Earlier this month, I posted about Tarot Journaling. Today, I thought Iâ€™d share the section on journaling from my forthcoming book, Tarot for Beginners.
Most tarot books and teachers encourage keeping a journal or a notebook of your tarot studies and practicesâ€”and I am one of them. A journal is a valuable companion on your tarot journeys. There are probably as many kinds of journals and as many ways to use a journal as there are tarotists. Letâ€™s take a look at a few of both.
Types of Journals
A traditional journal is any sort of bound book with blank or lined pages. They come in different sizes and qualitiesâ€¦for every taste and every budget. You will likely find one that appeals to your taste and meets your need for size. Or if you are like me, you will find several and suddenly find yourself with a lovely journal collection. Some people prefer larger pages with plenty of room to write and draw. Some people like to carry their journals around in their purses or bags, so a smaller size is more practical. Journals come with lined pages, for those who like to keep things neat and orderly, or unlined pages, for those who like more freedom. If you like to write with markers or use paints in your journal, get one with thicker paper. Ballpoint pens and pencils work fine on thinner paper.
One downside of a traditional bound journal is that the pages are in a specific order. So if you want to keep certain information together, you have to estimate ahead of time and reserve a certain number of pages or insert extra pages with clips or staples after the fact. With a three-ring binder, you can always add more pages where you want them. You can also, if you want, rearrange the pages, changing the organization to suit your needs if they change over time.
Many people love the tactile sensation of pen on paper. Some people could care less. Perhaps they just have atrocious penmanship. In any case, keeping a journal on your computer makes a lot of sense. You can organize your pages and information just as with a three-ring binder. You can add images and website addresses with ease, and access them just as easily, with a simple click. Perhaps best of all, computer journals are searchable. Imagine after a few years of tarot study, having several notebooks and searching through them trying to find something that you just know you wrote down eight months ago but cannot remember where. The task of finding it would be much easier in a computer document.
Blogs are free and easy. Many people take advantage of this and keep their journalâ€”or one aspect of their journalâ€”as a blog. Probably the biggest benefit of a blog journal is the opportunity for input and community. If you want to put in the effort to create a readership, the comments and insights of others can be interesting, inspiring, and thought provoking. The downside is that they are generally public places. Tarot can be a very personal and private practice and perhaps not best suited for public consumption. However, with areas that are not constricted by the need for privacy, a blog can be fun way to track your studies. One of the most common blogging practices is the Card A Day (see below).
How to Use Your Journal
There are so many ways use to a journal in conjunction with tarot cards that you could write a book about it. Someone did, actually. If you enjoy journaling and want more ideas, do check out Corrine Kennerâ€™s Tarot Journaling.
Record Your Readings
If you do nothing else with your journal, keep a record of your readings. Note the date, the spread, the deck used, and the question. Write out the interpretation, observations that stood out as particularly important, and things about the reading that confused you. If you have the means and the desire, take a photo of your reading and include it. Every once in a while, go back and review your readings. Use a different color pen and write observations about the reading, your accuracy, how you would interpret it now in hindsight, and what youâ€™ve learned or realized since then, making sure to include the date of your notes. This is a wonderful way to learn and remember lessons about not only the cards but about your life.
Card A Day
Pulling a card a day is a very popular practice among beginners and long-time students of tarot. For the beginner, it is a great way to slowly become familiar with the cards. Either pick the cards in order or randomly. Each day note the card selected, write out the core meaning, and include your thoughts and observations about additional meanings or messages in the card. In addition to using the Card A Day for learning the cards, you can randomly draw a card each morning as a mini-reading for the day. You can ask a specific question each time or just let the card provide good advice for the day. In the evening, record how the mini-reading played out in your day. When randomly pulling a card a day, it is interesting to watch for patterns or themes, such as the same card over and over, cards of the same suit, many court cards, etc.
Using the tarot in free writing can work in two ways. First, you can select a card that you want to write about. As with the Card A Day technique, you can go through the cards in order or you can pick one at random. Or you can pick a card that has been on your mind or has been coming up in readings a lot, one that you have trouble understanding or that bothers you, or one that inspires you. After you pick your card, set a timer. If you are new to free writing, start with three minutes. Start the timer, then start writing. Donâ€™t think about grammar or spelling. Just look at the card and write whatever comes into your mind. If nothing comes to mind, start by writing that, or try describing the card in detail. After your free writing session, read what you have written, noticing anything that adds to your understanding of the card or peaks your interest.
Another way to use free writing with your tarot cards is when you have a question or situation that is troubling you. Think about the situation and pull a card, as if you were going to do a reading. Instead of doing a regular reading, look at the card image while thinking about your question. Ask the character or characters in the card what their advice would be and just start writing. This technique usually provides two benefits: learning some interesting advice about a problem and gaining some insight about a card. This technique is particularly entertaining if you use Court cards. Ask several of the Court cards for advice on the same situation and see what varied responses youâ€™ll get.