I’ve been using the tarot as a journaling tool for over a year, and the practice has significantly enhanced my ability to trust my intuition, stay composed, and remain centered.
I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. Thankfully, I’ve found relief with SSRIs, which I’ve been taking for decades. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will probably require them for the rest of my life, and I’m grateful I’ve found an effective combination. Not everyone is so fortunate.
Tarot for Self-Care
Anyone who has depression and anxiety knows that medication is only part of the equation. Therapy and self-work are also necessary—at least, they have been for me. The last few years have been difficult—to say the least—and during a particularly severe episode of depression, I began seeing a fantastic therapist who has provided me with a variety of tools to manage both my depression and anxiety.
Unexpectedly, one of the most valuable tools has been the tarot.
I say unexpected because I never thought I’d be interested in the tarot beyond, perhaps, the pretty pictures on the cards. While I admit that those pretty pictures still draw me in (even more so now that I’ve begun collecting decks), I’ve found a much deeper benefit from the self-reflection each card prompts. I don’t believe the tarot has divinity powers, but there is still much to be learned from these decks of seventy-eight cards.
There are plenty of places you can learn the history of the tarot so I won’t cover that here. My first tarot deck was a basic Rider Waite Smith deck and early on, I used Biddy Tarot to gain an understanding of each card. While I still use it occasionally, I’ve found several books that offer a deeper analysis. Tarot for Change: Using the Cards for Self-Care, Acceptance, and Growth by Jessica Dore is by far my favorite. Tarot of the Divine: A Deck and Guidebook Inspired by Deities, Folklore, and Fairy Tales from Around the World by Yoshi Yoshitani is my favorite deck, though I cycle through a few of them in my daily practice.
My Daily Practice
I say daily, but in reality, I only do my tarot journaling four or five times a week, depending on my schedule. I begin by determining a focus for the day. That could be anything from a specific work goal or a particular concern I’m having. Quite often, I simply write give yourself grace, or be kind to yourself. Since lack of self-confidence is an ongoing issue for me, I tend to use a lot of affirmations in my focus and journaling.
Next, I riffle shuffle the cards and pull one. Before I do much with it, I write five things I’m grateful for. I try not to edit myself at all during this process; it’s so easy to think of something I’m grateful for and then second-guess myself because it’s not significant enough. Being grateful for small things is just as important as life’s big-ticket items.
I take a moment to study the card’s imagery, keeping in mind my day’s focus. Then, depending on my mood, I go to one or two of my resources (I mentioned Tarot for Change above) for guidance on interpreting the card. I usually start slow by writing down words or phrases that resonate with me, then I expand my journaling, going wherever my thoughts take me. This is incredibly personal, and I don’t edit myself. It’s during this part of the process that the greatest realizations happen. I’m almost always surprised what I come up with and I usually feel a sense of peace when I’m finished.
In future posts, I’ll talk more about my favorite resources and get more specific about the lessons, for lack of a better word, that I’ve learned. Consider this post an introduction and know that everyone uses the tarot differently for self-care. If you choose to use it yourself, you’ll find your own process.
* The image at the top of this post was created with assistance from DALL-E.
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