I use the tarot for fiction, but I’ve also used them in the past for personal introspection. I can attest to how creepy they can seem sometimes, as if the cards truly are seeing into your soul. Maybe they are, I’m not saying they aren’t, mystery makes life fun. But I am saying that some of that communication makes sense from a purely psychological standpoint.
Tarot cards have been designed to communicate the full range of human experience, but the magic of tarot is how it speaks to you of your position in that range, in ways that sometimes hit way too close to home. You may find your interpretations of the cards seem a little too reflective of your life in a way that is marvelously chilling.
Some say spirits talk to us through the cards, some say it helps us connect with our higher self, and yes, some say they can predict the future. There’s a reason for that. There’s a reason they feel so powerful and work so well.
Symbols trigger our imagination and enable us to communicate with our unconscious mind, where we store a lot of unprocessed information. We might take in patterns of people’s facial expressions without knowing exactly what they are thinking, yet on some level the way the person behaves reminds us of a pattern we’ve seen before. We might not be able to put our finger on it, or perhaps we can, but either way that information is stored and waits for patterns to be found, then the information is communicated in a way that may feel like instinct or intuition.
Whether it’s our brain making connections, or a guardian whispering in our ear doesn’t matter. The language of the tarot allows your intuition to sift through various possible patterns to see if anything fits, and if it does, your attention is grabbed by various symbols. When we see something that puts those bits and pieces of information together, a flash of insight occurs.
I love the tarot as a tool for introspection. It helps you connect with how you feel about complicated situations. When stuff gets ugly and you want to start falling into that little hole in your soul, it can provide immediate insight. How you react to the images can help you clear up how you feel about potential outcomes. You don’t have to master the cards to use them either.
It’s similar to the way I once helped my son (who has Asperger’s and was about six or seven at the time) decide whether or not he wanted to spend his saved up money on a $50 ruby at the gem show. Remember Pokemon Ruby and Emerald? He wanted a real one of each. He wanted it so badly the dealer knocked the ruby down to $30, the sweetie. My son was so upset from indecision, I told him I was going to flip a coin and let the coin decide for him.
The toss decided that he would not get the ruby, and he started to throw a fit that I stopped quickly by telling him to get it. Obviously the thought of not getting it is worse, something he would regret. If the toss had come up to get it and he was kind of “meh”, I would have recommended he save his money. How we react tells us a lot about ourselves and what we need.
The tarot makes us look through certain aspects of our lives, and react to them in a similar way. How the card “feels” (ominous, happy?) helps us figure out how we are reacting, sometimes stimulating our intuition, where our unconscious thoughts weave together and make patterns that tell us stories. The kinds of stories with morals and themes.
In short, we are using the human tendency to see patterns and make stories to benefit ourselves. Then, we write our own story’s ending by deciding how to react with what we’ve seen.
We find the outcome we desire, and the one we don’t desire. We see where we think we are headed if we don’t change our ways, and what we want to encourage in our lives. We see advice on how to overcome what binds us, and what our binds are made of. Sometimes, we face what we fear to know about ourselves.
Exactly what we want to communicate in our efforts as writers. Using the cards in the same way, thinking of your story instead of your self, helps weave ideas you wish to communicate, and adds instant depth to your characters, with enough room to interpret that each character and situation is still unique.
So, pick out a deck from your local bookstore or Amazon. Browse until you find one that stirs your inner muse. And move ahead.
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