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Setting up a Tarot Journal

My journal is a three-ring binder with a page for each card. Sometimes I wish I’d started my journal on a computer so I could do searches, but my mind works better when I’m holding a pen; and after more than a decade, I’m stuck with my current system. The advantage to organizing your journal by cards rather than chronologically is being able to see clusters of associations around each card. Sometimes a card will give you surprising insights, and sometimes the patterns that emerge over time will validate what you thought the card meant all along.

I often see the center cup in the Five of Cups as a drama queen or diva; and my core meaning for this card is about the eruption of strong emotions, or someone acting out dramatically. But is this how the card operates in the real world, or is it just my theory about what it should mean? Looking at a decade of entries on my Five of Cups page reassures me that, yes indeed, when the Five of Cups appears, strong emotions are soon to follow.

I pulled the Five of Cups the day I went to see the Metropolitan Opera’s broadcast of Verdi’s Il Trovatore – a real emotional roller coaster. On another Five of Cups day, a psychic fair turned out to be an intense experience.  Two other Five of Cups days were spent immersed in creative projects. Then to cap it off, a few years ago a raging storm turned the creek behind my house into a rushing torrent, and extremely high surf pounded the beach – a very rare occurrence here in placid Santa Barbara. That day, the elements confirmed my concept of the card I’d pulled that morning.

Flipping through my journal, I notice more patterns. On several occasions, the Nine of Cups has turned up on the day I’ve gone to a play or concert, so now I often see those three rows of neatly arranged cups as a theater audience or classroom. When the Five of Rods shows up as my card of the day, it often means I’m going to be frantically busy. I wouldn’t have noticed these patterns if my journal had been strictly chronological rather than organized by card.

Start your journal today. Over time you’ll build up a web of associations for each card, you’ll get a sense for how your deck wants to speak through you, and you’ll build up your own personal tarot vocabulary.

The card above is from the Ancient Italian Tarot published by Lo Scarabeo. It was originally published in 1888 by the Avondo Brothers in northern Italy and has been my main reading deck for over a decade. It’s a variant of the soprafino style.

Click here for a post dedicated to this deck.

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