Tarot Journaling: Using Tarot Cards as Journaling Prompts to Help You Transform Your Life
For many of us journaling is a way of getting our thoughts and feelings out of our heads and onto paper so we can process them and move on.
For others, journaling is a way of helping us figure out who we’re becoming as we transform our lives into ones that are more meaningful, impactful – and just plain fun! This is my favourite form of journaling, but sometimes I find it challenging to figure out what changes I want to make, or which option I should choose to help me achieve my desired outcome, or how to identify and move past something that is blocking me. And sometimes I just don’t know what I want, or what my next steps should be! These are the times when I reach for my favourite Tarot deck to help me get my journaling, and my life, back on track.
Each tarot card, particularly those that use the RWS system, consists of either a scene that reflects an event we experience in our day-to-day life, or contains a person with a unique and recognizable personality or set of skills.
And although each card tells a unique story, when read together either as a series or as tarot spread, tarot cards can tell longer, more complex stories, digging deeper into the issues you’re working through or journaling on.
Minor Arcana cards take readers through stories of specific aspects of our everyday life. The Aces, which signify new beginnings, start our journey that eventually takes us through the trials and triumphs of everyday life until we eventually make our way to the Kings, which indicate Mastery. Each specific suit takes us through this journey for one of four identifiable themes or ‘selves’ that make up our whole self.
Cards from the suit of Cups take us through various trials and triumphs regarding the development of our emotional and creative self.
Cards from the suit of Wands take us through various trials and triumphs regarding the development of our passionate and ambitious self.
Cards from the suit of Swords take us through various trials and triumphs regarding the development of our thoughts, ideas, beliefs – even our limiting beliefs.
And cards from the suit of Pentacles take us through various trials and triumphs regarding the development of our physical reality – our skills, our resources, our environment, our financial well-being.
On any given day, regarding any given issue, Tarot can show us where we are on our journey through each of the four aspects of our overall self, and help us ‘see’ our next steps forward..
With the Major Arcana, each one of these cards reflects an individual personality or archetype. But they also tell the story of the Fools journey, a journey that helps us explore different aspects of our own personality in a way that helps us navigate our own personal growth and empowerment.
Much like Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey Myths, Tarot’s Major Arcana takes us, card by card, on an adventure or transformation. We start our personal adventure as the ‘Fool’ taking an initial leap of faith into the unknown that unfolds into a series of challenges, along with personal development and empowerment situations that change us until we come to the successful conclusion of our current adventure or transformation (the holistic World card) and are ready to take on new challenges, new adventures, and experience more personal growth and transformation.
When using tarot cards as journal prompts, particularly as journal prompts that help us deal with an issue or situation, or overcome a challenge, we can go far beyond just looking at the keywords and traditional or intuitive meanings of the cards, and place ourselves into the scene that is unfolding in the card.
We can become the white dove or the ethereal hand in the Ace of Cups, or the person holding the hooded hawk while standing in a lush garden in the 9 of Pentacles. We can become the person looking out to sea in the 2 of Wands, or the angel pouring water from one cup to the next in the Temperance card.
By slipping into the tarot card as an actor would slip into a scene in a stage play, we can become part of the card’s story and gain a deeper understanding of the message that card is giving us.
If you were the person in the 2 of Wands card, what would you be looking at or for? Why would you be dressed the way you are? Why would you metaphorically be holding a globe with one hand and holding onto a wand that’s sprouting leaves with the other hand, while a second identical wand is fastened to the wall behind you? How would you be feeling? What would you be thinking about? Where are you standing? Are you standing behind a parapet on the roof of your very grand home? Or on the rood of a castle? Or on a hilltop lookout? Why would you be standing there? What does any of this have to do with you?
By putting yourself into the scene depicted on the card, you’re telling a story of you and the situation you’re journaling about, or that you’re trying to figure out through your journaling.
The thing about real life is that we can be at any stage of development for any of the four aspects of everyday life, or at any stage of our own personal Fool’s/Hero’s journey, and Tarot journaling can help us explore where we are, how we got there, and where we’re going next.
Start by asking a question while you’re shuffling the Tarot Cards, something like “What guidance do you have for me that will help me show up fully as me today?” or “What am I not seeing that is preventing me from moving forward with my new business?”
Stop shuffling when you feel the urge to stop, and turn over the top card.
Visualize the scene in the card as if you were watching a stage play or a movie. Let the scene in the card come to life for you in your imagination. What character or object in that card are you drawn to? Imagine yourself being that character or object. How are you feeling? What are you thinking? How are you interacting with everything in the scene around you and why are you acting this way? How is everything in the scene around you interacting with you, and why are they acting this way? What are you not seeing? Where has the story in this card come from and where is it going? What happened in the card directly before this card that resulted in this specific scene (for example, if you drew the 7 of Pentacles, what was happening in the 6 of Pentacles)? What will happen in the next card (for example, the 8 of Pentacles) as a result of what’s happening in this card?
Remember that the scenes depicted in tarot cards are metaphors that need to be interpreted, and this is where your journaling comes in. What does everything in the scene that is playing out in the tarot card you pulled from the deck mean as an answer to the question you asked while you were shuffling the tarot deck.
If you are interested in practicing Tarot journaling, follow me on my Wisdom and Magick Instagram account, https://www.instagram.com/wisdomandmagick where every Tuesday I’ll be posting Tarot cards (and the occasional Oracle card), along with some information about the card to help you practice your Tarot journaling skills.