Posted in Appointment to Write, Creating Narratives, I Pause, Memoir With Tarot, Talking Tarot, Tarot Memoirs, Tarot Play, Tarot Spreads, Tarot Tiny Tea, Tarot Visualisation

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.

Posted in Aperture Stories, Appointment to Write, Conceptual Blending, Creating Narratives, Fiction Inspired Tarot, Lenormand, Memoir With Tarot, Talking Tarot, Tarot Alchemy, Tarot for Myself, Tarot Memoirs, Tarot Oracle Card Writing Prompts, Tarot Play, Tarot Reading, Tarot Tiny Tea, Tarot Visualisation, The Tarot Midwife, Warming the Hand

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.

Posted in Appointment to Write, Tarot Play, Tarot Tiny Tea, Tarot Visualisation, The Tarot Midwife, Warming the Hand

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.

Posted in Tarot Play, Tarot Tiny Tea, Tarot Visualisation, Tarot with Others, The Tarot Midwife

Tarot Tiny Tea

Through techniques of pathworking (guided meditation), your imagination can shine a magic mirror on your personality. This inner landscape reveals your world as your unconscious sees it – a perspective that enables you to make dramatic changes.

The Queen of Cups: The Gill Tarot by Josephine Gill

Make an appointment to write! Join me, read Tarot over Tiny Tea and spend time working on your journal.

Joseph Gill’s The Gill Tarot, first published in 1991, is a beautiful deck to work intimately with and provides amazing imagery for those wanting to journal or path-work.

A pathworking takes you on a journey through an inner landscape. Path-working as a technique is derived from magical uses of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. In that system, a path-working is a journey along one of the 22 paths of the Tree of Life, each of which has a specific set of landscape and symbolism associated with it (and corresponds to one of the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot).

Alternatively you can engage in a visualisation by focusing on the specific images in front of you; sometimes the image tells a story or involves travelling through a landscape (real or imaginary); sometimes it is intended to bring about a specific result.

At other times you may dialogue with a aspect of your personality as represented by someone like Gill’s Queen of Cups.

More Tarot and Tiny Tea posts and journaling stimuli can be found here.

Posted in Appointment to Write, Fiction Inspired Tarot, Tarot for Myself, Tarot Play, Tarot Travel Journal, Tarot Visualisation, The Tarot Midwife

Meet Anastasia Riversleigh

Anastasia Riversleigh is just one of my alter egos. She is a member of the Skull Clan who is currently working, primarily, with the Tarot of the Vampyres. Given that she is taking this opportunity to do important shadow work she will be leaning on numerous decks and other resources.

Visit her and you will find a detailed journal which records her newest adventure, in residence, living and playing with many interesting internal characters at Shadwell Manor and on the old Ghostly Spanish Galleon that sails the seven seas.

Posted in Appointment to Write, Mystery Tarot Tours, Talking Tarot, Tarot for Myself, Tarot Play, Tarot Travel Journal, Tarot Visualisation, The Tarot Midwife

Tarot Travelling

“I don’t believe in things like that – fairies or brownies or magic or anything. It’s old-fashioned.’
‘Well, we must be jolly old-fashioned then,’ said Bessie. ‘Because we not only believe in the Faraway Tree and love our funny friends there, but we go to see them too – and we visit the lands at the top of the Tree as well!”
― Enid Blyton, The Folk of the Faraway Tree

Whenever the world is getting all a bit too much I seek out alternate realities. There is a Fey Guide waiting in this tree, ready to take me on another adventure. I have packed a suitcase, I have my tarot deck and I am ready to go.

I cannot say that I was a devotee of Alice in Wonderland. Instead it was Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree series that captured my imagination as a child growing up in the 1950’s.

The Faraway Tree is best described as a slow, gentle series of adventures that take place in a magical tree and the lands it connects to in the clouds. Originally published in 1939, the language is lyrical and playful — a slide is called a slippery slip — and young readers will probably dream about how the kids are left to play in the woods for an entire day by themselves.

I loved, still love these stories for their loveable characters, magical lands, silliness ( the Saucepan Man’s songs and forgetfulness had me giggling every time) and the exciting cliffhangers that kept me enthusiastically reading chapter after chapter. Not so long ago, during our blistering hot summer, I listened to audio book adaptions and fell in love with the series all over again. Silky and Moonface have not lost any of their appeal and I still adore the angry pixie.

Of course, some point to the pretty standard gender roles but it was 1939 and the fact that the roles are decidedly out of place in 2020 will not diminish the joy I feel when I read the books.

