Tarot Villains: Evil Behaviours According to Their Suit or Element

Creativity & Writing, Level Up, Tarot

Blog Post Feature Image tarot villainsWhich cards in tarot would make great villains?

Other than the obvious ones in major arcana such as The Devil, The Tower, and Death, a.k.a. the Big Three, or the heratbreaker 3 of Swords, the cunning 7 of Swords, or the bitchy Queen of Swords (seriously, what is with the swords?), what other tarot cards would make fascinating villains with a worldview that challenges our expectations, social norms and moral values? This was a topic of discussion raised in the group I help moderate, Tarot Nerds, a few days ago and it got me thinking about how people can be bad in the world, and how their bad behaviours can be represented by tarot.

Some people suggested the Hierophant would make a great villain because of his dogmatic views, and some suggested that nobody would suspect the 10 of Cups. For me, I started thinking about the court cards. Of course, they are already the “characters” and “personas” in tarot–what would be the type of “villainy” that they uphold? This got me thinking about exploring their potential evil nature by examining their elements or their suits, and I had a blast figuring out their despicable ways.

The Swords, or Air Villains: Dystopian, totalitarian mind-control 

Swords are always immediately recognized as potential villains. They are cuttingly edgy, brutally and sometimes damagingly honest, and they don’t give a shit as long as they think they’re right. Pretty dangerous combination that makes them easy villains. Air villains would have extreme ideologies and often warped philosophies or views about how the world should function. Sounds utterly dystopian and totalitarian, does it not? I think that’s exactly what it is. Air villains are good at mind-control, spreading propaganda and implementing rigid and excruciating laws that restrict or stunt one’s freedom to think for themselves. Their primary objective is to induce obedience and eliminate anybody who challenges their ideals.

The Wands, or Fire Villains: Violent, Self-Centred, and Manipulative 

When fire burns for all and burns for good, it provides warmth, light and energy. When fire burns for itself or is misused–it is both violent and destructive. My first thought is that Fire Villains are either warrior types or abusive figures that never take pause to consider the consequences of their actions, and the impact that their actions may have on the people around them. It is always about the moment, which makes them quick to anger and quick to act. On second thought, fire villains also have the potential to become very insidious, perhaps if their fire tendencies are coupled with the cunning and intelligence of an air villain. If the effects of the fire have enough self-restraint to not act in the fervor of the moment, they can be very dangerous indeed–setting up schemes and attracting followers using their incredible charisma and forward motion. (This is sounding incredibly dystopian again!)

The Cups, or Water Villains: Depressed, Self-Absorbed, Dramatic, and Supernatural

At first glance, the suit of cups doesn’t seem like they are capable of becoming villains at all. At least, the effects of their “villainy” are more to the detriment of themselves. When they are overcome by their emotions or crippling social needs, it’s more of an “imploding” situation, unlike the fire villains that seek to destroy by extending outwards. But since we are talking about fictional depictions–we don’t have to follow the constraints of our reality, do we? I think the suit of cups will make excellent supernatural villains. Vengeful ghosts or paranormal entities whose existence is fueled by their powerful emotions and memories. Their strong hatred, sadness or desire for revenge become a diabolical flood that seeks to overtake and drown those who come near. Perfectly watery, isn’t it? But coming back to the “human realm”, this makes me think of individuals that become psychotic and ruled by their powerful emotions as they seek vengeance on another: e.g. heartbroken lover seeking vengeance on their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, or social disruptors that destroy relationships through seducing, cheating and playing the victim etc.

The Pentacles, or Earth Villains: greedy, cultish, and materialistic

Earth villains are definitely greedy motherfuckers that will do anything to obtain the object or resources of their desire–be it money, land, or a person. They objectify everything and sees everything as currency to be manipulated, exchanged and collected, obsessing over wealth, status, and physical signs of power. The Earth Villains can also be very vain as they judge everything by their surface value. This really reminds me of the Roman Empire because it is an empire formed on the backs of slaves, objectified human beings that are “collected” through various Roman conquests. The ancient Roman society is also extremely stratified and confines people to the status of their birth and treat them accordingly. Having that said, this is the impression that I have gained from watching Starz’s Spartacus (television series), which, by the way, despite the gore and the excessive sex, has a brilliant story line and intriguing, dynamic characters that develop in unexpected ways. If you like Game of Thrones and all its glory and sensationalism, I strongly recommend this show.

Anyhoo–I digress. 

These are my thoughts on how the court cards can manifest as villains–I know I didn’t really talk about the specific courts like pages or kings, but elementally speaking, these are the traits and attitudes that I think are attached to each tarot suit when it comes to villains. What do you think?

 

10 of Wands: Fighting Through Creative Overwhelm + Tarot Spread

Blog, Creativity & Writing, Level Up, Productivity

10 of wands fighting through creative overwhelm blog picSucks to be human, doesn’t it?

To be stuck in a physical body that is only capable of moving in a linear fashion while multiple streams of creative energies, impulses and inspirations are fighting to come through you, shouting to get your attention, seeking to be born, to be manifested, to be brought into this world.

To be painfully linear. When our inner magic demands otherwise. When all we want to do is everything, AT ONCE. And we get frustrated when we have to divide our attention, to fragment our time and energy, to make sense of the flood of creative abundance that is coming through, to choose. How? How can we possibly choose?

Or rather, how can we choose the right one to focus one? How would we know?

Creativity is abstract. It cannot be boxed in, having no boundaries. It’s raw, it’s transformative, and it is stuff of life. If we could transcend the space-time that is our bodies, we would all be gods, worlds and dimensions springing from our fingertips. Alas, we are bound to earth’s physics. It’s a curse and a blessing. We are forced to sleep, to eat, to prioritize. We cannot achieve omnipotence and do everything at once. But we are of the stuff of gods. Creativity is in our nature. As human being, we are all born with the power to create. When it comes to creative overwhelm, the real challenge is really how to properly function as an incredibly creative being. How do we contain creativity? How do we organize it? How do work through the overwhelming pressure of creative potential, of things seeking to be born? And most importantly, how can we be productive with our creativity? 

Having a relaxed attitude and open mind can really help you reframe your frustration into something positive. 

If you are experiencing creative overwhelm, it is a sign that you are in the flow of overwhelming creative abundance. It’s a good thing! And something to be grateful for. You are experiencing creative overwhelm because you have cultivated enough space within yourself to open yourself up to creativity. This shows that you are coming from a place of real authenticity and intuitive flow. Think of it this way: instead of dealing with the usual psychological and emotional junk and tendencies that are derailing you from your highest good and honest creative expression, you are struggling to figure out what to do with your creative self. What a problem, right?

Understandably, these impulses are difficult to sort through because they are all a genuine part of you–and can you choose between parts of yourself when they are all, well, you!? Despite the challenge to generate focus and productivity, they are all a reflection of how strong your creativity is, how much you want to do with your life and how much potential that you see with all the trajectories that are being thrown at you, that extend into possible futures that speak to your heart’s desire.

All in all, you are starting at an incredibly righteous place!

Have a realistic understanding and concept of time, how time works, how much you are able to get done in a designated period, and how much time an activity actually consumes.

Most of the time, we are so concerned about productivity, we forget that everything inevitably takes time. When things take time, we lose patience because we lose our sense of progress. We feel like we’re either doing something wrong or not doing enough. We become extremely critical with our time management skills because we know that time is an unchanging commodity. We get 24 hours a day and that’s it, no special favors and shortcuts (and we have the same hours of Beyonce, for Goodness’ sakes!) Which means that when we’re not spending that 24 hours efficiently, we must be wasting time, no? Things can get very “blamey” and toxic from there, and we don’t want to get into that stressful thought-loop.We need to remember that we can measure our progress with a lot of things: for example, how much happiness and fulfillment we experience, how much useful data we have collected that can be of use later on in the future, how many ideas we have managed to sort through despite not having executed any of those ideas, how many social and emotional connections we have made…etc. These are few of the many things that can be used to validate creative progress and productivity.

Think long term.

If you are short-sighted with your goals, you become frustrated when you don’t meet those goals. For example, if you are running an online business and your goal is to “make money”, you become disappointed and discouraged when you don’t make any money because your designated “marker” of progress is money. And no money = no progress.

If you stretch your vision far enough, however, you will know that everything you are doing is for the growth and development of your online business, which includes many things: making money, building an online presence, discovering and growing your brand, creating engaging content, figuring out your creative vision, examining your journey, re-calibrating–these are all valuable “currencies” that may not appear to have met one or few of your goals, but you have to look at how your experiences and your efforts may have served you in the long run, or how they can be useful in different ways.

When you think long term, the decisions you make will become more meaningful because you understand that what you are doing right now are all various forms and levels of currencies that you are investing, which will pay off in different ways and feed off of each other in the future. Not to mention that when you think long term, you will make sure that you are spending your time and energy wisely and at the right places. Having a long term vision will really be a key feature that streamlines your creative and productive process.

Sorting through that bundle of “wands” like a boss. 

If you recall the RWS depiction of 10 of Wands, you will know how strenuous looking and back-pain inducing that picture is. It seems to portray arduous and difficult labour and burden. However, if you practice reframing this picture into something positive that presents a unique challenge (that you can overcome), your sense of pressure and stress will lighten up significantly. That dude has 10 wands at his disposal. Sure, he’s bitten off more than he could chew by trying to carry 10 of them at the same time (which I’m sure we all do with our grocery bags), but he’s still got 10 incredible power sources within his arms.

So if you’re suffering from creative overwhelm right now, all I can say is: keep calm and carry on. If you stretch the span of time far enough into the future–you will realize that this perceived “burden” is on burden at all. You can figure out how many wands you are able to carry and with how many trips. You can figure out the best ways to store those wands and to utilize their power. You can figure out when you are going to utilize those power and for what.

