Samhain is considered the Witch’s New Year, and is a time when the veil between us and the spirit world is very thin. Tarot readings and any intuitive art becomes easier for many of us during this time, as conversing with Spirit and our ancestors seems to come more natural. For this reason, one of my favorite Samhain rituals is a year ahead tarot reading. I hope by explaining my yearly ritual, this gives you some inspiration to start your own Samhain tarot reading practice.
Why Do a Year Ahead Tarot Reading?
In a year ahead tarot reading, you are going to be pulling a total of 13 cards. You need one card for each month in the year ahead, as well as one card for the year as a whole. I love doing this for two reasons. First, it gives a general outlook for the vibes and lessons of each month in the year ahead. This way we can be prepared for the energy that’s coming. Second, the years theme card lets us know the general lessons coming for that year, so it’s a great way to get to know that card on a deeper level.
Preparing Yourself for Ritual
My favorite way to start just about any ritual is with a candlelit bath. It’s especially powerful when working with divination, as the elements of water and fire are very intuitive. Add cleansing herbs and salts to the water and anything you’ve got that will aid in psychic abilities. Mugwort is a personal favorite of mine, but you can add whatever herbs call to you the most. As you soak in the water, picture it washing any and all negative energy away and infusing your aura with white or purple light.
Preparing Your Sacred Space
Now that you’re clean, let’s get your sacred space clean. I like to smoke cleanse my area and tarot deck with mugwort and lavender before a reading, but again, use what you have. Sage, palo santo, and loose incense are good alternatives. Homemade Florida water is a good alternative for your reading area if you can’t use smoke, and tarot cards can be cleansed by shuffling with the intent to release any residual energy present from past readings.
Once you feel as though your space is clean, cast a circle, call in the elements for protection, and call in any spirit guides, ancestors, or deities you like to work with. I like to ask them to be with me during my reading, guide my hands, and help me receive any important messages. While casting a circle is not necessary for tarot readings, I like doing this for my Samhain reading ritual for extra protection, and to feel closer to my guides and ancestors. If you don’t feel like that step is necessary for you, please feel free to do it however you like. I do recommend taking a moment to meditate, ground yourself, and clear your mind before the reading regardless of whether or not you choose to cast a circle.
Pulling Your Tarot Cards
Start by shuffling your deck and focusing on the year ahead. Once your deck is shuffled and you are ready to pull your tarot cards, the spread is simple. Pull one card for each month and lay them out in a circle. Start with November of your current year, all the way to October of the next year. In the center of the circle, you’ll pull a 13th card that will represent the year as a whole and any big lessons that you will be learning.
When drawing your card that will represent the entire year I would like to mention an alternative option. Some people like to pull their year card as card number 1 instead of 13, and from the major arcana only instead of from the entire deck. To do this, separate out the major arcana cards, draw your year card first, then shuffle the major arcana back into the deck before pulling the month cards.
I personally don’t find this is necessary, as I have always pulled a major arcana card for my year ahead without separating the deck. Even if I did not, I don’t personally believe every year is required to come from the major arcana, as we all have years in our lives that are just business as usual, while others are full of big changes and life lessons. However, if you’d like to do it this way, feel free to experiment and see what you like best.
Analyzing Your Tarot Spread
Once you have all 13 cards pulled it’s time to start analyzing your spread. You don’t have to look for incredibly specific things that might happen in any given month. If those messages come to you jot them down, but if they don’t it is okay. What’s most important for a year ahead spread is the energy of each month and overall lessons you will be learning.
Look through each month to see where any hard months may be. For instance, for 2020 I pulled the Nine of Swords from the Light Seers tarot deck. This is typically seen as the worry card, meaning there would be some sort of anxiety during that time. My notes for that for month read, “anxiety, husband, possibly his job”.
For each month showing a heavy card, you may wish to pull an advice card. You can ask something like, “How can I overcome the energy that month?”, and see what comes up. When asking this question for September of 2020 I drew the Queen of Cups. I read this as a reminder to show love and compassion, stay out of my head during that time, and trust that everything would work out.
While September did end up being a high anxiety month with my husband working a dangerous job out of state, everything really did work out in the end. I was able to focus on embodying the Queen of Cups, supporting him and our children emotionally, and trusting my intuitive messages. This is one of my favorite reasons for doing this ritual each year, as tarot has an amazing ability to bring calm to tough situations.
Closing Your Ritual
Once you’re done pulling and analyzing your cards, take a picture of your spread and jot down any notes about messages or feelings you received during the reading. If you’re going to be doing any other spells or rituals for Samhain, now is a good time to do them. If you are done, take some time to thank any spirits you called in for being present with you, and close your circle.
Reflecting on Your Tarot Spread Throughout the Year
Be sure to save the picture of your spread somewhere safe, so that you are able to reflect on it throughout your year ahead. Keeping a picture not only helps you remember the cards you pulled, but also the deck you pulled them from. Since each deck varies, a picture of the exact cards you drew on Samhain can help you pick up any little hints throughout the year that may be present in each card. For example, the Nine of Swords I drew for September from my Light Seers deck is not exactly the same as the Nine of Swords from the Rider Waite Smith. The symbolism in each card from the deck you choose can give you more insight on what’s to come and how you can best handle it. If you regularly use the same deck having a picture is less important, but you may still find it helpful to look back on.
About a week before your Samhain reading each year, it’s helpful to bring the previous years reading back out. Journal and reflect on that years card, how it presented itself throughout the year, what you learned during that time, and how you can use that knowledge for the years to come.
Blessed Samhain to all the witches out there!
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