I know it sounds weird. Humor me, I promise it’s worth it!
A Little Bit About Tarot
Tarot exists since the mid-15th century. Once solely used to play games, it eventually became the trademark of fortune tellers. Today, it exists in an array of variations from the widely spread Tarot de Marseilles to HR Giger inspired imagery. There really is a tarot for everyone.
Typically, a tarot is a deck of 78 cards made of 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. Some variations might have slightly less or more cards. Modern tarot-inspired decks, called Oracles, present a greatly diminished number of cards and, usually, simpler symbolism.
The Major Arcana present archetypes or “greater secrets”. It talks about the big forces of the universe and the faces of man. The Minor Arcana focus on more precise situations or “lesser secrets”. Their lessons apply to daily problems.
Here ends the nutshell explanation of what the tarot is.
To understand why I recommend having a tarot deck handy, we need to dig into the cards themselves. Fundamentally, each card represents a concept – or a philosophical message, if you prefer – we can easily relate to. Instead of perceiving them as the medium for truths from the great beyond, we can consider them as writing prompts. See where I’m going?
From a creativity standpoint, each card is a bite of context to expand upon. As such, it may spark a story like a random word from the dictionary. However, since tarot talks about people and life, it relates more directly to characters and plot.
Still with me? Let’s take this a step further.
You know how sometimes we are too close to a problem to solve it? The moment we step back and watch it from a different angle the solution jumps in our face. Tarot pushes us to do that AND think laterally.
Let’s say we’re in a plot knot and can’t make sense of anything. We take out the tarot and draw one, three, ten or whatever number of cards we feel like (there are several ways to read tarot cards but let’s not get into that).
The tarot cards hold the solution to your problem.
Yup, it sounds like a crazy statement. Keep humoring me for a bit.
We have our story problem seared in our brain. Then, we have the seemingly unrelated story told by the tarot cards. These are two trails of thought, two lanes in our mind. Mesh them. I don’t care how separate they seem. I swear we can mix them together. That is a forced lateral thinking process.
If we assume the tarot card are talking about our story, we force ourselves to view our plot knot with a new set of eyes. It distances us from the problem a bit and helps us find a solution.
Granted, it’s the point of view of an inanimate, arbitrary chosen object. But seriously, doesn’t that definition apply to any type of trigger?
Compared to browsing Google image, the tarot has the power to surprise us and, more importantly, the combination of cards tell endless, unforeseeable stories about life and people.
Nowadays, tarot comes with little instructions manual that details the meaning of each card. They’re rather cheap and, as I said before, come in a variety of imagery. Find one that speaks to you and give this quirky creativity tip a try.
I personally use my tarot deck to fight off writer’s block and to feed me when I hit a rough patch in a story. From plot twists to character personas, the cards inspired quite a few surprising things.