One of the sage pieces of advice offered to all tarot students is to keep a tarot journal. Sounds like a great idea – but why? Not only that, what’s the best way to start and maintain a tarot journal? And once you’ve started it, what are you going to put in it?
Here’s Lunar Cafe’s guide to help you start and maintain your tarot journal.
Reasons to Keep a Tarot Journal
There are so many good reasons why you should keep a tarot journal. Here are a few:
- To deepen your understanding of the cards.
- To keep, and add to, lists of keywords, phrases and correspondences.
- Having a place to record your daily thoughts, insights, emotions and memories as they relate to tarot.
- A place to store your readings for self and others.
- Somewhere to record tarot exercises.
- A place to record your ideas and thoughts about individual tarot decks and books.
- The opportunity to create your own connection, your own private feelings about tarot as a personal guide and structure for life.
Using a Paper Tarot Journal
When I started learning tarot, I had, like most people, a copy of the Rider-Waite deck. I didn’t notice one card had escaped and had fallen on the floor until I saw my toddler happily chewing on the Page of Pentacles. The deck was ruined, but surely I could do something with it? The idea occurred to me to stick the cards into a loose-leaf binder and use it as a tarot journal.
Using a binder like this gives you all the room you need for a journal. I printed out my one-card readings for the American Tarot Association and slotted them in to the appropriate card section as I did them. I printed out anything interesting pertaining to the cards and put that in too. Next to the glued-in card, I wrote down my own impressions and thoughts, and what that card means to me, personally.
In this way, you can build up a useful and personal resource that you can refer to throughout your tarot career.
If a big loose-leaf binder is a bit daunting, you could simply purchase a smaller journal, or series of journals to use for different aspects of your tarot study. You might keep one for your private thoughts, another for your daily tarot card, maybe another for tarot exercises. You might use one all the time, while you delve into another only occasionally. It’s about whatever works for you.
There are some beautiful purpose-made tarot journals available on Amazon and other online and offline bookstores.
Software for Digital Tarot Journals
There are many digital journals available, from cell phone apps to fully formed journaling software. I recommend you take a look at the ones published by The Fool’s Dog. They have a growing selection of decks that are used as the basis of the journal. Each app includes the full deck, interpretations and spreads. Additionally, they have the facility for you to store your readings, add notes and develop your own interpretations. Of course, this is necessarily limited and you can’t add your own sections.
Personally, I use Evernote as my tarot journal. The free version is sufficient as the data allowance is renewed each month. I subscribe to the paid version because I use Evernote for so many other things, like recipes and crochet patterns. I like that you can set up a notebook for, well, anything. Each notebook acts like a binder for individual notes. You can store anything digital within.
Another recommended digital journal is The Journal 7 by DavidRM Software. I don’t use this one for my tarot journal because of Evernote, however, it would be just as useful. I’ve used this software since 2005, and my whole life lies within.
One other software recommendation is Scrivener. Although aimed at writers (I’m writing in it right now), the file structure would be ideal to use as a tarot journal. If I hadn’t already got everything in Evernote, I would definitely use Scrivener as my tarot journal.
How To Set Up a Tarot Journal
- Step 1. Decide what the main focus of your journal is. Mine was a detailed examination of each card. Yours might be your readings, or your tarot-related exercises, or something else entirely. The main purpose will determine your journal structure. In my loose-leaf version, I simply allocated two or three pages for each card.
- Step 2. Add images, either by gluing in photocopies/printouts, or by inserting images if using a digital journal. Your journal might consist of mainly images, especially if you don’t like writing much. Seek out relevant tarot infographics on Pinterest and Google image search. Don’t forget to take photos or make quick sketches of your favorite tarot spreads.
- Step 3. Start filling your journal. We’ve got some exercises below to get you going.
Tarot Journal Exercises
- Shuffle and draw a single card. This is your card for the day ahead. Before bed, write down all the ways you can connect the card to the events of the day. It’s up to you whether you include an image or not. We recommend it because of tarot’s visual nature.
- Pick the ‘worst’ card in the deck and explore it thoroughly. Why does it disturb you? What are it’s negative aspects? The positives? When might it be welcome in a reading? See if you can turn it around from being a ‘bad’ card to a good one.
- Court cards are people too! Take the four Kings and see if you can relate them to people you know. They don’t have to be friends or family, they could be celebrities or well-known characters. Write down the characteristics and personality traits that connect them with that card. Then do the same for the Queens, Knights and Pages.
- Do a predictive reading for someone in the news. Donald Trump, maybe? Later return to the reading to see how accurate you were.
Do let us know if you keep a tarot journal and whether it is useful for you.