Whether you’re a seasoned tarot reader or someone who is brand new to your tarot deck, this “tarot battle” exercise is designed to help you discover more about yourself and your cards while also potentially helping you remove mental blocks that prevent you from solving seemingly insurmountable obstacles. This can be performed with any tarot deck — today I am using the Rider-Waite deck because it is super clear and easily interpreted, but I have found many others that I love. Feel free to use whatever inspires you most.
While it is great to draw a card at random from your deck, it is super beneficial to take a good look through your cards and get to know them by seeing them all as they are. You can work with them by choosing certain cards that resonate with your current state of mind; it doesn’t take away the magic to pick intentionally, I promise! It will actually deepen your understanding of the super relatable parts of life that they represent.
So if you’re going through something — perhaps a problem that is hard to solve or even difficult to begin to think of a solution to — pick out a card that most symbolizes what you are going through. The cards are dramatic as hell, so please don’t be afraid to pick what resonates with you at this time, even if it’s a bit of a stretch. Tarot is all about symbolic associations so universal that they work on a subliminal level, helping you find answers within yourself that you may not have been able to reach on your own.
So with your “challenge” card in hand, keep looking through your deck until you find a card that could kick the other card’s ass in battle. Seriously, I know it doesn’t sound very zen, but you’re trying to defeat your personal demons here! Sometimes life just doesn’t fit into a perfectly magical box full of happy endings, but that’s okay because you can still magically steer it in a better direction. And sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration to help you find out where to go next.
If this all seems super weird and out there, it’s also totally fine, because I’m hooking you up with my favorite inspirational tarot battle combos. Who else is thinking of Mortal Kombat here? Think of this as choosing intentional, well thought out combinations instead of button mashing your way through life and hoping something works out. (I used to be a serial button masher so intensely that I would get blisters! It worked for me sometimes, but when I played against someone with actual practiced skill, I would almost always lose.) So here we go with a new tarot technique that always has you coming out on top!
(A completely optional step is adding crystals to emphasize your efforts. I have included these to deepen your experience should you wish to try it!)
Three of Swords vs. Strength:
The Three of Swords typically represents heartache, grief, or sorrow, usually stemming from an event in the past. This can be crazy hard to overcome especially if you were deeply impacted by this event. I have to admit that I went through a heartbreak recently that felt totally life-shattering. I was so hurt I felt like I would never feel the same again, and I still don’t know if I ever will. But instead of running from our toughest challenges, we need to face them if we ever hope to overcome them. I chose the Strength card to remind me to face my fears with grace and courage. Sometimes you need to just do your best to treat yourself and the world around you with kindness when you are facing hardship. Sorrow can help you find your inner kindness, and in time you will discover a way to overcome.
Related crystals: aragonite (for courage) and carnelian (to harness strength).
Death vs. Ace of Pentacles:
Death isn’t always literal. This card often pops up when a phase of your life ends and another one begins. It could be the end of a relationship, a career path, or even a way of thinking. A big change can shake you to your core, especially when unexpected. But the idea here is to seek new opportunities. When one door closes, another opens. But you can only find it if you look! It’s a challenge to adapt, but you might surprise yourself in finding a new path instead of an old one that was not serving you.
Related crystals: labradorite (to create and manifest) and fluorite (to turn negative energy and experiences positive).
The Tower vs. the Star, and the Sun
Triple whammies are always allowed! (I’m not the boss of you! You can make your battles as simple or as complicated as you see fit.) I love the transformation that these three cards suggest. The Tower is a scary looking card, but ultimately it reflects the collapse of an old way of life or thought that was never really sturdy to begin with. This can allow you to see yourself and the world as everything really is, leading to a potential breakthrough as you find inspiration to head in a more promising new direction.
Related crystals: lava stone (to let go), quartz (for clarity), peacock pyrite (to rediscover the beauty in life), silver pyrite and sunstone (for success in your new endeavors).
Ten of Swords vs. the Magician
There’s no sugarcoating it — the Ten of Swords represents a defeat. But in the distance we can see the sun rising with the promise of a new day even in the darkest of circumstances. This is a chance to create something new out of the ashes of the old. Please never forget that you have the power to create the life you want to live, one step at a time. If you find yourself feeling trapped and deadened by your challenges, give yourself time to reconnect with the side of you that’s willing to create. Whether it’s art, love, or happiness, you have the ability to unleash your creativity on your existence.
Related crystals: tiger’s eye (to protect your energy), aventurine (to protect and heal your heart), and citrine (to bring a new light into your life).
Eight of Swords vs. the Chariot
The Eight of Swords looks like a situation that is doomed — until you look closely. The binds that hold the card’s figure are loose. The figure is close to what looks like a pretty safe castle. The swords look ominous, but they are not completely preventing the subject from stepping around them and walking away. If you harness the concentration and purpose of the Chariot card, and reconnect to what keeps you motivated, you can move past the feeling of being stuck or trapped. But you have to trust yourself to take yourself out of it first! Remember, things will get better. You can always make things better. Not always perfect, but better.
Related crystals: lapis lazuli (to see the truth of any matter), orange calcite (for a boost of vitality), and red calcite (for motivation).
Nine of Swords vs. the Hanged Man
I have lived out that sad illustration of the Nine of Swords — everything except for the swords on the wall. I have spent too many nights crying myself to sleep, so if you relate to this card, you are not alone. But what this card truly represents is a bit of self cruelty — without realizing it, you are making a choice to stay in this state of mind. It is essential to grieve, but at a certain point we must find a way to move forward. One powerful way to do this is to take a step back if you can and ask yourself why fate has put you here. What has been sacrificed so a new phase of your life has room to grow? It is difficult to see this when emotions run high, so this is a combination I would only consider when you have given yourself ample time and truly feel ready to put your struggles into context and move boldly forward, perhaps hurt but stronger for it.
Related crystals: agate (to calm, comfort, and center the mind), and blue calcite (to become open to self discovery).
These are just a few combinations to get you started. With 78 cards in a deck, you have many options to choose from. My hope is that you now have a new tool to help steer you in a more positive direction even during the most difficult times.