I was first introduced to tarot in a serious way while on a trip with Light Grey Art Lab. We spent late summer mornings shuffling around a beautiful and magical handmade cabin in the middle of southern Utah, eventually finding ourselves on the porch reading our birth charts and learning about astrology and tarot cards. It was there that I learned how to use the skills I already possess as a creative and intuitive person to pull out wisdom and create meaning from what I was seeing.
Since that introduction, I've found more folks whose work either focuses heavily on the tarot or use it in their self care rituals. Once I saw how others were using tarot and bringing in their own stories and wisdom into the mix, I became more comfortable trusting my own intuition along with accepted meaning of the cards to find medicine and guidance in the cards.
I tend to be heavily goal oriented. I need lots of big, long term goals but also lots of bite sized goals to get through the day. Even something as simple as pushing the blankets back and stepping out of bed counts as an accomplishment to me. Even if I don't have anything else, tarot gives me a bit of a guide – something to orient my focus around. It also encourages me to find synchronicity, practice gratitude, and seek magic, which is important to me as an artist but also as a human who sometimes has trouble understanding the point of beng in this cosmos.
When I first started looking more at tarot, I was pulling a card everyday to try and learn the cards. That got overwhelming pretty quick, as you can imagine, so I developed a practice of pulling once a week and journaling the results. This gave me some time to really understand the card and better integrate it into my own story.
I would by no means call myself a tarot reader. This is something I do for myself because it gives me a little extra dose of clarity. My process is very simple and tailored to what feels right for me. Ultimately I think that's what tarot is all about. It gives you the exact medicine you need in the moment because it is a mirror for you to reflect yourself in.
So without further ado, here's how I use tarot in my mindfulness practice:
1. Clear my space.
Not just physically, but energetically as well. Most of my spaces are multi-use, so whenever I take time for a ritual I have to tidy up a bit. Then I light some incense or palo santo. Many sources have you do this to cleanse your space and deck of any negative energy or anything that may be a drain to the message your cards have for you. That's fine, but for me this part of the ritual serves as a grounding practice. It gives me something sensory to come back to if my mind wanders from what is essentially my meditation.
From here, just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Bring your awareness fully to the present moment.
2. Pose question and begin shuffling.
When you're ready, start shuffling your cards. I usually do a combination of overhand and riffle shuffling. Some folks I've known bristle at the thought of riffle shuffling your cards for fear of it damaging their integrity. For me, the most sacred things are well used. So shuffle away.
As your shuffling, focus your thoughts onto a specific question. We don't want anything too predict-y here like "when will I find a mate" or anything like that. Tarot isn't a tool for predicting the future as much as it is for mirroring our desires and guiding us to our own truth.
Also be sure to rotate the cards 180 degrees while you're shuffling. The cards mean different things when they're upside down, so this is important to your reading.
3. Pull Card.
You can flip over the top card, cut the deck and choose the card from the top of your second deck, or choose a card that calls to you from the middle of the deck. I do any one of these depending on what feels good at the time.
4. Free write.
Here's where the magic really happens. Looking at the card you've pulled, what colors grab you? Are there any symbols? Any figures or animals that are showing up? What are they doing? Where are they looking? What's their emotional state? What does the card make you feel? Write it all down.
Reading back on what you've written about the card, you should start to notice some common themes or insights. As you go through your day, stay open to them and think on what the card brought to your attention. See if you can notice any synchronicities between the message in the card and your life. Throughout your week you may come back to write some more on that subject, and that's cool!
I'll share a secret: I also often pull a card before writing posts just to ask what I have to bring to the table or what would be most resonant with people. I'd love to know if any of you have other ways of using tarot to cultivate mindfulness! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below <3
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