Today we have Sean from http://cupsandcoins.wordpress.
Tarot Journaling is something I do myself and I always recommend it to people as a way to connect with the Tarot and also reflect on life in general. Thank you Sean for sharing here on Ethony.com and readers please check out his WordPress site for more of his journey with the Tarot.
Tarot as a practice is subject to a bazillion different opinions, from the interpretations of individual cards to how spreads should be laid out to whether or not to read reversals (and on and on). One thing, however, that almost every Tarot reader will agree on is that journaling is a fantastic way to get started and learn the skills necessary to become an accurate and successful reader.
If you’re anything at all like me, though, a billion people saying “keep a journal!” isn’t especially helpful. What should I write in it? What kind of information is deemed worthy of entry into the journal? Is it for reference, or more for record-keeping? These are all great questions to ask, and ultimately the answer to all of them really is “it’s up to you.”
Super helpful, right?
Instead of writing a “How to Keep a Tarot Journal” post, because that post has already been written about a gazillion times by people (bloggers and Tarot readers alike) far more talented than I, I’m going to give you a look at my system for journaling. Hopefully it may inspire you to reexamine your own system, or possibly give me some advice on an angle I might be missing out on.
Basically, I don’t keep one single journal for all of my Tarot-related stuff. I actually maintain three separate units, which all work together to form a cohesive system for my own personal use. It breaks down into two physical notebooks, plus a digital “Notebook Stack” in Evernote. I’ll talk a little more about “Stacks” in a bit, but the two notebooks are pretty simple.
The first is where I keep reference info, like astrological correspondences, colors, associations, and different spreads I find in books or across the web. It sort of serves a purpose as my own personal Tarot Bible, carrying information I find personally relevant while leaving out any fluff or filler, or anything that does not seem significant.
The second is my record-keeping journal. Every daily draw and every spread is logged in this notebook. I make note of the date, the moon’s phase and aspect, and any other important information about that particular date (such as Sabbats, Celtic Zodiac months, American/Christian holidays, and so on). Then, if the reading is more than just a daily one-, two-, or three-card draw, I’ll indicate what type of spread I’m using and cross-reference the corresponding page from my other notebook. Next, I list the cards drawn, in order of position within the spread. Finally, I’ll make my actual reading note—first, for each individual card, including references to the other cards in the spread, if relevant, then my overall impression or summary of the reading.
When my notebook full of readings is completely filled up, it will be tagged with the first and last reading dates and filed away. In keeping my reference notes separate, I’ll never need to keep old or outdated readings on hand just to have access to the spreads and other notes I’m going to continue to need as I develop my practice. If I ever need to reference a specific reading, I’ll still be able to do so, but those old notes won’t take up any extra space with the rest of my daily-use materials.
Now, on to my third “notebook,” Evernote.
I’m not going to use this post to describe the ins and outs of using Evernote, other than to say that if you spend any significant time on the computer, and find yourself collecting piles and piles of bookmarks from a bazillion different websites, you should be using Evernote. With it, you can “clip” web pages, articles, photos, and almost anything else and store it on your local hard drive. From there, you can sync your account across all your devices and have all of your stored clips on your phone, tablet, or laptop. It’s even got a web client, so even if you’re without any of your own devices, you can still access everything you’ve saved.
One really great feature within Evernote is Notebook Stacks, which are exactly what they sound like: a stack of virtual “notebooks.” My Cartomancy Stack comprises a notebook for general reference materials (cheat sheets, mostly), plus a notebook for each card. I use this system primarily for gathering information for blog posts, so currently I have a notebook for each card I’ve written a full post about over at Cups and Coins. I also toss in reference/inspiration photos for paintings, so I also have a notebook for each card I’ve completed a painting for.
The best part about using digital notebooks, especially for reference, is that I’m not limited by any physical or financial constraints. I can pile up as many photos, articles, and webpages as I need, and never have to worry about how cluttered my desk is getting or how many more books I can fit on my bookshelf. I can add all the notes I could ever want, and carry them around with me everywhere I go, without my laptop bag getting too full or too heavy.
All in all, this three-sided system is what I’ve found works best for me. There are pros and cons to both physical and digital media, of course, but I think the method I’ve worked out maximizes the pros while minimizing the cons. Since I use my Evernote Stacks primarily for blog and painting reference, I have them on hand whenever I need them without having to worry about having left my notebooks at home, or in the other room, or whatever. On the other hand, digital services are susceptible to loss—sometimes a service shuts down, or their storage servers are corrupted or compromised. With physical media, I get the benefit of tactile feedback. Writing something with a pen or pencil more thoroughly helps me to commit that information to memory—much more so than typing. I also never have to worry about someone hacking my notebooks. Unfortunately, paper notebooks must be carried to be of any use away from home, and can easily be ruined by spills or unfortunately-timed rainstorms. They are also far more difficult to cross-reference, whereas on the computer, I can easily create links between my notes. There are definitely trade-offs, and deciding what you’re willing to compromise on is a big part of finding your own personal system.
So, there you have it: a peek inside my Tarot-journaling system. It’s far from perfect, but it’s working for me. I know that as time goes by, I’ll make modifications. I may slightly adapt the information I record for my spreads, or reconsider the organization of my digital notes. I may completely overhaul the system and find a new method that works entirely differently. And no matter what, I know that it’s okay because it’s my own personal Tarot practice, and as long as the method I use helps me grow and develop as a Tarot reader, it will always be worth it.
Hopefully, if you’ve read this far, you’ve found something you can take away and use in your own practice. Maybe you’ve already got a system that works for you, or maybe you’ll start using your own version of the system I’ve outlined here. Either way, I’d love to hear and see what other people are doing. Tell me, what does your Tarot journal look like?