When you trust the process and allow yourself to step outside the square your imagination is kick started and you can take off in amazingly diverse directions.
Maybe you do not have a young calf to read too but there are plenty of alternatives that will lead to rich journal entries.
Last year I took along a whole lot of children’s picture story books to my Writing for Wellness class and asked the participants to go outside and read a story to a tree and then write about how the tree responded. Perhaps surprisingly no one resisted.
Upon his relatively quick return I asked James if he had actually read ‘Harry the Dirty Dog’ to a tree. “Of course” he said. As we waited for others to return our conversation led to me asking him what he had done before retiring. ” I taught Professional Writing at a TAFE” he said without blinking an eye. Needless to say I fell about laughing and said he must have found this class to be a ‘bit different’. He smiled his charming smile and told me that he had found it all quite challenging – then went on to write the most stunning piece in the allocated fifteen minutes.
In my capacity as the Tarot Midwife I have taken to revisiting historic cemeteries in my region to test run some ideas about communicating with inanimate objects for upcoming courses.
Recently, on one of my expeditions, I found the grave of David Jenkin Davies, who came to Australia from Glamorganshire South Wales and was accidentally killed at the Brunswick Mine in 1870. He was just 27 years old when he died. I kneeled by his grave, placed a white cockatoo feather on his grave and asked if he would communicate a message through my Tarot Deck. I shuffled the cards and The Devil emerged.
Obviously one could interpret this message in many ways. I did not take it to mean that he had gone to some kind of hell. There are many ways you can interpret the Devil card. Indeed, I took it to mean that he was dancing for joy that he had been given the opportunity to let me know that his death had all been out of his control; that he had mourned a life cut short due to the negligence of greedy gold seeking devils who had no regard for the well being of others, whose negligence led to his untimely death.
Will you follow the lead, test run an idea and share it with me in the comment box?
The upaguru is anyone who teaches us something, which, when we are truly open to recognizing the good in all, is literally every one.
So upaguru can mean both assistant teacher, or a teacher who is next to you
This video involves communicating with the ant. In this instance the ant is an example of a small teacher. At the end we hear the plea! It is plaintive really! The narrator doesn’t want to turn to dust knowing nothing at all. If someone would please tell him, what is all this for?
What! No answer! Perhaps we can get more sense from another Upaguru, one of my Tarot decks! Perhaps Tarot can come marching in on a Chariot, come to the rescue.
So, as I shuffle I go all quiet and ask very politely, very seriously – “So what is it all for?”
And guess who emerges? You got it! None other than the Devil!
I am not sure how much sense I am going to get out of this guy! He doesn’t get a very good wrap! This guy is all about illusions, bondage, addiction, opposition and personal demons.
But, perhaps something can be salvaged. The Devil might just come good and shed some light on how to overcome personal demons or even direct us to the costume joint he got that cool purple number from!!!!
Strength is a Major Arcana Tarot card, and is numbered either XI or VIII, depending on the deck.
Strength predicts the triumphant conclusion to a major life problem, situation or temptation through strength of character. It is a very happy card if you are fighting illness, recovering from injury or trying to recover from a trauma. It suggests you will prevail.
Everyone on the planet has been well aware that this has been a particularly torrid summer in Australia. It began months ago and it seemed that the whole country was on fire. Horrific images of people huddled on beaches with a searing red sky and a blanket of smoke, deaths of firefighters and civilians, loss of property and images of whole towns razed circulated around the world.
Away from the fire fronts we knew that there by the grace of Mother Nature it could have been us. Perhaps because the drought had not been as intense in this part of Victoria we dodged a bullet but felt helpless in the face of it all.
Now everyone is on alert and going more than slightly crazy because of a virus that, along with the thousands of travellers who zig zag across the world, will freely enter countries. Today we woke to news that people are emptying supermarket shelves and it feels like the world really gone quite mad.
One of the therapeutic benefits of the Tarot is that you can seek solace at a time like this. The Cosmic Tarot Strength card featured here is particularly beautiful. A mysterious woman, purported to be the film icon, Hedy Lamar, holds a magic cloth which mirrors a lion. Lamar is a good choice for the Strength card. Lamarr once insisted, “Any girl can be glamorous; all you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” That she herself was anything but stupid was unequivocally proved during World War II when, in collaboration with the avant-garde composer George Antheil, she invented an electronic device that minimized the jamming of radio signals. Though it was never used in wartime, this device is a component of present-day satellite and cellular phonetechnology.
Seeking to meditate upon the archetypal qualities of strength, courage, and fortitude, as reflected in this card, this guided visualization helped me to enhance these qualities, to connect to my own strength, and my own courage. Rather than visualising meeting with the traditional lion I went into my safe place and sought out the faithful donkey who had accompanied me, at a very difficult time, on the inner journeys we led from the Soul Food Cafe. With his fortitude came a strength of mind that has enabled me to calmly set boundaries and refuse to engage in craziness such as emptying supermarket shelves of things like toilet paper and Panadol.
