Tarot has so many uses from personal development, divination, and goal setting, but did you know that tarot can be used to generate ideas for creative projects and help to boost your creativity? In this blog, I will be discussing the ways I use tarot for creative projects including writing, creating character profiles and storyboards.
I have used tarot in various ways throughout the process of writing my fictional book series. The focus of the book series is centered on 3 main characters who are diviners so tarot and all forms of divination are a large theme of the books. The idea for the book actually came from my personal work with tarot. Working with the cards sparked my inspiration to delve into a fictional world of witches and diviners. The main character of my book, Alexandra, actually came into creation due to my fascination with the high priestess card from the Everyday Witch Tarot. Yes, from one card from one deck. It’s amazing where inspiration can spring up from. This was one of my earliest decks that I fell in love with. I wanted to live inside the world of this deck, especially that card. The high priestess card is my favorite in that deck, and I would keep that card out on my desk as I worked. One night as I was staring at the card, I saw the character unfold that I would later create the series around.
In many ways, this character is me because she lives in the current age and is a psychologist who discovers tarot for the first time in a mystical store in her town. The cards call out to her, and she is so captivated by them that she starts to learn tarot, and this opens up a whole new world for her. I won’t give the whole plot away, as I am still writing the series, but I will say that the journey she takes through the world of divination opens up past lifetimes with divination gifts and soul mate connections with others from those lives. And all of this came to be from looking through the artwork of one of my favorite decks. So, I would suggest buying multiple decks with artwork that really resonates with you. Then spend time really looking and sitting with the images on the cards. Then you can meditate and see what ideas come through for you.
Pathworking is a technique where you imagine yourself stepping into the card and exploring that world. This is basically what I was doing with the High Priestess card. I would turn on instrumental mystical music, turn off the lights and light a candle and stare at this card. Then I would step into her tarot room.
Here, in the High Priestess card in the Everyday Witch Tarot, she is sitting in a room surrounded by magical books and reading tarot cards on her table with runes cast next to the cards and her black cat watching on beside her crystal ball. Everything about this card is soothing and inviting to me. I imagine all of the wisdom she soaks up from the tomes she has stacked up behind her and the mystical secrets she unlocks from scrying in her crystal ball and casting her runes.
Flip through your favorite tarot deck and pull out the cards that really speak to you. You can meditate on them or journal about the figures in the card or the events that you see taking place in the card.
What questions would you ask these figures?
What would you want to know about them?
What stories could you write about these figures?
What characters do you see being born from the cards like the character I described creating earlier through this process?
About halfway through writing my series, I purchased the Dame Darcy Mermaid Deck. As I was flipping through this deck, I got the idea to throw a few spreads about the plotline of the books. I asked what events could take place in the later part of the book that I hadn’t thought of yet. I threw a basic 10 card celtic cross spread and got a few ideas on themes that I could further explore. Then using that same deck a few days later, I started pulling out cards that represented the personality of my main character, Alexandra. After pulling out the cards, I arranged them in a spread similar to the celtic cross, and I took photos of this character profile to use for inspiration for my writing process. See photo below.
I had pulled out cards that showed her personality such as the Queen of Pentacles and Queen of Wands, cards that showed her fears – the Devil card and the Fool card. Then I chose cards that represented themes she would encounter during her journey such as death, judgment, the high priestess and the tower. Putting together a visual character profile like this using tarot cards creates a sort of vision board that I can draw upon any time I need to channel the energy of this character. I use the photo of this spread to focus on her qualities and her faults, and I use it as a quick way to get inside her head as I am writing for her. This technique was so effective for me that I ended up creating character profiles for all 3 of my main characters to use to connect with each of these characters throughout my writing process. Tarot is so visual and emotionally evocative that the cards have a way of transporting you to another mindset almost instantaneously.
Since the cards were so effective in this manner, I went on to create these visual boards for the plot of my 3rd book in the series. This is the book that had the most action so it was helpful to plot out all the twists and turns using the tarot cards. (see photo below). For all of these techniques, I am not picking the cards randomly. I am actively choosing the cards that I use in these spreads. And I arrange them intuitively after all the cards have been selected. For all of these techniques, I ended up using the same tarot deck. For whatever reason, the Dame Darcy Mermaid Deck speaks the most to my creative side. It might be the water element that is prevalent in the deck or it might be the color palette that resonates with my creative mind. I reach for this deck when writing and so far it has been a huge success for me.
You can also use tarot cards as writing prompts. Many writers will randomly pull a card for the day and write a story about that card. You can do this to warm up for the day and set a timer and write whatever comes to mind when you pull the card. Allow yourself 5-10 minutes to create a story.
