Is Your Deck Alive? Thoughts on Anthropomorphizing Your Tarot Deck

Tarot, Tarot Study

Is Your Deck Alive banner

If you’ve ever wondered why some tarot practitioners talk about their decks as if they were a living entity, or why some decks could be sweet while others blunt or straight up critical and negative–well, it’s a complex question that requires an examination of one’s belief in how reality operates. So there’s really no black and white answer because your relationship with tarot is like your relationship with god–it’s about what you resonate with and what inspires you to practice with authenticity and emotion.

Personally though, I don’t believe a deck of tarot cards is some kind of living entity, or that it’s got some kind of energetic consciousness that is able to convey certain attitude or tune when giving a reading to its owner.

To me, a deck of cards is simply a deck of cards. It’s ink and paper, and it carries no intelligence or personality whatsoever on its own. I know that sounds very unromantic for a lot of you, but the magic of tarot has never been contingent upon the physicality of the cards, or the actual deck itself. I believe the magic of divination dwells within the practitioner: the magic is within me, or rather, in my intention. It is because I am genuinely asking a question and seeking the answer with my heart that the oracle (which is tarot) answers. The conversation that I have with tarot is really one with myself.

How about for those people who believe that a deck of cards carry certain energetic signatures or is a consciousness in and of itself?

The way I see it is that reality is a very mysterious thing.

I believe that even the “deadest” physical objects can carry energy, so who am I to say that a tarot card, with the congregation of symbols and images that activate portals to human’s collective and archetypal consciousness, does not hold a mind of its own? Who knows. I don’t think I’ll be able to adequately explain how tarot works, or how reality works, but I do think that reality functions according to our beliefs and perceptions of reality. If we believe that a deck of card is able to communication with its own level of consciousness, then in our minds, we hold the space for that to manifest. If we believe that a deck of cards is just a deck of cards, then it will always be a deck of cards unless we decide to shift our perspectives otherwise. Our reality is fundamentally linked to how we perceive reality and how we think reality functions.

If you follow me on my social media, you probably noticed that I sometimes talk about tarot in personifying terms. I often refer to my tarot decks or my tarot practice as a living entity or as a personality.

I do this in the way as a storyteller may refer to their creations (such as characters or lores) as a real occurrence. Writers often express that certain characters just “came to them” or “started talking” as if they were alive and dictated their stories to be written. I don’t think this is because they believe that characters are actually real entities that exist somewhere in an alternative space-time and came in contact with their writers so that they might participate in the telling of their tales. They do it because they are in love with their creative work, and the creative process of storytelling is a very dynamic one. When they engage with their ideas, it’s like they are having a real conversation with the characters they created. It’s almost an act of co-creation because it’s so organic.

I feel a tarot reading channels its messages in the same way. As we engage we tarot, we open ourselves to conversation and dialogue.

We engage with the particular images and symbols on the cards before us and we seek to understand what they are trying to tell us by tapping into our intuition, knowledge and inner wisdom. Tarot is a magic mirror with a diverse and fluid vocabulary that guides us to unearth the insights within ourselves.

And because tarot operates primarily visually (as it relies on its art and various symbolic depictions), the messages that we channel or interpret from the cards are going to be influenced by what the images seek to convey–something that is determined by the artist or the creator of that deck. In essence, a tarot deck that is “blunt” or “sweet” isn’t really due to the fact that it has a blunt or sweet temper–it is because the images that are chosen inspire those tones. For example, Happy Tarot is created with soft pastel colours and adorable cartoon characters, featuring landscapes like cloud kingdoms, candy land and forests filled with cute friendly animals or creatures. The overall atmosphere of the deck is very sweet and inspires your inner child to come out and play. On the other hand, I don’t think you would call Deviant Moon Tarot “sweet”. I have never personally worked with that deck but I heard that it is known to be blunt and cuts straight through your bullshit–which is probably due to the grotesque images and dark symbolism that are able to resonate with your inner darkness, “cutting straight through your bullshit”.

So yeah–while I use a lot of anthropomorphic or “personifying” language to talk about tarot, I don’t really subscribe to the belief that my tarot decks are alive. I don’t really have an issue with people who think so and practice tarot accordingly. Tarot practice is meant to be a personal thing and as I said in my video: “I do me. They do them.” On a side note, I do think that it can be problematic when people use their anthropomorphic language or beliefs to bypass personal autonomy or to create excuses for not improving their lives. “I can’t move on because my tarot deck is being negative!” or “I feel like shit because my deck was blunt!” Fortunately, I don’t think this happens very often and most people who talk about their decks being blunt is quite positive with a tinge of humour. “Oh gee is my deck blunt! I guess I have nowhere to hide but to face my shadows and get to work!”

What about you? Do you believe that your tarot deck is alive? Do you believe it’s just a pile of paper? Or is it something else? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

 

Interpreting Court Cards in a Tarot Reading [+Free Guided Reference Worksheet!]

Tarot, Tarot Study, Worksheets

interpreting court cards banner

The Elemental Royalties of Tarot: Recap & Overview

In Crash Course on Court Cards, I talked about how you can interpret court cards and understand them by personifying them into lively characters that are driven by their cultural background, elemental worldviews and personal motivations. The court cards are the royal members of the elemental kingdom, each with specific agendas and tendencies depending on their role (Page, Knight, Queen or King) and their elemental affiliation (Fire, Air, Earth or Water Kingdom). For example, Knight of Cups (Water Kingdom) cares more about the pursuit of happiness and emotional gratification, unlike Knight of Swords (Air Kingdom) which cares more about the pursuit of intellect, ideas, politics and justice. Using this storytelling framework of creative characterization, it is easier to understand what each court card represents and what they mean.

In addition, court cards represent personas and perceived roles in a social dynamic, and are nearly always interpreted in relation to something or someone else. You can be a parent with five kids or a wise 75-year-old, you can still embody the spirit and persona of a Page when you are placed in the role of a Page.  For example, maybe you’ve decided to take some piano lessons out of the blue. No matter how old you are, you are embodying the role of a student, placed in the care and knowledge of a teacher. In this relationship, you may embody the Page of Pentacles because you are developing a skill through practice, and your piano teacher may embody Queen of Wands, somebody who is nurturing you through her passion and excitement for music. however, once you are outside of the musical classroom, you may pose as the Queen of Cups to your children, or Knight of Swords to your colleagues. Depending on the situation, court cards speak to social relationships and how you are positioned in relation to others. 

So the next question is: okay, now we understand the individual personalities, tendencies and worldviews of each elemental royalty–how do we interpret them in a reading? How do we engage with them in a spread with the various spread positions? What do we do when they show up and start an awkward staring contest with us!?

Interpreting Court Cards in a Tarot Reading

Interpreting court cards can be very anal–I mean uh, difficult. They certainly require us to really shift gears so we can wrap our heads around them. Even though they may be difficult to read sometimes, the royalties of the Tarot Realm are all very eager to extend their wisdom and personalities to us humans who are seeking answers from them!

So fear not, because there is a way to talk to court cards. Let’s start by looking at the various spread positions and questionings in a tarot spread. You may ask–there are so many different types of questions–where do we even start? Don’t worry. I have conveniently grouped them into three main categories for the sake of easy discussion. The three types of spread positions or questions are:

  1. Descriptive
  2. Personifying
  3. Guidance/Advice

Descriptive positions are questions that paint a picture or describe a “scene”. For example:

  • What is the situation right now?
  • What are the challenges/conflicts/problems that you are experiencing?
  • What is the past/present/future?
  • What is the outcome of your efforts?

These questions all have one thing in common: they are asking you to describe occurrences, circumstances and events. Depending on your personal approach to tarot, this can translate to different things. For example, if you subscribe to a more psychological perspective of tarot and you receive 3 of Pentacles in a descriptive position, the “scene” that you describe may be “a situation that requires you to cooperate with your teammates and contribute to the community.” If you take a more psychic and fortunetelling approach, the “scene” may be “becoming accepted by the organization of your dreams and receiving a decent amount of compensation for your participation”. Either way, regardless how you interpret the cards based on your approach to tarot, you are describing a scene or a happening.

In short, descriptive positions have less to do with who you are as a person or how you should solve a problem. They’re positions that depict “what’s going on” or “what’s happening”. 

Personifying positions are positions that refer to personality traits, attitudes and beliefs. For example:

  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • What is he like? What kind of person is he? What kind of father will he be?
  • What is a perspective I am missing?
  • What is her philosophy when running and managing a company?
  • What makes her a positive person? What makes her a good teacher?
  • Why is he being a jerk? Why is she insecure about her appearance?

These positions are ideal for court cards because court cards are the personas of tarot, the “people” representing the Tarot Realm. Personality traits, attitudes and beliefs are exactly what they embody. For example, when King of Pentacles Reversed shows up for “What is my weakness?”, you may interpret it as a card warning you to keep your materialism and greed in check. If Page of Cups shows up for “What is the perspective I am missing?” Then you simply have to look into the qualities and worldviews of the Page of Cups to answer that question. Page of Cups is the dreamer, so the perspective you are missing may be a more fluid, imaginative and innocent outlook as opposed to business-oriented, practical and realistic.

Guidance/Advice Positions are, you guessed it, positions that ask the tarot cards for guidance and advice. For example:

  • What is the best approach in this scenario?
  • What do I do? How can I help?
  • How can I release my fears and heal my wounds?
  • What is a message from my spirit guides?
  • What does the Universe want me to know right now?

These positions are usually seeking to problem-solve, to cultivate wisdom and to generate insight. They are not as tricky as the descriptive positions, but they can require some mental adjustment and re-orientation of the brain. In my video Crash Course on Court Cards, I mentioned that you can do some role-playing and pretend to have a conversation with the Elemental Royalties when they decide to grace your reading with their presence. I feel that role-playing works best with guidance/advice positions because you can interpret the court cards by stepping into their shoes and trying to give yourself advice from their perspective.

Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. More on this later!

How to Interpret Court Cards in Descriptive, Personifying and Guidance/Advice Positions 

Now that you are acquainted with the 3 main categories regarding spread positions, let’s see what you can do when a court card falls into either one of them.

Interpreting Court Cards in Descriptive Positions 

These positions are probably the most problematic when court cards show up. Imagine asking your friend a question: “How was your day?” and your friend replies, “Lady Gaga!” Which will most likely leave you wide-eyed and scratching your head, mouthing a silent WTF? Like did you see Lady Gaga? Were you listening to her music? Did someone dress up like her? WHAT IS IT YOU ARE TRYING TO TELL ME HERE!?

Know that feeling all too well? Hopefully this little section will help you solve your court card woes!