Hedy Lamarr was the daughter of a prosperous Viennese banker. Lamarr was privately tutored from age 4; by the time she was 10, she was a proficient pianist and dancer and could speak four languages. At age 16 she enrolled in Max Reinhardt’s Berlin-based dramatic school, and within a year she made her motion picture debut in Geld auf der Strasse (1930; Money on the Street). She achieved both stardom and notoriety in the Czech film Extase (1932; Ecstasy), in which she briefly but tastefully appeared in the nude. Her burgeoning career was halted by her 1933 marriage to Austrian munitions manufacturer Fritz Mandl, who not only prohibited her from further stage and screen appearances but also tried unsuccessfully to destroy all existing prints of Extase. After leaving the possessive Mandl, she went to Hollywood in 1937, where she appeared in her first English-language film, the classic romantic drama Algiers (1938). Lamarr became a U.S. citizen in 1953.
The unique designs in Norbert Losche’s Cosmic Tarot deck bring ancient knowledge to modern readers through simple yet beautifully drawn images that resemble familiar figures in our lives. Source: tarot.com
The creator and artistic designer of the Cosmic Tarot was born in 1951 and currently lives in Aachen, Germany. He is a self-taught artist. He originally began his professional life as a surveyor, then studied the history of art before taking up painting. It was an interest in the esoteric that led him to the tarot — an interest which found the perfect means of expression in the creation of the Cosmic Tarot.
When I want to become familiar with a suit in a deck I like to lay out the Court Cards at the top and then lay out the ten cards so that I can formulate a story. In this instance we set the task of writing a fairy story.
I cannot remember when I acquired the Cosmic Tarot. I suspect it was way back in the day when I did a Jungian course at Monash University in Melbourne. Whatever! Having pulled this deck back out of the cupboard, I realised just what a compelling deck it is. The Cosmic Tarot features symbols and icons gathered from diverse eras and influences, including astrological, Qabalistic, and Golden Dawn attributions. For my purposes, the pictorial nature of the Cosmic Tarot makes it an ideal deck to work with in my writing groups.
In this instance, using the technique of stream of consciousness writing, I wrote a fairy story about Prince Gustav whose father, King Harold, insisted that the indulged Prince make his own way by living amongst the common folk, in disguise for an extended period.
I used the sequence of the cards to develop Gustav’s character arc over a twenty year period, culminating in his celebrated reunion with his parents.
Perhaps you will try this exercise and share a link to your work in the comment section.
About the Deck
When interviewed Norbert Losche said that “in creating this tarot, my intention is to make the old knowledge accessible and understandable to everyone by using a few secret symbols as possible. In our times, the search for transcendent meaning and self redemption has replaced the old mystical religions of a distant god. The tarot’s age-old knowledge is always quiet and reserved, yet it welcomes the seeker like an old friend. The tarot, with its dynamic concept of constant change, offers a doctrine for the New Age and thus becomes a reliable guide in this chaotic world of shifting social values.” (quoted by Jean Huets, Cosmic Tarot, US Games Systems, Inc, 1996, pg 6).
You might not think that a bunch of dead people would have much to say. However, a good graveyard can reveal a lot about the society that built it, from its history and its architecture to its superstitions. I have been to the original blockbuster cemetery, Pere Lachaise in Paris, Prague’s Jewish cemeteries and the oldest Christian cemetery in Penang. Here at home I regularly visit small, beautifully serene, historic cemeteries in the Central Goldfields, Victoria, Australia. There are so many narratives to be found in these often abandoned places.
When the Fool appeared it was very evident that the Martell’s were highlighting that life really is a Fool’s journey.
I am not sure where the idea came from but a week or so back I decided to revisit some of my favourite cemeteries to read some tarot cards with the long dead. (I confess that visiting cemeteries, armed with Tarot decks, is a bit different even by my standards.) I set out with my two companion animals, a picnic basket and a tarot deck.
At the Sandon Cemetery I stopped at an unmarked grave to ask about what kind of life the occupant had experienced. Not surprisingly, given the harshness of life on the early goldfields, the nine of rods spoke of a life filled with a lot of hard work.
Further on, at the Majorca cemetery, when I asked the Martell’s to share some wisdom out came the Fool from Monicka Clio Sakki’s Art Tarot Deck. I confess I was quite taken aback – stopped in my tracks long enough to take another photo that I could use as an avatar as I establish myself as a Tarot Midwife.
Perhaps I am on a Fool’s journey or maybe I am on to something quite profound. Time will tell!
