Because “Graphic Organizers” Are My Day Job…


Man, I was really productive with my snow days! In addition to cleaning all the things in my house, doing some organizing, freshening up my ritual space, and hacking two tarot decks to bits, I was able to put together the finishing touches on a tarot workbook for my coven and get the “first edition” printed out and spiral bound.

I’m not really sure how I got started with this project. A few months ago, we’d loosely debated getting a tarot coloring book to augment our year of major arcana study. I think that may have been the start of it. I remember being impressed with some of the options I’d found, like Theresa Reed’s book and Diana Heyne’s. But I knew that I personally didn’t want to have my colored pictures in one book and my notes in another. I am all about keeping my project materials organized in one place. Eventually, I realized that the RWS images were now in the public domain, and that several people across the Internet had created black and white line versions. I figured I would just print off a deck’s worth at some point after work and pop them into a binder with some notebook paper and call it a day.

At some point, my day job crossed over into my mental headspace. For whatever reasons there may be, my high school juniors and seniors don’t really understand how to take notes. I do a ton of work with them to help develop these skills (after all, college is right around the corner), but when we’re slogging through a big text, most of them get overwhelmed. I guess the process of deciding what’s important about a big concept and how to usefully organize your thoughts about it can seem like a Herculean task if you’re not practiced in it, so I’ve taken to “chunking” out things the students should pay attention to in various chapters and creating “graphic organizers” that do at least the “what should I write and were should I put it” for the kids.

When my coven started solidifying out our study plan for this year and I started to think about yet another trip through the major arcana, I realized that I was starting to picture the notes I wanted to take as a graphic organizer. (I have drunk my own Kool-Aid. Send help.) So I jotted down the things I thought would be important to a study, put them into a flow that I thought would help cultivate intuition along with internalization, and created a draft. And because I’m a writer who highly values the editing process, I solicited a round of feedback from my HP and HPS, tweaked the draft, and then sent that out to some professional readers of my acquaintance for final input before nailing it down.


I’m pretty pleased with what I came up with. The first page gives you a picture to refer to and color if you choose, and it asks you to record your first impressions of the card before asking you to describe the image objectively. Then it brings subjectivity into play as it asks you to describe the character’s mood or the emotional atmosphere of the scene. The next page asks you to catalog all the elements you see as symbolic and to posit what those symbols mean.


When you flip to the third page, you get challenged to consider the card’s structure. What could the positive and negative associations of the card mean? How does the card’s number (for the majors and the pips) or rank (for the court cards) influence the card? How does the suit, element, or mode impact it? And because A. E. Waite consciously structured his deck around astrology and the kabbalah, there’s space to consider those influences, too, if they float your boat. Once you’ve got all that sorted, you’ve probably got a good idea of what that card means to you, so the fourth page has you record your meaning and pull out reference keywords. Then it challenges you to consider what an inversion of that image could mean and gives you the opportunity to pull out reference keywords for that, too.


The last two pages challenge you to apply your newly constructed meanings to a context situation (readings about romantic relationships, non-romantic relationships, career, finances, spiritual issues, heath, and creativity…the most common question categories you’re likely to get from querents). And then, finally, you get some space to jot down other things you learn about the card from discussion and additional study.

I like it all right, and my beta readers were very enthusiastic and asked for copies, too. So I’ll probably throw a downloadable version up somewhere here once I get another block of “free time” to make pages for the minor arcana. I’d also like to clean up the “how do I use this workbook?” forward that I rushed and make it a bit more accessible.

So yeah! That’s how I spent my snow days.




3 thoughts on “Because “Graphic Organizers” Are My Day Job…

  1. That is an awesome idea, followed by rather fabulous execution. I love this so much. This is so very helpful in keeping the review for each card consistent too.

    And I agree, it is hard to teach note taking to kids. I had the joy to try at their first year at uni for a while. I love it when it clicks, but until then it is a bit of a challenge to find the right approach.

    • Aw, thanks!

      I have to admit, I’d really love to teach a class called “How to Succeed in College”. I may not be the most brilliant person out there, but I’ve got study strategies down cold.

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