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Narrative-style Tarot

I’m going to call this “Tarotive” – is that tacky? 😉

My most recent work with the Tarot involved a style that is new for me.

As I prepared myself and my space for my work, I kept a situation in mind. Currently, this is an issue for which I needed some clarity of direction; the perfect kind of issue for Tarotive work.   I reflected on the layout structure I would use but I did not ‘assign’ any meaning to specific positions. I also did not use a prepared spread. Instead, I identified the first card as ‘protagonist’ and let the rest of the story flow in order of the cards. Today’s ‘Tarotive’ work builds on the knowledge that the cards already include narrative elements: characters, challenges, supports, places, and events that can be strung together to form a story.

Since I started my Tarotive on the first ‘Sun’day after the Summer Solstice, I created an 8- card layout, one for each point in the Wheel of the Year. I set the cards out to represent the spherical shape of the Sun and also chose Joanna Powell Colbert’s Earth-themed Gaian Tarot deck (my limited edition deck is still a fave after 8 years!).  When I work with my own questions at home, I often gather support resources.

(As a side note… Although I will ‘run through’ my interpretation ‘sans support’, I like to access my Tarot library to add differing perspectives or to sometimes challenge my own thinking. When working with yourself, it’s easy to see only what you want to see instead of what you need to see.)

shelf
A couple of the magical shelves in our built-in library. 

My narrative begins with me represented in the 4 of Air, weaves through supports, reflections, journeys and endings. My story concludes with ‘The Builder’ from the Major Arcana.

 

Solsticenara
My 8-card Summer Solstice ‘Tarotive’.

When done, I tend to leave my Tarot work out for a period of time so that I can revisit it and reflect on it. (Tuesday morning as I finish this post and it’s still out.)

I have tried this more open, narrative style several times this month and it seems to be a style for which I’m going to hold space.

Try it! Think of a situation or question for which you (or someone else) are seeking guidance. Visualize a card layout with a representative link to the energy you’d like to draw on for  your work; it might be the day, the time of year, a current astrological cycle, the situation… My Sun-shaped 8-card spread is an example of the solstice energy associated with the time of year where I live. Begin the narrative with the querent, wrap it up with the last card, and see where your story takes you.

And, if you feel comfortable doing so, share your experience in the comments. I’m curious to see if this Tarotive style works for you.

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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.