You can realize that creative overwhelm is, in fact, a sign of incredible abundance and quite honestly is a blessing disguised as a first-world problem curse. 😉

Does 10 of Wands also signify “creative overwhelm” to you? How do you interpret the 10 of Wands? Do you have any cool tricks or tips for dealing with creative overwhelm? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts below! 

And of course, here is a tarot spread to help you make sense of your creative overwhelm and power through it! xo

Creative Overwhelm Spread

Tarot Readers and Cardslingers Unite: #TarotNanoChallenge2017

Creativity & Writing

23131191_10159393560015580_2058560352_oWriters and Cardslingers! Are you ready for National Novel Writing Month!? 

If you are embarking on this month-long quest of utmost intensity and creativity, then you’re in good company! Lots of tarot nerds happen to be creative writers as well (naturally–tarot and writing just go so awesome together.)

For this year, I will be hosting a 5-Day Tarot Nano Challenge #TarotNanoChallenge2017 on my Intsagram @fablesden. I have created 5 tarot spreads that will help you jumpstart your creativity, boost productivity, convey your message and identity as a writer, keep up the hard work and pace, and keep your eyes on the prize. They are mostly 3-4 card spreads, and are designed to be short and sweet. A spread that you can quickly do even if you’ve had a busy day. Spreads that are tools + that you can return to when you are in need of a power boost in the next 31 days.

Nano Challenge Start Pic

Tarot & Storycrafting Tools

Most of the spreads and challenge prompts I have created this year are most focused on the “meta” stuff. If you are looking for tarot spreads and resources that are more tailored towards concepting, worldbuilding, character-crafting and theme–check out the Nano Wrimo tab on the top right hand corner! It’ll lead you to the Creativity and Writing category and feel free to browse through all the tarot writing posts that I have written in the past years.

Also, I recommend checking out Ciaran’s Tea is for Tarot website. She’s hosted a 14-day Tarot & Writing Challenge on her Tumblr site, with super comprehensive and detailed prompts that will take you from the beginning of your writing journey to finish. 😀

As For Me…

It’s been an intensive few months for me–working through my creative overwhelm, lining up my projects, reflecting on my lessons and organizing/revamping my business–sometimes I feel like I’m evolving and “downloading info” so quickly, it’s just such a chore to want to make sure everything that is “of” me reflects that change, y’know? (…like that in and of itself is a lesson….so double lesson!? I’m also starting to realize that I’m a workaholic. I’ve always thought that I’m a well-paced “slow and steady” person, but apparent not!)

I’m slightly on the fence about participating in Nano because I have so much work to do still for November, but I haven’t written fiction in a while and I really miss the thrill–getting lost in the world I’ve created, spending time with my characters, and embarking on an adventure with them. I have a couple of ideas that are calling to me, waving their little hands at me, begging to be picked. Maybe I’ll write all of them, who knows. I’m about 80% sure that I am going to be writing something. I don’t think I have enough time to write a novel, though. A short story or two.

#TarotNanoChallenge2017

Here are the challenge prompts. Links will be updated in the next few days as soon as they are published! Stay tuned. 🙂

Challenge Day 01: Invoke Your Muse Spread
Challenge Day 02: Your Message to the World
Challenge Day 03: Perfect Blocks
Challenge Day 04: Keep Up the Pace
Challenge Day 05: Quest Reward

 

 

Nano My Wrimo! Express Your Story Theme with the Help of Tarot

Creativity & Writing, Level Up

Sorry this is late. The reason why I decided to publish the theme post last is because I thought it will serve as a nice transitory tool in which you can use it to reflect on what you have achieved and examine the bigger picture, and you can also use it when you are ready to start refining your story and honing in its message.

But hey there! Welcome to the last post of Nano My Wrimo Series: 2016. As we all know, Nano Wrimo isn’t the end of your writing project–you still have to–dare I mention the E word so early? Yes, Edit. *dun dun dun* Of course, don’t stress yourself out by launching into the process of editing right away. You literally just finished the hardcore writing sprint–and it’s been an intense writing month indeed! Give yourself a high-five, pat yourself on the back and commence a congratulatory fist bump. You’ve finished! Yay!

Having that said, if you still got a bit of energy left in you: in this post, you will find a handy tarot spread to help you explore and solidify your story theme and brainstorm/evaluate some of the best ways to express it.

Alright! Without further ado–here we go!

story-theme-spread

  1. How are you connected to the theme of your story? It is my belief that every story we write is a manifestation of ourselves or at least parts of ourselves. In more ways than we can consciously understand, a story is a reflection of our values, our ideals, our worldviews, and our experience. It is an organism born out of our mind, body and soul. In this manner, how are you as a writer and person reflected in your story? How have you or which parts of you have you “manifested” in your story, consciously or unconsciously?
  2. What is the message you are trying to send out? This doesn’t have to be a clear or direct message that is moralistic or didactic in nature. It could simply be what you are hoping to achieve through your story and what you are hoping to impart on your readers. What are you trying to convey through your story? Why is the story being told?
  3. How can you best express your theme? Is it through a particular relationship between several characters–or a singular choice by a character that defines an important story moment? Is it through the collision and convergence of macro-structural forces? Is it through some unforeseen unnatural disaster? On the other hand, this could be referring to more “meta” elements in which how you wish to come across as a writer, through things like structure or language.
  4. What hinders the expression of your theme? Again, this could point to a fictional or storytelling element, or it could point towards your experience and choices as a writer. Perhaps you are concentrating too much on a minor character and the shift in spotlight kind of throws your protagonist’s arc off balance. Perhaps you are projecting your own experiences or desires unto your character’s development, forcing them to take on your own personal narrative and causing a conflict or schism between your original goals for the story vs where it is headed.
  5. How might your theme deepen, evolve and grow? This is the advice card! Use this to trouble-shoot, problem solve, and improve your craft and story. If you’ve gone through the precious four cards, you should have a pretty good idea of what the general message is and this card should tie everything together nicely as a grand summary card.

Anyway. Thank you so much for tuning in to the Nano My Wrimo Series!! I really enjoyed writing all the blog posts and the whole process has given me some ideas on that tarot writing book I have been meaning to write…hehe. I might also be compiling some information and creating a free ebook resource for tarot writing. So be sure to return–the promise of freebies beckons!! *epic music*

And of course, this is by no means the end of tarot writing posts on Fables Den! In fact, as I was working on this post, I was inspired to write one more blog post about how you can tap into the minor arcana and its elemental/symbolic associations to explore various areas of your story. I was going to cram it into this post, but as it went it got waaaaay too long. But yeah, I will be publishing that post next week as a regular tarot writing post, so stay tuned!!

Thank you so much again for tuning in. 🙂

Nano My Wrimo! Tarot Writing Series 2016:

 

Nano My Wrimo! Time for a Coffee Break

Creativity & Writing, Level Up

Time for a coffee break! If you are still slaving–I mean, working hard to express yourself creatively through passionate storybinging–I mean storytelling–

Congratulations! You are more than halfway done, and that’s honestly awesome. While your word count isn’t stopping, let’s take a breather and reflect on your progress thus far. What’s working? What isn’t working? How can you move forward in a positive way and make the best out of Nano Wrimo?

In this post, you will find a handy tarot spread for reflecting on your progress and doing some meaningful problem solving. You will also find a general reading for all you Nano Wrimoians! Unlike the previous posts (in which sample readings are based on my personal story worlds or characters, this post will essentially offer you a “reading”. Let’s see what the cards have to say about where you are and where you are headed down this journey of hardcore writing!

Check out this post to learn how to do a tarot reading without a physical deck.

coffee-break-spread

How do you feel about your so progress so far? Use this question to unwind and untangle your feelings regarding your novel/project. Are you still supercharged, or just getting your second wind? Are you slowly deteriorating, your writing hand slowing down with weight and solemn dread? Are you becoming distracted, distant, nonchalant? Heck, do you still want to do this? Check in with yourself and see what’s up!

coins-queen

  • Queen of Pentacles
  • Key Words: nurture, down to earth, practicality, motherly
  • Queen of Pentacles is the practical mother! When it comes to your project, you are fully aware that the result of your current product is exactly what you expect: it is the result of the effort you have put in or have failed to put in. Nano Wrimo is very word-count conscious and how you feel is directly tied to what you have physically achieved. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. On the bright side, it gives you a measurable goal and breaks down your project into manageable, actionable chunks and allows you to track your progress easily. On the dark side, the numbers can really take a toll on your self-esteem and sense of productivity. Let’s find out how you fare in the next few cards!

swords-eightWhat isn’t working for you? Is it an unhealthy lifestyle? Inevitable distractions? What’s hindering your progress and constipating your creative flow? What’s stopping you from being your best and working your best? Time to troubleshoot and problem-solve.

  • 8 of Swords
  • Key Words: imprisonment, perceived limitations, blindness
  • 8 of Swords is about a sense of helplessness and immobility. Guess the stress is really catching up, eh? This tends to happen when you attempt to compress a generally complicated and extensive creative project into one month. What also tends to happen is that your emotional journey is also compressed into one month: imagine, you are getting the entire first draft’s load of self-criticism and perfectionism all in a short span of 30 days–not to mention that you have other priorities in life that you have to balance on top of your writing! It’s a lot to take in, for sure, so pat yourself on the back for embarking on an incredibly daunting quest. But remember, it’s a vigorous pursuit of quantity, not quality. It may seem like you have fallen behind, or you still have so much to get done, etc–remember that time doesn’t stop at the end of November. Unless you have a serious deadline or something: you have all the time you need to embellish, improve and perfect your creative endeavor. Time doesn’t stop on the last day of November. What isn’t working for you is that your brain decides to register everything at once in compressed mode. It’s just doing its job, but you have to switch gears when you are doing a sprint-project like Nano Wrimo. You have to decide what’s worth your time and energy to focus on so you don’t end up beating yourself up over everything.

coins-sevenWhat is helping you?

