A Daily Tarot Practice Is More than a Card of the Day
Want to learn tarot? Almost all tarot readers suggest pulling a card a day. Not me! In fact, I only started hearing about this technique in the past ten to fifteen years. Older authors recommended the practice of daily tarot study including meditating on the same card every day until you had learned it. But the newer generation advises, “pull a card, any card.” Nevertheless, daily effort, just like practicing the piano or working out, will put your skills over the top. So, should you start pulling a card a day? I wouldn’t. Read on to learn the benefits of and how to develop a daily tarot practice.
The Benefits of a Daily Tarot Practice
A daily tarot practice makes you a better reader, keeps you oiled, and develops your spiritual muscles. You gain knowledge, confidence, and trust in your self and your readings. Intuition blooms. Working with something in a focused manner every day, even if you give it up later, boosts its staying power (like riding a bike!).
Using tarot can change your day, your week, your year, and your life. At first tarot helps you answer all the questions you have. It helps you lose the fretting and anxiety. But if you let tarot work on you while you work with it, you’ll find you need the cards less and less. You have more peace of mind. You know what the best option is for you. Your confidence in your own choices skyrockets, so you need less feedback from others. In fact, the more you use tarot the less you need it. And that’s the perfect reason to forever grant it a daily place in your life.
How to Develop a Daily Tarot Practice Using Five Basic Steps
These five components create a well-rounded daily tarot practice.
- Education: Study the cards, their history and symbolism, and related fields of interest.
- Meditation: Quiet your thoughts so that your intuition can rise up, and explore the cards and their symbols in meditative states.
- Divination: The practical work of laying out tarot spreads and interpreting them.
- Documentation: Taking notes on your studies, journaling your readings, and reviewing your work to better understand your processes and increase your accuracy.
- Invitation: Connecting to the Divine, or to guides, ancestors, angels, deities, spirits, or other inner plane beings for guidance, wisdom, and direction. One of the many benefits of this process is helping you to rise above and see the bigger picture.
Read on for more information on each of these five steps to develop a daily tarot practice!
Education is learning from the ideas and experiences of others. Even though I discourage the use of books of tarot card interpretations or keywords, I heartily endorse study of the theory and practice of tarot. We can dive into the tarot’s history, lineages, and symbol systems. But don’t stop there. Beyond this, many people find it useful to study esoteric philosophy (qabalah, astrology and neo-platonism are good places to start), mythology, healing, psychology, or other related fields.
Study can also provide a structured approach to learning the cards. You might study the Major Arcana in order, or spend some in-depth time with the court cards. Or delve into alchemical correlations to the tarot. Setting some goals and a course of action ensures there are no gaps in your learning.
For myself and those of my colleagues who are truly expert in this field, I have noticed that we read slowly and carefully, often reading the same book over and over. We take notes, meditate on the ideas presented, and discuss them with each other. If speed reading is more your style, great, I think it’s fabulous to read everything you can get your hands on. But if you’re a slow reader, don’t despair. It takes time to unravel big ideas and the best authors write densely. Take your time, take notes, and take heed. You’ll benefit from a lot more take-aways.
Step 1 in your daily tarot practice: Read books and take notes.
Read one paragraph a day. Write down the major ideas. Contemplate how these ideas affect your previous understanding and open new paths. Record questions you might have.
Not your thing? Studying includes interviewing experts, taking classes, joining or starting discussion groups, or attending study sessions. Join a tarot Meetup. Find out what others think.
Meditation lets you find your inner wisdom. In this context, meditation serves a dual purpose. First, clarity arises from calm, focused thoughts. Many questions you would like to ask the tarot simply dissipate as unimportant, irrelevant, or tangential when you learn to center yourself through stillness meditation. Secondly, once you can arrive at a more focused mental state, your intuition kicks into overdrive. Deep insight surprises you. And from this place of stillness you are more aware of your connection to the Divine and therefore open to receiving spiritual guidance.
So to develop the meditative mind, it is helpful to practice focusing your thoughts. Breathing meditations, mantra meditations, and gazing meditations are just a few examples of practices that help you to narrow your focus. After achieving that, it is useful to apply that focus towards a topic. In other words, to meditate on something. You can meditate on the ideas in your daily study, a card or card combination, or specific symbols or details within a card image. After studying other people’s ideas, these practices allow your own ideas to surface.
Step 2 in your daily tarot practice: Focus your thoughts with meditation.
Perform a breathing, gazing, or mantra meditation daily. I recommend the Fourfold Breath Meditation with Tarot Ace Visualization or this beginning Reiki meditation. Although you might find it easy to use a pre-recorded guided meditation to start with, please discontinue its use after you’ve learned the technique. It is important that your meditation is done alone, in silence (or only the sound of your mantra, if you’re using that technique). While it is also important to learn to meditate with others and under adverse conditions, when you start, it is beneficial to find a place and time where you can be alone and quiet.
After a few minutes of meditation, when you’ve reached a place where you feel more focused than usual, also spend some time using an active meditation such as entering a card (the fourth exercise at that link) or exploring the ideas from your studies using discursive meditation.