To start, we’ll use “What is the situation?” as a general question to address using the court cards. When you see a court card fall on the position What is the situation? Here is what you have to keep in mind:

  • the court card points to a situation or relationship that requires you to embody the role of that court card, or
  • the court card points to the role or attitude that you currently/already embody in a situation or relationship or
  • the court card points to a person that you are involved with in a situation or relationship which embodies the role of that court card
25346365_10159563538735580_983205637_o

Queen of Swords, from Dreaming Way Tarot by Rome Choi (U.S. Games Systems)

What does this mean in practice? For instance, if you draw the Queen of Swords as “What is the situation?”, try plugging her into the question to jumpstart your thought process:

  • What is a situation or relationship that requires me to embody the role of Queen of Swords? E.g. Queen of Swords is eloquent and fearless in her speech. Where in my life right now am I required to convey my passion and my values in an articulate, expressive and assertive way? I am invited to speak at a Ted Talk next month, in which I need to embody all of these qualities that are represented by the Queen of Swords. Now I know this court cards is referring to the Ted Talk opportunity and the role I will play in that talk.
  • Do I already embody the Queen of Swords? How am I currently embodying the Queen of Swords right now? E.g. Queen of Swords is all about personal truths and boundaries. As I go through a divorce with my husband, I am required to communicate my boundaries very clearly and assertively. I am also learning how to connect with my personal truths so that I can voice them and express to others. This is how I am embodying the Queen of Swords right now, so the situation this card is referring to must be my divorce process with my husband.
  • Does Queen of Swords refer to somebody I am involved with right now? E.g. Queen of Swords is very direct with her words and is not afraid to let people know what she thinks. My roommate Julie has been criticizing my decision to reunite with my ex quite ceaselessly in the past week. The light aspects of the Queen of Swords is tough love, so perhaps Julie is speaking out of her concern and care for me as a roommate and a friend. Queen of Swords’ shadow aspects are unwanted judgement and harsh criticisms, so it could also be that she is picking on me on purpose. (To determine which aspect or layer a court card embodies, you can look at if the card is upright or reversed, and you can also look at the other cards that showed up in the spread. And of course, always listen to your intuition.)

By examining and exploring the context that requires you to embody the role of the court card you draw, you should be able to read a court card in a descriptive position, no problem!

Interpreting Court Cards in Personifying Positions 

As mentioned before, this category should be the easiest because court cards are personas and embody human traits and tendencies by default. When you need to interpret court cards that occupy a personifying position, you simply have to tap into the personality traits, perspectives and attitudes that are represented by that specific court card. A good way to tap into the persona of a court card is to include the name of the court card in your answer and create a statement that frames the answer, in a way that will allow you to list the attributes of the court card in response to your question, then continue to expand on the reading. It’ll look something like this:

E.g. She will act like [name of the court card], which means [court card attributes] + more thoughts and explanations
E.g. My strengths are embodied by the [name of court card], which are [court card attributes] + more thoughts and explanations

Let’s take a look at a few of the sample questions, again using the Queen of Swords. Note that in the following examples, the court card “plug-in’s” are underlined so you can see how you can apply it to your own thought process, and the [court card attributes] are wrapped in square brackets.

  • What are my strengths? Answer: Your strengths are the qualities that are embodied by the Queen of Swords, which are [eloquence, clear communication, and precision.]
  • What kind of father will he be? Answer: He will be like the Queen of Swords, [someone who nurtures his children by being fair, logical, and communicative]. He will be very strict with the rules he has in place, especially the ones that he believes to be beneficial for his children. While he cares deeply, he may lack the ability to respond to his children’s emotional needs and their need to be heard and not corrected. 
  • What is a perspective I am missing? Answer: I am missing Queen of Swords’ perspective. QoS [sees things clearly and logically and she never tolerates anything that is unfair or wrong.] Perhaps this is indicating that I need to work on personal boundaries and communicating those boundaries. 
  • What is her philosophy when running and managing a company? Answer: She believes in the same things that the Queen of Swords would believe in. Queen of Swords would believe in [fairness, clear communication, respectful boundaries, and honesty.] When it comes to running and managing a company, she believes in establishing clear boundaries at the workplace to cultivate cooperation and respect. She values responsibility and accountability. She will always provides clear instructions to her employees, and does not shy away from communicating what she wants from the people who work for her. 

Interpreting Court Cards in Guidance/Advice Positions 

Picking up from my enthusiasm earlier–roleplaying works perfectly for this position! Getting advice from a court card can be incredibly fun, insightful and interactive. Of course, if you’re not into the idea of talking to yourself and pretending that you’re embodying different voices, you don’t need to act out an entire scene of dialogue. But I believe the process of going “back and forth” as you approach a court card can be very helpful. When you perceive the tarot reading as an interaction (which in many ways, it is), and it’s not just you the reader trying to stare down at a court card so you can extract wisdom from its poker face–the process gets a bit easier and more fluid because you’re not putting a lot of pressure on yourself to “download” the right answer! It’s more about the talk, the conversation, the “back and forth”.

Start by greeting the court card in question, then ask meaningful questions such as:

  • What message do you have for me?
  • What do you think of my situation?
  • Do you have any comments or feedback on what I did or what I’ve experienced?
  • What would you have done in this scenario?
  • Do you think this is a good idea? Why?

If you are looking for more question prompts, you can find them in the guided reference worksheet!

25319825_10159563538660580_1906335458_o

Knight of Wands, from Dreaming Way Tarot by Rome Choi (U.S. Games Systems)

Let’s take a look at a few examples. 🙂 This time, let’s have a chat with the Knight of Wands. Queen of Swords is tired of talking (just kidding. She never gets tired of talking. I just thought I would switch up the court card a bit because Queen of Swords has been stealing the show!) Since it’s a role-playing activity, put on your thespian hat, get creative and have a little fun!

The question: What is the best approach in this scenario?

  • Reader: What is the best approach in this scenario? *looks at Knight of Wands* Hey what’s up, man. Well, what do you think?
  • Knight of Wands: Getting straight down to business, are we? I like I like. Okay, so obviously the best approach in this scenario is to act like good old me. *wink*
  • Reader: What does that mean? You mean like–be more experimental and adventurous? Since that’s all you do. Going on adventures and stuff. And what else…don’t fuss and worry so much?
  • Knight of Wands: Yeah! Relax and just go for it, man! Don’t think too much. Don’t think about why. If you want it, you don’t need a why! Just show up and have fun. Just enjoy life. Enjoy the adventure, the action.
  • Reader: So like, YOLO?
  • Knight of Wands: Yes! Say what you want. Do what you want. Sing when you want to. Paint when you want to. Be yourself. Just do whatevs, man. Do what you WANT the most. Than do the second thing you want the most.
  • Reader: Okay, I think I get it. I’ve been too cautious and neurotic about going on this trip with my best buddies. I should just stop worrying and enjoy it as an adventure.
  • Knight of Wands: Yup! Anything else you want to ask me?
  • Reader: Uh…yeah. You got any hot tips on picking up girls?
  • Knight of Wands: *winks* You know I do.

The best part about role-playing is that while you are embodying the voice of Knight of Wands or a court card, you are really having a conversation with yourself. You are checking in to see how you personally understand the Knight of Wands and you can draw on his energies and qualities to benefit your current life. It also activates your sense of play, which helps you approach a tarot reading in a more relaxed, less structured and less stressful way.

To Close and to Recap! 

  • Court cards can be a bit tricky to read because they always need to be considered in relation to something or someone else, unlike the major arcana cards and the numbered cards.
  • There are 3 types of spread positions/questions that you usually get in a tarot spread; the 3 categories are descriptive, personifying, and guidance/advice. 
  • With each position type, you can consider the roles you play in relation to a situation or a person.
  • You can “plug in” court cards and frame your answer statement in a way that will help you establish meaning and extract information based on the circumstances and energies of your reading.
  • You can use creative techniques like roleplaying or storytelling to interact with the court cards using conversation!

The Guided Reference Worksheet

For quick references and examples on the go, please check out the following reference sheet I’ve created for you. ❤

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE GUIDED REFERENCE WORKSHEET

Anyway. Phew! I hope this post has helped you with your tarot practice in some way + clarified some of the questions you may have about approaching court cards in a tarot reading. And by the way, as you go forth with your court card adventures, I just wanted to let you know that it’s completely fine to take some time to arrive at an insight when you’re doing a tarot reading. It doesn’t make you incompetent or incapable. It just means that in that particular moment, you require some time to channel an archetype. And if you’re just learning, it simply means that you are learning how to engage and interact with a court card. So there’s really no reason to stress out when you’re slightly blanking out. ❤

Questions? Comments? Wanna Join My Facebook Group? 🙂 

If you have any other questions or anything else you are wondering about regarding court cards, please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to get back you. Also, if you are a fellow A Tarot Story wayfarer and you’re looking to connect with other peeps who are also studying tarot with a creative storytelling framework, or if you’re looking for more discussions, activities and exercises–I have recently created a Facebook group for all of us to hang out and to do just that! So please join and come hang out at A Tarot Story, the Facebook corner of the Tarot Kingdiom! 🙂

COME JOIN

 

How to Read Tarot Intuitively with the 5 Senses

Developing Intuition, Tarot Study

how to read tarot intuitively with the 5 senses banner

Using your intuition to read tarot cards can be an abstract concept. It’s based on a feeling, an inner knowing, a flash of truth, a moment of clarity. There’s on right way or wrong way of doing it, and it’s highly personal most of the time so it’s really difficult to get a grasp at it.

It’s personal because our perceptions are all wired differently. 

Intuition, in my belief, is a way to channel information from the spirit-sphere. By spirit-sphere, I mean the general “zone” where our subconscious, the archeyptal energies, the collective unconscious and the shared human connection that we all have. Channeling is one thing, and depending on what’s “wired” to be our primary modes of perception, we can receive those information in a myriad of ways.

For example, if you are textually and visually oriented (like me), you may be getting impressions or urges of imagination and seeing the pictures on a certain card move in a certain way. You may also hear a specific word over and over again. If you’re more scent oriented, you may get a whiff of garbage when you pull out 5 of Swords, which may be telling you: you’ve got some emotional junk that you need to get rid of that is related to a 5 of Swordsy situation.

So an important part of developing your intuition is to understand how you perceive the world. Which senses (out of the 5 senses) are you most drawn to? A good way to figure this out is to take the Multiple Intelligences Assessment. I use this to evaluate the students I am working with in language learning to gain a better understanding of their personalities and qualities as a student. It’s free and takes about 15-20 minutes to do: an excellent resource for self-understanding.

Another way to figure out what your “orientation” when it comes to your “senses” is to examine your hobbies and interests. If you’re into music or if you are a musician, then it’s probably safe to assume that you are quite sound oriented. If you’re a bibliophile, you’re probably more oriented with sight. If you like to learn things by doing and enjoy movement, you will probably be more connected with the sense of touch.

Of course, these aren’t absolute indicators of how your perception is wired. But it’s good to consider how you perceive the world since it will help you tune into the way you interpret information, which will in turn benefit your tarot reading process.

Reading with the 5 Senses: prompts to help you generate insight and ideas when working with tarot cards

Sight

  • What is the first thing on the picture that you are drawn to? Is it a colour? An object? A gesture? Use this as a point of emphasis in the context of that tarot card.
  • What are the characters doing? How are they interacting?
  • What is the movement present in this card? Are the various elements on the card moving towards each other? Are they scattering? Are they all charging towards one direction?
  • Imagine this tarot card is a scene from a movie. Use your imagination and keep playing that move in your head.

