Tarot Journaling: The Fool’s Journey on Paper

One of the best pieces of advice that I got starting out was to keep a tarot journal.  I wasn’t very religious about it at first, but as my interest and knowledge grew, the more I realized how important a tarot journal can be.

The method that was recommended to me, which was quite stringent (and probably why I didn’t do it) was to start with the first card of the deck (The Fool) and journal my way through the entire deck….twice.  It felt quite overwhelming, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  However, months and months later, I realized that simply pulling a card daily, meditating on it and putting my thoughts down in my journal was an invaluable tool for helping me to understand and get to know the meaning of the cards.

My daily journal practice now includes a three card draw for the day, where I interpret the spread, make notes on anything that jumps out at me about the cards (believe it or not, I’m still finding imagery that I’ve never noticed before even after all this time), and write down my thoughts on my overall take for the day.  I do use a rotation of various decks; I feel this is my opportunity to get to know different decks in my collection.

Again, your tarot journal doesn’t have to be that complex.  I do recommend starting out to take one card, study the imagery and write down what you see.  Then make notes on how that card makes you feel.  Think about what message it seems to convey.  It’s ok to refer to the LWB (Little White Book) if you are just starting out, but it’s important to trust your intuition as well.

It’s also handy to have a journal to refer to to look back and see how far you’ve come.  It’s also fun to see if something manifested that the cards were trying to tell you by checking dates.  But most of all, the practice making perfect is key.

Your tarot journal doesn’t have to be fancy, although you can get some lovely ones at various bookstores and on Amazon.  A simple spiral notebook will do the trick.  As long as you can write in it, that’s all that matters.

So get out there and get journaling!

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The LWB: Little White Book

Most tarot decks come with the standard LWB (little white book), which contains a list of meanings for each of the cards–major arcana, court cards, and pips.  Most of the LWB’s are exactly what they sound like: simply printed pamphlet-style booklets that are roughly the size of the box that the tarot deck comes in.  Many will contain some examples of simple tarot spreads to get the reader started.  Here is an example from the Thoth Deck:

LWB

Not all LWB’s are created equal, however.  Some decks come beautifully packaged with amazing books of meanings that are quite substantial in their depth and scope of information, as well as the quality of their construction.  I’ve seen everything from gorgeous paperback books to impressive hardcover tomes.  Of course, you get what you pay for; these decks are often more expensive–and rightfully so, considering the quality of what you are getting.

Now to the meat and potatoes of this blog post.  You’ve got the LWB in front of you, so what do you do with it?  There are a couple of schools of thought.  For a new reader, you might hear conflicting things.  Some might tell you to hang on to that LWB and study the meanings religiously until you have them memorized.  Others may tell you to immediately throw that LWB away and start reading based strictly upon your intuition and the imagery that leaps off of the cards.

It’s my opinion that you have to find a happy medium between the two.  Tarot, despite being a highly intuitive form of divination, is still based off of a structured system, and it’s important to know that structure in order to become an accomplished reader.  The images in the cards are usually there for a reason, and the designers of the decks, from the trusty Rider Waite to the latest indy deck, chose those images to convey a message.  I think you’d be doing yourself a disservice to ignore those meanings entirely.

However, after you have a grasp on the meanings, it’s important to take the training wheels off, so to speak, and let that intuition take hold.  That’s when I think it’s important to lay the LWB aside and only refer to it when you are well and truly stuck and need a memory jog.

Also, I can’t express how important I think it is to keep a tarot journal of your own to jot down your personal thoughts and impressions of each cards.  My next blog entry will be about tarot journaling, so more about that later.  Suffice it to say that you can’t be dependent just on the LWB!

I’m curious as to what your thoughts are on this topic, as I know everyone has differently-colored views.  Please feel free to share in the comments below!

Oracle Decks

I was asked today what I thought of oracle cards and if I ever worked with them.  After a moment of thought, I responded that yes, I did work with them and that I liked them very much.  The natural follow-up question was “Why?” and that got me thinking.

