One thing I know about myself is that I process things by writing them out. It can be a pros and cons list, a series of open-ended questions that I free write in response to, or just a set of intentions for the month.
But the thing that’s brought my self-reflection (and self-acceptance) to the next level is using my tarot deck as a starting point for journaling. I’ve actually never filled up journals faster in my life — which is thrilling for a notebook-loving nerd.
Apart from my love of cute paper ephemera, tarot has become a daily practice for me because it puts me in touch with my intuition* through imagery. It gives me a thumbs up or a gentle slap (depending on what I need) and feels a little magical. And I’m all about the everyday feeling more magical. The imagery connects to another part of my consciousness that’s not always easy to access when I’m in the typical hampster wheel of my mind.
*Intuition = that part of us that’s calm, quiet, and knows exactly what to do. It’s the antithesis of those other parts that are talking some trash about our thighs, telling us we’re not successful enough, or that we should live in fear of having our man stolen and other nonsense.
The Tarot is a tool
All the cards correspond to themes — both big and small — in our lives. These themes are universal truths of the human experience. We can use the cards to get in touch with what’s really going on with us and to help us reflect.
As we get a feel for the deck, the cards that we draw are meant to show us something that we already know on some level. The cards are simply a tool to put our conscious minds in touch with the knowledge of the Universe that we already have access to. (Sorry/not sorry for dropping the “U” word.)
The tarot can nudge us to look at something from a new perspective and suggest positive actions to move through what’s happening for us right now. Most often, it holds a mirror up to where we’re at and helps us identify what we can’t fully articulate. That’s where the journaling comes in.
Why I love the tarot as a journaling guide
While I like to process my thoughts and feelings by writing about them, I usually don’t know where to start with it. If I’m feeling weird about something or can’t quite put my finger on why I’m feeling a certain way, I can’t fathom writing about it without some sort of context. The tarot cards give me prompts that to get me out of that in-between space.
1. Pinpoint a hard-to-wrangle emotion.
It puts our issues into a different, but universal framework with imagery and symbolism. I pulled the 8 of Swords three times last week. And wouldn’t you know it? I needed that slightly scary-looking card to make me realize that I have the power to help myself, I just needed to get out of my own head. I didn’t even realize I was stagnating, I just thought I was just waiting for answers. This made me realize that to get those answers I was seaking, I needed to start taking small actions in the direction I was considering, instead of just waiting around for a lightbulb to go off. Duh. But also, thanks tarot!
2. Make you go deeper to get to the heart of the issue.
Within the first week I started doing this whole tarot journal thing last year, the Queen of Pentacles came up over and over (and I take shuffling seriously, y’all). I kind of freaked out. I cried. I was a little scared of the tarot’s powerful insistence, but excited too. It really seemed like the deck was trying to tell me something — or rather, my intuition was, but I didn’t know what.
It kept showing up because I wasn’t fully grasping the point. The fourth or fifth time it came up, I pulled a few more cards to clarify what the message was and picked up my journal in response to everything it was bringing up for me. The message finally set in.
There are regular phases where I get repeat cards a few days in a row. When that happens I know it’s time to go deeper, pay extra attention, and maybe put a few more cards on the table to expand on what’s going on.
3. Make it easier to see connections.
Right before the holidays I repeatedly pulled the Four of Swords, which basically says, “Girl you need a nap — take a step back and chill for a bit.” Pretty much exactly what I felt, but was pushing against for so long. When I finally took the advice and started sleeping more, stopped excessively blocking out my calendar, and quit putting a ton of pressure on myself, I’ve felt so. much. better. And I haven’t pulled the card since.
A note on the occult
The witchy vibe of the tarot has always been a positive for me, but I think it’s hugely misunderstood because of its occult aura. The tarot isn’t sinister or scary, and it isn’t tied to a religion (although some decks use a lot of Christian imagery), fortune telling, or talking to the devil — it’s simply a barometer to show you where you’re at and the potential you possess.
So how do you do it?
For my full step-by-step process and how you can start your own tarot journal, download The Nourish Exchange’s Tarot Journal Guide. All you need is an open mind, a deck of tarot cards, and a journal (or note taking app, if that’s your style).
Pick a deck that stands out to you and gets you excited. I started with a Smith-Waite because it’s widely known, has lots of visual cues, and many teachers refer to it. And because I like the Renaissance-inspired imagery.
Once I pull a card, I take note of my initial reaction to the card (that reaction is the intuition I keep talking about) and decipher the meaning myself before looking to other sources for meanings. Here are some of my favorite tarot books and resources.
Give it a try
Since I’ve started my tarot journaling practice, I’ve learned a ton about the cards, their history, and many of their different meanings. By no means do I have them memorized, but that’s where both intuition and study come in.
It helps me flex my intuition muscle daily and is something I enjoy learning about on a regular basis. I’ve also realized that I can read tarot for others, which has been a totally exciting and slightly terrifying practice.
It doesn’t hurt to give it a go. You might find that it helps you feel more grounded, expansive, connected, intuitive, or all of the above. The tarot is here to put you in touch with a deeper part of yourself — to connect you to the magic you already possess as the badass human you are.
Witchy Wellness is a monthly Full Moon newsletter about self-care for magical babes. Each month you get a run down of the lunar energies, how you can harness them, and a self-guided ritual.