When someone mentions tarot, there are a lot of thoughts that come up: fortune telling, divination, maybe a goat. The association is usually very mystical, and hard to grasp. Tarot reading, and cartomancy in general, is a very old practice that is steadily getting more popular. It used to be that the purpose of a tarot reading was to tell the future, to contact spirit guides, or the dead. This was at one time a purely magical practice. But, as it becomes more commonplace, the uses for reading tarot cards gets even more diverse. Many readers still use it for those purposes today, but that’s not all anymore. Now it’s also for healing, for psychospiritual development, for introspection. You can even use tarot for self care.
In my early teens I became very interested in tarot cards, magic, spirituality. I started trying to learn tarot when I was fourteen, but stopped. Now, ten years later, I’ve come back to it, and it’s become an essential part of my self-care practice, not just my spirituality. Especially since I’m wanting to work more on self-care this year, this is a way for me to fuse the two. There are a lot of ways to do this, so let’s check out a few of my favorite ways.
In passing I’ve mentioned that I have generalized anxiety disorder, and something I deal with frequently is persistent worry, consistent anxious feelings for what is essentially no external reason. Everyone has their rituals to manage their symptoms, and I’ve found card reading to be a soothing practice.
There’s comfort in the ritual of shuffling the cards, laying out spreads, and then challenging myself to read the combinations and all the nuances that are part of tarot. If you check my tarot Pinterest board, you’ll be able to see some spread ideas, often for mental health and self care. These spreads let me pinpoint aspects of my life that could be agitating my anxiety, or also let me examine and ask the deeper questions. Allowing myself to analyze what I feel with gentle suggestions through these spreads are a soft way of helping me examine my triggers and current state.
Checking in with Myself
Building off the idea of using tarot when I’m feeling anxious, I use card reading for more general purposes. Everyone has an idea of how tarot “works”, ranging from Spirit selecting the cards, to pure happy chance. I feel, personally, it’s a mix of the two. And considering that, I feel that while the position the cards are in may not be always a perfect fit, they can often be things to consider. Things I haven’t been looking at, perspectives or aspects that I’m missing or haven’t considered enough.
It may not be an ultra spiritual message from beyond the veil. Sometimes the real meaning is how I look at the cards, their traditional meanings, and how I can apply these to my own life. Spreads I like for this purpose are chakra readings, day of the week readings, or even lunar phase readings. Each of these subjects have their own correspondences, realms of life they’re typically associated with. And, as the cards fall into place, it’s an objective way for me to ask, “Have I been considering everything? What have I missed?”
For example: I did a reading based on the root chakra the other day, and for the position representing the current state, I drew the Tower. The root chakra is your sense of security, how grounded you are. The Tower is a card of disruption, instability, and falling apart. I hadn’t been thinking about my sense of personal security, of how grounded I’ve been, and it allowed me to consider that I’d been dissociating and disconnecting heavily. If I hadn’t done that reading, I would have glossed over that idea entirely.
Here’s a more esoteric and spiritual approach, but if you’re a visual person this could suit you well! Visuals like mandalas have been used for centuries as a concentration aid for meditation. They act as a focal point, something for you to tune into while you turn off and drop out of everything else. Yantras are a lovely example, because they have associations and meanings specific to deities or purposes. It’s a physical reminder of your focus and goal for the session.
Tarot cards can be absolutely beautiful! The Mystic Mondays deck definitely is, as are a few of the other decks I have. Something about tarot cards is that the imagery is very deliberate, as each card has a unique meaning and imagery that needs to represent that. By focusing on an individual card that I feel drawn to, I meditate upon the imagery and aim to lose myself in the scene of the card. Meditation is difficult, no matter who you are, and this aid is useful not only for helping me get settled into the act of meditation, but do so in a way that has a goal.
When doing so, focus on the scene. Take in the image, and try and put yourself in the scene. How does the imagery make you feel? What do the symbols mean to you? How can you relate these feelings and the thoughts dug up by these pictures to your life?
As a witch and pagan, tarot is part of the deal for me. It’s one of my spiritual and ritual tools, but after learning about the applications of tarot in psychology, I’ve realized I can use tarot for self care, and with amazing results.
Let me know your unconventional self-care practices!