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.

Dating the Deviant Moon Fool

The Deviant Moon Tarot has surreal, very unique, and sometimes disturbing moonlit artwork. It’s inspired by (and incorporates) images of cemeteries and mental asylums, and designed to illuminate deeper parts of the subconscious. The talented illustrator is also a tarot student, and the deck is the result of three years of artistic work.

Some find the Deviant Moon Fool menacing but as I watch him dancing I find myself recalling time spent in Venice, drawn to all the Venetian masks, mannequins and puppets.

In his richly illustrated book Patrick Valenza says that the Fool “begins his journey with a delirious dance. With maniacal laughter he heads out into the unknown still clothed in his sleepwear”.

There is certainly a dreamlike quality about this character and his bizarre appearance makes me hesitant to approach him.

However, I am mesmerized by his invitation to abandon all inhibitions, take the plunge and create my own unique path. Having said this, it feels like I have been taking leaps of faith ever since I walked away from my former life and reinvented myself in the town I moved to. It feels like I am getting a bit old to be letting go of more inhibitions.

Perhaps it is old age that makes me more cautious about the motives of this Fool.Rather than take the plunge on a whim, I pause to read what Valenza has to say about his Fool and decide to tackle a spread to help me determine how a date with this fellow might turn out.

The initial energy of the Seven of Swords confirms my suspicion that I may be taking an incredible risk to engage with this Fool, however briefly. The presence of swords pierced in the ground imply that this Harlequin performers act has not only, not been a raging success, but that the performer has risked life and limb in his endeavor to perform a unique act. Add the Death card and I cannot deny that I seriously question the advisability of hanging about for long.

The truth is I am not much of a risk taker. I have been known to crumple at almost any height and recall clinging like a leech to the wall of a lighthouse that my late husband insisted we climb. He never gave credence to my fear and thought it was something I should get over. However I let him climb the arduous steps at the Vatican and capture the view of Rome all by himself. While he was gone I sat in St Peter’s Square taking in the passing parade.

A Tarot Based Play

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 Play

Whether you are an experienced Tarot reader or a beginner there is no doubt that lovers of cards love to play with their cards. This Advent Calendar is primarily about spending time with and playing as though you are playing with a good friend.

Hudson explores, in some detail, the history of Mystery and Morality Plays

As early as the 14th century artists were painting the heroes of Miracle, Mystery and Morality plays on to cards. In his book, Mystical Origins of the Tarot, Paul Hudson explores the ancient roots that lie within these plays.

Typically, Morality plays, for example, tried to teach through a theatrical point of view. These plays were allegorical dramas that personified the moral values and abstract ideas to teach moral lessons. The plays were used to educate the masses on Christianity.

A unique dance production featuring the deck of 22 cards, in their traditional order, is just an example of how artists make use of the Tarot.

Here is a setting for a Medieval Style Play using a Magnetic Theater my daughter had as a child.

Imagine you are writing for a Medieval Theatre Troupe. What cards would you choose to use for a play set in a Royal Court or conversely for a Chaucer, Canterbury Tales style character like the Wife of Bath? Check the link to be reminded of the characters that peopled Chaucers work.

What will your play be about?

Experiment! Be creative!

Packing 10 Decks

Any Creative Medicine back pack will inevitably have some decks stashed in the pockets. There is a hastag currently going around the internet since Katey Flowers presented her #onlytendecks YouTube Video which you will find on this page. Spend some time with your collection and determine which ten decks, comprising of Oracle, Tarot and Lenormand that you will take. These may not be the ten I finally decide to take but it gives you a feel of how I am thinking.

  • Guardian Tarot
  • The White Numen Tarot
  • Carolyn Myss Archetypes
  • The Wandering Moon Soul Oracle
  • The Arboridium
  • Dark Goddess Tarot
  • Sakki Sakki Tarot
  • The Northern Animal Tarot
  • Tarot of the Sweet Twilight
  • Morgans Tarot

Consider watching a few video responses to Katey’s video and show off the decks you will you.

Trick for LearningTarot

Far too many people worry about reading tarot cards the “right” way. There are actually far more helpful reading techniques, depending on the situation. It is also believed that when reading for others the reader must do what the client expects. This all too often means to predict the future and tell people how to obtain their desires. Is the job of a foot doctor to cure lung cancer? As readers we have a right, even an obligation, to discover what we do best and to offer that in readings both for ourselves and for others. The task becomes learning what we do best and offering that with clarity and confidence.

One of the tricks I have found to be very successful is to regularly complete challenges and by using the cards to kick start story telling.

