Using Tarot for Magic

What is magic? 

Magic is the act of manifesting one’s desires. While it isn’t as simple as waving a wand to materialize things out of thin air, it is incredibly simple in concept and not difficult to perform. 

There are many branches of magic and they all share a core philosophy – the importance of consciousness. Aleister Crowley, a famous magician and creator of the Thoth tarot, even claims that all conscious acts are magical acts. This is because consciousness is the starting point of all magical rituals and practices. 

The most common reason why we fail to reach our goals isn’t because we don’t have the abilities and resources to achieve them. Rather, it’s because we are inconsistent with our thoughts, emotions and efforts. We say we want to be more active but our bodies refuse to get off the couch. We say we want to be more compassionate but our hearts make no efforts to remain calm when we read opinions with which we disagree. Magic helps us transform these habits of inconsistency and become conscious on every level.  

If magic is about manifesting desires, then we must begin by being consciously aware of what we want. To be fully aware of our desires, start by clearing our minds of all worries and contemplate on what we wish to become reality. Be clear and specific about what we want to achieve. Spells are then performed with the purpose of guiding our subconscious thoughts and feelings so as to align them with our consciousness. 

Even though a spell can be as simple as stating a goal or an affirmation, most spells involve the use of tools to assist our focus. Tarot is an excellent tool for spell working. Since the 78 cards is a collection of human archetypes and experiences, there is a card for every occasion. Also, because it is so comprehensive, it can be used during different stages of the spell. 

Stage 1: Preparation – Meditating with Tarot

As mentioned, the first step in magic is intention setting. This stage generally begins with an awareness that there is something about our lives we want to change. Most often, it begins with a realization that there are things lacking or things not quite right. Sometimes the cause of our anxiety and unhappiness is obvious; like a lack of finances or a bad breakup. Other times, however, it is a million little things woven into a Gordian knot. We don’t even know where to begin the process of untangling. During such times, tarot can guide us and help us see the problem we are facing. 

For those of us who possess multiple tarot decks, start by choosing the deck we want to work with. Each deck has a different energy – they can be gentle, possess a sense of humour or be brutally honest. Don’t overthink it as our intuition will tell us what we need. 

Once the deck is chosen, clear the mind and try asking the cards these following questions: 

  1. What is the cause of my unhappiness/anxiety/stress/apathy/etc?
  1. Why is this surfacing now, during this stage of my life?
  2. What thoughts/actions/habits propel this situation?
  3. How can I take control of this situation? 

Stage 2: Focus – Finding the right cards to represent the spell’s intention

When we are confident we know what we want and need (i.e., become conscious), we can then focus these feelings and thoughts and turn them into an intention. This is the basis of the spell and it should be clearly worded as an affirmation or a statement of fact. In other words, instead of saying, “I want abundance in my life”, say “I have abundance in my life.” 

Feel free to use guidance in coming up with the words for your spell. For simple spells, I like to refer to my book of tarot affirmations.

We can be as creative as we want during this stage and go beyond a one sentence statement. In fact, this is a great time to call up the inner poet in ourselves! One neat little trick many spell crafters do is to try to make the spells rhyme because rhyming helps us remember the words. The better the spell flows, the more confidently we are able to say it aloud and believe in the words we are saying. And the more we believe in the words, the more powerful the spells will be. 

As tarot is often used as writing prompts, we can use tarot during this stage to help us come up with the words to our spell. 

Choose a card or several cards that represent our intentions. It can be cards that came up in Stage 1 or cards deliberately chosen to represent the outcome. Study the cards and jot down all the words that come to mind. 

Example: 

I have been at the same job for ten years when I decided I was ready for change. I took on a more challenging role, but to my fear and disappointment, the learning curve was even higher than I thought. I felt incompetent and this feeling gradually eroded away my joy and confidence. Within half a year, I went from being a top performer to one of to one of those people who dreaded getting out of bed in the morning, afraid to face the day ahead. 

I decided to perform a spell to clear this negativity and bring back the sense of joy and pride I used to feel. For this spell, I chose to work with the Lust card from the Thoth deck because of the energy and passion it exuded. The reds in this card symbolize the fire in me that is awaiting rekindling. The woman confidently rides the beast she’s tamed by controlling her own fears and regrets. 

The words that came to mind when I look at this card included Confidence, Excitement, Joy, Gratitude, Success. With these words, I created the following simple spell:

I am confident in my ability to perform my work, this I know. 

I am excited for this opportunity to learn and grow. 

I am filled with joy and gratitude for the opportunity I’ve been given. 

I succeed in this new position I have undertaken. 

Stage 3: Accessorize – Using other tools to complement / enhance the card

Spells often include more than one tool. Some practitioners will choose one tool for each element while others will select items fitting for the particular spell. 

Aside from tarot cards, some of my favourite tools are candles, crystals and scents to enhance the energy. I choose candles by their colours and crystals and scents by the magical properties associated with them. 

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Stage 4: Timing and location

Once the materials of the spell have been chosen and the words of the spell crafted, pick a time and location to perform the spell. While there are many factors that can be considered, such as sun and moon phases, days of the week and personal special days, it is most important to pick a time when we have enough time to focus on the spell. It shouldn’t be rushed. 

As for location, I am lucky enough to have a dedicated altar for magical work. For those who don’t have access to such a space, make sure the space chosen is clean and private. Those who enjoy the outdoors may want to consider performing spells in nature.  

Stage 5: Letting the magic do the work

Once the spell has been performed, there are different options on how to conclude the spell. Some practitioners may seal the tarot card away in a special place and protect it by surrounding it with sacred objects until the spell has been fulfilled. Others may wish to leave the card on their altars / somewhere visible to be constantly reminded of the spell. 

Either way, the purpose of this step is to place faith in the spell and let it do its work!