Creative Ways to Use a Tarot Journal
by Arnell Ando
(Originally published in the Llewellyn 2000 Calendar and updated in 2008)

A tarot journal can be a catalyst for creating a personal vision of the cards, as well as chronicling your inner and outer journey. Aside from the practical use of collecting card interpretations from various sources or keeping a chronological record of your readings and their patterns and themes, your tarot journal is also a way to express the creative themes in your life.

Write down your interpretations of a deck before reading the author's and note differences and similarities.

Keep a dream journal along with your tarot journal, comparing synchronicities. Be alert to archetypes, symbols, and numbers also found in the tarot. Pull cards that represent the key elements in your dream and record the card's meaning and how it relates to the dream symbol or image. One example: the Chariot might best fit a dream about driving through perilous streets.

Do a reading before going to a movie and afterward compare your notes with the actual plot, giving you the added bonus of instant gratification in seeing how accurately you predict, as well as viewing alternative interpretations of the cards from the perspective of the movie.

Choose specific cards that outline the theme of a movie you've already seen, using a spread that explores the sequence of the storyline, depicts why the characters needed to experience the outcome or message of the film. 'Vision quest' movies like Forrest Gump, Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty and Lost in Translation seem to work best for this.

Pick a daily card and journal a question spoken in the voice of this card and answer it. For example, The Star might ask, 'What are you optimistic about? What is the one dream you will never part from?'

Here's a list of questions as posed by the Majors

Write an affirmation for your daily card to repeat throughout the day. One for the Strength card could be: 'Treating myself gently makes me stronger.' Place the card in a picture frame at your workplace as a reminder to repeat this affirmation to yourself whenever you see it.

Collect sayings that echo the truth of each card. Here is a growing collection of quotes

Create a Tarot Key. For the Major Arcana, write ancient and modern manifestations of each card, selecting movies or stories that best express its quality, along with your own interpretations. Here is my Major Arcana Tarot key example, including favorite movie associations.

Record associations and symbolic images for the four suits. The Cups, for example, are ruled by the Moon, and are associated with water, relationships, love, healing, dreams and fantasy. They are emotion-based, and their orientation to time is focused on the past. Images include chalices, shells, containers and all sea creatures.

Create a numerology key. For example, "two" equals polarity, duality, and relationships. A Tarot key which has associations of the 4 suits, numerology and court cards can be found here.

Personalize the court cards by noting a brief impression of the personality of the card, as well as people in your life or celebrities that demonstrate the personal attributes of the card. Add photos or cutouts from magazines.

Collect ads greeting cards, cartoons and images that convey the meaning of the cards and add them to your journal.

Make your own tarot deck while journaling about what each card means to you. Collage is an excellent method. Your tarot journal will really come in handy now. Study it while meditating on your personal vision of the card. When you finish a card, color copy one for your journal and laminate the other for a reading deck. This has been the most gratifying and powerful project I've done with tarot. In fact, my published book and deck set, Transformational Tarot, evolved from my tarot journal! I have several articles related to creating your own Tarot deck on my site, as well as a few guest deck creators sharing their own process so please check out some of these in the article section of the site.

Arnell Ando is a Jungian-based, certified Expressive Arts Therapist and certified Tarot grandmaster. She has created 4 Tarot decks including, Transformational Tarot, which was self-published in 1995 and published by US Games in 2006. Arnell has combined her studies in the spiritual and psychological fields and her passion for mythology to create her unique interpretation of the Tarot. She has contributed to numerous collaborative decks including Artist's Inner Vision. You can see her decks and read various articles pertaining to Tarot and the Expressive Arts at: She continues to explore new mediums including custom made miniature occult shops and elaborate Tarot shadow boxes. Arnell conducts art and Tarot workshops in her studio in San Diego and at various symposiums.