Tarot Storytelling

As this article points out there are many advantages to telling stories using Tarot.

  • You really get into the picture of the card and observe the details of that image. 
  • You can really internalize each and every aspect of the card’s picture.
  • You can get creative and let your imagination run wild while writing the story.
  • Imagination and Intuition mix really well together – you never know which aspect of the story will suddenly appear like an intuitive notion while you do your reading (and you’ll be surprised at how accurate you are!)

Let Me Show You

Once upon a time, only yesterday, there was a Crow who was the familiar of a Hermit who lived in the a long abandoned Travellers Inn deep within the Hollow Woods ….

Over to you! You might continue the story or get out some of your decks and play with them.

In this case I have pulled out my Writers Emergency pack for some additional ideas to keep the whole thing going. I will set a timer for 20 minutes and just keep writing whatever comes into my mind.

Decks Used

Note that I am not an affiliate for any of these sites.

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.

Tarot Memoirs

Writing an autobiography enables the author to claim their rightful place in history. Moreover, the author can tell their story in their voice. As a result, autobiographers plant flags that no one can remove. Future generations can then take these flags as the roadmap to a brighter tomorrow.

Writing an autobiography is a process that requires the author to explore their emotions at various junctions of their life. However, the autobiographical process reviews the author’s life with the benefit of hindsight. Hence, the healing process can consequently emerge.

As a renowned writer and journalist Graham Greene put it, “Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic, and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”


The Tarot cards Old Memories promotes itself as the way to open a secret meaning encrypted in your thoughts, and suggests that this deck of cards is will help to open memories. Lisa Papez has a whole series of Tarot Memoirs on her YouTube Channel which will help inspire you.

Lay out some cards that speak to you, check out this post about Autobiography as a Tarot Practice and spend some time drawing upon the well of remembrance.

Alternatively, grab your favourite deck and systematically go through the cards, drawing on the memories the cards invoke.

Connecting with Your Deck – Tell A Tarot Tale

Bonding with your tarot deck is a great practice you can use, along with cleansing your cards, to attune to your new, or old, deck’s vibe for more powerful and accurate readings. Search online and you will find plenty of suggestions about how to connect with your deck. Here is just another fun suggestion.

In this instance I have used the Cosmic Tarot, and chosen the Princess of Cups to be the primary protagonist.

One way to build up your connection with Tarot decks is to use the suits and court cards to tell spontaneous stories.

There are many advantages of using the storytelling process to connect with your Tarot cards.

  • You really get into the picture of the cards and observe the details of the imagery.
  • You can really internalize each and every aspect of the card’s pictures.
  • You can get creative and let your imagination run wild while writing the story.
  • its an opportunity to let imagination and Intuition mix really well together

Lay out a full suit from your Tarot deck and choose one of the Court Cards to take the role of primary protagonist.

Set a timer for twenty minutes and just write.

Here is an example of a tale, written in twenty minutes, using the Cosmic Tarot for inspiration.

After having been through a trying time, having emerged from a sustained period of loss and grief, Sonia, a young Princess in the House of Cups, visited a local Gypsy tarot reader. The Gypsy told Sonia that her cup was actually overflowing with potential and suggested that she might try to find delight in life by observing simple things. She told the Princess that this would sweeten her life and open her up to positive experiences.

Sonia took the Gypsies advice to heart and began to take more notice of her environment. In no time she began to see the world of the palace in a different light. She watched her mother, Queen Isobella working tirelessly in the Court gardens. Sonia decided that instead of sitting by her window, waiting for yet another, disappointing, entitled, narcissist prince to come, she would take her art supplies and slip into the Enchanted wood that she had loved as a child.

As the days passed her demeanor transformed and her parents and brother noted her flushed cheeks and the transformation that had taken place. Sonia suggested that it was all due to the fresh air and her passion for her artistic endeavours. What she did not reveal, over the formal evening dinners, was that while she was in the woods she had met a very handsome huntsman and that each day she was making sure to set up her easel where he would find her.

Dressed as a maiden, the huntsman was oblivious to her true identity. He began to court her, finding small gifts to give her each day. Gradually she filled her box of wonder with delightful fragments, stones, gum nuts, flowers, feathers and crystals. Each piece had a story to tell and the fairy folk of the woods unashamedly supported their affair and shielded their passionate love making from prying eyes.

