For a long time, I scoffed at the Tarot Journal. Well, that’s not entirely true. What I did do was just write down the bare minimum of what I needed to. I’d write down the spread I used, sometimes the deck if I was feeling particularly generous with my recording, and The cards. Oh, and of course, the question.
That went on and off for a few years, until I actually started giving the practice some thought and concentration.
I have read tarot for 15 years now. That’s just a little under half my life that at least one deck of 78 cards has been a part of my life and my world. I like to think I know them pretty well.
Yet I still follow a Tarot Journal practice.
Why? What’s the point in it? Surely after 15 years I don’t need to keep journaling? Nope, I do. And you do too. Here’s why:
1. Engages Memory
When I was a mentor at my local community college, we learned many ways in which the brain retains information and makes connections. This was to help us help students learn their own study and learning style.
One of the most repeated things I learned was that writing is one of the best ways to retain information. I personally think that it’s the act of physically carving the letters with the tip of the pen or pencil which transfers it from the mental world, to the physical world, back to the mental world, and thus infuses them.
Thus, when you write out the meanings and your interpretations of the cards, you’re committing that experience of that reading to memory.
That’s not to say that writing is the only way to go about it. Your journal doesn’t have to be written. It can absolutely be audio, especially with how easy it is to record ourselves these days. Make a video or a voice recorded memo and talk out your readings.
The key though is not to type it out, at least, not the first time around. I don’t know what it is, but pushing the letters on the keyboard just doesn’t do the trick.
2. Increases Connections
When you journal, no matter how you go about it, writing or speaking, work through memories and associations with the cards.
I personally am huge on writing out full sentences rather than bullet journaling, since I tried the latter (essentially) and it did me no service. However, if you were to use a brain-mapping technique, I think it could be quite beneficial if that was the method you chose.
Personally, I when I journal my readings or my card of the day–whatever, I will write out the surrounding circumstances which brought me to the reading, then write out my thoughts on each card as I write out the results of the spread. Sometimes this is a couple of sentences, sometimes this is a few pages. I let my mind wander, unedited, unrestricted, and see where it takes me, then eventually try to bring it back around to the reading and the card.
This method allows me to explore my mind, see what fits in association with the card, which I can later take into my definition tool box or reject it. Either way, the more connections you have to a card, the better your understanding. Furthermore, the better you’ll be able to relate the card to your client, should you take any on.
Similar to increasing connections, journaling and allowing your mind to explore the cards as you read them helps you access those hard to reach places in your mind. As you learn to dip deeper and deeper, in your own time you can process what might be lurking there and come to terms with it.
Of course, and this is a massive OF COURSE – please do not replace needed therapy with tarot. There are many wonderful therapists out there who incorporate tarot with therapy. But if you need help, please seek it.
But journaling can certainly be used in conjunction with this therapy. Generally, this is called Shadow work, which I’m a little embarrassed to say that I just learned this term (I don’t think I had a name for it, but now I guess I do!), but it’s the act of looking at the deeper self to resolve difficult influences that are residing within the psyche.
Jessi Huntenburg has a good video on Journal Prompts and Tarot Spreads regarding Shadow Work if this is something you’d like to explore further.
4. Develops Intuition
A continuation of point 2 and 3, as you get to know your inner workings and learn to write freely, it allows your intuition to step in and take the reins. With this you can learn to listen to your intuition, write down what it says. By getting comfortable listening to it, you’ll be able to incorporate it into your tarot practice when you read for others.
5. Keeps Your Head in the Game
Like I said, I’ve been reading for 15 years. There have been some periods when I’ve broken away from jounraling, and I find that slowly, but surely, I lose a little bit of a connection with the cards.
That’s not to say at all that I lose my touch, or that you will if you don’t journal, of course. But, I just find that when I read after a while of neglecting my journal, I’m not as focused on the messages in the cards. I’m more likely to rely on just keyword descriptions. I’m a little more willing to just throw out generalized meanings in placement of actual thorough explanation and reading of the card.
This is alright if it’s just for me (I suppose), but when it comes to reading for other people, I am certainly doing a disservice and short-changing them. I know that I’d be pretty upset if that’s the sort of reading I got from someone–especially if I was paying them.
So journaling helps me stay centered, keeps the cards as an extension of me.
6. Continued Learning
The message of the Tarot as a whole is that we go through cycles. Each time we find ourselves at a similar place, we’re not. We’re more experienced, wiser, have learned a thing or two to carry along with us from that point forward. Thus, we are on a higher level.
Likewise, each time we return to a card in a seemingly similar situation, we aren’t in the same place. We have new memories and understandings to help us better cope with the card, dissect the card, and comprehend it.
Thus, each time you journal on a card or a reading, not only are the circumstances of the reading likely going to be different, but you are going to be different. With more experience under your belt, you’ll bring more information to the table. The Journal thus is a place where you record your elevated experience of the card and the situation, and expand your learning.
Sometimes we just don’t know we know something until we write it down. That’s really the key to journaling, and the importance.
It’s been said that when ou write (or speak), it’s forcing all your thoughts that are floating about you to organize and come through one funnel. It forces you to put the thoughts into order in order to bring them forward into the outer world.
So no matter where you’re at in your tarot journey, give journaling–either via writing or voice recording–a real go. See where it takes you. Record your results 😉
Just a friendly reminder, all through the month of April is Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’ll be supplying you with daily spreads to help you through your novel construction. If you’ve every thought about trying your hand at fiction, I would strongly recommend this 30 Day Tarot Writing Challenge. Don’t worry, there’s no sign-up involved. Just tag #30DayTarotWritingChallenge on Instagram and Twitter to spread the word!
Also, if you’d like to be in my Camp Cabin, send me your Camp username, and I’ll be sure to add you.