tarot

Simple ways to use oracle cards

If you're seeking a quick, fun, and meaningful way to look inward, working with oracle cards could be an enriching practice for you. The simple act of choosing a card (or a few cards) is an immediate way to invite self-reflection, whether you are starting your day, pondering a lingering question in your life, or invoking nighttime dreams. Oracle cards generally come grouped into a deck, and they can provide us with insight into our innermost questions -- not from some outside source, rather from our inner wisdom used in deciphering their message. Tarot cards are one well-known example of an oracle card deck, though there are many other types. You don't need to be a professional tarot reader, a shaman, a believer of woo-woo, or anything other than exactly who you are to make oracle cards part of your practice. All you need is a favorite deck (or you can even create a deck yourself using your own art and/or images cut from magazines.) A few of my favorite oracle card decks I keep around my studio are pictured below, and many can be purchased via the Amazon affiliate carousel at the bottom of this post.

Ways I like to use my oracle cards:

  • At the start of my morning
  • To set intentions for my week, placed upon my altar or around the house as a visual reminder
  • For clients to draw at the begining of therapy to arrive into the sacred space and set the tone for the session
  • As creative writing or journaling prompts
  • For help in answering a question that I'm mulling over (because the reflecting on the image requires me to go deeply inward and inquire from my true, core self.)
  • Before bedtime, to close my day or invoke/inquire into my nighttime dreams
  • To mark special occasions, like my birthday, new years, or the beginning of a project
  • To mark a transition, like a move, a new job, a birth, a death, a relationship beginning or ending

How-to and prompts:

Once you have a deck you like, get a feel for it. Hold the deck in your hands, shuffle it gently, cut the cards - do whatever you'd like. While you are holding the cards, think of a question you'd like to ask. It can be as simple as: "What do I need in this moment?" or "What will this day bring?" You can fan them out or stack them. Using your intuition, pull a card from the deck. (Sometimes a card will fall on the floor as you shuffle - that's usually your card.)

After you pull a card, study it closely. If you have a deck of words (like the Angel card or Blesssing card decks in the carousel below) or phrases on the card (like the Shambhala deck or Danielle LaPorte's Truthbomb deck,) then see how/if this word or phrase could apply to your life.

If your deck is comprised of cards with images, really look at the card you pull. What is pictured? What colors are used? Is there movement or stillness? Is there a person(s) present? Are there animals? Which natural elements stand out: fire, water, earth, air? Simply describe what you see. (We art therapists call the practice of just describing what you see "the phenomenological approach to the image" - fancy huh?) Describing form/the image leads to content/the meaning.

Now it's time to let your mind free-associate and play! Does your card remind you of anything or anyone in your life? Could it apply to the question you asked as you shuffled? What do the words or colors or shapes mean to you? (i.e.; "yellow reminds me of the sun and happiness" or "owls make me think of nighttime and wisdom" or "the word 'patience' is such medicine for me right now.") At this point, you may choose to make notes in your journal. If your card comes with a booklet describing the images (as tarot cards and other decks often do,) you might choose to then add this collective wisdom into your own personal reflections. Though, I'd recommend saving the booklet for last so as not to cloud your intuitive hunches.

You might also pull 3 cards in a row, representing 1) Who I was, 2) Who I am, and 3) Who I will become. You can get creative about what sets of cards can mean, or you can consult the booklet that comes with your deck to see what types of readings are recommended.

This practice can be infused with any energy you give it: light, fun, sacred, deep, meditative, inspiring... and the best part is that you can connect with yourself and your inner voice in under 5 minutes when engaging in oracle card reading. Trust the process.