Tarot as a Self Care Tool
Self Care is a term that is becoming more mainstream and that's a beautiful thing. Self Care is any activity that helps to nourish your soul and spirit. Self Care is unique to each individual, it is an action that brings joy, simple pleasure, emotional balance, and allows one to check in with their inner voice. The practice of Self Care was introduced to me by my first therapist. At the time I was going through an emotional upheaval and I was very fragile. Staying grounded and feeling like I was in my body were difficult for me on a daily basis. She suggested that when I started to feel like I was losing grip, that I take life 15 minutes at a time. Those 15 minutes were to be basic as possible but soothing. In that time I could take a bath, read, listen to calming music, cook, meditate, etc. Any activity that I enjoyed and involved a positive influence on my body, mind, and spirit.
I started to do these little activities almost daily because I needed them as a safe space from worry, anxiety, fear, and doubt. My favorite was taking meditative baths. I would draw a bath and fill the water with salts or a bath bomb. I would fill a diffuser with calming essential oil and run it above my head. To provide a warm glow, I would light candles around the bath. I would play deeply relaxing music mixes from Soundcloud in order to let my mind drift off (find those mixes here). Next to me, I'd place a bowl of crystals that held healing, calming, and grounding energies. Once I sunk into the bath, I'd place these crystals over my chest and hold them in my hands. Closing my eyes, I could find some peace in that dimly lit cozy lagoon.
When I started to take care of myself with love and affection, it opens an access point for me to get to the road to self love and confidence. I still had to journey that road, but at least now I was starting on the path. As my self care rituals developed, they led me to the Tarot. My partner had done Tarot readings for herself and us for many years, but it wasn't that common of a practice in our home... I had just been around it and knew of it. It was my third therapist that really led me to using Tarot as a spiritual check in for myself. Using the Tarot as a tool to ask questions was recommended in times when I felt like I needed a deeper understanding of something. She would recommend me doing a reading to get further insight on things like relationship issues, career decisions, dream analysis, past traumas, fixation, depression, and more. It really could be used for anything or nothing at all. Sometimes a reading was suggested as just a way to center myself and find a place of calm.
DEVELOPING A TAROT PRACTICE
I was fortunate to have the resources that my spouse had to start Tarot. She had a beautiful Rider-Waite Deck (this is the deck that I'd highly recommend when starting) and a guide to go along with it called "The Tarot Bible" by Sarah Bartlett (excellent guide when starting out). The concept of a reading was very simple... relax, focus, channel, ask, shuffle, draw, and interpret.
I knew that I wanted to deeply engage my inner self and channel energy into my readings. To do so, I'd make the practice a very spiritual one. Before I even started to shuffle, I'd do some preparation activities. First, I would find the spread that I wanted to do. The guide book listed above features some great spreads. The spread is how the cards are laid out and what specific question each card asks. Then, I would focus deeply on the question that I wanted to ask or the issue that I wanted insight on. This step is really important to slow the mind and receive your inner voices answers. To prepare the environment, I would light incense or diffuse essential oils. I would light candles in order to slow my mind and find relaxation. I would choose a group of crystals that went along with the energy that I would focus the reading on and get those ready to be placed around the cards once I drew my spread.
This deep focus was a great tool of meditation. When I do tarot readings, I feel my mind slip into a place of deeper understanding and can hear my intuitive voice more clearly. Once you're ready to draw, it is key to shuffle the cards loosely but with intent. Shuffling the cards through your hands allows a bond to start to form between your mind and the cards. I try to listen when my mind says to stop shuffling and that's when I arrive at my first card. Drawing the cards feels powerful and important, I take this act as an opportunity to be open and humble... to learn and receive. I follow the spread that I have chosen and once laid out, I take a moment to look at the whole spread. Does anything stand out? Are there any signs of repetition? Is one group of cards prominent (many cups for example)? Then, I go through the spread card by card. I look up each card and take notes on that specific card. I try to look for what is standing out, what is trying to come forward, and what is revealing itself. Usually, this comes in the form of certain cards relating to each other but it is more so just a feeling that I am striking in on something of significance.
I keep a detailed record of most of my readings but not all of them. It is the act of writing out the reading that is beneficial to me, not the ability to go back and look at my notes (I almost never do that). It's nice to have a record, but I remember the significance of my most on point readings. Usually when I do a reading, it is to gain insight and then use that insight. The answers received become a part of me, a deeper understanding of myself. That is a benefit that carries on with me, now a part of me.
There are a few readings that I have done that have really struck a chord. These were the readings where I felt so connected to the deck that I genuinely was able to get clear answers. Two readings stand out to me the most. The first was a spread that I did regarding a career choice I needed to make. I was unhappy at my job and was debating whether to start my own business or not. It was a stressful decision, there was a lot at stake to go out on my own. I did the "Decision Maker" spread from The Tarot Bible and it providing such clear insight. Almost every card that I pulled in that spread was dead on and spoke to me. It was after that reading that I felt confident in my decision to leave my current job and start my own business. The second time that I had a deeply resounding reading, I was questioning how to deal with my gender identity. I knew how I felt inside but I was unsure of how to act on it. That reading was so comforting, positive, and affirming. Moving forward was so much easier after having that spiritual check in.
The beauty of the Tarot lies in the relationship that one develops with it over time. There will be readings that are just ok, some will be surprising, and some will be deeply moving. There are times that I have felt an energy connecting with me that was clear and strong. There are other times that I've started a reading and just known that my heart wasn't in it, rendering it less effective. Overall though, it is my favorite Self Care tool. It is an activity that is there for me when others fail to shed light. I have deepened my sense of self awareness using Tarot and am changed by the spiritual lessons that it has helped teach me.
- I highly recommend The Tarot Bible by Sarah Bartlett as a starting point for your Tarot practice.
- I also use The Tarot Handbook by Angeles Arren for a deeper understanding of Tarot symbolism, card meanings, and mythical connection.
- For a unique mix of spreads, try 365 Tarot Spreads by Sasha Graham which is a fun way to source a spread of the day. I like to combine the energy of crystals into my readings.
- To learn more about crystals and which to choose for your readings, The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall is an amazing guidebook.
- I love to buy crystals in their natural unpolished state. There are many shops that carry crystals but I like to buy them by the pound on Amazon. My favorite source for these is a provider called Crystal Allies Materials and they are on Amazon. The prices and products are great.
- A great way to connect with energy when doing a reading is to follow lunar and astrological cycles. Use these as a theme or tone to set in the reading. A great source of information and inspiration on these is the Mystic Mamma blog. The Astral Insights section is an amazing beacon for what to center in on.
This is my experience using Tarot. I have found it to be a wonderful self development and self care tool. If you are looking for a way to gain insight, spiritual growth, calm from anxiety, healing from depression, or a source of energy I'd highly recommend stating a Tarot practice. Try to do a reading once a week as a ritual or whenever you feel that you need some clarity on an issue.
For more content on spirituality, mental health, and personal development, visit the Embrace section of my blog. For more updates, follow River Runs Wild on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. Thanks for stopping by!