So, the last few years I've developed a bit of an obsession in my spare time for playing with and studying the tarot cards. I've found the tarot to be a marvelous tool for self-development and just to help me through things going on in my life. The tarot is a fascinating thing. I think the old-fashioned idea that people who read tarot are dolled up in multiple bangles, a dark headscarf, hoop earrings, way too much makeup, and reside in a caravan with a large crystal ball, in a darkened and spooky room, no longer applies. It's not so much a niche thing anymore and has become popular in the spiritual community, enjoyed by many people of all religions.
Besides offering me some personal spiritual guidance, I love using the tarot to help me plot my fiction novels, or to help me with characterisation and well, when I'm blocked.
For example, I started writing Book 2 from the last book I finished - When Love Blooms. I had grown a bit attached to a secondary character in the book (Collette's friend, Rachel) and wanted to write her story. I sat down with my notebook and pen and started the "morning pages" way of writing. I wrote the first three pages and then stopped. I couldn't bear to write anymore. It wasn't working. Something felt off. I was blocked. I knew it wasn't the book I wanted to write, but I still wanted to write about Rachel. So, I put it down and forgot about it for a few weeks, figuring that maybe I'm not going to write for a while again.
Today, I didn't have any editing and after a long weekend, felt quite a bit more rested than usual. I felt like writing Rachel's story, but how? I picked some tarot cards from one of my favourite decks. What I like about tarot is that it contains the hero's journey - it's a story in pictures. It follows almost everything about the human experience. And I like to choose a deck (I'm a bit of a collector) that has beautiful art that I can connect with. The deck I chose for my plotting had contemporary people in it. So, instead of looking at the particular meaning of the cards I chose, as they didn't really apply to Rachel's potential story, I studied the images, and suddenly I just knew what direction I wanted Rachel's story to go in. It would take her to the country near her friend Collette. I just knew this was the right direction for my book.
This isn't the first time I've used tarot to plot my book. I don't usually use it for the whole book, but it gets me started and gives me ideas. I used it to start off When Love Blooms. I also like to use it to get a glimpse into my characters, but not as often as plotting. The tarot court cards are good as they show different personalities. If you picked out all the court cards, you could choose a court card for each of your main characters. It would, of course, help to have a bit of knowledge of the cards before you start. There is a lot of free material out there to learn tarot. Biddy Tarot has a lot on her website, there are dozens of tarot YouTubers (Kelly-Ann Maddox has a free tutorial series on tarot), and well, you can always buy a kindle book on it. If you can't afford a deck, you can get some free mobile deck apps. But it's always nicer to hold the deck in your hands.
I used to think tarot was evil. Yes, some of the cards may not be easy on the eyes if you use the old-fashioned original Rider Waite deck, but you could always buy a more modern one. I prefer the more contemporary ones as the images are much more relatable. Cards like the devil and the death card don't actually mean the literal devil and death, but rather remind us that we don't have to be trapped in our negative or restricted thoughts, and that with every time we lose something or things change in our lives, something new and beautiful is born out of it, kind of like the Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Here are a few pics of my cards, just so you can see.
Below is the inspiration I found for Rachel's story. Sorry the cards are so dark. So, in the first picture, there is a man at the door with a letter. In the second one, she's staring out onto the farm, wondering what to do, and the third, she is harvesting apples. I shall keep you wondering. I don't want to say too much about this story until I actually have it down on paper. Just feels like I'm jinxing it, lol.
Is there anything unusual that you use to help you plot your novels? I'd love to know.