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
name of who the reading is for or if it is a daily reading
corresponding hebrew letter or kabbalistic sephiroth/pillar
additional questions developed during reading
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
Willow practices nature magick (the Leiva’s system) and Buddhism. He specializes symbolism, runes, geomancy and sigils and is educated in Celtic, mythic, and fey lore.
Eve: So, in your opinion, is runes more like the Tarot or a type of Geomancy?
Willow: Runes and Geomancy both have Tarot associations. Geomancy can be taken to other levels outside of nature where the symbols can be seen everywhere in your life. Geomancy is a system of dots,like I Ching, but instead of divination through coins, it’s used wherever it pops out at you. Runes are also read in the earth so it’s more of like using the whole world as your oracle. If it were family, geomancy and runes would be brothers. Tarot would be like the sister, the only girl – Tarot has so many different depictions within one card that it can be as complicated as a woman. Runes are more simple. Like the X (Gabo) – the relationship rune – it’s like dealing with one chromosome. Runes can be worn as amulets, and since they are purely symbols, can be used in sigil magick as well without altercation. You can stick with the nature theme and carve your own runes in wood, vines, etc. There are specific runes to accompany travelers and ward off harm, etc.
Eve: The blank rune, known as Odin’s rune, it that as debatable as the reversed Tarot card?
Willow: Odin’s rune can be interpreted in many ways but translates to a clean slate, it’s association in the Tarot is the Emperor which points more to Odin than the rune’s meaning so the associations themselves can be vague in their actual meaning. Some people dismiss the blank rune completely like reversed Tarot cards but most people regard it as the unknown, beginning a new cycle, transformation, basically the same associations you would relate to a new moon.
Eve: Originally I thought of runes as the symbolic version of the Tarot and used them in spreads but then began casting out runes instead (drawing them from a pouch and tossing them in front of you), also I found and began working with “magick formula” rune sigils. What do you think are the most common ways runes are used?
Willow: Casting but people who are into runes see them everywhere. –Even on your skin, sometimes. (Pointing to a patch of freckles I have on my right arm, Willow begins connecting dots.) See, you have the rune for protection, when it’s facing you. (A line with three paths is now drawn on my arm, connect the dot with freckles!) Runes are also an alphabet, so you can write spells in Futhark, one of the great magical languages. Hey, you have the warrior rune on your other arm. (Traces an arrow out of another little patch of freckles, this time on my left arm.)
Eve: Ahh, I feel like a warrior now. They’re kind of placed proportionately and equally; I feel like these are my permanent automatic protection circles now. No need to chalk up the floor, anymore.
Willow: Yeah, like Sam and Dean’s demon warding tattoo’s (from the TV series Supernatural.)
“The Tarot is Symbolism; it speaks no other language and offers no other signs.” – Arthur Edward Waite
The pictures on the cards tell stories. They are full of allegory and allude to myths, fairy tales, archetypes. Knowing the meaning and history of the symbols gives you layers and depth to build readings upon. The Doctrine of Correspondences, a “law” of occult metaphysics and magic, says symbolic analogies and affinities exist among everything in the universe of the same or similar vibration and that which affects one thing affects others through this symbolic link, Symbols within your readings may pop up in synchronization like in dreams or in daily life. Everything in a card can be seen as aspects of yourself even when it represents something else. Your association to a symbol is what is most important. Carl Jung used the term “amplification” for acquiring knowledge and personal associations about symbols. “The psychological mechanism for transforming energy is the symbol.” – C.G. Jung
To “amplify” a symbol, list what it is that appears on the card as well as the color or any other clues about how the symbol appears. “White horse” or the “tattered red robe” write what you know about the meaning. What are the objects used for? The nature of the symbol, its function, what it does. Where has this symbol appeared literally in your life, in relation to your issue or just recently? Does it remind you of anything else? Look for re-occuring patterns and themes and summarize each of them. Which meanings go beyond the literal, can never be reduced to words, and intimate a greater reality? Joseph Cambell, in Thou Art That, says “When you are given a dogma telling precisely what kind of meaning you shall experience in a symbol, explaining what kind of effect it should have on you, then you are in trouble. Symbols may not have the same meaning for you than it had for a council at Levantine bishops in the fourth century. The individual’s assent to a definition is not nearly important as his or her having a spiritual experience by virtue of the influence of the symbol.”
