I’ve long been a believer that for magical tools, do-it-yourself is the best way to go. As you imagine and shape and refine, you imbue the object with your own personal power, finally creating the magical implement that will work best with you and for you. You form a sacred symbiosis with your tool, and it becomes a living presence in your hands.
Several ways exist to personalize tarot or oracle cards. You can start from absolute scratch, cutting forms out of cardstock and decorating them by hand with images of your choosing, or you might make collages out of old photos or pictures found in magazines. My Gaia’s Vision Oracle Cards1 co-creator, Doris Diamond, once used this method to make cards that answered each question in the Celtic Cross spread. She told me making these cards was the most powerful spell she ever cast.
An alternate way is to buy cards pre-printed with images that you colour in yourself. Color Your Tarot is such a deck, consisting only of the major arcana as depicted in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot. It comes with a small booklet consisting of an introductory paragraph, a list of colours and their traditional meanings, and keyword meanings of each of the cards, upright and reversed (or inverted). The information is printed in English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, and Russian. This is a no-frills booklet; there are no spreads or long discussions of how to work with the cards, nor interpretations of their meanings. It’s assumed you know all that already.
The cards are sturdy, composed of medium weight cardstock, printed on the back with an attractive golden double-shield design on a green field. I used both markers and watercolor pencils to colour card 0, The Fool. I achieved better coverage with the markers; the dry pencils appeared rather light. I tested using them wet and that lent some nice shading effects, but made the card curl slightly. I was able to straighten it when it dried, and it did not recurl. The card held the colour well and it didn’t rub off, although if you anticipate heavy use you might want to seal the colour with a fixative.
Though no such suggestion is given with the deck, I would suggest making the colouring a sacred ritual. Before you begin, clear your workspace of clutter, perhaps smudging the table and room where you’ll be working. Smudge the cards as well as the markers or pencils you’ll be using. Don’t forget to smudge yourself!
Create sacred space in whatever fashion you usually do, then call in a blessing for the cards and their creation for the highest and best purpose. You might choose to do this once, before you work with the first card, or every time you sit down to colour new cards. Open sacred space at the appropriate time, and when finished with the entire deck, give thanks for its creation. If you want to go the extra step, you could sew, weave, crochet, or knit a pouch to hold your cards.
You may be scratching your head, wondering how you can possibly do a full tarot reading with only the majors. Don’t worry. You can do a meaningful reading, using the same spreads you usually do, keeping in mind that your reading will focus on the “soul” aspect of your question. In “How to Read Inverted Tarot Cards,” Jarrod Triskelion writes:
Inverted cards are useful to those who read using only the major arcana. Eliminating the minor arcana creates a more dramatic reading dealing with grander themes. Inverted cards offer more possibilities while still maintaining the focused intensity of such a reading. Twice the number of possibilities may now arise from the same limited number of cards.
Besides providing you with a customized deck, you can use Color Your Tarot as a contemplative tool. As you colour each of the cards, in order or randomly, meditate on the card’s meanings, both upright and reversed, and see how that archetype is expressed in your life. The major arcana is also sometimes said to depict a soul’s journey, figuratively, from birth to death. Where are you on that journey? Colouring itself is emerging (or being remembered) as a favorite pastime for meditation, reflection, and restoring the spirit. Color Your Tarot will add an occult flavour to it all, while providing a pathway to explore your own unique power.