Just ask psychoanalysts, counselors and therapists.

They really do go through a sort of psychoanalysis and counseling as part of their training. They are trained to be aware of their own issues and biases. They are trained to be professionals. They are trained to be helpers without losing their own objectivity, health and humanity in the process. In my opinion, it would be a good idea if we Tarot readers did the same.

To put it bluntly, you have to have your own shit together before you can help someone who is flipping theirs.

The decision to read Tarot for other people is a serious one. You are touching minds and hearts with no less influence than counselors or ministers. Fun, entertainment and humor have an important place in Tarot too, but let’s save that for another day. I don’t have data, or academic sources to back this up, but based on long experience doing Tarot readings for hundreds of people over the years, Tarot has a very real emotional impact. Sometimes a reading brings laughter, sometimes tears, sometimes both. I’ve seen stress melt and a glimmer of hope return to a client’s eyes during a reading. It is an honor to play a small role in that process.

That hints at another thing I’ve seen over the decades: the best readers are motivated by a desire to help people live a little happier. We have a lot in common with those psychoanalyzed psychoanalysts and counseled counselors. Tarot might seem like an arcane and rustic folk art by comparison to modern psychotherapy, but it is motivated by the same impetus to empower the human spirit. We know Tarot works, because to a person, every Tarot reader I know reads for themselves.

Like much in Tarot World, the self-healing aspect of Tarot practice is self-taught and hard-won. Like everything in the realm of spirituality, it is very individualized. Our choice of private personal growth techniques are as varied as each individual. Tarot readers are growing, learning, living, breathing, mistake-making, genius-moment-having, human beings like everyone else.Which is exactly why it is important to have something else for self-development in addition to Tarot in our toolkit. We all need something private and personal, just for us. Sure, doing readings for ourselves or having a private session with another reader would fill the bill just fine. One note does not make a song. One eye does not let us see depth. It is helpful to have a different point of view. It helps to look at life through a different lens from Tarot ever now and then. It is back to the right tool for the right job mantra that drives this post series. You can’t drive a nail with a cell phone and you can’t send a text message with a hammer.

As a Tarot reader who likes to write books and blogs, a good pen is an essential part of my Oracle Toolkit. Most of the time these days, that “pen” takes the form of a computer keyboard. It’s a throwback to the days when typewriters were symbolic of writers and journalists…using a keyboard is still a very “writer” thing to do. But there are times when you can’t beat the pace, the feel and the pure magic of an honest to goodness pen on real paper.

Personal growth and spirituality with a pen can only mean one thing: A Journal. I’m talking a no rules, no holds barred, say anything, doodle anything, book of shadows, dear diary kind of journal. It is a safety vent of the first order. You can harmlessly blow off any kind of steam. It is deliberate, targeted and reliable, more so than the psychological subconscious underworld of dreams and oracles. And it is much more active than passive. In Tarot we listen. In a journal we can scream and swear into the void. In a journal you can deliberately release and negate the energies that are harmful, or no longer serve you. It’s as simple as using that pen in your toolkit to scratch out the stuff that no longer serves us and write something new and better into existance.

If you want to learn more about the attraction/manifestation aspects of journaling, I highly recommend “Writer Your Own Magic: The Hidden Power in Your Words” by Richard Webster (Llwellyn Publications.) It is a pleasant, easy read and a giant ah-HA kind of experience.

A journal is more than a tool for manifesting and banishing. It is another way to converse with yourself. It is hard to deny or hide your mistakes….all the stuff you really need to learn…when it is right there in front of you in black and white. I’m a fan of stream of consciousness style journaling. To hell with spelling, punctuation, coherent sentences or any other darn thing. Just download whatever crosses your mind, without judgement, without processing it. In that way it is very meditative: A thought arises and you let it go out the end of your pen. But it isn’t entirely like meditation because the thought isn’t totally released. The thoughts are captured to be processed later with greater insight and objectivity than in the moment they happened. In meditation, the thoughts are fully released not to return, like leaves floating downstream. In a journal, thoughts are captured, contained for a moment to process, THEN you release them to be changed or manifested as you see fit.

There are lots of books about therapeutic and creative journal keeping. Never read a one of them. I used, loved, and greatly benefited from the no holds barred, grab a pen and a cheap notebook and have at it approach.

Of course, a journal is a wonderful tool for learning, growing, self awareness, personal growth, self expression, growing closer to your spirit guides or any of a bazillion other things if you are not a Tarot reader too. Anyone can just write, with no rules and utter privacy. Yes, keep it private, that is the real magic and trick of a journal. Like the pendulum work we talked about last time, this is you doing something for you to get in touch with you. Of course you can type it. Of course you can private blog it. Heck, vlog it if that is what resonates. For me, it is hard to beat the pace and feel of old school handwriting..

All from a simple pen.

Keeping a journal helps us be better Tarot readers both for ourselves and for our clients if we also read professionally. It helps us engage with the cards in a healthy way. It helps us just plain be wiser and more mature in our work. It can help us be happier people in general. Any tool that does that deserves a place in my Oracle’s Toolkit.