Warming the Hand – Honing One’s Knowledge of Pentacles

I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.
Haruki Murakami

Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
Steinbeck

When I run writing classes I always promote the benefit of writing on a daily basis to keep the ‘hand warm’ so to speak.

In this instance I have chosen a character, the Hermit, from the Major Arcana and placed him alongside the court cards of the suit of Pentacles. Then I laid out the 10 cards to represent his journey back into the outside world.

To begin I have decided that the Hermit has been living in isolation in Cappadocia for many years. Word has reached him about the dramatic changes that have taken in the outside world and he has decided to venture out again.

I will make notes about his journey as he moves through this suit.

Of course, working in this way is also a good way to sharpen your knowledge of the cards in a new deck and refine your readings.

Story Starter Using Raincoast Tarot

Writing has tremendous energy. If you find a reason for it, any reason, it seems that rather than negate the act of writing, it makes you burn deeper and glow clearer on the page. Ask yourself, “Why do I write?” or “Why do I want to write?” but don’t think about it. Take pen and paper and answer it with clear, assertive statements. Every statement doesn’t have to be one hundred percent true and each line can contradict the others. Even lie if you need to, to get going. If you don’t know why you write, answer it as though you do know why.

— Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

When I am running writing classes I like to offer speed stream of consciousness writing activities to ‘warm the hand’.

This spread by @radiantunknown is the perfect spread to generate some writing, preferably on scrap paper. I encourage people to begin by sketching, posing some questions and making lists of things that come to mind.

Natalie Goldberg provides this idea which I have seen used by teachers training actors

I suggest that you place your primary character on a page and then make use of the following format to create your own character.

No cheating. Do not simply fill in the blanks by describing yourself or someone you know. Instead, fill in the blanks describing someone you’d find it interesting to know. Then, remembering that conflict is the essence of all dramatic writing, repeat the process by imagining a character whose value, attitudes, etc. would likely put them in opposition to the first character you invented.

Full Name:
Nicknames:
Sex:
Age:
Height:
Weight:
Hair:
Eyes:
Skin:
Posture:
Appearance:
Health:
Birthmark:
Abnormalities:
Heritage:
Where born:
Where live:
Favorite food:
Favorite subject in school:
Favorite game as child:
Best memory:
Worst memory:
Smoke/Drink/Drugs Profile:
Favorite section of newspaper:
Favorite type of music:
Last book read:
Last movie seen:
Morning or night person:
Introvert/Extrovert:
Indoor or outdoor person:
Greatest fear:
Closest friend:
Dearest possession:
Favorite season:
Class:
Occupation:
Education:
Family:
Home Life:
IQ:
Religion:
Community:
Political Affiliation:
Amusements/Hobbies:
Reading Interests:
Sex Life:
Morality:
Ambition:
Frustration:
Temperament:
Attitude:
Psychological Complexes:
Superstitions:
Imagination

Then we set a timer and write for twenty minutes without thinking or worrying about grammar.

As a follow on you can put your character in the centre of this spread and begin building on their story using the cards that emerge.

Memoir Work With Georgina

 Memoirists may be wary of putting their truth on the page. They may be concerned others will judge them. Or, they may feel guilt about revealing the harmful (or deceitful, immoral, or criminal) behaviors of someone close to them. They may even fear retribution from such a person.  By working with a fictional character we can explore and test run various ways of drawing out memories and writing memoir.

A photo of Georgina when she worked as the Popess in the Legrande Circus and Side Show

Georgina McClure, who is now retired and living quietly in a remote rural setting, lived and worked in the Circus World all her life. She was raised by an aunt, who preceded her as the Popess, after her mother, a famous sword swallower, affectionately known as the ‘Human Volcano’, died during a performance.

Georgie explained that there were many factors which contributed to the demise of the circus. Increased railroad costs, costly court battles with animal rights activists, which saw the end of the elephant acts, were just some of the things that killed the Circus as she had known it. “People didn’t want to see a show without elephants” she explains and “in an era of Pokemon Go, online role playing games and YouTube celebrities, the “Greatest Show on Earth” suddenly didn’t seem so great”.