Sound

  • What is the first word that you “hear” in your mind?
  • What song or genre of music do you think this card remind you off?
  • What are the characters saying? “Eavesdrop” on their conversations.
  • What is the quality of their voices? Grubby? Fine and silky? How do you think the quality of their voice reveal about their character or the message they are sending?

Scent

  • What do you smell? What scent does the card remind you of? Does this compliment the traditional meaning of the card, contradict it, or contrast it?
  • Depending on your experience, what you get a whiff of can be a good smell or a bad smell. Is the scent accompanied by positive or negative feeling? What does this reveal about the card and the question you are asking?
  • How does the smell reflect the atmosphere or tone of the card?
  • Is the smell really strong? Or faint? Where do you think it’s coming from on the picture? (E.g. The Man’s boots, which can be linked to the root chakra)

Taste

  • What is the first food/drink that you are reminded of? Does this type of food have a specific role or memory attached to it in your personal life?
  • Is it a bad taste or a good taste? Or neutral?
  • Does the taste-memory inspire any reaction from you?
  • Are you reminded of any herbs, flowers, or incense that you have worked with? What are the attributes (physical and symbolic) of those scents?

Touch

  • Do you feel like you are holding a particular pose when you look at one of the characters?
  • Do you feel any sensations (such as pain, itch) when you stare at the elements on the card?
  • Do you feel like you are holding or letting go of something? What is it that you may be holding?
  • Are you reminded of any texture or surface that you have touched or seen before?

Tips & Examples on Using the 5 Senses as Prompts 

  • To start with, do not expect dramatic sensory episodes in which you receive a grand vision from the card or hear a clear audio of Coldplay play next to your ears. It could happen, but most of the time, intuitive insights are very quiet and subtle. What you “see” can really be a “feeling” of what you see. You wouldn’t necessarily “see” the Devil thrashing the chains about, but most likely what you’ll get is “I think the image is moving this way”. Go with that voice. Follow that feeling.
  • Some of your insights or impressions may feel completely random or weird and may defy the traditional key words or feelings of the card, but go with it. Don’t censor yourself or over-analyze. Allow that “feeling” to finish itself first, then analyze how that feeling is interacting with the card and what it is indicating.
  • Don’t base your observation completely based on a guidebook; listen to your first impression. For example, you may get a more positive outlook when you look at the 10 of Swords card. You may suddenly feel like “those swords on his back are actually fake and he’s not wounded–he’s just lying on his stomach with ketchup streaming down his shirt!” Which may be telling you: hey, that friend you think are super stressed out and in need of your help? They are enjoying the attention you give them as they perform or exaggerate their misery and they’re not actually hurting as much as they say they are.
  • I’m not asking you to throw away your books, by the way! Once you have solidified a “feeling” and have a clearer sense of your intuitive insight, you can contextualize this insight within the traditional meanings of the card, integrating the knowledge and awesome powers from both sides of your brain. For example, if you are looking at 10 of Pentacles, and you feel like one of the characters is being “banished”, which doesn’t immediately align with the theme of abundance, family and legacy of 10 of Pentacles. However, you can contextualize this feeling in the theme of 10 of Pentacles. The feeling of banishment can be saying that you are lacking a sense of belonging in your community, feeling alone, left out or “banished” because you don’t seem to jam with the spirit of the community and what it is trying to leave behind as a legacy.
  • When reading with multiple cards or a tarot spread as a whole, “drift around” the cards and look at all the images. Pay attention to how they are interacting with each other and see if you can grasp a general “theme” or “feeling” that is emerging within you, then you can work with this feeling + look at the individual cards to see how the details would develop.
  • The best way to validate your intuitive insights is practice on a willing, enthusiastic and honourable guinea pig who gives quality feedback. If you can find a forum or a few good tarot buddies that will provide you with detailed feedback and are willing to address your reading in detail, that’s one of the best things you can hope for. That’s how I came to trust my intuition in the beginning–through exchanges and offering free readings for feedback. A lot of the times reading intuitively will feel a bit wishy-washy because intuition is hard to “prove”, but when you receive awesome feedback, you will know that you’re hitting the right spot and you’re on the right track.

Closing 

I hope these prompts and general tips have helped you with your intuitive adventures! Let me know in the comments section which sensory mode you are most aligned with, or if you have suggestions about content/prompts you would like to see more of. 🙂

For more resources, check out these Youtube videos that I made to help you strengthen and deepen your intuition + your intuitive practice with tarot! 

If you are looking for a more in-depth guide on how to cultivate an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: 

 

 

Money Matters: 10 Journal Prompts for Attracting Abundance

Exercises & Journal Prompts, Journaling Prompts, Level Up, Productivity

Abundance Journal Prompts banner

1. How do you define the word “abundance”? What does it mean to have an abundant life?

Depending on your upbringing, worldview, personality and needs, your definition of abundance is going to be different from everybody else’s. Cultivate your unique sense of abundance to avoid toxic comparison paradigms when you are trying to grow your wealth!

2. What are some of the attitudes and beliefs surrounding money that you grew up with?

For example, how did your parents handle money? What was considered frugal, and what was considered wasteful? (You can make a chart or graph to represent the opposite sides of the spectrum and explore what falls in the “Temperance”, or the balance zone for you. What’s “just right?”)  How have these attitudes and beliefs affected you and the way you spend your money?

3. Reflect on your experiences with money so far.

Abundance is the experience that we have with money. Have they been mostly positive? Negative? Overflow? Lack? Both? Ups and downs? Be as specific as you can. If your experience has been largely positive–positive in what way? List specific examples e.g. The money that I earn allows me to support myself, my family and the charities that I believe in (positive). E.g. I have always struggled to make ends meet. Life goes on but this stops me from enjoying the pleasures of life (negative). Once you have reflected–what can you do to shifts your attitudes and steer your experiences towards the direction that you want?

4. Money can’t buy happiness. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

More often than not, the answer to this question isn’t absolute. It’s a bit of a yes and a bit no, or a lot of yes and some no.

5. What are your favourite abundance affirmations or mantars? Why are they your favourites? How have they helped you so far in your pursuit of more abundance?

Finding the kind of words and vocabulary that you resonate with is a great way because it helps you use more specific language to set personal goals, because you’ll be writing them down with words that vibrate on your frequency.

6. What are your least favourite abundance affirmations or mantras?

(You don’t have to “hate” them per se, but these would be affirmations and mantras that you don’t personally jam with, or feels disconnected towards). Why is that? Is it the word choice? The concept itself? Does this point to some of your unresolved issues or emotions in money in any way? How can you work towards resolving it?

7. Do you believe you are worth the money you are making, or worth the money that you are trying to attract? 

Your sense of worth and confidence have a direct and crucial connection to your sense of abundance. Do you feel like you deserve to have more money? If not, why do you think you are feeling this way? How can you cultivate a more empowered perspective on your self worth and money?

8. How do you define “success”? How does this affect  your understanding and experience of abundance?

Conventional definitions of success often place pressure on how much we are supposed to have and how we are supposed to live our lives in order to be happy or “abundant”.

9. Do you think money is a good thing or a bad thing?

What are some of the positive associations or positive things you can do with money? What are some of the negative associations or negative things you can do with money? Try doing a free-association exercise with “money” in the centre. You can try using a mind-map or just jot down whatever words or concepts that pop up as you brainstorm. Why do you think you associate money with the things you have written down? How can this insight help you attract more abundance?

10. Other than the life essentials, what is something that you are willing to spend money on–something that brings you genuine joy?

(E.g. a new book, a new tarot deck, classes to develop your talent, investing in a Kickstarter, etc) How does this reflect what you want in life and who you are as a person? Knowing the kind of experiences you want to have (through spending money and purchasing a product or a service) will strengthen your sense of purpose when you are working hard and trying to attract more money. It also allows you to feel like the things you are spending money on are worth your time and effort.

A Crash Course on Court Cards [+Free Worksheet!]

Tarot Study, Worksheets

18641648_10158611129645580_1277585099_oCourt cards. You know what they’re good at? Staring contests. When a court card (or several!) shows up in a reading, it’s awkward because it seems nearly impossible to break the ice with the royals. *cue Lorde*

In this post, you will learn about a simple framework based on creative storytelling and characterization that will help you get to know the royal members of tarot. I am going to heavily personify the many aspects and intersectionalities of the court cards so it will seem like I am introducing a group of people and their cultures, so just a heads up in case you get confused!

Working with Court Card’s Base Element: The Elemental Kingdoms

Where are these people from? Every court card has a base element. This is their home suit, or their primary element. In this post, I will refer to their home suit as “kingdoms”, since we are talking about the royalties of tarot.

Suit of Wands = Fire Kingdom
Suit of Swords = Air Kingdom
Suit of Cups = Water Kingdom
Suit of Pentacles = Earth Kingdom

Each suit represents a kingdom. Think of each kingdom as a separate nationality or culture, and each culture has a different set of values and things they care about over others. For example, in real life, North American culture puts more emphasis on individualization, independence and the pursuit of personal success, while Asian culture tends to put more emphasis on tradition, family structures, and familial piety. The court cards are the same way. Depending on which kingdom they are from, they are going to be affected by their kingdom’s cultural values.

Here’s is a quick look at their “cultural” differences:

People from the Fire Kingdom (Suit of Wands) care about the pursuit of desire. They feel the most alive when they are actively pursuing their desire. They are people of action. They are passionate about going on an adventure or a quest. Most of the time, they aren’t working towards a prize at the end or for a specific goal. They do something simply because they enjoy the experience, and simply because they want to.

People from the Air Kingdom (Suit of Swords) care about the pursuit of order. They like to “put things in their rightful places”, and they hate to be on the wrong side of the argument. They will oppose anything that is against their logic and their ideas, and will sometimes put themselves (or other people) in harm’s way (ranging from a bruised ego to sacrificing their own lives for a cause) to protect their idea of “how things are supposed to be”.

People from the Water Kingdom (Suit of Cups) care about the pursuit of emotional and social fulfillment. They care a lot about their fellow humans because of their empathy. They invest a lot of time and energy and heart into building good relationships with others, pleasing others and maintaining social bonds. They feel alive and validated when they are emotionally and socially connected to someone or something.

People from the Earth Kingdom (Suit of Pentacles) care about sustainability. They invest their time and energy in the pursuit of establishing and securing themselves a place in the world. This could mean becoming an active and valued member of their family or community (reputation), accumulating resources (wealth), and/or taking care of themselves to make sure they can perform at their optimal condition (health). They will do some or all of the above to make sure they are able to “sustain” their own existence.

Court Cards & Their Roles

On top of where they’re from, what do they do? Within each kingdom, there are 4 royal members. The King, The Queen, The Knight, and The Page. In my video, I addressed the Knights and the Pages as Princes and Princesses, but I decided to stick with the traditional roles in this post to focus more on the traditional structure of tarot.

On top of their elemental “culture” based on which kingdom they are from, each member of the court card will have specific agendas and concerns as well based on their role. The things that the Kings will care about will be different from what the Pages will care about, because their roles are different.

The King’s primary concern is government, and his primary function is to rule.
The Queen’s primary concern is welfare, and her primary function is to nurture.
The Knight’s primary concern is validation, and her primary function is to express.
The Page’s primary concern is education, and her primary function it so to grow.