Oracle cards fill a very unique niche in divination practice, in my opinion.  You will find a host of oracle decks with ideas encompassing everything from angels to dragons and fairies.   I have not personally worked with more than three or four oracle decks myself, so I cannot speak with any authority on every type.  However, the overarching theme that I have found running through the decks that I have worked with is that of more instructive messages which have a more uplifting feel to them.

For example, my favorite oracle deck right now is the lovely Vintage Wisdom Oracle by Victoria Mosely.

vintage wisdon oracle

What can I say? I’m a sucker for vintage ephemera and this deck has it in spades with its striking, feminine images and graceful collages.  It’s a substantial deck as well, with 52 cards and an 80-page guidebook.  I find the messages in this deck to be clear and instructive, giving the seeker something to meditate upon or something upon which to take action.  They strike a nice balance, without being overbearingly sweet or unendurably harsh.  I think this balance is why I enjoy their messages so much.

There is also so much room for intuition when using oracle cards.  Unlike Tarot, which often has a proscribed system or meaning for its cards, oracle cards are very free-form in how you may interpret them.  The guidebooks provide insight into what the creator intended, but the rich imagery often allows your intuition to really take flight.  I do not mean to imply, of course, that intuition plays no part in Tarot.  We know this is not the case!  I simply mean that oracle decks don’t seem to have a built-in framework to start with, and therefore you need to “wing it” a bit more, so to speak.

Another thing I have noticed with oracle decks is that most of them seem to have a more positive slant to them.  Even the “darker” cards appear to have more uplifting messages.  I honestly can’t say why this appears to be the case.  I’d be interested in opinions on this, so feel free to comment below!

In closing, I think oracle decks will always have a place in my divination repertoire.  I think they are useful, unique and quite fun to work with.  In fact, I think I will endeavor to give mine a bit more exercise in the coming months!

 

 

Will I Ever Find Love?

As a professional tarot reader, I have been asked this question quite often.  It’s a reasonable question; people want to have love in their lives, especially if they are just leaving a relationship and are still a bit wounded from it.  However, speaking as a reader, hearing that question always makes me cringe a bit–but not for the reasons that you might imagine.

One of the things that I like about being a tarot reader is that I love being able to help people feel empowered through receiving a reading.  I want my clients to feel like they are walking away with the perspective that they are the strong, beautiful, wonderful individuals that they are.  Unfortunately, answering a string of “yes or no” questions doesn’t really allow for that type of reading.

When I get the question “Will I find love?” I usually gently re-direct with the following:  “Would it be helpful to you to know what’s blocking you from finding the right person, and perhaps get some advice on how to go about bringing the right kind of energy into your life?”  It’s amazing how much that type of question can open the door into much more insight than the simple “yes or no.”

I have a very simple spread that I do that shows what is blocking the client from progressing in their relationships and provides advice on how to move forward.  (I apologize for not being handy enough with the blog tools yet so that I could create a picture to show the spread.  I hope to be able to do this later.)  It’s rewarding how often this spread provides the type of information that is truly useful for someone to move forward in a positive fashion.

The next time you sit down with your cards and think about asking them that “yes or no” question, consider asking them for advice on how to resolve your issue instead.  I promise it will be much more fulfilling in the long run.

Working with a New Deck: Getting to Know All About You

Is there anything quite so satisfying as breaking open a new tarot deck?  I just love that feeling of taking off the shrink wrap, cracking open the box and tipping those brand new, lovely cards into my hands.  I love going through the cards, one by one, taking in their imagery, just letting it sink in on an emotional level and getting that first impression.

I can usually tell after the first pass-through if a deck and I are are going to get along well together and be able to communicate easily.  Sometimes the connection is instant, and I could easily put the cards down on the table and begin reading with them.  Sometimes that connection is not quite so rapid, however.  Since the instant connection is fairly self-explanatory, I figured I’d take a few minutes to talk about what to do when you don’t immediately connect with that brand new deck you just shelled out money for.

