To Tarot or Not to Tarot?

That is the question. Some people have never heard of using Tarot for plotting out a book or working out a scene. Some swear by it. Like me. I got the idea while browsing through YouTube and came upon Burgess Taylor who uses Tarot in her writing. After watching her video, I decided I'd try it. That was two years ago. I've since bought my own deck and it's really given me a lot of help when I feel blocked. When shopping for your own tarot deck, research carefully and choose a deck that "speaks to you". There are so many out there. Choose the one that feels right.

When you first pull a card, or cards, don’t try to read the meaning in a tarot book or on the web for the meaning of the card, just yet. Instead, look at the picture on the card in front of you.

How does it make you feel? Write down your feelings. What do the images spark in your imagination? Does the image spark anything personal you have experienced with the image? Write down your first thoughts, your initial feelings, your experiences. Use these in your writing.

So, what is Tarot? Most, if not everyone, thinks of tarot as cards used by fortune-tellers and/or gypsies to tell your future. But, it's more than that. The cards can be used to create characters, create scenes, develop a plot and, they can be used just as a visual to describe a characters or the landscape. For instance, let's say you pull a Nine of Swords (which is what I just pulled). My card shows a red-headed woman lying in bed, her arms crossed over her chest. It's night and theres a quarter moon shining through her window. Above her, hang 9 swords. If you look closely, an owl sits on the corner of the window. Candles burn in the background.

From this image, the woman appears to be sad. She seems to be looking at the owl for advice. The owl could be imaginary and she's looking for answers. Perhaps the scene takes place at night? Is she missing her lover? Has he died? Is he missing? Is he on a mission and she's worried about his welfare? Perhaps the owl has come to give her a message from her lover. Or you can look up the meaning of the Nine of Swords in a tarot book or online. I printed off the meanings and keep them in a binder to refer to. But, anyway, the meaning of the 9 of Swords is about anxiety and fear. Look at what you are worried about. Something about your relationship is bothering you. Don't ignore your gut feelings. So, as you can see, this could actually create a goal or conflict in your scene and even motivate your character to do something.

The next card I pulled was the Seven of Pentacles. This card appears to be a bit 'happier' as the card shows a green tree bearing "fruit"-(pentacles); green grass and a bright blue sky. The woman is carrying a basket and appears to be happy/content. There's a ladder off to the side leaning against the tree. Sheep graze in the background. It appears to be a tranquil scene. Let's say you don't know where your next scene should take place. You pull this card. Viola'! Perhaps your characters go on a picnic, or go apple picking or visit a farm. See where I'm going with this? Just a simple pull of the card can help with just one question. You don't even have to delve further into the meaning.

You're probably curious as to the meaning of the 7 of Pentacles. Here it is: It's a card about returns or investments. This can be literal as money is coming to you or figuratively, it's about making investments of time, effort and energy that you've put into a relationship. You will reap what you've sown. It's general a positive card. It also means that you (or the character) is feeling hopeful about the future.

Tarot cards are great for plotting out an entire novel as well. I found a great resource which is Tarot by Arwen. .

Check out her blog. I guarantee you'll find something there to help you. I know I did. Also, check out YouTube for Burgess Taylor and see how she uses tarot. Below, I've listed some resources that you may find invaluable.


Mapping the Hero's Journey with Tarot: 33 Days to Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch

Tarot for Writers by Corinne Kenner. (Love this book!)

Tarot for the Fiction Writer by Paula Scardamalia


Write to Done .

Hunters Writings

Tarot Romance

So, when you're stuck in a scene or need to plot a new story, just pull out your tarot deck and have fun! I hope you found this post helpful. Let me know in the comments how it worked for you.

Happy Writing!


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