With 2019 coming to a close, there’s a rich spirit of reflection in the air. From looking back on accomplishments and achievements from this year to zooming out even more and considering the past decade, this is an opportunity to examine just how far we’ve come, as well as what we want from the next calendar year. And whether you chose a focus word, made a vision board, set a bottom line, or wrote out a list of resolutions, tarot can be a useful tool for reflecting on how far you’ve come, as well as making space to consider what the year ahead may bring.
There are many ways to use tarot for the new year – you can choose a card intentionally, can use a chosen archetype in rituals or spellwork, or can meditate on a particular theme that blends several cards together. And while picking a specific card to work with is a powerful way to organize your thoughts and intentions for the coming year, I love to let the cards speak freely in this simple spread, one that provides both a theme for the year as well as cards to focus on for each month. Rather than seeing these cards as predictive, by leaving them open to interpretation and revisiting them throughout the year, we create space for these ideas to expand and build upon each other, allowing for growth, new perspectives, and the shifts that 2020 may bring.
All you need for this reading is a deck of tarot cards, although if you like, you can also incorporate an oracle deck. I highly recommend keeping a journal or place to write handy as well, so that you can record your first impressions and overall insights during your reading. If you’d like you can also incorporate candles, crystals, incense, or any of your other favorite witchy tools into this reading, allowing it to become an end-of-year ritual for you. Follow your instincts and do what feels right – this can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose.
Before you get started, take some deep breaths, light a candle if you choose, and clear your mind. I like to let this spread be open and simply ask for insights into what’s ahead, but if you have a specific goal for 2020 that you want guidance around (like new opportunities for career advancement, expanding your chosen family, etc.), hold that goal in your mind as you draw cards.
We’ll start by drawing the theme cards for the year. Pull out the major arcana cards from your tarot deck, then shuffle them well, using your favorite method to draw one archetype from this pile – this is your theme for the year, the archetype that you can use for meditations, guidance, and inspiration. Then, repeat this process with either the minor arcana pile or your oracle deck, using this as a card to provide additional clarification on your theme. Spend some time working with these cards, considering how they can help you set an intention, find a focus, or clarify your goals for 2020. What connections emerge? What themes do you see? How do these cards resonate with where you are right now, and where you hope to go?
Once you’ve spent some time with your theme for 2020, it’s time to draw 12 more cards, one for each month. Do this by putting your tarot deck back together, shuffling majors and minors until they’re well combined. Draw a card for each month, one at a time, until you have your full year laid out before you. Writing about each of these cards can be helpful, but try to keep this high level rather than getting caught up in detailed interpretations or lengthy predictions. I recommend recording these cards in your 2020 journal or calendar, allowing you to reflect on them at the beginning of each new month and seeing how they fit into your current mindset – chances are, these cards will make more sense in the context of your year. For now, consider how these cards connect with your theme cards, and what they can help you uncover about those broader archetypes.
This might seem like a lot – so because I love you so much, Autostraddle, I’m sharing my own 2020 reading with you here, along with quick-and-dirty insights into each card so that you can see how this works. You can write as much or as little as you like when you do this reading for yourself; I’m offering this simply as an example.
Theme card for the year
An archetype of joy, celebration, and laughter, this card is often associated with childlike pleasure, dancing in warm sunlight, releasing any lingering shadows that may have been holding us back. One of the last cards in the major arcana, the Sun speaks to a sensation of lightness after challenges, to a weight being lifted, to spending time with community and finding a new sense of freedom and pleasure. Here we find vitality, success, and optimism – an awareness of how lucky we are even as we also recognize how hard we’ve worked to reach this point, the shifts and growth and expansion we’ve experienced, the dreams we’ve chased, the things we’ve had to surrender and sacrifice. As a theme card for 2020, this shows me that my year will be about learning to find joy and pleasure within myself, embracing a spirit of positivity, working to look forward rather than always looking back. And combined with the ten of swords, a theme card that emerged for me in a different, more reflective year-end spread, I’m seeing potential for powerful clarity and a shifting of mindset, an understanding of all that I am capable of, and a celebration of how much I’ve overcome.
Clarification theme card
Connect to Heart
Oracle decks tend to be a lot more open, allowing their meanings to be both overarching and intensely personal. Within this card, which is connected to water, the heart chakra, and the subconscious, there’s a calling to openness, vulnerability, and intuitive awareness. The Sun may feel like an archetype that is all about celebrating progress and looking forward, but with this Connect to Heart card, I’m also asked to be deeply present – to pay attention to emotions, to be brave in my movements and choices, to deepen connections. While the Sun can feel very community-oriented, this message is one of individual clarity and abundance, of making an intentional choice to allow my emotions a bigger part in my decision-making and choices. Together, this feels like a year to shine a light within, to let some of my shadows and darkness go, to honor the person I am at my core.