Alas, one day, courtiers, at the behest of the King, followed her and witnessed her meeting and walking off with the huntsman. After Sonia had returned to the court, flushed after her encounter, the courtiers returned to the woods and revealed Sonia’s identity to the huntsman. They threatened him and made him understand that he best make himself scarce for he was not eligible to marry her.

The huntsman, knowing their lives were in danger disappeared and Sonia fell into despair when he failed to meet their rendezvous. In desperation she went back to the Gypsy, seeking more advice.

The Gypsy, upon seeing the empty cups in the spread, pointed instead to the ten of cups and reassured Sonia that happiness could still be hers.

Being a determined young woman Sonia sought help from the Fae folk and was taken to the Huntsman’s cottage deep within the woods. They talked for hours, imagining the life they could share if she was prepared to relinquish her royal life and live with him in this idyllic woodland setting.

He was shattered when she made it clear that this was not possible, that her family, the courtiers would literally hunt them down and kill him for his insolence.

It seemed that all was lost until her mother, with a group of her Ladies in Waiting appeared before them. The Queen recognized the huntsman as the youngest son of her brother, the King of the House of Swords. King Eric had sent the lad into the woods to learn about life, to learn to honour all living things and he had been gone so long he had quite forgotten who he was.

Needless to say, sensing that Sonia was already with child, Queen Isobella wholeheartedly blessed the union, even although they were cousins.

To celebrate their marriage Sonia commissioned an artist to paint a portrait of herself. Everyone was taken aback when they saw that she had posed naked in the woods, surrounded by Fae folk and overflowing cups to celebrate that her cup runneth over – at least for now.

Captured and Imprisoned – Meeting a Major

The King and Queen of Hearts were seated on their throne when they arrived, with a great crowd assembled about them—all sorts of little birds and beasts, as well as the whole pack of cards; the knave was standing before them, in chains, with a soldier on each side to guard him; and near the king was the white rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand and a scroll of parchment in the other.
Alice in Wonderland

As the Moon rose, casting its light on the world of the Weasels Pond there was a sudden noise behind us. A small infantry, comprising of all sorts of wildlife, surrounded me, demanding to see my passport. When I couldn’t produce one I was unceremoniously marched off to the Royal Palace and chained up in a dank cell. I remembered Gulliver, who was imprisoned by the Lilliputians when he first reached the island because they were frightened by his massive size. I hoped things here could be quickly resolved. However, the Weasel, who was supposed to help me squeeze out of sticky situations, had been charged with being an accomplice, was no where to be seen.

Bereft I sobbed and wailed at the indignity of it all, at my stupidity. What fool encouraged me to clamber into this alien world? I could be tucked up in the safety of my home, but no, I had decided to join what was promoted as an adventure. Shivering and shaking in a dank prison is certainly not my idea of an adventure!

The Hanged Beast from the Northern Animal Tarot

Suddenly the silence was broken by a gruff voice who literally yelled out demanding that I get a grip and shut the horrible wailing noise.

Startled I looked around to identify who was reprimanding me so harshly. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness I spied a beast hanging upside down in a corner.

Now some folk would stain their underwear when finding themselves confined with a Hanged Beast, but not me! I was relieved to find I have a companion, even if that companion was decidedly gruff.

I thought of the Guided Tarot imagery that I sometimes listen to and I decided that I could interview this creature and glean some advice. A Hanged Beast was sure to have some timely suggestions for me about what kind of energy, what kind of action is needed to extricate myself from this prickly situation.

As the Hanged Beast took in my overtures he barely moved. He seemed completely at ease hanging upside down.

“Why don’t you use that new deck, the Archeo, to determine what kind of energy you actually have that you need to manifest” he dryly suggested.

I was confused! This deck was back at home in my work space there.

The Hanged Beast smiled a knowing smile. “This is a magical place. We can beam it up for you” And with that I found the Archeo sitting next to me.

I drew a card! It was none other than the Sage who reminded me to pause and quietly meditate upon my situation.

