In my recent survey, I asked you what was the main issue that you felt held you back as a tarot reader.
The replies have been interesting, and have given me plenty of food for thought! Time, confidence, a grasp on card meanings…these were all struggles that large numbers of you face. I’m looking forward to addressing some of the most common concerns here on Little Red Tarot.
If you want to know more about the results of the survey, I summarised some of the key things you shared here.
Let’s start with a real biggie: time.
You folks are busy! Work, families and jam-packed community lives leave many of us with nowhere near enough time left over to pour ourselves into tarot studies as we’d like. Some are also dealing with illness, disability and mental health barriers too, adding to the time-consuming nature of life, and subtracting still further from tarot-time, even when it’s viewed as an important part of self-care.
So, if you’re not planning a tarot retreat or some drastic life overhaul, how do you make time to do a little tarot on the regular, and ensure that you keep up your learning? There are of course loads of practical little ways you can work with your cards that don’t take a huge amount of time.
Here are my thoughts (bearing in mind I’m a pretty busy person myself – but I don’t have any major responsibilities such as family or healthcare). I’ve mentioned self care, but this is a whole big discussion of its own. This post looks at practical little ways to make room for tarot, but I hope to explore self care and mental health barriers to tarot practice in future posts.
This is an open thread post. There’s no way I’ll think of everything, or address anything like all of your personal time barriers – and the suggestions below won’t all be appropriate for everyone, so please, contribute your own suggestions in the comments below!
You knew I was going to say that, right? It’s so damned obvious. One card. Every day. Ten minutes, five minutes, two minutes, one. You don’t need to spend a lot of time – just get into the habit, and start making it part of your most mundane daily routine. Like…
- While you’re waiting for the kettle to boil.
- On the bus or train to work.
- When you take a cigarette break.
- Before you shower. Or after you shower!
- The moment you get in, before you get sucked in to other things.
- Just as you find yourself reaching for your phone to check Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Reach for your cards instead, just once a day.
- When you get into your car.
- Last thing at night, when you climb into bed.
On the Alternative Tarot Network, people have been sharing their suggestions around daily cards. One that I really loved was that of taking a photo of your card, then making it your phone background for the day, so you look at it each time you use your phone. If you’re not super-precious about your cards, you could carry it around with you
In the Alternative Tarot Course, daily cards are an essential part of the practice of forming a relationship with your cards. The simple act of picking up your deck and shuffling them every day reinforces the feeling that your tarot deck is as much part of your life as your phone or your wallet, the feel of them regularly in your hands becomes more and more familiar, less weird, more like just something you do.
ED: And – as commenters below have mentioned – don’t beat yourself up if ‘daily’ isn’t strictly daily! Some days it just doesn’t happen, and that’s fine. Better to do what you can, when you can than to abandon the whole thing because ‘daily’ is too big a commitment.
Get over the overwhelm.
There are 78 cards in a regular tarot deck. If you’re a newbie or you’re not confident with what they all ‘mean’, then the idea of starting to learn can feel really, really daunting. I’m willing to bet every confident, seasoned tarot veteran went through that initial feeling of ‘argh! How will I ever learn what all of these cards actually mean?’ – I certainly did. If you’re feeling the same, just the size and weight of the mammoth-seeming task ahead can be enough to make you give up and put your cards away.
So – you need to get over that.
Yep, it takes time. But you have to start small. With one card at a time.
Here’s the thing: you will learn what all of those cards mean. More than that, you’ll develop a personal relationship with each and every card, getting to know each one in your own way, in relation to your own life, and the lives of people you read for. And the only way to do this is by meeting one card. Just one.
When you’re working with one card, forget about the others. Never mind that there are 77 other cards you haven’t learned yet. Work with that one card. Read about it. Examine it. Carry it around with you. Allow yourself the luxury of having a one-on-one talk with just that card, like a perfect moment with a good friend, where it’s just you, and them. The next day, or the next week, you’ll choose another, but for now, give your undivided attention to that one card.
Add one more.
Already doing daily cards? Tomorrow, pull a second card. Now – what do you get from the two cards together? Where is the common ground, the tension? Adding a second card to a daily draw doesn’t have to take much longer, but it adds a huge amount to your learning.
Short readings are as good as long ones.
I’m a beggar for creating lengthy tarot spreads with seven, eight, ten cards, sometimes more. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a longer reading is necessarily better. You can spend an hour obsessing over your cards, getting deep into each one, finding the story, journalling, thrashing it out with a mate… and that’s awesome. I’ve had some of the most profound conversations (with a friend, or just with myself) this way. It’s intense and brilliant.
But that intensity and all that hard work? Sometimes – often – it’s just not realistic. As well as the time thing, sometimes you just don’t have the emotional wellbeing, the intellectual wherewithal, or the simple desire to go that deep or for that long.
So – do a short reading. So you only have ten minutes? Try a two-card spread, or three simple cards in a row. Get away from the feeling that to ‘do tarot’, you have to get super intense – your ten-minute reading can bring just as much insight and just as much value as an up-all-night tarot session, and will probably stick in your head a lot better, too.
Choose a special time for occasional readings
Read on the full or new moon if that’s your thing, observing the shifting energy. Read to mark each festival of the wheel of the year. Read on Sunday nights to process the week and look ahead to the next one. Read on your birthday. Read in the bath.
Take your cards to the pub
If you go out a lot with friends, take your cards with you. If you’re a confident type, you could pull them out and read for a friend, or get everyone to take a card. Or maybe you find that totally nerve-wracking!! But you could still get your cards out and just allow people to play with them, explore them and talk about them. You might be surprised at the insights people can give you when they see tarot cards for the first time.
Get a tarot buddy
I can’t believe I just said the words ‘tarot buddy’. But seriously! Find a friend – if you’re lucky enough to have a pal in real life who’s also into their cards, then great, grab them. Or if not, join the Alternative Tarot Network or find someone you like on social media, and set yourself little challenges, such as…
- Pulling a card for each other
- Swapping readings
- Checking in regularly to find out what each others’ daily cards were
- Work though the Alternative Tarot Course together and swap notes about the exercises
- Jointly read a tarot book like Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom, and discuss the ideas that most resonated for you.
Join the Alternative Tarot Network
Guess what? There’s a whole social network with about 600 members devoted to tarot! It’s here, at community.littleredtarot.com.
People are asking questions and sharing answers, talking over cards they love or struggle with, swapping readings, posting readings for others to add their thoughts, geeking out about tarot decks, creating spreads and discussing all kinds of related topics including astrology, history, journalling and more.
It’s an encouraging, friendly place. If you want an online tarot community to inspire and motivate you, you should check it out!
Do it to be kind to yourself.
For many, the key thing you need here is a bit of commitment. I don’t say this to be patronising or annoying, but in response to the large numbers of you who confided that you could make the time and you really, really want to…but for some reason, you just don’t.
If that’s you, just sit with the idea of committing just a little bit of time to something you genuinely want – and how good it can feel to do that, without any pressure, just as something nice for yourself. It’s a luxury, but one you can probably afford: devoting just a short moment each day or week or whenever to giving yourself the pleasure of working with your cards. Little and often, bit by bit, if you keep picking those cards up, their images and ideas will seep into your consciousness and you’ll develop your understanding. For many of us it really is that simple, but you’ve got to want to do it, and you’ve got to know that you deserve it.
So – those are just some starting points, but how about you? How do you squeeze in a little tarot when you can, or make space in your schedule? Any tips you’d care to share? And what specific barriers prevent you from working with your cards on the regular? Let’s discuss!
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.