The Modern Spellcaster’s Tarot is a truly great deck for generating some writing. Lay out the cards and you will see that this deck has a story book quality about it. Moreover the companion book, full of interesting spells, is excellent for any would be J.K. Rowlings wanting to use magick as a part of their writing. The diversity, the fantasy world depicted in this deck, makes it a perfect companion in a writing session.
In my writing classes we often begin by ‘warming the hand’. To warm the hand is to undertake a 15 minute stream of consciousness exercise in response to some stimuli.
When I choose to use Tarot with a group I have enough decks to provide each participant with a deck. When we did this exercise we were warming our hand and producing journal entries that could be used for memoir writing.
I began by asking the Modern Spellcasters Tarot deck to provide me with someone who would help me started. It was the Tower which emerged from the deck. Anyone who knows me knows there have been a few tower moments in my life and so I could have very quickly run the hand across the page simply listing them.
Instead I asked the deck to offer me another card to guide me as to how I should begin. Out popped the 7 of Pentacles which called upon me to focus on my capacity to overcome adversity and acknowledge how I have pulled through by quite literally reinventing myself.
The Tower needed me to tell some of our story.
Who steps out of your deck to ensure that their voice is heard?
Bibliomancy is the use of books in divination. The method of employing sacred books for ‘magical medicine’, for removing negative entities, or for divination is widespread in many religions of the world
Given my habit of snatching ideas and manipulating them to suit myself I randomly took a small passage from Roald Dahl’sRevolting Rhymes and asked a character from the Your Path Through The Enchanted Forest Tarot deck to play and stimulate an idea for a quirky story.
The Keeper of Spells emerged. When asked how he would feel if some delinquent tot broke in and gobbled up all his breakfast the answer was unequivocal. The little brat should start running because the Keeper would transform into a giant and we all know that while some giants are friendly this one is unlikely to be. He has no time for thieving little wildlings who would be audacious enough to eat his tucker.
Try the exercise with something from your shelves and write your own adventure.
“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”
“Creative thinking – in terms of idea creativity – is not a mystical talent. It is a skill that can be practiced and nurtured.”
Edward de Bono
Over the centuries people have struggled to explain why Tarot Cards work and, quite frankly, the vast number of people, often influenced by church leaders, dismiss them as being the tool of the devil.
Over the past eighteen months I have found it illuminating to discover the power of Tarot and Oracle cards. I have been amazed at the imaginative ways in which these cards can be used.
Vincent Pitisci claims to have cracked the mystery of how Tarot Cards work and quite frankly I agree with him completely. I have found that Tarot cards are an indispensable tool when I am wanting to lead creative thinking activities in a group session. Tarot cards facilitate conceptual blending, a technique used by heads of creative departments all over the world.
So, these days I stand on the shoulders of someone like Edward De Bono and I have created a Blue Hat Thinking spread to use with participants at the beginning of a course. I do this because it generates such lively dialogue and everyone is amazed by what emerges.
Here is an abbreviated example of how I use the Blue Hat Card Spread. I emphasise that this is not a predictive exercise. I do not believe the cards are capable of predicting anything. I believe they simply stimulate our thinking process and encourage us to use our imagination. When we work with a spread like this we are critically analysing, reflecting and gaining insight into what we are really seeking to achieve. It helps us clarify our goals.
In this instance I am using Monicka Clio Sakki’s Tarot and Companion Book because when she created all of this she directed her energy towards facilitating the creative journey. The four questions we examine as we seek clarity and direction are:
I am fully prepared to ‘unknow’ – to take advantage of a moment of blankness and be prepared to receive what the deck has to tell me.
Here are the cards I shuffled and laid out from left to right.
So let us look at them! Where have I been? I turn over the first card and reflect upon where I have been in my creative journey.
The Seven of Coins draws out memories of what my creative life looked like and how I worked for many years. I affectionately remember the wild garden I spent so many years creating. It involved an incredible amount of time spent online and saw the rise and success of the Soul Food Cafe, a site, which in its hey day drew thousands of visitors and featured the work of an eclectic group of writers and artists. However, with the rise of Facebook, when the landscape of the internet changed and my life hit a ‘Tower’ phase I laid down the hoe and stopped working Soul Food. I needed to have a break and hope that a whole picture would eventually emerge.
Where am I now? I turn over the second card and reflect upon where I am now.
A muscly figure is guiding a chariot pulled by brightly coloured dragons. The driver does appear to be in control as he drives the dragons but if he is going to maintain this control he is going to need to stay alert and focused. Keeping dragons like this together is quite a challenge. I confess I do feel like the chariot driver as I embark on a new phase and begin a project that I am expecting to devote ten years to. Frankly it has been decidedly overwhelming as I gather all my resources and see just how complex this whole field is.
