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.

The Cards of Spring

The Empress - Gilded Tarot
The Empress - Gilded Tarot

Feel free to look back at my March 14, 2009 blog entitled “Spring and the Empress” http://whitesagetarot.com/2009/03/14/spring-and-the-empress/ . It is one of my favourite!

In a little over a week, the wheel turns once again and those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere shake our snowy coverings and look forward to the emergence of spring.  In the spirit of the “Back In Time” Tarot method (Thank you, Janet Boyer, for a refreshing look at the Tarot. I’d grown tired of revisiting some of my older tomes.), I have selected several cards from a variety of decks that, in my opinion, represent the appearance of spring.

The ‘transformation’ of winter into spring – The Wheel – The Gaian Tarot  www.gaiantarot.com  Spring and Aries rest at the top of this card but they do not do so alone. They are linked as part of a greater whole. Aries is surrounded by Pisces and Taurus. Each of the four seasons is rooted to the centre, joining spring to all other points on the wheel.  Spring can’t happen without the other three seasons. It is only through the death of winter that the spring of life re-emerges. The butterfly, Nature’s ‘transformer’, symbolizes the life-death-life cycle for me here.  In my opinion, this card is a beautiful depiction of the four seasons and a wonderful starting point for this exercise.

The Fire emerging from within – The Ace of Wands – DruidCraft Tarot http://druidcraft-tarot.druidry.org/   The Fire that appears to be emanating from the point of the wand is indicative of the burning desire for life to emerge at this time of year. The moss on the rocks, the buck looking for love J, the blue sky and the tree’s delicate blanket of budding leaves  are all spring-like images.   I look at this card and I can almost smell the cool, dampness I associate with this time of the year. It reminds me of April in the Muskokas.

Here Comes the Sun (do, do ,do ,do) – The Sun – Robin-Wood Tarot www.robinwood.com  – You can’t help but notice the large, bright Sun that dominates the top third of this card. There’s a ‘giggly’ youthfulness to the rider that’s contagious. The sunflowers (also prominent in this deck’s Ace of Wands) are about to turn to the Sun and bask in its growing warmth.

Fertility and renewal – The Empress – Gilded Tarot. http://www.ciromarchetti.com/tarotzodiac_gt.htm  OK, faithful readers will know why I chose this particular Empress J. The Empress herself has traditional links to Demeter, Gaia and Venus, goddesses associated with fertility, sensuality and abundance. I also like to think of the Empress as a card of renewal. And spring is nothing if not a time for sensuality and renewal.

Rebirth – Queen of Rainbows – Osho Zen Tarot www.osho.com – Flowering is the growth of the seed into new life. Spring wakes us up and tells us that we are not meant to remain inside.  And ‘going outside’ for each of us can represent either that reconnection with nature or a more symbolic shedding of our own cocoon and subsequent metamorphosis into something completely different. Both of these transformations represent the true power of springtime.  

From cars with their tops down (the Chariot, maybe) to the return flight of birds (perhaps the Eight of Wands), feel free to select your own and share via the comments section.