A digital mystic in your pocket: eight+ tarot app reviews

[First published on Autostraddle]


And so to tarot apps.

About which I am very conflicted.

Considering a deck of tarot cards isn’t a whole lot bigger than your phone, I’m not 100% sold on the need for ‘fortune telling on the go’ or ‘tarot in your pocket’. Tarot is portable and already fits quite comfortably in my pocket (well okay it’s kicking around somewhere in the bottom of my bag.) When I need a tarot-y kinda message, I can just reach in and grab a card, or find a quiet spot for a reading. Why would I also need an app?

steampunk-tarot-app

And there are all those feelings about the realness of cards – touch, smell, the physicality of shuffling, dropping cards, turning them over, moving them around…are tarot apps to tarot cards what e-readers are to books?

Well, before I meander into full-blown snobbery, guess what, there are *lots* of reasons why a tarot app or three on your phone can be a really fun supplement your tarot practice.

Such as…

You left your cards at home and you need an answer pronto.
You’re tired of reading for yourself and want a robot to read for you.
You want to double-check your ideas about a card against a ‘standard’ interpretation.
You want to secretly learn tarot on the bus and don’t want everyone to see your book/cards/journal.
You’re really not sure about this whole tarot thing and just want to play with it on your phone because, y’know, an app could never really mean anything, could it?
You’re trying to distract yourself from sending drunken texts to your ex and tarot is the only way you know how.

And so on.

Tarot apps also allow you to explore different decks. I don’t have the Druidcraft Tarot for example, but using the app allows me to explore these cards without shelling out for the deck. Which is neat!

And of course, tarot apps can help you learn, especially if you’re at that stage of just trying to form ideas about cards and get something to stick. I’m really, really not into ‘memorising meanings from a book’, but it’s still handy to have a tarot guide in your pocket while you’re finding your feet. Whilst most have a ‘get a reading’ feature, many also function as learning aids, offering the ability to look up individual cards or explore the symbolism of suits, elements and archetypes within the deck used in the app. And simply playing with a tarot app means you’re playing with tarot which means you’re learning, growing more familiar with your cards, and incorporating them more often into your daily life – even if in a digital sense.

Here are reviews of eight+ tarot-related apps you might want to try out!

All of the apps below are free or cost less than five dollars.

Fool’s Dog tarot deck apps – Android + iOS

shadowscapes-tarot-app-2

Fool’s Dog are a dedicated tarot app company whose apps all work in roughly the same way, each with a different deck, using the look and feel of that deck to create a really nice experience. They’ve made apps for a real variety of decks, too – from well-known, popular decks to more niche picks.

You can get a full reading – you even type in the question – which you can save to your journal, you can look up any of the cards and read quick interpretations or get the full text from the book, which is really nice. There’s a card a day, single card draws and you can share your readings online.

Decks like Shadowscapes, the Steampunk Tarot, the Wildwood and the Anna K come with detailed, well-written guidebooks in real life, and these apps are a nice companion. I think they would encourage you to get out your phone and get to know another card on in-between moments, and provide starting points for journalling.

wildwood-tarot-app

These are ad-free too – a deal-breaker for me. One thing is this weird default setting where a man’s voice comes on to instruct/narrate. I started with the Shadowscapes app and this was just so jarring I nearly dismissed the whole thing. Thankfully you can turn the voice off in the settings.

Moon Calendar – iOS + Windows

moon-calendar-app

I love this app so much. This is an example of an app that actually adds something to your life – I use it pretty much every day. It does everything it says on the tin – opening the app I’ve got the current moon phase plus this month’s new and full dates and times for moon and sunrise and set. I can then be clever and tell you the moon’s azimuth and elevation, and I can set a reminder for me to check out the moon on any given day! Awesome.