Where do I want to be? I turn over the third card and reflect upon where I want to be.
I want to be the Alchemist who combines things that do not usually go together. Temperance implies moderation in action, thought and feeling. I want to be seen as someone whose mastery of mixed elements seems absolutely effortless
How do I get there? I turn over the fourth card and reflect upon how to get to where I want to be.
I do not have to think too hard about this. I AM the Queen of Swords. I am independent and exercise both physical and mental freedom. I am interesting and interested and I have very high ideals. My perception, logic and creativity is hard to match. I am honest and can be very witty – and of course, I am very humble :-). Although I communicate well I need a lot of time alone to invest in my creative pursuits. I have the time and can think clearly enough to get to where I want to be.
Edvard Munch was one of Modernism’s most significant artists. He was active throughout more than sixty years; from the time he made his debut in the 1880s, right up to his death in 1944. Munch was part of the Symbolist movement in the 1890s, and a pioneer of expressionist art from the beginning of the 1900s onward. His tenacious experimentation within painting, graphic art, drawing, sculpture, photo and film has given him a unique position in Norwegian as well as international art history.
As I sit at a shady table in the beautiful gardens with pen and paper at the ready I am looking for inspiration. The well seems to have dried up so in order to reinvigorate my mushy brain I resolve that a change of scenery may be the answer.
The gardens are alive in Spring, giving us their final flush of color before the onslaught of the long hot summers. The caretakers have done a wonderful job through the autumn and winter primping, pruning and plumping up their offerings. They have designed various new garden rooms. These are a new addition to the old garden structure but they certainly work in this environment. Under a huge Oak tree there are three brightly colored deck chairs and two doggy beanbags! They look as though they belong to someone but they are actually a gift from the caretakers to the day to day occupants of the gardens – how lovely. Having only been in the area for a short time I marvel at the fact they are still in place after two weeks as I know that would not be so in the big smoke. They would have been acquired for some private garden within the first twenty four hours but this is the country and I am reminded things are different.
As I sit staring at my writing implements strategically placed within arms reach on the table I know my arms do not seem to be taking the hint to participate in this exercise. As I look around, I am aware of a man sitting on a bench not far from me who seems to be constantly staring in my direction. So, I force my arms to take up the writing implements hoping to divert his gaze and pretend I am not vaguely interested. I commence writing – who knows what – and hope that this will allay my fears. After some time, as my pen continues to ramble over the paper, I aware of a movement out of the corner of my eye and look up under my sunglasses to see the man walking towards me. I am spooked – perhaps I am overthinking this situation. Continuing to write, head bowed, suddenly I hear a rasping cough. I look up into a very intense face gazing down at me. I am uncomfortable being in a seated position with him standing over me. Not close enough to be in my space but close enough for me to be uptight.
I shuffle my feet, wriggle in my seat, nervously rub my eye and am aware that my mouth has become quite dry. Trying to reassure myself this is a huge over reaction I decide in the moment to change my tactic and instigate fight mode. Brazenly looking into his eyes whilst gathering my strength and at the same time licking my lips to irrigate my mouth I look straight into his eyes and state what a lovely day it is to be in the park.
He does not seem alarmed at all and by the casual look on his face I can tell this is not going to be a brief conversation. He is of medium height with angular features, piercing brown eyes and freckled, pale skin. His tweed peaked cap sits jauntily to the right and his hands are not the hands of a manual laborer. He is not dressed in the normal attire of locals. He is different and interesting Having completed my initial body scan I know I have enough information to provide the police with a clear description of my assailant if required. I raise my right eyebrow as a cue for him to speak next. In an accent that I cannot recognize he crisply introduces himself as Edward Munch the artist who finds himself in the park to find inspiration.
How funny, we are both there for the same reason! Whilst this introduction means little to me he is obviously aware of his own importance. As he sits at the table opposite me I begin to feel a little more relaxed in his presence until his next statement. He has found his inspiration and asks if he can do a sketch of my anxiety posing for me as it will help him and maybe enable me to release some of my tension and allow my pen to skip over the paper. Without any more discussion, I find myself in the park, being sketched by a stranger as my pen races across the parchment paper. We sit in silence while he completes what may be his next masterpiece.
The Morgan Tarot is a brilliant graphics-based, pocket sized essay on the 1970’s blending of Eastern and Western mystical traditions. It is more in tune with modern sensibilities than a traditional Tarot deck, but fully capable of delivering the same oblique gestalt, the same intensity of insight, the same connection with a larger tradition. Vastly superior to any other modern cue-card level tool (such as an angel deck or an affirmation-a-day deck) this deck provides both belly-laughs and thoughtful interior review. I consider it one of the crown-jewels of any Tarot deck collection. If I could have only three decks, this would be one of them.
Source: Amazon Review by C. Olmstead