I've improved on these symbols after several years of working with them and I will be releasing a more elegant, more gender-neutral 2.0 set with less overlap between pre-esxisting occult symbols very soon, along with a surprise. Stay tuned!
Now onto the content . . .
Shorthand Glyphs For Tarot Journal Winners
Google image search “symbols for tarot cards” and you’ll find an array of charts to pick from. Tarot cards have classic correspondences to astrological signs and Hebrew letters. If those click with you, you can use them to stand in for the card title in your notes. If you’re a numbers person, you can simply write down the card number for the majors and number/letter combos for the minors. For instance, the Wheel of Fortune can be written as “X” or “10,” the two of swords can be written as “2/S,” and the King of Pentacles can be written as “Ki/P.” Nice and simple, and no need to memorize a new system.
As a visual thinker and a proponent of making everything look witchier, I couldn’t rest until I found sufficiently occult-looking glyphs to stand in for my tarot cards. While astrology and alchemy have well established symbols, tarot lags behind with a smattering of personal symbol sets offered by a smattering of graphically inclined tarot nerds. Today, I’ll offer you one more set and teach you how to design your own while we’re at it.
You might recognize these from the graphics on this site. I came up with them when I needed some clean line art to deck the pages of my blog, then realized how useful they are for journaling.
Once you have a symbol in mind, grab some scrap paper and get doodling. Reduce the image or shape to its simplest components or outline. Think, how would I draw this in a stick figure universe? Once you’ve got something pretty simple, ask yourself if there’s anything more you can remove or delete while still capturing the image. Stop once you’ve got the simplest way to draw that picture - an easy and memorable glyph.
Here’s a quick breakdown of which symbols I chose and why:
The Fool - A stick figure. An everyman, everywoman, everyperson. A stand-in for the querent.
The Magician - Two arrows. A mirror of the magician’s arm placement. “As above, so below.”
The High Priestess - A crescent moon. A symbol of intuition and the unconscious. There is usually a crescent at the priestess’s feet, and she’s sometimes seen with a crescent headdress.
The Empress - Female symbol/Venus symbol representing the feminine archetype.
The Emperor - A crown. This card is just as much about worldly power and rule as it is about the masculine archetype. (Because the patriarchy. Sigh.)
The Hierophant - A key with a lemniscate, representing the keys to divine knowledge and secrets, and the connection between the finite and infinite.
The Lovers - A heart. Because lurve.
The Chariot - An arrow. I associate this card with progress, mastery, purpose, and direction.
Strength - A lemniscate. The traditional image is a woman with a lion, often with a lemniscate above the woman’s head.
The Hermit - A candle. The hermit usually holds a lantern or candle, searching for the truth in the dark.
The Wheel of Fortune - A wheel.
Justice - Scales.
The Hanged Man - A cross/inverted 4. The Hanged man is usually shown with a crooked leg, forming the shape of an inverted 4. The cross resonates with the card’s themes of sacrifice, enlightenment, and martyrdom by referencing the world tree and the Christian cross.
Death - An hourglass. A classic memento mori, a symbol of change, and easier to draw than a wee skull and crossbones.
Temperance - A couple wavy lines for water flowing between two cups.
The Devil - A pitchfork.
The Tower - A lightning bolt. This card usually shows a tower struck by lightning. Suddenness and destruction are both major themes.
The Star - A star.
The Moon - A moon.
The Sun - A sun.
Judgement - A spark of light rising from the dark. This one was the hardest to come up with. The card often shows a group of people rising up from a grave.
The World - A compass rose.
What works for me won’t work for everyone, but you’re welcome to use these symbols for your own journal. (If you blog with them, I’d love a link back. No commercial use, please and thank you. And by commercial use I basically mean, don’t sell these or publish them and say you did them. Just ask if you have any questions.) Feel free to start with these and alter them to your liking, too. Send me a link in the comments if you come up with your own set so I can see what you do!
Now go doodle up your tarot books! Besides saving time on shorthand, diagramming spreads with symbols looks badass.
I've had some copyright issues with this post--each instance I know of has been settled amicably, so no worries, but I figured I better refresh y'all on my copyright policies. This stuff can be confusing, and different authors have different boundaries and policies, so here goes.
TL/DR: I post original work. This entire site, unless otherwise noted, is copyright Evvie Marin 2018 All Rights Reserved. The graphics in this post are original works, protected by copyright.
My day job is illustration and graphic design. Copyright's a big deal in that field, so I have to keep tabs on it with any graphics-based stuff here. I did not invent the idea of occult symbols, and you are welcome to create your own tarot glyphs. There are even design tips on how to do that in this article. This set of glyphs is my own work, and I'm sharing it for personal use and inspiration only. They're not up for grabs!
