Storytelling with the Tarot

Thoth EmpressOn Wednesday, May 25th, to celebrate World Tarot Day, I led a workshop entitled ‘Demystifying the Tarot’ at a natural food store in Erin called Treehaven.  The small turnout caused a ‘rethink’ of the structure of this workshop. So, three Tarot peeps… me, a woman who had been part of our bi-monthly Tarot study group and another who I had met through the Guelph Occult Meetup group proceeded to spend 2 hours just talking Tarot. I must say, despite my initial disappointment at the turn out, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

We began by simply talking, about our favourite decks, cards we see often in our Tarot work, our past experience with the Tarot and how we work with it. The three of us asked each other questions. We moved to an unstructured comparative look at cards from different decks, looking at the differing symbols and meanings in front of us.

We then moved to a storytelling activity. I can’t give direct credit as to where I got the idea from but I won’t claim it as my own. I know Rachel Pollack does a significant amount of story-based work in the Tarot. Maybe I read it in one of her works. I was also inspired by the teacher-librarian at my school who had shared a storytelling deck with me that she was using in one of our classrooms.  Regardless, I’m sure it’s an adaptation of someone else’s idea.

To prepare for this workshop, I had previously divided the decks I brought into 3 sections: the pips, the courts and the majors.  I suggested we use these 3 piles to tell a story. We selected the Thoth deck and randomly drew our cast of characters from the courts, our theme from the majors and began developing a plot with the pips. It was a great process. At first, we laughed a little at a suggestion that the story might become risqué. We then began the process. The deck shared our sense of humour and offered up the Empress, home of abundance, fertility, and sensuality,  as our theme.

Thoth Queen of CupsWe continued the exercise by drawing the Queen of Cups as our protagonist (a supportive, but at times overemotional and menopausal mother), the Queen of Swords as a secondary character (her sharp-tongued adult daughter – although, upon reflection, maybe her equally sharp-tongued neighbour would have better suited the Queen but, for our purposes, the daughter worked fine) and then began constructing our story. Our starting plot points were the 6 of disks (success) and the 2 of swords (peace).  I believe, had our time not expired, we would have created quite the story; we appeared to be in fine form 🙂

Try the activity. Divide your deck into three sections (pips, courts, majors). Shuffle them well. Begin by drawing a card from each. Remember that your major card will remain the overarching theme of your story. Draw just one. You drew ‘The Fool’? Your story could develop into an adventure story. ‘The Chariot’? A fast-paced story a la ‘Fast and the Furious’.  ‘The Moon’? Could be a little twisted and scary, don’t you think?

You might find that, once you’ve drawn your characters, beginning your story with ‘Once upon a time, there was a …’ and then proceed to describe the character using your knowledge of the Tarot or the image presented on the card. Then make them go somewhere or do something by drawing cards from the pips.  The 6 of swords might take them on a journey over water, the ace of wands might be the sign of a new song idea or the 5 of pentacles might indicate a struggle to make ends meet.

The three of us decided that at some point, we would take this concept further. If you decide to as well, please feel free to post about here.

Tarot Questions

Feel free to submit your questions. I will briefly explore one randomly-selected question and respond here. Please note that your question may not be chosen for a response on this page. Please include “White Sage Tarot Questions” in the subject line and send your query to whitesagetarot@gmail.com.

 

D asks:

 

“Do you think I should finish off my nursing degree? I started it at the age of 58, and have now done two years, though I deferred this year because of health issues. Now, I’m wondering whether to finish it off part-time and whether I will then have the strength and energy to see this through and work in a hospital after that. I’m trying to follow my life’s dream, but I don’t know whether I can do so.”

 

As a Tarotist, I felt that the querent was initially asking a question that could be answered by a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The Tarot has a wider application. We reworked the question. D agreed that “What do I need to know to successfully follow my dream(s)?” better reflected the information that was being sought and allowed for a broader exploration.

 

For this question, I used a spread from Trish MacGregor and Phyllis Vega’s “Power Tarot” called the Outlook Spread. The first card focuses on the outlook for the situation; the second focuses on what/who will help; the third on what this will lead to; and the fourth looks at how the querent will feel about the outcome.

 

Outlook for this situation: King of Cups – Trust your emotions. Regardless of what happens, be a master of your emotions. The outlook to this enquiry shows success and achievement, but could be in an unexpected area. For example, it might be that the training you’ve undergone so far will be applied to another related field.

 

What/who will help?: The Empress – Support will come as compassion and tenderness. This may indeed be the type of nurturing support that comes via the healing professions. It may also come in the form of another person or may be qualities that come to the surface for you during this time. Often the Empress’s passion is unbridled and can be overpowering. This passion is yours; use it wisely and don’t ignore the role that emotions and intuition play.

 

What will this lead to?: The Queen of Swords – reversed – There can be an element of falsehood around the Queen of Swords when she’s reversed. This may lead to thoughts and words that do not truly reflect the situation.

 

How will you feel about the outcome?: The High Priestess – The High Priestess can symbolize that untapped inner strength. She is mysterious. Her appearance suggests there is something unsaid,  unexplored or concealed. She often tells us to trust our intuition, especially in a position that refers to our own feelings.

 

Some important questions to ask are:

 

How do I trust my feelings and instincts to guide my decision?

How will I focus my unbridled passion?

What is the real question?

 

Your instincts and emotions are key. You are asking one question but might be feeling another. The King of Cups and High Priestess have shown up. They serve as reminders to trust your emotions and instinct. Think of it as something similar to the feeling that instructs you to change directions when you sense something unsafe in your chosen path. Gavin De Becker in “The Gift of Fear” suggests this instinct is one that should be acted on. The Queen of Swords reversed is a reminder that not all things said or unsaid are true. It appears that you may already have the answer to the question about following your dream; it just might not be the answer that you’re looking for.