When I was just starting to get comfortable with reading tarot cards, I found myself struggling to connect the abstract meanings of a card with the practicality of everyday life. I knew what it was supposed to mean when I drew the Six of Cups in the morning, but how could I apply that meaning when I was drowning in a complicated task at work later in the day?
One of my favorite methods of incorporating my card of the day is by turning my card into an affirmation. It's a relatively quick and low-effort activity, and the result is a ready-made intention to whisper to yourself when your day gets challenging or unpredictable. For my new book, Your Tarot Toolkit, I created three affirmations for every card in a traditional tarot deck. But maybe you'd like to go a step farther than having a prebuilt affirmation from a book–maybe you want to develop your own affirmations. If that's you, read on!
Step 1: Brainstorm. Grab a notebook, a computer, or a voice memo app, and free-write some of the words and ideas you associate with your card. You can certainly jot down items that resonate from any guidebooks or reference materials you use, but make sure to add some of your own ideas, too. You may associate the card with a person in your life, or a period of time from your past. Even if it seems opposite of the card's traditional interpretation, it's worth making note of.
Step 2: What elements of the card do you want to cultivate? Is there an energy that you'd consciously like to invite into your daily life? Is there a person in your orbit who you'd like to spend more time with or learn more from? Is there a memory or even a hurt that the card calls to mind, something that you'd like to make more space for? Make note of anything you can think of.
Step 3: Conversely to step 2, what elements of the card would you like to avoid or work around? Are there more negative, unhealthy, or dangerous aspects to the card that resonate with unhealthy patterns or behaviors in your life? Does the card remind you of someone in your life who you'd like to take a step away from, or build some boundaries with?
Step 4: Now for the fun part—let's put it all together! Take a look at the list of words, phrases, and ideas you've assembled. Do a few of them jump out at you, or feel particularly relevant to your current circumstances? Begin by turning those words or phrases into affirmations. The best affirmations, in my opinion, start with a strong, firm opening. I like using phrases like, "I am," "I have," "I believe," etc. Take a strong opening like that, and pair it with one of the concepts from your list.
A few notes as you craft your affirmations. Like intentions, affirmations work best when they are phrased positively and in the present. To that end, I advise against starting with something like, "I want to" or "I plan to." If you're working with an element that you want to cultivate, begin instead with, "I am capable of" or "I will." Don't give energy a space to wiggle out of your intention sideways. Be firm and confident in the affirmation you create.
What if you're working with something you want to avoid? You should resist beginnings like "I won't" or "I don't." Instead, make your affirmation a positive statement of how you will navigate around the potential roadblock. For instance, rather than framing an affirmation as, "I won't let distractions keep me from working," you might say, "I am focused and mindful in my work."
Let's do a few examples! I mentioned the Six of Cups above, so let's stick with it. For step one, some traditional Six of Cups words might include nostalgia, past, family connections, and memory. When I draw the Six of Cups, I always picture my family Christmases/Hannukahs growing up. So I might write down family holidays.
For step two, the Six of Cups encourages me to make regular time for my ancestor worship. It's also a reminder to be thankful for the incredible, warm family in which I grew up. And as for step three, the Six of Cups can warn against living too much in the past. I want to make sure that I'm living in the moment as much as possible, while still learning and drawing from the past.
Now let's create an affirmation from all of this! A theme that emerged during my brainstorming was the connection to family and ancestors. That's what I'm going to work with for our example. Here are a few affirmations I might write:
What if you draw a card that tends to have more negative than positive associations? Take, for instance, the Tower. What affirmations could you write from a card that speaks to crumbling foundations and overturned plans? (And particularly, how might you phrase it in a positive, present-focused way?) Well, the Tower all but demands that we be flexible, patient, and understanding–with ourselves and with others. When you experience a huge shakeup of any sort, it's more important than ever to practice grace. No one is at their best during these turbulent times of life, and so the affirmations you write could aim to cultivate the energies needed to survive. For example:
There are as many possibilities for tarot card-based affirmations as there are cards and people to draw them! Affirmations are a form of what I call "Tiny Witchcraft." They are small, low-energy spells of sorts, words you can whisper to yourself as you get ready in the morning or in the midst of a difficult meeting at work. They don't require any materials, and the time commitment is minimal. As a disabled practitioner, I love this kind of magic, and I hope it can be a useful tool for your toolkit as well! And speaking of toolkits, there are tons more activities and ideas for incorporating your tarot practice into your daily life in my book, Your Tarot Toolkit.