Last year, amongst the unhappiness of being trapped working in a day job that was unfulfilling, I decided to recommit to journaling again through the practice of morning pages. Morning pages a form of stream of conscious writing as explained in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way – the first thing you do in the morning (okay, always after I had made my cup of coffee first) is simply write anything and everything that comes into your head for three pages. That’s it.
For the first week I found it enjoyable because it was a nice morning ritual and it allowed me a brain dump that allowed me to start my day out fresh.
But I soon became tired of my daily pages. If you’re unhappy where you are, it’s tough to think about anything else. Every single page I wrote lamented on the fact that I was so unhappy at my job. Since I couldn’t change anything about my source of unhappiness (I wasn’t in a financial situation that allowed me to quit), I decided to set aside my notebook and focus on composing passive aggressive tweets instead.
This is also the time when tarot made its way into my life. Now, I am all about the woo-woo, but tarot was something that always triggered my bullshit senses. I was fascinated by the ritual, the symbolism, and everything that surrounded it, but the idea of the cards forming a certain order by the magic of the universe to tell your fortune just didn’t seem right to me.
Yet there was something about them that made me take a closer look. What I found was that tarot is a beautiful tool for considering different aspects of your life. Each card has a universal meaning that is open-ended enough that it can apply to anyone’s situation. So nowadays, as much as I love to believe there’s some sort of mystical work at play (especially when I do a reading that’s freaky spot-on), what I really love about tarot is the reason why I bought my first deck in the first place: it forces me to do some deeply intentional writing by sparking that internal dialogue.
Tarot as a daily prompt
What convinced me to buy a tarot deck was the idea of the daily draw. Many tarot readers draw a single card each day to help them guide their focus or intention for that day. It was this practice that actually drove me to purchase a deck because I realized that the daily draw could also be my daily writing prompt.
Each day (or as often as I remember), I take some time in the morning to shuffle my cards, taking myself away from the emails, the to-do lists, and the hustle. As I shuffle, I do a mental body scan just to check in on how I’m feeling this day. It’s almost like meditation.
Then, I draw my daily card and set it by my notebook. I begin to write about anything that might have come up while I was shuffling, but then I’ll also start to weave in any reaction I may have to the card—meanings I know already, something I notice in the image, how the card makes me feel, etc. Once I’ve written down my initial observations, I’ll look up the meaning of the card online. Biddy Tarot is my favorite resource.
When I look up the meaning of the card, I write down words or ideas that stick out to me most. This isn’t a copy of the definition of the card, just a way to pull out meanings and connection while I’m still learning my way around the cards.
And from there the meaning of the card carries my pen across the page. Sometimes the card is obviously applicable to my current situation and I’m able to journal about that area of my life—work, relationship, material abundance, or creativity. Sometimes that card isn’t so obvious and my journaling is more inquisitive—touching on everything just a little bit to see what feels most true. There have even been a couple times where the card reminded me of a person in my life and I just ended up journaling about them or a memory of them that I had never written down before.
Basically the daily tarot draw helps you get out of your usual thought patterns to consider different areas of your life that may not be at the forefront of your mind, or to help you consider problems and situations from a different angle. Then you can write those daily pages.
Tarot as goal-setting journaling
In addition to daily prompts, I love using my tarot deck for monthly goal-setting journaling. And to indulge in my woo-woo side, I make the time for this practice on the new moon. This is the perfect time to reflect on the past month—what I accomplished, what was unexpected, and what was met with resistance. I’ll take maybe a page or so to reflect before I even dive into the reading.
I’ll start with a few sentences of what I’m hoping for in the upcoming month and then I’ll begin to lay out my spread. This has been my favorite new moon tarot spread lately. It helps me tap into the present situation, past situations, future situations, and then both the forces that are influencing me outside myself and within myself. I’ll lay out the spread and write a paragraph on each card—both my initial impressions and what I already know, as well as key words and ideas I find from a quick lookup online.
Once I’ve defined each card, I’ll sit back and consider how they all work together and I’ll start journaling until some goals—or even just a mantra—for the next month begin to surface.
Tarot tools for journaling
- I use the Wild Unknown tarot deck, but you should use any deck that speaks to you. If you don’t want to buy a deck, you could also try the tarot app (though I will say physically drawing the card is what gives it that magical element).
- There are so many great guidebooks for tarot interpretation (I also have the Wild Unknown guidebook), but Biddy Tarot is my favorite online resource for approachable yet in-depth interpretations.
- Your favorite journal + pen
- Crystals, smudge stick/palo santo, and candles (to make it a little more woo-woo)
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong. Just as journaling is a personal practice that has no rules except to write however feels most right and fulfilling to you, I think tarot has a similar practice.
If you liked this post, be sure to check out:
- Emily’s guide on how she’s uses Bullet Journaling
- The Being Boss interview with Katie Dalebout on the transformative power of journaling
- Caitlin was also a guest on the Being Boss Podcast—Episode #69: SEO Made Easy for Creatives with Caitlin Brehm