Galaxy Tarot – Android only

galaxy-tarot-app

Galaxytone are the guys who made The Wild Unknown Tarot app, and this is their signature app – it has a cult following and the people who have it really love it. Like others, it offers the standard functions of getting a reading, exploring your cards, a card for the day, plus social media sharing. The ‘lite’ version is free and has the basics, the paid-for app brings in way more spreads and a journalling feature. There’s also a really great feature where you can explore different symbols, which I’ve not seen on any other app! It’s ad-free, customisable, and really smooth to use. I regularly talk online with creator Shonna and she’s awesome, truly part of the tarot community – I think that makes a real difference here.

Galaxy tone apps, like the Fool’s Dog apps, are made by people who are passionate about tarot and it shows – with Galaxy Tarot and their other apps, care has been taken to create something genuinely useful and pleasurable to use.

This brings us to…

The Wild Unknown Tarot – Android only (iOS due this summer) – $6.99

wild-unknown-tarot-app

Which has only just been released and which I haven’t yet tried… so I’m gonna hand this right over to you. If you’ve tried out this app, let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Learn Tarot – iOS only

This is a great little app. It’s basic and unpolished but it’s a super-handy way to quickly reference a card’s basic meaning. There are no fancy features – you can explore cards and look up meanings, get a daily card, or check out one of four simple spreads.

learn-tarot-app

What’s nice is that although the meanings are simple, four different approaches to the card are given. A general meaning, the card as a prediction, understanding a situation via this card, and the card as advice. it’s nifty, simple, ad-free and I really like it!

Tarot Lovers + The Tarot Quiz – iOS only

These two apps work together. Tarot Lovers is a simple app with card meanings which you learn, and then with The Tarot Quiz you can test your memory. It’a all a bit crass but I enjoyed playing with this app, despite myself. I really really really don’t like this idea of being tested on my knowledge, of multiple-choice right and wrong answers for tarot card meanings – it flies in the face of everything I believe about tarot. But…. it’s kinda fun. I would skip the Tarot Lovers app and just get the quiz, so you can play with it in those in-between moments. I also enjoyed getting totally enraged by some of the app’s card meanings – so different from my own.

Yes or No Tarot – iOS + Android

Ack, this is one of those things that’s fun for about five minutes. It’s a free app, and it’s filled with ads (I mean filled), but I did spend an enjoyable ten minutes asking it four of my most pressing questions. There are four categories: General, Love, Career or Money.

Example reading:

Tarot app, will my love be waiting for me with open arms when I return from two months away?

Answer: The Fool. NO. You will quickly come to realise he or she is empty-headed, immature and a waste of your time.

Cat Horoscope – iOS

cat-horoscopes-app

I had to include this even though it makes me sad because I’m 2000 miles away from my cats right now so I haven’t even tested it for you. Basically you take a photo of your cat, record your cat’s meow and it creates an astrological profile for your furry boo. CUTE. Shame about all those damn ads.


I feel like people who don’t like e-readers won’t like tarot apps. Because, like reading a book, tarot can be such a tactile thing. Shuffling the cards, working your energy into the deck, scuffing the edges, noticing how they feel in your hands, moving them around as you read them, putting that special card under your pillow or between pages of your diary. You can’t do any of that with a tarot app. I don’t think they are for me, but I do think you can add a lot of extra learning and fun to your regular tarot practice if apps are your thing!

My advice would be to look for something that uses cards that you enjoy looking at, and pay a few dollars so that you can avoid all of those hideous ads. Check out Fool’s Dog and Galaxy Tarot for apps created by people who really know their tarot and have put proper care and thought into creating something thorough and useful.

Over to you then! How do you feel about the whole metaphysical app thing? Have you tried The Wild Unknown App? What are your favourites?

