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 Appointment to Write, Aussie Tarot Majors, Creating Narratives, Fiction Inspired Tarot, Getting to Know Tarot, Memoir With Tarot, Talking Tarot, Tarot Alchemy, Tarot for Myself

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

Posted in Appointment to Write, Deck Reviews, Getting to Know Tarot, Tarot Play, Tarot Tiny Tea, The Tarot Midwife, Warming the Hand

Getting to Know You

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed me on Instagram that I do not profess to be a Tarot reader. I certainly do not claim to be familiar with the meanings of all the cards. My primary interest has been exploring the potential of these mini galleries of art to inspire the creative arts and support healing.

I began the process by listening to Julie Andrews sing Getting to Know You as I shuffled the Everyday Witch cards. It was the Six of Pentacles, a card all about giving and receiving that emerged. So clearly the Witch depicted in this card is prepared to help even the playing field and share some of her knowledge with me; teach me about the world of Tarot.

So when I was told by an experienced Tarot reader that she wished that the Everyday Witch had been available when she was learning 20 years ago, that she strongly recommends this deck to beginners I figured it was time to go beyond the interview process and actually get to know this deck, get to know Tarot better. Of course I have made resolutions like this before but I am not going to beat myself up because I am aware that PTSD issues and the nature of technology have impacted on my capacity to focus.

For now it is my intention to set up some Tiny Tea each day and work with some cards. I am hoping to study the Everyday Witch in detail and draw comparisons with cards in other decks that I have in my collection.

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, Creating Narratives, Fiction Inspired Tarot, Tarot for Myself, Tarot Memoirs, Tarot Play, The Tarot Midwife, Warming the Hand

Everything Has A Story

Like Sleeping Beauty I am waking up – woken by the voices of all the things I have never thought to stop and listen to, that are eager for me to tell their story. As I listen I have some Tarot Cards with me because they help ‘translate’ the message from an item like a traffic sign or the windmill that has stood out in the weather for decades
The Tarot Midwife November 9 2020

My loyal companion, Archie, a Finnish Lappie, and I headed out to the Muckleford Railway Station armed with a copy of the Little Red Engine. We had been there the day before and decided that we would go back and read this story to the carriages that are lined up on the side tracks.

We found a place to sit and began reading this delightful old children’s book, that once belonged to my children, to the old railway carriages. We didn’t get right through the story because we were both suddenly aware that these so called inanimate carriages and Aunty Jack, the old engine that pulled them on long hauls, were getting quite emotional.

To check what had upset everyone I pulled a card from the Tarot of the Sweet Twilight and out popped the Three of Swords.

It all became very obvious. These loyal, hardworking, heavy duty carriages were devastated to have found themselves abandoned on side tracks here, while Betsy, a light weight steam train blew its whistle and gloated as it skipped past, filled with passengers, city slickers, enjoying a journey down memory lane.

When things calmed they said that they did appreciate hearing the story and that if I would come back they would tell me of some of the places they passed when they were carrying goods and animals back in the day when the railway was the main means of transport.

Aunty Jack the old engine who pulled huge loads through Central Victoria.

Aunty Jack, the Empress, the powerful engine who pulled these carriages for years, brightened at the prospect of having someone listen. I told her about my Great Grandfather who worked as an engineer and oversaw the laying of rails in the 1860’s and she was delighted to hear about his foresight and passion for rails. She suggested that when I come back I tell her more about his days building the railway that bought such change to colony.

Footnote: A delightful mechanic/engineer, who I sat enjoying a cup of coffee with at Dig in nearby Newstead, told me that railway men always give engines female names. He said that in his younger days the really strong ones, with a ton of personality, were invariably known as Aunty Jack. It was he who shared that some were known as Betsy and Val. I decided that the old Steam Train that travels between Castlemaine and Maldon, through the Muckleford Station, is known here as Betsy.

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, Deck Reviews, Tarot Alchemy, Tarot Play, The Tarot Midwife, Warming the Hand

Tarot Fairy Stories

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

Cosmic Tarot
Image Source: Astrology Angel Medium

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).

Perhaps you are interested in acquiring this deck. To learn more about the Cosmic Tarot visit Learning the Cosmic Tarot. This site is very comprehensive and is especially good if you pick up a second hand deck without the LWB (Little White Book). The Zen Witch has recently put out a great video where she flips through and provides a comprehensive review of the deck. Astrology Angel Medium also provides a good review.

Posted in Appointment to Write, Conceptual Blending, The Tarot Midwife

Some Right Royal Mischief

Alison and I have had a regular appointment. We meet at a local coffee shop to touch base and talk about our creative projects. Alison is about to begin a Masters of Dance. It will be a big year for her as she explores how to weave material she has gathered about an ancestor into her work. Today, after we had chatted for awhile, we slung some Royal Mischief Playing Cards. The macabre nature of this deck, a deck that seemed to insist I take it out today, really resonated for Alison as she explores a divergent pathway.

Alison’s ancestor was a missionary in the 1800’s who was killed and eaten by cannibals in Fiji. We went through Patrick Valenza’s Royal Mischief Playing Cards which are like an oracle deck and she found many resonated. These particular cards help to draw out material to tell the story of the chief who made the call to have her ancestor killed and the subsequent events which culminated in the villagers feeling they had been cursed by having eaten a ‘holy man’.

Posted in Appointment to Write, Conceptual Blending, Tarot Alchemy, Tarot Play, The Tarot Midwife

An Appointment to Write

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

When I make an appointment to write in a local cafe I always have a deck of cards with me. The deck used here is the Morgan Tarot which is actually more like an Oracle deck than a tarot deck. It is eclectic and humorous and reads really well.