Tarot and Writing – Part 4

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Folks, I apologize for being so late with this post. It’s been an odd week and I’ve been playing catch up. But here we are so let’s begin.

Okay so now you have a basic idea what the tarot is all about. Now what? Now comes the challenge to all of this. How do you get the ideas from the tarot into your head? Once you learn how to do it, it’s simple. In this part we’re going to concentrate on simply learning to see the card.

google-eye-trackingThis is an image of how the eye sees a Google page. The red areas indicate where the eye looks first. Those of us who read English will automatically look to the upper left hand corner of the page first. That’s because English is written on the page from left to right, top to bottom. If we were speaking Japanese, our eye would go to the bottom right hand corner.

This automatic reaction is gold to marketing firms. They know where to put the important information so it grabs your attention right away. However, for us, this is a problem.

The tarot isn’t designed with a left to right, top to bottom kind of thinking. Rather, the tarot is wholistic (no, that’s not a spelling error. It means all-inclusive, to include the mind, body and spirit) and central dominated. The image on the card starts in the centre and spirals outward as in this picture of the Fool.

The Fool - Thoth Tarot Deck

If you look at this picture, you will see that most of the activity is focused on the centre. Take your eye and look closely at that centre point where the butterfly, the dove and the vulture spiral around him. Then move your eye outward to slowly take in the whole picture.

There is a lot going on in the picture and you should take your time. Let yourself see each image before moving outward. This isn’t easy as our tendency is to want to jump ahead to see everything. If this is what your eye tends to do, then let it but go back to the centre point and really see the individual images there before trying to put them together as a whole. A useful exercise is to take a pen and paper and write down the individual images you see on the card. Don’t forget to include colors and shapes. Be as specific as possible.

Although this exercise can be frustrating, it can be useful in more than using the tarot to generate ideas for your writing. By learning to really see what’s in front of you, you gain a better picture of the world around you. By being able to see the details, you train your eye to look for those same details in your everyday life.

For example, when driving your brain filters out most of the information. By learning to be more aware, you may be able to see that driver who’s about to cut you off before he does it. Or you may see that dog running out in the street before he does it.

Next week we’ll learn how to see the image as a whole rather than just its parts. It’s this section which will get us closer to being able to use the tarot to generate ideas not just in writing but in other projects as well.

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Tarot and Writing – Part 3

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So in the first two parts of this series, I gave a basic understanding of what the tarot is and what it does. In this part I’m going to give a breakdown of the various parts of the tarot. It’s a general overview of what’s to come. I will explain what the tarot is comprised of and a general understanding of its importance to the overall system. No, you don’t actually have to know this to use the tarot in your writing. I’m simply giving this information so you can use it in the future if you like.

Major Arcana

The Major Arcana of any tarot are the heart of the system. Consisting of 22 cards, they speak about life events.

At this point I have to make a distinction. In our lives there are different kinds of events that occur. One type is “life events.” These events are those moments when our lives are at a pivot point. We all have them and we don’t always recognize them because sometimes a life event can be a small, seemingly insignificant, moment. It can be a simple as making a left turn instead of a right and bumping into a friend you haven’t seen in years. These life events cause your life to alter its course and take you in a new direction. They happen all the time and that’s natural.

Major Arcana talk about life events or people that cause life events. These cards have an effect on how the cards around them are read. They impact everything around them.

Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana are significant in a different way. These cards talk about influences and events that happen around you. Think of them as the supporting cast. When you watch a movie, for example, you never think of who is taking care of the props yet without them the movie would suffer a great deal. The Minor Arcana are similar. These are events and people moving in and around your life in a more subdued way than the Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana are divided into four groups.

Cups

The suit of cups talks about emotional issues. It corresponds to the heart and water is its element.

Wands

The suit of wands talks of passion and creation. It corresponds to the stomach where your instinct dwells and fire is its element.

Swords

The suit of swords is about the intellect, logic and reason. It corresponds to the head and air is its element.

Disks/Pentacles

The suit of disks or pentacles, as it’s sometimes called, talks a lot about money. However, it also talks about physical needs and more concrete elements in your life. It corresponds to the root chakra or the base of the spine and its element is earth.