The truth is that the Magic Faraway Tree, combined with the influence of Archie Hair, an elderly prospector whose home in the bush was a place I loved visiting as a child, filled me with wonder and have each contributed to me having a rich inner life, an inner life that has sustained me through some very difficult periods. Perhaps not surprisingly, thanks to such influences, when I ran the Soul Food Cafe between 2000 and 2010 I took countless travellers through a portal into the fantasy world of Lemuria and preserved the journeys in annual advent calendar features.

Fast forward to 2020 and I now find myself in world put into hibernation by a new pandemic. It has been over seven weeks since we went into lockdown in Australia and there have been many reports indicating that social isolation and being ‘confined to barracks’ is having a detrimental impact on people’s mental wellbeing.

Thank goodness for my passion for Tarot. In this situation I have found it self soothing to pack my bag, slip through a portal and Travel Within A Tarot Deck.

Not surprisingly I chose the Path Through the Enchanted Forest, a magical deck which conjures some of the charm of the Faraway Tree. When I work with this deck I not only drift back in time but find that my imagination is fired. After shuffling my deck I found myself standing in a forest, alongside a gingerbread house and I was, quite frankly stunned by how the cards continued to fall.

Invariably others, inspired by this idea, have gone in different directions but the feedback I am getting suggests that, at a time when flights are cancelled and borders are closed, this is one kind of travel that can fire up our creative juices.

Will you join in? I am thinking of setting up a flight centre, a ‘Travel Agency’ where those who read about the travels of others will be inspired you to join in the fun. Considering there are no charges and all you have to do is pull out a much loved Tarot Deck, even Ryan or Tiger Air will not be able to beat this offer. And just think of the travel brochures we could conjure up! So much potential!

For starters, check out these two videos! Both Elaine and Kate make reference to their approach to travelling inside a deck. Plus @Anastasia-gyspysoul is working with two decks as she travels inside the Wheel of the Year Tarot.

Posted in Deck Reviews, Tarot Alchemy, Tarot for Myself, Tarot Play, Tarot Visualisation, The Tarot Midwife

Deck Interviews

The interview spread is a really neat way to introduce yourself to a new tarot deck and allow it to introduce itself to you. Essentially, it’s a conversation about your potential working relationship, where you can discuss the deck’s strengths and limits and discover the best way to approach and use these cards.

Interview with the Tarot of the Witches by the Tarot Midwife.

Back in December 2019, after having worked with Tarot in my writing classes, I resolved to learn about the wisdom of Tarot and to identify the alchemical impact of Tarot on creativity.

Since we have been locked indoors because of the Corona Virus there is no doubt that ‘the noise’ generated from the media reports has impacted on me and reduced my capacity to concentrate.

A break through came when I decided establish an Instagram account and spend time taking photos. Now I have decided to spend time interviewing some of the decks in my collection to identify which decks could provide support at this time.

There is an ample supply of deck interviews templates online. This one is provided by Katey Flowers.

Posted in Graveside Chats, Tarot Alchemy, Tarot for Myself, Tarot Play, Tarot Visualisation, The Tarot Midwife

Singing Over the Bones – Graveside Chats

You only have to watch Ricky Gervais’s dark comedy, ‘After Life’, to know that many people spend time at gravesites chatting to a beloved who has died. Many mothers have  gone to children’s graves seeking peace.  However gone are the days when families picnicked in the grounds of cemeteries  Now most historic cemeteries lie quietly with barely a visitor these days. I love to visit with my picnic basket and a deck of Tarot cards to have a graveside chat. There is much to learn from those who are resting in these  fading spaces.

Annie (8 years) and Henry Clifton (6 years) were burnt to death at Spring Gully in 1827. The Totem of Bowls, Dolphin, The Swimmers appeared from the Medicine Woman Tarot deck. The message from these children reminds me that I am not only here to console but to give to others the tools with which they can lift themselves up.

There is an unlikely drawcard between the old gold cities of Ballarat and Bendigo and yet it would be all too easy to pass by and not notice it. The Sandon Cemetery is a must visit for the slow travelling cemetery explorer.

Each year hundreds of Catholic pilgrims pause here on their 90 kilometre walk between the cathedrals at Ballarat and Bendigo to rest their weary soles and too sing. I have passed the parade on the Creswick to Newstead road and wondered what it was all about. It was only recently that a Sandon local told me about the pilgrimage and how the pilgrims sing at the gravesites. This gives a whole new meaning to the Clarissa Pinkola Estes story about singing over bones.

Sandon Cemetery is a special place for the cemetery explorer. This place shares one of the regions great landscapes. When you stand amongst the weather beaten headstones you can look through white-trunked eucalyptus trees towards the rising Sandon basalt ridge. No wonder a community of Swiss-Italian migrants chose this part of Central Victoria as home.

