The Benefits to Keeping a Tarot Journal

tarotjournal.jpg

 

The benefits in keeping a Tarot Journal are huge and impact your personal journey with the Tarot in ways you’ll later be  thankful for. Not only are you learning from the texts and other resources you read and record notes on  but you are creating a  personal Tarot memoir. Charting your evolving growth by applying your own experiences, insights and observations increases your ability to develop more depth in your understanding, remember what you have read and written, and track your own growth  in layers  of unveiling realization that you can draw upon and stack along the way. By the end, you’ll have your very own book  of the most significant Tarot wisdom you’ve accumulated, stemming out of gut instinct, intuition, and a personal and priceless relationship you’ve formed with the cards. Journals also aid in your spiritual development. Cards hold many meanings and what perceive in a card one day may be a different but just as significant uncovering the same card may bring on another day,
I keep a binder so that I can withdraw or add pages in the order I like without having to re-organize and re-do everything. Sections are key to an organized and practical personal encyclopedic journal.  Create a  section each for the trumps, the minors and suits with a page dedicated to every card where you can note the meanings, keywords and phrases that clarify the card best to you in your words, note your impressions, daily card insight, quotes or poems that may remind you of the card, as well as helpful techniques and methods you’ve gained from various sources. Dedicate another section to numbers, as numerology plays a big role in the card meanings.  I tab four cover pages divided by the suits, the cover pages are associations to the suit in general. Then in each section I have pages one (ace) to ten. Ten’s are partial to Tarot rather than Numerology but there is enough information on what the totality of ten means alone, in Tarot, to give it a page. The court cards are a whole series on their own and have a section divided into Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings. The page title for the court cards includes other names they can go by (like the Princess which is the Page in Crowley’s deck and the Shaman which replaces the King in the Mother peace Tarot.) Another section can be devoted to spreads you’d like to keep and use or spreads you’ve created on your own. Another  can go to meditations, activities, keys, techniques, games, oracle and symbol meanings, Lenormand cards and rituals or drawings you do of the cards. Drawing your daily card is a useful technique to picking up the little details you may have missed before. Using the cards as creative writing prompts is another tool you can add to the list of the Tarot’s talents. 
You can write in your journal anywhere. There are benefits and useful factors in both creating a Tarot space or journaling in public.  From busy atmospheres like cafes where you can find real life archetypes (a friend of mine and I play an amusing game  — well, it entertains us — where we’ll call out real life Tarot archetypes in the people we see, “Oh, there goes the Hierophant,” as a stern looking headmaster or clergy member goes  by.) In creating a sacred space you can tack up pictures of corresponding deities, Tarot art, create an alter with elemental representations for each suit (a chalice, wand, dagger, disk. Or candle for fire, crystals for earth, etc.) In a similar way, Tarot Journaling should incorporate the four realms of your experience: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical. It should integrate your senses. The imagery and colors should please your sense of sight. Listen to background music. Use scented oils and candles. Have a cup of tea or coffee (and maybe read the leaves or beans, after.) When you write in your journal you are working with the inner world (rather than the outer, as you would during a reading). The creative pursuits are in your own mind. You can create a sacred space to go to in meditation using a scene from a card. You can select at random or choose where you’d like to go. Then envision yourself holding that globe and looking over your castle walls, as in the Two of Wands, or perhaps enjoying a lush garden as in the Nine of Pentacles. Writing about these experiences will build your instinctual knowledge of the cards