Next time I’ll start to break down the tarot even further. If you wish to have the individual card meanings, then I will recommend some books and websites at the end of this series. For now, this surface level understanding is really all you need to use the tarot in your writing.

 

Tarot and Writing – Part 2

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Okay, so part one was all about learning that the tarot can be used for more than just telling the future. In fact, the tarot doesn’t actually help foretell anything. I’m going to let you in on a little secret that tarot readers understand but they don’t generally tell you. It is impossible to foretell the future. Doesn’t happen. Instead, what the tarot does is tell you likely outcomes given your situation and state of mind at present.

Wait a minute. You mean nothing mystical’s going on?

Nope. All that’s happening is that the cards present to you possibilities given where you are at present which depends on what has happened in the past. So what does that mean and how does it pertain to your writing.

There are 78 cards in a standard tarot deck (I understand there are some non-standard tarot decks but for my purposes we’re cheerfully ignoring them). This is comprised of 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana. Each of those cards embodies an archetype of some form or another. What that means is that those archetypes are going to ring with some aspect of your life. This is where many dismiss the tarot as being without merit or a fool’s game. If that’s where you leave it then you’ve missed the point of the tarot and I’m going to let you in on its secret.

The tarot’s images are meant to speak to the reader. The reader then interprets them based on a number of factors; your reactions, the cards surrounding it, questions they’ve asked ahead of time. There are many readers out there who are very good at what they do and they have my deepest respect but the tarot is meant to be a personal device, not mediated through another.

When you see a tarot card, there is something in the image that speaks to your inner self. You may focus on a color or how the image is placed. At first you are probably unaware of how this image rings with your deeper self. However, it is there and it is this inner awakening that makes the tarot ideal for helping you to generate ideas.

As we go in this series, I will show you how to take that unconscious recognition and make it conscious. I recommend you get a tarot deck for yourself. As I’ve said in my previous post, I recommend the Thoth tarot deck as the images are ideal for this sort of work. However, you can choose another if you’re more comfortable with them. The problem will be that when I get into the individual cards, you will get lost as Aleister Crowley altered the Thoth deck significantly. The closest to this deck would be the Rider-Waite deck but I still recommend the Thoth deck.

Next time I will delve a bit deeper into the connection between the self and tarot and how to use that connection.

 

The Tarot and Writing

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Thoth Tarot Deck

Thoth Tarot Deck

When I first began writing fiction, something happened that I didn’t expect. I hit a wall. A big, steel, high as fuck wall. I’d been writing articles for years before having to take a hiatus to care for my parents. I still kept writing but it wasn’t fiction. Small things; poems, true stories, weird events; things like that. Writing fiction, though, is a different horse. It has six legs and can be a mean mother fucker. Rather than give up, I did what any writer would do and tried to write past the wall.

Every writer has encountered that wall. Whether you’ve been at it for a day or for 50 years, that wall is big and dark and it has your name written all over it. When it happened to me, I had an ally I didn’t expect; the tarot deck.

As it happened, I was using the Thoth Tarot deck at the time. Designed by Aleister Crowley, it was fundamentally altered from the traditional Rider-Waite deck in some very significant ways. It was these alterations that helped me fight that wall.

Crowley believed that the tarot decks used up to that point were flawed. He believed that to keep the whole magick system secret, the designers of the decks changed things. So, he changed them back. Typical Crowley, really.

What Crowley understood, and I came to learn, was that the tarot was a tool but a flawed tool was useless. Because of it’s unique quality, I came to use the deck to blast through that wall known as WRITER’S BLOCK. It’s the very changes that make the Thoth deck uniquely designed to do just that.

In this upcoming blog series, I will show you, my faithful readers, how to use the Thoth Tarot deck to blast through your own walls. No, you don’t actually have to be a writer to get use out of it. I will show you how to use the deck to generate ideas that will enable to you to move forward on projects, ideas or just in life. This isn’t mysticism, it’s just common sense that anyone can use whether you use the tarot or not. You don’t need any special skills or knowledge. You don’t need crystals or know how to meditate. All you need to do is learn how to look and see what’s in front of you.

As I will explain later, I use the Thoth tarot deck because it’s uniquely designed. You’ll come to learn (and love) this design. I recommend you use the same deck and if you choose to change to another deck, do so after the series which I will post once a week.

Welcome.

 

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