These days it may seem like every time you turn around you find another person talking about mercury in retrograde or Tarot cards. Over the past few years, as a sort of witch culture has caught on, Astrology and Tarot have become mainstream and popular instead of shrouded in mystery. Even so, most still see these mediums, steeped in stereotypes, as mystical and useful only for people who believe in fortune telling.
As someone who uses these tools for nearly everything except fortune telling, I want to illuminate why and how anyone can use Astrology and Tarot, without having to bring magic into the equation at all.
Tarot and Astrology are Thematic
Both tarot and astrology rely on themes and archetypes that represent types of experiences that all or most people go through at some point in their life. To name just a few, these include themes like: what we do with our personal resources (our time, money, and energy); our day to day work and obligations; experiences that make us feel trapped or not in control; and times in our life when we are beginning something brand new. They are purposefully broad — which is why, if you are wanting them to tell a specific future, it’s so easy to dismiss them as too general or decide they are invalid because they are “applicable to everyone”. In fact, the true purpose of these tools is precisely that they are applicable to everyone, and that’s not a bad thing. This wide applicability makes them accessible and useful to anyone who chooses to use them.
Humans have used symbols to create meaning for hundreds of years, and many times metaphor can provide clearer insight to the meaning of something than a literal description. Planets or tarot cards don’t have to cause anything to happen for us to give them symbolic meaning and use that meaning to process our own experiences.
When we pivot away from wanting Astrology and Tarot to tell us the future, we open up an opportunity to instead use their archetypes as a way to explore and understand who we are, what we are currently experiencing, and how the world around us works.
A clear example is Moon Cycles. Over the course of 28 days the moon starts completely dark, waxes to full brightness, and then wanes again. In this way, it is a repetitive cycle that reflects hundreds of other natural cycles in the world. This is how seasons work: Winter-dark, Spring-waxing, Summer-full, and Autumn-waning. If you are a menstruating person, this is the path your hormones take during your cycle as well. The beginning-waxing-full-waning cycle shows up in hundreds of ways in our world and our bodies, no matter what type of person we are. All people have times when we are deeply quiet, internal, and reflective — or when we' are just plain exhausted (dark/new moon). Other times, we are building energy and creativity, and working on new projects (waxing). At some point, those projects or that energy comes to culmination, and we launch or release it into the world (full moon), and then we spend time coming down from that peak, collecting feedback and turning inward so that we can prepare to start something new (waning). The moon cycle as a thematic cycle can directly map to how a person experiences their energy, and we can look to it as a guide for our own cycles in life.
How to work with themes
Let’s keep looking at the moon cycle for a minute. Now that we see the themes of the cycle, we can apply them to our life and projects more intentionally. For example, you can use New Moon times as a reminder to give yourself a break and take time to rest or do something just for yourself that feels deeply nourishing. It’s also a great time to set an intention for the upcoming cycle or begin a new project. During Full Moon times you can reflect on how you’ve manifested that intention, and on what in your life is coming to its culminating or peak point. In this way, the moon doesn’t necessarily cause you to have higher or lower energy, or cause you to begin or end things, but it can still be used as a practice to provide yourself the time and space to honor normal and essential expansions and contractions in life.
From here you can layer on additional reflective elements to work with, such as pulling a few tarot cards or diving into the zodiac sign that a moon is in and how the qualities or style of that sign are showing up in your life. For example, the style of Cancer is that of the ultimate caretaker; Cancer loves to give support and love to others. During a new moon in Cancer you can ask yourself how you are currently nurturing and care-taking those around you and if or how you are receiving support back. That new moon would be a good time to reflect on whether you want to change any elements of the care that you give or ask for in return. Or for a full moon in Leo — Leo being the performer of the zodiac that loves to be recognized for what it knows or does — you might reflect on where and how you are sharing your knowledge, skills, and personal gifts with the world and celebrate that.
All of us can benefit from these kinds of reflections, and while we shouldn't feel limited to explore these things just when they are astrologically present, astrology can help remind us to take time for them if we’ve forgotten or haven’t made the space for ourselves.
Tarot and Astrology for Healing
What tarot and astrology do well is helping you identify the themes or archetypes to work with in a particular situation or area of life that will guide you toward personal alignment and support. Whether you are looking more deeply into your own identity or for perspective on a specific question, using these tools as a light into your intuition and deeper wisdom can be incredibly validating and cathartic as well as eye opening, helping you see a situation in a brand new way. In a world that frequently tells us what to do and how to think and feel, it is easy to feel locked into a certain way of approaching a tough situation. It is very powerful to have tools that help you tune out the “should’s,” and center on what will truly serve your highest and best good. I turn to tarot and astrology when I’m stuck and don’t know what to do, or when things feel overwhelming. I use them as a lens and a lantern for guidance on processing a situation and gaining clarify on what I can focus on to take the next step forward.
Outside of personal work, these tools have the ability to bring people together through the shared experiences of these universal themes and archetypes. While each of us may (and do) experience them in our own way, there are common threads that can be woven through us. The work we do for ourselves within these archetypes have a built-in impact to the collective, not because they are inherently magical, but because as we learn to work with them individually we begin to see these same themes in the world around us. This in turn can magnify and reflect a new facet of it back on our self for further clarity. It’s a cycle of giving and receiving, expansion and contraction, and allows us to support others as they journey through what we have experienced or are currently experiencing.
If you are intrigued and want to start working with astrological and tarot-centered reflection tools more deeply, there are many easy ways to begin. The most consistent way that I do this is the example I used above: paying attention to the moon cycles and what signs the new and full moons are in. Look up a description of the sign to see what style or elements it brings to the table for that moon — or pop over to my Instagram, where I frequently recap these themes on New and Full Moons in my stories.
Another simple but powerful way to work with these themes is to create a ritual around pulling a few tarot cards at the beginning of a cycle. Whether that’s a new moon, a birthday, or another beginning, the card (or cards) that you pull can give you a focal point to think more deeply on and to center your decisions around. For example, pulling The Star card can remind you to focus on your own healing and to care for yourself after a significant change. If you pull this on a New Moon, see where you can carve out space to do more of what feels nourishing to you — baths, sleep, a long walk, drinking more water, processing with a partner or therapist, or something that feels uniquely good to you — instead of trying to exert too much energy pushing forward onto something new. If you’re interested in having cards pulled and interpreted for you each new moon, check out my Moonly Three Card Tarot Readings.
Certainly, both tarot and astrology can be utilized at any time, at any part of a cycle, to provide insight into yourself and your experiences. Anyone can work with these tools, and whatever perspective you find in them is exactly right for you in that moment. If you’re interested in more support, I still have time available through the rest of the month for readings and office hours, and would love to dig in more deeply with you.