As mentioned in the Card Uses page, keeping a journal about your card readings is an excellent way to improve your abilities with gaining insights from the cards. The writing can be in a paper journal or on your computer. The following list will give you ideas for the how to go about the process.
There is no right way to do this. Read the suggestions below and pick which way of reading the cards feels best for you at the time. You may get into a rhythm or habit that leads to profound insight, or you might just have fun. It’s all good.
Take a minute to get in a state where you draw clues from your deepest intuitive self. Close your eyes, breath deeply and slowly from the lowest part of your chest for several breaths. Clear your mind (as best you can) of clutter. Picture a glass of muddy water (your mind) and picture the mud (your thoughts) settling as you sit quietly.
Look closely at the various elements of the card you’ve chosen. Allow any insights or images that point to meaning, emotion, memory to show themselves. Write down your first impressions and let the words add to your awareness/insights.
An in-depth look at particular habits or perspectives
When you determine what the card is saying to you in the moment, write down any instances in the past (going back as far as possible) where this trait was a part of your life. Pick a few particular people who played a role in the development of this trait, and write about how it felt then, and what you came to believe about yourself in the process.
Write about how this trait shows itself in your life today. Write about the perspectives you’ve developed or hung onto surrounding this trait. Remember to stop to breath and let the mud settle if you get distracted or blocked.
This is not about predicting or planning. Imagine what a healthy, contented, wise person might do if this mind state was being well-used. Imagine yourself free from attachments to this attribute. Imagine how situations would be dealt with if the trait was used in the service of understanding and freedom.
Articulate the emotions, general or specific, that the card brings up for you. As you express the responses that emerge, listen to what and how you’re describing them. Tell-tale phrases or subliminal hints of more nuanced feelings may show themselves. If this level of sensitivity sounds too hard to access, it’s enough to just name an overall emotion that might accompany the card.
Ask a Question
Try keeping a question in mind when you choose a card. The card may give you guidance or help make a decision. The answer you receive may be crystal clear or it may simply suggest a leaning. Your interpretation of it may not be understood until later. The key here is to let go of expectations. Caution about abusing the cards.
A card may bring up a specific memory or situation in your life. Painful or happy, be willing to explore how the happening affects you. Avoid running the story through a familiar route of analysis. It’s most helpful to just be present with your current way of seeing, no matter how “unenlightened” it may seem to you.
Sometimes the cards don’t mean anything other than what you see. Sometimes a cockroach is a cockroach. Allow for even a mundane or simple interpretation, a reminder of the importance of the straightforward and the everyday. We don’t have to be wise seers at every turn.
A card may speak clearly about your day. It may be obvious to you from the minute you turn it over that the card applies directly to you. It may give you hope, validation, help make a decision, or tell you where your keys are. (So to speak.) Remember this throughout the day to confirm you’re on the right path.
Big Question Mark
Sometimes a card won’t make a lick of sense when you first pull it. Find solace in the saying, “How pale and tedious the world would be without mystery.” Remember the card as the day passes and many times the meaning will show itself. Sometimes it will show itself in different ways throughout the day. Your lack of understanding from early in the day will remind you that just because you are confused or can’t see the way, doesn’t mean the answer isn’t just around the corner.
When you draw what looks to you like a very dark card on a perfectly happy day, it is not a bad omen. When you are depressed or angry and draw what you think is a jolly, beautiful card, it is not a prompt to cheer up and get off your pity-pot. Letting go of obvious meanings and a expect a more discerning and penetrating perspective to arise.
On a good day, a dark card can be a reminder that even when we are at our best there are others in the world are at their worst, that all of our mind states are impermanent and changing. We may reach out to help someone who is suffering.
On a bad day, a happy card can speak to us of hope and comfort. It can remind us to seek help from others who are not in a place of difficulty. It can nudge us to look for hints of blessings throughout the day.
Caution about abusing the cards
It can become tempting to want the cards to give you the feedback or clear answers that make you comfortable. An expectation that we’ll be told the future, that we’ll be patted on the back, that our situation will be obviously endorsed is asking the cards to obey our ego. Guidance from the cards isn’t like flipping a coin. Its messages span a spectrum of meaning, and the more open and surrendered one is to whatever communication arises, the more powerful they become as a tool.
If the cards bring up fears, dash our hopes, or remind us of distressing problems, this is good information. We want to cultivate an attitude that the worse it seems, the more fascinating it will be to explore it. The WAN project started with curiosity and wonder about humanness, but especially about the less-explored shadow side of human behavior. When cards don’t please your ego, use it as a springboard to write and talk about a more important question than the one you started with: why does it bother you so much?