A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO TAROT JOURNALING 

Ellie Benuska Thoughts

HOW TO TALK TAROT

Journaling your tarot reads provides an incredible tool for self-reflection, introspection, and guidance. Like any type of journal, it keeps a physical record of your life as time passes. There’s something intrinsically valuable about having a physical record and visual representation of your journey. A tarot journal marries the benefits of journaling with introspective tools of tarot. 

WHY TAROT

Tarot has been in circulation since the late 14th century and has a history of being used for parlor magic tricks devoted to divination practices. I personally enjoy tarot as a tool to connect with myself. It’s a way to navigate questions I might be grappling with, examine challenges or obstacles I might be dealing with, or get context and introspection on the present moment. To some, tarot is a way to connect with their guides/angels/ancestors. Whatever your belief, tarot practice can be a helpful tool in self-exploration and in navigating the complexities of daily life in today’s chaotic world. 

CHOOSE YOUR DECK

Today, there are thousands of decks to choose from. I recommend choosing a deck that draws your attention. Whether that be the art of the deck or the tarot guide that accompanies it. Your deck is something you want to feel a connection with. Some may tell you that a tarot deck must be gifted to you. I, personally, think that’s poppycock. A tarot deck is highly personal, so hopefully, you don’t feel any hesitation in purchasing one of your own. I love the NEO TAROT: A FRESH APPROACH TO SELF-CARE, HEALING + EMPOWERMENT for its inclusive representation of various body sizes, skin tones, and genders. Additionally, the accompanying guidebook is uniquely focused on introspection and healing through self-care techniques. 

CHOOSE YOUR JOURNAL

I recommend a drawing journal to keep with your tarot deck. The lack of lines gives your hands and mind freedom to explore. I prefer to keep my tarot journal separate from my other journals and to keep it with my deck at all times. Part of the tarot is the meditative ritual of creating the mental and physical space for the tarot, and keeping this journal specifically for the tarot helps me to maintain that sacred space. 

CHOOSE YOUR SPREAD

A spread is a formation or pattern in which you draw your tarot cards. Certain decks will come with some spreads for you to try, and the internet has thousands you can choose from. When starting a tarot journal, I recommend that you start with a simple 3-card pull. This can represent your past, present, and future. Or your present, current obstacle, and potential outcome. It’s helpful to ask a question at the start of each tarot such as, “What should I focus on in this upcoming equinox”? The most important thing is that you know what each card you pull represents before you pull that card. For example, have in your mind that the first card will represent your past, the second card is your present, and the third card is the future while you pull each card. Once you get more familiar with the practice, you can pull tarot spreads with specific focuses. For example, tarot for career guidance, tarot for love, and tarot for birthdays. I lean on Google to help me find a spread that meets my desire as a template of how to build my spread, and what each placement represents. 

CHOOSE YOUR CARDS

Everyone has their own methods for pulling tarot cards, and I definitely recommend you do what feels natural to you. Some like to fan out their cards and choose however many their spread calls for. I like to shuffle my deck and choose cards that either fall from the shuffle or push themselves out the top of the deck. For me, this is a way of having the cards present themselves to me versus choosing cards I am drawn to. There’s no right or wrong way. Your tarot practice is your practice, so find a method of pulling cards that feels fun, natural, and instinctual to you. If an extra card presents itself to you either by falling from the deck or jumping out in some way, I typically take that card as a “message from the ancestors.” I set that card aside and save it for the end of the reading. 

HOW TO JOURNAL

Journaling can and should be very personal to the journalist, so I encourage you to make it your own. For me, all my tarot entries have the following: 

  • The date of the tarot 
  • What the tarot prompt is: equinox tarot, solstice tarot, big meeting tarot, birthday tarot, new moon tarot, full moon tarot 
  • My question or theme 
  • What each card position represents: for example, present moment, current obstacle, and possible outcome 
  • What card is pulled for that position, and if it’s displayed right-side up or upside-down  
  • What that card represents according to the tarot guide you’re following 
  • My reflections on that card 
  • Final reflections on the reading as a whole  

I often doodle or draw in my journal as well, and use a variety of pen densities. I’ve seen some tarot journals use a rainbow of colors throughout, which can be fun and beautiful. Personally,  I prefer to only use black ink, but change the width and style of the pen. It’s your journal, so design and make it whatever feels most like you.

With the next Autumn equinox fast approaching, this is a great time to begin or continue your own tarot journal. Where Spring Equinox is all about cultivating and blooming, Autumn equinox invites us to explore inwards as we retreat inside for the upcoming winter. I’ll be doing this spread for my Autumn equinox reading as well as doing this gratitude ritual to welcome the new fall and winter seasons.