Of all the methods I’ve used to find writing inspiration, the one I’ve fallen back on most is my beloved Tarot deck. How can such be used to find ideas and direction? The possibilities are endless.
The Tarot is much more than a divination tool. In fact, it can be said the cards themselves contain the entire story of the human experience. It’s no small wonder then, that they can also be applied to trigger the subconscious, and open up new avenues for art as well. From plotting to characterization, I’m always discovering new ways to apply the ancient wisdom of the major and minor arcana to my projects.
One doesn’t have to be a professional reader to use the Tarot for writing. In fact, you don’t even have to own a deck, though it’s highly beneficial if you do. Here’s a free website which can be used just as easily:
There are many spreads which can be utilized and adapted for writers. I’ve invented a few of my own, as well as enjoyed those created by others. Here are some of my favorites:
Plotting and Worldbuilding:
Plotting and breaking writer’s block: http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=16378
Possibilities-What happens next in the story?: http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=14024
8 point story arc: https://tarotforfictionwriters.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/8-point-story-arc-spread/
The fictional cross: https://tarotforfictionwriters.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/fictional-cross/
Basic plot development: https://thetarotparlorblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/creative-writing-basic-plot-development-tarot-spread/
Character creation: http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=10730
In-depth characterization (I use this one a lot!): http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=33584
So, how does one apply the cards to a story or character? Here’s an example of a character analysis I developed recently, for Tamsin Lovejoy from “Beauty In The Bones”. I used the In-depth characterization spread listed above, and here were my results and interpretation. I’ve been reading Tarot for over twenty years, so I have an innate understanding of the cards. There are plenty of websites to use if you don’t know what they mean directly. The Rider-Waite deck is excellent for this purpose, as the cards are very vivid and the pictures tell a story on their own.
Character reading for Tamsin Lovejoy:
Major Weakness~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Major Strength
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Adult Defining Moment~~~~~~~~~
Grade School~~~~~~~~High School~~~~~~~~College
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Child Defining Moment~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mother – relationship with mother– 10 of Wands— Mother was oppressed by outside sources. Overworked and stressed. Doing all the work, taking all the blame, doesn’t say no. People pleaser who plays the martyr. Has a demanding work role. She ran the household pretty much by herself, five kids, not a very big staff to help her, and she did a lot of Irving’s work too.
Father – relationship with father– Knight of Wands Father was carefree, impulsive, playful, always on the move. Athletic, competitive, likes sports, confident. Only cares about how he feels at the moment, never worries about the future. Infidelity to his wife. Charming and lovable, likes showing off. Lax in his role as husband and father, gone a lot from home, was like a distant character Tamsin could never get close to, she always wanted to be important to him. A little girl yearning for her father. Gambling.
Childhood – What was the character like as a child?–Chariot reversed– Motivated by fear of failure rather than desire for success. Low self-esteem, lack of direction, grief. Struggle with reality, moody and over-sensitive.
Childhood Defining Moment – What memory still haunts the character? Or thrills?– 3 of Swords reversed Abuse from a trusted family member (Raleigh and Mabel) Has never healed from it. Sees it as something she can’t change, but gave up and suppressed it. Internalizes all her pain and grief, hides behind a false smile.
Grade School – What influences did Grade School leave on them?– Wheel of Fortune Much travel and moving around. Positive change. Gained confidence. Learned that the world was a big place with lots to offer. Became curious about things and learning.
High School – What influences did High School leave on them?– Ace of Cups reversed– Blocked emotions. unplanned pregnancy. Love affair causes scandal.
College or First Job – What influences did college or their first job leave on them?– 7 of Swords reversed– Clumsiness and forgetfulness. Uses past accomplishments to ignore current problems. Family nearly disowns her from her inheritance. walking on eggshells. Stressed. Trying to stay under the radar and gain approval.
Adult Defining Moment – 7 of Pentacles reversed– Unable to enjoy life, has few friends.Her star will play a big part in this moment. Low self-esteem. Feels she isn’t enough and that no one wants her.
Career – What path have they chosen? – 7 of Wands– Defense lawyer or social worker. Competitive, debate.
Family – what is the prevailing family dynamic for the character? – Knight of Swords– Known as an activist among her family, impatent, often steps on their toes. Opinionated, talkative, passionate about her views. Multi-tasker, animated, clever and intelligent.
Drives – What drives the character to do what they do? – The Emperor– Being her own boss. Leadership and authority. Loves attention and respect. Takes charge. Competitive and ambitious.
Quirk – What is a main quirk everyone notices about the character? – The Star– Passionate about social welfare issues. Idealistic, humanitarian, revolutionary. She has a special star that she always wishes on when she sees it and has a special song or rhyme she sings to do so. Wants to see that star someday. Evening star/Venus. Perhaps this is where she and Silas go on their honeymoon, as he fulfills her lifelong wish to see it.
Fears – What is something that they fear– King of Swords– Her uncle, Raleigh Lovejoy, who abused her as a child. Cruel, arrogant man. Has never forgiven her for past mistakes. She lives in fear of provoking his wrath, as he’s the head of the family.
Major Strengths – Where is the character the strongest?– 10 of Wands– Works very hard, very determined and ambitious. Committed to her goals and not afraid to struggle to achieve them.
Major Weakness – Where is the character the weakest?– Death reversed– Stuck in an incomplete transformation. Abuse still haunts her. Needs to face it and move on.
Hopes/Aspirations/Dreams/Goals – What is the character yearning for?– 8 of Wands– Having friends, traveling, finding love. Study and travel. Always on the move, difficult to keep up with. Impatient. Usually juggle many projects at once and want quick results. Study and travel are her focal points. Determined to create a better life, the one she always wanted but never had. Knows only she can make it for herself.
And there you have it! A complete profile for an important character, ready to go and be developed further through the story! Happy writing and reading everyone!