When you’re stuck in your writing and writing prompts don’t seem to help, not even freewriting is getting you anywhere, I suggest you pull a card.
Tarot is not just about fortune telling. Its history is spotty and debated, but it has been around a long time and refined over the ages to reflect every aspect of the human experience through symbols. Symbols conveyed through art. Art can move us, inspire us, and this art has been refined to communicate the same things that we wish to communicate as writers; the lessons we learn as we live our lives.
To keep it brief, it’s a collection of archetypes. Archetypes that help us tell ourselves the story of our own life. Carl Jung, frienemy of Freud, knew all about it. There’s even a tarot deck based on his theories about using archetypes for psychological growth, it’s on my wishlist.
The history of the tarot, the fortune telling aspect, is part of why we can also use it either psychologically or for story telling. In order to be used to predict events, the cards need to express a great deal of information. A system was designed to help the reader explore a rich variety of meaning to pull out what “feels” right.
This symbolism has a visual language that, as writers, we have already partly studied. Let’s start with an apple. You know how to explore the sensual experience of eating an apple, the way it makes you feel, and how to combine that with our mental associations of apple pie (or Eve’s temptation). As such, the apple conveys both innocence and temptation through its succulence.
Every tarot card does that, offering symbols that have layers of meaning and explore limitless possibilities within a focused context. You might make a collection of poems about rage and include poems about family, work, murder, and healing from anger. Each individual card has the same range of potential; a world of meaning, designed to move you on a deep level.
On top of the archetypal aspects, you have 78 pocket-sized works of art in a wide variety of styles to inspire you. Only one deck is needed, but you might end up with more. Collecting decks can be fun, is relatively affordable, and each deck has its own voice.
Now, because I want to encourage others to play with me, and would love it if you gave this a try and then shared your results with me, I’m going to give you a quick tour of how to use the tarot in your writing. We’ll start with why they can feel so spot-on sometimes.
P.S. – I’m not the only writer who has used them this way. Back when a certain popular tarot forum was still open, there were forums full of games that often involved storytelling using the cards. Doing a layout as a story prompt or for a character sheet was a popular activity. I’m sure there must be books on it somewhere, though I haven’t personally found one that focused on it yet. If you run across one, let me know.
By the way, at some point when I was tweeting my flash, I started using #tarotflash so I could find my tweeted stories more easily. Feel free to use the tag if you decide to play, and you can comment on the page listing tarot stories with a link. First, let’s address whether or not there are messages hidden in the cards.
Tarot For Writers And Skeptics * Why Tarot Speaks To Us * Grab A Deck* The Fool’s Journey * Elements And Alchemy * Numerology And The Tarot * Court Cards * Seeds For Stories * Tarot Story List