This blog goes along with podcast Ep. 47 of Healing Thru Tarot: Tarot for Writing and Prepping for Nanowrimo + Excerpts from The Divining Sisters Book 3. In this blog, I’ll discuss how to use tarot for the writing process and I’ll share 2 spreads - one to help with preparing for a writing project Iike national novel writing month and another for story development. These spreads will help get you unstuck if you are suffering from writer’s block or if you need to dig deeper into your story plot. And I’ll also share an excerpt from my latest novel – book 3 in The Divining Sisters Series – The Threads of Fate.
Nanowrimo, which is national novel writing month, occurs every November when authors and first-time authors attempt to write a novel in just 30 days. The goal is to write 50,000 words in that time period which comes out to 1,667 words a day if you plan to write all 30 days of the month. This will be my 5th year to participate. I’ve won 4 times in a row since I started in Autumn 2019, and I credit my use of tarot in my writing process for my success.
Now, I’m releasing my 3rd book – all of which were nanowrimo projects, so this method can absolutely be successful if you’re open to tools like the tarot to help with sparking inspiration, fleshing out character profiles, battling writer’s block, and deepening your story development.
In Ep. 7 of Healing Thru Tarot I covered Tarot for creative projects like writing and in that episode, I talked about how you can use your favorite tarot deck to spark ideas by just flipping through the cards to see what ideas jump out at you from the artwork on the cards. Make sure to listen to Ep. 7 to hear all the ways I use my various decks for sparking all kinds of creative inspiration.
Tarot not only helps me with organizing my thoughts when writing, it was the main inspiration for my fictional divination book series, The Divining Sisters. I was blessed to find tarot a year and a half before I began writing my first book. The cards sparked a creativity in me that I’d never experienced before, and soon after learning how to read the cards, this mystical story started to unfold. I felt the call to tell the story of my spiritual awakening and discovery of the tarot in a fictional format. Before long, I was writing feverishly to get it all on the page. The story was unfolding at such a rapid rate that it was hard for me to keep up and that’s still the case. Currently, I’ve got about 8 books planned in this series – 4 books in the main series and about 4 prequels that will delve into the past incarnations of my main characters.
Luckily, the tarot is such a versatile tool that it helps me organize my thoughts so I can keep the twists and turns of this complex story straight. I see the story through the lens of the tarot so certain characters, plots, and scenes are represented by different tarot cards. And each of my characters are represented by the cards based on their personality characteristics. Alexandra Steele (my main character) is the Queen of Pentacles just like me since she’s a Capricorn and a practical, grounded, analytical counselor, but her fiercest incarnation, Alexus, is the Queen of Wands due to her fiery, defiant, witchy nature. I pull out the tarot cards that represent my characters as I write to help me tap into their energy and embody their essence so those scenes come alive for my readers.
I’ll often pull a Celtic Cross spread ahead of a writing session to see which scene wants to be written that day. And I may even pull a Celtic Cross on a particular character to see what’s going on for them at the moment, which helps orient me to the story that character wants to tell for that writing session. In Ep. 4 I detail the positions of each of the cards in a Celtic Cross if you are interested in that spread.
If it helps you to track your story, I’d suggest writing a set of flashcards for each scene that you have mapped out and then assign a tarot card to each flashcard. That way you can lay them out in order to see the progression of your story. It’s like a story board but with tarot cards. When making these visual tarot story boards I’m actively choosing the cards that I use to build my story. So, this is different from the Celtic cross spreads I talked about pulling earlier. Both techniques are effective for the writing process, but they serve different purposes.
Along the same lines as a visual storyboard, I also put together a Spotify playlist for each book that includes songs that tell the story through music representing my characters, the storyline for that book, and the overall energy and themes of the story. Music is extremely powerful. I suggest curating a playlist to listen to as you write and then share that with your readers after releasing the book.
