Monday, September 28, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot -- The High Priestess

Yet another week in the heart of Mercury Retrograde (for more on that, read last week's post), so there's probably still a goodly amount of chaos and confusion going on. Here at Whittle Central, we've seen inexplicable oven malfunctions, computer weirdnesses, and miscommunications galore.

So what's a writerly type to do during such a time? The High Priestess has a suggestion.

She's not a woman of words, after all. The knowledge she possesses can't be transmitted that way. There is no search engine that can get to it, no library that can shelve it. You can't even ask for it. It simply happens, deep inside.

This card is rich in symbol -- the pomegranates, the twin pillars of Mercy and Severity, the full moon on her brow, the crescent moon at her feet, the Torah open in her lap, the equal-armed cross on her chest, the blue robes lapping like the edge of deep water. Deeply textured symbols all.

As a writer, you understand the power of layered meaning, how similes and metaphors are fluent in languages of both surface and depth. This week, let your life be a unwritten book. Let the symbols you find speak to you, creating a pathway of stepping stones into a brand new understanding.  How do you know a symbol when you see one? Chances are good that if you notice it, if it grabs your attention in some way, it's a symbol. If you see repeated symbols, then pay VERY close attention. Take notes if that helps, but don't expect them to make a road map for you. The realm of the High Priestess is terra incognita, best explored through faith and intuition.

You may receive a revelation about your creative purpose. You may glimpse a road not yet taken. Your current work may open itself in a surprising and exciting way. You may get the clues to a Mystery.

However you approach the process, remember -- this is not a left brain activity. This is right brain creative work. It can be messy. It can be frustrating. But it is always a felt experience.

Feel it, people.

Monday, September 21, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Ace of Swords and The Star

It's a two-tarot-cards-for-the-price-of-one deal this week, and boy howdy, do we need it.

If you follow the stars, you know that we're in the first week of the last Mercury Retrograde of 2015, which will be ending on October 9th. Mercury retrograde occurs when the planet seems to be moving backwards in the sky, and until it appears to move forward again, all kinds of muckety-muck can foul the gears, especially in all endeavors travel and technology and communication related.

Which sounds like a nightmare to all you writerly types, I know. E-mails getting lost or misunderstood, computers hiding files or catching on fire. Flat tires and delayed planes and trains not training properly. Ugh.

However, if you switch up your perspective, the energy of Mercury retrograde can be used in an effective manner. My brilliant friend Sara Amis refers to it as "the scapegoat planet" because every ill wind for these three weeks gets blamed on Mercury heaving itself backwards in the sky. As if planets do that. No, people do that (remember, a retrograde only looks backwards, which makes it a perspective challenge, not a roadblock challenge).

So yes, switch it up. Relax into lateness as an exercise in non-resistance (you Buddhists out there know what I'm talking about). Back up your files as a practice in prevention. Appreciate the weirdness and odd quirks that flavor your landscape. Mercury retrograde is a great time for anything with an re- in front if it -- redo, revise, reorganize, revisit. Recover. Reconstruct. Remember.


The tarot has some tools to help you. This week two cards came up, one drawn by me -- the Ace of Swords -- and the other a "jumping card" -- The Star --  which is a card that makes itself known in other ways, like falling out of the deck.

For a well-needed dose of mental clarity, there's the Ace of Swords (see its previous appearance for further details). Use it to slash away all that does not serve, clearing the space for you to bring forth that which does. Caveat to the wise -- the chaotic energy of Mercury Retrograde tampers with communication, so re-check your words before they leave your mouth or keyboard. Make sure that the Swords' penchant for cutting truths and sharp assessments doesn't slice too deeply by erring on the side of diplomacy and compassion.
From the Tarot Art of Thalia Took

Luckily, The Star asserted itself, so there should lots of good nurturing energy to help you do that. The Star is a card of hope and balance. It asks nothing of you but to be fully present in the moment -- a moment that has both grounding and flow -- and search for a light that will guide your way.

Because there's always a light. And it remains fixed and steady, especially in times of flux. Seek yours, and set your feet to the path forward.

It's just a retrograde. Fasten your seatbelts. You'll be fine.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Writerly Tarot: The Seven of Pentacles

If anything can capture what life is like during the final stages of revision, it's this card. Pentacles are the suit of hard work and foundation, so that's why it's up today, because that's where I am. I plucked it deliberately from the deck and posted it where I could see it (you are allowed to do this, you know. Choose for yourself sometimes. The tarot approves of choices).

This card and I are old friends. It shows up whenever I'm deep in the nitty-gritty details, like this week. It's a card of assessment. Of both pruning and fertilizing, the peculiar ying-yang of creation and destruction that the final stages of a writing project require. Our gardener is gazing fondly upon the fruits of his labors. But he can't gaze forever. That's a hoe in his hands. There is hoeing to do.

Yes, you must kill your darlings (or reconcile them to the Next file, which isn't the same thing but which serves the same purpose). You must also nurture your darlings, tend them and train them up, talk sweet to them. How do you do both things at the same time?

Oh, don't ask me. I can barely see straight this week. My head is swimming with words. But this is my North Star, my compass heading, this balancing act of contemplation and cutting and creating in equal measure. Releasing David from the marble, as it were. And I think it is important work, whether one is Michelangelo or a mystery writer. Everybody gets a block of stone.

So this week, know that creation requires both endings and beginnings, but most of all, it requires choice. Roll up your sleeves. You've got work to do.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot -- The Knight of Swords

If this Knight had a slogan, it would be He Who Runs With Scissors.

Just look at him, hellbent for leather, sword high, galloping straight to glory.  Or something. Knights are quest figures, and as such, they don't do standing around very well. Their eyes are always on the horizon, and since this Knight is of the Sword variety (the suit of mental energy) the prize he's after is of an intellectual nature. Maybe evanescent, maybe even intangible, maybe spun of air and wind, but a prize to be obtained nonetheless.

And he's put some planning into it, yes, he has. Swords love strategy and vision, logic and reason. But for the Knight of Swords, this most masculine energy of a most masculine suit, nothing is a pure and clean as the rush forward, the wind against his skin (notice he has his visor up, because sensing this, seeing this, is more important than whatever protection he'd get from such armor.) All the planning, all the foresight . . . it all serves this moment.

The horse, however, begs to differ.

I've always thought his gallant steed has a slightly different perspective on this whole rushing-into-battle thing. He's looking not ahead or at his Knight -- he's looking sideways at us -- and I detect a hint of "oh sheesh, nope, don't wanna go there" in his horsey eye, reluctance in his gritted teeth. But go he will -- when this Knight has the reins, the only direction is forward and the only speed is fast. How well he'll fare once the battle starts remains to be seen. Our brave horse might be returning riderless.

So whatever writerly adventure you undertake this week, whether it's finally sending that manuscript off or reaching out to that perfect agent, do it both big and well. Remember -- martial planning is a beautiful thing, but combat looks very different on the field than it does in the officer's tent. Sure, the charge forward is exciting. Just be certain that you have your sharpest sword, the one you polished the night before, and not the gorgeous but flimsy one. Be sure your sensible support staff is with the program. And just in case there's an unpleasant surprise around the corner, you might want to lower your visor. Just saying.

Tally ho, my friend.