while forming personal relationships with the figures, each as an aspect of yourself regardless of the illustrated divisions within the cards. You should ultimately  be capable of empathy and familiarity with both the losing side and the solitary winner found on the Seven of Swords as well as the betrayed and betrayer found in the Five of Swords. When you choose a card, build your relationship by reflecting on a real life experience the card reminds you of. It could be in your own life or it could remind you of someone else. Perhaps the Seven of Swords will bring back a memory of a person who needed to always be that winner. The knights are excellent stand in’s for ex boyfriends. The Knight of Wands sets the pace and is more ego driven than feelings led. The Knight of Swords is brash and cannot admit wrongs. The Knight of Cups is the needy, love sick puppy (definitely a Cancer sign; I’d know). While the Knight of Pentacles is a bit stuffy and “cheap” with his dolla bills.
Journals are useful when your stalked by a re-occuring card and will help track when/where this card appeared and what the reading was about. You’ll also have all of your information in one spot. You may want to begin the same way each time, writing as if to your future self (who will be checking back and noting which readings turned out as for seen), date the page with the moon phase/sign, time of day, etc. Write your mood and the reason for the reading. Recap the day’s events as it’s helpful in uncovering patterns snd synchronized events. Shortcuts and abbreviations are helpful when repeating words and images. You may want to use the roman numbers or create your own key.  You don’t have to stick to the traditional journal, either. Embark on your own Fool’s Journey, writing from the perspective of the Fool who, on his quest, comes across each of the figures in the Major Arcana and learns an invaluable lesson. Another idea to keep in mind is the sequence of events that unfolds in each suit. If you lay out the cards beginning with the Ace, the initial thought, feeling, action and idea (presented by the angel Michael’s heaven extended hand in Ryder Waite’s Aces) and follow through til the finale, the ten, you’ll see it begins, builds and ends like a story plotline.
If you repeat what you record in your daily readings, save  time and print a checklist with areas left for notes at the end. Some ideas to take out of each reading:
  • the date, time, location
  • astrological data
  • name of who the reading is for or if it is a daily reading
  • the question or concern
  • name of spread
  • name of deck
  • cards in each position
  • number of major arcana cards that came up
  • predominant suits and elements
  • predominant colors
  • missing suits
  • significant details
  • keywords and phrases
  • numerical significance and interpretation
  • pairs and combination cards
  • positive interpretations
  • negative connotations
  • intuitive response, spiritual response, emotional, intellectual, physical
  • themes (elemental, kabbalistic, numerical, astrological)
  • corresponding hebrew letter or kabbalistic sephiroth/pillar
  • additional questions developed during reading
  • conclusion
The site TarotJournaling,com, run by Llewellyn, served as a guideline for my “refurbished journal”. Downloadable pages for Tarot Journaling can be found there as well. Google free PDF’s and docs on Tarot Journaling and prompts (there are so many free sources out there. If you’re disciplined and patient, there is no reason to not teach yourself. YouTube also has tutorials if you rather listen or watch rather than read.)
“The benefit of keeping a Tarot journal comes from the process of writing your thoughts, feelings, insights, and observances. You can be sad, silly, angry, profane, or anything else you want to be without fear of reprisal. The journal becomes the chronicle of your life story. As you reread entries, you will find the journal to be a record of growth, wisdom, healing and magic. You may be surprised at how much sense the cards make at a later date. Honor all information you receive, regardless of whether you grasp it today. Adopt an attitude of respectful regard and do not dismiss the cards you don’t like or don’t understand. The message is in the cards – if you stay with the cards. Over time, with patience and practice, the puzzle pieces will fall into place.” -Christine Jette, Tarot for all Seasons