The tarot provides a wealth of valuable information when developing characters. There are 78 cards in the deck, which span all phases of life including major life milestones and life lessons in the 22 major arcana cards to the mundane, everyday tasks in the 56 minor arcana cards. Within the minor arcana there are 16 court cards which can easily represent personality characteristics that you can assign to your characters. Each suit has 4 court cards - a page, knight, queen, and king. The tarot has such a wide range of life experiences and archetypes that they can be arranged to tell endless stories.
If you want to learn more about the court cards as types of people, the best book I’ve found is Your Tarot Court by Ethony Dawn. She helps you master the court cards, and she even provides references to pop culture for the cards such as Sheldon Cooper, Spock, and Bruce Banner as the King of Swords, Sherlock Holmes as the Page of Swords, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman as the Queen of Pentacles, Ebenezer Scrooge as the King of Pentacles, and Peter Pan as the Page of Wands. This helps tremendously when trying to keep all the personalities straight in the 16 court cards, but this is also a great strategy when developing characters for your story.
She also devotes an 80-page chapter to the archetypes in the tarot. Understanding the archetypes in the cards, such as the Queen of Cups and High Priestess as the Mystic, the Page of Cups as the Empath, and the Queen of Swords as the Judge helps you to add depth to your characters. Ethony helps with that by offering keywords, identifiers, shadow characteristics, strengths, and astrological associations for each archetype paired with the 16 court cards. If you’re serious about using tarot for writing, pick this book up. Your Tarot Court has helped me identify all my characters within the spectrum of the tarot, and it makes me more confident when writing their aspirations, internal conflicts, motivations, and fears. Flip through this book and I guarantee that you’ll be flooded with ideas for your main characters and even side characters.
You can find similar inspiration with Carolyn Myss’ archetype cards and my favorite archetype deck, The Wild Unknown Archetypes (both shown above).The more you understand archetypes, the better your character development will be. And follow my archetype podcast series where I explore the healer, mystic, witch, dreamer, and wild woman archetypes through the tarot in past Healing Thru Tarot episodes.
If you’re suffering from writer’s block, shuffle the cards and pull one as a prompt to start writing for the day. Study the card and any characters in the image. Build a scene around the ideas that the card sparks for you. This is a very effective technique for me. The tarot never fails to bust me out of a rut. Or shuffle the cards and select a card for the following questions what to focus on today, what to explore, and what new angle to use to approach today’s scene? These questions will help you get the wheels turning.
You could also just pick up a deck and look through the cards. As I flip through the cards in a deck, I get ideas for new characters all the time. It’s like the characters are using the cards to get my attention so that I’ll tell their stories.
And if you’re in a major rut, create a custom spread. If I’m ever stuck, I write down a list of questions I need answers to. Then I build a spread out of those questions. Spreads allow the cards to show you the solution to the current problem that has you stumped. There’s really no limit to what you can do with a tarot deck. Use your creativity to find new ways to apply the tarot to your writing practice. All my techniques came to me naturally as I experimented with the tarot cards over the past few years. The cards will guide you. Just let them lead you.
October is fast approaching, and October is notorious for nanowrimo prep so we don’t go into national novel writing month empty handed or ill prepared. We call October “Preptober” because preparing ahead of time vastly increases your chances of success. If you want to participate in nano sign up at nanowrimo.org – come and join the fun. For this episode, I’m sharing 2 tarot spreads to help you with your writing process if you’re planning on joining in for nano this year, or maybe you’re writing on your own timeline. You don’t have to participate in nano to benefit from these spreads. Either way, these spreads will help you organize your thoughts, identify plot holes, and navigate writer’s block.
Let’s start with the nanowrimo prep spread, since this spread helps us identify what to focus on as we prepare to launch into our story telling. This spread also helps us determine how to stay focused on goals, deal with burnout since nano can be intense, and helps us reconnect with our muse and the reason we write in the first place. Tarot always helps me reconnect with the heart of my story and the reason why it’s important to share it with the world. With that said, I’ll share with you the 9 card spread I created to help us with Preptober or whatever prep stage you find yourself in for any major writing projects you’re working on.