Like I mentioned in my video, you can also consider the court cards as a royal family unit. Instead of Knights, we have the Princes (off to yet another gallant quest to prove himself worthy to his people). Instead of Pages, we have the Princesses (the queen-to-be, and is developing herself to become queen). Another useful framework to look at the court cards is to view them as a modern nuclear family unit (father, mother, son, and daughter). If you choose to perceive court cards through this lens, consider the roles of each individual and how they function in a family setting. E.g. The mother is associated with child-rearing and the home,while the father is associated with being the “breadwinner” and the protection of the home. The associations may be gender stereotypes and may no longer apply to the diversity of modern family structures, but they are still useful when you are trying to contextualize the court cards in a more relatable setting.

Characterizing Court Cards based on Where They’re From and the Role They Play

To flesh out the character of a particular court card, you simply have to combine their various concerns and functions according to their base element and their class. Take a look at the following examples:

18597108_10158611129185580_1258302528_o

Let’s take a look at Knight of Wands. As a member of the Fire Kingdom (Suit of Wands), he is concerned about the pursuit of his desires. Playing the role of a Knight, he seeks to validate and express his identity. How does he validate and express his identity? He does this in a “fire” fashion, which is through action. As long as he is doing what he loves, he feels validated. As long as he is doing something that excites him and allows him to feel like he is engaged with some kind of action, he feels validated. Unlike the other knights, Knight of Wands isn’t pursing a goal or seeking a reward. He acts because he wants to act and you can say that he quests just for the sake of questing. He doesn’t care about the glory or potential marriage that comes after slaying a dragon and rescuing a princess. As long as he gets to slay a dragon and rescue that princess, he’s quite happy to be doing just that.

If you apply this attitude to a more contemporary setting, Knight of Wands will be somebody who pursues something simply because he enjoys pursing it. If he’s an artist, he makes art because he enjoys the process of creating and expressing his visions. Lacking the sensitivity of Knight of Cups, the practicality of Knight of Pentacles, and the righteousness of the Knight of Swords–Knight of Wands doesn’t really care about making a living, winning somebody over with his art, or fighting for a cause. He does something simply because he wants to. On the contrary, if making money is something he’s currently interested in, he will give it his all and enjoys the experience of rolling in the dough. If he feels like winning somebody over will give him the thrills and the adrenaline rush, he does it because he wants to.  Knight of Wands is a free spirit, chasing his whims, one after another.

18596913_10158611128895580_1265915611_o

You can also do this the other way around; you don’t necessarily have to begin with their kingdoms or where they’re from. Let’s take a look at Queen of Swords, for example. As Queen, her primary concern is the welfare of her people, and her function is to nurture. As a member of the Air Kingdom (Suit of Swords), she is mainly concerned with order and logic. Therefore, she nurtures her people by pointing out what they are doing wrong or correcting illogical actions that serve nobody, even when doing so will hurt your feelings. It’s not that she doesn’t care about how you feel; it’s just that she cannot continue to see you making the mistakes that you do because in her mind, it doesn’t make sense. It is illogical to continue to act this way. Therefore, she must “right” it and restore order. And she does this by exposing your wrongs and persuading you to do things her way.

For example, if you go to a Queen of Swords type person for break-up advice, she will be the one handing you some tough love. She will most likely say something like, “Well, it is wrong for you to indulge in your boyfriend’s dishonesty and pretend that everything is going to be okay.” She will tell you this because it doesn’t make sense to her. What your boyfriend is doing isn’t right and must not be tolerated. Allowing yourself to suffer isn’t right and must not be tolerated. It is of utmost importance for anybody to do the right thing at any given time.

Putting 2 and 2 Together

With this framework, you will be able to understand and characterize the court cards in a fun and creative way. For the rest of the court cards, you simply have to follow the “formula” and create fun, memorable characters based on the individual court card’s elemental association as well as their roles. In this post, I have simplified these associations so that it is easy to combine. Feel free to dig deeper and apply your own understanding of each element and role to “create” your own set of unique characters.

Of course, there’s a Worksheet!

What’s a Fables Den tarot post without a worksheet!? So of course there is a worksheet. Woooot! The following worksheet will help you keep track of your personal associations of the elements and the roles, allowing you to combine different personalities and attributes together so that you can flesh out each court card through some studious imagining.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET #9

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing court cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

Tarot Worksheet #8: Tarot’s Suit of Pentacles

Developing Intuition

An exploration of tarot’s Suit of Pentacles through creative storytelling. Learn about the definitions of each card + how the elemental associations intersect with the numerological associations in this video!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET #8

Worksheet #8 is designed for you to explore and deepen your understanding about the Suit of Pentacles. The worksheet includes 4 sections:

  • Loosen Up Your Mantle: a warmer activity to help you consider the things that we exchange as currency + tap into the symbolic dimension of the earth suit
  • Earthy Exchanges: an exercise that will help you unpack the symbolic dimensions of natural  + other occurrences of earth
  • Some Sort of Alchemy: let’s do some fun tarot math and explore how the elemental + numerological meanings intersect and amalgamate!
  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth: questions and journal prompts for further exploration!

Happy Worksheeting! 😀

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

Tarot Worksheet #7: Tarot’s Suit of Cups

Worksheets

An exploration of tarot’s Suit of Cups through creative storytelling. Learn about the definitions of each card + how the elemental associations intersect with the numerological associations in this video!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET #7

Worksheet #7 is designed for you to explore and deepen your understanding about the Suit of Cups. The worksheet includes 4 sections:

  • Would You Like a Cup of Water: a mindmapping activity to help you establish the connection between the cup and water as symbols
  • Lacking Clever Water Pun: seriously, I didn’t have a good water pun or reference for this section, but it’s basically an exercise that will help you unpack the symbolic dimensions of natural  + other occurrences of water
  • Chemistry-Mixing It Up: let’s do some fun tarot math and explore how the elemental + numerological meanings intersect and amalgamate!
  • Time for a Swim in Your Soul: questions and journal prompts for further exploration!

Happy worksheeting! 🙂

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

Tarot Worksheet #6: Tarot’s Suit of Swords

Tarot Study, Worksheets

An exploration of tarot’s Suit of Swords through creative storytelling. Learn about the definitions of each card + how the elemental associations intersect with the numerological associations in this video!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TAROT WORKSHEET #6

Worksheet #6 is designed for you to explore and deepen your understanding about the Suit of Swords–from Ace of Swords to the 10 of Swords. The worksheet (more like a package!) includes 4 sections:

  • Draw Your Sword: stretch your limbs, ready your swords for these warmer activities to limber up your symbolic muscles!
  • Air We Go: examine both “man-made” or naturally occurring instances of air such as the breath or the wind and what they can symbolize
  • Aerodynamics: let’s do some fun tarot math and explore how the elemental + numerological meanings intersect and amalgamate!
  • Gone with the Wind: questions & journal prompts for your quest of fire!

Happy worksheeting! 😀

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

Worksheet #5: Tarot’s Suit of Wands

Tarot Study, Worksheets

An exploration of tarot’s Suit of Wands through creative storytelling. Learn about the definitions of each card + how the elemental associations intersect with the numerological associations in this video!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TAROT WORKSHEET #5

Worksheet #5 is designed for you to explore and deepen your understanding about the Suit of Wands–from Ace of Wands to the 10 of Wands. The worksheet (more like a package!) includes 4 sections:

  • Define the Fire: expand on the literal and dictionary definition of “fire” and explore its symbolic representations!
  • Transform the Fire: examine the qualities and uses of fire on a physical and literal level and expand its symbolic horizon!
  • Calculate the Fire: let’s do some fun tarot math and explore how the elemental + numerological meanings intersect and amalgamate!
  • Connect with Fire: questions & journal prompts for your quest of fire!

Happy worksheeting! 😀

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

How to Do a Tarot Reading without a Deck

Tarot Study
Somewhat of a disclaimer: without a physical deck
How do you do a tarot reading if you don’t own a physical deck? Or if you want to do a tarot reading on the go? Fortunately technology nowadays has an answer to literally almost everything, including this one involving being deckless.


First things first

Deckless? The solution: tarot apps! Simply search up “tarot” in your app store and choose a tarot app that pleases you aesthetically and functionally. There are many free tarot apps out there; you basically just need one that allows you to do one-card readings or one-card draws. You may be limited to the types of tarot spreads that you can do and you may not be able to engage with a spread as a whole, but as long as you have a one-card draw function, you can use that to your advantage and answer any questions that you may have for the cards.

Since I own an Android phone, I recommend Android users to try Galaxy Tarot. It is probably one of the most developed and well-designed new age tarot app that is out there, with tons of amazing features–serving both a tarot reading machine and esoteric knowledge. It stores a lot of background and additional information for each card, and contains many unlockable spreads. (You have to pay to upgrade to the Pro version to have access to all the features, but the Single Card reading is available via the free version, so no pressure to buy the app at all!)

I don’t own any Apple products, so I don’t have a recommendation for Apple apps. But I did a quick search online and there are many free tarot apps available. Like I mentioned before, you just need to pick one that allows you to conduct one-card readings, and ideally, gives you a basic definition/key words for each card you draw. If you are only using tarot cards for tarot writing or you don’t really plan to study deep into the subject, having a quick reference guide is extremely helpful.

So you have the app now. What next?

Once you have successfully downloaded and installed the app, open it and locate the One Card Reading function. That may be named differently (Single Card Reading, One Card Draw, One Card), but it shouldn’t be hard to spot. They might be under “Readings” category–again, this might have a different name (Get a Reading, Start a Reading, Draw Cards, etc) but you should be able to find it rather easily.

For Galaxy Tarot, click “new reading” then”Single Card Reading”. Onward you will be led to a screen that allows you to take notes and customize aspects of the reading. If you want to read with tarot reversals, you can click the box “Allow Reversed Cards in this Reading”. If you only want to use the trump cards in tarot, click “Use Major Arcana Cards Only in this Reading.” You can choose to Shuffle Cards (the app will allow you to click on the screen multiple times and produce a shuffling effect) or you can Go Directly to Card and allow the app to draw a card for you without shuffling.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with tarot reversals or have no idea what the major arcana is, here is a quick explanation: tarot cards can be read in its upright position or in its reversed position, meaning that a tarot card is upside down when being read. Reversals often modify or add another layer of meaning to the original upright definition of the tarot card in question. Reversals may indicate a number of things depending on context, such as blocked energy, delayed perspective, difficulty embodying the archetype, a release of the difficult energies of the original archetype, or learning the lesson of the archetype etc. There are many possibilities and a reversed card is not necessarily negative or the direct opposite of its upright position. On the other hand, the major arcana is the 22 trump cards in tarot, excluding the minor arcana and court cards. To find out more about how tarot is structured, check out this introductory tarot post for more information.

So you’re about to draw the card! Before you do, make sure you know what question it is that you are asking. State the question clearly in your head or say it out loud. It doesn’t have to be super meditative but it does help if you are focused. Once you’ve asked the question, shuffle the cards or go directly to your card. For example, you might ask “What is something I need to pay attention to in this new relationship that I am in?” or, if you are tarot writing: “What is something about my protagonist that I am unaware of?”