You must obtain written permission from me, and possibly pay a licensing fee, before using these symbols as promotional materials on your own website and in your tarot courses. Do not copy some or all of these symbols and present them as your own work!
Some of these are pre-existing occult symbols/cultural. No one owns the stick figure, heart, star, astrological, or gender symbols. Other glyphs are original graphic designs, and ascribing each of these to the major arcana as a complete set--that is my own work. It took time, thought, and skill, and I explain my design choices right here in this post.
If you have questions about usage and derivative works, drop me a line. I am friendly, reasonable, and fair, and I don't mind answering copyright/usage inquiries. There is no good reason to copy without asking.
As of 12/15/18, there are only three exceptions to my All Rights Reserved copyright:
1. I published the Eight Useful Tarot Spreads eBook, under a Creative Commons, attribution, non-derivative-works, non-commercial license. This gives you the right to share that ebook and the spreads within, as long as you give credit and cite the author and source (attribution), do not cut and paste bits of it into your own projects (non-derivative-works), and do not use it commercially or promotionally, re-sell it, or charge for access to it (non-commercial.)
2. I occasionally use historic images and art in the public domain, always with sources cited.
3. Guests and interviewees may share artwork and bio photos with us. These are shared with those artists' permission, and protected by those artists' own copyright.
Blogs are for sharing, and I write this blog to help people learn tarot better for themselves. When I post content here, you may use it for your own personal enrichment at home. You may print diagrams for personal use in your private journals. You may share diagrams with friends, with attribution, as long as you're not charging them money. You may link to my articles and websites, and you may repost social media posts, again, with attribution. You may quote short passages from this blog, with credit and a link back. So many fun and reasonable things you may do without asking! Hooray!
You May Not:
You may not use my illustrations or graphics as promotional material on your own website. You may not repackage my work and sell it. You may not copy chunks of my work and present them as your own. If you have a blog or a tarot business, you must obtain written permission before posting my work on your website, especially in conjunction with products and services you offer for money. You must cite and credit the source of your material if you create derivative works, and you must obtain permission before including copies or segments of my work in published projects inspired by my articles.
Spread Honor Code:
Occultists are magpies, tarot culture is pretty open, and the internet is the internet. I've had a few spreads go viral on social media, and that means there are certainly people out there using them with paying clients, with or (mostly) without my knowledge or permission. This is impossible for me to keep tabs on as an indie artist, since it happens in a scattered way, behind closed doors.
So I have an honor code system with my spreads. They weren't written for readings with paid clients, but if you use them that way, simply make a proportionate donation to the blog, so I can keep releasing free spreads for all to use. This doesn't have to be extravagant, but I expect anyone profiting off my work to pass the hat back. If you share my spreads on your websites, in your blogs & vlogs, or with clients, you must give credit.
Do enjoy the tarot spreads. Do not pass my original spreads off as your own work.
Many thanks to all the folks who have donated and shared with attribution! Y'all are the loveliest, and you are helping keep these resources coming for all.
I do not endorse psychic readers. I do not take responsibility for the quality or content of others' readings. Receiving donations does not constitute affiliation or endorsement. If you see folks using my spreads with clients, there's a very good chance I don't even know about it. But unless they're doing something awful like pairing them with hate speech, there's an equally good chance I don't mind.
I make my living as an artist/illustrator, so I have to be much stricter about how my art and graphics are used. I do not grant permission to use my illustrations or custom site graphics commercially, including as promotional materials and give-aways on tarot blogs and business. For instance, if you're using one of my spreads with paid clients, you need to create your own cover image for your website, shop, or Etsy listing image.
Again, non-commercial re-posts and links back on social media are absolutely fine.
This set of symbols is a graphics project, which is why I have to be a little stricter about it.
If you have any questions about usage, just ask me! I'm friendly, and actually pretty easy-going about granting licenses to people who A) ask first and B) cite their sources! I do reserve the right to politely decline projects and uses that aren't a good fit. I'm not scary about it, though.
If you've goofed up and used something inappropriately, just get in touch and we'll work it out. Most of my policies are common sense based off fair usage for blogs, but I get that some people see stuff out of context on Pinterest or Tublr and don't realize what the policies are. I'll be adding this all to my copyright section on the About page over the next couple days.
If You Think Someone Has Copied My Work
Please don't assume anything, and never contact another blogger, author, reader, or maker on my behalf. If you see work out there that looks like mine and you think something might be off, just drop me a line. I'll check it out and see if it needs a follow up myself. I have and do occasionally grant commercial licenses to use my graphics work, including with these symbols. For instance, I have personally approved their usage in both free and paid tarot courses. So chances are fair it's above board, but I do appreciate tips, and I will look into them and handle them myself. Thanks!