As a witch, I've had a fairly eclectic set of magical influences. My Roman Catholic upbringing showed me the power of community ritual (and pomp and circumstance). Tiffany Aching and Granny Weatherwax taught me that magic is more about listening and seeing than knowing. Gary Zukav revealed just how thin the line is between magic and science.
Jenny Calendar taught me that the Internet is as sacred a space as any candle encrusted altar.
I'm not here to pass judgement on how any other person practices magic or reads tarot. If you just don't feel connected to digital tarot decks, online covens, or cryptic code then I'll see you next week when we return to the world of linen cardstock and whispered shuffling. However, if you cut your teeth on creepy chat rooms, leave prayers on digital altars, and check your moon phase app every morning before breakfast, then this post is a celebration written just for you.
Internet as Altar
Humans are magical creatures. We create every day, taking energy and turning it into something new, whether that new is a song or a curse or a sandwich. For better or worse, one of the landscapes that we spend much of our lives creating in is the Internet. We upload videos, type out long threads, process trauma through memes, journal our adventures on blogs, connect with that ultra niche community of comrades, Venmo money to help strangers get medical care and housing, Photoshop things we wish existed into being. On the Internet, we're all magicians.
What is a physical altar other than a place to focus your intentions and energy? Many practicing witches keep a physical altar in their homes with objects of power and tools of their craft. For technopagans and digital magicians, though, devotional spaces may be entirely online. Some of my favorite online altars are hosted by northernpaganism.org. In fact, I visit the Hela online shrine regularly and peruse the stories, rituals, and "light" digital candles for my patron deity. The lovely art cultivated on the site, the reverential anecdotes, the sepulcher music make me feel as though I've wandered into an old cathedral. It is as comforting to me as sitting under the maple tree in my backyard, and I've found power in participating in this online space.
With the invention of smartphones and their ubiquity across the glob, these early online altars gave birth to a cottage industry of witchy apps and social platforms. Just about every popular social media site has a robust community of witches and tarot readers, but specialty applications have also gained popularity over time. From daily astrology to digital tarot decks, the online world of cartomancy is every bit as rich as the physical world.
5 Great Apps for Tarot, Runes, Astrology and More
There are literally thousands of apps available through the Google and Apple app stores, so I can't claim any level of expertise on what software is best across this huge marketplace. What I can share are the apps that I've continued to use month after month (and sometimes year after year) and which I've found a way to work into my daily magical practice. In my day job, I'm disguised as a fairly boring office administrator and it's not always possible to pull out a tarot deck or rune set when I have a burning question or need some comfort. Keeping a set of digital tools that I can discretely access from my car, office, or meeting space allows me to stay in touch with the magical part of my soul. Many apps even have journal or tracking functions that help me see trends over time (do I pull a rune stone before every meeting with my supervisor, and a tarot card afterwards? Why yes, I do.)
Like most magical recommendations, your mileage may vary. One of the nice parts about many of these apps is that they are free or low cost and so there's relatively little risk in trying something and deciding later to abandon it if it does not work for you.
You might be familiar with the popular astrology app, Co-Star, which offers a super deep dive into your personal astrological chart on a daily basis. While I do occasionally use Co-Star when I need extra info on celestial influences, I find that The Moon Calendar app offers everything I need in a much simpler, more direct package. As its name implies, The Moon Calendar focuses specifically on the Earth's Moon and her influence on our astrological chart. You receive a custom daily reading that breaks down how the moon's phase impacts your signs and houses, with recommendations for rituals, actions, and journaling practices. You can set reminders for when phases of the moon precisely begin, set intentions and journal about your experiences, even peruse a library of rituals and prompts.
The Moon Calendar app is free to download, but some features like saving a favorite list of rituals, are locked behind a paywall. Only one paid plan is available, but I find it's a great value at just $2.99 a year (as of October 2020). You can still get your daily moon reading on the free app, and this is the function that I use the most - although I am occasionally struck by the list making bug and utilize the Task and Intentions features. I check my daily moon reading every morning and record the moon's phase and any interesting astrological movements in my journal, along with my daily tarot card, the local weather, and of course my deepest thoughts and darkest desires. The result is a pretty thorough captain's log of my daily life, which has been helpful in identifying trends in my mental health needs.
I use a few different tarot deck apps, but by and large the apps I use the most are created by The Fool's Dog, a small software company that's developed dozens of tarot and oracle deck apps. Some of the most popular decks today are available in app form thanks to The Fool's Dog, including my personal favorite The Dark Goddess Tarot and other classics like Tarot Mucha, Linestrider Tarot, and the Wildwood Tarot. The apps themselves all have the same features, including high resolution tarot cards with their original art, the ability to pull individual cards or select from a variety of tarot spreads, and a digital version of the little white books for each deck. Paid apps, like the Dark Goddess Tarot, that have more detailed companion books, are also available and are frankly a life saver. (I mean, have you used the Dark Goddess Tarot? Each card is so rich you could study the deck for a lifetime and still find new ways to read each card.)
