Tarot as Self-Care When the World is Doing Way Too Much

This is BGB’s very first guest post from Coryna of Lena Ife Tarot. Here’s a little more about Coryna:

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I use tarot first and foremost as a self-care strategy. In my readings, use the deck to create space for them to process & begin to heal the immense difficulties we face in today's world. I believe tarot it can help us settle more deeply into the present, and provide us with the self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and self-confidence we need to manifest the futures we desire.

You in? Book a reading here.


I’m sitting down to write this just after watching Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman, a heavy film, but one that each and every one of us should see. As the title clearly states, the movie is about a black man who infiltrates the KKK to subvert their actions and protect his community. We are forced to experience the brutal racism, ignorance, and malice of the terrorist organization as it is portrayed. 

Movies & books & media like this always weigh heavily on me as a queer black woman. Of course, I don’t want to avoid art that reminds me of the violence of the systems we’re living under – for me, witnessing to this reality is essential to resistance and survival. But also essential to my survival is self-care, and making sure I have the emotional strength to hold space for the feelings that arise when encountered with the brutality of truth.

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This is where tarot comes in. For folks who don’t know, tarot is a centuries-old divination tradition. The 78 cards of the deck each represent different circumstances from which we as readers make meaning — they represent life lessons, obstacles, and sources of strength. The cards can — and should, if you’re using them seriously — have a “universal” meaning (what shows up if you google it) and a personal meaning. What you see in the card is what it exists to teach you. 


For me, tarot doesn’t exist to tell us about the future – or, it does, only to the extent that the future is determined by our present actions. I believe that tarot can center us more deeply in the present moment. Through reading mindfully – especially when reading for ourselves – we bear witness to own experience, with all of its joys and challenges, so that we can nourish ourselves with compassion and care. 

Following are two spreads I’ve designed for folks to heal through systemic oppression. They’re great after a hard day of work, or a hard day in the news, or anytime you need a little extra TLC. 

The first is the tenderness spread. As the iconic Zenju Earthlyn Manual writes in her book The Way of Tenderness, the places where we feel most vulnerable – tender – are those from which we draw our greatest strength. The purpose of this spread is not to make the pain go away, but to observe it with warmth and attention. This will grow it into an area of strength. 

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I find that when we feel our oppression the most, we can either feel pain, as mentioned above, or just feel that our energy is very scattered. I personally know that I get sucked into feeling responsible for all of the evil in the world, and feel overwhelmed by This spread below, the centering spread, helps to gather our energy. It’s too easy to let ourselves get strung out and overwhelmed. Use this spread when you're feeling scattered, exhausted, or unable to focus on what’s important. So often we lose sight of what is most meaningful in our lives. Hold space to center yourself and ask the deck to shed light on these key uses of energy. 

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These are just two of many ways to use tarot, and other spiritual tools, to heal through the wounds that our systems inflict upon us. I hope that they are helpful to you in whatever capacity you need them most.