If you throw this spread for yourself, I'd love to see the photo of your spreads. Please tag me on Instagram @healingthrutarot and please use #healingthrutarotnanowrimoprepspread
When I last threw this spread for myself, the cards showed me that I needed to focus on the past of my characters, explore their passions and dreams as well as their emotional ties to stay plugged into my creative flow. The things in my life that ground me and knock me out of my creative flow cause me to lose momentum – you know like my day job and daily chores. Instead, I need to stay in my imagination for longer periods of time in order to stay in the flow of my story. My critical thoughts about my writing style and delays caused by others often derail me. But I can find inspiration along the way by tapping into my mystical and intuitive side with the Queen of Cups, which this magical story definitely requires.
When I need to recharge at the halfway point, the 2 of Wands tells me to go back to the drawing board and make sure I’m hitting all my highlights I want to cover but also I need to plug back into why I craft stories in the first place, which is the 10 of Cups - to bring about joy, fulfillment, and healing. This spread always helps me zero in on how to stay in the flow when writing, which is so important. See what this spread urges you to do to reach your writing goals.
So, we’ve covered the spread that helps you prepare for your writing project, now let’s talk about the spread I created to help with developing the plot for our stories. This spread will help us dig into our story to find any plot holes, any areas where we need to flesh out the details to paint a more vivid picture for our readers, and any back stories that need to be written to help our readers connect more with our characters and the story we’re crafting. I find this spread helpful after I’ve been writing on my story for awhile because it helps me see what needs more work and attention from me.
If you throw this spread for yourself, I'd love to see the photo of your spreads. Please tag me on Instagram @healingthrutarot and use #healingthrutarotstorydevelopmentspread
About a year ago, I threw this Story Development Spread to help me with my story (shown above using The Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot). I’ll walk you through my pull so you’ll see how helpful this spread can be in the writing process. I pulled the Queen of Wands for why my story matters, and I was so happy to see this come up. The Queen of Wands is the witch in the tarot. See my book series, The Divining Sisters Series is a powerful story of witches, healers and diviners who reincarnate lifetime after lifetime to reunite with their coven so they can fulfill a mission of keeping their craft of divination, healing, and magic alive for future generations. It’s an uplifting and empowering tale that I hope inspires others to step fully into personal power and unique gifts. It’s quite special.
For what makes my story unique, the King of Pentacles showed me that I’m not only telling a story for entertainment, I’m teaching practical life lessons about loss, fears, and trauma while also teaching my readers about healing, persevering, leaning into their intuition, and learning to look for the signs that the universe is providing whether that be through the cards or just repeated numbers and messages. I wanted to write something that would inspire future diviners and teach divination and healing along the way so that this story stays with readers for life.
The King of Swords showed me that my story weak points during my writing process are the emotional threads. I already knew this about my writing style. I tend to put the plot outline down first and get the story set before I go back in during the latter stages and build in the emotion to tug at the heart strings. And lastly, I sprinkle the magic on the page for that final touch. It’s my magic sauce for the end of the writing process, and it always sparkles in the end.
The Devil reversed showed that the plot line needing further exploration was how each of my main characters would free themselves from the fears that had been restraining them throughout the entire story. I’m still working all that through as I write their journey. I pulled the 10 of Pentacles for the perspective I haven’t considered yet. Since this is the generational card, I saw this as pointing to the family tree of all the main characters that hadn’t been solidified yet. That came together as the story unfolded over the past year. It’s quite complex because each character has past incarnations where they’re all connected.
The King of Wands pointed to the part of the story needing more details, which was the vision for the story’s end and the characters’ end goals. I needed to see past book 3 which I was writing at the time to see where they would end up. You have to know generally where you’re headed to help you land the plane so to speak. The 5 of Pentacles showed me that the backstory that needed to be told pertained to 2 characters that were isolated and left out in the cold. This led to a larger romance eventually in the story with glimpses of a past-life as lovers, which added more depth and passion to the story.
