• Intro to Cartomancy: Divination for the Modern Mystic

    tessa giberson city witch from tyger tyger supernatural variety store. Tarot and oracle blog post

    Tessa Giberson is the witch behind City Witch and they have been kind enough to share with us some tips on what Tarot is, the difference between Tarot and Oracle decks, how we can find self reflection using cards, as well as some very simple ways to add cards into your daily life. If you've ever been curious about tarot, this is your way in...

    tessa giberson city witch from tyger tyger supernatural variety store. Tarot and oracle blog post

    Tarot is a deck of 78 cards, comprised of the 22 Major Arcanum that explain ethereal concepts (often referred to as the Fool’s Journey) and 56 Minor Arcanum detailing the practicalities of earthly life.  The exact origins of the tarot is somewhat vague, however most tarotists agree that before the tarot was used as divination in the 18th century, it was a European card game (see, the “tarrochi” or “trionfi.”)

    While tarot has been used for fortune telling in the past, in the last few decades we’ve seen a shift to using tarot as a tool for self reflection.  Rather than pulling cards to predict the future, we ask our deck questions that are rooted in the present moment. Tarot is the mirror we gaze into as we try on our most authentic selves.  We engage in self-reflection to best understand how events are presently unfolding so we can make decisions that are really aligned to our soul truths. All cards then, are invitations for us to grow, evolve, take leaps of faith, honour our nervous system, and heal.

    How do tarot cards work? Through myth, art, and symbolism the tarot allows us to connect the dots between what we feel subconsciously (the things we can sense but can’t quite articulate yet) and what we know consciously (the things we are aware of and can verbalize.)

    Adjacent to tarot cards are “oracle” cards.  While tarot follows a specific structure of Major and Minor Arcanum, oracle cards follow a structure that’s designed entirely by the deck creator.  Anyone can design their own oracle deck to communicate their spiritual beliefs and values. As a tarot reader, I love the freedom and creativity of using oracle cards. Since they don’t follow the set structure and tradition of the tarot, they’re a more accessible starting point for those that want to hone their intuition.

    Oracle cards function the same as tarot cards, and can be used on their own or in conjunction with tarot cards.  Mixing oracle cards with tarot cards can give a specific point of entry or aspect to focus on within the complex (and often overwhelming) tarot theory.  The tarot card is like a world map, and we can pull an oracle alongside it to put a pin on a specific point on the map. Other times, pulling an oracle card in conjunction with a tarot card can expand the meaning of the cards beyond the traditional theory, and help us make connections or “aha” moments where we’d never expect them.

    tessa giberson city witch from tyger tyger supernatural variety store. Tarot and oracle blog post

    Pulling Cards

    There are a variety of methods to shuffle and pull cards, listen to your body and what feels right as you experiment.  This is my process and what feels best for me, your process will be unique to you, and will shift and grow as you shift and grow.

    Before I shuffle I like to start by taking a symbolic ritual action, to mark the present moment as sacred, separate from wherever we just came from and wherever we’re going to next. This might look like lighting a candle, burning herbs, ringing a singing bowl, opening a window, or turning my phone off.  Then I close my eyes to drop in with my well-intentioned guides, ancestors, and spirits of the land, and ask them a question. Sometimes my question is specific, and sometimes I’m simply asking for direction.

    Next, I shuffle, fan, halve, and swirl the deck around the table.  Some tarot readers like to cut their deck into piles. My favourite method is to spread the cards all over my kitchen table and hover my hand over them in a spiralic motion. When I feel a subtle bump, vibration, pulse, or pull, I know the card is meant for me.

    I pull a tarot card every morning to find out how I’m being invited to grow and evolve each day, and keep track of my daily pulls in a journal.  You could also pull two cards: One tarot card and one oracle card. At the beginning of every month I draw a table to create a monthly log, so I can track my card pulls for the whole month and see what cards are coming up frequently.  When I get cards showing up repeatedly, I call them “echo” cards. This happens when the universe is really trying to get my attention, or when I’m struggling to learn the lesson.

    Some of my daily 1 card pulls include:

    • What I give my attention grows, what do I need to pay attention to right now?
    • What is the medicine in this moment?
    • What do I need to release right now?
    • How can I nurture or be kinder to myself?
    • What can I do presently to soften?
    • How can I feel safe?
    • What am I learning about my healing path?
    • What do I need to remember about my wholeness?

    tessa giberson city witch from tyger tyger supernatural variety store. Tarot and oracle blog post


    You can find Tarot and Oracle decks in our Ritual section. Our favourites are the She Wolfe Tarot and the Birds Oracle deck but find a deck that speaks to you.

    You can also book a one on one reading with Tessa here


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