Some might find the thought of using tarot cards either daunting, or somewhat blasphemous if they come from a religious background, but there is nothing to be afraid of. While tarot has reputation as a tool of the occult, psychiatrists have found it useful in helping their patients connect with their psyche and resolving their problems. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung wrote about the symbolism of tarot; postulating that some of the images were universal symbols that we recognise and identify with which is what makes it so effective in psychotherapy.
During a pagan stint during my undergraduate studies, I purchased several books on tarot; one of them suggested looking at the pictures on the cards as a story. That caught my attention and stayed with me for quite a while, then I had a thought during the time I was writing my dissertation MA Creative Writing course: maybe I could use tarot to help me write stories. I immediately started researching the use of tarot cards in creative writing. I found that even established writers use tarot, like Steven King and the late Sir Terry Pratchett. Not that this should have any bearing on my own writing practises, but it somehow made me feel validated for thinking about using the tarot in that way. There aren’t many books on using tarot, specifically as a writer’s tool, but so far the best book I have found is Corrine Kenner’s Tarot for Writers.
Now comes the actual buying of the decks. There is a myth that you should not buy your first deck and that it must be given to you. Poppycock! There is nothing wrong with buying a tarot deck for yourself. Also you might worry about carefully choosing one deck when you can have more than one deck. Most taromancers (fortune-tellers who use tarot cards) use more than one deck, and I feel that in writing, there is even more reason to have more than one deck, so you should not feel like you need to limit yourself.
Here some of my tips on searching for and buying you own tarot deck, or decks.
- Think about what interests you: styles of art, literature, animals, subcultures, ancient cultures, etc. There are so many different kinds of deck out there, that should be one out there that fit your interests. As a writer you can use different decks for helping you write in different genres. For example, if you like manga, there are several decks that are available to purchase.
- Research decks. With the internet it’s ever so easy now. It’s definitely better than asking to open the pack and end up having to pay for it anyway. This way, you can decide if you like the deck’s artwork or not.
- Bear in mind the price of the deck; especially when you don’t have a lot of money. It doesn’t have to be cheap either, but be certain that you’re not paying a price that will use up all your money for the week, month, or whatever.
When you have bought you deck, you should get to know it. Look at each image and write about it in a notebook or journal, or even a computer document. Ask yourselves these questions: What is in the picture? What do the images make you think of? How does it make you feel?
There are also different spreads that you can use which can give you the outline of a story, help you build up your characters, or you can just draw one card to when you’re not sure what to write next, when you need to throw in a plot twist, or create a new setting or a character’s appearance. You don’t need a book to find one of these spreads as they are pretty much all over the internet. It’s extremely easy to find a spread for creative writing on Pinterest, so much so that you would have more difficulty in sifting through the abundances of Pins that users have added, as some of them are repeated.
You might have the vague worry that you might get the same reading as someone else who uses the tarot, but you don’t need to worry. The cards you draw might be the same as what another person draws, but you, the person reading the cards, will interpret them in your own way. Another person may deal the same cards in a spread but they will write in a completely different way to you as the cards won’t mean the same thing to them that they do to you.
I hope that I have given you some inspiration to continue or begin your writing projects with this starting point in using the tarot in writing not only stories, but also poems and articles.
All I can say to you now is…Good luck!
Useful webpages on the subject:
Tarot and Creative Writing (Llewellyn)
The Tarot as a Tool for Writing Your Novel
Creative Writing posts (Tarot Parlour)
Using Tarot for Writing Inspiration (Word Hunter)
Write your own introspective tarot flash fiction (Carrie Mallon)
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