And then, bam! Six of Swords. This will be the card that answers your question. If you click it one more time, you will be able to look at the key words and universal definitions of that card. Remember, always listen to your intuition and your own inner voice when conducting a tarot reading–you don’t have to stick to the conventional meanings of a tarot card. If the references and key words inspire you to reach a different conclusion, as long as it feels right to you, it’s perfectly fine.

To ask a different question, simply start again and repeat the process. Make sure you take lots of notes if you want to reference the cards you’ve drawn in the future. Personally, I feel like it’s always more fun to have an actual deck in your hands when you shuffle and draw, but if owning a deck or logging a deck around isn’t the most convenient thing for you, tarot apps are a wonderful alternative. I use it when I’m on the bus or if I just want a quick draw before I go to bed (or sometimes I use it when I’m in bed and can’t sleep, haha. Nothing beats a tarot reading during the late witching hour!), and I use it when I’m in a coffee shop with a small table and can’t really lay out all the cards as space is limited. It’s super handy and an awesome thing to have.

To close (and last but not least!) I am no technical guru, but I am sure I can help you figure out how a tarot app works to the best of my ability. If you are suffering from technical difficulties with the Galaxy App, leave a comment down below and I will do my best to help you. If it’s another app, I will do my best as well! *motivational epic music*

Anyway. I hope this post has helped you deal with your decklessness! (Seriously though, you should totally, totes get an actual deck. It’s worth it. Deeeeewit!!!)

Exercise #3 + Tarot Worksheet #4 Working with the Four Elements in the Minor Arcana

Exercises & Journal Prompts, Tarot Study, Worksheets

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TAROT WORKSHEET #4

Earth. Air. Fire. Water. The four elements play crucial roles in the symbolic construction and interpretation of tarot, especially in the minor arcana where each suit is represented by a specific elemental affinity. Each element comes with its own temperament and ways it translates into different aspects of your life. As you go forth and try to familiarize yourself with the elemental associations, it is important to go through the process of how you arrive at each conclusion or categorization about each element. For example, why is the suit of wands or fire associated with career, dreams, and drive? Why is the suit of cups or water associated with relationships and emotions? When you make your own connections and relate those insights to your personal life and experience, it is much easier to internalize the knowledge and make it your own.

What you need for this exercise:

  • Space. Where you will be required to draw a huge rectangular box. This could be done in your notebook, a loose sheet of paper, or a large poster paper or board. Whatever works for you, really. As long as you have a rectangular shape that has four corners (this is called the four corners exercise, after all!) and allows you to take notes–you’ll be fine. It might not work as well on the laptop, unless you are capable of producing any types of graph via a computer software. If that’s the case, by all means, do whatever that’s comfortable.
  • Something to write with, duh. Whether it is your vintage fountain pen or a Harry Potteresque quill–get your favourite utensils out!
  • A basic understanding of the elemental associations in tarot. Some key words will definitely help you contextualize and engage with this activity better. If you are starting fresh, here is a quick reference guide to help you:
    • Fire is typically associated with motivation, passion and creative self-expression. It is therefore often linked to one’s career and passionate pursuits.
    • Air is typically associated with information, logic, and intellect. It is therefore often linked to language, expression of ideas and opinions, and psychological processes.
    • Earth is typically associated with security, foundation and prosperity. It is therefore often linked to money, health, and society.
    • Water is typically associated with emotional exchanges, intuitive insights and the subconscious. It is therefore often linked to relationships, imagination and spirituality.
  • A sense of adventure and a pinch of poetic spice in your soul. You’ll be working with metaphors, so gear up your right brain!

Warm Up

As mentioned before, you will be working with symbolism and metaphors. Here is a mini warm-up activity that will get your creative and poetic juices flowing. Check out the following few prompts to help you get into the figurative zone:

  • I’m on fire when ___________
  • What grounds me in life is ___________
  • What does it mean when you “get wind of something”? How is the word “wind” used to convey this?
  • What is the social significance of sharing sharing a drink with somebody?

The Four Elemental Corners

Alright…time to get down to business! The first thing you have to do is to create something that looks like this (or you can also click here to download a printable worksheet containing this chart):

elemental-corners

Next, go through your daily activities and routines and examine their elemental nature. Write down a list of minimum 10 things that you do each day. Ask yourself: Is this an “earth” activity? Why? You would then position that activity on the chart according to its elemental association.

Some activities are easily categorized into an elemental corner. For example, maybe you wake up early in the morning in order to go to the gym and exercise. Exercising helps you stay connected with your physical self and keeps you grounded for the rest of the day. Therefore, exercising is an “earth” activity since It makes you feel healthy, empowered and secure. You have to feel your feet on the ground first before you can venture into anything else. Since it’s an earth activity, you put it directly next to the Earth Corner.

Some activities, however, may have a combination of two or more elemental associations. For example, after you finish all your morning routines, you sit down to work on your short story. This engages you creatively and satisfies you emotionally. Creativity is associated with the creative and expansive nature of fire, and happiness is associated with the subtle and nourishing flow of water. So you place this activity in the middle of the Fire Corner and Water Corner, but closer to the Fire Corner because you feel that creativity is more predominant as you engage in story writing.

elemental-corners-sample

You would continue to figure out the elemental associations for each activity until you run out of space. Or you set a timer for 15-20 minutes to help you concentrate your thoughts in a short burst of time. However long you want to do this is up to you, you can set a timer or no timer at all. The purpose of this activity is mostly to help you make connections between how you live your life and the elemental associations behind each activity you engage in.

Post-Activity Reflection

After you have completed the exercise, go through the following questions and prompts and reflect on your progress:

  • Looking at your elemental corners chart, which element do you find yourself gravitating towards the most? What does this reveal about you as a person and the activities you tend to enjoy?
  • How easy or difficult was it to categorize everything? Was there a particular item that you struggled with and didn’t know where to place? Why do you think this was the case? On the contrary, what were the “easy items” where you immediately knew where they belonged? What does this reveal to you about how you think and who you are as a person?
  • How has this exercise deepened your perspective and understanding of the four elements in tarot?

To close…

So that’s it. How did it go? I hope you enjoyed this exercise and I hope this exercise has helped you reach a better understanding of tarot’s four elements, or that it has given your brain some new “tarot food” to chew on. Either way, please let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Much love,

xoxo
Kim

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

Tarot Worksheet #3: The Shadowmetre

Tarot Study, Worksheets

This worksheet is designed for you to explore the shadow aspects of the major arcana archetypes–but of course, it is not just limited to the major arcana. You can use it for the minor arcana, the courts, and oracle cards.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TAROT WORKSHEET #3

This is how I approach the shadow aspects of each archetype:

  • Each archetype has an ideal or balanced state: this is when the archetype is at its best and optimal, in which the lessons and the traits of the archetype are positively integrated and engaged
  • When the archetypal energies go into overflow or lack, this is when you step into the shadow aspects of the archetype. For example, too much Emperor energy turns into despotism. Too little turns into lethargy. Too much Death turns into a rootless identity. Too little turns into a stubborn existence.

This worksheet has room for you to note down the various states of the archetype, from ideal to the two ends of the spectrum. There are two versions:

  • A full-page letter-sized version, which gives you lots of writing and note-taking space
  • A compact mini version, which allows you to track 2 archetypes on one page if you prefer a tighter or more concise working space, or if you are trying to save paper

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TAROT WORKSHEET #3

Tarot Worksheet #2: The Archetype Explorer

Tarot Study, Worksheets

This worksheet is designed specifically for the exploration of the major arcana archetypes.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TAROT WORKSHEET #2

How to use the worksheet’s different sections:

  • LESSONS: What are the lessons you can learn from this archetype?  What wisdom does it offer? How does it inspire you to move forward in a positive way?
  • KEY WORDS: Write down the key words (nouns, verbs and adjectives) that encapsulate this archetype. For nouns, what are some of the concepts that this archetype embodies? For verbs, how does this archetype interact with your life? Does it nurture you, motivate you, or break you apart so you can grow? For adjectives–if you were to describe a moment in life or a character trait associated with this archetype, what words would you use?
  • LIFE MOMENTS: What are the moments in life that this archetype can come to represent? For example, what would be considered a Tower moment? A Star moment? A Magician moment? These could be events, actions or any kind of happenings you can think of. E.g. A break-up, a promotion, marriage, a road test, etc.
  • TEACHING STYLE: This is probably my favouirte category. 🙂 If this archetype is a teacher, a life coach, a lightworker in real life–what kind of teaching style would it have? For example, The Empress would be more motherly and nurturing in its approach, while Death may be more ritualistic and likes to have its students participate in symbolic rites. Use your imagination and intuitive understand for this one!

As per usual, a sample page is attached to the worksheet. Feel free to look at it for ideas!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TAROT WORKSHEET #2

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

10 Listopia + Journaling Prompts for the Major Arcana

Exercises & Journal Prompts, Tarot Study

 

A few tips and suggestions before you dive in:

  • Pinterest for lists in general.

  • 8tracks of making musical playlists.

  • Do this with a tarot buddy and see what you come up with together!

  • No stress + have fun!

Alright, here we go. 10 listopia + journaling prompts for the major arcana!

  1. If each archetype were a _______________, what would they be? (PLUG-IN: song or soundtrack, book, movie, TV show, fictional character, celebrity, historical site, country, colour, place/location, animal, mythical creature, cup of tea, quote, household appliance, crystal/precious gemstone, stationary, sport, dance, kind of weather, tarot deck, vehicle, emotion, philosophical perspective, etc.)
  2. Who does each archetype remind you of in real life? Associate each archetype with a person you know and explore your answers. They can be people who are in your life, public figures or celebrities that you look up to, a historical figure, or a mixture of all three.
  3. Associate or create a major arcana inspired fashion look for each archetype. What would be a “Magician” look? How about “Death”? What materials, brands, colours, and/or accessories would you choose and why?
  4. Pretend you have the world’s food ingredients and spices at your disposal and you are free to use them to create any dish you want–sky’s the limit. What would you create for each archetype? Or, if you are not much of a cook, what kind of food or dishes would you associate with each archetype?
  5. If you were a career counselor offering advice to each and every archetype, what occupation(s) would you encourage them to pursue? For example, The Star archetype might be a yoga instructor or a nurse because of its healing properties.

  6. The archetypes are invited to be the judges of a reality talent show & competition. How would they react and what would they say to a good performance? How about a bad one?

  7. What relationship advice would each archetype give you if you are trapped in a toxic relationship?

  8. What would each archetype say to a person who is having a shitty day?

  9. If the archetypes had a dark secret or addiction, what would it be? For example, The Wheel of Fortune might be addicted to gambling and Justice might be addicted to the television show CSI. This can be a fun secret or guilty pleasure, or you can really explore the shadow side of the archetype.

  10. Speaking of shadow side–let’s pretend the archetypes have all given in to the dark side since, you know, the dark side has cookies. What “advice” would they give you when you are having a shitty day? How would they try to convince you or coax you into remaining with your ego?

Aaaand that’s it for now. I hope you had fun! Which journal prompt did you enjoy the most? Which question gave you a light bulb moment and was deeply revelatory? Let me know in the comments below and share your lists with me!