Not your thing? Alternatives to a meditative practice include creative approaches. You might try drawing, collaging, or coloring cards. Write poetry, a short story, character sketch, or monologue for a card. Dance the movement of the card. Play it on your musical instrument. Creativity is a wonderful way to connect with the inner muse of meditation.
Daily divination is your opportunity to use your cards. Do a reading. Ask a question, pull cards, find an answer. The types of questions you ask are up to you. Remember that for the most part, for a daily practice, think of daily sized questions. It’s not practical to ask life-changing questions every day. Nor is it in your best interest to ask the same question or inquire on the same topic every day.
What Should I Ask the Tarot?
Instead, try asking about specific events for your day. For instance, it is more helpful to ask about how a particular meeting at work will go than to ask if you should start looking for a new job! Also, keep in mind the different ways tarot can be used. You can ask for predictions: How will today’s meeting go? For wisdom: What do I need to know about today’s meeting? Or for advice: What can I bring to the table at today’s meeting to achieve my desired outcome? Trying mixing it up every day, exploring different types of questions and determining what produces the best results for you. Clear, practical questions offer the benefit of producing concise, usable answers.
Although it’s practical to ask about your day, and highly beneficial to your development as a tarot reader to learn to uncover mundane information in the cards, that’s not the only direction you can follow with your questioning. Ask the tarot how to cope with difficult relationships. Explore methods to overcome personal challenges. Let them guide you in releasing bad habits. You can even pull cards on your daily reading assignment asking for clarification or how to apply the information, letting the intuitive nature of the cards help you better understand your studies.
If you’re in need of questions to ask, check out my post Fifteen Tarot Questions to Ask When You Don’t Have a Question and two ways to Develop a Tarot Spread Without a Question.
Tarot Card of the Day — Or Two
If you really want to pull a card a day, here’s where you can do it. However, my teacher taught me always to work with card combinations. Absolutely you can find loads of information and receive an answer to a question in a single card. So two or more cards just convolutes the situation, right? No, it actually narrows the information down. Ask any tarot reader and they’ll tell you that you can find almost any meaning in a single card. Not too helpful when we’re trying to pinpoint an answer to a question. So lay out two cards. You answer lies in the area where the two cards connect. Even if the cards are starkly different, you’ll find your answer using your meditative mind and exploring the links and contrasts between the two cards.
Newbies Take Note: Alternative to Divination — Imagination
For those brand-new to tarot, doing daily divination might seem like a lot. Beginners often find that readings are more likely to frustrate them than to enlighten them. Which in turn undermines their confidence. But you still want to develop your familiarity with the images and build your vocabulary with the cards. A good solution is to use your cards creatively. I recommend using the cards to tell the story of your day. Lay out three to five cards to illustrate an incident that happened during your day. This technique lets you automatically understand the cards, in the way that the image naturally speaks to you.
Unlike the meditative processes, the divination process will result in words. My students do a lot of writing when taking tarot classes with me. The process of divination involves connecting through the tarot image with the spiritual realm, receiving previously unknown information, and bringing it back in a way that can be shared with others. Compare this to the Hero’s Journey modeled by Joseph Campbell of crossing into the world of adventure, achieving the ultimate boon, and returning with the magic elixir to the home community in order to share that gift with others.
Translate Tarot Images Into Words
Healing shares energy. Ritual shares experience. The oracle shares words. Tarot, although it can be used in healing and ritual situations, is primarily an oracle. In fact, the most important purpose of the cards is that they speak to create change (TARO ORAT ROTA). Translate the tarot images into words to kickstart your tarot reading prowess.
Step 3 in your daily tarot practice: Ask a question, get an answer.
Back to basics and what you can do today: Use your divination practice, or the imagination practice, to assign words to the cards.
Not your thing? Then you’re probably not a tarot reader! But you can still use the cards for meditation, ritual work, and personal and spiritual development. Check out a BOTA study group or join the Rosicrucians.
Taking notes on your studies, your meditations, and your readings is immensely useful. Writing something down helps us remember it. Plus the act of translating ideas in your head into words on paper forces you to explain and complete your thoughts. Finally, having a record of your readings allows you to return to them and see where you were right and where you went off track, which in itself is an education.
There are many wonderful, beautiful, useful tarot journals you can buy to document your readings. I’ve never used any of them. I like a wirebound notebook and a good pen. You might like a yellow pad. Or a three-ring binder and loose paper. Or a word processing program or a note-taking app. Once I asked my dentist what kind of floss was best. He said, “The kind you’ll use every day.” Choose a tarot journal you’ll use every day.
Step 4 in your daily tarot practice: Write it down.
Take notes from your studies, write down your meditations, and document your readings.
Not your thing? Record your thoughts on audio or video. Mind map.
5. And the Too Often Neglected — Invitation
The four steps above are all it takes to create a daily tarot practice that will launch your skills to the next level. However, please consider the following. Although it’s not for everyone, I believe it is helpful to add one more step to this process. I learned tarot as part of a spiritual development and training system. So tarot was always part of my spiritual practice. In fact, I didn’t realize until years later that many people read tarot without developing any form of spiritual connection. So I know that it’s possible to be a good reader without connecting to Spirit. But I believe that inviting this connection makes an inspired and inspiring reader.