For the prompt - What is the most difficult aspect of the story to tell, I got the Queen of Pentacles reversed. My main character, Alexandra Steele, is the Queen of Pentacles, just like me. Her darker life moments and weaknesses are the hardest for me to write because I’m so close to the character as she’s based on myself. That means I can’t be as objective with her. I think it makes for a better story in the end because it’s raw and authentic, but it can be difficult while writing her story. And lastly, I pulled the Page of Swords for how to address those challenging aspects? Basically, this says to get curious, ask lots of questions, and see the character from a new perspective. So, essentially, I need to get out of my own head for a bit to see Alexandra in a new light.
Hopefully, that walk through of my throw of this spread helps you see how using the tarot and these particular spreads can help you deepen your story and identify what areas need more work. Give it a try and see how your writing evolves as a result.
Book 3 in my fictional divination book series, The Divining Sisters Series, is releasing this week on Sept. 26th. And I’m so excited to share this new installment of the series with you. Book 3 is titled The Threads of Fate. First, let me catch you up if you aren’t familiar with my series yet. In The Call of the Cards, which was book 1 of the series, we start the series by meeting the main character, Dr. Alexandra Steele. She’s a middle-aged clinical psychologist in Memphis TN and we see her discover tarot for the first time in a mystical store in downtown Memphis. She’s instantly captivated by the cards, and they soon enter her dreams unlocking memories of numerous past lifetimes with divination. In this series, her past lives are shown through her vivid dream life, and we see how past-life fears and traumas keep her hiding in the shadows and playing small in this life.
Reconnecting with the cards sparks a spiritual awakening which changes her life and leads her to past coven sisters who help her work through the lingering fears of persecution that have traveled across lifetimes with her as she’s been hunted and persecuted witchcraft and her work with the cards. The series focuses on reconnecting with past-life gifts, sisterhood, empowerment through facing fears, & learning to step out of the shadows, which for Alexandra occurs through her work with the tarot.
Early on in the series, she reconnects with a soul sister, Isobel Frey, who has been a biological sister in many previous lifetimes, and in book 2, We Divine Three, we see them searching for their other sister who they believe has reincarnated at this time. If you’d like to hear more about book 1, I have a bonus episode of Healing Thru Tarot from June 29, 2022 where I read excerpts and a full chapter from book 1. And Ep. 42 from February 2023 where I do the same for book 2 when it released.
I’m incredibly proud of this magical and mystical series because it’s not just an entertaining story. It’s also a healing, soul stirring, and empowering book series that focuses on spiritual awakenings, exploration of gifts, and healing the witch wound that many of us are here to heal in this lifetime. It’s a catalyst for healing that could lead to significant personal growth and transformation. I see it as a mix of A Discovery of Witches, Charmed, Witches of East End, and Practical Magic. So, if you love those books and shows, then you’ll probably like my books as well. Readers are calling it Harry Potter for adults.
Now, that you are caught up, I want to share the blurb for book 3 to give you a taste of the storyline.
As always, there’s tons of divination in this one – we have tarot, Lenormand, oracle, pendulums, scrying, remote viewing, palmistry, astrology, animal spirit guides, and spell work. In this book, we learn even more about their past lives and how it all relates to the unfolding story in the present day. My favorite scenes to write in this series are the flashbacks to their past incarnations. I can’t wait to write the prequels that delve into these witch lives even further.
Now, I want to share with you a scene from book 3: The Threads of Fate. I chose this scene because it’s a flashback to one of Alexandra’s strongest and fiercest witch incarnations, Alexus. We’ve seen flashbacks to this life throughout all the books. This is a pivotal scene where we learn of Alexus’ fate, although I’m only going to read a small part of this scene to avoid spoiling anything major here. To set this scene up, this is a dream Alexandra has toward the very end of book 3 where she learns more about Alexus’ fate. This is hugely important to Alex’s journey as she is remembering her past lives, her intuitive gifts, and how all the people in her life are connecting across lifetimes. We will jump right into Alex’s dream here.