 

 

 

 

Mandalas: Sacred Symbols to Wholeness

BeFunky_mandalabg.jpg


Mandalas are balanced, geometric, and usually elaborate compositions created for spiritual awakening and artistic expression. Usually circular, the word mandala derives loosely from the Sanskrit word for “circle” – a Hindu and Buddhist symbol representing the radial balance of the universe and the organizational structure of life itself. Mandalas are wonderful instruments for relaxation, contemplation and to enhance the energy of a ritual. Various spiritual traditions use mandalas to focus attention, collect one’s thoughts, establish a sacred space and as an induction into meditative and trance states. Mandalas appear in all aspects of life, as the circular shape is found within all of life, from the shape used to describe cycles and patterns to the literal circular reality of the celestial bodies.
Mandala symbolism was intensely studied by psychologist and mystic, Carl Jung. His writings describe the use of mandalas to transform both the inner self and outer world. Using sacred geometry, a mandala illustrates a natural and ultimate illusion of wholeness. It is the microcosm and the macrocosm, and we are all a part of its design. Used as a vehicle to explore art, science, and the essence and structure of life, the mandala contains a road map to infinity. Carl Jung quoted that mandalas were “a safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness,” and that “it is a synthesis of distinctive elements in a unified scheme representing the basic nature of existence.” Jung used mandalas for his own personal growth and wrote extensively on the subject.
The mandala design form radiates out from the center. It is the magic circle and has ritual and religious meaning culturally everywhere. Tibetan and Hindu mandalas usually are square with four gates at each edge, with the circle in the center as the house of a deity. During meditation, Tibetan monks will imagine the mandala as a three dimensional palace; creating a mandala in sand demonstrates the impermanence of life. Native Americans created medicine wheels out of mandalas. The Taoist “yin-yang” mandala represents opposition as well as interdependence. Ancient Aztecs used a circular calendar (mandala) as a time keeping device integrated with religious expression. It is said by Tibetan Buddhists that mandalas consist of five “excellencies:” the teacher, the message, the audience, the site, the time.

mandala2

Sand Mandalas

Sand mandalas, unique to Tibetan Buddhism, are constructed from sand and believed to effect healing and purification. Typically, the teacher will choose the specific mandala which the monks begin by consecrating the site with sacred chants and music. Next, they etch a detailed drawing from memory that is then filled with millions of grains of colored sand. The monks then enact the impermanent nature of existence by sweeping up the colored grains and dispersing them in flowing water. According to Buddhist text, sand mandalas transmit positive energies into the environment and into the viewers. During construction, chanting and meditation is done as an invocation to the divine energies of the deity that resides within the mandala. The deity is asked for it’s healing blessings. A mandalas healing power extends to the whole world before it is swept up, an expression of sharing the blessings with all.

mandalasolarplexus

Personal Mandalas

As “the support of a meditating person,” personal mandalas are gaining in popularity and simple to create (for more meditative art, check out “zentangles”.) There are three basic properties in mandala structure. First, the center, which represents the self, the ego, birth, and eternal being. It is the psyche of the individual. Second, symmetry: the path of order in a chaotic universe. Symmetrical patterns restore balance and wellness within the self and the environment. Finally, third: cardinal points. Numerology is often employed in the purpose and orientation. The number and design of the cardinal points will direct the flow of energy. In creating a personal mandala, two or more points are used and a circle is constructed. In astrology the circular horoscope chart of twelve zodiac signs and houses assume a mandala form. Seven, the heptagon, is especially powerful. Seven draws upon the symbolism of the colors in the rainbow, the chakras, the days of the week, the seven seas, and the notes in the musical scale. The Witches’ Wheel of the Year is an octagon, a circle of the eight seasonal festivals or sabbats. In Feng Shui, the ba’gua diagram is also an octagonal mandala. Four, the square, is another popular and powerful number to select in constructing the cardinal points of a mandala. The square suggests stability and accepting responsibility. The five pointed pentagon shape adapts beautifully to mandala construction and symbolizes life and growth. It appears repeatedly in living organisms. Oriental carpets, Pennsylvania Dutch hex symbols, the rose windows in Cathedrals, shields, heraldic symbols, and yantras are all examples of the mandala concept. All demonstrate the profound universal significance of mandalas.

BeFunky_mandala5.jpg

Drawing a personal mandala and dedicating it to a goal or life passage is an extremely transcending, healing and magical experience. First, select which number resonates with you. Draw a perfect circle. Place the cardinal points of your chosen number with dots at equal distances around the perimeter of your circle. Then, proceed to explore mandala magic for yourself by repeating symbols and designs that appeal to you. Modern mandala art includes the use of totem animals, painting mandalas on rocks or creating crochet mandalas, placing crystals or flowers in a symmetrical circle shape for energy transmitting and meditation practices, or even etching your own sand mandala labyrinth to walk. Creating a mandala is a personal and creative project, make it your own!

BeFunky_mandalalove.jpg