Learning the tarot and journaling with it on the reg has been one of the most (if not THE most) life-changing practices I’ve added to my self care arsenal. I’ve found that it helps me easily access my intuition, examine underlying issues that are fueling my anxiety, and find gentle ways to use this information to feel better and ultimately grow as a person.
To me, tarot is a mirror for our experiences, feelings, and potential for evolution, so the lessons I’ve learned from it help me both in and out of my tarot practice.
Here are five things tarot has taught me about self care:
1. You can always be learning and expanding
The tarot itself is a circular journey. We are constantly working through the archetypes and energies illustrated in the deck and learning new things about them and how they impact the relationship we have to ourselves and others.
We will keep coming back to card from different angles, learning new lessons from it each time. And that’s kind of how life is — sometimes we feel like we’re back sliding because we keep dealing with the same negative thought pattern or having the same issue in a relationship, but if we’re practicing awareness, each time we find ourselves there we know more than we did last time.
Using the cards as a tool for self-inquiry and self-awareness is really what it’s all about. If something comes up for you, ask the cards what they think. Draw clarifier cards to expand on the message of one card, constantly be clarifying the card meanings, and identify your personal interpretations of the cards to keep expanding what you know about tarot and yourself.
2. Your intuition knows shit
Your intuition is your most reliable and untapped resource for better decision making and living a fuller, happier life. It’s the calm, quiet voice that has the answers — it’s just sometimes hard to block out the other noise long enough to listen. The tarot is a tool for getting in touch with your intuition to interpret a particular energy or situation and make sense of it.
The tarot has taught me how to embrace this intuitive side of myself and really honor it. And while it’s not always easy to hear it clearly, especially after decades of not being aware of it or ignoring it, tarot is here to help us access our intuition. So listen to it, dive deeper if something is unclear, and work with it — it won’t steer you wrong.
3. Self-awareness and self-honesty are key
If you’re hoping for really “positive” everything-is-great cards all the time, you’re missing the point. All of the cards hold valuable lessons, but we have to be willing to go further with the message.
When you draw something like The Devil or The Death card, sometimes to initial response is to panic or reject the card in some way. But a better way to work with a challenging card is to ask yourself, what’s this bringing up for me? What am I not seeing around this card? What area of my life is this related to?
These cards can be really strong catalysts for positive change in your life if you’re willing to take the time to examine what they bring up in your life and how to move forward with a new sense of awareness.
4. Categorizing things as good vs. bad is unhelpful
Much like hoping for “positive” cards, I don’t like to put any of the cards into the bad or good camp. The scariest-looking cards can have the most welcome messages, if you are willing to see them outside of a binary.
As with all of these lessons, this is just as useful in tarot as it is in day-to-day life. Sometimes we just don’t have the scope and distance from something to be able to realize its full impact on you. Often something that feels like a big loss at the time (like missing out on a job or breaking up with someone) is often putting you on the path to something bigger and better.
Viewing everything that’s happened thus far and what will happen in the future is for your highest and best if you’re willing to work with the energies of the Universe/God/Goddess/etc. and trust it.
5. Self care is about taking time to just be okay with yourself
My tarot journaling practice started as a series of prompts for writing and thinking about things I might not ordinarily. It’s evolved into one of the most important things I do for myself each day, because it allows me to get quiet and be with myself, my intuition, and my feelings.
Self care has taken on the connotation of massages, pedicures, and expensive superfood powders, but really, it’s about taking a little time just for you. And that’s the focus of tarot — to help you go inward and listen to what you really need to hear.
Ultimately we have the power to react to situations in a certain way and to reassess our life at any point, recalibrate, and try to do our best moving forward. The tarot emphasizes that all our experiences are here to offer us an opportunity to learn, grow, and move through stronger.
We’re here to learn lessons, to learn about ourselves, and to contribute to the world in a positive way. The tarot can help us see situations for what they are and for the possibilities that they offer to us if we’re willing to hold up our end of the deal of learning, expanding, and creating a better life for ourselves.
BONUS: ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Are you asking yourself the questions that will help you release old patterns and get closer to what you want? Are you asking the tarot to help you clarify what’s really going on?
You can use the tarot to help you get clear on all sorts of things. For example, I love using it to get to the source of anxiety when I’m in a spiral.
Here’s a 3-spread for self-inquiry around uncomfortable feelings/anxiety:
What is it that I’m feeling right now? | What is the reality of the situation? | How can I gently move through this?