 

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16 comments

  1. anybody says:

    To be honest, I was a bit disheartened when I read your opening paragraph. I had one Tarot Deck years ago, but I never really got into it, and it was difficult to understand all the meanings of all cards… I just recently rediscovered Tarot, and while I love reading about it, I find it very complex as a beginner. I don’t have much money right now, so shelling out 20-50€ for a deck AND buying a guidebook on top of that are not really a priority considering my funds. In comparison, a Tarot app for around 5-7€, which comes with a basic interpretation for all cards is a great way for me to test how I feel with it. I don’t mind that there’s no physical shuffling etc – weirdly enough I ALWAYS feel drawn to one card of the digital spread when I have to pick, so I do feel like it “works”, or “makes sense”, even though I know it’s an algorithm “shuffling”.
    I can understand that more well-versed readers prefer specific physical decks to whom they have a connection, but it leaves a bit of a bitter taste for me to see these kind of beginner options talked down a little.

    • Beth
      Beth says:

      Gosh – yes. Thanks so much for commenting, and I’m so sorry that it comes across as ‘talking down’ tarot apps.

      When this was initially published on Autostraddle it had an extra paragraph in it from one of the editors saying very similar things which really made me think. I didn’t mean to talk apps down so much as be honest about my own feelings which are that I don’t enjoy them that much…and also spark discussion in the comments. Between you and Laneia you’ve totally made me realise what a valuable, affordable and accessible resource/learning tool apps are – for beginners especially.

      • anybody says:

        Don’t worry! I didn’t read it as bashing, more like a “well, this is fun, but serious reading is just better – for me personally – when I have a physical deck”, and like I wrote, I can sort of understand that. I just wanted to add my point of view.
        And, although I am fortunately not in that position (anymore) – I think apps are brilliant for people who live in an environment that actively discourages (or even prohibits) dabbling in “occult” (for lack of a better word) practices. Since it leaves no clues outside of your mobile, can be cleaned/put away by just a tap, etc.

  2. Ellen says:

    Hi Beth I love the Wild unknown App. It is very versatile and the pictures are so clear. I do own a number of tarot apps, Mostly by Foolsdog. For the great part they are the digital versions of decks I already own and love to study when I am away from home ( That rhymes :D)
    Yesterday I got the Wild unknown deck as a birthday present from my family and was so happy with it. One advantage from the Wild Unknown app is the more elaborated meaning for each card

  3. I think for me, it comes down to what energy and intention you bring when doing a reading. No matter the medium.

    I actually got interested in tarot by doing a free three card reading online and was amazed at how spot on it was. I had to get a deck the next week because I wanted to see how they felt in my hands. (I actually drew two of the same cards that my online reading came up with!)

    Do I like the feel and smell and texture of cards better? Oh hell yes! But I cant’ afford most decks right now. The Wildwood, The Druidcraft, and a few others I have had my eyes on are available as apps for $4! I can definitely afford one or two of those and I can see if I can connect with it before I dish out $40+

    I am not one for e-books because again, I love the smell, feel, and being able to hug my book when I’m done, but when I”m tight on money and need a book fix, a $3 or $4 book is more manageable than $20.

    This was a great post, Beth. :)

  4. Celia says:

    I commented on the Autostraddle article, but there’s one thing that I can’t stop thinking about since my first comment!

    The lack of being able to choose your own spreads on The Wild Unknown app. If anyone else uses this, I’d love to know what they do– do you just give up and accept it? Do you go through one by one and do a one card spread and just take notes as you go? Do you select one of the spreads that has the same number of cards?

    For now, I’ve been using a physical deck or go through one-by-one to select cards…

    • Shonna says:

      Hi Celia,

      I helped make the app, and am a voracious user of it. We are working on a make your own spread feature (hopefully will be ready for when we get on iOS) but in the meantime I do a number of the things you mention.

      I like a two-card daily spread so use the Choice Spread and just ignore the position meanings… then I use the journal feature and give it a title of the positions I did use (energy + advice usually). I will use the Single Card to one at a time go through the questions in a larger spreads — like I did Rachel Pollack’s “Empress Reading” like this. I actually found that one card at a time can help me focus and go slower through the reading.