Georgie, who retired as the Circus she had spent her life working in folded, met me in her home and agreed to talk about her future and test run some of my quirky ideas about writing memoir.

You will find our notes here.

Everything Has A Story

Like Sleeping Beauty I am waking up – woken by the voices of all the things I have never thought to stop and listen to, that are eager for me to tell their story. As I listen I have some Tarot Cards with me because they help ‘translate’ the message from an item like a traffic sign or the windmill that has stood out in the weather for decades
The Tarot Midwife November 9 2020

My loyal companion, Archie, a Finnish Lappie, and I headed out to the Muckleford Railway Station armed with a copy of the Little Red Engine. We had been there the day before and decided that we would go back and read this story to the carriages that are lined up on the side tracks.

We found a place to sit and began reading this delightful old children’s book, that once belonged to my children, to the old railway carriages. We didn’t get right through the story because we were both suddenly aware that these so called inanimate carriages and Aunty Jack, the old engine that pulled them on long hauls, were getting quite emotional.

To check what had upset everyone I pulled a card from the Tarot of the Sweet Twilight and out popped the Three of Swords.

It all became very obvious. These loyal, hardworking, heavy duty carriages were devastated to have found themselves abandoned on side tracks here, while Betsy, a light weight steam train blew its whistle and gloated as it skipped past, filled with passengers, city slickers, enjoying a journey down memory lane.

When things calmed they said that they did appreciate hearing the story and that if I would come back they would tell me of some of the places they passed when they were carrying goods and animals back in the day when the railway was the main means of transport.

Aunty Jack the old engine who pulled huge loads through Central Victoria.

Aunty Jack, the Empress, the powerful engine who pulled these carriages for years, brightened at the prospect of having someone listen. I told her about my Great Grandfather who worked as an engineer and oversaw the laying of rails in the 1860’s and she was delighted to hear about his foresight and passion for rails. She suggested that when I come back I tell her more about his days building the railway that bought such change to colony.

Footnote: A delightful mechanic/engineer, who I sat enjoying a cup of coffee with at Dig in nearby Newstead, told me that railway men always give engines female names. He said that in his younger days the really strong ones, with a ton of personality, were invariably known as Aunty Jack. It was he who shared that some were known as Betsy and Val. I decided that the old Steam Train that travels between Castlemaine and Maldon, through the Muckleford Station, is known here as Betsy.

Joan of Arc Spread

Joan of Arc, a peasant girl living in medieval France, believed that God had chosen her to lead France to victory in its long-running war with England. With no military training, Joan convinced the embattled crown prince Charles of Valois to allow her to lead a French army to the besieged city of Orléans, where it achieved a momentous victory over the English and their French allies, the Burgundians. After seeing the prince crowned King Charles VII, Joan was captured by Anglo-Burgundian forces, tried for witchcraft and heresy and burned at the stake in 1431, at the age of 19. By the time she was officially canonized in 1920, the Maid of Orléans (as she was known) had long been considered one of history’s greatest saints, and an enduring symbol of French unity and nationalism.
Source: History 

It has been almost 600 years since the trial and execution of Joan of Arc, and her memory hasn’t faded. From Martyr, saint and military leader Joan of Arc, acting under divine guidance, led the French army to victory over the English during the Hundred Years’ War.

Joan of Arc played an important role in medieval society. She helped to structure women’s right, such as fighting in war and asking to lead an army. During the medieval society, women had no rights to fight with an army, nor did they lead an army to fight for their country.

Much has been written about Joan d’Arc. This spread encourages us to examine the qualities that we identify ourselves as having. I have used the Tarot of the Sweet Twilight. I began by laying out my birth cards and then shuffled and drew three cards. Given how much that is revealed in these cards, I plan to journal in more detail.

Tarot Community Interviews

Make sure to keep an eye out on what is new here at The Tarot Midwife.

