Thursday, July 22, 2010

Is my Spiritualism Showing...?

I'm sure many things come to mind for you upon seeing a pack of Tarot cards. Some of you, I'm sure, associate them with carnivals or gypsies- ladies in beaded shawls who speak with a thick Bulgarian accent and predict "great change". Others might erroniously link them to the Devil, and think of them as tools of evil. A few of you might know it as a tool of Self exploration and discovery. However, I'm sure few of you know that it can be used quite effectively in the writing of stories.

Page of Cups from the Rider-Waite Tarot deckTarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, al...Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, al... 
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The Page of Cups, The Hanged Man, and The Empress are all cards that represent me in my personal readings.

I'm sure that among you readers there are at least a few aspiring fiction writers and maybe even some established ones. I'm also sure that many of you have experienced writer's block when working on a story. Perhaps a character seems a little flat, or her motivations are unclear. Here is where the Tarot can help. Being a thickly layered matrix of symbolism and archetypes, the cards are a great way to get your creative juices flowing.

Some of you might be hesitant to engage with the Tarot, perhaps because you don't want to spend time learning all the meanings of cards. Well, for the purposes of writing, you don't need a book on Tarot divination or endless tomes on the symbolism or numerology hidden in the cards. All you need is a deck and your imagination! Picking your deck is important simply because it will affect the variety of stories you can come up with. Tarot and other divination decks comes in all sorts of varieties and themes. Obviously, certain decks lack the deep symbolism of others, and themed decks (such as the Vampire Tarot) might just end up pidgeon-holing your stories. My recommendation? The tarot standard for the past century: The Rider-Waite. It's a very beautiful deck with complicated pictures, perfect for our imaginative purposes.

--Need some plot points to fill in your story? Shuffle the deck and pull some cards for a storyline.

--Having trouble "rounding" out a character? Use a Horoscope Spread to get more ideas on what your character's all about.

--Trying to find a conflict in a relationship? Use a Celtic Heart spread.

The good news is that there are spreads for almost any aspect of life, so there can be solutions to pretty much any writing rut you might find yourself in. Of course if you don't feel like looking up spreads online or buying books on the subject, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making up your own spreads, or even ommiting spreads all together and simply drawing cards at random. How you use the cards in your writing should reflect your creative process, and should never make you uncomfortable.

And if you happen to find yourself interested in the Tarot after a while, that's not necessarily a bad thing, either!

Have fun with this!

Nostalgically Yours

If you're interested in learning more about using the Tarot
in your writing, I recommend Tarot for Writers by Corinne Kenner.

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  1. That's a wonderful idea! I never think to turn to cards - or any creative aid - when I'm suffering from writers block. You'd have to make sure that you don't pigeon-hole your story (even the atiquated visuals on the cards could guide your imagination down a narrow path) but if you use them to expand on characters and kick-start new ideas they could work really well! Now where do I find a pack?

  2. Any large book store should have a metaphysics section. If they give you a weird look for using a big word like "metaphysics", just ask for books on Astrology. Usually it's located next to Religion.
    Also, though it's true that your story might follow the deck, using the cards is an excuse to think outside the box instead of just interpreting the images literally. Plus the wealth of available decks means the possibilities are nearly endless...


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