  • 7 of Pentacles
  • Key Words: patience, evaluation, perseverance, reward
  • What is helping you stay grounded is, of course, your love and passion of storytelling! Writers go on a journey when they write (or they “trip”, as I like to say, hehe.) They explore and discover and co-create with their co-creations. It’s an adventure in and of itself. Allow your sense of wonder drive you forward! Be excited about your story, about what you might discover in the next line you write. Allow your creation to surprise you in ways you have never imagined! Be curious–and be patient! You never know what’s around the corner. That’s the magic of being an artist and a creator. You create consciously and diligently, but you also allow your creations to unfold, revealing to you their true selves, shaping themselves into being.

cups-fiveHow can you continue to make the best out of Nano Wrimo?

  • 5 of Cups
  • Key Words: loss, disappointment, emotional absorption
  • Keep moving forward. There wereprobably disappointments and frustrations along the way–you couldn’t help that. That’s part of being a writer–that’s part of being human. And it’s okay to be disappointed or frustrated or disheartened or angry from time to time. It is not a reflection of your failings, your incompetence, or your laziness. You may have failed to show up one day, and you may have been overly critical over your own creations that you are paralyzed to move forward. Either way, just keeping going! Even if you don’t end up hitting your word count. Remember, time doesn’t stop after November. You can still keep going. If you have a problem, then problem solve! If it takes time, then dedicate some time! The truth is many things can take us by surprise and go against our plan. The truth is we may not be able to complete our novels in one month. But hey, you started, so just keeping swimming! Like the message from 7 of Pentacles, you have to allow the process to unfold. You aren’t in control of everything cosmically possible. You are not God! (Well, you are a writer, so I guess close enough…) But hey, just sit back, relax, and cherish the experience. Choose what you want to and can focus on, then keep moving forward!

I hope this post has helped you in some way. And by the way, if you are interested in getting a personalized reading, The Coffee Break Tarot Reading: A Nano Wrimo Special is available to purchase on my Etsy shop for only $5. It’ll be up and running for the rest of November. If you are curious to see how tarot cards can help you unpack your writing process, be sure to check it out + come support my shop. 🙂

Nano My Wrimo! Tarot Writing Series 2016

Nano My Wrimo! A Tarot Spread for Exploring and Manifesting Your Story World

Creativity & Writing, Level Up

Welcome back to 2016’s Nano My Wrimo: Tarot Writing Series! Why “Nano My Wrimo”–you may ask? I don’t think I ever explained why I named this series “Nano My Wrimo”. For some reason when I was brainstorming a series title, this immediately materialized and introduced itself to my conscious brain. It was so catchy and funny that it just kind of stuck. “Nano My Wrimo!” It almost sounds like you are swearing–in a quirky and whimsical way. It captures the frustrating moments of attempting to keep up a dramatic writing marathon for an entire month, but at the same time it also reflects the excitement of engaging with something so intensely creative!

In this post, you will find a useful tarot spread that will help you figure out the “spirit” or “essence” of your story world and how it interacts with your character. If you don’t own a tarot deck, no biggie! Check out this post to learn how to do a tarot reading without a physical deck. If you don’t intend to use tarot for writing whatsoever, you can simply use these questions and the content of this blog as journal prompts, sources of inspiration, or just food for thought.

Like the last post, this post will offer you focus questions and a sample reading to give you some ideas +  help you unpack the symbolic messages of the cards. The focus questions are general questions that you can use to apply to any card position in a reading, so feel free to mix and match! Also, as long as you have access to some basic tarot knowledge/resources via the internet or a phone app, you should be able to utilize this tarot spread fairly easily!

I will also be addressing reversed cards in this post. I personally have stopped using reversals in my own tarot practice, but I thought I would include it in this post to give you some ideas about how to work with a reversed card!

Also, I will using images and key words taken from the Galaxy Tarot App. If you don’t own a tarot deck, Galaxy Tarot is a great app to have on your phone!

world-building-spread

For the sample reading, I will allow you to take a peek at my fantastical and absurdist world: Wafer City. It’s literally a collection of cities situated on top of gargantuan floating bakeries such as wafer cookies, chocolate chip cookies and crackers. In the story, the world faces impending doom of the Hungry Children, who are the legendary child-like monsters who will come to consume all the floating cookie plates and destroy the world–as foretold by the prophecies.

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1. If your world had a spirit or soul, what would be its defining trait? This is an exciting spread position in which you get to explore the archetypal energies that define your story world. Is it authoritarian and patriarchal (Emperor)? Is it illusory, mystical and allegorical (The Moon)? For this question, you can pull out tarot’s major arcana cards to connect with the bigger archetypes only. You can also look into tarot reversals so you can explore if your world embodies the balanced archetype (e.g. Emperor = order, leadership, unapologetic action) or showcases traits of the perverse/distorted archetype (e.g. Reversed Emperor = totalitarian, oppression, despotism).

  • Card Drawn: The Hanged Man Reversed
  • Key Words: procrastinating, victim mentality, hypocrisy
  • Focus Questions: When you look at the key words but cannot immediately associate them to your story, engage with the image instead. What is happening on the card? What is the first thing that captures your attention? How does the symbolic imagery translate onto your story world?
  • Sample Interpretation: This is a funny card–since the story world is literally “hanged” in the air–a floating city! It’s also kind of wacky, and requires you to see things from a different perspective–often an upside down perspective. The spirit of this world is the dramatization of trivial things. For example, the doomsday and what threatens the very existence of this world is ginormous children coming to eat the floating cookies. It’s also a world that doesn’t really follow the conventional rules of “reality” and requires a willing suspension of disbelief. On a more meta note, you probably need to share my sense of humour to be able to enjoy the story, so in a way it is a very isolated story world that has a very quirky and potentially alienating perspective.

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2. How does your world’s “spirit” manifest itself? In other words, how are the core traits of your story world expressed? Is it through a particular relationship between the characters? The way the plot unfolds? Lots of great things to discover here!

  • Card Drawn: 5 of Wands
  • Key Words: competition, brainstorming, problems to solve, conflict
  • Focus Questions: If your card is reversed, don’t just rely on the key words. You can get a lot more out of a reversed card if you are flexible! Try looking at the definition for the card in its upright position. For example, if 5 of Wands appears reversed, one of the key words is brainstorming. Now consider what happens when you brainstorm too much (lack of focus, disruption, mental exhaustion and lack of action)? What happens when you don’t brainstorm enough (stunted potential, laziness, rashness etc)? Consider what happens if the balanced archetype falls out of balance, either into overflow or lack.
  • Sample Interpretation: 5 of Wands is about the conflict of desires, since the spirit of the wands is all about intentions and drive. Wafer City’s absurdist and wacky spirit becomes manifested mostly in the conflicts that the characters have with each other. They each have their own perspectives and agendas when it comes to confronting the “imminent apocalypse”. Some of them don’t care, and some of them care immensely. As they struggle against each other for the “best course of action”, the nonsense humour of Wafer City seeps through.

15051963_10157668734685580_382313532_o3. How does your world interact and affect your character? How are your characters affected and confronted by the core traits or values of your world? What is the relationship between your story world and your characters?

  • Card Drawn: 8 of Pentacles
  • Key Words: meaningful work, precision, commitment, stocking up, repetition
  • Focus Questions: Ah–got another upright card again. But here’s another tip for reading reversed cards! If you card is reversed, consider if there is a discrepancy between what the card stands for when it’s upright, and the intentions/desires of your character or story. For example, if 8 of Pentacles were reversed, are you trying to express the upright 8 of Pentacles but maybe you are falling short just a bit? Or maybe it’s something you feel like you ought to do for your story world but haven’t gotten around to it, or haven’t figured out a way to do it just the way you want it?
  • Sample Interpretation: The key theme here is probably repetition. The absurd events that happen to the characters repeat themselves in different but nonsensical ways, and in a way becomes a predictable reality pattern. The characters simply have to work through the absurdities one by one in order to achieve their goals.

15126205_10157668734710580_917212354_o4. The light & dark aspects of your world.  Light and dark aspects are often two sides of the same coin, so that is why it is represented by only one card. However, you can always draw two cards to represent each aspect if you want to explore further!

  • Card Drawn: The Chariot
  • Key Words: momentum, competence, self-discipline, control, determination
  • Focus Questions: Which “aspect” is your story more in touch with? Is it more “light”? Or is it more “dark”? Which aspects do your characters inhabit? Where do your characters fall on the “spectrum”? In what ways do the light and dark aspects manifest and express themselves?
  • Sample Interpretation: The Chariot is a fitting card! Wafer City is basically a quest narrative, although it doesn’t seem to follow the rules of a typical quest that outlines the rules, consequences and supposed rewards of completing a mission. The light aspect of this world is that it is threatened by an imminent apocalypse, and the inhabitants of the world have a clear goal. The dark aspect is that this quest to save the world isn’t going to be so straightforward–such is the nature of Wafer City. To go “forward”, one must go around, backward, and upside down.

15065039_10157668734720580_2072193648_o5. Food for thought.  Use this space to summarize your thoughts or discover new ideas that have been lurking in your subconscious. This could also point to new insights and perspectives that you can explore.