Manifestation, confidence, creating a vision for the future, activating resources, endless potential, the belief that anything is possible. Being true to the self. Authentic awareness, building dreams, seeing nothing but possibility and opportunity.
Eight of wands
Powerful movement, focused ambition, drive and purpose. Creativity and collaboration, the knowledge that we are on the right path forward. A clearing of obstacles, rushing towards a goal, determination, magic.
Page of cups
A new connection or beginning, opening the self, personal growth and magic, vulnerability, awareness, creativity. A new relationship or journey. Accepting depth of emotion, trusting intuition, recognizing all parts of the self.
Four of swords
Boundaries, self-preservation, stepping back from movement, taking space, protecting the mind, care and comfort. Not pushing past personal limits. Honoring our own needs.
Page of swords
Pursuing a new truth, asking questions, rich curiosity, a passion for knowledge. The beginning of something expansive. Trusting our insights, indulging a desire for information, pressing forward down a new path of thinking.
Release, a necessary and inevitable end, saying goodbye to something. Making space for transformation, letting go of something that is no longer growing. Moving onto a new path, leaving something behind. Choosing a new future.
Rushing forward, moving towards an established destination, finding purpose and direction, experiencing personal freedom. A powerful choice, an important ambition. Seizing our power, enjoying a rush of magic or a sensation of joy.
Six of pentacles
Generosity, reciprocity, celebrating how far we’ve come while giving back to those that helped us along the way. Feeling deeply tied to a community, recognizing the help we’ve given and taken.
Seven of swords
Secrets, seeking truth, waiting to act, looking for more information before making a decision. Caution and hesitation, uncertainty. Maintaining strict boundaries, guarding the mind or the self. Not knowing who to trust, or not trusting the self.
Eight of swords
Mental traps, overlooking truths, getting stuck in one narrative or perspective. A need to expand awareness and explore options. Releasing a need for constant control, remembering to trust, allowing ourselves to see other possibilities.
Ace of wands
A flash of inspiration, a fresh start, a new beginning. Creative passion, powerful energy, a rush of movement and a craving for change. A strong desire to build something new, to manifest, to express the self in an unexpected and powerful way. Expanding personal magic.
Six of swords
Intentional movement, seeking new knowledge, leaving old ideas behind, expansion, travel. Letting ourselves continue on a journey, pursuing real truth, honoring our perceptions, making space for change.
Together, my two main theme cards speak of a 2020 that’s all about embracing community, finding joy within, and being open to success. There may be important and potentially painful lessons around vulnerability and how much of myself I’m able to share, but I also see possibilities for intensive growth, rich clarity, and finding deep wells of personal power. And while I’m keeping my interpretations for each monthly card very short and general, just focusing on connecting these meanings to my broader themes for the year, I can still see some additional patterns: movement, intentionality, vulnerability, beginnings and endings. These fit beautifully with my theme cards, indicating that 2020 holds a lot of space for progress, expansion, and evolution.
Based on this spread, I’m choosing the word awareness as my focus for 2020 – awareness of my power, awareness of my community, awareness of how my work and art and magic impact the world around me. As the year unfolds and I keep the Sun as my focus, I fully expect to find unexpected insights into this archetype, to expand my interpretations and develop new understandings of what this card can teach me. It’s part of what’s so beautiful about tarot, and about using it in this way – we leave ourselves space to process and grow alongside the cards. And whether you end up using this archetype in your rituals throughout the year, or just spend a few hours thinking about it before moving forward on a new path, I hope this spread brings you clarity, power, and magic for 2020.
How does this spread fit in with your end-of-year rituals? I would love to see pictures of your cards, hear more about your readings, and see how this simple spread can help you define what you want for yourself in 2020.
I love this idea. Breaking it down into the months is more manageable and understandable than trying to make one reading work for the whole year. What is this gorgeous deck?
thank you so much! and the tarot deck is the moonchild tarot, while the oracle deck is called the threads of fate deck 🖤
amazing! i was interested in doing a 2020 spread and but i didn’t consider looking for a theme the way you suggested. this is a wonderful guide. :)
thank you, i’m so glad to hear that! i really love having a theme card for the year and pulling an extra clarification card with either minors or an oracle deck can really help make it feel more robust. i hope you love the spread and thanks for reading!
meg, thank you for this! i’d been saving this post for next weekend but after working on solstice/2020 intentions tonight, i felt like i needed to go ahead and take a look at your spread now, and i’m SO glad i did.
alsoooo this oracle deck looks amazing??
it’s such a busy time of year (and we’ve got another new moon in just a few days with an eclipse tacked on, just in case things didn’t feel hectic enough) but i think solstice is the absolute perfect time for reflection and intention setting for the next year. i loved seeing your cards on insta – what lovely messages for you 🖤
and i just got this oracle deck and i’m a little obsessed?? it’s even more gorgeous in person.
I really want to try this spread out. I just received my very first tarot deck as an early gift from my bff but I’m so excited to try my hand and see how my December ’19 interpretations hold up in December ’20