Sunday, August 30, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Four of Cups

You know the routine. And that's the problem.

The Four of Cups describes a situation that is somehow both stable and crawling with tension. That's what happens when you take the number four, which is associated with structure and regularity  (think squares) and combine it with the active flowing nature of the Cups (think fountains and geysers and other gushy things). A mismatch in energies, like when a Virgo and Aries try to go on a date.

Often called the card of Divine Discontent, the Four of Cups represents those times when there's nothing wrong exactly -- no blood, no fire, no drama -- but a sludgy gray ennui holds you down nonetheless. You may try to procrastinate your way out of this feeling. But unlike the time wasting that happens when we're trying to avoid hard work, this kind of wasting happens when we've stopped setting ourselves to deep, satisfying work.

Straightening your desk won't help. Neither will checking your e-mail, or emptying the paper shredder. This is a soul problem, my friend, and it needs a soul solution.

It would be very helpful if the Universe provided such a solution as obviously as it does in this image. Look! A golden chalice filled with meaning and purpose! Take it, you fool! Drink and find your true destiny!


I've never had the clouds part and a literal arm come out holding literally anything. Thank goodness, I suppose -- that would send me right off. But lacking such direction, what are we the divinely discontented to do?

First of all, this kind of situation has Cups written all over it. The suit of emotion and feeling, it emotes and feels. The Four tries to contain that feeling, which leads to stagnation, so to break the cycle, we have to spill something. Get a little messy. Let the jostling liquid parts of you slop over the edges.
How to properly greet your Muse
 (art by Thalia Took)

Forget your routine, just for a minute. Yes, I know, all the how-to-be-a-writer books tell you to make an appointment and the Muse will show. But the Four of Cups indicates that your Muse may be tired of being summoned to your desk every morning at nine, as if she were some kind of cosmic personal assistant. As if she didn't have better things to do. Maybe she needs a little courting, a little surprise, a little shiny newness? Maybe she needs an enthusiastic welcome (see the image at left). And maybe, when she does come, she'd like to be asked what she'd like to do for a change.

Last week's card was the call of rebirth -- this week's card suggests you're avoiding answering that call until a more appropriate time, when you've finished whatever it is you've been so diligently persevering at. Like the taxes.

Stop that this instant. There is a freaking chalice of purpose and destiny hovering in your vicinity. Maybe it's within your reach. Maybe it's not. Reach for it anyway. It's the reaching that matters this week.

So what are you waiting for? Reach.

Monday, August 24, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: Judgment

Don't worry. Despite this card's title, it isn't judge-y. If you are a writer or artist or creative person of any stripe, you have enough of that to deal with from your own Inner Critic.

No, this card refers to Judgment Day, the prophesied moment when the angel Gabriel sounds the heavenly trumpet and the dead rise again, clean and rested and rejoicing. As such, it is more properly titled Rebirth or Resurrection. It's also one of the Major Arcana, and as such is A Very Big Deal.

In other words, don't ignore this one. Like the trumpet call, it requires response. But first, it requires deep listening.

Clarion calls are not always easy to hear. Sometimes the noise and din of our daily lives drown out that clear ethereal tone, even one blown through an angel's trumpet.

Take a moment. Make yourself still and quiet, as silent as the grave. I know -- this can feel like death to people accustomed to accomplishing much, people with detailed to-do lists, people who Get Things Done. But it's the only way to hear that clean high note.

You will know it when you do. It will pull you with the force of magnetic north and full moon tides. It will require a powerful surrender, but if you choose to follow, it will be irresistible.

That sounds like a paradox, and it is. Ponder such if you will. And then get ready to do the work. Because work is required, and that puts some people right back into the tomb. Not all heed the call of purpose and joy. Some prefer to sleep as if dead and merely dream beautiful dreams.

But not you. I'm quite sure of that.

This week, the Universe is calling. It is a personal call, directly to you. You already know what it means. You already know the good work that is waiting for you, whether it's the page or the clay or the blank canvas. Choose it. Choose it now. Give it five minutes. Make it real. And feel the rush as if you were suddenly lifted on the wings of angels.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Ten of Swords

Let's get one thing straight -- nobody's gonna literally take ten literal swords in the back. Probably not anyway. The Swords are known for their sharpness, their double-edged efficiency, their ability to -- pun absolutely intended -- get to the point. But they hardly ever foretell a stabbing.

Regardless, we may feel as if we've got ten of them in the back. What to do?

First of all, take a deep breath (well, as deep as you can with a symbolically punctured lung). Due to the dual and often dramatic nature of the Swords, this card comes with a plethora of potentialities. Depending on the context, it can signal finality, betrayal, martyrdom, and/or overkill.

