I met up with a very dear friend recently, and as we were catching up with all of our news, we got to talking about my passion for art and tarot. And I realized that while in my mind the two are connected, I’ve never actually explained how I use the tarot as part of my creative practice.
One of the ways in which I consistently use the tarot to inform my art and creative practice is in my moon journal. I’ve never really attempted to explain the linkage before, but I’m going to try, and I hope this will give you some insight into how you can also use the tarot in your art and creative practice.
Using tarot for creativity: Seeing the signs and symbols in the cards
My fascination with the tarot cards began in my teens. My initial exposure to them was via a friend who had brought back a tarot deck from one of her visits to the US. As we looked at the images on the cards and read the little white book that came along with it, it seemed somewhat mysterious and a bit spooky that we could potentially get so much information from a deck of 78 cards.
That initial exposure to the cards deepened my fascination with tarot, and I remember spending hours on angelfire websites reading whatever I could find on the tarot.
Also read: What is the Tarot: A brief history and introduction to the cards
The symbols and scenes on the cards lend themselves beautifully to storytelling, and I find them to be an endless source of wisdom and inspiration.
So potent is the symbolical language of the tarot cards that noted Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung also recognized that the tarot had its origin in the collective unconscious, and could serve as a bridge between the unconscious and the conscious.
When I pull tarot cards for myself, the colors, symbols, and story within the cards lend themselves to a visual or feeling-toned image in my mind, which I can bring to life on the canvas or in my art journal.
Using tarot in my art and creative practice: Translating a tarot spread into a piece of art
As I already mentioned, the one place where I always combine the tarot and art is in my moon journal.
On each new and full moon I do an in-depth tarot reading for myself, and I use the imagery, colors, story, and feelings that arise from the reading to create a piece of art.
I think I can best explain this with an example.
I drew the following cards on the recent full moon in Leo, using this spread that I had created.
I spent some time interpreting the cards intuitively, and made a note of my insights in my journal. I then spent some time just gazing at the cards. Allowing the images, symbols, and colors to “speak” to me. And I used the feelings and thoughts that arose – along with the written insights – to create the following spread in my art journal.
The wide open heart is a combination of the Ace of Cups and The Star. This understanding of following my own bliss, my dreams, and allowing my heart to guide me in everything that I do.
I drew on the 6 of Pentacles – the energy of divine reciprocity, of giving and receiving – in her bright orange mane of hair, which is also evocative of Leo energy.
And I interpreted the contented energy of the King of Pentacles in the plants growing on her dress. To me, this symbolizes the contentment that comes from tending and nurturing my dreams and my precious heart.
Also read: A flip through of my moon journal from 2019
This is an example of very consciously translating the symbols and meanings and feelings that the tarot cards evoke into a creative art journal spread. I do the same thing when I paint intuitively.
Using tarot in my art practice: Creating intuitive art using tarot storytelling
I often draw a few tarot or oracle cards before starting an intuitive painting. At this time, I’m not looking for any guidance for myself per se. Instead, I use the tarot cards for storytelling.
Looking at the cards above as an example, the story here is one of trusting the Universe. Of holding a dream close to your heart…of listening to your heart’s wisdom and intuition…of putting in the work towards your dream, and trusting that for each step you take, the Universe will take a step towards you, too.
And then holding that story….that feeling….those colors lightly in your mind’s eye as you paint.
Also see: Intuitive painting process: Into the storm – In this post + video, I walk you through how I created an intuitive painting using the story from a few oracle cards I drew before I started this painting session.
Using tarot in my creative practice: using the tarot cards to write an article
Another fun way in which to use the tarot in your creative practice is to draw a few cards and write a blog post or article based on what comes up!
One way to do this is to separate all the major arcana cards and pull a theme from there. Then shuffled the rest of the deck and pull a few cards and use those as prompts to build up an article.
When you’re using the tarot in this way, I would recommend that you trust your intuition. Spend some time looking at the images on the tarot cards. How do the images make you feel? What thoughts pop into your head? Do you have a personal association with any of the symbols?
For example, if I look at the cards above, I can make an immediate connection with the bookshelf behind the King of Pentacles, because I have a similar floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in my home. How, then, can this association and the rest of these cards be used to write an interesting blog post?
Also see: Three keys to creative living I used the tarot cards to write this post!
How to use tarot in your art and creative practice
If this article has you hooked on the many ways in which you can use the tarot intuitively in your art and creative practice, then I encourage you to take a look at Pull Pen Paint: A Journey of Self-Discovery Using Signs, Symbols, and Systems in Your Spiritual & Creative Practice.
