Loose Leaf Tarot


Only in dreams

When I was growing up, I always had really vivid dreams. Sometimes they seemed relevant to my life, but often they were just bizarre or fun or even scary. Occasionally, I’d decide to keep a dream journal (I’m particularly fond of one entry in which 8-year-old me flies the Millennium Falcon). The journals never stuck, though, because I didn’t really need to write my dreams down to remember them.

But somewhere along the way, I stopped recalling my dreams at all. I always assumed this had to do with sleep cycles, that in adulthood my cycles had changed so that I never woke up at the right time to hold on to anything. Eventually I got over it, and kind of forgot what it was like before (there’s a metaphor in there…).

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When you’ll never be a royal (Or, on being who you actually are, right now)


Lately, it feels like court cards are coming up an awful lot when I do readings, sneaking in no matter what question I’m contemplating or what story I’m trying to explore. They turn up in the simplest spreads and the most complex. I’ll be hoping for a poignant major card to reveal itself, so I can smile knowingly while feeling wise and connected to deep universal truths, like a real tarot reader. But instead, here’s yet another page or queen, looking smug, forcing me to think up even more possible meanings for these images I’ve been seeing over and over for weeks.

(I get it, court cards. I’ve always shunned you a bit, and now that I’m listening, you have all sorts of things to tell me about what’s up with my shit. Okay. Just stop trying to forcibly take over my blog, maybe?)

Today when I threw my cards, the story was one that comes up a lot for me. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve got a very swords-heavy personality. But I’ve always been drawn to the wands, in real life as well as in tarot. Wands people are warm and sharp at the same time, like a shot of cinnamon liquor. They make you feel like something special is happening no matter what, and like you’re right in the middle of it. Or at least, they’re right in the middle of it, and maybe if you’re lucky you’ll be along for the ride.

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A quick spread trick, because sometimes a quick spread is all you can do


Unexpected Life Event of the week: I’m a rock climber, and on Monday I had my first real injury. I don’t get sick or hurt too often, but apparently when I do, I make it count. Now I have a broken wrist. Yaaay.

(Behold! Evidence that tarot cards really don’t reveal your future, or I’d have gone to a movie that afternoon.)

My doc’s putting in some pins next week, but for now I’ve only got one hand for things like typing, general existence, and using my cards. I started journaling some big-picture ideas in my tarot notebook over the past couple weeks – more thoughts about gender, and some about approaching the mystical/spiritual elements of the tarot as a mostly non-mystical reader. But it looks like these will have to wait until I can write again, and until I can type faster than twelve (misspelled) words a minute.*

In the meantime, here’s a simple method I like to use for quick spreads.

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Story mapping will make you feel smart, creative, and attractive* all at the same time

storymapping wide shot

Tarot readings are generally supposed to be conducted with some approximation of mental stillness, a focused willingness to sit down and quietly examine what comes to the surface when you throw the cards. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to sit still and think at the same time. For me, this is where story maps come in.

There’s something satisfying about mapping when you’re feeling a little manic, when you want to keep your hands busy instead of doing something more meditative. It’s a way to use the tarot when you’re more invested in playing with thoughts than with doing a regular reading.

I’m a writer currently working on a novel, and the past week I’ve been totally stuck on a plot point that’s keeping me from moving forward into the next section of story. When I tried to write, clicking between the manuscript and my notes as if that was going to accomplish something, I kept getting distracted and wandering away from the computer. So I decided to do a map with my cards.

You don’t have to be a writer to use story maps in your tarot practice (but they do work really well for dislodging half-formed plot details out of the gummy recesses of your brain). If you’re a beginner, a story map built from a book/movie/show you know well can help you play with the cards, getting a feel for how they interact in a spread. Story maps can also help illuminate real-world situations. They’re basically just spreads you make up as you go along, starting with a few initial cards and working out, choosing the cards intentionally rather than at random.

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