Tarot Journaling: 5 Ways It Can Make You An Amazing Card Reader
No matter what happens in your life—breakups, celebrations, new jobs, big fights—you can always confide in a journal. Taking time to steal away in my room or a quiet corner to write my most personal thoughts and feelings has given me comfort like nothing else in my life.
Even if you’re a solo witch (like me!) and you don’t have many witchy friends, you can always find support and companionship in your journal. The pages will always receive your words, tears, hopes, and dreams.
Sometimes witches integrate their personal journaling in a book called a grimoire. Other witches have a journal dedicated to their tarot magic. Whether you have a regular journal practice, or you choose to write whenever you feel called, you can easily start an uplifting and healing tarot journal!
Why Keep a Tarot Journal?
Reason #1: It helps you connect to a new deck of tarot cards
When I get a new deck of tarot cards, it takes a little while until I feel comfortable using the deck for readings. It just feels too foreign to me. I haven’t made connections with the illustrations and sometimes I feel disconnected to the variations on the suits and names of a particular deck. Journaling forms a fast and lasting bond to the cards.
Reason #2: It gets new tarot readers familiar with the card meanings.
The best way to learn tarot is to practice, practice, practice. The second best way is to journal about your cards WHILE you practice. Numerous studies conclude that writing new information down is helpful for learning and memorization.
Reason #3: It opens your mind to new and more abstract meanings of the cards.
When you’re journaling about your cards, you can look back and see how those cards guided you in ways you couldn’t have imagined while in the moment, reading the spread. Hindsight can offer a whole new perspective and deepen your understanding of the complex meanings of each card.
Reason #4: It’s fun!
Keeping a tarot journal will allow you to interact with the cards in a more carefree and casual way that you might not normally do in other circumstances, such as a traditional tarot reading.
What Kind of Journal Should You Use?
Those cheap seventy-page spiral notebooks in the school supply aisle work wonderfully, but I also love using a fancy bound notebook that I pick up at the local bookstore. Another option is to use my free tarot journal printable to get you started!
If you chose not to keep a paper journal, you can use this printable digitally on your tablet with a notepad drawing app or use an app on your phone to jot down notes while you’re on the go!
Is My Tarot Journal Part of My Grimoire?
Some witches choose to add these pages to their grimoire, a magical book where witches keep notes on their different spells and rituals. I keep my tarot journal and grimoire separate, but I’ll photocopy certain pages—usually tarot spreads and tarot card meanings I create—and include them in my grimoire. I don’t use all my tarot notes for my grimoire because some of them are quite messy and are more learning-based than information-based.
How Often Should You Journal?
You might be expecting me to say “every day” here…
…but I’m not going to do that!
I think if you get super regimented about anything you run the risk of losing the joy. Keeping a tarot journal should be an act of fun, NOT a chore. I find that I’ll go through months when I journal every day. Then I’ll go through phases when I’m lucky if I have time to pull a card once a week. No matter what your life looks like, you can still keep a thriving tarot journal. You don’t have to write every day—your tarot journal will be there for you whenever you’re ready for your next entry.
Again, DO NOT beat yourself up for not journaling regularly. I used to open my journal and lament at seeing that my last entry was two months ago. But I don’t need that energy in my life, and neither do you! There’s nothing wrong with writing when you’re inspired. Rest assured, that’s when your best journaling and tarot reading will happen. Tarot journaling should support your magical practice, not pull energy away from it.
What Goes Into a Tarot Journal?
Oh, the possibilities. You can put any and all things tarot on your tarot journal—quotes, song lyrics, photographs, magazine cutouts, tarot spreads, card descriptions, predictions, your feelings, your tarot rituals, etc.
Basically, the rule is, if it’s remotely tarot related, you can include it in your tarot journal.
Before You Begin
Set the mood with some music. I’ll play a cool movie soundtrack or Spotify playlist while I journal. You can also light a candle or two to make this feel more special. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and ask my cards to offer their guidance.
I’ll also set a timer for five to ten minutes, and let myself write for the full time. That way, I can focus on my thoughts and my interaction with the cards without looking at the clock or worrying if I’m taking too much time.
If possible, journal in the same space every day, so you’re already in the journaling mindset right from the start. If this doesn’t fit with your lifestyle (if you travel frequently, prefer to write on the train, enjoy journaling while cooking dinner, type notes on your phone while in line for coffee, etc) that’s fine, too. For example, if you feel most inspired while you’re waiting for your morning tea to boil, use the whistle of the kettle as the end timer.
Journal Option #1: A Card of the Day
Ask the cards a simple question like, “What is the energy of today?”, or “What energy do I need to get the most out of today?”. Even something like, “Show me my card of the day.” Then spend some time journaling about what thoughts, feelings or messages come up for you as you look at that single card.
If you pull a card, and it’s a card with a more “negative” meaning, journal about how that card makes you feel, and how you can make changes throughout your day based on that message.