Check out my major arcana instrumental soundtrack playlist! 🙂

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

Exercise #2: Get Cozy with the Major Arcana! 3 Creative Storytelling Exercises to Help You Tell the Story of The Fool’s Journey

Exercises & Journal Prompts, Tarot Study

 

Hate memorizing tarot card definitions? Well, read on…

Once upon a time.

Except that wouldn’t be a proper way to begin the story, because The Fool’s Journey is a never-ending story about the human experience. It is an allegorical narrative about the journey of life in which The Fool, the protagonist, traverses through the major arcana and encounters various archetypes in order to learn from them.

If you hate memorizing definitions, then The Fool’s Journey is a great framework for studying the major arcana cards. Incorporating elements of storytelling is a great way to strengthen your personal connections and understandings of the cards. Not only does it activate your imagination and engage your creativity, it also allows you to tap into and the wisdom you have already internalized through your experiences on an intuitive level.

And plus, telling a story is just super duper fun. Am I right? Am I right!??

To hear my version of The Fool’s Journey, check out my latest video on Youtube!

But if you have already done that and in fact have been sent here for the tarot exercises, read on!

Exercise #1: Create your own Fool’s Journey story.

This exercise is simple and straightforward. Pick up your favourite deck of cards, invite the major arcana archetypes (it’s an exclusive party–no “minors” allowed!) and huddle around a camp fire (which can really just be the floor if you want to–you don’t need anything fancy, but do make sure everybody’s comfortable!)

A note before you start: Don’t stress too much about story logic or the need to have everything fall perfectly into place. The idea of this exercise is for you to explore the archetypes and their relationships with each other through creative storytelling. Think of it as your “first draft”–and first drafts are rarely perfect. It’s more like fun word vomit and a discovery process.

Also, it is recommended that you tell this story in textual format, either through spoken or written words. Of course, there are many forms of storytelling–some are more visual and graphically representative than others. Telling a story with language, specifically, will be a good exercise for you to translate your intuitive and abstract understandings into concrete, linguistic forms, which will then help you reach a clearer mental understanding of the archetypal concepts. In addition, when you are doing a tarot reading (either for yourself or for another person), you will need to express your insight through language one way or another. In short, it will be good practice!!

Alright–let’s get on with it. Here are a few things to start you off, if you have no idea where to begin:

  1. Put on your storytelling hat and get in the zone. Pick out The Fool’s card. He is going to be moving around a lot since he has a long trip ahead of him, so I do hope your inner sense of wonder isn’t out of shape. If it is, meditate with The Fool and ask him to grow you a unicorn horn, give you a pair of winged boots, and a six-dimensional backpack.
  2. Start with “Once upon a time”. If you still don’t know how to start, you can always start with “Once upon a time”–even if you’re not particularly into fairy tales, this classic opener will automatically activate your story muscles. Fairy tales are another form of archetypal storytelling and most of us will be familiar with them on a subconsciously level.
  3. Focus on character development. Since this is a story of personal development and individuation, try to make your story character-centred–which means the story you tell will be mostly about what The Fool is thinking, how he is reacting and processing his experiences, and the kinds of decisions he makes as a character.
  4. Brainstorm and do some character concepting. Here are some questions for you to consider when you construct The Fool’s character:
    • The Fool typically represents adventure, innocence, and beginnings. As you take a look at the key words associated with The Fool archetype, what is your personal interpretation or understanding of each word? For example, how would you define “adventure” and what does it mean to be “innocent”?
    • How does The Fool remind you of yourself? If you were to tell your life story right now with you as the protagonist, how would you describe your “character” in 5 words or less? (The Fool’s Journey is the journey of life, and the story you tell will inevitably reflect your own journey and your life lessons. So if you don’t know how to begin, “you’ would be a good place to start.)
    • What is The Fool’s intention as he embarks on this journey? Does he just want to go on an adventure? Does he want to learn more about life? What does The Fool want or what is his character motivation? Also, is he aware of his desire at the beginning?
  5. Set the scene. Another place to start is to describe what is visually happening on the card you are working with. For example, if you have the Rider-Waite or a deck based on the Rider-Waite–what is The Fool doing? Is he about to take a leap of faith? Is the dog barking at him to warn him of danger and recklessness?
  6. Think about how The Fool will interact and respond to each archetype. Here are a list of questions that will help you tell The Fool’s story as she encounters each archetype. You don’t have to answer them all, but feel free to use any of them as a starting point!
    • Based on your Fool’s personality and experience, how would she react to the specific archetypal figure?
    • Does The Fool have any stereotypical understandings of the archetype before her? For example, before she meets the Hierophant, does she have preconceived notions of who the Hierophant is or what a teacher is supposed to look like?
    • What is the lesson he needs to learn in order to move on to the next archetype?
    • How have the lessons she accumulated from the previous archetypes contributed to her current understanding of the archetype before her?
    • Reflect on The Fool’s original intention or motivation for the story. We all evolve as we live out our own stories in life, so The Fool is no exception. Throughout the story, how does The Fool change or evolve?
  7. Think about how you want to end your story.
    • Has The Fool achieved what he has set out to achieve? Does the Fool get what he wants? How does he feel?
    • What does The Fool learn at the end of his journey? What is his ultimate lesson? What is the most important thing for him to realize in this journey of life?
    • Even though you are most likely telling this story for yourself, but pretend you have an audience. As the author or storyteller, what is the most important message that you want to share with your readers?  What kinds of impressions or feelings do you want to leave your audience feeling after the story is over? Hopeful? Empowered? Or Bad-ass?

Exercise #2: Create an imaginary television series of The Fool’s Journey.

If you want to explore each archetype in greater detail, you can also create a more fragmented or episodic storyline in which The Fool encounters the archetypes and spends more time with them instead of just quickly moving on. This way, your Fool’s Journey story doesn’t have to be super linear, nor does it have to develop according to how the archetypes are lined up in sequences. You can take a freer approach as you spend some quality time with, say, The Star, and have multiple cups of tea plus dinner instead of just a fly-by.

When you are imagining each “archetypal episode”, here are some fun questions for you to consider:

  • Which TV genre would you assign the archetypes based on their attributes? For example, the Hierophant could be a documentary video, the Chariot could be a Gladiator series, and Justice could be a law or crime drama.

  • What are some of the common character tropes or “TV archetypes” that you can think of? For example, a lot of fantasy stories have an “initiator” figure which leads the hero or heroine across the threshold between the mundane world and the world of magic and wondrous potential. This figure can easily be represented by The Magician, which “initiates” The Fool into the world of magic and teaches him about his creative and personal potential + help uncovers a new layer or aspect of his identity.

  • As this exercise requires more time, you can start by associating each archetype with a TV genre and write a short story synopsis for each “episode”. Give the episode a title if you want! For example, You’re a Wizard, Harry can be the title of the episode in which The Fool meets The Magician, and the story synopsis could look like: In this episode, Hagrid initiates Harry into the world of magic by dropping in uninvited to Dursley’s slumber party and opens the door to his creative and magical potential. Okay, that was Harry Potter. But you get what I mean!

Exercise #3: Tell The Fool’s Story in reverse!

This is the perfect exercise if you are looking for a bit of “review”–if you have already defined the archetypes for yourself and know what they are and who they are like the back of your hand–this is a great exercise for you to revisit that narrative and perhaps discover new elements in your story.

The Fool sits in his rocking chair; the wrinkles on his forehead stack comfortably on top of each other. He wakes with a start by his own snort. He is greeted by the world atlas on the wall across from the room, secured by cheap poster stickies from the dollar store. He tried to peel off the darn paper one time, but the paint came right off. Non-stick and Non-mark my ass! He thought. But ah, he remembers that time he was in Europe for the grand Prix car race……

This will be an interesting story to tell because you are starting at the end–which means The Fool has already finished his journey and he is telling the story in hindsight. He will have access to the entire timeline, along with the knowledge and wisdom he has already gained from the journey. This gives you a lot of creative room when you want to introduce story elements that are not possible if you are simply following The Fool’s story as it unfolds.

Some fun things you can inject into your story:

  • Who are the most challenging archetypes that he has had to work with?

  • Who are his friends? His enemies? Why are they friends and why are they enemies? Do they represent the strength in The Fool’s character? Do they represent a recurring lesson?

  • Does The Fool have any regrets? What is something he wishes that he could have done differently?

  • Is there a part of the story that he is reluctant to tell? Why or why not?

  • What would he say to his younger, former self? What advice would he give him?

So how did it go? Be sure to leave a comment because I would love to hear about your experiences!! 🙂

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

Exercise #1: Exploring your personal relationships with tarot + Tarot Spread!

Exercises & Journal Prompts, Tarot Study
For more information and context, please check out the blog post “Google-Translate Your Soul with Tarot”! if you want to read more about how the process of reading tarot is similar to doing language translations, and how your relationship (or lack of relationship) with specific cards in tarot reveal about your own wisdom and your own awareness towards your psyche.But by all means, get started with the following exercises immediately. 🙂 All of the activities you find here in this post are designed to help you explore a single tarot archetype so you can learn more about how those archetypal energies, personalities and scenarios play out in your life and your psyche. Your unfamiliarity and inability to form an immediate connection with a card may reflect many things about you: you may have failed to integrate this archetype into your personality, it may be an archetype that you don’t really practice in your day-to-day life, or it may be an archetype that you have repressed. By examining your response and relationship with the cards, you will also be examining your relationship with your Self.

Hopefully these activities will help you deepen your bonds with your deck and also help you cultivate a deeper awareness towards your own complex innerscape!

Exercises 1: identify the types of relationship that you have with the tarot cards

Pick up your go-to deck, a new deck, or a deck that’s been sitting on your shelf patiently waiting for your attention. Any deck, really! After you’ve selected your deck, go through the 78 cards and identify your relationship type for each card and create 3 piles for your peeps, acquaintances, and aliens.

  1. Peeps are cards/archetypes you can immediately form a connection with. They are usually cards that represent traits or experiences that you visibly recognize or identify. If you look at your peeps cards, how do they paint a picture of yourself, your personality, and worldview? Are there any surprises? Why or why not?
  2. Acquaintances are cards you can understand on a theoretical and logical level but have not been fully integrated into your understanding on a practical level. How do you define each card? How are they different from the conventional or traditional meanings of tarot? When is the last time you have had a [insert tarot card] moment? To what extend does this tarot card reflect your thoughts, attitudes and actions? Are they concepts or practices that you aspire to? Do you wish there are more [insert tarot card] moments in your life? Why or why not?
  3. Aliens are the ones that feel distant and it is difficult for you to wrap your head around them or form a personal connection with them. They usually represent aspects of yourself that you have repressed, failed to recognize, or seldom practiced. Why do you think you have difficulty connecting this card? In what way is this archetype absent, repressed or ignored in your life? How much of it is your own doing? (Consider the suits and elements as well. For example, if lots of wands show up in your selection, do you think you have issues with feeling motivated or implementing creative momentum in your life? If lots of Queens show up, do you think you have issues with the concepts of caring and nurturing?)

