Saving Sorrento – Literature Study

Literary Studies is the study of written works of the imagination, of which poetry, drama and narrative fiction constitute today the most familiar types or genres. Most students and teachers of literature, however, see it as a more complex matter. It might be more accurate to describe it as a set of methods for examining the richness and diversity of experience through unusual uses of language, through a language that we recognize as different from everyday language and that thereby aspires to produce a reflection of and on the world not available to us otherwise. As such, literary works are also primary documents for investigating national histories, world events, the individual psyche, race, class, gender, science, economics, religion, the natural world, leisure and the other arts. Because literary studies engages with countless other disciplines, it is among the most interdisciplinary of any field of study.

Saving Sorrento by Monika Roleff is available at Amazon.

Back in the day, when I was teaching Year 12 Literature and English I applied some interesting techniques to draw out responses but I cannot deny that it never occurred to me to use Tarot or any other cards for that matter. Yet it was the Head of English at Monash University who gave a lecture about the Tarot and their relevance.

Whatever! Time has passed and it has become clear that exploring the insights cards have to offer can prove very illuminating.

When I drew a card to see what the White Numen Deck thought about the idea of working with Saving Sorrento by Monika Roleff (available at Amazon) out popped the Ace of Wands.

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. The Ace of Wands tarot card carries a similar message, representing a bold step toward a new beginning. The first card in the Suit of Wands, this Ace is full of energy, a creative kind, that breathes life into things that did not exist before.

According to Labyrinthos “Wands symbolize creativity, and the Ace of Wands is the boldest among the cards in the suit. It is not the kind of creativity that you learn from school or as a hobby. It is bravely finding your own voice, it creates a place where you can develop your own vision. In other words, it is associated with willpower, and creativity in the cosmic sense.

When you draw the Ace of Wands, it is an indicator that you should just go for it. Take the chance and pursue an idea that you have in mind. Take the first steps to start the creative project. The Ace of Wands calls out to you to follow your instincts. If you think that the project that you’ve been dreaming of is a good idea, and then just go ahead and do it.

Initial Character Study

One way to reflect upon characters is to do a spread like this. It enables us to put in an anchor and glean what forces are impacting on our primary protagonists. In this instance I used the Margarete Petersen Tarot.

The cards that appear for Isabella suggest that when she first meets the stranger on the beach she is threatened by his demeanor. On a conscious level she knows she needs to bring a halt to these unbecoming, fickle and shadowy thoughts. She has experienced fear before and understands she can leave such fears in the realm of the past. By contrast Alexander is unsettled by the appearance of this woman at his makeshift camp. He has good reason to be wary of seemingly attractive women. He is bereft and tries to hide it. However he has the gift of sensitivity and knows his feelings have been blurred by the events that bought him to this space. He senses that he will melt into what awaits him.

Close Encounters of the Best Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 American science fiction film written and directed by Steven Spielberg that captured the imagination of the world at the time of its showing. It tells the story of Roy Neary, an everyday blue-collar worker in Indiana, whose life changes after an encounter with an unidentified flying object (UFO). Richard Dreyfuss stars as cable worker Roy Neary, who along with several other stunned bystanders experience a close encounter of the first kind – witnessing UFOs soaring across the sky.

During this holiday period it is as good a time as any to watch an old favourite movie or to have a close encounter with someone less like an alien – a Tarot Archetype.

When I take the time to study the Fool I invariably think in terms of the Pied Piper who is constantly enticing me to throw it all in and follow him.

Indeed, many of my personal drawings and courses that I have run have been influenced by this character. As an artistic midwife I have had many encounters with him. It is the Piper who encourages me to lace up my Cyber Boots and head out on yet another creative journey of imagination. It is the Piper who lures me away from conventional thinking and encourages me to inhabit a world of childhood imagination.

In her book ‘Jung and Tarot’ An Archetypal Journey Sally Nicholls makes the point that studying specific cards help unlock hidden stores of creative imagination enabling sudden insights and ideas burst forth into the consciousness, seemingly from nowhere. I am determined to have some close encounters with prominent Tarot characters.

Given that these wispy characters can be as illusive as butterflies, who flit away without warning, I plan to step into their world and interview them. I am anticipating that this will take most of 2022 to complete but I am in no hurry as I really want to really get to know some of these characters.

I plan to adapt some of these spreads as I begin to communicate with each character. I will lay the card down and either draw more cards or see what spontaneously emerges using a stream of consciousness approach.

Some More Questions to Pose

One of the things I do love about the Show Me Cards is that I can use them to ask questions but here are some more that might be useful.

  • Tell me about yourself!
  • How are you helping me?
  • What should I know about any message that you bring?
  • Is there anything I should be aware of?
  • What else do I need to know?

Anchoring an Archetype

2 : someone or something that provides strength and support He is the family’s anchor. anchor. verb. anchored; anchoring. Kids Definition of anchor (Entry 2 of 2)

anchor something to fix something firmly in position so that it cannot move Make sure the table is securely anchored. [transitive, usually passive] anchor somebody/something (in/to something) to firmly base something on something else Her novels are anchored in everyday experience.

a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay.

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist from the 20th century, was the first person to bring the application of archetypes into modern psychology. Jung noticed that people and life situations are marked by primary patterns reflected in symbols, images, and themes common to all cultures and all times. We see archetypes as recurring images in art, literature, myths, and dreams. Mother, Father, Home, Stranger, Betrayal, Anger, Love ā€” these are all archetypes expressed in characters, stories, images, and symbols in all cultures and all times, and, these are all universal experiences in human life.

Identifying which archetypes are influential in our lives can thus lead us to self-discovery, self-awareness, growth, and self-actualization. Consciously choosing the right archetype for each chapter in our life story can create a more fulfilling, successful life, where we use our archetypes instead of being controlled by them.

Reasons to work with archetypes

  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Finding greater fulfillment and meaning in life
  • Improving personal, family, community, and workplace relationships
  • Expanding abilities, perspectives, and options
  • Helping people to escape habitual archetypal patterns that have become limiting ruts rather than empowering paths
  • Enabling people to be actively engaged in charting the course of their journeys

Aside from checking out the archetypes in the Tarot there are specific decks which help us work with these aspects of self. Two decks that come to mind are the Archeo by Nick Bantock and the Archetype Cards by Carolyn Myss. These are a fantastic resource for personal reflection or for working with characters if you are writing or making art.

Nick Bantock provides a number of spreads and ideas for working with Archetypes. Here is just one of those.

Another way to work with Archetypes is to ask a Show Me Deck what one needs to consider. My extension deck which includes Shadow Cards called on me to work with a ‘bad trait’. Now I don’t happen to believe any trait is completely bad and so it was no surprise when the ‘Eccentric’ emerged. It is not bad to be eccentric but it can alienate us from others.

So I decided to explore a simple Past, Present, Future spread using my most eccentric deck and low and behold its all there to show me how ingrained this archetype is.