Cards for Casters: Using Tarot for Witchcraft

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

Of course we know that divination, especially tarot, is standard practice for most magical folks.  But what about when we're not interested in seeing the future?

A witch's cards are good for helping others and oneself to answer life's many questions, as well as being a terrific source of revenue, but they can also be used to directly assist in spellcasting.  What we'll be discussing here can actually be said of almost any divination tool, but tarot (and before that, standard playing cards) is the traditional method, so we'll work from that.

Using the cards within a spell is a good way to incorperate how much experience you have had with both magic and divination.  When time and time again you see the 6 of Cups appear within a spread to tell the querent that calm, simplicity, and forgiveness are ahead, you feel a real sense of security using it to procure the same thing in your life.  You are drawing a spread on purpose, making your own fortune.  And isn't that what witchcraft is all about, anyway?

There are several good books on the market that give spells for a number of specific purposes.  You may be a different sort of reader than myself, so I will simply list the titles I have seen:

The Tarot Spellcaster  by Terry Donaldson

Tarot Spells  by Janina Renee

Portable Magic  by Donald Tyson

Tarot and Magic  by Donald Michael Kraig

Tarot Card Spell Casting  by Franklin H. Zboyan

Getting new books is one of my very favorite things, but if you'd like to try your hand at a tarot spell before you buy, shuffle up to these ideas:

  • Post a single card either on your altar or in some other prominent place.  Choose one card that best represents your desired outcome and gaze at it while you let your mind wander around the situation.  Allow the strength of the card's image to overpower the problem, standing above everything, securing what was chaotic, and creating order. Now stand the card upright where you will it every day.  
  • Falsify a spread that shows your chosen outcome.  Sort through the deck and pick out cards that show past, present, and your desired future.  Arrange them in your favorite spread and let this sit untouched until your goal has been achieved.    
  • Embody your card by wearing clothes in its color scheme on the day of a big event.  You can use the well-known colors of the Rider Waite Smith or pick those of your favorite deck.  You may wish to create outfits for all the majors!

Also of note to a practitoner--and this is my favorite part--are the spreads that are made specifically for the planning and timing of spellwork.  One would assume that this need would be approached more often than it is, but such spreads are not easy to find.  However, the use of divination to create the perfect spell is a fantastic way to incorperate two of a witch's most important works.

I cannot think how many times it has happened that though I know the problem and that I want it fixed, I simply can't think of the ideal way to go about it.  And this is coming from 17 years of practice.  I cannot possibly be alone in this!  Despite armloads of excellent spellbooks and a grand selection of spell components, practitioners aren't always going to be able to see the heart of the situation, nor how to approach it.  When that happens, get out your cards.

My first exposure with spell planning spreads was Edian McCoy's "Wheel Divination*"  Ten cards are laid out in a circle pattern, starting at the top and rotating clockwise:

1. The need or desire on which the spell is based

2. The hidden underlying need (the root of your desire)

3. Hidden influences acting on the spell (could be of your inner self or influences outside your control)

4.  Influence of others

5. The spell's weakness

6. The spell's strength

7.The inner-world outcome (effect your spell will have in the astral world)

8. The physical world outcome

9. The final outcome

10. What comes back to you (Karmic Card) If you get a negative card here you should look
if your spell could be harmful to anyone

*My apologies to Ms. McCoy if this is not precisely quoted.  I found it indirectly years ago (on a Aeclectic Tarot forum)

I've also recently become aware of the website which features a unique take on the spell planning spread with their "Magick Working Tarot Spread" (as pictured).  You'll really want to follow the link because, in this spread, each card carries a specific weight outside of its standard meaning.

My own spread takes its own approach: I didn't want to talk about whether or not the spell would work.  That, to me, is obvious; the right spell for the job always works.  My focus was all about how to make it work the best it possibly can.

Quill's "Spellwork Guidence Spread" has a layout that moves from bottom to top: two crossed cards, two side by side, a single, two crossed, and a single card at the crown.

1. What's the problem?

2. (crossed over 1) What aspect of this problem should I focus on?

3. and 4. Which type of spells should I use?  (based on the Element of the cards.  Also                            denotes how the spell should be destroyed after the work is done)

     FIRE- candles, bonfire, the sun, food, enchanted objcts
     AIR- spirit conjuring, incense, dispersal
     WATER- formula, ink, living water/the ocean
     EARTH- herbs, foottracks/dirt magic, animals, burial

5. Barriers or hinderances to success

6. and 7. (with 7 crossing) How long will it take to see results?  Duration of the spell

8. The Big Picture; after-effects of the spell

Even if you don't read tarot as a divination system, it is still useful to keep a deck for use in magic.  As it is most common to see the major arcana used in this way, you may wish to begin by printing out a set of downloadable cards onto cardstock and using them.  This is certainly a more affordable route, but also allows you to have multiple copies of the same card and to destroy the card when the spell is over (often a necessary part of the process).

For those of us who do read, tarot before, during, and after spellwork is yet another handy tool in our kit.

Related reading includes Tarot Every Day

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About Me

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 

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