The Major Arcana. Giving voice to three archetypes that are present within you.
I am so pleased to share Tarot Visual Journaling with you. This is a fun and meaningful way to explore the deeper meaning of tarot through the creative process. I suggest you first gather your supplies and set up a place to work – a table or desk but a tray could work too if you want to get cozy on the couch or bed. Watch the videos and read through the assignment. Before beginning the project take a few moments to ground by watching your breath, relaxing your body and let the outside world go. Release the inner critic, this is not about perfection, this is deep soulful exploration and expression. Be authentic and brave and open yourself to the mystery of revelation.
Play video for instructions and tips:
- A tarot deck
- A journal. I suggest using a sturdy multi-media sketchbook or a binder with some good quality paper.
- Look around your house and assemble any art supplies you might have: scissors, glue sticks, your favorite pens, paint if you have it, crayons or colored pencils.
- Start a collection of images torn from magazines and catalogues for collaging, both landscapes and figures of all types. Find a folder or box to keep them in.
- If you have some decorative paper or tissue paper, add it to your collection.
- Tarot images (not necessary but nice to have). Do you have any tarot decks that are missing a card or maybe that you don’t use for readings anymore or you can print photocopies of your favorite deck.
Choosing your cards
There are many ways to explore which cards relate to you in the tarot. You might automatically identify with certain cards because you share characteristics with certain archetypes. The major arcana specifically identifies twenty two archetypes that include the mother, father, teacher, lover etc. At one time or another we feel more strongly identified with a particular energy, this can change over the course of time. In this exercise we are going to work with three aspects of ourselves and find the cards that represent those qualities.
- The Essential Self
- The Shadow Self
- The Desired Self
Take out the major arcana cards in your tarot deck, usually these are numbered 0 to 22. You will be choosing three cards that relate to you. Watch the video below and see which of the cards relate to the three archetypes in you.
Major Arcana Video: view video
For written information on the major arcana please visit my blog
- The Essential Self
Look through the major arcana cards and see which image feels most like you. Trust your visual, intuitive senses. You need not know the meaning of the cards. What card do you have an automatic “yes” response to? That probably is the clearest message on which card to select as your “Essential Self”.
Sometimes people identify strongly with their birth card which is figured out through numerology. The formula is: birth day + birth month + birth year (9 + 3 + 1960 = 1972 then add each of those numbers 1+ 9 + 7 + 2 = 19 which is the Sun. You will want to add the digits until you get to a number under 22.
- The Shadow Self
This might sound some-what sinister but really the shadow is a great teacher. The parts of ourself that we keep hidden, in the shadow, gains power by not being revealed. Once we identify it and work with it in a creative way, we can learn a great deal and break the hold it has over us. Look through the deck and pick the card that makes you uncomfortable, the one you think “oh no, not me” or the card that disturbs or frightens you.
- The Desired Self
Who is it you are striving to become? Which aspect of yourself is just a seed of an idea longing for expression? When you look through the major arcana which card do you feel a secret longing to be? Don’t be shy… go straight for it.
Creating your project
- Now that you have your three cards from the major arcana, look through your collection of collage images and find three figures to represent them. If you have tarot images to use, great. Cut the figures out. Leaving a thin border around the figures makes it much easier.
- Next select or create a background, preferably the size of your journal page. This should reflect your current mood. It can be a scene from nature – those calendars that come in the mail make excellent backgrounds. National Geographic magazines hold a bounty of imagery to use. You can also use urban scenes or interiors – decorating magazines are a good source. If you feel inclined, paint your own scene. Think of this part as creating the stage for these parts of the self to act on.
- Paste your three figures onto the background. Pay attention to where you place them, will they have their own space or might they interact? Now let your creativity take over, have some fun. Maybe tear thin strips of decorative paper for borders. Integrate the figures into the background by using markers or colored pencils to create shadows (see video). If you use figures from magazines you could add a collaged jester’s hat, crown or something in the hands to embellish the archetype.
- Give each of the three selves a voice. Write in the first person. For instance the Empress might say I am the nurturing, creative force… or the Hierophant might say I am using my divine power to teach others… You can cut out white paper into voice bubbles like you see in comics, or write on the background around each figure. Gel pens or sharpies work well on glossy magazine paper. Another place to write would be on the opposite journal page. Write journal style without editing, really allow your feelings to flow. Remember this exercise is about self-discovery. Allow new thoughts to surface.
To download workshop click here: Workshop 1 Archetypes
Sharing your project
- I hope you will post your finished project on our Facebook group . Please feel free to dialogue about your experience; I am hoping we can start a lively group, sharing our process and thoughts.
Thank you for diving in and exploring Tarot Visual Journaling,
Lisa de St. Croix