Tarot for Writers

What is possible under The Magician may look like actual magic to the people who witness your abilities, but it is simply the result of you cultivating your interests and obsessions to the point that you are able to make them happen.

Michelle Tea, Modern Tarot

Tarot Reading – $20

All payments made through PayPal in advance of the reading.

The tarot is a long-practiced, oft-misunderstood, and deliciously contentious discipline usually associated with fortune-telling or personal growth and mindfulness practice. I often encounter people surprised to find that the tarot can also be used to support the writing process in addition to its more typical uses. The tarot is made up of 78 cards that are rich in symbolism, depicting a full range of human experience–from the momentous to the mundane. Does this perhaps remind you of something? If you think this sounds similar to storytelling on a fundamental level, then we are definitely on the same page (heh heh, see what I did there?).

The tarot is most useful when you ask a specific question, but one that doesn’t have a yes or no answer. Here are some ways that a tarot reading can be integrated into your writing and some suggestions for how to formulate your question:

1. Planning

Regardless of your process, the tarot can assist you as you build your outline. There are always moments when you aren’t sure how to get your character from point A to point B, or when their motivation isn’t entirely clear. These are the moments that the tarot can help!

Good questions for this stage:

  • What are my character’s motives?
  • What is his/her/their greatest fear?
  • On what should the “acts” of my story focus?

2. Character Development

There are many ways to read the tarot for yourself or others, and one of the most delightful discoveries is how these methods, or spreads, translate into character development. Be it protagonist or antagonist, the main character or secondary; the tarot helps to create a full picture of the character’s psychology–an endlessly fascinating realm of exploration.

Questions to ask when exploring character:

  • What are the critical moments of this character’s life? (Past, Present, Future)
  • What are the essential relationships for this character?
  • What obstacles will they encounter on their journey?
  • The Achilles heel for your protagonist OR your antagonist.
  • Ideas for new characters

3. Writer’s Block

When it feels like there is nothing left to bleed out of your text, when there are no more ideas and no clear way forward, this is when the tarot offers one of its best gifts–78 little prompts to help move you to the next page. We tend to hit a wall because we don’t see the full complexity and opportunity in the story. Doing something unexpected outside of the confines of the story–something like a tarot reading–can help mine meaning and get the words flowing again.

Prompts to abolish writer’s block:

  • What am I missing here? (Personal spread)
  • Using cards as writing prompts–guided meditations
  • Whose point of view should I explore?
  • What is lurking under the surface?