I have visited regularly but it was only on my recent visit that I decided that rather than sing to the bones (no self respecting bones would enjoy the rasping sound from my vocal chords) I would talk to the bones and ask them to share a message about their life and how I should live.

The result is that I have a whole new hobby and interest, revisiting historic cemeteries to have graveside chats.

Posted in Online Tarot Treasures, Tarot Alchemy, Tarot for Myself, Tarot Play, Tarot Visualisation, Tarot with Others, The Tarot Midwife

Conversing With Tarot Cards

“The writer of any first person work must decide two obvious questions: what to put in and what to leave out.” — Annie Dillard

I found out about the Medicine Woman Tarot after watching a YouTube video by Cosmic Creeper

I have been a ‘gleaner’ online since 2000 and I have fond memories of early  blogs that quite literally shared things that could be found online. We tapped on one another’s doors and celebrated the brave new world we had discovered.

Over a ten year period I worked the Soul Food Cafe and created a vibrant communal space in the blogosphere where there was a free exchange of ideas. It has been said that I wove technology, community, and writing together long before blogging was a verb. At the time I was creating and managing this site  it was not all about turning a dollar and filling our pages with advertising. It was about more simple things like sharing ideas with a community of likeminded spirits, being inspired by others and having a readership for our work.

Life circumstances took me away from the world of Soul Food and online communities. When I finally emerged from the fog of compounding loss and grief I found a very different online landscape to the one I had been so familiar with. Having had my day as an ‘influencer’, long before that term came into everyday language, I am very happy to take a back seat now. I am not interested in writing the book everyone tells me I should write either. There are plenty of books out there about the craft of writing and I am not inclined to add to them either.

For now I am happy to forage, find treasure and share what I find.  Here are two recent finds in the  Tarot Community. They are about conversational Tarot Reading and having conversations with your Tarot Cards.

Fire of Transformation shares her Conversational Tarot Reading, a technique I also use when I am working with writers

Victor Pitisci has a video about how you can have conversations with your Tarot cards and bring out a personality to each of the cards not seen before.

 

 

Posted in Fiction Inspired Tarot, Tarot Alchemy, Tarot Play, Tarot Visualisation, Tarot with Others, The Tarot Midwife, Warming the Hand

Fiction Inspired by Tarot

For something so universally recognizable, most people know little about the tarot outside of its supposed ability, with the help of a skilled reader, to foretell the future. Tarot cards are very rich in symbolism and occult significance. With their mysterious illustrations and buried meanings so open to interpretation, it’s hardly surprising that a number of sci-fi and fantasy books have incorporated the Tarot into their world building. If anything, it’s surprising there aren’t more of them: staring into the Tarot is like staring into a ominous mirror-world.
Source: Barnes and Noble

A review of the Creative Tarot by Two Sides Tarot.

A cursory glance online reveals that figures in the literary world are recognising, what many of us know. Tarot can make a significant contribution to the craft of writing.

“The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life” by Jesse Crispin is a manual intended to show that the tarot deck, primarily regarded as belonging to the domain of the esoteric, can be useful for anyone engaged in creative pursuits.

Like Crispin, at the risk of being deemed a “weirdo mystic”, I am prepared to publicly come out of the spiritual closet and promote the benefits of turning to a deck of cards for inspiration for fiction and art. Aside from the fact that I have seen the benefit of using cards in writing classes, I am in esteemed company. Many respected writers have made use of the tarot: Yeats, Italo Calvino, Salvador Dali, and even Charles Williams, a novelist and theologian who belonged to the Inklings literary circle, have drawn on the cards for inspiration.

Given that many Tarot cards actually depicted imagery of Medieval Dramas that took place in Italy it is not surprising that the cards, which feature characters from those plays, offer a springboard for aspiring wordsmiths.  In a post entitled Tarot Fairy Stories I presented a case for using the Cosmic Tarot to help generate a fairy story set in a fantasy world. Needless to say there is a lot more that can be done.

When I found Tribu Arcane, a set of playing cards, in a second hand book shop I couldn’t help adding it to my collection. This deck features a different, traditional image on each card. 

In a writing session I laid out the suit of hearts and we spent time considering what story is being revealed. We discussed what ideas might be researched and to kick start discussion I suggested that we could write something about a vibrant dancing troupe who travel, presenting spontaneous performances under sprawling Marula Trees. It is always inspiring to hear other ideas that come forward from the group.

Pull out a deck and experiment! Feel free to share any ideas in the comment section!