Monday, July 27, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: Strength

There are times when you need to push hard and push fast, muster every ounce of willpower you have and exert it with force and discipline.

This week is not one of those times.

This week calls for Strength, a card the demonstrates a more nuanced approach to control, one that might not come easily to mind when confronted with an angry lion. Slavering beasts with pointy teeth bring out the "gotta get that thing in a cage, and quick" mentality.

But notice the woman of this card. No whips, no chairs. She's not combative, not demanding. The lion does not resist her touch; indeed, the creature seems almost tame. How does she do it?

The key is soft control, and that begins with compassion and empathy. Despite their reputation, these are muscular responses, hence the title of this card. The infinity sign above her head is another important clue as to the meaning here -- the quality of mercy is not strained; neither is it finite. There is always an abundance to tap, if we can learn to open our hand and let it flow.

What in your life are you trying to beat into submission? A project, an attitude, a fear? Strength reminds you that the most impressive muscle at your disposal is your heart, not your biceps. Stop wrestling your demons. Befriend them. Pluck whatever thorns you can find from their paws. You might find that monster in need of defeating is actually a pussycat.

Monday, July 20, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The King of Wands

Are you a mover and shaker this week? Or perhaps you feel more among the shaken and
moved? Either way, meet the gentleman* responsible for whatever seismic goings-on are rumbling in your world, especially your creative one.

Kings are the cards of action, of exterior, of the wide world. They are the bringers of expertise and resources, the ones who grease the wheels. Wands are the suit of creative energy, the fire and passion that burns within us, the energy we release whenever we put our talents to work. The King of Wands is will made manifest, and as such, he has little time for logic-debating or day-dreaming or detail-obsessing. He's a "get on with it" kind of man.

So your question this week is simple: are you the actor in this situation, or are you the acted upon?

In creative endeavors, we find both types of energy. Being a writer is often solitary work. Most days, you are your very own boss, for better or worse, and the King of Wands urges you to seize the day, make your mark . . . all those fiery masculine activities that are sometimes difficult for people accustomed to working from a desk. Fix your crown firmly on your head, make your plans, and move forward as if the seas of the world will part before you. That's the King of Wands way.

However . . .

There are days when you're not the King. Creative fields have many kings -- editors and agents, publishers and critics -- who often have sweeping control over your life, and the best you can do some days is avoid getting your head chopped off (which is a massive accomplishment, don't ever forget). Of course some days you are granted an audience, an opportunity you must make the most of. Kings can be headstrong, hard to influence, as difficult to turn as a hurricane. But do try. This King may burn fearfully bright, but under the right circumstances, he is as generous with his fire as Prometheus.

Some days you are the King. Some days you meet the King. In either case, remember: forward ho, and hold your head up high.

*In the tarot, Kings represent a very masculine energy, but in the real world, that energy can be expressed by any gender. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Writerly Tarot for the Week: The Ace of Swords

You know what you need? You need a breath of fresh air. And a giant sword.

Here you go! You're welcome!

It's a bracing bit of cool logic, the Ace of Swords, and if your writerly week is starting out anything like mine, you'll want to grab it with both hands. Careful, there. The Ace of Swords is not for show. That blade cuts true and deep and swift. You'll want to bring all your carefully honed attention into play before your wrap your fingers around that hilt.

But once you've got it in hand, once you've tested its heft and edge, here are some tasks you can put this fine piece of steel to:

* Feeling muddled and confused? This Sword will cut through any nebulous gray funk gathering in the corners of your brain like so many cranial cobwebs. Swish and swish! Now doesn't that look brighter? You know better than anyone else what cleans your mental clock (in a good way, I mean). Yoga. Meditation. Sudoku. Get some of whatever works. Get it now.

* Somebody looking to pick a fight with you? This week, a sharp tongue and a rapier wit are yours for the brandishing. One word of warning -- this Sword is particularly sharp, and not especially merciful. Thick twice before you swing it.  I suggest you take your mental and verbal acuity to the page. Let your characters slice and dice each other -- spare your friends and family the bloodletting.

* Having a hard time maintaining boundaries? Finding time? Setting priorities? The Ace of Swords will cut through the clutter, carve out time and space. It will do it clean. But it will not always do it painlessly. Writers often require solitude and separateness to do their deep work, and this Sword will prove an excellent tool in that endeavor. It will provide. Just don't forget to put it back in its scabbard when the work is done, so that your nearest and dearest know it's safe to approach. But keep it sharp regardless -- remember that old kitchen adage about dull knives being the most dangerous? The same is true of swords.

All in all, the Ace of Swords is an auspicious card for any mental endeavor, especially those involving rationality and logic. It's a whoosing rush of pure brain power, and it fuels communication both written and oral. Just remember -- this is a blade that cuts both ways. Wield it with respect. Use it wisely. And don't fall too much in love with its shiny slicing prowess.