Here are six ways to connect to Spirit.
Step 5 in your daily tarot practice: It’s not all you
If doing a reading feels like chatting with a good friend or giving advice, you’re very likely doing it wrong. Giving advice comes from our views and our experiences. When we release our prejudices and preferences we can speak directly to the unique individual in front of us. This ability is enhanced by performing our tarot readings from the universality of Spirit instead of from the limitations of our own mind, body, or soul.
Not your thing? If spirituality is not an interest, strive for healing and understanding, such as can be realized through work with alternative healing modalities, such as Reiki, or with psychological therapies. Healing the body and mind are powerful tools of transformation. Anything that expands your mind, including exploring new ideas and foreign places, can ultimately produce the effects that are useful here.
Daily Tarot Practice, or Regular Tarot Practice
As I mentioned above, my teacher never taught me a daily tarot practice. In fact, I’ve never done a daily practice of pulling a single card or performing a reading. However, I do have many years of experience doing other daily practices, including energy healing, meditation, prayer, study, and ritual work. Even going back to childhood I’ve practiced various instruments every day and followed a variety of fitness regimens. I feel happier, more balanced, more connected, and more myself when I’m doing those practices. I’m sure you have too, so you know the benefits to you.
When to Do Your Daily Tarot Practice
- Grab your cards and journal during the quiet of those late night or early morning hours when it’s just you.
- When I was doing regular mantra meditations, I would carry my mala in my purse, arrive at all meetings and events fifteen minutes early, and do ten minutes of mantras before going in. I always walked into those situations refreshed, centered, and focused.
- Arrive at work 5, 10, 20 minutes early, park at the far end of the lot, and stay in your car, reading your paragraph, doing your breathing, and/or interpreting your pair of cards.
- Or take public transit and do your practice on the bus (yes, I’ve meditated on the bus many times with fabulous results). And when I was taking a less bumpy regional bus to work, I was able to read and study regularly.
- Or have that driveway moment at home before heading into the house.
- Turn off the TV half an hour earlier every night and do your daily tarot practice in the ensuing quiet.
- Or embrace the anti-social part of yourself and wander off to a quiet place when everyone else is watching the tube.
- Pull a couple of cards before your walk, jog, or workout. Think about them while your body is moving, then write down any thoughts or insights you had after your exercise.
- I had a tarot student who did her readings and ritual work in the bathroom, the only place she could spend time undisturbed.
- And another who would do them in bed. Her mother called them “Bedspreads.”
- When I was studying and memorizing esoteric correspondences for the cards, I would recite them on the bus, standing in line, in bed when I was trying to fall asleep, or even to calm my thoughts if I was feeling agitated.
- If you don’t have time for all five steps every day, consider doing one step each day of the week. Monday is for study, Tuesday for meditation, Wednesday for divination, etc.
I don’t know your schedule, so I don’t know what will work for you. But there is time. I know that for sure. And I’ll bet when you find that time and reassign it to your daily tarot practice, you’ll realize you’ve eliminated something toxic in your life. And added something powerful and beautiful.
Or Your Regular Tarot Practice
If you are overwhelmed by the thought of trying to fit in a daily practice, I invite you to begin a regular practice. My teacher instructed me in following the moon phases and seasonal holidays with ritual work. That was something I followed for years. So if you can’t commit to a daily practice, find a regular time you can assign to a consistent tarot practice.
- Every full moon and new moon.
- Maybe once a week on the day that tends to be lighter with more “me time.”
- Once a month on bill paying day. Maybe beforehand to go into it with equanimity, or after to soothe your soul and remember your reasons.
- On the last or first day of the week or month as part of your plan ahead time.
- On the day or days your kids/partner/roommate/parent/dog is out of the house.
- The point is that it’s regular. Same day of the week, or month, or always on the full or new moon, or once every 20 days, or the day the phone bill comes, or something that is always there.
- And yes, there is immense value in learning to adapt your practice. Your monthly tarot practice night falls on book club night? Don’t skip tarot. Find your fastest, abbreviated practice you can do and still feel like you got something out of it and feel good that you can fit everything in. If you want to also add in a full practice the next day when you have more time, fabulous. But don’t skip your practice on its assigned day.
- I put reminders in my calendar and add a notification alert.
- I’ve also used meditation apps that send me notifications that a friend is meditating, I friended someone I didn’t know who meditated every day about the same time as me. He was insanely disciplined. I would get the alert that he was meditating and it would remind and motivate me to keep up.
- Be disciplined.
- Be flexible.
- And be compassionate.
- Begin. Begin again. And again.
When It’s Hard to Develop a Daily Tarot Practice: Bonus Tip
It’s easy to start a daily practice. It’s difficult to maintain one. If something distracts you and you reassign your daily tarot time to learning tai chi or training for a marathon or whatever, don’t just lose your tarot practice. Use it. Translate your tai chi moves into cards. Use tarot imagery to set goals for the race.
Tarot works best when it fits into and reflects all aspects of our lives. Free it to expand into other areas of your life and you’ll never lose it.