthearted but helpful way. Van De Car tells readers how to choose a deck and walks them through what the cards can mean when applied to their own lives.

VAN DE CAR, Nikki. Practical Magic for Kids: Your Guide to Crystals, Horoscopes, Dreams, and More. illus. by Katie Vernon. Running Pr. 2022. ISBN 9780762481309.
Gr 3-7–A guide to chakras, crystals, herbal plants with healing qualities, the meanings in dreams, palm-reading, and more; the author finds magic everywhere and explains it in accessible language that also offers readers a springboard to do more research. Tarot is included, as are horoscopes, in kid-friendly language.

Tarot card samples from left: Crow Tarot; The Queer Tarot; The Hoodoo Tarot

Tarot Decks

CULLINANE, MJ. Crow Tarot. US Games Systems. 2019. ISBN 9781572819610.
Gr 7 Up–Using crow and raven symbols along with the familiar symbolism of the traditional Rider-Waite Tarot, this is accessible for beginners and professionals.

DEMARCO, Stacey. Gods and Titans. Beyond Words. illus. by Jimmy Manton. 2013. ISBN 9781582703800.
Gr 7 Up–One of the only decks on the market featuring males as key characters.

DEMARCO, Stacey. Goddesses and Sirens. illus. by Jimmy Manton. Beyond Words. 2013. ISBN 9781582703817.
Gr 7 Up–Companion deck to Gods and Titans.

KRANS, Kim. The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck and Guidebook. HarperOne. 2018. ISBN 9780062742865.
Gr 7 Up–Oracle cards based on animals.


[Read: Astrology by Margaret Atwood]


MCQUILLAR, Tayannah Lee. The Hoodoo Tarot: 78-Card Deck and Book for Rootworkers. illus. by Katelan V. Foisy. Destiny Bks. 2020. ISBN 9781620558737.
Gr 7 Up–Based on African American history and ancestral imagery and lore.

MOLESSO, Ashley & Chess Needham. The Queer Tarot: An Inclusive Deck and Guidebook. RP Studio. 2022. ISBN 9780762474882.
Gr 7 Up–A deck that includes a full range of races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, sizes, and abilities.

ROAD, Cristy C. Next World Tarot. Silver Sprocket. 2021. ISBN 9781945509735.
Gr 7 Up–This deck speaks especially to BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and users with disability users through a voice of social justice.

RODRIGUEZ, Lena & Seanna Rose with June Rifkin. The One World Tarot. illus. by Alexandra Filipek. St. Martin’s. 2022. ISBN 9781646711307.
Gr 7 Up–A refreshed, modern, and diverse card deck.

STERLE, Lisa. Modern Witch Tarot Deck. Sterling Ethos. 2019. ISBN 9781454938682.
Gr 7 Up–This popular all-female deck updates the Rider-Waite-Smith symbolism with BIPOC representation and modern imagery. A popular deck with teens.

WALDEN, Tillie. The Cosmic Slumber Tarot. illus. by author. (Modern Tarot Library). Sterling Ethos. 2020. ISBN 9781454943099.
Gr 7 Up–The graphic novel creator weighs in with a tarot deck.



Adult Books for Teens

CAPONI, Stefanie. Guided Tarot: A Beginner’s Guide to Card Meanings, Spreads, and Intuitive Exercises for Seamless Readings. Zeitgeist. 2020. ISBN 9780593196991.
Exercises intended to grow readers’ intution toward understanding the cards, as well as the meaning of the cards, building a more natural reading style.

CHRISTIAN, Charles. The Witches Almanac: Sorcerers, Witches and Magic from Ancient Rome to the Digital Age. Visible Ink. 2023. ISBN 9781578597604.
A compendium of who’s who in witchcraft throughout Western civilization, beginning with the known witches of Mesopotamia, ancient Greece, and Rome. Chapters define eras of how magic and witches were treated in Europe and North America.

FLOREZ, Lou. The Modern Art of Brujería: A Beginner’s Guide to Spellcraft, Medicine Making, and Other Traditions of the Global South. Ulysses Pr. 2022. ISBN 9781646043194.
A journey through spirituality that draws inspiration from Latin American and Afro-Caribbean regions.

POLLACK, Rachel. Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Tarot Journey to Self- Awareness. Weiser Bks. 2020. ISBN 9781578637348.
This is the classic for tarot, often recommended.

WILLETT, Cat. The Queen of Wands: The Story of Pamela Colman Smith, the Artist Behind the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck. illus. by author. Running Pr. 2022. ISBN 9780762475698.
An illustrated biography of the woman behind the preeminent tarot deck.



Cathy Camper is an artist, librarian, and author of books for children and teens.


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