Exercise 2: exploring a card and making personal connections

Choose one card from your deck that you want to work with specifically. List 5 key concepts or key words that it embodies, then relate each key word or concept to your own life. For example:

  • Name of Card: Emperor
  • Key words/concepts: authority, structure, business, masculinity, control
    • authority: I have no issues with authority figures and have no trouble following orders when they are reasonable. I do have a rebellious streak when the instructions I have been given are overly demanding or unreasonable. On a personally level, I have trouble speaking up for myself or upholding personal authority, especially when it comes to emotional boundaries and saying “no” to others.
    • structure: I am a go-with-the-flow person so I don’t like to implement to many routines or too much structure in life, but as a result I often procrastinate and use “go with the flow” as an excuse to not push myself harder or be productive.

Exercise 3: Do a tarot reading for yourself using the Small Party Spread!

A small party is an intimate get-together in which you are able to interact closely with your very important guests. I thought this was the perfect idea for a spread title because the purpose of this spread is to help you explore your relationships with tarot and yourself, so you get to be better buddies.

Small Party Spread

More Questions for Journaling & Reflections 

  1. When you pick up a particular card and engage with it, are you having a positive or negative reaction? Each tarot carries both the light and shadow aspects of that archetype–which one is speaking to you more? Why do you think that is?
  2. In addition to examining your own relationship with yourself and how the tarot archetypes are reflecting your inner shadowscapes, you can explore how some of the archetypal energies you are working with have actually come from an external source. Does anyone in your life embody this archetype? Are they a positive or negative influence? How have they changed the way you regard certain archetypes? (E.g. how does your father change your way of relating to the Emperor, etc?)

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

Tarot Worksheet #1

Tarot Study, Worksheets

 

Update 9/22/2016: Fixed blatant mistake on the actual worksheet section! Changed “Misc” to “Lessons”. Now the world is all better.

Update 7/12/2016: Worksheet has been relocated from DropBox to GoogleDrive. Background image has been removed from document to minimize file size. Minor changes and typos have been made.

I started making tarot worksheets. Unleash. The Inner. Tutor. Wooooot!

Other than being a tarot nerd, I am a full-time self-employed English Tutor. I’ve finally figured how I can combine creative lesson prepping with my tarot passions. I think I’ve always enjoyed helping people with the “process”. A lot of my blog posts are creative tarot exercises that I come up with to spice up the routine.

So here’s my first official tarot worksheet. It has the most original name: Tarot Worksheet #1. It is a generic one-card worksheet that will help you explore a single card in depth.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TAROT WORKSHEET #1

How to use the worksheet’s different sections 

  • FREE ASSOCIATION: As the section heading suggests–freely associate. Use your imagination and the power of your mind to form connections with the card and better integrate definition into your own understanding. It could be a burst of single-worded vocabulary, a creative phrase, a quotation, an imagery evoking the 5 senses, a stream-of-consciousness style word-vomit, or snippets of poetic language. Anything goes, really.
  • SYMBOLISM: break down the specific images on the card and address them individually. What does each image represent? What does it mean for you personally? You can use this space to note down the general definition of a universal symbol, or note down any personal connotations that you may have. Or both.
  • STORY: I hope this section excites the creative storyteller/writer in you. You can use the card you are working with as a prompt and compose a short creative writing piece that (and it doesn’t have to be writing! It could be a comic stripe, doodle, abstract art…)
    • describes the scene of the card
    • taps into the atmospherics of the card
    • animates the card as if it is a scene from a movie and is in motion
    • allows the characters to speak and converse with each other or with you
    • evokes the 5 senses and sensory understanding of the card
  • LESSONS: This one is pretty self-explanatory. What is the lesson or wisdom that this card offers? In what way does it empower you? What life lessons does it remind you of? What is something you have learned in your own life that can be applied to this card?
  • KEY WORDS: Now that you have gone through the 4 other sections, you can use this circle to note down the key words that you have chosen to represent this card. What words encapsulate this card? If you distill the vastness of meanings that is this card and only 4-5 words are left, which words would remain?

Remember, there is no particular order in which you have to go through these sections. You can fill in all of them or only some of them, in any order that you feel like. If you’re not sure what to fill in, you can look at the sample page on page 2 for ideas.

Happy Worksheeting! (Sounds kind of strange, but you know what I mean.)

Oh yeah in case I haven’t already mentioned, the worksheet is free to view, download, and share. Hurrah!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TAROT WORKSHEET #1

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

3 creative ways to explore and bond with your tarot deck

Developing Intuition, Tarot Study

Establishing rapport with your deck is an essential process. When you are familiar with the deck you are working with, your intuition channels better through the imagery and symbolism. Getting to know your deck allows you to better contextualize and communicate with the images and symbologies on each card.

Each tarot deck is a unique world, a singular world rich in symbols and meaning. Here are a few ways for you to explore that world and tap into its specific themes and symbology.

1. The Story World Method: Grouping cards together by theme and recurring images.

  • This helps you become aware of the visual patterns and symbolic images within the particular deck you are working with. More often than not, you will find several main symbolic strands that underlie the 78 cards.
  • This also helps you with the tarot reading process. One is that it gives you a symbolic grounding for your interpretations. Second, it helps you recognize what kind of “world” this deck seeks to portray. 

What are the images or symbols that are common in the deck you are working with? It could be anything: a specific animal, a type of building or structure, astrological symbols or mythological representations. For example, in Universal Fantasy Tarot, there is the recurring motif of the epic journey and the epic quest. Since journey and quests usually involve travelling to different places with distinct characteristics, you can observe that the common spaces portrayed in this deck are human cities, vast and dream-like skyscapes, as well as the mystical forests. You can then conclude that these are few of the many typical tropes used in the genre of fantasy. You can then apply your knowledge of the common tropes in the fantasy genre to your interpretive process while tapping into these symbols and tropes.

For instance, journeying into a forest where faeries and magical creatures abound may implicate the undertaking of a psychological journey inwards in search of the unknowable Self. The faeries can be interpreted as excitement, unexpected aid, or even temptations. In short, getting to know the major and recurring symbols really help you “put the story together”, and this in turn helps you tell your own story.

2. The Speed Date: Arrange a speed-date between the cards from your go-to deck and the deck you are exploring.

  • This is a fun way to get to know a new deck. Put two identical cards side by side and compare them–for example, High Priestess from Dreaming Way Tarot vs High Priestess from Rider Waite Tarot.
  • By putting the archetypal forces and personalities on the spot with each other, you will facilitate an interesting dialogue between the deck you are already familiar with and the “new kid on the block”.
  • You can use this to measure how a universal archetype carry similar themes and symbolism and how they differ.
  • You can really find out if your established or general understanding of one deck can vibe with the new deck.

For example, one of my go-to decks is the Dreaming Way Tarot. If I were to put Dreaming Way’s High Priestess with Steampunk Tarot’s High Priestess, they will probably hit it off quite nicely because they are both kind of hipster. If I put Dreaming Way’s High Priestess with Rider-Waite’s more reserved and serious High Priestess, for example, the conversation will be very different.

“What is that atrocious attire you are wearing? ” says RWS High Priestess. “Get off of the moon right this instant! You are an embarrassment to the divine feminine!”

Dreaming Way: “These are stockings, and I wear them because they are stylish. Get with the times, RWS. Who says the divine feminine can’t be youthful and carefree?”

3. The Fool’s Journey: Journey through the major arcana with The Fool card and tell a story. This is one of my favourite ways to explore the major arcana (well, all of my favourite ways are included in this post!)

  • This method requires you to be familiar with The Fool from a tarot deck first. Take some time to really get to know who The Fool is. He or she is often the “opening act”, or the archetype that greets you when you first look at a deck. What is The Fool wearing? How is it different from the traditional portrayals of The Fool? Once you have gotten to know The Fool, you go on The Fool’s journey and you journey through the major arcana.
  • Afterwards, you embody The Fool and imagine what his or her story is and how s/he will react to the archetypes down the road. The Fool sets out to meet The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, and The Emperor…

For example, The Fool in Wild Unknown Tarot is a baby bird perched on a branch. There is a bright newborn energy to it. When it meets the Magician, which is the next card, what would it say and what will take place? The Fool may shrink from the fierceness and the certainty that The Magician radiates–it must be tough for a baby bird to stand in front of a powerful leopard! But perhaps it is The Fool’s lesson to learn that every creature, though different in size and ferocity, is connected by the life force they share–for they are all children of the Mother Nature, and they are all blessed with the same opportunities and potential.

All in all, this method allows you create a somewhat linear narrative that links all the major arcana archetypes together and helps you explore the portrayal of the archetypes in this particular deck.

More blog posts coming up with more detailed and comprehensive descriptions of each method! More elaborate examples, too. 🙂 Stay tuned for more tarot goodness!

Tarot never gets old, as I like to say. 😉

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

5 Ways to Explore a Single Tarot Card

Developing Intuition, Tarot Study

Welcome to the 5 Ways to Explore a Single Tarot Card! In this blog post, you will be introduced to, uh, five ways to explore a single tarot card…that will hopefully inspire you and ignite your interpretative sparks! 🙂

The Feel-See-Speak Trio

19-The Sun

1. Feel. To “feel” means to engage with your intuition in a relaxed manner. It’s the free-vibing, sky-reeling and heart-flowing way to look at a tarot card.

  • What is your first impression of the card? For example, you may be picking up on sadness when you are presented with positive card like The Sun. Maybe instead of being basked in light and openness, you are being blinded by its brilliance instead. Maybe this can be pointing towards your overly optimistic attitude which disengages you from some of the serious issues that you need to be facing.
  • What jumps out at you? What is the first thing that you notice? Sometimes your focus may be drawn to a random or miscellaneous detail on the card that doesn’t seem to be significant. Maybe somehow, by some ridiculous synchronicity or coincidence, you are now staring at The Sun’s nose, and for some reason you are thinking to yourself that the glorious sun might just be having this glorious itch. Kind of stupid, right? But don’t dismiss it until you explore the idea! This could be referring to The Sun’s perfection and stillness, and subsequently its need to break free from that perfect image in order to rest and stretch for a while (and satisfy that annoying itch!) before resuming its post. If you apply it to your situation, maybe you’ve been dutifully sitting before that office desk for too long, and you need to go out there, take a deep breath and enjoy the sun a bit so you can be more productive!

6 of Wands

2. See. To “see” is to observe and absorb the details and scene of the card. You register the details holistically and come up with a conclusion or insight based on the interactive qualities of the card, and then you look at how you came up with that particular conclusion or insight by examining how the elements on the card interact with each other. 

