Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Denise Hesselroth, author of Intentional Tarot: Using the Cards with Purpose.

Denise Hesselroth
We are living in interesting times. Sometimes it can feel like things are daily spinning more and more into bizarre and frustrating directions. As a balancing energy, many people are working harder at efforts to control the chaos. One way we can bring this balancing energy into our tarot practice is to use what I have been calling Intentional Tarot.

In traditional tarot readings, we look to randomly drawn cards to counsel and advise us about immediate issues in our personal lives. This is an inward pull of energy from, “Whatever it is that makes the cards work,” through the cards, and into our lives. With Intentional Tarot we choose to be the source of energy: it flows from us, through the cards, and out into the Universe.

In an Intentional Tarot spread we start with a solution, not a question, and we select cards face up with intention, not face down randomly. This gives us agency in situations where we might feel totally helpless.

The layout I most often use for Intentional Tarot has four positions. The first position is called My Understanding, and this is where I put cards that reflect how I see the problem that I’m addressing in the spread. No one is perfect, and I might be misunderstanding what is really going on. If the solution I will be presenting isn’t the best, I leave it up to the Universe to take my intentions for the general good of all. I try to reduce my focus to three or four cards that reflect what I’m thinking, otherwise I can end up venting in an unfocused frustrated pile of cards.

The second position is called My Goal. This is where I put cards that reflect my desires for an eventual outcome to the situation shown in My Understanding. Unlike the Janice Joplin song that says, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz,” I try to keep my goals fairly general. In the same way that I might not have perfect understanding, I might not know the specific steps that will achieve a beneficial outcome. I ask for Justice. I ask for Happiness. I ask for Healing.

The third position is called My Promise. It’s frustrating to hear the “thoughts and prayers” response to national tragedies, when there are more active, concrete solutions available. I use this position to reflect some real-world actions that I can do myself to bring about the goals in the previous position. This is often the most difficult position that I face in the spread, because it requires me to think about what I can do for the situation.

The fourth position is called My Gratitude. These cards can help balance out the My Understanding cards which often reflect negative situations and frustration. Just as in the sunrise on the Ten of Swords or the Death card, there is always something bright to be considered around the situation or the solution.

Intentional Tarot isn’t always for frustrating situations. It can be used to direct your energies to bless others (or yourself) with health, happiness, good job prospects, or any good that you wish for them. If you can picture it, you can intentionally select cards that express that wish to the Universe.


Our thanks to Denise for her guest post! For more from Denise Hesselroth, read her article, “How to Activate a Tarot Reading with Your True Intentions.”

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Written by Anna
Anna is the editor of Llewellyn's New Worlds of Body, Mind & Spirit, the Llewellyn Journal, and Llewellyn's monthly newsletters. She also blogs, tweets, and helps maintain Llewellyn's Facebook page. In her free time, Anna enjoys crossword puzzles, Jeopardy!, being a grammar geek, and spending time ...