OR you can pull a card and write a scene for your writing project. You can also flip through your deck until you find a card that speaks to you for the day and write based on whatever creative hits you get off that card at the moment. I keep a tarot deck nearby whenever I am writing for this purpose. Also I take breaks from typing out scenes and shuffle the cards to give my mind a little break. And usually when I am shuffling, another idea comes to mind. Shuffling helps to relax me, and it helps to take these little breaks and be silent for a few minutes to allow ideas to percolate up to the surface. Try this simple trick. It really helps for generating ideas and creating a good working flow. Since my book series is centered on divination, I keep tarot and oracle decks around me along with runes and my pendulum to keep me in that mystical mindset and energy to help me connect fully to my subject matter.
Often I will turn over a few tarot cards that are related to my book as I write. I put them just to the side of my computer, where I can see them out of the corner of my eye. I will glance over every few minutes to stay connected to those images. For instance, I keep the High Priestess from the Everyday Witch Card sitting out to stay connected to Alexandra’s character, and often I have the 3 of cups beside her to represent her soul sisters she connects with and maybe the judgment card, as she is feeling called to get on her life path and fulfill her purpose and true calling in the story. Keeping all of that in mind helps to keep me working on moving that storyline along to the conclusion that I have already written for her. See, I wrote the ending of the series very early in the process, and I want to constantly remember where she is going to end up at the conclusion of the series. Using the tarot helps me keep that readily available in my mind.
Other famous writers use tarot for writing as well. Stephen King has talked about using tarot for prompts in interviews about his writing style. And John Steinbeck used tarot as well. I participated in National Writing Month (AKA nanowrimo) in November 2019, and there were several writing threads where writers were discussing using tarot for inspiration and creative jumping off points. It is a great tool to engage the right side of the brain and get those creative juices flowing and tap into your own inspiration whether you are writing poetry, a short story or even a novel. There is a book called Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner. She delves further into the use of using tarot for writing in her 2009 book.
You can use the cards for inspiration not only for characters but plot lines, plot twists and settings for events to take place. Look at your cards to see which cards present imagery that could be the setting of the location of your book or at least a scene or two for your story. For instance, look at the Dark Mansion tarot, one of my favorite decks, there are so many cards in that deck that feature a circus like atmosphere or a fun house type of fair or festival. What inspiration could you draw from images such as these? They transport you to a totally different world where fresh ideas can come to life. Sometimes we just need a shift in mindset or perspective to generate these new ideas, and using tarot cards can help you step into another time or place very easily.
You can do the same with your oracle decks. It doesn’t have to be tarot cards. The Work Your Light and Starseed Oracle depict very celestial, galatic settings that could spark ideas for sci fi stories. The Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot has very Atlantean vibes. Other decks that you can use for inspiration and character profiling would be decks that are based on archetypes. I have the Wild Unknown Archetypes deck and the Caroline Myss Archetype deck. When you are looking for character ideas just get these decks out and flip through the cards for new characters. In Caroline Myss’ deck you see the Rescuer, Warrior, Martyr, Visionary, Trickster, Pioneer, Addict, just to name a few out of this 80 card deck. In the guide book for this deck you are given the light attributes and the shadow attributes for each archetype giving you more ideas for characters across the spectrum of the archetype.
For the Wild Unknown Archetypes, you will encounter cards for the Orphan, the Crone, The Shadow, and The Hunter. This deck is great because it is a beautiful collage deck with colorful and evocative images to spark your imagination. The great part of this 78 card deck is that the artist, Kim Krans, has divided the deck into several parts, you have 30 cards she calls the selves, which are the archetypes and 19 cards that depict places such as the village, the cave, the forest. These places can be internal or external landscapes that hold special meaning for our journey and need to be explored fully.
There are 19 cards that offer tools such as the seed, the tear or the vision that can be used along our journey skillfully for success. And finally 7 cards called the initiations are similar to the major arcana in the tarot and represent events or situations in our life that have major significance for us. I can’t recommend this powerful and evocative deck enough. It has been so helpful to me on my journey of understanding myself and others in this vast world. I love pulling a card to delve into for the week. Working with archetypes can be enlightening and healing. This is another way that psychology and tarot overlap. The term archetype was coined by psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who studied under Freud. The archetypes are in the tarot in the major arcana and the court cards. And archetypes are present in all the stories we read and write so there is a wealth of material here for you to use as inspiration. These decks are valuable tools for any writer. You don’t have to have any knowledge of divination or card reading to work with decks like these. You can simply flip through the cards and their guidebooks to spark new ideas.
