Monday, June 29, 2015

Writerly Tarot for the Week: Nine of Pentacles

Ah, now this is better. The Nine of Pentacles is one of my favorite cards, as it is often described as the card of the self-made woman. Just look at her, standing there on her own two feet. She is independence personified, dressed in a richly embroidered gown, gold coins literally rolling at her feet. It's a lush card, and like all the nines, a mix of both past actions and the eventual results of those actions.

But the key to this card isn't the money or the wardrobe -- it's the falcon on her arm.

Make no mistake, that's one wild bird. Fierce. A predator. And yet our lady has him lightly perched on one hand.

Writers court such wildness, but if you've come this far in your creative journey, you know that wildness does not respond to being chased. Wildness comes to stillness. We must learn to be composed and self-contained to develop a relationship with the part of us which flies clean and high. The part of us that swoops in ever-widening gyres, but which -- with trust and proper care -- will always return to our arm.

This week, take some time to make yourself a resting place for your fine feathered Muse. The creative spirit can be fierce and free, but if you cultivate some time alone, in some garden metaphorical or otherwise, it will come to you. And it will prove to be a faithful companion.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Writerly Tarot for the Week: The Seven of Wands (Again) Plus The King of Swords

Apparently, the concept of "lazy days of summer" is lost on you and me, dear reader. For here we are again with the Seven of Wands (previously seen here, warning us of chore creep and reminding us to cherish the real reason we do what we do).

Because we are still beating back the world with our stick. And the world just keeps on coming.

So I asked the deck for a little further enlightenment (we're allowed to do that, you know. If the messages you're getting from the Universe are muddled or muddy or inexplicable, you're allowed to say, "A little clarification, please."). Because apparently there's something still going on here, something we need to be addressing.

I drew the King of Swords, one of the court cards. There are twelve of these in the tarot deck, four for each suit (you can see contemporary echoes of this court in the face cards of a deck of playing cards). In the tarot, Kings represent action and authority, and Swords the suit of mental expression. The King of Swords has a clue about how we should handle all the continuing chaos surrounding us, and his advice has nothing to do with waving a stick around.

This King suggests that instead of rushing about and trying to exert order on a messy world, we should take a step inward into the one thing that we can control -- our own minds. Our brains are our best friends in many ways, but they can also be tricky, demanding, and deceitful. Meditation teachers will tell you that the human mind is like an unhousebroken puppy -- it must be brought gently and firmly to the newspaper where it can do its business. Hitting it with a stick will not help it learn. Treating it with loving discipline will.

So this week, when the chaos crackles and swirls like heat lightning, don't pick up a stick and try to beat the world into submission. Instead, disengage yourself from the situation. Breathe in and out. Soothe your mind until it is as clear and free of thoughts as the blue sky.

And the rest will follow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Writerly Tarot for the Week: The Page of Wands

Oh, thank goodness! After all the wreckage of the Tower (see last week's post), it's nice to have such a clean, straightforward card to point our way. Because the Wands are the suit of inspiration and passion, of using our will and our enthusiasm to . . . well, whatever ends and purposes we choose. The Pages, however, aren't about the ends -- Pages herald beginnings -- and when you have two fired-up energies combined together in one dynamic card, best find a project to channel that fire and drive, and be quick about it.

Ah, but here's the tricky-tricky about fresh starts -- they can be hard for those of us with our identity bound up in some idea of proficiency. Oh, not you, of course. You understand that ten-thousand-hour arc to experthood. You know beginner's mind like the back of your hand.

But the rest of us -- sometimes anyway -- feel like we just strapped on roller skates for the first time whenever we try something new. That feeling of graceless precariousness can be a bit unsettling. But take a page from our Page -- those boots are made for walking. And that Wand is made for adventure.

This week, look at whatever you might be avoiding because you don't feel quite adequate at it. Is there a query letter you're putting off sending? A proposal you're avoiding? A phone call that needs making? A manuscript that needs feedback? A new skill that's still in the squeaky-hinge stage?

This week, try doing the thing that scares you. You know what they say -- what doesn't kill you makes for a good story.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Writerly Tarot for the Week: The Tower

Oh jeez. It looks like it's going to be one of those weeks. Mercury retrograde and now this disaster.

Because let's face it, nobody wants to see The Tower rearing up from the deck. Other cards may look scary -- Death, The Devil, The Ten of Swords -- but nothing delivers that sinking feeling of "aw crap" like The Tower.

So let's take a deep breath before proceeding, shall we?


Here we go.

The Tower shows up when imminent destruction is on the horizon, and not just any ol' random destruction -- something you have crafted and assembled, something that has value and substance, is tumbling lightning-struck into the sea. And you're tumbling with it (or some part of you is, some piece of your identity). Down down down.

Here's the thing, though -- whatever it is that's crumbling right now, it's outlived its usefulness. Maybe it seemed a good idea at the time. Maybe it was. As writers, our curiosity is voracious and cosmopolitan, free range and full steam. We join this group, sign up for that workshop. We agree to this event, that blog tour. All of these create our authorial "platform," our professional presence in the world. It's a necessary part of being a professional writer . . . but it's not writing. And it's the writing that makes a writer. Neglect that foundational part of your platform and . . . ka-blam.

It's all too easy to create a pretty version of who we are as writers, and then live that version as if it were the reality. Our version is often well-designed and structurally sound. It makes for comfortable living. But no matter how pretty, it's a copy. And this week, it begins its crumble into dust.

What's beginning to fall apart in your life? Is it something you built? Might it have a large chunk of your ego bricked up in one of the load-bearing walls?

If so, the Tower reminds you that you can only forestall the inevitable for so long -- best stay out of the way and let it tumble. Afterwards, you can take a deep breath and go through the rubble. You can try to see to the clear horizon behind, the clean plot of land below.

But for now . . . watch for falling rocks.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Mystery Writing and Tarot on Booklover's Bench

I'm excited to be a new member of the team at Booklover's Bench, joining several of my favorite mystery writers as we share news and prizes with our readers.

My introductory piece for them explains the similarities between my work as a mystery writer and my work as a tarot reader. If you'd like to check it out, you can find it archived here.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Writerly Tarot for the Week: Justice

Unlike her likeness portrayed in our court systems, Lady Justice of the tarot is not blindfolded. No, this lady sees very clearly, and her perceptions are objective and precise, equal parts severity and mercy applied through some cosmic algorithm only she is privy to.

So you may ask, dear creative soul, what does she have to tell you this week?

First of all, Justice is a major arcana, one of the so-called "big" cards of the tarot. I often refer to them as "postcards from the Universe" and they come right to your karmic mailbox, addressed to you personally with indelible ink. Which makes this card a double whammy, because Justice is the card of karma. The card of actions reaping consequences. The card of equations, as carefully calibrated as that scale she holds, as perfectly double-edged as the sword she wields.

In other words, you have only yourself to blame -- or thank -- for whatever is going on in your creative world right now, and the same will be true of tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Now now, don't get touchy. Sometimes we may feel like a character in a Gothic novel, afflicted with travails and troubles and inconvenient conflicts through no fault of our own. We may want to rail like Job against . . . well, there's your Big Question. Ponder that one on your own time.

Justice is acquainted with all aspects of the current situation, however, both BIG and small. She's not requiring that kind of comprehension of you, of course. But it might help to listen when she clears her throat, look around to see what she's trying to bring to your attention, which is usually some pivot point upon which you can work some exponential results.

You already have the long-enough lever -- she's simply showing you where you might stand.