The first step, in my opinion is to start spending regular time with the deck, even if it’s not a favorite.  Carry it around with you.  Let it pick up some of your energy.  Charge it in your sacred space, if you have a place set aside for that sort of thing.  I’ve even been known to tuck a deck underneath my pillow on occasion.  Establishing a connection sometimes means forming a relationship that is more than just pulling the cards out occasionally to read with them.

However, speaking of reading with them–you need to do that, too.  Exercise them.  Attempt to do readings, even if they are simple ones.  You’d be surprised at how much a single card draw can do to enhance your understanding of the imagery and facilitate the ease with which you can begin to read with the deck.

Journaling is an excellent way to dive into a new deck as well.  I keep a tarot journal, and typically make notes on new decks.  I make my own notes and also take note of the things said in the LWB (Little White Book) included with the cards.  This exercise helps me seek out the details in the images; I often find things that I overlooked on previous examinations.  It also helps me put my feelings and impressions of the cards down in written form, which helps me remember them in future readings.

Finally, sometimes none of the above helps.  I’ve had decks that no matter how much work I put into them that I just could not connect with.  They ended up looking like so many bright colors and pictures on cardstock with no messages attached to them at all.  At that point, I’ve either decided to gift them to someone else who I felt would enjoy them, or just kept them in my collection for their artistic value.

I hope these thoughts have helped give a few ideas on building that connection with a new deck!  Happy shopping!

Tarot Consumerism: The Struggle is Real

I just watched a fabulous YouTube video by the amazing Kelly  Ann Maddox on the pitfalls of witchy consumerism.  One of the things that really struck a chord with me was her gentle reminders of how addictive buying the next greatest thing can be.  It was sort of a moment of clarity for me, as I recognized that I have a habit of buying the next latest, greatest in tarot decks.  Today, I just dropped a chunk of money on a tarot deck that, although I’ve wanted it for a while, I probably didn’t need.

I fancy myself a collector, but I think I need to take a long hard look at my habits and see if I’m really collecting, or if I’m just addicted to the idea that the next deck will some how be a palliative for some shortcoming that I feel that I have.  It’s something that bears thinking long and hard about.

I do have the goal, as a professional reader, to have the ability to choose the best deck for the needs of my clients.  However, at this time, I use my favorite deck–the Tarot Illuminati–to do all of my readings.  I think it’s time to start really spending some time with the decks that I already have–to get to know them and build a relationship with them.  It will open so many doors and possibilities for my practice and for my clients.

Last night I spent some time with the Mary-El Tarot.  It’s a striking deck–one I purchased some time ago, but had initial trouble bonding with, so I put it away.  Something told me to take it out yesterday, and I spent a happy hour or so shuffling the cards, looking at the images and doing a simple three-card spread.  I think that over time, I’ll be able to really make use of this deck, especially with regards to shadow work.

I think I will set a goal of working with my old decks for a period of time at a stretch–to take them out and exercise with them, so to speak.  And I plan to hold off on any more deck purchases for a while!  I’m content where I am at the moment, and when the urge to buy strikes, I’m going to put that money that I would have spent aside and save it.  I think it will really add up over time.

Cleansing the Cards: Removing the Psychic Goo

We all have our rituals for cleaning our decks.  When I get a new deck, I usually smudge it thoroughly with white sage and allow it a few days on my altar in my sacred space to soak up all that juicy, good energy.  Smudging is necessary as part of “routine maintenance” for my working decks as well, because, as you know–sometimes that psychic energy can build up after prolonged use.

Let’s talk about the little rituals we do for clearing and cleansing the deck between clients, however, as it’s hard to whip out the sage and do a full cleansing when you’ve got someone waiting on you.  My own personal ritual for clearing the energy of the previous client off the deck is to shuffle the deck three times and to give it a good spank three times.  Yes, you read that right.  I pop the cards firmly with the palm of my hand to get any residual energy–particularly negative energy–to get on out of there.  I also have friends who gently blow on their decks, visualizing the energy clearing away.  Still others simply visualize the deck being surrounded by good energy and white light.

What works for you, poppets?  What little rituals do you use?