But there is one thing it writes large, no matter the context:


This week, look around your creative space for something that is over, or in the stages of becoming over. This process might not be an easy one -- in fact, this Ten suggests that it isn't -- but it's happening. In my case, my editor just sent me her final notes for my current work in progress, and yes, it feels like ten blades skewering the corpus of my magnum opus. It's not, of course. I know this. And maybe tomorrow I'll be able to rouse myself off the beach of self pity, pluck the blades from my back, and move forward with the revision like the Big Girl I Am. Toward my very own THE END moment (which will be sweet, so very sweet, and worthy of champagne).

Because -- and this is the key to surviving a Ten of Swords moment -- there's a slice of gold on the horizon. Is it the setting sun, finally going down on a challenging episode in your life? Is it the rising sun, promising a fresh new start? It's both, of course. The sun goes neither up nor down -- we just circle it, our perspective ever-changing.

Today blades and rocks. Tomorrow the good work. This is the promise. Roll up your sleeves and stride out to meet it.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Six of Pentacles

Ah yes. This card.

Some tarot readers say the Six of Pentacles is the only card in the deck that reads the same way right side up as it does reversed. That is to say, it's a card of energy exchange, and as such, it describes a movement, not a static collection of pieces-parts. And movement, especially that guided by the hand of Karma, is hard to pin down into topside and otherways.

Things seem obvious in the image. It's easy to see who's giving (the rich guy) and who's receiving (the beggars at his feet). The scales are balanced. But the card asks you to look deeper. Exchanges never flow one way only, and the act of giving/receiving is no different. It is a relationship, a connection. It is reciprocal. We are all cogs in the Machine of Larger Cycles, each action a tiny whirring gear turning the giant wheels of time and space and human potential. Receiving fuels the engine as much as giving; they are both parts of the same clockwork.

I hear you saying, "Yes, but what does this have to do with my writing? Right now? No rich people with handy portable scales here. No golden coins hovering in the air either."

Well . . . no. We writers may traffic in symbol, but they rarely show up so blatantly in our mundane worlds. And you're so busy, what with all the planning and outlining and submitting and revising and -- you know -- putting actual words on the page, who has time to interpret such an image? Couldn't I just slap a nice inspiring Facebook meme up there?

Oh very well. Here.

Photo by OLU

As for the Six of Pentacles, remember -- no man is a self-made island. No woman either. With apologies to Blanche DuBois, we all exist on the kindness of strangers. For some people, giving is hard (see last week's post on the Five of Swords and scarcity mentality). For others, especially those accustomed to having enough to be a generous giver, receiving is way out of the comfort zone. Both are required, however. They are the yin and yang of everything. Every gift requires a recipient, and you do your part in the great infinity loop when you show up whole-hearted for both roles.

Writers share time and words with readers; readers share time and money with writers. Writers share encouragement with each other, and sometimes more concrete gifts -- a recommendation, a review, a hand up the ladder. We celebrate the sold-out signing and commiserate when That Guy on Amazon writes an addle-minded review.

This week, consider all the actions of giving and receiving that you participate in. Be conscious in them. Be fully present for them in all their joy and squinchiness. There may be a beneficence coming your way. Or an empty hand extended. Or you may be the one reaching out in one fashion or the other.

Regardless, you know what to do. Take a deep breath. You got this.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Five of Swords

Uh oh.

That's all I can say for us this week, writerly folk. Nobody likes to see the Five of Swords pop up. Indeed, the Swords as a whole are renowned for their double-edged ways. Swing them with proficiency and precision, and they're dead useful -- swing them with malice and/or clumsiness, and they're dead dangerous. Which is to be expected for a suit associate with all things mental -- to paraphrase the old saying, a mind is a terrible thing to let loose without any balance from the heart or body or soul.

So now we have the Five, traditionally associated with slander and betrayal, with dirty deeds done and not a small amount of gloating. Also winning. Lots of winning going on here, though it will come at a price, you betcha.

So what to do? Our first impulse is to watch our backs, be on guard for Those Who Have It In For Us. And, okaaayyyyy, there's something of that in this card.

But let's look deeper for a second, shall we? This energy exists only if one has a scarcity mindset, which goes some like this: there's only so much pie, better grab my slice. In the creative world, this translates into only so many readers, only so many good reviews, only so much attention, better grab my slice.

No. Just no.

Being creative is to participate in abundance. The well will not run dry. Do not be envious of others' successes (not even E.L. James's). Do not schadenfreude over others' come-uppances (not even E. L. James's).

Tap your source. Do your work. Honor your process. Share and receive. Let Karma, the Great Mistress of Tit-For-Tat, write the rest of the scene.