Intentional Tarot

Denise Hesselroth

Intentional Tarot is a remarkable book that begins where a reading usually ends. A reading usually describes what happened, what is happening, and what is likely to happen, all very useful information. However, most of us don’t believe that we live in a predetermined universe. Most of us believe that we the will and ability to shape our own future. This book teaches us how to use our cards to do just that. Here’s a look into Hesselroth’s wisdom:

In a traditional tarot reading the Querent wants to learnsomething of benefit to their question at hand. In Intentional Tarot we want to dosomething of benefit to someone or some situation. Instead of beginning with a question we begin with a solution. We envision exactly what we want to manifest, to alter, or to protect. Cards are selected face up with clear intentions. Our focus, as we look at and contemplate the cards, is not to interpret their meaning but to project our understanding of their meaning outward, with intention, to the Universe or whatever Deity you may relate to.

We practice Intentional Tarot in the belief that we are actually nudging the course of the Universe. We are tangible bits of the Universe. Our actions arethe Universe acting. Our actions may be just a pebble in the stream, or a butterfly’s wings in the breeze, yet when you use Intentional Tarot you are being an active force that is influencing the course of the Universe’s unfolding. While the Querent gets a response in the time it takes to lay down the cards and listen to the reading, with Intentional Tarot we act without expecting an immediate return. We are casting a pebble into a stream, which might possibly change the course of a river. Yet it is an action with a goal.

Where is the Universe?

I use the phrase “sending energy out to the Universe” often in this book. These words shouldn’t give the impression that the energies are going out far away among the stars. Perhaps there is a similar misconception if someone pictures Heaven as being far away up in the sky and beyond the clouds. In this section I want to briefly describe a quick mental exercise that I hope illustrates the concept of the word “Universe” as it is used in this book.

First, we might picture the Universe as all the stars in the night sky. However, this image is too cold and distant to represent the intimate energies we feel when we work with the tarot. Gradually we bring the sense of “Universe” closer. Picture a Universal boundary floating above the Earth’s atmosphere, then picture a “layer of Universe” settling down right at the cloud level. Next, the edge of the Universe extends to the roof of your house or apartment. Then imagine it as suspended just below the ceiling of whatever room you might be in. Look up! The Universe hovers there, only a few feet away. Then imagine the edge of the Universe suddenly flowing over you and reaching down to the center of the earth. The Universe is all around us and within us. It grounds us and makes us all a part of one unified field of energy.

When I activate the tarot and send energies “out,” I sometimes picture them as glowing all around me, extending from my heart directly and physically to both the object of my current goal and to the people or things that can influence the outcome I’m seeking. The Universe connects all of us into one thing.

The same is true for the energies that come to us from the Universe in a traditional tarot reading. We are receiving energy and information related to our questions, but the source is all around us and within us, not even inches away. As they say in the movies, “The call is coming from inside the house.”


As with any new concept or procedure, we need new words and phrases to use when we talk about it.

Precant: I use this word to refer to the person selecting cards and sending intentions out to the Universe. I selected this word because it ends in -nt like Querent and has a similar-if-opposite meaning to that word. Querent means “one who seeks” and Precant is an old, rarely used word that technically means “one who prays.” While not everyone would consider sending out energies to the Universe as a prayer, in many ways it could be seen as such, and so I thought the word could be appropriated for this purpose in an Intentional Tarot context.

Spread: Obviously, this is not a new word to the tarot community. However, I’m adding slightly to its meaning for the sake of communicating about Intentional Tarot. In this chapter I’m using spreadin places where I might use readingwhen talking about traditional tarot concepts. In traditional tarot, the event that involves laying out cards and drawing an interpretation from them is called a reading. In Intentional Tarot, the event that involves laying out the cards and sending out intentions to the Universe is called a spread. The word is used here with two meanings at the same time. The first is in the way that tarot folk use spreadto mean laying out the cards. The second is in its normal verb form meaning “to open out something” as in “spread the news,” or “spread your arms,” or “spread the peanut butter.” We are spreading or extending our intentions out to the Universe.

To summarize:

  • In traditional tarot we have a Reader and a Querent (which could be the same person) receiving energies from the Universe. They “do a reading” with randomly selected cards and interpret the meanings found in them.
  • In Intentional Tarot we have a Precant (sometimes more than one) who is sending out their energy to the Universe. They “do a spread” with deliberately selected cards and their intention is to influence how the Universe unfolds.
Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...