  • Card Drawn: King of Cups
  • Key Words: wise, emotionally mature, experienced, composed, clam, healer, counselor, father
  • Focus Questions: Does this card affirm what you have already learned from the previous cards? Does it highlight or punctuate the messages so far in any way? If so, how? Is this card a reflection of aspects of your story world, or of you as a writer? What does it tell you?
  • Sample Interpretation: King of Cups is a court card and represents someone with profound emotional depth. Going off of this idea, this card is telling me that despite the absurdist flavour and nonsense humour, what will be a core part of the story has to be driven by something deeply human. Otherwise, why read a story if it’s just a bunch of random funny things happening? It could definitely be entertaining, but in order for me to take the story to the next level, I have to think about how I can still make the characters partake in emotionally complex narratives while having some fun with bending the rules of reality.

I hope this post has helped you with your world building process or has deepened your connection with your story world! Also, if there is a topic or area of writing that you would like me to explore with tarot, please comment below! I will see if I can whip up something. 🙂

Happy writing!

Nano My Wrimo! Tarot Writing Series 2016:

Nano My Wrimo! A Tarot Spread for Constructing and Connecting with Your Characters

Creativity & Writing

Hello, hello! Welcome back to another post from the Nano My Wrimo Series!

This spread mostly focuses on your relationship with the character as a writer and how you can best express your ideas through the character you have created. In short, it’s more of a “meta” spread that examines your voice as a writer and how it comes across in your characters. This post will address each position in the tarot spread and provide focus questions + a sample reading to show you how you can utilize the symbolic imageries to explore your own creative intentions and your character’s personality. If you are already familiar with the 78 cards of tarot, feel free to utilize this spread however you like. If you are still somewhat of a newbie to tarot, don’t worry! As long as you have access to the internet or a handy tarot app that provides you with the basic definition or key words of the card, you should be able to work with the card. The focus questions and sample readings are written in a way that will help you approach and engage with the tarot card, so it’s all good!

If you want to look more into the tarot process, check out these resources!

connect-with-your-character-spread

For the sample reading, I am going to use this spread to conduct a reading for one of my favourite characters from one of my half-birthed story worlds: Charlie, the third prince of Felinia, an orange tabby who is an obsessive and impulsive eater. He is generally lazy and unmotivated, but has a quiet introspective side that occasionally shines through.

the-hermit

What do you want to express through this character? Looking at the overarching purpose of this character and how this character factors into the overall thematic picture. Or how your voice, your ideas and your sentiments become embodied by your character.

  • Card Drawn: The Hermit
  • Key Words: introspection, solitude, wisdom-quest, silence
  • Focus Questions: Is this an obvious reflection of what you seek to express in this character? If yes, elaborate on how this particular card captures your intentions for this character. How does each key word capture your intentions for your character? If no, consider if this card offers you an alternative perspective that you haven’t considered before.
  • Sample Interpretation: Yes, this card does reflect what I want to express in this character. Charlie is often judged to be the most incompetent prince for his appearance and diet, and as a result he spends the majority of his time alone (solitude + silence). As somewhat of an outcast despite being royalty, he gains a perspective that is not immediately accessible to his other siblings, who are favoured and well-loved by their people (introspection), and is more quick to realize how certain societal values play a role in shaping their lives as the royal litter (wisdom-quest). As a writer, I am trying to express “don’t judge a book by its cover”, as well as how despite being dependent and insecure, you can still have a “deep side” that is nurtured by the social and psychological negotiations that you have to go through due to your unique circumstance.

5-of-cupsWhat is the defining trait of this character? The core personality or worldview that is embodied by this character. The gist of your character’s personality.

  • Card Drawn: Five of Cups
  • Key Words: loss, regret, disappointment, emotional difficulty
  • Focus Questions: Does this card appear positively or negatively charged? There are cards that can immediately appear to be positive (e.g. The Sun) or negative (e.g. Ten of Swords), but when you approach the card, do you see a glass half full or glass half empty situation?
  • Sample Interpretation: In Charlie’s case, the card is more positively charged despite being a card that depicts loss and disappointment. Because he is often discriminated against for being a fat cat (cats are supposed to be lean, agile hunters, so the fact that he can’t hunt properly earns him a lot of criticism and disdain from his fellow felines). Of course, he still suffers from his loneliness and the lack of understanding from his peers, but because of his experiences, he is braver and wiser and knows better how to handle emotional pressure and complexity–much better than his peers. He learns how to find peace and is more adept at navigating across emotional waters.

5-of-swordsWhat is something you might want to watch out for while writing this character? This could refer to your own process of writing this character (don’t get too personally involved, stay away from projecting yourself too much into your characters, etc) or it could refer to specific traits or arcs of this character that you need to address.

  • Card Drawn: Five of Swords
  • Key Words: conflict, tension, pettiness, defeat
  • Focus Questions: As soon as you see the card, do you relate it to yourself or to the character? If your immediate attention is directed at yourself, how does it reflect your personal feelings towards the character? If you feel that this card is clearly a representation of your created character, what is it trying to tell you about your character?
  • Sample Interpretation: I feel that this card is addressed to both me and my character. Having similar fears about being labelled as the “other” (being Asian in a white-dominant society) and having gone through body image issues (though entirely different from Charlie’s–I have never been overweight, but I did struggle with insecurities related to body shapes), I project some aspects of myself into Charlie. One of my fears that my character also share is the fear of not speaking up, and Five of Swords in many ways is about being silenced harshly and shoved aside after somebody has “dropped the mic” on you. It is good to keep in mind that I will not use Charlie to “vent” (getting too personally involved), but as the writer I have to allow Charlie to speak and express himself in his own way to balance his tendency to passively receive the words of others–thus allowing him to evolve.

page-of-pentaclesWhat does your character want you to know? Probably one of my favourite spread positions. The characters aren’t just our creations on a page (or screen!) they are alive with their desires and personalities, and they have a voice. What does your character want you to know so you do them justice? Or, you know, maybe they have a secret to tell you, a soulful confession and a glimpse into their most vulnerable selves!

  • Card Drawn: Page of Pentacles
  • Key Words: planning, learning, productivity, studying
  • Focus Questions: View this as a message card. If you are having a conversation with your character, and this card is the grand summary of what they have been telling you, what would it be?
  • Sample Reading: Page of Pentacles is one of the court cards, and manifests as a personality and has a stronger social and interactive quality than the other cards. I think Charlie is telling me that there is a side of him that I haven’t yet explored–what does he do with all his free time? Since he’s not regularly hunting, what would he be doing? Nerding out in the library, of course. And being the cat full of surprises, he of course has an intellectual side to him that other cats don’t expect. Having that said, he isn’t necessarily an expert of the things he reads–it’s definitely something he will love to look into if the palace tutors were a bit nicer to him and value his talents more! (Hence the Page of Pentacles–it’s a “student” card, looking to study more into the field and to expand.)

4-of-cupsFood for thought/Insight: use this card to sum up what the other cards have been saying so far, and look to this card for that additional perspective or additional “punch”. It could also offer you something to ponder on for the future.

  • Card Drawn: Four of Cups
  • Key Words: boredom, emotional dilemma, aloofness, absorption
  • Focus Questions: How does this card’s theme connect all your messages together? How does this reveal yet another dimension of your character that you haven’t considered before? How about you as a writer and how you feel about this project you are currently working on?
  • Sample Reading: Since this isn’t a novel I am writing (it’s a novel I have always wanted to write), I think this card is telling me that I should take this opportunity to really bring this story into life! What am I waiting for!? These characters have been waiting for years, and they still haven’t seen the light of day. It’s encouraging me to consider the creative potential of this story and perhaps go for it. On the other hand, it is also pointing out that Charlie doesn’t really have a clear character drive. Since he is a side character, his “story” hasn’t been completely fleshed out. If I were to embark on this project, I will probably have to develop this character more.

Nano My Wrimo! Tarot Writing Series 2016:

Nano My Wrimo! Get ready for the intense one-month with a tarot reading

Creativity & Writing

Welcome to the first of this year’s Nano My Wrimo! series. With November lurking around the corner (or rather, it’s like, right behind the door since it’s uh, tomorrow!), it’s important to do everything you can to get yourself into the zone for the intense creation process ahead.

Below, you will find a picture of the spread positions for the tarot reading, followed by detailed explanations and instructions about how you can best use these questions to prepare yourself for National Writing Month. If you don’t feel like doing a tarot reading, feel free to use these as journal prompts as well!. (And if your issue is being deckless–get a deck already. Just kidding–if you don’t own a physical deck or owning a physical deck may not be the most convenient thing for you, check out this blog post about how to use a tarot app on your phone to conduct a reading.)

nano-my-wrimo-prep-spread

1. How do you feel about your writing project right now?

Pumped? Anxious? Full of expectations? Inspired? Casual? Whatever it is you are feeling right now, it is good to get clear on where you are emotionally. If your projected future is a bright and glorious one and you can see yourself crafting a unique and powerful story and producing amazing content, good for you! Find out where your “good place” is in your head and strive to keep up with this energy throughout the month. Use this positive vibe and framework to attract more positivity and joy into your writing process. If you are facing your potential idea or imminent project with dread, stress or procrsatinatory sentiments, then it is probably beneficial to ask yourself why. Do you feel ready? Do you feel like it’s too much to take on? Time to untangle those feelings and perhaps look into adjusting your attitude + setting realistic goals and expectations for yourself and your project.

2. What will empower your writing process and empower you as a writer in the upcoming month?

Everyone is different: everyone has a different way of being productive, and everyone has a way of keeping up pace. If you’ve never really thought about what makes you tick as a writer and “worker”, then you need to get in there, dig deep and uncover your writing superpowers! What is something that gives you strength, discipline, and creative drive? This is your ultimate power card that outlines your best attributes as a storyteller and writer/worker. In addition, this could also point to a hidden or untapped power that you need to consciously cultivate specifically for this month and perhaps for the long-run. Either way, you can take the messages from this card and come up with the best strategy regarding how you can best stay grounded in the upcoming month.