Over to You

Christopher Vogler has written in depth about the stages of the Hero’s Journey, which is what we have probably embarked on. Every traveler is invariably confronted with a number of challenges. Tarot decks take us on these archetypal journeys and have become invaluable tools for writers and artists alike. Then, of course there are some outstanding Archetype decks like Archeo by Nick Bantock and Archetype Cards by Carolyn Myss.

Choose a deck from your collection. Enter it and wander for awhile.

What challenge are you faced with?

Which Major or Archetype helps you shift your perspective and move forward?

Pandemic Free Writing Zone

When Victoria went into its fifth lockdown last week, classes that I had offered in a couple of Library settings were cancelled. This is disappointing for everyone and adds to the cocktail of negative noise that we have all been dealing with. 

As Nitchke explains “the human brain has the capacity to imagine all the worst things that could happen. And the more uncertainty there is — especially if that uncertainty is coupled with gloomy hypotheticals — the more likely the brain is to conjure up and fixate on the worst-case scenarios.

I wish it were otherwise but we are going to be faced with uncertainty for quite some time! So I decided that one way of providing a tiny bit of certainty is to offer regular writing/art sessions in a Zoom setting. 

Participants will have a regular meeting time and projects (lockdown friendly if the need arises) to occupy themselves before meeting again.

The cost is $15 per a one and a half hour session.

If you are interested in joining a group of a maximum of 5 participants, for a block of 6 weeks, on a Tuesday evening at 8 pm AET simply email heatherblakey at fastmail dot fm. Other times can be made available depending on interest.

Writing for Wellness

Pens, crayons, pencils and IV tubes may not seem to have much in common but the arts are increasingly touted as a form of healing that can be as relevant to a patients wellbeing as medication. A developing body of research shows that expressive writing helps calm the mind and emotions, and increases feelings of happiness and wellbeing.

In this course we will use guided writing activities as a gentle approach to personal wellbeing. You will be offered tools which you can take away and use in your daily writing and art practice.

The enjoyable and easy-to-do activities will help you:

  • reunite with your most creative self
  • dip into Mnemosynes Well of Memory using simple lists as stepping stones
  • apply guided imageries and visual imagery as a kick starter to daily writing
  • alter your perspective by communicating with fragments of nature
  • experience the catharsis that comes with writing letters to past and future selves
  • create detailed portraitures
  • explore a range of emotions

About Heather Blakey

Heather Blakey has had over thirty years experience as a secondary school teacher in Melbourne’s Northern suburbs and she has recently graduated as a Master of Social Work at Monash University.

Between 2000 and 2010 she built and managed the critically acclaimed Soul Food Cafe a site which was acknowledged by Writers Digest and authors such as Sark and Jean Houston. While she no longer runs this labyrinthine website Soul Food informs how she works and has influenced writing courses that she runs regularly.

​Heather describes herself as a purveyor of stimuli and an artistic midwife. She has worked as a specialist teacher of writing with people of all ages and believes that the expressive arts, and writing in particular, not only promotes wellness in those who trust the process and engage but helps people identify and value their unique voice.

The Spirit of the Fungi

I pause to commune with the serene spirit of the Fungi. She may live in darkened places but her light shines brightly and she is full of wisdom. 

“For millennia, western thinking has been dominated by the idea that we are separate from, and superior to, the rest of nature. Plants and fungi are seen as dumb, mechanical processes that we can plunder for materials and chemicals without considering how we relate to them. Other cultures see other lifeforms as peers. They are viewed as creatures deserving of respect and from whom we might be able to learn something. 

From our human-centered perspective, fungi seem rather inert and unimpressive. They don’t move much and seem to be uninteresting passive objects rather than intelligent beings. Just because they don’t move, however, doesn’t mean they don’t have behavior”. 

Life as we know it would not exist without fungi. They are the critical link in the biological cycle of life and death. 

Fungi are the great recyclers. They play a major part, with prokaryotes such as bacteria, in breaking down organic matter. Without them we would soon be up to our ears in dead plant matter and animal carcasses. Worse still, we would be surrounded by mountains of dung that would not rot. 

Plants would soon run out of fresh nutrients. Animals in turn would go hungry. 

There would be no forests. Few people realize that trees rely on networks of fungi working in partnership with their roots. Without fungi to make nutrients available, trees would be unable to survive. Consider the many roles trees play in supporting life on earth and you’ll realize the importance of this union. 

