Say It With Tarot

Everything you want to know about Tarot--especially for contemplation, self-empowerment, personal growth and creativity--from Tarot expert, author and deck co-creator Janet Boyer.

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Using Symbolic Charms for Insight

I'm always on the lookout for symbols, stringing them together like mystical pearls--or, perhaps, like magical mala beads inscribed with sacred prayers, spiritual insight and everyday wisdom--begging for me to decode and apply their particular meaning for my life. 

If you think about it, everything we tell ourselves is a story--including the way we decode symbols.

Whenever we interpret a look, a conversation, a painting, a song, a thought or a situation, we're engaging in a mental narrative. Our perspective is unique to us, which explains why ten people viewing the same accident, crime or conversation will likely have ten different interpretations of what went down!

One advantage of symbols is that the majority of its meaning is lodged in the collective unconscious, just waiting to be mined by mythologists, Jungian analysts, art students, writers and those of us who crave meaning (and enjoy creating it).

Not only are there universal meanings to symbols, though, but also personal meanings ascribed by the individual. This explains why Tarot cards, which are full of symbolism, may have traditional keywords and meanings--but also have a distinctly personal interpretation at the same time. 

Let's take The Hermit card, for example.


Common keywords include Solitude, Searching for Understanding, Providing Wise Counsel, Withdrawing from the World, Needing to be Alone and so on.

But what if a Tarot enthusiast has a Dad who owned a hardware store--and one of her most fondest memories was of him holding a lantern during her first slumber party under the stars, in a tent?

Ah, well, that personal association opens up a whole new realm of information that the enthusiast can add to traditional keywords.

The same holds true for any symbolic oracular system, really.

So what's this about charms and symbols?, you may be wondering.

For years, I'd tag along to Michael's art and craft store with my husband. I longed to make crafts, but am not the "crafty type" (I can't seem to get my hands to do what my mind sees!). Not only that, I have severe tendonitis with a sprinkle of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome--rendering my hands numb at best and aching at worst.

I was particularly drawn to the charms.

For years, I'd wistfully sigh as I looked through all the funky metal charms. Dozens and dozens and dozens of them. So lovely! So varied! So...symbolic. I even went so far to ask my husband if he'd learn to make jewelry for me so I could create symbolic bracelets that "spoke" of various messages.

Needless to say, he wasn't interested! (LOL)

But then I got the idea to create a charm-based oracle that delivered relevant messages--but didn't require any jewelry making talent (thankfully)--nor repetitive hand motions that would exacerbate my condition. I asked my son if he'd be interested in helping me select the charms and come up with keywords and--YAY!--he agreed.


So we looked through the charms at Michael's--as well as on Etsy--and came up with 60 or so charms that spoke to everyday issues and universal symbols. Those we couldn't come up with several keywords for? We eliminated them from our list of candidates.

On my personal Facebook page, I asked if others would be interested in such an oracle--and was surprised and delighted that many were! So we ordered the charms from various places, and Noah and I got to work on creating 6-10 keywords for every charm. I even associated each charm with a Tarot card, for those who used that oracle, as well.

We're now on our second run of the Boyer Charming Oracle, and I'm thrilled that others are using this tool for practical insight and decision making. Truth be told, I've been using our charms more than Tarot cards these days (although the two systems dovetail marvelously).

If you want, you can order your own set at But you know, you can make your own! Just go to your local Michael's, a craft store or an online shop that specializes in, or stocks, charms or beads (they're often used for making bracelets and necklaces). You can start small--maybe about ten charms or so--then add to your collection as funds and interest allows. Create your own keywords based on symbol dictionaries or common associations, as well as your own personal meanings. Ta da! You've created your very own charm-based oracle.

I recommend putting them in a bag made of a solid fabric (not see-through) so you can shake it up, put in your hand and draw the relevant charm/s for your reading. You can even use your charms with Tarot spreads; just draw a charm rather than a card. (I have a special secret Facebook group dedicated to our Boyer Charming Oracle. In it, we share tips and readings--and I upload new spreads to the database. If you'd like to be added, please friend me here, then ask me to add you to the group via PM). 

One of our members shared two recent charm reading she did with our oracle and I thought I'd share them with you to show how such a system can be both practical and illuminating (not to mention highly portable!). 

With her permission, here's Elizabeth's two experiences:


Something happened last week that I thought might offer alternate insight about the paper airplane. I drew it and immediately thought "airmail, or a surprise note". My Tarot card that day was the Ace of Cups. That day I received a letter from an ex with whom I had not had any communication in 30 years apologizing for his part in our break-up and wishing me well. What an amazing gift! I immediately thought of that paper airplane.

This is a fantastic example of personal symbolism, especially since the keywords I made for this charm were of a different slant: Goofing Off; Not Taking Things Seriously; Trying to Get Attention; Minor Irritation; Horseplay; Mischief. (Tarot Card association: 5 of Wands).


Another day recently I was not feeling well. My job is just not one that I can "call in" on, so I was resigned to go in for the day. My card was the High Priestess, which I interpreted as meaning although I was not feeling 100% I could rely on my intuition and higher knowledge to muddle through, not necessarily my physical or mental strength. I then drew the teddy bear charm and knew I was being told that I needed to take care of myself. I of course ignored it. I worked all morning, and at lunch my partner said "you look like you don't feel well; I got this, take the afternoon off". I checked my schedule and miraculously only had 6 people on it instead the usual 18 or so. I remembered the charm, went home and took a long nap (I NEVER NAP) and woke up 1000% better. So there again, I should have listened to the charm!

The keywords we had created for the Teddy Bear included Children; Baby; Nursery; Toys; Collectibles; Security; Inner Child; Sleep; Innocence; Hugs, A Gift; Caring; Cuddling; Tokens of Affection. (Tarot Card association: The Fool). 

Like I said to Elizabeth, "When a child needs comfort or is sick, what do we usually see him/her snuggling with? A TEDDY BEAR! A great reminder for comfort, self-care and burying yourself under covers." And, of course, sleep!

Isn't that amazing? It goes to show you that you can create any symbolic oracle--such as one with charms--and receive practical insights for everyday concerns and decision making

What about you, dear readers? Have you ever created a symbolic system for insight? Do you have a dream dictionary? Or animal omen diary? Or do you prefer runes and Tarot? What are your thoughts on creating your own oracles--with charms, stones, sticks or other items?

P.S. You can like our Boyer Charming Oracle Facebook page at this link, or get more information at

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Janet Boyer is the author of Back in Time Tarot (Hampton Roads), Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer Publishing) and Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped-Down Advice (Dodona Books). She's the co-creator (with her husband, artist Ron Boyer) of the Snowland Deck and Coffee Tarot, and authored both companion books to those decks. A Renaissance Soul, she is also an award-winning cook, mixed media artist, jewelry artisan and journal maker. Next to creating, her favorite thing to do is spend time with her beloved husband, son and 5 cats at her rural home in Pennsylvania. Visit her at


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