Alexus cast her beloved cards into the fire and watched them burn. She clutched the Queen of Fire, reluctant to add her to the flames with the rest, but he was closing in on her. She had to act now.
She closed her eyes and tossed the fiery queen into the flames. She’d rather destroy them than have him use them against her.
Tears stung her cheeks as the cards started to disintegrate. She had painstakingly crafted each one by hand in front of the fire after their coven meetings. They had whispered their wisdom to her over the years when she’d sought their counsel, and they had predicted this exact moment.
She steadied herself, sensing him barreling toward her with each step he took on his pursuit. This was the moment she’d seen so many nights in her dreams. No matter how hard she’d fought to avoid this fate, it was upon her.
She stared into the blazing fire, not giving him the satisfaction of looking in his direction as he charged through the door and flung her to the ground. His thick, muddy boot pinned her to the floor. He shifted his boot to the crook of her neck, pressing all his weight on top of her.
The blunt force of his attack had knocked the breath out of her, but she didn’t dare show any distress. She stared directly into the flames, drinking up the heat. He wouldn’t break her; that much she had promised herself, but he would try his damnedest.
She had slipped into his dreams more times than she could recall. They were all the same. He thirsted for the revenge he’d been denied centuries ago, and he was hellbent on making her suffer. The more excruciating, the better to him.
He had envisioned torturing her in a myriad of ways as she witnessed her own death over and over again in the dream world. But she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of showing any fear — come what may. And no amount of pressure could force her to give up her sisters. She would buy Isadora enough time to get back to Hester so they could flee together. She owed them that much.
The witch hunter pressed her face into the floor while his fellow hunters ransacked the small cottage. They were looking for evidence of witchcraft, but they would find nothing.
She glanced back at the fire. The cards were now a pile of ash. She smirked knowing they were out of his reach.
There was nothing left here to satisfy his search. She’d sent everything with Isadora that would need preserving, and she’d destroyed the rest herself. Isadora carried all their spell books, diaries, and divinatory tools. It all belonged to her now.
She would take Alexus’ place as the high priestess of the coven and would be responsible for passing their rituals down to the new initiates. Their legacy would live on if she could stall the witch hunters long enough.
Even though there was no evidence to justify charges against her, Alexus knew she would not live to see the sunrise.
“Look at me, WITCH!” he bellowed.
Alexus remained motionless. She hadn’t struggled when he’d thrown her to the ground. Her disinterest was infuriating him. He was such an easy read for her. He was hoping she would squirm and beg for mercy, but that wasn’t her nature. The more he pressed her, the greater the storm within raged. Her entire life she had tried to contain her fury over the injustices they’d faced lifetime after lifetime, and here he was within her grasp. It could all end now. Tonight, he was going to regret waking the witch.
She smirked again, frustrating him more.
“Where are your tools? We know you and your sisters have been consorting with the devil in the woods.”
She held her tongue despite the gnawing urge to refute these lies. They had done nothing of the sort. He was stretching the truth. All they had were reports from paranoid villagers who wanted nothing more than to run them out of town. It was the same old story as it’d always been. Not much had changed in the past few centuries. Would it ever?
“Confess or hang for your crimes.”
Another trap. She held firm; she knew how this would end.
“Profess your guilt, or we’ll hunt down your sisters, and the three of you will hang by morning. Unless you think they can outrun the dogs,” he snarled.
He removed his foot from her neck and knelt in front of her, staring directly into her eyes as she gasped for air.
His eyes were the same deep, black eyes that she’d stared into during her last moments all those lifetimes ago as Adriana when as the emperor he’d cursed her and sworn to seek revenge. She'd always known he would catch up to her eventually.
A few hours before, she’d pulled a spread for a glimpse of their inevitable reunion. She hadn’t been surprised to see the tyrant card next to the hunter card. The final card pull had represented endings or death, which she’d clarified with the card for sacrifice.
The message was clear. Her fate had finally caught up to her after all this time.
