The thought of memorizing the significance of seventy-eight different tarot cards is enough to turn away all but the most determined student. Even those of us adept at reading the cards could use a break every now and then. Fortunately, there are many other ways to use the symbols of the tarot in addition to learning their individual meanings. It can be enjoyable and a much needed vacation for those of us who spend far too much time living in our head.
Christine Jette sums it up very well in Tarot for the Healing Heart:
On a very basic level, playing with tarot stimulates right-brain activity, and right-brain competence encourages psychic/soul development. I like to think of awareness of ourselves and our world, finding creativity, serenity, laughter and empowerment.
Tarot symbols are strong. They work especially well for people who are visually-oriented, who can imagine in pictures and can see images in their mind's eye when they meditate. If you don't naturally see images in your imagination, you may not be drawn to tarot cards. But, if you want to develop your "third eye" (sixth chakra) and improve your psychic imagery skills, cards are a great method. Relax and don't force it.
Our own personal tarot deck of seventy-eight images lives inside us, and every day we draw from and use these energies without realizing it. Think of the word mother, hero, fool, or devil; what feelings and images come to mind? Who and what do you picture when you hear the word king, lover or student? Tarot images by themselves convey strong nonverbal messages that quickly bypass our thinking minds and stir our emotions. Communicating in a language similar to our dreams, our rational minds are impatient and swift to lock onto an interpretation of these pictures. We want to know what it means right now and turn to books, friends and other tarot readers hoping to distill the images into words. Because we know how much effort is placed on becoming self-aware, we anticipate the amount of time, work and unpleasantness it will take to uncover our true selves. This may lead us to create the myth that we are broken, shameful and somehow less than perfect, searching for a way to fix our lives and ourselves through the cards. Nevertheless, our carefully-constructed meanings can leave us unfulfilled. I am not saying that interpreting the cards is not important or valid, but it is not always the preferred goal. Oftentimes looking at the image is enough to awaken an intuitive understanding and provide a momentum for change.
When you sit in a park, visit a museum, or look in the eyes of someone you love, do you dissect what you see and look for the literal meaning behind your feelings? No you don't. Although it is natural to want to know why some things move us deeply, it's just as important to permit yourself to be inspired without knowing why. Allowing a symbol to permeate your being can be quite soothing. Stop trying so hard and let the image work through you.
Over the years, I have participated in a number of creative writing courses. Some of them focused on the nuts and bolts of fiction writing, while others used the writing as a tool for self-discovery, healing and connecting to nature. In most of these classes, the instructor used divination decks to assist the creative process. Whether you're in the middle of writing the next great novel or writing your thoughts in a journal, try using tarot cards for inspiration.
Time to Have Some Fun
Find decks with artwork that ignite a spark inside you. Keep these cards just for this purpose; you won't read with these cards for others or yourself. They're just a bunch of pictures that you use for fun, creative inspiration, and nonverbal guidance. Some of you may cringe at the idea of dismantling a tarot deck, but most decks are reasonably inexpensive, and I'm sure all of you have at least one deck that you never read with for one reason or another.
So now you have permission to cut, glue, bury, and whatever else you see fit to do to your tarot cards. A little sacred play is good for the soul, and the more you interact with these motifs the more you will recognize them in your surroundings and in yourself. You'll notice versions of tarot card images in art museums, magazines, television programs, advertisements, and movies, and you'll find their symbols replicated in public art as statues in front of buildings. By using the cards in tangible ways, you'll learn how their energies influence and manifest in the physical world. The ways to experience them are endless. If all else fails and you're not convinced, carry the Sun card around with you for a week and see what happens!
Tarot Ideas to get you Started
Tarot and Creative Writing
A practical use of Tarot that might not be readily apparent is the way it can aid the creative writing process. Whether you've ever tried your hand at writing or not, the cards can be used to generate ideas, flesh out a story, or help you overcome writer's block. Next time you begin a writing project, pull out your favorite deck and ask it for suggestions. Here are some questions you might ask the cards:
Another thing you can do to help get a jump-start is to pick a single card and start "channeling" the voice of a character in the card. Get out of the way and let that character just ramble on—and write it all down! It's really an amazing process and you'll be surprised at how easy it is once you begin. It's sort of a combination Tarot reading/automatic writing session.
This is also a very good technique to use when you're trying to find the voice of a character you've already created. … According to mythology, there were nine muses. With the Tarot, you've got seventy-eight! And that's just one deck!
Excerpt is from Tarot Tips by Ruth Ann Amberstone & Wald Amberstone