Reference: The Fungus Amongst Us

A Fools Journey

Once upon a time, long before there was once upon a time, an old crone decided that she needed to make one final creative journey and add another star to the constellation in the skies that shone within her private universe. She was not in the least surprised when a Raven and a Donkey insisted on coming along, for they had travelled with her before.

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What did startle her was the arrival of a flamboyant, charismatic Sulphur Crested Cockatoo named Bonnie. She suspected that Bonnie was one of the flocks that had raided her beloved Ornamental Pistachio Tree each year because she was quite sure that she had seen and photographed a bird, with attitude, who looked just like her.

Duncan the Donkey made it clear that he was getting too old to carry heavy loads and while the Crone agreed that it would be good to travel lightly she did ask Duncan to carry some of her art supplies and made sure to tuck a few of her Tarot and Oracle cards into her bag. She had relied on them during the long ‘lockdowns’ and wasn’t about to go anywhere without her most trusted ones.

Bonnie’s sharp eye caught a glimpse of these boxed treasures and, because she is such an inquisitive bird, wanted to know more about them. The Crone began to explain the Major Arcana to her and was surprised to discover that Bonnie was more fascinated than any of her human friends had been.

“Perhaps you will teach me about these Majors as we travel” said Bonnie.

“What a good idea” said the Crone. “There is so much that I am yet to learn and we could always learn together”.

A Fools Journey

Brand Bonnie

From the Crone’s Diary

Other material of interest

Interested in Mythic Journey’s? Check out the work of Christopher Vogler and his book The Writers Journey

Tarot Play Time – Play Theatre

I think I am not the only one intrigued by the picturesque of early Tarot cards. What do they really represent? Who drew them? Who put all these icons together?

Then I saw Dario Fo, the great Italian comedian of Comedia dell Arte, play writer and Nobel Prize winner, acting on stage playing the hilarious figure of a barbarous Pope (I cannot recall who). and I thought that something of the medieval feasts, mysteries and banquets were radiating from the stage… from Origins of the Tarot Cards from Medieval Mystery Plays

I spied with my little eye the Magnetic Play Theatre that I obviously kept, which belonged to my daughter when she was little.

It only took a moment to find out about the connection between Tarot and Medieval Playhouses and for my inner child to point out that this would be a fun way to play with Tarot and write all at the same time.

So I set up my Rose and Swan Playhouse and called upon the Fiddler on the Roof Matchmaker to make me a match. The Lions Gateway Tarot by Jessica Henry was the obvious choice and I have to say it was love at first sight. These two may have quite the romance as they bounce off one another.

As I laid down the card that emerged from Henry’s beautiful deck I thought of fairy stories and the Canterbury Tales.  Given Tarots power to teach about morality, I might even be happy to  write a scene for a morality play.

Aperture Stories

“Everyone has a story,” renowned anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff stated, and these stories “told to oneself and others can transform the world.” The name Story Aperture is inspired by Barbara Myerhoff, who described the way a personal story can provide an opening to understand not only one person’s life, but larger truths about the human experience.

Aperture stories are stories which come when we put the light on symbols to be found within Tarot, Oracle, Lenormand or Playing cards.  When we focus like on what the symbol is telling us, we are find deeper meanings which enable us to adapt and adjust our narrative. When we work with an aperture we see well beyond overt meanings and tap into important healing structures.

When we work intuitively with Lenormand, Tarot and Oracle cards we hold micro art galleries in our hand and we have access to insights that have been drawn from the collective unconsious.

When we use a camera it is the depth of field that will determine:

  1. where your viewer’s eye is drawn in a photograph, and
  2. whether or not the photograph is telling a story.

If we keep the camera lens in mind as we examine the cards that have emerged more light is shone on particular features. Often it is the understructure which reveals an entirely fresh model for telling a story. When we work intensively with an image it can help us  face a difficult situation or deal with and heal trauma.  

I have found it inspirational to sit with another person, over a Devonshire tea (Coffee), to sling cards, work intuitively and to listen to the stories that rise up. In the process of working out what the understructure is telling us, at a particular moment in time, we are telling aperture stories.