Recently I have been working on a project helping Aussie Wildlife learn about tarot and I have found that drawing Australian wildlife in tarot settings has helped refine my knowledge of the cards

Big Red is the King of Wands

For example, in response to the Tarot Storytelling Spread I drew the Big Red Kangaroo as the King of Wands.

Kangaroo’s are herbivorous. They reside throughout Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. Kangaroos have powerful, long hind legs and feet for leaping and jumping with. Their long tails thicken at the base to help them balance. Each of their hind feet has 4 toes, this number represents foundations.

This big Red Kangaroo, proudly wearing his crown of authority, has the power to create a safe and secure environment for his mob. The Red Kangaroo has an innate capacity to adapt to new situations and environments. Kangaroos are extremely focused beings, with their energy fields tightly woven around them with no room for distractions. 

If hunted by a Dingo, human or a rare Tasmanian tiger, the Big Reds are very fast and hop effortlessly to safety without a moments thought about where they are going. They use their strong instincts to guide them.

For us humans, there is a great lesson to be learned from this – instead of thinking about every single, most minute step we take we must let our instincts guide 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.

Writing Portraiture

“The portrait is generally a form of description, and like all descriptions it is a particularly enjoyable device to reread. Anais Nin is the master of descriptive portrait in the diary. Nin made an effort to be fair and free of malice in her word-portraits of friends and acquaintances, though she was aware of weaknesses as well as talents of those she described. In writing portraits she tried to include as many details as possible about herself and the other person”.
Tristine Rainer The New Diary.

‘The Hand’ is a device I have repeatedly used in writing classes. I have people place their hand on their notebook and draw around their fingers. Then I suggest that they lay down some cards. The card for the thumb is the primary figure for this word-portrait. The other four fingers represent people and events that have impacted on this persons life.

  • Carefully look at the pictures. Make sure to take in as much detail as possible. It is important to look very closely. 
  • What are the different elements? Plants? Buildings? Flowers? Animals? What is the landscape? Are there people in the card? What is the person in the picture doing? What objects do you see? Why do you think they are there? What’s in the background? What’s in the foreground? How do all of these different elements come together into a coherent story?
  • Notice every small and large detail and make a note of it. Absorb the entire card into your mind.
  • Now set your timer for 20 minutes. And start writing remembering that you are not in a writing competition.

“Remember that a portrait done like this is never really finished. You can always recolour it, revise it, contradict it, add to it. The mobile,  evolving quality of the portrait makes it a useful tool in recognizing the psychological process of projection. Rather than just seeing the person on his or her terms you are likely to see a mirror reflection of yourself and gain insights about yourself. By writing portraits you begin to see if the face you are describing is your own”. Tristine Rainer The New Diary

Telling Tarot Stories

Great Tarot readers, like writers, know how to weave the story between the Tarot cards to create highly engaging and meaningful Tarot readings for their clients. They see patterns between the cards and combine these intuitive messages into a beautiful story that is unique to the client and their situation. This exercise is good for writers looking to warm their hand by practicing on a daily basis. It is also a good practice for a tarot reader to strengthen their spontaneous story telling skills

Every Tarot card contains its own unique story and each story can be expanded by using more than one card. Every card in a Tarot deck is connected by an invisible thread.

As writers looking to maintain a daily practice Tarot cards are a wonderful source of inspiration.

Over a cup of tea or coffee one way to start the day is to quietly shuffle a pictorial deck and draw some cards. In this instance I chose the Tarot of the Durer which is an art deck compiled by taking scenes from some of Durer’s famous work. I opted to choose just two cards.

Lay out your cards as I have done here.

  • Carefully look at the pictures. Make sure to take in as much detail as possible. It is important to look very closely. For example, did you notice that the eagle is chained and that there is an ominous raven shaped cloud above the old man in the 10 of Pentacles? What is your impression of Temperance’s mood? How is she relating to the cow? What is her connection to the elderly man in the 10 of Pentacles?
  • What are the different elements? Plants? Buildings? Flowers? Animals? What is the landscape? Are there people in the card? What is the person in the picture doing? What objects do you see? Why do you think they are there? What’s in the background? What’s in the foreground? How do all of these different elements come together into a coherent story?
  • Notice every small and large detail and make a note of it. Absorb the entire card into your mind.
  • Now set your timer for 20 minutes. And start writing and sketching, remembering that you are not in a writing or art competition.
  • Make up a story as you go along. Use the elements from the picture in your story. You can be as creative as you like – just let yourself go wild. Write down a story in the 20 minutes you’ve set aside.