Shamanic Journeying with Tarot


Gaian Tarot © Joanna Powell Colbert (text & illustrations), 2011

In addition to teaching formal classes in both shamanism and Tarot, I’ve been facilitating a journey drumming circle for years. Attendees range from those who have just learned the basics of shamanic journeying through to some very experienced folks, so I’m always open to new ways to let us work together without turning that group into a class. This Tarot-based journeying started a few years ago in a smaller, more experienced group, when I asked my guides to show me a way to bridge the practices of shamanism and Tarot. I’ve been using this basic version in the large, open-attendence circle for about two years now.

I spread out both the Gaian and Wildwood Tarot decks, face down.

1. Everyone privately frames a personal question, then draws a card. Basic instruction: “If you do know Tarot meanings, just put them aside for a while.”

2. Working with their own guides and helpers in the realm of spirit, everyone journeys into the card they’ve drawn, to interact with its characters, beings, scenario, landscape, et. al. Then we use a few minutes to take notes.
3. Next, working blind – without sharing their questions – people trade cards with partners, and then journey again with their own guides and helpers into these new cards, asking for additional information for their partner. Remember that since the information we get ultimately isn’t for us, it may not seem to make sense! We journey, take notes, and then share with our partners. This can now include sharing details about the questions, too – hearing this background information tends to really boost confidence in the journeys’ accuracy/appropriateness.

Wildwood Tarot © Will Worthington (illustrations), Mark Ryan & John Matthews (text), 2011

We’ve been using these journeys every couple months in the drum circle, and people are reporting wonderful, significant results. The relevance of the information gleaned is validating for all, the newer journeyers especially, and even more so in the partner-journeys.  And it allows even the newest, less experienced journeyers to work on behalf of another person in a way that doesn’t feel risky.

This month we added an additional twist: With a new partner (and again working blind), journey to be shown a simple ritual your partner can do right away to help them follow through with what they’ve learned. Lots of crazy and meaningful results, and lots of laughter. I think our power animals love assigning rituals, especially irreverent ones!

If this sounds fun, please try it – I’d love to hear your results and innovations 🙂

Choosing Tarot decks for this: As mentioned, I use the Gaian and Wildwood decks. These both show characters who seem outside of time, with minimal verbiage. In the Wildwood Tarot, all of the Court Cards are animals. [You can use Google images to see more examples from each deck, and both are available as apps from The Fool’s Dog, a great way to see all the details.]
For me, this isn’t the time for the vampire decks, all-cats decks, plain-pip decks, or decks with heaps of glyphs, key words, and other writing. Other good decks might be the World Spirit Tarot or the Tarot de St. Croix – among other strengths, both have vivid art and are multicultural – but there are dozens of other great Tarot decks – Explore!

Bright blessings to all,
Renna Shesso


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