Because I post pictures sometimes on Instagram of the tarot cards I pull, I get asked how I use them. So this post is to share what I do with them and why I enjoy having them.
Also, I am currently re-reading the novel The Night Circus, and there is one character in particular that reads tarot cards, and so in The Magic School way, having my own deck of tarot cards feels like a lovely way to intertwine fiction with my reality.
When I first began to experiment with tarot, here was my gut reaction:
- Every artist needs to have a deck. These are seriously an artist's dream come true. What a joy that these exist. How have I gone my whole life without these?
*Side note: When I was younger I used to collect playing card decks. I would learn card tricks and card games because I loved how cards felt in my hands. And of course you know I love secret messages. So cards that have beautiful artwork and hidden secret messages?! Where have you been all my life?
Here's my number one rule when reading the cards: I read the tarot cards for myself. Period.
What this means is I don't read them for anyone else, AND I don't let anyone else tell me what they can or can't mean.
When I seek out a source for further understanding of card meanings, I always pick and choose what works for me and skim over the rest.
I have landed on three favorite and trusted resources for my tarot learnings:
- The Alternative Tarot Course by The Little Red Tarot I recommend this course to everyone who asks me about tarot. It is very affordable and Beth, who created it, is very imaginative and honoring of self-intuition. From her course, I also gathered these two gems as reliable sources:
- 78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack (I have the older books that were broken into two separate volumes Book 1 and 2. The newer edition has them combined.)
- Biddy Tarot. This is an online resources which is nice for looking up a quick meaning on my phone when I'm out and about.
The most common way that I use the tarot decks is to pick a daily card. I do this because I enjoy having a theme to my day and picking a card in the morning helps set the tone of the day. It gives my day a structure to mold around.
I do not go to the cards to tell me how my day is going to go. I go to the cards to give me some imaginative material, like a prompt, and then I use my creativity to tell the card how it is going to work for me. In this way I see the cards like story cubes or like the creative writing prompts my teacher my Senior year of high school used to give us just before he set the 5-10 minute freewrite timer.
In tarot it is suggested that you pay attention to the direction the card is pointing. For instance, if I flip it over upside down then it reverses the meaning of that particular card. I don't enjoy using the cards in this way, and very rarely will pay any attention to which direction the card is facing, unless I find it to my liking and then by all means, I welcome it. I don't believe there are negative cards, only negative interpretations.
I have a very general understanding of what the suits stands for: cups, swords, pentacles and wands and what the number of the card would suggest (I made a little key I can refer to for general numerology). I also have a very general understanding of what the major arcana cards stand for. When I choose a card, if I have time, I read (browse) what the card means. Usually I dod this in my 78 Degrees of Wisdom book. This gives me a reference point to spin off of with my own imagination. Usually what happens is key words or phrases stand out to me, and I go from there.
The reason I think tarot cards are powerful for me as an artist is because I like knowing I have creative control of my day. That I get to set the tone for where I want to take me, even though I know some mystery will always be woven in. I like the invitation to take part in creating meaning into my life, in particular on normal days where the same ol' same ol' routine is being carried out. This shakes the dust off my days and lets me incorporate some of my magic. That is enlivening and refreshing.
Many times I will pair my tarot cards with a piece of my secret message art. (The Tomorrow's Dreams Today art works well. So would art from Into the Dark Night or the tiny secret messages that have come enclosed in my Secret Message Society Zine over the last 3+ years.) This can focus the meaning of the card in an even more specific direction.
Sometimes I will refer to nothing and simply look at the artwork on the tarot card and elaborate on what it means to me given the day that lies ahead and how I am feeling and what I know to be true. I really see the tarot cards as a powerful practice in imagination, creativity, make-belieFing and self-reliance.
On special occasions when I feel a big monumental shift in me, am celebrating a particular milestone or feel particularly stuck at a crucial time, I will pull an entire spread of cards. These are special times and usually take me an hour minimum to find the meanings. In these cases I usually write down visionary notes as I go because I am creating a plan for moving forward into my next.
Thank you for reading about the way I use tarot cards. If you have anymore questions, I would be happy to expand on my explanation. Just contact me or leave a comment. Enjoy your own magical exploration into the decks.