Symbolism is not a key partial to the Tarot, alone. Symbolism is The Key for interpreting and maneuvering through all of life.
The world of symbols can be navigated by wishes and fears as guides. Images take on meaning and eventually can be interpreted into answers. Symbols are the secret language of the universe and by forming a key of personal associations to a symbol, you are creating a road map in which life can be navigated. Symbolism is the secret language, studied as a mystic art, the initiation of a process for personal growth and change. Symbolism is what allows us to recognize synchronization, cycles, foreshadowing, meaning, and even the subliminal, that without the awareness of symbols as a language, would slip quietly by our conscious and straight to the subconscious. Through symbols, we can find the hidden purpose and depth in everything around us. We can recognize patterns and intercede, making destiny our own. We can grasp a better understanding of ourselves, our habits, the messages portrayed to subtly control society, we can free our minds and regain individual purpose and insight. We can find the nature behind the why’s and what’s that form every event, lesson and person, gifting us the upper hand and wisdom when it comes to our every day dealings. Symbolism unveils hidden truths and once we grasp that key, new doors appear. Coincidence becomes less likely, repeated imagery becomes more apparent, we learn to see the signs that were once invisible and can choose the road we want to take, in turn, taking back our control. Though there will always be the unexpected, the inexorable force that can break the ground from right beneath our feet, we can comprehend the lesson quicker, attaining a new composure toward all that may come our way.
“Now we see the real use of the Tarot pack. It is for living in and arranging our lives with. The cards are the exchange-symbols between inner and outer life… Altogether, the Tarot is a most valuable collection of a psycho-physical currency convertible into either dimension.” – Wm. B. Gray, Magical Ritual Methods.
My belief is in positive intention and in faith. It is not the words in a spell, in a chant, the salutations or even the idea of the protective circle. It is the personal meaning someone could put faith in. Use what you believe in.
Learning Tarot on your own can be intimidating. Rooting out what is most integral from walls of books, decks, websites: in the best order of comprehension, stacking aspects to memorize or extract intuitively… Tarot and Astrology, Tarot and the Kabbalah, Tarot and Numerology. So many interesting paths to delve down that it can get a little overwhelming. I have done my time carrying around more sources than a college student (as a glutton for punishment, I still prefer to wear the cuffs.) Basking in a Tarot book is bliss for a reader, but it takes so much time and there are so many paths to explore; as a once new and determined Tarot “initiate,” I was glued to Joan Bunning’s Learning the Tarot for a year or more before I felt comfortable enough to give a reading to a friend without it. Once that book was pressed into my brain folds I moved onto spreads, and from there explored the world of Tarot associations. There are a few key concepts that can help save you from the maze of mystery. Methods that require no memorization skills and will get you reading rather than reading (cards in place of books.) Hands on learning is the fast pass to learning.
Begin with a deck that has figures doing things. I really like the Ryder Waite and recommend it to all beginners as a staple deck (in my huge collection, the Ryder Waite is the deck I continuously return to and use for my core readings.) The cards each have their own unique personality, energy, or “attitude,” as Crowley says. Let the cards speak to you. Leave your intuition and pre-conceived ideas out of it for a moment and pretend that you are glimpsing into a scene from the middle of a movie. I saw one blogger phrase a similar method as, “seeing the cards move like Harry Potter images.” So you are in a theater and walk into the wrong film… first, what kind of movie is it? Describe the lay out of cards like a scene you just popped in on. “Dude, there was this tower, and people were dying, but then there was this Queen and I think some kind of horror love story involved…” There are so many different ways to see the four suits. In creating a Tarot movie summary, I like to associate the following suits with the following genres:
This is a great method for spreads. It’s fun to look at the interaction between the cards. Tell the story by looking at how the cards literally relate to each other. Look at the expressions, who they are looking at, and why. Maybe you have three cards laid out: The Two of Wands, The Four of Pentacles, and the Seven of Swords. If these are Ryder Waite cards, none of them would be looking at each other. I see a story of selfish betrayal forming. Re-order them so that it’s the Seven of Swords, the Four of Pentacles and the Two of Wands and now the center figure is drawing the attention of the other two cards, making the story in this split second screen shot look a little more interesting. Instead of using a spread with exact meaning in each of the placements, try out card pairs. Practice (using card couples) figuring out whose looking at who and why. How does your movie scene look? By taking a quick once over you can pretty much tell, right away, if this movie’s ending is going to be a happy one or not.