  • What do you think is going on? Why do you think so? Once you’ve gathered your thoughts and have a general idea, think about why you have come up with this conclusion. For example, in Rider Waite’s Six of Wands, you see a man holding a wand with a victory wreath festooned on the top of the wand. He is obviously in the position of leadership since he is surrounded by followers. How did you come up with this conclusion? The horse is being covered by a green cape (excuse the lack of vocabulary pertaining horse gadgetry) and this green cape covers up a third of the card as well as the majority of the followers. This renders the role of the followers less significant than that of the leader’s, whose existence is heightened by the incomplete shapes of the people who support him. This shows that the people who support him are ultimately nameless or do not need to be named, which means that the support may not necessarily come from a distinct individuals but a group of people or community, who are raising their own wands to join the group march. There is a bigger picture here, and the bigger picture is represented by the leader’s vision and his direction.
  • What can you see from the character’s expression and gestures? What is their relationship with the other characters around them? Again, using Six of Wands as an example, maybe the first face you see is not the leader on the horseback, but the blonde figure looking at the leader near the edge and the (excuse the precise vocabulary pertaining horse) horse’s butt. This shifts the focus of your interpretation entirely because the leading man is no longer in the spotlight, an unnamed individual now is. The blonde figure seems to be looking at the leader with yearning, and maybe he desperately wants the leader to notice him. He not only wants to be included in the group and the march, he also wants his presence to stand out and be meaningful in the eyes of his leader. To apply this to real life, maybe you are feeling under-appreciated for the efforts you have done for your community and you wish to be recognized more in a meaningful way.

10 of Swords

3. Speak. To “speak”, actually, means to listen. Listen to what the card says to you.

  • What is the first word, first sentence, the very first thing you hear the card say (in intelligible language and not just impressions) to you? For example, if you draw the Ten of Swords, maybe the first thing you hear is “Ouch”, which doesn’t really resonate with the gravity and solemnness of the card. But let’s take a look at it this way: despite the weight this card usually implies, maybe it is trying to tell you that things aren’t as bad as you’ve imagined. Maybe you’ve just been whining a lot and moping a lot, but maybe you’re not actually in that much of pain. You cry and you shout and you exaggerate. “Oh dear! Look at me! I’m so having a Ten of Swords moment!” But not really. You’re just being a drama queen.
  • What conversation is the card’s inhabitants having? In other words, eavesdrop! And remember, you can be creative. The conversation doesn’t have to take place between two human characters. It doesn’t even have to make sense. Going back to the Ten of Swords again, this might be something you hear: “Okay, seriously, I’m not even stabbing you hard,” one of the sword says while the other swords chime in. “Omg, I don’t even want to be here. I don’t get paid enough to do this.” “Can you believe this guy? He’s not even dead. The blood is totally fake.” “Yeah. He just wants attention.” And then, finally, the guy fake-twitches and lets out this overly dramatic moan: “I am in SO much pain!” Again, this conversation is rather humourous and lighthearted. One of its messages is clearly: “Stop moping. You’re being a drama-queen.” And the other: “Laugh it off, man! Stop trying to be a cry-baby.” In addition, it can also represent the attitudes and perspectives of the people who are involved with your drama. 

And the rest of the Five…

5 of Cups

4. Animate. To “animate” is to ask yourself this question: “What would happen if the card comes to life?” In other words, make the scene move. Unpause the stillness and keep watching. Rewind the movie a bit and look at what happened just seconds before.

  • What is the first thing that moves? What do you see in your head when you look at the card in your hand? If you are looking at the Five of Cups, the first thing you see may be the three cups that are tipped over, with their colourful contents spilled onto the ground. The next thing you see may be the man, dejected and frustrated, is actually the one who kicked and knocked them over–who is now standing in perfect stillness and regretting his decision. This means that he own person is the source of his dejection and misery. Maybe he didn’t mean to let his emotions spill out, but right now it is too late. What you have seen can represent an impulsive moment in which wild, unadulterated feelings are chaotically released, which leads to the current experience of loss.

Queen of Pentacles

5. Reference. To “reference” means to establish a point of reference within the image of the card and see how it relates to the rest of the items on the card.

  • So, due to paramount laziness, I am going to provide you a link to a previously written blog post which addresses this very subject in great detail. But just to give you a brief taste of what “reference” means: it basically means to pick out a single element from the card and then examine its relationship with the other items. For example, if you draw Queen of Pentacles and the point of reference you have picked is her crown and her veil, you can use this as a reference to interpret the rest of the image. The crown and the veil can may symbolize status, and the queen may be trying very hard to keep those two things on her head, which leads to an obsession with image and external status, and an over-emphasis on the words and actions that would qualify her as the Queen of Pentacles instead of the inherent qualities that make her the Queen of Pentacles.

Tarot never gets old, as I like to say. 😉

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot. 

What is Tarot? A Quick Introduction

Tarot, Tarot Study

what-is-tarot-a-quick-introduction-png

Before we begin…

If you are interested in tarot and have no idea what tarot is or what it can be used for, you’re at the right place! This post will address some of the misconceptions of tarot, and provide you with a basic understanding of tarot: what it is, the structure of a 78-card tarot deck, and what it can be used for.

Originally, this was meant to be the first part of the Tarot Writing Series, but it kind of got out of hand and became a creature of its own.If you’re interested in finding out more about the Tarot Writing series and how use tarot as a tool for writing and the creative process of storytelling, please check out The Tarot Writing Series: Introduction [Part One] and Tarot Writing Series: Introduction [Part Two].

The misconceptions surrounding tarot

There is a lot of misconceptions surrounding tarot–the stereotypical image being a woman (usually dressed like a gypsy, or something of that sort) sitting you down, shuffling a deck of worn-out cards while hidden contraptions produce a veil of mist and smoke, and then solemnly informing you that there is a curse in your family line and she will gladly remove the curse for a “small” fee. Tarot is also, oftentimes, associated with unrealistic mumbo-jumbo or bibbidi-bobbidi-boo, some kind of trickery that serves no substantial purpose other than embarrassing itself as a flurry of trickery.

That is, of course, far from the truth.

What is tarot used for? 

Tarot is a form of cartomancy that utilizes universal symbolism and archetypes to capture the psychological journey and experience of humankind. It’s meant to be reflective and explorative. Many people use it for fortunetelling–to divine your future, your past lives, how your ex currently feels about you, and all that jazz– but a deck of tarot cards can offer you so much more. I’m going to quote my favourite tarot reader, Kelly-Ann Maddox–she said, pick up a deck of tarot cards, and “go for a swim in your soul”.

Tarot is meant to reveal to you parts of your psyche that you are not aware of yet. It gives you that alternative perspective to stimulate personal growth and self-knowing. This is why a deck of tarot cards can promote self-awareness, empowerment and healing. It is not some mumbo-jumbo at all! When used correctly and with the right attitude, the things that tarot is able to reveal to you on this journey called life are literally endless. It is a very intricate system that encapsulates the human experience, and because of the way it taps into our subconscious and illuminates, it is a very spiritual tool. It is illuminating because of its poignancy and honesty in capturing our current state of mind and representing who we are at the time of a reading.

In short, tarot is a mirror. It shows us who we truly are, without fail.

What is tarot?

Tarot, like mentioned before, is a form of cartomancy–which is a system of divination involving cards. A deck of tarot cards consists of 78 cards, with 22 Major Arcana (greater secrets) cards and 56 Minor Arcana (lesser secrets) cards. The Minor Arcana is further divided into 4 suits, with each suit containing 14 cards. The four suits–Wands, Swords, Cups and Pentacles–are then divided into two groups of cards: the Court Cards and then Numbered Cards.

The structure of tarot looks something like this:

  • 22 Major Arcana Cards (From 0-The Fool to 21-The World)
  • 56 Minor Arcana Cards
    • The Suit of Wands (Numbered Cards + Court Cards)
    • The Suit of Swords (Numbered Cards + Court Cards)
    • The Suit of Cups (Numbered Cards + Court Cards)
    • The Suit of Pentacles (Numbered Cards + Court Cards)

220px-RWS_Tarot_00_Fool

The Major Arcana

The Major Arcana, the “greater secrets”, depicts the grand, overarching spiritual journey that we go through, or the “major events” that occur in a person’s life.  These events are usually moments of epiphany or realization, personal transformations and paradigm shifts. The Major Arcana always begins with The Fool, the number zero card that symbolizes birth, beginnings, and the adventurous spirit. Being the number zero card, The Fool is often said to be the figure or character journeying through the rest of the Major Arcana cards, making his way through education (The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant), socialization (The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength), personal transformations (Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower) and individuation (Judgement, The World). This journey is called “The Fool’s Journey”, and it is a great way to understand the grand narrative of the Major Arcana and also learn the individual definitions of each card because it essentially follows The Fool and the “stops” he makes during his journey towards self-realization and individuation–the “stops” being the individual cards in the Major Arcana. Of course, this is not the only way to perceive or organize the Major Arcana, but it is a great place to start.

The Minor Arcana

On the other hand, the Minor Arcana, the “lesser secrets”, capture the mundane, everyday events pertaining to things like passionate and creative pursuits, relationships, individual expressions, and material accumulation, etc. The four suits of the Minor Arcana (Wands, Swords, Cups and Pentacles) each pertain to a specific element (Fire, Air, Water, and Earth respectively) and is related to various aspects of daily life:

  • Wands (fire) is associated with passion, intention and the will to manifest one’s reality.
  • Swords (air) is associated with the mind, rationality and logic.
  • Cups (water) is associated with emotions, relationships and intuition.
  • Pentacles (earth) is associated with nature, the physical realm, home and community.

swords02

The four elements, combined with each card’s numerology significance, also produce different meanings and contexts. For example, the number 2 is representative of duality. Combined with Swords (the element of air), the Two of Swords becomes a card symbolizing the indecision, dilemma, and hesitation.

The Court Cards

The Minor Arcana also consists of Court Cards, which are the Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings. The four courts each embody a personality that is typical of their “age” and status. The Pages are youngsters or students still learning and perfecting their craft; they are idealistic but often lacking action and drive. The Knights are the “questing youngsters”, as I like to call them. They live for the experience and are actively manifesting their desires and actively questing after a goal. The Queens are figures of nurture and care, but also of authority and diplomacy. Her authority is enforced in a more subtle, social and supportive way–very different from the Kings, who represent full mastery and authority of their elements. You can say that the Queens are like mothers who take care of you and want the best for you–while the Kings are like fathers who serve as figures of authority and they exert their authority through ruling.

cups12

Again, the courts are combined with their elemental attributes and thus producing different personalities and characters. If you combine the questing and adventure of the Knights and the emotional, social attribute of the Cups (element of water), you get the romantic, idealistic Knight of Cups, who embark on quest in search for love and experiences to fulfill his heart, who perceives and understands his world by feeling.

To close…

In this post, we’ve looked at some basic aspects of a tarot deck, its structure, as well as its uses. I hope this post has been informative to you. Of course, there are so much more to tarot than just one single blog post! There are endless techniques in approaching and reading tarot. You can read a tarot card singularly on its own, or you can read tarot in pairs, or even in spreads (multiple card formations). Tarot can be used for self-exploration and communication, and can be used for writing and storytelling. It also has many other uses, such as meditation and therapy.

I am very happy to be writing about tarot and sharing something that I hold dear to my heart with you. If you are just starting to love tarot or are already a tarot reader like I am, stay tuned for more tarot goodness! 🙂

-Kim

Tarot never gets old, as I like to say. 😉

More Resources

If you are interested in reading more about viewing tarot cards through the lens of storytelling as well as cultivating an intuitive tarot practice, check out my e-book: Tarot Beginnings: An Introduction to the Story and Study of Tarot.