This simple method can really improve your tarot readings…
By Eleanor Tremeer
Tarot isn’t just about doing readings. Contained within these 78 cards is a wealth of wisdom — the tarot is a kaleidoscope of humanity’s spiritual history, refracted through universal archetypes and hidden in a myriad of symbols. But how do you access this universe of meaning? There are many different ways you can develop your tarot practice, from interviewing your decks to keeping a journal. But one of the best ways to get to know the tarot is to really immerse yourself in the cards — and you can do that by colouring them in.
Colouring in has been used as a form of relaxation and artistic expression for over a century; the very first colouring books date back to the 1880s, though they became really popular in the mid 1900s. And interestingly enough, colouring in tarot cards has been an important part of tarot practice since at least the 1940s. Paul Foster Case, occultist and renowned tarot practictioner, believed that colouring in the cards was essential to unlocking their meaning:
“When you colour your own cards, they take on the character of your personality. They are inseparably linked with you! The attention you must give builds the details of the designs into your consciousness. It is the necessary foundation for all advanced tarot practice.”Paul Foster Case, The Tarot: A Key To The Wisdom Of The Ages
With this in mind, we created the Modern Witch Tarot Colouring Book, which delves into each card’s meaning as well as presenting a line-art version of each card. So grab yourself a tarot colouring book, and let’s get started!
Step One: Pick Your Paints
How will you colour in the cards? Whether you use pencils, pens, paints, or anything else, there’s no wrong answer. You could even mix it up — why not use watercolours for one card, and crayons for another?
The important thing is to really pay attention to how this affects the appearance and feel of the card. What medium is the most appropriate? Pale watercolours might be perfect for the cool meadow of The Star, while striking felt-tip pens fill Justice’s hall with vibrancy.
You can use a medium you’re comfortable with, or take this opportunity to break the mould and try something new. There’s no need to rush, so pick your tools with care.
Step Two: Colour Carefully
Everything in the tarot has a purpose, and colour is no exception to this. So pay attention to the colours as they’ve been used on the original card. Before you start, ask yourself how each card makes you feel. Is this connected to the colours that have been used?
Each colour has a specific meaning in the tarot, so whenever each colour appears it contributes to the card’s meaning. Once you’ve unlocked the meanings, you can build a picture of what the card is trying to tell you. Here’s a quick breakdown of what each colour means, on a spiritual level:
- Red — passion, action, power
- Purple — magic, truth, divinity
- Yellow — light, energy, warmth
- Blue — emotion, subconscious, flow
- Green — growth, abundance, nature
- Brown — groundedness, connectedness
- White — purity, virtue, innocence
- Black — depth, otherness, dark emotions
- Grey — fusion, compromise, beyond duality
This is by no means set in stone. You might choose to alter the colour of a certain symbol, just to see how it affects the meaning of the card. For example, what if The Fool is carrying a red flower, for passion, rather than a white one for purity and innocence? How does that combine with the symbol of the flower, and the other symbols on the card?
As you colour, you can also pay attention to the different shades that each deck uses, and how a palette can be built. Green, for example, is the colour of nature, abundance, and groundedness. On which cards is green most prevalent? How does that make you feel when you look at them — does it help you divine their meaning right away?
Step Three: Immerse Yourself In The Cards
As you colour in, really immerse yourself in each card. What’s different about each card’s setting? How does the environment affect the meaning? Is there anything about the symbols or figures that you recognise from your own life? Colouring can be a meditative experience, so you don’t even have to be thinking while you colour in: the immersion will happen as part of the process. Once you’ve completed the card, you may find you have a greater understanding for what it means. At this point, it may be helpful to keep a journal of reflections.
The Modern Witch Tarot Coloring Book includes reflective questions to help you in this process, but you can also keep a journal of your thoughts without these prompts. If you record your observations and realisations, you may find that this enhances your readings….
How Will This Help Your Tarot Practice?
Overall, colouring in the cards is a wonderfully creative way to interact with the tarot. It should help you to internalise their meanings, and understand them on a deeper level, once you’ve spent time with each card, looking over the symbols and thinking about their significance. And this will really have an impact on your readings. So much of tarot reading is intuitive, and familiarity with the cards really helps you to apply them to different situations.
But colouring the tarot also allows you to put your own stamp on it — so don’t be afraid to get creative! Over the decades, plenty of people have created their own versions of the cards, because tarot invites expression, transformation, and re-creation. How will you transform the tarot?