I hate to cut this scene off here just when it’s getting good, BUT this flashback scene contains a huge spoiler that I’ve waited 3 books to reveal. The exact details of Alexus’ fate have never been revealed. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the whole series. You’ll have to get the books to find out why Alexus’ story is so compelling and empowering. Now that I’ve shared with you a scene from book 3, I hope you’ll go out and buy it to experience this magical story for yourself. And if you haven’t read book 1, start your magical journey with the divining sisters now. You’ll have 3 books to catch up with.
You can find the ebook and paperback of The Call of the Cards, We Divine Three, and The Threads of Fate on Amazon. And the eBooks are also on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, Scribd, Smash words, and more. The Ebook is $4.99 and the paperback is $14.99.
Readers are raving about the series like these 5 star amazon reviews of The Call of the Cards and We Divine Three:
"Absolutely Unique! Resonated so much!"
"Life-changing. I felt seen. I don't think I've had this experience with any other book."
“The metaphysical series I've been waiting for! I was hooked from the beginning and even found myself slowing down because I want it to last. The characters are so relatable and genuine, and the explanations of tarot readings and past life stories is spot on! I'm eagerly awaiting the next ones. Please please, Heather, keep writing.”
If you get a copy, please leave a book review on whatever platform you buy it on if you enjoy it. That really helps me out and can help get my book in front of more readers. And if you love it please also review it on goodreads.
I have a dedicated website for my books at author.heatherhardison.com - that’s where I post updates on book releases, video book trailers, book blurbs and quotes, book covers, links to purchase, and fun things like my Spotify playlists for each book. I carefully curate those to express the energy of each book.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see updates on the book releases there. I have 2 instagram accounts
My tarot and podcast account - healingthrutarot
My author account heatherhardisonauthor
Links for all the decks and books discussed in this episode are located at the end of this blog.
I created prompts for each of the 31 days in October and linked them to themes of Autumn and Halloween/Samhain to make it festive but also introspective for this magical time of year! Tarot and/or oracle cards can be used for daily pulls using these prompts. This is going to be a fun one! Follow the challenge on Instagram using #httoctobertarotchallenge2023 and feel free to tag me in your card pulls @healingthrutarot We start on October 1st. Feel free to join in on the challenge and tag friends to have them join in with us!
And it’s that time of year when we need to order another tarot journal. It's out now! I always order a new Writual Tarot Planner around this time. If you want one before the new year, remember you can use my writual discount code at checkout. Use my Writual ambassador link here along with my discount code HEALING (all caps), which gets you 15% off your Writual purchases when you use that affiliate link and code.
Writual has tarot stamps and stickers, dated and undated tarot journals and planners, including one for kids, tarot decks and tarot-themed mugs, candles, and jewelry so check them out using my link!
Writing requires quite a bit of concentration. There’s so much to keep track of while crafting a new story. While I’m writing one book, I’m constantly jumping around and writing parts for the prequels that delve into my characters’ past incarnations and then I jump forward and write scenes for books to come later in the series. Luckily, I’ve found a little magical elixir that helps me stay focused as I shift between all these story lines. Magic Mind is my coffee replacement that keeps my mind organized so I can remember all the details of my story and all the nuances of my characters. This 2-ounce elixir is easier on my stomach than coffee and doesn’t leave me with jitters. I sip on it right before my writing sessions and I get in a good 7 hours of productive work thanks to the natural ingredients like the nootropics and adaptogens that not only help me stay focused but also relaxed as I write through the evening.
If you’d like to try this elixir for yourself go to magicmind.co/htt
You can use my code at checkout: HTT (that’s all caps) to get 20% off your first one-time purchase. If you’re a writer like me crafting stories through the night or just someone looking for enhanced productivity as you work, give Magic Mind a try.
Books and Decks shown in this blog or recommended: The Call of the Cards, We Divine Three, The Threads of Fate, Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot, Caroline Myss Archetype Cards, The Light Seers Tarot, Rider Waite Smith Tarot, The Wild Unknown Archetypes, Way Home Tarot, Your Tarot Court, Nanowrimo.org
Link to Podcast Episode 47 click here
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