3. How might you sabotage yourself and your own creative process?

Let’s face it–there is both light and dark in our being and oftentimes, our shadow voice will overpower the part of ourselves that are really trying to strive and love our creative work. Once you have addressed your positive traits as a writer and worker, it’s also important to look at your own tendencies to sabotage your own work and writing process. Is it the inner critic? Your inability to prioritize? Or maybe you can’t say no when you are faced with demands from the people around you? When you are looking into this card position, it is important to know that it is perfectly okay to have insecurities and negative sentiments as a writer. Writers are humans, too. Writers have good days, and writers have bad days. During your bad days, don’t forget to show you some self-compassion and love. Empower yourself. Acknowledge the situation. Focus on solving the problem and becoming better. One step at a time.

4. What is a potential challenge that you might need to overcome in the upcoming month?

Now that we have looked within ourselves (therefore taking responsibility for our own being and our own creative process), let’s take a look at what are some of the external or environmental factors that might hinder you and your work. This card will address your writing process as a whole and outline the overarching “challenge” that may come to define your Nano Wrimo experience this year. Keep in mind that what shows up in this position doesn’t necessarily have to reflect on something negative–it could be that you have other priorities in life and you may have to create a better plan for managing your time and your resources. This is a good time to refer back to your power card. Consider how you can tap into your super writer power to address the issues that may arise and affect you in the upcoming month.

5. What is the best way to tap into your creative potential and remain inspired?

A must-ask question when preparing for any creative endeavours! How can you best tap into your creativity and utilize your creative resources? More importantly, how do you remain inspired and pumped, eternally touched and blessed by the Muses? Having that said, I personally believe our creativity has a cycle–kind of like the four seasons. There is a period where your creativity is abundant, and as it gradually depletes through expressing itself, it will retreat so it can recharge for the next creative round. You may not agree with me, but I think most of us creatives know that it’s impossible to stay “inspired” all the time–so this spread position will provide you with some insight towards how you can navigate through your writing month, get into the creative zone, stay in the creative zone, and work with your creativity to the best of your ability.

6. What are you writing for?

Well, what are you writing for? Why did you decide to start this whole shebang in the first place? In other words, what is your purpose of participating in National Writing Month? Is it to simply have fun and have a go? Is it to have a consistent creative practice? Is it to make friends? It’s good to remind yourself what are you writing for so you don’t lose track of the happiness and fulfillment that comes from expressing yourself creatively. That’s the best part about writing and creating. You are writing to express yourself, to share your ideas and voice with the world, to give the world something it’s never seen before. There is magic in that. You have to believe in your own process and appreciate what it is bringing you and what it is allowing you to do. Never allow stupid things like the inner critic, perfectionist, or stupid insensitive people to get in the way. Your words are worthy to be written, even if it’s meant to be private, even if it’s only meant for yourself.

Let me know about your experiences with this spread! Are you prepped and pumped up for National Writing Month? Also, what story are you writing? Leave a comment below and share your vision + experience with me!

Nano My Wrimo! Tarot Writing Series 2016:

Nano My Wrimo! Tarot Writing through National Writing Month

Creativity & Writing, Level Up

Hey, you can use tarot cards for writing!

Not only is tarot cards a wonderful tool of cartomancy that will allow you explore your innerscapes and move forward with your life in an empowered way, it is also a gold mine for all creatives when it comes to connecting with your creative work and taking it to the next level.

I remember back in 2014, I wrote a series of blogposts about tarot writing. That was mad fun; I even had a tarot writing book planned. Unfortunately I wasn’t fully invested in my creative outlets as far as tarot was concerned, so I didn’t complete the project. In fact, I didn’t even start the book as I only thought about it in my head. Since then, I produced a few posts about tarot writing here and there. Crafted a few spreads to aid the creative process and all. But I didn’t really pick up what I started–which is a shame, now that I think of it, because I have so many ideas to share and I really should have continued with that momentum.

But anyway, enough past-woe-wah-wah. I am back this year with another mini tarot writing series. In the next 4-5 weeks or so (pretty much during the entire Nano Wrimo Month) I will be posting lots of tarot writing resources. Fresh new spreads, fun how-to’s, and other wonderful Nano Wrimo goodies.

Links Galore

To get started, if you have no idea what tarot is or how it can be used for storytelling and crafting, check out this introductory post to learn about tarot as a cartomancy system that is rich in symbolic dimension and imagery.

If you are already familiar with tarot or you just want to get straight down to business, click here to read about how you can utilize tarot cards to help you in your creative process and writing practice.

Also, check out this post for some hands-on tarot writing exercises to get you into the zone. If you are not sure how to engage a single tarot card for the purpose of writing, this post will help you tap into tarot’s symbolic treasure trove and inspire you to co-create with this wonderful divinatory and creative tool.

Doing some character building and development? Check out this post if you want to find out how you can use the five W’s method with tarot to create a convincing and multi-dimensional character.

Or check out this post to learn how you can use a tarot card to visualize and design a character’s appearance and attire.

Upcoming Nano My Wrimo! Tarot Writing posts:

Novel Openings Case Study #7: The Martian by Andy Weir

Creativity & Writing, Level Up

I’m pretty much fucked.

That’s my considered opinion.

Fucked.

Six days into what should be the greatest month of my life, and its’ turned into a nightmare.

I don’t even know who’ll read this. I guess someone will find it eventually. Maybe a hundred years from now.

For the record…I didn’t die on Sol 6. Certainly the rest of the crew thought I did, and I can’t blame them. Maybe there’ll be a day of national mourning for me, and my Wikipedia page will say, “Mark Watney is the only human being to have died on Mars.

And it’ll be right, probably. ‘Cause I’ll surely die here. Just not on Sol 6 when everyone thinks I did.

Let’s see…where do I begin?

Observations

Right off the bat, I know that the main character is named Mark Watney and he is placed in a detrimental situation in which he has to try to survive alone on Mars. Ooooo, conflict–who doesn’t love a man vs. nature survival narrative? In which the protagonist attempts to outsmart and outmaneuver the harsh Martian environment? The voice is conversational, fast-paced and action-packed since the story is presented through Watney’s log entries. It’s a cool personal verbalized diary +a hilarious first-person narrative.

Analysis

So Mark Watney has a great sense of humour, especially when he is trapped in intense situations that threaten his life. His sense of humour not only reflects his optimism but also his resilience. It’s a positive trait that allows him to have a coping system that drives him forward in a lighthearted manner during the most heavy-hearted times, and also makes him more human. What this does is that it gets the readers to root for him–and I think it also allows him to be more vulnerable and relatable during difficult emotional moments. It instills an incredible hope within us readers–and not to mention it renders him extremely likable. (I know some writers are not fond of the dropping of F bombs, but for me, I think the occasional swear words make a character more approachable. And sometimes it’s just a fun punch-line that can spice up the narrative.)

Hook

From the first page onward we (readers) are on his side, and we have a clear goal together: survive Mars and go home to Earth. It’s a simple, powerful story hook because it is the most basic human instinct that connects us together: to live. And being stranded on Mars is the most extreme case of alienation there is–wanting to see Watney rescued–wanting to feel what he feels when he turns–I think in a way this really tugs at our heartstrings because no matter how thick and complicated our own stories are, we, deep down inside, harbour a profound compassion for other human beings and we want more than anything to connect–to witness homecoming story of incredible human resilience and connection in which Watney gets to live and go back to Earth.

Needless to say, SOLD!

The Prologue Spread: kickstart your creative project with this powerful tarot spread and SOAR!!!

Creativity & Writing, Level Up

Edit: Aug/01/2016: Revamped spread design. Content unchanged!

For tarot readers, writers and other creative venturers–this spread doesn’t discriminate. With a focus on creating a powerful beginning and troubleshooting difficulties that will hinder your potential, this spread is designed to give you a powerful boost of momentum as you embark on creative adventures. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, after all! Use this spread for anything. Anything. A comic book, a canvas painting, a visual design gig, a business project, a soul searching retreat, a hardcore shadow-work week, a personal development program, an intense fitness regimen–anything that gets your creative engines fired up and demands both passion and dedication.

This spread comes in two editions: The Creative’s Edition and The Writer’s Edition. The Creative’s Edition, as the title suggests, can be applied to any creative ventures or projects that you may be working on. On the other hand, The Writer’s Edition is specifically tailored to writing or story crafting, and each spread position uses a storytelling or literary motif.

Enjoy!!! 🙂

The Creative’s Edition

The Prologue Spread Creative's Edition

Writer’s Edition

The Prologue Spread Writer's Edition

Novel Openings Case Study #6: City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte

Creativity & Writing

The Save Venice fund-raiser began as these things do, with Bellinis, with tiny toast points topped with squid pate, and with swaying musicians playing the greatest hits of Italian opera beneath a fresco by Tiepolo. Sequined women and tuxedo-clad men stepped out of teak vaporetti onto the private dock at Ca’ Rezzonico, where, it was hoped, strong drink and the thought of beautiful palazzi sinking into the sands below would lift wallets as easily as a child pickpocket in the Piazza San Marco.

The organizers were salivating, greeting a German fashion designer, an American hedge fund owner, and a dour British playwright. Models had been hired to improve the beauty quotient, since billionaires are not especially attractive up close.

Observations

There’s a prologue. Okay, calm down, Kim. It’s only 3 pages. (Don’t you just hate prologues that span the length of an entire chapter!?) Alright. Epic win…or epic fail!? First of all, there is a lot of Italian words that I don’t understand. This opening seems very depersonalized, as in like there is no focus on a character–not even people in general. It’s more about the fundraiser event and its visual particulars, and it’s mostly atmospheric. It kind of feels like the function itself is a mechanism, peopled by important social, political and artistic figures titles, where they gather so they can be enchanted into donating money. Yes, it feels very mechanical (not in a dull, lifeless way), and there is enough intrigue for me to keep going.