After The Village Tarot Witch did some Past Life Readings for me and a character I am working with I asked her if she would be willing to help me kick start my Tarot Community Interviews by answering some questions.

You can meet this beautiful young witch here. And do keep an eye out for more interviews on the new Tarot Community Interview page.

Past Life Work with Tarot

Do you believe you have lived before? Are you curious about your past life? How might a past life reading be incorporated into a memoir?

Reincarnation appears to be woven into the fabric of the modern esoteric tarot. That fact, combined with tarot’s unique ability to tap thoughts, memories, and stories long submerged in the subconscious, makes the deck a powerful tool for exploring past lives.

This Past Life Tarot Spread was presented by @thevillagetarotwitch

Karly @thevillagewitch is doing some fabulous work with Past Life Readings. She generously volunteered to do readings for followers on Instagram on the United States Election Day and I was delighted with the reading she provided me.

Then I decided to ask her if she would do a reading for Georgie, the former Popess of the Legrande Circus and Sideshow Tarot who I am currently doing some memoir work with

Karly generously agreed and you will find our readings over on the site Georgie and I have set up as an online journal.

If you are interested in learning more about past life work using Tarot check out this article by Mark McElroy.

Sahmain – Creativity Spread

Those who work with me know that I am a purveyor of creative stimuli, an artistic midwife who has worked as a specialist teacher of writing for decades. While I have worked in this field all my life, I have known fallow times so I do like to regularly take my creative pulse. Working with a Tarot Spread is a good way of taking one’s creative pulse.

There are a vast array of spreads available online and in books that specialise in presenting a diverse range of tarot spreads, suited to all occaisons. I like this particular spread because it helps me keep on track and monitor progress, particularly as, in November 2019, I committed to spending years working closely with symbols and to learning more about how they can ignite the creative flame and draw out words that are so often trapped behind internal walls of steel.

1. What does my creativity want to say? 2. What are my creative strengths? 3. What are my creative challenges? 4. How does my creativity speak to me? 5. How can I best focus on my creativity moving forward?

As a New Year in my creative life dawns I decided to use a spread presented by @thepathtarot. I decided to use the Sakki Sakki Tarot because Monika Clio Sakki has specifically focused on providing Tarot and  a Companion Book which actively supports creative journeys.

Rather than lay the cards out as suggested I chose to lay them out on a hand, with the first card beginning at the thumb and the five cards moving back towards the little finger. I also asked my Runes to strengthen the reading by offering three messages for me.

Not surprisingly this reading proved quite challenging, especially with the appearance of two cards which are universally regarded as ‘darker’ cards. Ultimately it was the Runes which completed the picture for me.

  1. My creativity wants me to know that I am gestating, that I am pregnant wth possibility. She reminds me that true creations come at the right time.
  2. The Six of Cups tells me that the way I played as a child has nurtured my creativity and has been a constant source of strength. I stop and remember Archie Hair, an old friend from my childhood, his Box of Natural Wonders, his treasure hunts and his playfulness. I know that he passed these gifts on to me and that they are a key to my creativity.
  3. Experience has shown me that in times of sadness, grief and disappointment my creativity wanes and I have been silenced for significant periods of time. Given the recent death of my beautiful Neeky, a beloved companion for the past ten years, I am mindful that I need to be careful not to be silenced by the grief I am feeling. I am so aware of the huge void she has left.
  4. The Seven of Swords is not usually well received but in this instance the seven of swords represents the power of thoughts. The swords represent aspects of my thought processes. My creativity keeps insisting that I think as strategically, as possible, that I find the gold in the troubled times, that I gather ideas, research and keep moving forward.
  5. I keep moving forward, try not to dwell in the past, because I know that the very swords that have pierced my heart have ultimately fuelled my creativity. I honour my scars and heart wounds.

Three messages from the Runes

  • Raido: I am no longer burdened by what I have left pinned to the ground and left behind
  • Jera: The ground is fertile and ready to be planted
  • Othila: It is time to shed old skins