      I kind of like the limited choice — I find myself using the Celtic Cross more than I used to (I start each month with one) and the repetition of the same kind of reading is helping me go deeper with this spread. I also like that I recognize the spread people are posting on Instagram. I’d love to see a flood of New Moon Readings being posted with the next new moon! (I’m @shonna for my personal account and @galaxy.tone too).

      The spreads we do include were picked and/or created by Kim Krans, and are the ones she uses herself.

      I’m a huge tarot nerd and am always pushing my programmer husband to make the apps suit my demanding needs.

      We’re always super happy to learn what would make our apps even better, so please don’t hesitate to write me :D

      • Celia says:

        Thanks so much for your reply Shonna! I didn’t consider the benefits of having to slow down and really consider each card in position by using the One Card draw– that would definitely help with considering each position individually before moving into looking at the “bigger picture”. I love the idea of using the journal feature more, too! Normally I physical journal whatever I’m doing in the app, but it seems like I’m missing out on a great opportunity to use more of the app features.
        p.s. I’m IN LOVE with the New Moon readings!! I used it last new moon and just kind of sighed lovingly at the app before actually *reading* it haha
        Most of my tarot witchery in on my tumblr (crossroadswitchery.tumblr.com) but I’m thinking of integrating instagram into that because… IG photos are so much prettier than tumblr photos. So you may just see one of my New Moon Readings with the next new moon!

  5. Tango says:

    I downloaded the Rosetta tarot after you published this on AS. I was super skeptical, but I love using it for my daily cards. The companion book has also been really enlightening for my Navigator’s of the Mystic Sea deck (which I can’t find the book for under $100). I don’t care for any of the pre-made spreads on the app, but the open spread option is fantastic.

  6. nikkiana says:

    While I tend to prefer to read using actual cards, I have found having a couple of Tarot apps at my disposal pretty useful and I’ve used them a lot more than I thought I would. (I have the original GalaxyTone app as well as the Wild Unknown app).

    I mostly use the both of them for their Card of the Day features. I love waking up in the morning and having a card from each deck to ruminate on.

    But I use them a lot for doing a covert one card reading on the fly. I don’t necessarily want to get out my cards in the middle of a meeting or on the bus, but I want something to redirect my mood. I’ll open one of the apps, do a quick pull on my phone, and I’m good.

  7. Mnemosyne says:

    As Ashley said, the medium doesn’t matter but the energy. I have two tarot apps in my phone, the Galaxy Tarot and the Wild Unknown. I’m a beginner, so I put the “Card of the day” option activated, and began to learn about the meanings. But some days after I saw an amazingly strange energy manifestation: the card of the day resonated with the things that happened in my everyday. Some days more, some days less, but I love this connection with the apps because is all energy and the digital medium is also a conductor.

  8. Maria says:

    Thanks for these reviews. Did you happen to note if there are apps or websites that provide automated Tarot readings where you can specify the cards to use in the reading upfront? I’d like to direct seekers who have already selected their cards manually and would like to see an automated interpretation of them.

  9. I was so excited to read this and learn that there’s a Wild Unknown app–because even though I have the physical deck, I love having the app version of decks that I already have. The apps make a great quick resource, especially for those times when I’m reading with a different deck, but the image of the same card in another deck jumps into my mind to inform the reading–then I can quickly find that card in the app to look at the image rather than thumb through my cards to find it. Also, I love that the app versions of decks also have the content from the deck’s LWB–because I tend to lose the LWB, even when it’s not little, even when it’s lavish–and then I can find it on my phone if I want to.

    BUT having said all that–apparently the Wild Unknown app isn’t there anymore. I can’t find it in Google Play, or at the Galaxytone website. Did something happen to it? I hope it will come back!

    One other comment–I find the readings that I get from apps to be very accurate, especially if I take time with my phone to do what I would do before a reading with cards–to center myself and focus and tap in. I am pretty sure the multiverse knows how to use a cell phone. :)

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