Analysis

The foreign Italian words immediately made me think of Venice–or the many stereotypical images of Italy: bridges, gondolas, European/historical buildings, sparkles of city lights. I think the words add to the overall atmospherics and picture. The depersonalized descriptions of human characters (such as Sequined women and tuxedo-clad men) put an emphasis on their class or status–or the appearance of these individuals and what they are here for. There is an air of superficiality: I’m getting the feeling that all the people that attend this function are simply there to show their face or to perform a role. You don’t know who these people are. It doesn’t matter because the organizers just want them to donate. It’s a friendly, extravagant facade in which people gathered to smile at each other.

Hook

I’m a highly character-oriented reader so usually a depersonalized opening will throw me off, but there is a sense of fluidity and mystery in the opening passage, as one image seems to flow into the next and the pacing is very smooth. We are just scratching the surface, and I feel like there is more to be unveiled. There is a secret buried under this lush and high class party. Later on in the prologue, a few people jump out of the window, seemingly having committed suicide. The depersonalized and detached tone remains: the distant voice teases you with a feather and promises you more mystery.

Needless to say I am sold, since I am several chapters in already. This is coming from a reader who has high resistance to prologues. Maybe I’m not as prologue-resistant as I would like to think I am.

Also, from the back cover I learned that this is potentially time-travelling narrative, I am noticing a few teasers already…who is Beethoven’s mysterious lover? Why was he yelling like a freak at one point at his patron’s family? What does Polly’s dream mean–is it prophetic? Promises, promises. They’re there for you to recognize, I think, and they’re not annoyingly overdone.

Novel Openings Case Study #5: The Secrets of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst

Creativity & Writing

I was not the first wolf to promise to be the guardian of the humans. That pledge was made many years ago in a time of great hunger, when a wolf named Indru met a tribe of starving humans. It was so long ago that wolves had just become wolf and humans were not yet quite human. The humans stood on two legs as they do now but had not yet lost their fur. They had not learned to control fire or build sturdy dens, and they had not learned to make throwing sticks that could kill beasts many times their own size. They were not nearly as good at surviving as were Indru and his pack.

Observations

This is the sequel to Hearst’ first book in The Wolf Chronicles: The Promise of the Wolves. Like the first book, Secrets of the Wolves begins with a prologue. The first person draws the readers in–for some reason I heard it like a voice-over at the beginning of a movie. It opens the narrative by situating the readers in the middle of it, linking the story to the ancient legends that have played a part and are still playing a part in the lives of the characters + creating a richly layered timeline in which past events are still influencing the present. It paints a picture of the beginning of wolf and mankind, contrasting what it was like during the ancient times and what is happening now. The humans are obviously more established, more evolved and much more knowledgeable than their prehistoric selves. At this juncture, what kind of relationship will they have with the wolves? Even if you haven’t read the first book, you can infer that the survival of both species depends upon how well their relationship develop as of now.

Analysis

Though not directly stated, the central conflict is already quite evident. If you keep on reading for a few chapters, you will learn that one of the major “plot goals” that the story promises to fulfill is that wolves and mankind must learn to live with each other. Therefore, this prologue is a great opening since it introduces the context for the current story so that effective plot goal can take place with great narrative pull. Like the first book, it also creates a sense of interconnectedness between the various space-time within the story world, enhancing the expressions of its theme that will gradually accumulate later on in the story (all creatures must live in balance, we are all connected, we all belong to nature and must work together, etc).

I thought about why a “voice-over film opening” is effective: “I was not the first wolf to promise to be the guardian of the humans.” I think it must be because that it is a statement that hints at the many undercurrents of the story that will take place. “I was not the first wolf.” So there were characters before you who were driven by the same desires and goals. Did they succeed? Did they fail? Are their victories or failures the reason why you have also made that pledge? Also, why did you make that promise? Why do you want to guard the humans? Why must the humans be guarded?

It’s loaded with interesting questions and before I knew it I was already in a narrative quicksand (in a good way), freefalling into the ancient wildness where humans still hunted and gathered and ran with the wolves…which brings me to my next section.

Hook

Curiosity. It’s a sequel, so the majority of the prologue is actually spent “reminding” you of what has taken place in the first book. I needed that because it’s been almost a year since I read the first novel, so that was a nice “previously on Wolf Chronicles” moment. Other than that, it is intriguing opening that called back my love for the first book–reorienting my mind so I am once again running alongside the wolves + softly washing over me with a wave of questions that melted me into the pages.

On a side note, the storytelling doesn’t have a lot of long-winded sentences. It’s action-packed and to the point–true to a wolf’s worldview since the story is told from Kaala, a young wolf from the Swift River pack.

On another side note, the story itself begins with an epic chase scene. How could I not continue!? Right after that, the stake was immediately introduced: make peace with the human within one year, or all of you wolves and humans can die. Already I am rooting for the main characters and rooting for the story. Already I want to see them succeed. I could only keep reading so I can find out what happens. How could I not keep reading!?

Once again, bravo to Dorothy Hearst. Her books never disappoint.

An anti-blog post blog post

Creativity & Writing, Level Up

It just occurred to me that I hate writing blog posts, but I love blogging.

Of course, with each genre of writing, there is consensus towards structure, format, and content specific to the platform. Blog posts, for example, generally call for organizing your information in digestible chunks to cater to the contemporary attention-span. (I’m not judging–most of the time I give up on reading something that requires more than one scroll on my mouse. Isn’t it ironic that I’ve personally written blog posts that take up more than just a few minutes to read?)

I have been reflecting on my lack of progress–or the dreadful slowness of my process with my tarot blogging. I love writing about tarot, so what’s stopping me from sharing what I love with the world? For some reason there is this sense of obligation when it comes to blogging. I tell myself that I need to be blogging regularly to establish an online presence. I tell myself that I need to be typing something down in order to feel productive. I tell myself many things, and usually the stress-dragon gobble me up in the end (after frying my butt from long hours of sitting due to writer’s block).

Gosh. Why is doing what you love so stressful sometimes? I start to think about the blog posts I have actually enjoyed writing. That is not to say that I hated everything single blog post I have ever written. I loved what I wrote–of course I did. Those were my ideas and I wanted very much to share them. Something just didn’t feel right, though.

I look at the blog posts that I feel the most proud of. The ones that I have felt a genuine inspiration for when I composed them. The ones that have a strong personal voice expressed in eloquent writing. The pieces of writing that emerged organically like a deliberate word-growth on my skin, which then manifested itself in the form of words and texts.

Of course! How can I be so blind? What is my tarot blog called? “Fables Den–a tarot story”. In real life, I am a private English tutor and a teacher at a local tutoring centre, and I spent years teaching the rigid forms of academic writing. But what do I really love? Something that comes so naturally to me, something that I would bury my toes and fingers into like a fervent gardener discovering and rediscovering earth every time she goes out into nature to tend her plants and flowers.

Storytelling!!!

When I dive into my personal voice, when I simply let it flow without worrying too much about structure, genre tropes, cliches, concise ways of presenting information…gosh, when I’m just channeling raw spirit and creativity and writing and me-ness, my blog post just flows. The blog posts that came quickly to me were the ones that had a story in it. They didn’t need a topic sentence or an overview blog post intro, they don’t need three supporting details and a militant conclusive ending that wraps everything up nicely. They were just a flash of inspiration, a storytelling piece in which I felt like I had something to say and said it…like this very blog post I am working on right now. I had not stopped once since I started typing, and I am already several paragraphs in.

Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t hate academic writing. If I hated it I wouldn’t be teaching it. I’m just saying that I don’t jam with the “mindset” when I am writing about personal insights, tarot card impressions, etc. I mean, I still use elements of academic writing when I need to convey pieces of information that need to be more streamlined to be understood better. I wouldn’t be able to organize all the materials and exercises when I did my tarot writing series without sectioning it like a textbook, haha.

P.S. This isn’t the only reason I am slow when it comes to tarot blogging…I have a few procrastinatory habits that I aim to confront and discipline this year. I’m a go-with-a-flow kind of girl but sometimes too much of that really stops me from planning and getting things done.

Anyways. I guess what it comes down to is to actively experiment and find out what works and what doesn’t. It helps to be conscious of your writing patterns. Just now, I am realizing that I can’t feel inspired or that I have “flow”–not unless I throw in a few metaphors or two.

Tarot Writing Series: Some Thoughts on Using Tarot Card to Plot Your Story

Creativity & Writing

Right off the bat, I am going to tell you that the issue with plotting with a deck of tarot cards–or rather, an inevitable limitation–is that it doesn’t tell you what your story is. That is the wrong attitude to have when you approach tarot, anyhow. It’s not meant to give you a quick fix, or a simple, straightforward answer. Just like an actual tarot reading, a tarot writing reading is of course suggestive and far from dictative. Writing is a creative process, and tarot is a tool that can be used to explore and broaden that process.

6 of Wands

So rather than telling you exactly what is going to happen in your story, a tarot card will be able to offer you a symbolic structure and grounding that helps you craft your story, but the physical/external plot elements or details have to come from you and possibly your research, and those details will depend on the genre and worldbuilding of the story you are working on. For example, if you are trying to decide what is going to happen at the climax of the story, you can pull a tarot card to explore the symbolic dimension or figurative possibilities of that particular story point. Let’s say you are writing a story in a dystopian setting in which the people are oppressed by a totalitarian government, and your protagonist is a soldier in an infamous rebel group struggling to carve its way to power. If your climax is represented by Six of Wands, which is associated with victory, leadership, and progress, you can interpret it in the following ways:

  • The oppressed civilians at last recognize the need for radical action and decide to band together in order to induce change
  • Your protagonist joins the final stand against the totalitarian government and chooses to stand with his people
  • Your protagonist rises to power and becomes the rebel group leader

5 of Swords

Once you have a basic premise, you can always draw additional cards or clarifiers to explore a plot more. For instance, you may want to ask, under what circumstance your protagonist becomes the rebel group leader? You then shuffle a deck of cards and pull out Five of Swords, which symbolizes conflict, tension, betrayal, and competition. You can then continue to add to your premise:

  • The previous rebel group leader has become self-absorbed and no longer stand as a fair advocate for her people. She is obsessed with winning and therefore manipulates her followers into inane acts of resistance against the totalitarian government to serve her vengeful agendas. This causes the group to lose faith in her as a leader, and the group gradually gravitates towards your protagonist for leadership and support.

