The Tarot as a tool for writing

Although the Tarot is most often used as a tool for divination, Tarot cards are also a great, practical tool for writing and creative thinking. Corrine Kenner, author of “Tarot for Writers”, explains that well-known writers, such as John Steinbeck and Stephen King, have used Tarot cards for inspiration.

If you’re thinking of writing a novel, you can apply the imagery and symbolism of the 78 cards of the tarot to help you develop plot, characters, dialogue, and scenery, as well as to introduce unpredictable and exciting elements. With a Tarot deck beside you, you won’t be starting out with a blank sheet of paper for long time as great ideas will be coming into your mind one after another. You’ll have a world of imagery at your disposal, which, if you allow your imagination and intuition to step forward, will begin to move, speak, and take action. This article will help you get started in using the Tarot to write your novel, short story, poem or play.

The first step to take is chose a Tarot deck that has images you deeply love which are also in tune with the genre and sub-genre of your writing.

You don’t have to become an expert on the meaning of the Tarot cards in order to use them as a tool to boost your inspiration and creativity. Just a general idea of the symbolism of the cards might be enough to start with; you can apply your own interpretations and use them as a starting point for your own ideas and impressions. The Tarot will help you in allowing your intuition to tell you stories which you can then get down on paper. You’ll be taking images on the cards and projecting a story onto them.

Focus your mind to create a scene for your story, shuffle your cards, and pull one out at random. Quickly describe your scene based on the card that you selected. Then try to think about establishing the setting for your novel and go through the process again. You can follow this process for anything that you want to know about your novel: characters, how to start a dialogue, suggest an idea for plot, bring a supporting character into the conflict, landscape and atmosphere and so on. Instead of one card, you can use more cards and balance them against each other: the pros and cons of a venture your protagonist is considering, an argument or agreement between two characters, and so on.

Using the Tarot to write your novel or story is simply about building trust with yourself and allowing your subconscious to access memories and motives. All you need to do is set the cards in front of you and pick them asking your questions and analyzing images, colours and the scene of your card. What’s the first image that you notice? What does it mean to you? What is the overall impression of the card? What thoughts or feelings are coming into your mind and heart? Write your first impressions based on the images and symbols that you see in the card and what they represent to you.

Keep in mind that the Tarot can be used for ideas and inspiration regardless of the genre of your work. Creativity is something that is triggered. In order for the brain to be creative, we need to put together two or more bits of information. When we put some strange ideas and imaginations before our brain – like using Tarot cards – they move into action and produce interesting ideas. It’s a great tool! I think all writers should at least investigate!

One thought on “The Tarot as a tool for writing

  1. As an author myself, sometimes I reach for the cards when I’m stuck. Thank you for even more ideas Gunita!

    I have shared your ideas with good friends of mine, a pretty creative couple. Then we decided to try a little “game”: one of us would start a story with just a sentence or two, then each of us in turn would continue the plot – all the while me opening the cards and interpreting them.

    We usually started with either the main character, or an interesting situation (or a total opposite – that was a challenge!), and the stories spun on, taking ever more intriguing turns and twists.

    The game was a total hit, as you can imagine! A little bit of red wine helped, too :-)

    Back to the writing, I feel that the cards (be it a single card or a full spread) always talk to me about the particular situation or a problem: either my own or of my characters if that’s my focus is. And without fail the cards let me discover completely new lines of thought, I most probably wouldn’t even be aware of otherwise…

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