I’m returning as a teacher on this course for the second time this year, and I will be teaching a lesson combining the tarot, journaling, story as medicine, and art. And I couldn’t be more excited!
Pull Pen Paint is designed to help you to learn to trust your intuition more fully, more deeply, and more intentionally. We pull cards (tarot and oracle), interpret them intuitively, journal using our intuitive insights, and even take it a step further and use the cards to spark our creative practices!
We spend time looking at all the parts of ourselves through ancient systems like astrology, numerology, chakras, and symbol study. We make art, write poetry, discuss ritual and ceremony, connect with the moon, spend time with our muse and fellowship with other souls on similar journeys.
Our host and course curator Kiala has brought together more than 30 teachers from all walks of life to share their love of journaling, tarot, intuition, spiritual empowerment, and diving deep to uncover the answers that live inside of us. It’s going to be an amazing journey back to yourself.
I mean, there is a reason that I have been part of this course ever since it started – four years ago! The first two years as a student, last year and this year as both teacher and student. Every year, the depth and breadth of this class leaves me astounded. There’s a wealth of wisdom in here and some amazingly talented and gifted teachers and guides!
I wholeheartedly recommend this course – and not just because I’m teaching on it! If you love creating art, reading tarot and oracle cards, want to deepen your tarot practice, learn how to really trust your intuition and do some deep soul excavation, you need to sign up!
Plus, there’s so much information in the foundational section from previous years that alone is worth the price of admission!
I really hope you will consider joining us!
You can find out all the details and sign up right here.
And if you have any questions at all – about the course or about using the tarot in your art and creative practice, leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer all your questions!
Using Tarot to spark creative practices sounds so very interesting. Thanks for sharing this informative post, Shinjini. I’d love to know more abut this some day but, especially at a time when I’m not so neck deep into too many things as I am currently.
Good Luck with the teaching programme, Shinjini. Your journey into art is so very inspiring as always.
Tarot is awesome. I may have to write another post on the many other ways it can be used, too! It’s one of the most misunderstood tools, I think.
The spread you have created is absolutely stunning. They look like those printed cards sold online. I won’t pretend to understand tarot cards, but what I love the most is how you draw intuitively. Listening to your emotions and tapping in the energy to create these artforms. Yours is truly a mindful practice.
Thank you so much, Raj! xx
Wow this is so neatly explained and I am amazed at how you have combined your passions so brilliantly. Thank you for explaining the process in such detail – it has allowed for a very interesting peek into your art work.
The course sounds fabulous and I wish you all the best for it.
Glad you found it insightful, Shalini!
I often see my monthly tarot prediction on Youtube but have never associated it with art. Your art pieces and intuitive creative process is quite interesting. The course sounds great, hope it goes well.
I have re-started the monthly tarot predictions on the blog too. 😉 And tarot can be used for a lot more than just predictions! 🙂
I love the spread you have created. So vibrant and colorful. It is interesting how your love for tarot and art go hand in hand.
Thank you, Reema!
That deck in the first pic looks amazing. Which deck is it?
That’s The Lightseer’s Tarot. One of my favourite decks!
What a fascinating glimpse into your creative process, Shinjini!
Glad you enjoyed reading about it!
I find your art and the whole process so interesting, Shinjini. I can understand how our intuition would inform our creativity. As much as I am fascinated by what you share about tarot cards, just something deep within that keeps me from attempting to use them. Perhaps, some day, I’ll overcome my inhibition.
Totally understandable, Corinne. There’s a lot of misconceptions about the tarot too. When/if you overcome your inhibitions, I hope you’ll discover just how wonderfully creative and deep it is!
Thank you so much! I am interested in the pull, pen, paint course but it looks like it started in March and ends in Feb (with no online access to materials). Will it be offered again?
All the course materials are online – though they aren’t downloadable. They will be accessible until the end of Feb, I believe. And yes, the course should run again next year, with different lessons and additional teachers.
Hi, I was planning to draw some tarot card symbols (king of Pentacles and two of cups, etc) and people (emperor and empress cards) as a painting for my bedroom but a friend who is into tarot advised against using any tarot card as inspiration as they can bring wrong energy. Just would like to confirm this from you too?
Personally, I don’t think any tarot card has “negative” energy. I’m assuming you will be painting/drawing cards that you are drawn to/have personal meaning for you. Nothing could be more affirming than that!