Setting Up Your Tarot Journal
Copyright 2010 By T.A. Zimmerdahl

This is a simple framework for setting up your tarot journal, primarily based on the structure of a tarot deck. Basically, you will assign one page per tarot card, plus about seven additional pages for other essential references. This particular arrangement will promote individual card study, culminating in a collection of organized notes on each of the 78 tarot cards. With your tarot journal and a pen handy while you study your deck or practice reading, you will soon have your own custom-made tarot reference.

You will need a spiral notebook or a loose-leaf binder with at least 100 blank pages; whether it is lined, graphed, or unlined paper is up to you. If you'll want to move pages around, or add printouts and other supplementary notes, then the  3-ring binder is your best choice. On the other hand, spiral notebooks are much more portable and inexpensive. One compromise would be to start with a spiral notebook that has those 3-ring binder hols, then you can always tear out and move your notes, should you choose to 'upgrade'  to a binder later.

At first, setting up your tarot journal involves a lot of mostly-blank pages, so it can seem kind of odd in the beginning. There is a method to this madness, however. Over time, as you fill those blank pages with your own insights and observations, you will begin to understand what an invaluable tool your tarot journal can be.

What follow is the step-by-step configuration of your journal, starting with the first pages you will see when you open the cover.

Step One: Your "Quick Reference" List:
Your very first tarot journal pages will be a quick reference list of all 78 tarot cards, each with very brief meanings. It's kind of a "cheat sheet", and it will be a useful aid for jump-starting your memory and intuition when you study your cards. The list is typically three or four pages long (front-and-back), and we are purposely placing it right at the front of your journal, where you can access it quickly. Each card title will eventually be accompanied by one or two words that convey the general meaning of the card, but for now you will just leave room to add those words later. Unless you write really big, it usually works to give one line per title, and then skip a line. So, remembering to skip a line between each card title, list each card like this........

THE MAJOR ARCANA
0- The Fool
I- The Magician
II- The High Priestess
III- The Empress
IV- The Emperor
V- The Hierophant
VI- The Lovers
VII- The Chariot
VIII- Strength
IX- The Hermit
X- Wheel of Fortune
XI- Justice
XII- The Hanged Man
XIII-Death
XIV- Temperance
XV- The Devil
XVI- The Tower
XVII- The Star
XVIII- The Moon
XIX- The Sun
XX- Judgement
XXI- The World

THE MINOR ARCANA

The Suite of Wands:
Ace-
Two-
Three-
Four-
Five-
Six-
Seven-
Eight-
Nine-
Ten-
Page-
Knight-
Queen-
King-

Suit of Cups:
Ace-
Two-
Three-
Four-
Five-
Six-
Seven-
Eight-
Nine-
Ten-
Page-
Knight-
Queen-
King-

Suite of Swords:
Ace-
Two-
Three-
Four-
Five-
Six-
Seven-
Eight-
Nine-
Ten-
Page-
Knight-
Queen-
King-

The Suite of Pentacles:
Ace-
Two-
Three-
Four-
Five-
Six-
Seven-
Eight-
Nine-
Ten-
Page-
Knight-
Queen-
King-

If you are using a binder, you can just copy-and-paste the above list into a new document to save and/or print. However, putting pen to paper and writing (Or typing) the list by hand is a great way to start learning all the tarot card titles.

Each of these next three segments will be accompanied by a set of study questions intended to trigger your own response to each card*. They are not set in stone, as you may want to remove, change, or add other questions later. Therefore, it is recommended to give each group of questions a separate page, with plenty of space for additions or other changes. Now, you are ready for the next page.

STEP TWO: THE MAJOR ARCANA CARDS:

The very next page after your quick reference list will be reserved for that first group of study questions. there are five study questions for the major arcana. Remember, these questions will likely be expanded later, so they'll need to have their own page the major arcana questions are as follows....

QUESTIONS FOR THE MAJOR ARCANA:

1)What is the card number & title?
2) What are your very first impressions of this card?
3) List object, symbols and colors observed in this card, along with their meaning.
4) Identify this card with a myth, fairy tale, or song.
5) Standard meaning and source (s).

Now, Move on to the following page; it is the first of twenty-two pages to be reserved for each of the major arcana cards. Proceed to count off all twenty-two pages. It is advisable to go ahead and title each of the twenty-two pages right away, per your quick reference list (above). So, at the top of each of these pages, identify each card: i.e. "The Fool-0, "The Magician-II, ect. This may seem like jumping ahead to that first study question, but that is not necessarily so. That's because the card names on your quick reference list are standard tarot names, but the titles of individual cards from different decks often vary. For example, the card that is "Death-XII", as it is not titled in your journal, might be "Transformation-XII" in your current deck, a deck you study later, or in the deck of a fellow student. By taking note of these variations, you will greater expand your knowledge.

After you have reserved a page for study questions, and then counted off and titled those next twenty-pages, you will see that you have established your journal pages for the Major Arcana. Congratulations!
The next section of your journal has a very similar structure. The forty Journal pages that follow will be reserved for ten cards each of the four minor arcana suites.

STEP THREE: THE PIP CARDS:
The numbered cards (the aces through tens) of the minor arcana suites are called the pip cards. They will require a different set of questions, which will take the very next blank page after the major arcana segment of your journal. Again, give these questions their own journal page, for any possible additions or other changes you may want to make....

QUESTIONS FOR THE PIP CARDS:

1) what is the card number & Suite name?
2) What is your immediate feeling/emotion triggered by this card?
3) What is happening in this card?
4) Consider this card as a "snapshot" of an experience in your life, and describe it.
5) Record other observations about this card.
6) Standard meaning and Source(s).

Now, turn to the next page; this is the first of forty pages that each represents a pip card. Title each of these forty pages, starting with the 'Wands' (one page each, ace through ten). Stay with the suit order of your quick reference list (Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles) for the sake of consistency. Therefore, after you've titled each of the ten pages for the wands, you'll move on to the cups, and so on.
Once again, be assured that you are not jumping into the first study question by titling the pages ahead of time. Just like the way many major arcana card titles vary from deck to deck, the names for the minor arcana suits may also vary. And as stated above, these variations are noteworthy, and may change the nuance of a card meaning for you.
The same steps for the previous sections also apply the court cards, which are next, and the last segment to be reserved for individual card study in your tarot journal.

STEP FOUR: THE COURT CARDS:
After you've titled the forty pages of the pip cards, you will proceed to the next blank page. Here you will list the questions focused on the court cards..

QUESTIONS FOR THE COURT CARDS:
1)What is the card Suit&Title?
2)Record your first impressions of the person in this card.
3)What are some unique traits of this individual?
4) Does this card remind you of a famous person (Past or present)? Who and why?
5) Consider the people around you. Is the person in this card anywhere in your life?
6)When are YOU the person in this card?
7) Standard meaning and source(s).

The next sixteen pages, after the list of questions above, will be reserved for the sixteen court cards, and should each be titled accordingly. Again, start with the wands suit, in the order they are recorded on your quick reference list. That means you will start with the Page of Wands, Knight of Wands, Queen of Wands, and King of Wands, then move on to the Page of Cups, and so on. The last court card you assign to a page in your journal should be the King of Pentacles.

NOW YOU HAVE A TAROT JOURNAL.....
After you have titled all sixteen pages, you are done, and every tarot card will have a page in your journal. Including the quick reference list and the section questions, this tarot card part of your journal fills approximately 85 pages. The other pages in your journal are useful for the tarot spreads you will learn, and various other notes.



*A note on the Study Questions: more will be posted later