Shuffle your cards and fan them out in front of you in an arc. Put your hand to your heart and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. When you are ready, run your hands over the cards until you feel the card “calling to you.” You’ll pull three cards, one each to stand for:
1) Who am I today and how can the cards encourage the expression of my writing/songwriting/art self? (place this card in the middle)
2) What card can help me see something or some part of my life experience that is affecting my relationship to myself as a writer/songwriter/artist? (card to the left)
3) What door is facing me on the horizon in terms of my writing/songwriting/art? (card to the right)
Look at your cards and journal to the questions above, noting the colors, images, emotional context, figures, and the setting in the card. Then, turn and use those same elements to seed new work. I’ll walk you through the process below.
Here’s a reading I did today with my seventeen-year-old son (and shared with his permission). We focused it around his identity as a musician and songwriter and I invited him to talk about the images that attracted him in each card. The conversation generated the creative prompts as we arrived at his heart’s desires.
He chose the Inner Child Cards. We looked at the fairy, Flora, the flower, and the number five. I also showed him the Rider-Waite-Smith five as I love to use more than one image from my tarot library of decks. I asked him what he thought the five sparring musical passions were in his heart at present. He said the many types of music he loves equally and the many ways he’s feeling pulled to explore music. (Also pictured is the Rider-Waite-Smith Five of Wands.)
Tarot journaling: We talked through the images together and asked: What are the five kinds of music calling the most to me and how can I develop them? What are my five outlets for music?
Songwriting idea: From Inner Child book, we took note of the suggestion to paint or color a mandala. A song might include a focus on the five-pointed flower and the soul and the concept of dancing with the soul.
We looked at the peaceful innocence of the child holding open the shutters to see her flowers blooming. His interpretation of the images lead us to talk about how those flowers stand for the songs blooming on the windowsill in the room. The safe and happy joy of childhood. (Also pictured: Rider-Waite-Smith Page of Cups.)
Tarot journaling: How can I stay connected to knowing where I come from, and stay connected to the things that made me truly happy in childhood as I become a musician and bring my songs out of the bedroom and out into the world?
Songwriting idea: The simplicity of the flowers—don’t hide or forget that simplicity.
We looked at the natural progression from childhood’s bedroom to growing up and wearing armor while leaving the heart’s door open as he rides forward with new songs. We looked at the way the knight is wearing armor, but his helmet, while it protects his head, leaves his eyes free to meet the eyes of others. (Also pictured: Thoth deck Knight of Cups.)
Tarot journaling: How can I write songs that are not just about my heart and life, but write songs about the hearts of other people, write songs that matter to others too?
Songwriting ideas: Inspired by the Inner Child Cards book: What does it mean to be a seeker of hearts, a warrior of universal love? What does that look and sound like?
Angel of Grief: Sculpture Journal Question
In a beautiful example of creative synergy, while I was working with my son and the cards today, my poetry movie collaborator Robyn Beattie (and dear friend of many years) texted me an image of her “grief angel,” sculpted in clay, that she had just created in response to the sorrow of the times of quarantine and uncertainty. I couldn’t help but see in the leaf-veined wing and raised half helmet of her grief angel a combination of the flower fairy and the knight cards that fell in my son’s reading. All of us are connected in so many ways, heart to heart, even when we are separated by miles.
Here are Robyn’s process notes on creating her Grief Angel:
I made her body first, by pushing the crocheted lace onto the ‘body-cloak’ while it was still a flat slab. I then curled the slab into a vessel-tube, and sealed the seam in the back rather than the front. That allowed the circle–center of the lace pattern be in the front of the figure.
Then, I began pushing out from the inside, to create two slightly raised breasts. Also created shoulders, added buttons in the front of the dress just below the collar. The face came next, and I clearly wanted to not have distinct features…not a specific person. I didn’t add hair, and her head was feeling naked to me. Her face faces upwards, a position I recognize in myself as a position of grief.
I’d be very curious if there is a physical need involved with that position…opening the chest-heart…chemical reactions…tears falling into the ears, rather than falling onto lap, the ground, or into your bowl of soup.
Once I decided to add wings rather than arms, it was an easy decision for me to have the wings be in different positions, and one over her head felt perfect. The clay wing is physically connected to the back of her head, and to her cheek. For strength, as it seemed to be a perfect way to solve the architecture of having a delicate, thin wing be attached in such a way as to be strong enough, and to add to the emotion of the piece.
It also somewhat hid the baldness. People often cover their faces in grief.
Robyn’s Sculpture Journaling Question: What is the color of grief?
I’d love to hear how your three-card draw turned out and how the images inspired you to create poems, stories, songs, sculpture—you name it.
Additional links of interest:
Tomorrow, Saturday March 21, 10 am PST, I’m offering my first ever webinar, Tarot Journaling: The Power of the One-Card Draw through Antioch University. I am offering a free 3 card reading like the one described above to participants who sign up for this webinar. Email me through my contact form on this website to sign up for your reading or if you’d like to request a scholarship for the webinar. Here’s the link to sign up: Use the Tarot to Establish Your Journaling Practice Webinar.