[Published first on Autostraddle]
Got a brand new notebook for tarot journalling?
Here’s a bunch of tarot exercises you can try out with your cards and write up in/on your journal:
This makes a really nice, simple morning routine which you can do over a cuppa. Pick a card each morning. Write about it! Look out for the card as you go through your day. Or pick a card in the evening – what might it mean, considering the day you’ve had?
Write up a reading
Right now, you might be doing crazy-ass Celtic Cross readings right left and centre the whole time, but are you writing them up?
You don’t need to record every damn reading you do – the beauty of tarot is that it exists and speaks purely in the moment, and sometimes it’s good to just take your message, put the cards away and move on. But when you’re learning, it’s helpful to spend extra time on a reading and really explore the deeper elements of your cards.
Set aside a whole hour to do this – maybe once a week – and create a really nice space for doing your personal readings. Make time to focus on you and how you’re reacting to what’s coming up in the cards. Are themes emerging, links back to previous readings?
Find your friends
Pull out the court cards (the pages, knights, kings and queens.) Now make a list of your friends/family/cats. Matching the traits of the cards with your friends’ personalities, find the court card that most suits each of them. Why is this? Who gets on with who?
My awesome girlfriend Emma is 100% Page of Wands material
Interpret someone else’s reading
Lots of bloggers post readings they’ve done online, for example Chloe McKracken does a short ‘body / mind / spirit’ reading every week, and readers of Biddy Tarot contribute their readings to her Tarot Circle column each month. Pick any reading, and read the cards for yourself. What advice would you give the querent?
Same cards, different deck
If you have more than one tarot deck, this can help you to find common threads between them, as well as highlight major differences and thus totally expand your understanding of individual cards. Pick any card from your first deck, then find the same card in another deck. What do they have in common? In what ways are their messages different? Are there symbols common to both/all cards? How would you deliver each card’s advice to a querent?
You could also try doing this with a larger reading. Do your reading as normal, and then find the same cards from another deck and lay them beside the first ones. What does the reading say now? Which messages have become confused? Would you give yourself different advice, or are any particular cards changing their message for you?
Read for someone
If you haven’t got it together to read for a friend yet, it’s time to bite the bullet. Never mind if you’ve only just got your first ever tarot deck. Make it something fun, tell your mate you’re just learning, get a bottle of wine in if it helps. They’ll have their own ideas about what the cards mean, and as you talk it over this will really help to personalise your understanding of the cards that come up.
Good cards, bad cards
Are there any cards you think are particularly ‘bad’? (For example, a lot of people might say The Tower, Death or the Ten of Swords.) Pull out all of the cards you have negative feelings about or which freak you out in readings. Then try to think of circumstances where this might be a good or helpful energy, or where the card’s message could seem like a positive one.
“Honestly, the outlook’s great”
You could also do this in reverse – pull out the ‘good’ cards and think of reasons or circumstances where this card may be less than helpful, or be warning you about something.
Get a reading from a pro
Have a reading with a professional tarot reader (or you can order one online) and write about it. What do you make of the readers’ style – do they read intuitively or stick to straight-up book-type interpretations? Do they state the obvious or go off on crazy tangents? Do you like the way they communicated the cards to you? What did you make of their overall advice?
So often, I’m listening to a song and suddenly think ‘OMG – this is totally the Three of Cups!’ or ‘this is exactly what The Star feels like to me!’ Do any songs remind you of a particular tarot card or explain a card’s message?
In this video, I really feel that the song conveys the feeling of hopeless dependency, even addiction, that comes out in The Devil card. Which tarot card represents your favourite song?
Work on a tricky card
If there’s a card you’re really struggling with or which seems to have made literally no sense in a reading, don’t ignore it. It will just confuse you again next time it comes up! Spend some quality time with this card. What confuses you about it? Do you draw a total blank, or does it give you strange feelings? Look up different meanings online (try biddytarot.com or learntarot.com for starters) or in your favourite book. Study the card carefully. Look for symbols, expressions, colours, animals. Write whatever comes into your head about the card.
Create a tarot card
What’s your favourite tarot card? Is there one that means something special to you at the moment? The Lovers card which pops up ever time you read about her, the Three of Cups reminding you of fun times with your friends or the Queen of Swords telling you how strong you are, despite what you’ve been through? You do you, right? So how would you do this card? Maybe you want to make a collage, or sketch it out, or do some cool digital art – whatever floats your boat.
Or be super-creative and make one of these for a tarot card:
Yvonne’s awesome mini-shrines from Autostraddle’s Make a Thing!
Get to know the ‘fool’s journey’
The 22 major arcana cards are said to tell a story. The Fool – card 0 – sets out with only a knapsack and a little dog for company, and encounters all kinds or strange, scary, wonderful and thought-provoking experiences as she gradually moves towards card 21 – The World, representing complete fulfillment. Pull out all 22 cards and lay them in order, then follow the story through.
Write your own fool’s journey!
Using the major cards, can you tell the story of your own life? You probably won’t use all the cards here – just try illustrating your life’s journey using the cards you best relate to, which seem to illustrate landmarks in your own life. Don’t worry if you don’t know the cards well yet, just go with what you’ve picked up so far, and your gut feelings about the cards and images.
Choose your own adventure
Draw a card. This is the start of your story. Now draw another. This is what happens next! Carry on and write a little story! Plenty of authors use tarot to help with the writing process and this is almost definitely how Charlotte Bronte penned Jane Eyre.
So there you go. Get scribblin’.
Anyone else got any cool journalling exercised to share? Did you try out any of these exercises? Let us know in the comments!
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.