These are some of the most affordable writing tools I can suggest. As a writer I look for inspiration everywhere. It can be from what I am reading, watching, or listening to. It can be from the cards I pull or from the artwork I encounter. Inspiration is literally all around us every second of the day. Make sure you are paying attention to all the potential ideas that surround you.
One deck that has changed my creative process is the Sacred Creators Oracle deck from Chris Anne Donnelly. She is also the creator of my soul deck, the Light Seers Tarot. In the SCO she caters specifically to creators of all kinds, artists, writers, spiritual business owners, and anyone with a vision. This deck speaks to my inner creative. The messages from the deck coupled with the breathtaking color palette sparks my inner creative flame.
The card fearless expression was the card I used to manifest this podcast. Because that is another way to use these decks. You can use the cards as part of a vision board to bring your intentions into manifestation. I pull cards and then hang them up on my card displays for the month, and I focus on those images and the intentions I am trying to manifest for the month. I see these cards daily, and it helps me connect to that creation I am trying to bring to life.
This process keeps those desires and wishes you have in the forefront of your mind. This will start to align you with the vibrations of that which you are attracting, and you will soon be at the same vibration of what you visualized. This is using the law of attraction concept. I highly recommend watching the movie the Secret for more details on the LOA. It is on Netflix.
You can also use tarot and oracle spreads to ask about the root of your creative blocks, if you find yourself stuck in a rut. Much of the time we are not able to pinpoint what the issue is that is causing our creative flow to be restricted. But using the cards can help guide you to the answer so you can get back on track much easier than you would if you had to stumble around in the dark.
Tarot and oracle can also be inspirations for artists. My sister is an artist, and I have suggested to her that using the tarot or oracle cards could be an effective way to stir up inspirations for the day for a painting or a sketch. Pulling a 3 card spread from a deck that you are drawn to artistically could help spark an idea for a new artistic creation. Maybe the color palette, use of light or emotional image speaks to you. We are often inspired by surrounding ourselves with objects that we love and that reflect the feeling we want to experience daily. Podcasters could use the cards for the same process. I get many of my podcast ideas from my personal work with the cards. I keep a notepad on my desk by my decks so that I can write down all the ideas that flow when I am working with my cards. I may create a new spread or technique of working with the cards and because I created this podcast to teach others how to read and use the cards, this is something that would be of interest to my listeners so I jot down ideas as I am pulling cards.
You can create a spread around just one tarot card. I usually create a spread for my tarot card of the year so I can work more closely with that card throughout the year. I did this for a family member who had the hanged man card for their year card. To do this find your favorite version of the card in whatever deck resonates with you and then sit with the card. Consider what themes the card represents, what life lessons are demonstrated in the card’s meaning, what importance does the card have for the Fool’s journey. All of this can help you create each of your card position questions. When I created this Hanged Man spread I included questions such as What is in suspension? What needs a new perspective and advice on how to change that view?
I use my chakra reading cards to inspire my creativity through the use of color and identifying which chakras to balance and work with for that project. This helps me choose which crystals to use as well. When writing, I often use the sacral chakra with my carnelian crystal. When podcasting, I use the throat chakra, the color blue and blue agate. When reading tarot or creating tarot spreads, I might work with the crown chakra and clear quartz and selenite or the third eye chakra with my lemurian crystal.
I used the Lightworkers oracle and light seers tarot (shown above) as inspiration for my lightworker spread to help lightworkers identify their lightworker purpose and how to align with that path. I even create spreads for new decks I buy that inspire me. I love the Magick and Mediums oracle deck (shown below) so much I created a magical gifts spread after being inspired by the energy of the cards and artwork.
I want to share the custom tarot spread I created on this topic called The Healing Thru Tarot Creative Inspiration Spread. I hope this spread and the content in this episode helps you to start to use tarot in creative ways so that you can find inspiration for your next creation. If you throw this spread for yourself, I would love to see the photos. Tag me in your post on instagram. I’m @healingthrutarot on instagram and use the hashtag #healingthrutarotcreativeinspirationspread so I can see all your creative spreads.
Books and Decks shown in this blog or recommended are below: click on title to go to the product. Some of these are amazon affiliate links and it helps me out if you use these links. Thanks for your support.
Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner
Decks shown in this post: Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot, Everyday Witch Tarot, Magick and Mediums Oracle, Work Your Light Oracle, Sacred Creator's Oracle, Wild Unknown Archetypes, Caroline Myss Archetype Deck, Light Seers Tarot, Dark Mansion Tarot, Earthly Souls and Spirits Oracle
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