How To Use Tarot To Learn More About Yourself, Even If You're Not A Believer

by Minerva Siegel
Minerva Siegel

"Self-care" is a buzzword that’s been trending on social media for a while now, and I’m totally here for it. Self-care can mean everything from indulging in luxuries like steamy bubble baths, lush face masks and polished manicures, to taking care of your mental health, going for a jog or letting it all out in therapy. While I have a lot of little self-care routines and rituals, the one that’s had the most unexpectedly profound effect on me may surprise you: I read tarot cards every day. How to use tarot for self-exploration is actually easier than it may seem, though the two don't notably go together very often.

So, what is tarot, exactly? Tarot is a popular divination practice centered around a deck of cards. The deck is often comprised of Major and Minor Arcana. Major Arcana are cards that represent situations, advice and lessons that have long-term impacts on your life. Minor Arcana indicate personality archetypes and day-to-day situations relating to emotions, careers, struggles and inspiration. The general idea behind tarot is that some sort of magical, spiritual entity or energy leads you to drawing the specific cards you’re meant to see in order to predict your future, reveal a hidden truth, or otherwise guide you.

I love reading tarot, but I have a secret: I'm on the fence about whether or not it's actually a magical process.

Does a powerful universal energy draw me to the cards I’m spiritually meant to see? Honestly, I really don’t know. More likely, the cards I pull are random, and I derive from them the personal messages my subconscious wants me to hear.

Here’s an example tarot reading to show you what I mean.

Photo by Minerva Siegel

I just pulled three cards: The Empress, The Magician, and the Ace of Pentacles. The Magician is said to be a call to action. It’s a positive omen that encourages the reader to harness the power of their creativity to bring about major life changes. The Empress is a card expressing powerful, nurturing energy that reminds readers to be compassionate. Lastly, the Ace of Pentacles indicates new financial opportunities and material prosperity.

Intuitively, as a tarot reader, I’m supposed to connect the dots between the meanings of these cards in order to come up with the main message of the spread. Another person might look at these three cards and interpret their message very differently (tarot reading is very subjective!), but I see this particular spread essentially saying, “Manifest and direct your creative energy carefully, then get ready for some major professional changes. Staying tender and open-hearted will lead you to success.”

Maybe some sort of spirit helped me pull these specific cards in order to communicate the advice I drew from them, but, maybe not. And that's OK.

Photo by Minerva Siegel

Maybe tarot, at its heart, is really more about self-exploration. Maybe we interpret the spreads in ways that always seem to be deeply relevant to our lives because the art of tarot is less about otherworldly magic and more about being open to hearing important messages your subconscious wants you to pay attention to.

Despite whether or not I truly believe in the spirituality of tarot, I’m deeply grateful for its positive impact on my life.

Reading tarot is an act of mindfulness for me. During readings, I’m reflective and self-analytical. The cards encourage me to take a step back and view my life more subjectively to find ways I can apply their lessons and advice. Since I began reading tarot regularly, I find that I reflect more deeply on day-to-day situations in my life in a way that leads to positive, new perspectives and personal growth.

I’m sure you indulge in important acts of self-care, whether they’re as simple as getting your nails done, as essential as taking medication for your health, or as complex as building new skills. Consider picking up a gorgeous Tarot deck and trying my divination-as-self-care approach to tarot reading. You may just find it as immensely therapeutic as I do! If not, hey, at least the cards are gorgeous and totally Instagrammable, right? Happy reading, babes!