If you'd like to get a feeling for the variety of decks and functions of the app, there is a free Tarot Sampler app with art from each available deck. Your daily card pull shows 5 different versions of the card from 5 random decks, an incredibly fun and informative tool to deepen your understanding of universal and unique readings of each card.
In addition to tarot and oracle cards, I am also an amateur rune reader (emphasis on amateur - I'm not offering this as a reading service until I have some more experience). In fact, I'm so new to the tradition that I don't own a physical set yet. Instead, I rely on the Runic Divination app developed by Evansir. Similar in many ways to The Fool's Dog tarot apps, Runic Divination provides a comprehensive rune stone set for exploration, daily rune draws, several spreads, and the ability to create your own reading spread as needed. I'm also a sucker for customized skins, and the app allows you to select different style stones and reading backgrounds. sdf
This app gives you access to all features for free in a version with ads. Removing ads will cost you a cool $3.49.
The next 2 apps on this list are not explicitly for witchcraft, but I couldn't imagine my daily magical practice without them. In pride of place we have Pl@ntNet, an app designed to help you identify plant species by photograph on the go. I cannot overstate how amazing this app is. It's become my go-to party trick to whip out my phone and start identifying whatever random unknown plant species happens to be in the area. The tech is simple and practical: download the app and create an account where you give access to your location or note your home location, then, whenever you come across a pesky plant that you can't ID, snap a photo and Pl@netNet will compare your photograph to its huge database of images and information to suggest a few likely culprits. In my experience, the results are always incredibly accurate and come with great supplemental photos and information.
If you have an account with Pl@ntNet, then you have the option of saving your now identified plant photo as an entry in their database. Like most crowdsourcing platforms (think Wikipedia), the more confirmed entries and identifications from users, the more accurate the database becomes. What makes this app especially cool is that Pl@ntNet's database is open to a community of researchers who use the information to track the habitation of plant species, the biodiversity of areas, even identify the spread of invasive species. You become a citizen scientist!
Okay, so I obviously love this app, but what makes it witchy? I'm an occasional kitchen witch, and I sometimes forage from my yard for herbal remedies and plant ingredients for rituals. While I know what a dandelion or common wild violet looks like, I want to get confirmation on other more tricky plants to identify. For instance, earlier this year I used Pl@ntNet to help me ID dozens of little ugly shoots in my front garden bed as native goldenrod. They didn't look like much in April, but now they are 9 foot tall towers of molten golden flowers that are covered in pollinators. The delicate relationship between a witch and her yard relies upon good information that apps like as Pl@ntNet can provide. Caring for the planet, supporting scientific research on environmental sustainability, and the habit of seeing the natural world for what it is are pillars of modern witchcraft.
Surprised? This simple little app that comes preinstalled on dozens of phone models is one of my most used tools for tarot and witchcraft. Think about Evernote as your digital grimoire, a place to record your spells and ingredient lists, type out blessings, curses, and channeled psychic messages, record the results of rituals, save pictures and share them with your coven mates, the list goes on and on. Everything that you could save in a physical grimoire can be saved in Evernote, but with some additional features. Your notes can be easily organized into different folders and notebooks, with the ability to quickly add pages and rearrange them in a way that's typically impossible with physical notebooks. Pages can be tagged for easy searches in the future, reminders set, and links to source sites embedded for reference. A witch is a metaphysical scholar, and every good scholar needs a solid word processes system.
Evernote allows you to sync your notes across devices, making it the best friend of certain tarot bloggers you may know who have difficulty remembering anything that isn't written down. The app is free and there are no ads or required in-app purchases. Evernote does offer paid plans with additional features that you might find helpful, like offline syncing and the ability to attach additional document types to your notes, but I've only ever used the free version and found it incredibly robust for my needs.
Do you use any of these apps? Are there other apps you use and love? Let me know in the comments! I'm always on the lookout for new witchy apps to try and love to hear how others are using the same tools I am. Whatever you do, remember, what happens on the Internet is real.
Alex is the founder and primary tarot reader for Dead Reckoning Tarot. She has been working with tarot cards since she was an anxious and overeager teen, and now as an anxious and overeager adult enjoys finding ways to infuse the every day world with magic. When she isn't slinging cards, you can find her cuddling her small dogs or crocheting in central Kentucky. You can book a tarot reading with Alex here.