The possibilities are endless. One thing to keep in mind is that while tarot cards will be able to provide you with a general symbolic framework such as the theme of betrayal, you shouldn’t expect tarot cards to do all the work for you. Based on your own story, the setting, the character arcs and many other elements at play within your story, you should able to decide for yourself that yes, the theme of betrayal makes sense, it fits the previous rebel leader’s character development.

Having that said, tarot isn’t totally useless when it comes to external details. You can also use tarot to brainstorm some of the more physical elements of plot construction. For example, if you pull The Magician and you are writing a story about a powerful mage, the physical aspect of The Magician will play into your story crafting and perhaps manifest itself as encountering an actual wizard figure, engaging in a magical ritual or rite, or acquiring some kind of magical ability that further advances the story.

And obviously, if you happen to have a genre-specific deck (such as the Universal Fantasy Tarot or Sherlock Holmes Tarot, to name a few), the particular story-world and elements can help you find inspiration because the genre-specific deck is likely to embody various commonly used tropes in that genre. For example, the Ten of Swords from Universal Fantasy Tarot depicts a metal city gate slamming itself against and into the back of an enormous green monster. If you read it more literally, this could speak to the “at last!” moment in which a terrifying era of terror has ended: the monster has entered the city and caused massive destruction, but it has been slain. Some of the destructions are irreparable, but the monster has been slain. People have suffered tremendously, but the monster has been slain. This is something that is directly applicable if your narrative involves a ginormous green monster. However, if you were to read it more symbolically, the monster is used as a symbol to represent something monstrous. For example, depression, fear of losing a lover, a manipulative and tyrannical boss, a dreadful financial situation etc.

To close, tarot is a tool that helps you channel your own insight. Personally I do not use tarot to generate details that have to do with the external world, because I tend to view tarot images through a symbolic and psychological lens. That is just what my own tarot world view calls for. Everybody engages tarot cards in a different way, and the most important thing, of course, is to always keep an open mind as you continue to explore.

Tarot, Writing, Tarot Writing (and Tarot Poetry)

Creativity & Writing, Level Up

Tarot is actually helping me reconnect with my writing practice. I always feel that if you are a writer, getting in touch with tarot is always going to be something natural and instinctive because as a writer you already have a deck of tarot cards inside of you. You know the archetypes and tropes of the human experience. You already know how to skillfully utilize and manifest symbolism to enhance meaning.

Engaging in on-going poetry reading helps me to get my words going. You know those moments when you open a blank Word document because you wanted to type something, like you’ve got something at the tip of your fingers and the horizon of your consciousness, but nothing is coming out? It’s like you want to write, but you don’t know what to write. Right now I don’t seem to have that problem–and I think I’ve found my way of remaining inspired. It’s true–creativity is a machine that needs to be constantly oiled and used, and the more you use it, the better and more efficient it becomes. You can never run out of creativity because it is like an organ or a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. It is organic and it is alive. It’s not a dead space or storage room where you go in and go out whenever you need something.

Anyway, got a bit off topic. Doing poetry readings using tarot cards is fun. I think I’ll dedicate a blog post to this practice. Basically, you draw one card (either for yourself or for a different person), and then you free-write a poem. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you engage yourself with the card in front of you, and you channel your intuition and change it into poetic impressions. What I noticed is giving out a poetry reading allows a lot of room for interpretation. This is fun but it’s less likely to be helpful because the person reading your poetry reading can basically take on a subjective view and filter your words through their own understanding. Most of the time their understanding can border wishful thinking. Because poetic impressions are largely symbolic, it’s less about the message you want to deliver. Tarot readings are supposed to offer you insight and help you move forward in a positive way–poetry readings are more like “tarot exercises”. They’re more for fun than for self-reflection and self-improvement. You can’t really argue how your querent (the person you read for) is interpreting your “poem”, right? It’s like if you’re reading a regular poem, you can’t expect just one version of events or just one single interpretation for the group of words or images you are presented with.

I am *really* on a roll these days. I just binged three blog posts in pretty much a single day, and I just wrote 2000+ words on the short story I am working on. Staying inspired is truly important! Poetry has always been a huge part of my writing so I’m glad I found something that continuously motivates me. I’m also making a discovery about myself: I don’t think I’m much of an architect, and I’m much more of a seed grower. I grow my ideas from the get-go and I do lots of pantsing. Pantsing is fun. Usually if I spend too much time planning for my first draft, I just end up not writing the story because I’m trying to create the story based on something else. That creates so much frustration when I don’t meet the goals I set out or when my story doesn’t listen to me and take the “wrong turn”. At least for the first draft, I think I am going into full “explore” mode. Let me find the story first. Then I’ll worry about structure, character development, and all that jazz.

Tarot Writing Experiments: Character Development?

Creativity & Writing

character-development

I wonder if this is doable: using tarot cards to develop a character for another person. This seems like a weird notion because how can you rely on someone else (albeit with a deck of cards) to create your characters for you? If you successfully flash out your character because of a tarot reading, does it mean that your character is no longer your creation?

Without a question, tarot can be used as a tool to help the deck holder develop their characters. There’s no problem when it is for personal uses. I use tarot cards to develop my characters and stories all the time, and it’s worked wonders and magic in aiding my creative process. But if someone reads my cards for me..now that does get a bit weird, doesn’t it?

I guess it’ll be okay because in a way–tarot cards act like a consultant or somewhat like a counselor. They are able to help you with your creative process by enlightening you with options or possibilities. A tarot reading on character develop, just like any tarot reading, is not meant to instruct or dictate but to help you reflect, explore, and broaden your perspectives. It can also, like the Writer’s Block Reading, help you troubleshoot and look at the possible solutions for any problems that may arise. It’s kind of like asking someone to be your beta-reader, and it’s about being open to and engaging with what the cards have to say.

One flaw I can foresee is that characters are more prone to change, especially during the concepting change–and this change is not a mechanical or physical one, as I am led to believe–personally I believe that anything you create (in a story, in a painting, etc) is something organic, something that corresponds with your personality, your worldview, your attitudes, your experiences, and your ideas. Because of this tarot cards will probably be able to pick up the things you are brewing in your mind about your character.

But if your character is merely a construct (which in many ways it is), something that is merely a collection of random ideas grouped together to form a coherent whole–something that has no personal involvement, then tarot won’t be much help. But then again, this is highly unlikely because each and every one of our creative process is personal. It is individual and it comes from us no matter what. We can branch out and explore something that is outside of our comfort zone, something that is outside of our knowledge (something that requires research), or something that we do not agree with–it will still be something that is borne out of its relation to us. Even if it’s something that we don’t agree with, something we don’t inherently “own” as part of ourselves, we are still engaging with it on a conceptually level and it is filtered through out consciousness. In this way, character development can, theoretically speaking, be captured through a tarot reading–because whatever we create comes from us and is inevitably part of us.

This brings me to a somewhat off-topic discussion–if you deny that writing isn’t as personal as it gets, then where is your writing coming from? Writers choose words as a means of creative self-expression. If when you are writing, you are not expressing who you are as a writer and who you are as a person, then what are you expressing? Is it possible to distance yourself from what you’re writing? Can you create something while having a out of body experience without engaging deeper parts of yourself? I don’t think it’s possible. I mean, there are genres of writing that are more technical in nature, but I’m mostly talking about if you are writing for the sake of saying something, then how can you say that it isn’t personal?

Anyway. I need to summon a few guinea pigs. I have almost finalized the Writer’s Block Spread–I actually decided to call it “Creative Block Spread” instead but I already got used to calling it by its old name. Another tarot spread working session is in order for character development…

Tarot Writing Experiments: Writer’s Block Readings

Creativity & Writing

I’ve been exploring and experimenting on how much tarot is able to capture and reflect the writing process and offer possible solutions. And it’s not just writing–for people who are struggling with their creative flow or artistic work, tarot is also a great tool that can be utilized to invite inspiration and unlock any existing blocks.

So far, I’ve offered several detailed Writer’s Block reading using my own Writer’s Block Spread. Since the first one, it has now evolved into Version 2.1, with minor modifications that gear the reading towards more constructive and productive outcomes. I’ve noticed that tarot cards do a fine job in reflecting the situation: what your expectations are as a writer or artist, what you are trying to create and construct, what conflict you are having and what is your emotional/psychological experience. For the most part this can be very insightful, because sometimes we put pressure on ourselves or our creative work without realizing it (e.g. perfectionist tendencies, self-consciousness, etc) that can create stress in our creative process and in turn block the inspirational “flow”. This is also something I am very good at–personally I love to self-reflect because for the longest time self-reflection has helped me dissolve the emotional tensions that I had. Eventually, though, one needs to move forward and this is when advice cards and solution cards come in. After my first few reads for people who are struggling with their work (mostly short stories at the moment), I realized that, sure enough, I had various cards that address and identify the problems, but only 20% of the cards within the spread are designed to provide solutions.

