Project: Tarot Solstice Advent Calendar

A sample of the finished project.
Click to embiggen

As a child, I had a few winter holiday joys. One of them was the chocolate advent calendars we received as gifts for the holidays. I found pleasure in being able to pop open the door and receiving a small gift during the big countdown to the holiday. Over time and as I grew older, I had forgotten about the calendars and the simple joy of counting down to the holiday. In 2012, Barbara Moore posted her idea for a Tarot Advent Calendar on the Llewellyn blog. Her idea was to sew pockets for cards in a five by five grid. Then she would randomly select one card a day to count down for Christmas/Yule. The inner child was hooked and wanted to incorporate this idea into her winter traditions.

Over the years, I had gathered fabrics and plastics and various tools to replicate one of my own. One problem with doing this is that I did not want to count down to Christmas. I planned to count down each day until the winter solstice, loosely defining the date as December 22nd. This way, I get to pull a single major arcana card each day as the light grows darker towards the shortest day of the year. Year after year past and I was still no closer to getting my calendar done. Then, something cool happened at the end of the holiday season in 2019. 

The tree and the pencil markings for hooks. Click to embiggen

Kendra and I went into my local craft store, Craft Warehouse. While perusing the aisles for fabric, pens, washi, and other inspirational items, I found a tall, green wooden tree. Then the lightbulb came on. It was the PERFECT size for my solstice calendar. I bought it, along with 22 wooden discs, a small block of pine, and the seed of the dream grew. 

The pandemic hit, and everything changed. My travel plans got put on hold, and I’ve been homebound. When I broke out the Samhain decorations early this year, I discovered how much joy it brought to my mood. An unexpected light appeared in this strange year. With this month’s theme of Focus, I knew it was time to sit down and finally manifest this idea. I wanted to play. 

My ornaments are the 22 one-inch discs. Ours came without holes, so we used a drill press to make holes at the top. When I had all my disks together, I laid down the tree and started laying each disk on the tree. Your inner child will love this step. Make some hang off the branches, space them out and look for a pleasing design. It took me a day or two to come up with a nice layout. We marked each location for the eventual hook screws with a pencil.  

Table saw used to cut base. Click to embiggen

Then we moved onto the block base. Kendra and I decided to cut a groove into the wood to slide the tree in and out for storage. She used our table saw to cut the wood. The tree leans a small bit, so everything hanging on the tree shows well. The whole thing looks great, and it’s secure and stable. We also screwed in the hooks so each ornament would freely dangle.

The next step was to figure out what would be placed on the disks to denote each major arcana card. I wanted to use symbols instead of words, so I searched for cute tarot planner stickers. I ended up purchasing a set of stickers from LightPlansStudio on Etsy. I got their two-pack because you never know what happens when applying the stickers on the final product. After the stickers arrived, I added them to each of the wooden disks (a test run, if you will). Everything looked great, but then I decided I wanted white discs instead of plain wood color.

First coat of white spray paint down. Click to embiggen

I got a bottle of Rust-Oleum’s Matte White paint. We set up a small paint station in the garage, and I sprayed each side of the disk. I had to do two coats because the wood was thirsty. Spray painting the discs took a whole weekend to do, set, and dry. When they were dry, I had to clean the discs up by sanding paint off their edges. I used an emery board since I didn’t have access to sandpaper. Please don’t use nail clippers as I did.  Sanding the sides will destroy them, and you will have to buy a new set.

Finally, we got to the fun part, reapplying the stickers. I removed each sticker and affixed it to each ornament. Then I used matte-finished Modge Podge (remember this stuff? I used to glue puzzles together and hang them in my room when I was young! Ah, to be a child of the 80s) to seal the stickers onto the wood and protect the images from damage. I recommend using a fresh bottle because the glue does go bad after a while — ask me how I know. 

Testing the hooks before adding stickers. Click to embiggen

To store your ornaments, you can use a small bag. Just dump the discs into it and shake them for shuffling. Because I had snowflake and winter fabrics already picked out (since 2012, remember), I decided to make a custom draw bag. My favorite pattern is this reversible dice bag by Think Craft Thoughts. The original pattern is too big, so we adjusted by making a smol one (15″ long by 8.5″ tall), giving enough space for my grabby hand to remove an ornament once a day.

Starting tomorrow, after I decorate our mantel with our solstice decorations, I’ll shake the bag and draw a disc. Then I’ll hang it on the tree at random. You can follow along here on the blog. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you all!

This was such a fun project. It fed the need to create new winter rituals and satisfy my inner child. I look forward to using this tree year after year. I hope it’s inspired you to do something for your practice. 

I’ve had to close the comments on my blog, so if you recreate this project or have other tarot winter traditions, please email me. I’d love to know how you’ve integrated tarot into your winter holiday traditions.