This article originally appeared on VICE US
Tarot reader and Witchbody author Sabrina Scott has been doing tarot for 20 years, and was most recently commissioned to write the spreads for the Ignota Diary, an occult planner from Ignota Books. Ahead of 2019, we asked Scott to do a special New Year spread for Broadly readers.
With January just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to do a tarot spread to see what magic lies in wait for you in 2019. To start, you’ll need a few spare quiet hours, a tarot deck of your very own, and a notebook.
First, get cozy. Do whatever you need to do to relax and feel settled in your space. Are you sitting in bed? On the couch? In a comfy chair? Maybe you’d like to dim the lights, put on some candles and incense. I find having an intentional approach to how we set up our space can help shift our normal waking frame of mind into something a bit more magical. This can help us tune in to our intuition.
When you feel ready, shuffle the cards. As you do this, think about the year ahead, all you’ve been through in 2018, what’s ahead of you in 2019—both what you know you have to contend with, and your hopes and dreams. If you have any areas of focus for the year (I’d recommend picking one to three, but you’re also free to skip this step; mine last year were love, career, and health), think about those too. Shuffle for as long as you feel like you need to, in whatever way you want. You can swoosh them on the table or bed or do some fancy card tricks. There’s no right or wrong way! Just do you. If any jump out or fall while you’re shuffling, save them.
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When it feels right, stop shuffling and draw 12 cards from the top of the deck—starting with any that jumped out—and lay them down in a circular clockwise pattern, as on a round clock. You can put the card for January where you’d see the number one, and arrange the rest of the cards for each month. Draw one more card to represent next year’s vibe and lesson, and place it in the centre of the circle. If you’ve chosen any areas of focus for the year, pull those now too, and arrange them inside or outside of the circle as feels right to you.
Tarot is intuitive. This isn’t a biology exam. The meaning for each card can differ slightly based on the deck you’re using, and relying on a guidebook further numbs us to these subtleties. So let it go! Sit with the cards, and let them be your teachers, despite any discomfort.
Next, look at the patterns that have come up. How many major arcana are there? A large smattering of major arcana cards shows us that this is going to be a big year for you, potentially full of transformation and change—and this isn’t always comfortable! What’s the balance of minor arcana? Does one suit dominate? Are any absent? In the tarot, each suit rules a realm of life and way of being—swords for all that is intellectual, cerebral, and to do with mental health and conflict; cups for romance, love, friendship, family, creativity, and intuition; pentacles for career, finances, home, stability, and physical health; wands for creative fire, drive, passion, manifestation, and sex.
Which numbers keep popping up? Lots of aces can mean many new beginnings, and a preponderance of tens can mean that a few things may be coming to a close for you this year. Odd numbers also often nod to conflict, while even numbers can show us balance. Court cards show us how best to act, and warn us how not to. Reversals show us where our energy is blocked, and how we are getting in our own way.
Spend a lot of time with each card individually. Look at the card. What does it depict? What do you think it means? What do the colors tell you? Spend a minimum of 20 minutes free writing about each card. This may be hard at first, but try to get into the flow of it! Begin by describing what you see, and then continue along to what you think it means. Maybe the skeleton in the Death card seems scary at first, but then refreshing in its cutting away of what no longer benefits you. Or, maybe you can only see your own fear of loss—a big lesson and thing to face in the month you drew the card for.
Try not to second guess yourself here, and write out all of your hopes, fears, and desires as inspired by looking intently at each individual card. To conclude your writing, see if you can sum up your observations with a pithy sentence or two of advice for yourself. Sounds a bit corny, sure, but if we can’t be corny when making our self-reflective advice to ourselves for the year to come, when can we?
As the year moves along, I’d recommend revisiting each card at the end of each month as we transition into the new. How did each month’s lessons come to pass? Read your summary for the month to ahead, and reflect on how you can incorporate that into your movements, goals, and way of being in the month at hand. Each month, return to your card of the year, and your areas of focus, and do the same! Ideally, this shouldn’t be a throwaway reading but something that you refer to throughout the year—an intuitive wisdom that anchors you in times of both sadness and celebration.