This obviously has to change, but the thing is, sometimes it’s going to take a big reflective reading to really start to distill and isolate the problem areas. The Writer’s Block reading is meant to be a general reading on your “block”, and tarot itself as a divinatory tool is unable to tell you, right off the bat, that “you’re having troubles with character development”. Unless I include specific card positions to address this problem, I really won’t know what the cards will pick up. Most of the time the cards will show what the experience of your block is, but it doesn’t offer you insight towards the mechanisms of your story. It can be hard because creative fiction isn’t the only genre that writers engage in, unless I am told prior to the reading that the writer is working on a creative fiction piece–I can’t really limit the spread itself to only creative fiction.

What I need to work on is probably the spread’s adaptability. I will probably try to come up with a few more versions of this spread that adapts to the various genres of writing, but this also be problematic because I just don’t know how much I should include! What I can also do is a follow-up reading. This has worked out tremendously well, to my surprise. I’ve been trying to figure out how much tarot cards can pick up a person’s writing approach and intentions, and I have received nothing but validation so far. A follow-up reading can get much more specific and detail-oriented because it is structured upon the main, big reading. It is much better contextualized and much easier to funnel in because the overarching tendencies of a writer are already established. It’s amazing how well tarot and my intuition worked together: for example, I extracted the theme of fragmentation from Mystic Dreamer Tarot’s Six of Cups. This doesn’t seem to align with the symbolism of tarot but if you think about it: how we envision our story is closely tied to our personal and psychological experience. I have doubts occasionally but now I firmly believe that tarot can be used for writing and is in fact a great boon to any writer. (Go buy a deck already!)

Lastly, from the readings I’ve done–one of the common themes that show up is the relationship between the writer (or artist) and their respective work. It’s interesting how almost all of the readings indicate that the writer’s vision for the story is actually harming or suppressing the story’s growth. There is a discrepancy between where you want the story to go versus where the story is really going. These two topics are included in the tarot spread itself, places side by side since I felt that they are to be engaged together and read as a pair. The result is both stunning and revelatory when it comes to painting a picture of how you relate to your story. You don’t really know what roles the two of you play until you get a tarot reading done. 😛 So far, I’ve encountered a helicopter mother who demands fulfillment from their story-child, and a vigilant emperor who rules rigidly in his enclosed kingdom without flexibility. What they all have in common is that they all involve the need for control and the desire to achieve perfection, and that puts me in an interesting as a sudden observer of their relationship. It’s always easy to point out to others that “you should just let it go a little and be more exploratory”; this doesn’t seem like some profound insight from the all-powerful and mystical deck of tarot (smile). But then again, that’s what tarot does best–without a fail, it gives you the truth, no matter how complex or simple.

Opening Paragraphs: Case Study #4: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Creativity & Writing

He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.

Metal ground against metal; a lurching shudder shook the floor beneath him. He fell down at the sudden movement and shuffled backward on his hands and feet, drops of sweat beading on his forehead despite the cool air. His back struck a hard metal wall; he slid along it until he hit the corner of the room. Sinking to the floor, he pulled his legs up right against his body, hoping his eyes would soon adjust to the darkness.

With another jolt, the room jerked upward like an old lift in a mine shaft.

Observations

The novel opens with the protagonist’s predicament in an unfamiliar situation. No name, no context, no explanation. There is a strong sense of disorientation and confusion, as the protagonist does not seem to have a will of his own. He is completely and utterly passive in this opening scene as he is trapped inside a metal elevator of some kind that rises with a jerk upward. As readers, we don’t know what is happening, we don’t know why he is there, and we don’t know what is going to happen next.

Analysis

There is no additional information given about the character’s identity or what on earth is happening in that scene. “He began his new life standing up” implies that the protagonist himself lacks both the knowledge of his present situation and memory of his past. The act of standing up requires some conscious physical control, and we can deduce that rather than knowledge, he probably lacks the memory to recall where he is. If his eyes are still adjusting to the darkness, we can assume that prior to his predicament, he came from a place that has some kind of light source–which is paradoxical since the elevator appears to be going up. Was he underground? Not much is clear at this point.

Hook 

This story’s hook is an example of in medias res–beginning in the middle of an action or a situation. The total lack of information creates a powerful desire to investigate–to know more about the story and find out what’s going on. This strongly propelled me to continue reading. It also made me curious about the character’s potential memory loss. I have really ambiguous feelings towards memory-losses; I think it can be a powerful story device when the trope is done well, but it can also be easily overdone and lackluster. I have yet to find out which one is true. Having that said, this story opening has successfully sparked the desire to read on. All in all it’s a pretty great hook.

(Extras: So I didn’t finish the book. Since Maze Runner is one of the most popular books in the YA genre, I decided to give it a shot. I didn’t continue because I found the narrative annoying…pretty much every single action or story event that takes place is accompanied by a description of the protagonist’s personal/emotional state. I don’t know how many times I’ve read that the protagonist is confused or scared or angry. And nothing much happens in the first 40 pages, and my interest waned considerably. Maybe the movie will be better, but I doubt it.)

Tarot Writing Series: Brainstorming Characters [Part Two]

Creativity & Writing

In Brainstorming Characters [Part One]–we talked about using the 5 W’s method to generate ideas from a tarot card. In this post, you will find out more about the way in which you can use tarot cards to construct a character’s physical appearance. We will also take a closer look at The Star card and its symbolic implications.

17-Star

The Star is a very gentle and soothing card representing rest, hope, and healing. It is about coming clean, and releasing the toxic energies, behaviours, attitudes and thought patterns inside of you. It is a period of calm that allows you to rejuvenate, get rid of any negative vibes that are holding you back, and prepare for a brighter future. The Star is also associated with the element of water. In tarot, Water is usually associated with emotions, intuition and the subconscious.

Exercise 1.1: Looking at The Star card (or any other Major Arcana card of your choosing) and its symbolic landscape, why do you think it is a card that represents healing and emotional release? Write a short paragraph about how the Star card is able to convey its symbolic meaning.

Exercise 1.2: Consider the images within the card (such as the stars in the sky, the maiden, the nakedness, the water, etc) as well as the universality of their symbolic meanings and their symbolic potential–how can these symbolic qualities be applied to a character? For example, the nakedness can be symbolic of one’s innocence and purity. As a result, your character can be someone childlike, or someone inexperienced in the more complicated ways of the world.

Using tarot to construct a character’s physical appearance

One way to construct a character’s physical appearance based on a tarot card is to take the visual cues presented on a tarot card as they are. For example, if you were to describe the maiden in the Star card in purely physical terms, you would say things like:

 

  • She is female, Caucasian, likely in her 30’s, maybe younger
  • She has blond hair that is loose and wavy
  • She is voluptuous, fit, and well-proportioned
  • She has a soft, dreamy look on her face

 

You can then use these visual cues and translate them onto your character. This is a good place to start if you have absolutely no idea what your character should look like. However, I don’t personally recommend this method because it can be very limiting. Tarot cards, as diverse as they are with symbolism and figurative representations, they’re not very helpful when they are taken to a literal level. For one, tarot depicts a very limited demographic. It is meant to capture the spectrum of human experiences through universal archetypes and symbols, not physical appearances. You will soon find that it offers you only a tiny chunk of the spectrum when it comes to things like age group, race and gender. Examining tarot cards on a literal and purely visual level can also hinder the potential of developing in-depth, interesting and dynamic characters. In short,  it seriously caps the symbolic potential of each card.

Of course, this can be compensated by being flexible with your interpretations. You can also try selecting a deck that reflects your story’s specific needs. By selecting a deck that is uniquely themed and coincides with your story’s environment and demographic, the themes and tropes of your story’s genre is more easily accessible. For example, if you are writing a story that involves extra-terrestrial creatures, you can consider getting the UFO Tarot. If you are writing a story about homosexuality, gender identity and activism, then you might consider the Gay Tarot. If you are writing a detective or mystery novel, you may look into the Sherlock Holmes Tarot to add that extra tarot “kick”.

To make the best use of a tarot card and its symbolic potential, try capturing the “vibe” of that specific card and translate it to the construction of your characters. The best thing about this approach is that the character you create will have a presence, and not just an appearance. If you look at the Star card, the “vibe” of The Star is very peaceful, serene and relaxing. There is also a sense of fluidity and subtlety. How can this “vibe” be achieved through physical appearance?

 

  • Peaceful: A gentle smile, relaxed shoulders, relaxed body language
  • Serene: Loose, nature-patterned clothing, simplistic fashion
  • Relaxing: Unintrusive features; soft, pristine eyes; carefree
  • Fluidity: Voluminous, wavy hair; gauze dresses
  • Subtlety: Wears soft colours such as white, apricot, baby blue, pastel colours

 

Exercise 2.1: Using the Star card or any other Major Arcana card of your choosing, write down five adjectives that you think describe the vibe of the card. And then, using those adjectives, do a free-association exercise like above. Write down what inspires an impression of those adjectives–for example, write down what physical features or dress code will inspire a “peaceful” look.

Exercise 2.2: Since physical appearance is an extension of your character’s personality, think about what kind of traits, hobbies or career your character will have to inspire this look. For example, someone who embodies the vibe of The Star may be a massage therapist, who helps people relax and unleash the stressful tension in their body. He or she may also be into activities such as meditation, spa, tai-chi and new age music. Their favourite places might be a yoga studio or a quiet beach.

Exercise 2.3: While The Star card is inevitably more feminine, what are some of the “Star qualities” you can use to construct a male character? For example, you may be thinking of a male character who is in touch with his emotions and expresses his emotions freely, in a non-egotistical and non-threatening kind of way. He may be someone who is carefree and who courses through life with the fluidity of water. He may be someone who is very compassionate towards others, and someone who is very spiritual when it comes to life’s obstacles. If the card you have chosen is a particularly feminine or masculine card, think about how these feminine and masculine qualities can apply to the opposite gender.