Why I use tarot cards to help me make decisions

I have been to a psychic more than once. In fact, I consider a new age shop in the hip Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park my “usual place” to go for readings. I sage my apartment every now and then when I am feeling a little stuck. I make candles with essential oils chosen because of their magical and aromatherapeutic properties. And in moments of crisis, I consult tarot cards.

I know for some people, dabbling in tarot seems flighty, delusional, or even like you’re not taking any personal responsibility. I have had ex-lovers scoff at even the mention of tarot, barely tolerating my fantastical pseudoscience. Some of my friends are into it (and frequently ask for readings about new crushes), but others seem disillusioned if I cannot give them finite details based on a reading.

Tarot’s not for everyone. But, it’s not just for those who tend to be a little more magical in their beliefs, either. Sure, I get a little hippie-dippie at moments, but I am a logical, driven, self-trusting, analytical human being. And that is exactly how I use my tarot cards.

I have two decks, but most of the time, I stick to the classic Raider-Waite deck, almost like a psychic starter pack.  This deck has 78 cards. You can use these cards in roughly a million different spreads to help you figure out a confusing part of your life—or something as seemingly benign as figuring out what to watch on Netflix.

When I am reading tarot for myself, I don’t use a spread for finite answers or as some sort of window into the future. Instead, I use the tarot to really determine what it is I am looking for with a certain aspect of my life. It is a decision-making diagnostics tool, weighing all the elements of a choice.

For example, say I am trying to decide whether or not to take a certain freelance job. I will meditate on my cards for a moment and then put out a spread. Let’s say that all of the cards point to, “YES, you absolutely should take this job!” but when I look at them, I still have an uneasy feeling about taking said job. Even though the cards are clearly saying one thing, I may still ultimately decide to not take the job based off of my reaction. If I see all of these “yes” indicators and still feel a weird hesitation, I have still gotten an answer. Clearly this is not a job I want to take or think is worth my time, and my resistance against the cards has helped me determine that.

Tarot is completely subjective. Yes, there are certain meanings behind each card. Yes, some people use tarot in a straight-forward manner and do as the cards tell them. But for me, reading tarot is a self-reflexive exercise. Tarot interpretation is a reflection of my truest desires and instincts, and that is why I put so much trust into these beautiful cards.

Reading tarot for myself is like confiding in a close friend who is not going to judge me for asking outlandish questions. It helps me find footing when I feel overwhelmed with this whole “adulting” thing and make sense of situations that seem all too murky. Ultimately, tarot is my mirror: by reading for myself, I am able to weigh my strengths and weaknesses and confront decisions and mistakes I have made in the past. Tarot cards do not put things lightly or dance around awkward conversations. Literally, all of the cards are on the table.

I know that tarot isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. But sometimes, you need to look deep within yourself to figure out what exactly is best for you. For me, Tarot allows just that.