This ritual is best done the night before or in the morning. Then, at the end of the day, you can look back and see how that energy appeared throughout your day. If you approach that card with a spirit of learning and asking for guidance, you’ll be able to form a loving bond with even your least favorite cards in the deck. Just like life, there’s the potential for “good” and “bad” in everything. As a witch, you have the power to alter your circumstances. Tarot is a snapshot of the current moment, so never let a “bad” card get you down. Use it as information. And then be open to how that card shows up in your life—let yourself be surprised!
Journal Option #2: Weekly and Monthly Cards
This is similar to the “Card of the Day” exercise. At the beginning of each month, pull one card for the overall energy of the month. Then pull four cards for the energy of each week. Journal about those cards all week long, and look back to review how that energy has affected your week and month. This is also great to do for the moon cycles—one card for the energy of the current moon, and four cards for each phase: the new moon, waxing moon, full moon, and waning moon.
Journal Option #3: Get to Know your Deck with Unconventional Tarot Exercises
Exercise A: Pick two tarot cards and let them have a conversation with each other in your journal. You might find it interesting to pick cards with opposite energies. Try the Chariot and the High Priestess. The former has an energy of lots of action. He overcomes all obstacles in its path with sheer willpower and brute force—a pretty awesome energy. The latter card, the High Priestess has an energy of stillness and her power comes from purposeful inaction. She knows she will have her breakthrough by staying connected to her intuition.
Other fun cards to make up conversations with include:
Three of Cups and The Hermit
The Lovers and The Devil
The Fool and The World
The Nine of Swords and The Sun
The Fool and The Emperor
Four of Cups and The Ten of Cups
The King of Swords and the Queen of Cups
The Emperor and The Empress
Exercise B: Take your least favorite cards out of the deck and journal about them. Find their positive aspects. Maybe you can look at how a negative card has manifested in a really beautiful way. This will help you trust your tarot deck more. When I first started interacting with my tarot cards, I sometimes felt a vague sense of anxiety over pulling the Ten of Swords or the Five of Pentacles. Since I’ve started journaling about these cards, I’ve learned to see them in a new light. I’ve found they both offer me useful advice, particularly when they show up in my relationship and financial readings. Again, be open, and be curious. Every card in the deck is there to help you.
Exercise C: Play a random song and choose a tarot card that seems to fit with that song. Journal about the connection between the song and the card. This will add a sense of play to your tarot readings because you might think of that song whenever that card comes up it the future. And vice versa, you’ll think of that card when you hear that song on the radio. This will further strengthen your connection to your deck.
Exercise D: Pick a card and draw your own illustration of the card’s meaning. Get a simple or as detailed as you like. You can add quotes or cutout images from a magazine. Color it in or use other fun craft supplies like yarn, glitter or stickers.
Journal Option #4: Create Your Own Spreads
Journal about ideas for new spreads! You can write down variations on traditional spreads, and experiment with spreads that you create. A practical way to come up with custom spreads is to think up questions for the tarot, and put together a spreads that answer your questions. Don’t forget to draw diagrams for card placements. Try making up spreads that are arranged in spirals, pentagrams, hexagons, and triangles!
Journal Option #5: Tarot Meanings
Write down your own take on each card meaning in your journal. To do this, I first look up the traditional meanings online or in a book. Then, I’ll journal about how that meaning will translate in a love reading, a goal-setting reading, a spirit guide reading or a “yes or no” reading. You can also distill complex card meanings into a few powerful keywords. These are super valuable to your tarot journey, and you’ll likely want to include these in your grimoire or create your personal tarot card reference guide!
Enjoy the Journey!
Once you have a good amount of journal entries, have fun with them. Read over them to see how your relationship with your cards has evolved. Take a page and burn it or bury it during a tarot spell. Share it with your friends or a trusted tarot professional. Tape it to your mirror or the dashboard of your card. Invite the tarot into other areas of your life and notice how your connection to your cards gets stronger all the time.
Do you know how to get the best readings from your Tarot yet?
If the answer is no, then you’re missing out on one of the most useful tools in the craft!
Getting started with Tarot can be intimidating. There are a ton of rules and a bunch of them contradict each other and then there’s memorizing all those cards… it’s too much! Not anymore though.
In my Intro To Tarot class series, you’ll learn step-by-step how to become a confident, spiritually attuned Tarot reader so that you can make the most of this amazing tool for yourself.
by Julie Hopkins
Julie Hopkins is a writer, yoga teacher, and founder of Power Within, a whimsical online space created to help others improve their lives with magic. She’s from Chicago, but spends most of her time traveling to cool places.
Julie discovered the world of magic after she got tired of reading personal development books and hearing the same ideas over and over. Looking for a new way to grow, Julie started experimenting with tarot cards and felt an immediate connection to her intuition in a way she’d never experienced before. After that, she began studying magic in all its forms, never looking back. When she’s not writing about witchy things, you can find Julie making candles, daydreaming, and playing with other people’s dogs and babies.