Monday, October 26, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Hermit

Last week the fair came to town in my part of the world. I spent hours in this fishbowl of sensation -- the spastic neon lights, the cacophony of screams rising and falling, the midway hucksters calling and cajoling, the air saturated with fat and sugar and dust.

I am so relieved to see The Hermit.

He reminds us that there is a time and place for being in the outer world, but that perhaps we've been toiling in those hectic fields for too long. If you are a writer, you know that we tend to be solitary creatures, highly introverted, soothed by our time in our inner world. We cannot live in seclusion, however, no matter how attractive it may seem (and with the din of mechanical amusements still ringing in my ears, it seems very attractive). We must venture, yes. But we must also return.

The Earth herself is moving into the dark time, the cool time, the time of shadows. Humanity has created a million ways to pretend this isn't happening. We turn up the lights, sing louder, drape tinsel, laugh and plan and move hither and yon, busy and busier.

This week, consider the bear. Bears know how to hermit better than anybody, so start planning the ways that you can honor your inner ursine this coming autumn and winter. Plump the cushions in your cave. Make ready to spend some time in luxurious hibernation. It is a fact of our culture that one must carve away solitude, carve it like Michelangelo freeing the angel from the marble.

But do carve. Because the angel is there. And The Hermit promises to help you find it.

Monday, October 19, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Two of Wands

I often tell people that the skills I use for tarot reading are the same skills I use for mystery writing -- the ability to tease a narrative from what may at first appear to be dissimilar pieces. 

In writing, the human imagination seems to generate the pieces, but really, we can only pull from what we experience. We're exposed to hundreds of thousands of sensory bits and data bites every day -- our brain selects which ones to pay attention to, which ones to file away in either the subconscious basement or the conscious information desk. It chooses these in the same way that the tarot querent pulls cards from the deck. Both tarot reading and writing involve selecting parts from a larger, chaotic whole and then connecting the dots into order and meaning.

So what have we to herald this week? The Two of Wands, a card of beginnings, especially in creative endeavors. A card of choice. It's come up before -- you can read that original post here -- but the tarot is a tool of context. A card doesn't mean the same thing every single time it shows itself. Its signature, its energy, remains the same, but the influence of time and place create subtle differences in the expression. Just as they do with us. We are different minute by minute. And so is the tarot.

This week, the Two of Wands feels very conflicted to me. The Wands are the suit of energy and passion, of moving forward. The Two, however, suggests a hesitation, a pause, a moment of stillness completely at odds with its nature. Move forward? Wait until the perfect moment? Is there such a thing as a perfect moment?

The tarot has no answers. But it does let you hold the questions up to the light and consider every facet.

This week, what is pulling you forward? What opportunities shimmer on your horizon? What is holding you back? Is it uncertainty? Fear? The need for more information?

The Two of Wands suggests that you ponder all the possibilities, but not for too long. Ponder too long and the choice will be made for you instead of by you. Flip a coin if you must. And trust that as it spins in the air, heads over tails and heads again, your heart will reveal what you hope the answer will be.

Monday, October 12, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Four of Swords

Here's another card I picked myself, this one for the post-Bouchercon week -- The Four of Swords.

This is not cheating, of course. Sometimes it's good to let the Universe choose cards for you, especially in situations where you might be confused about the paths before you, the contributing factors behind you. Situations where you'd like to get a perspective beyond your own.

But sometimes you know what you need. And in those cases, the tarot is an excellent tool for reminding yourself of that.

This week, I'm reminding myself of the Four of Swords. Rest. Recuperation. Silence. A return to stability. Swords are about conflict and mental activity, but fours represent foundation. Think four corners. Think squares.

And think graves.The prayerful person in this image is an effigy atop a tomb. But don't be frightened. This isn't a card about death, not exactly. But for busy people, taking time away from the busy-ness can feel like death. The stillness can feel like an end. It is necessary, however. It is required. It is part of the cycle.

So for this week, the Four of Swords. The stillness of marble. The silence of statues. The fine and private place that in the tarot, and in life, serves as the cradle of rebirth. May it be yours this week, and may you emerge refreshed and renewed back into the wild rush of life.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Six of Wands

What a bountiful way to begin the week! For here we have in our hands the Six of Wands, a card of hard-won recognition and well-deserved achievement. See the laurel crown? See the cheering crowds? There's a whole bunch of hip-hip-hurrah packed into that one scene.

Sixes represent midpoints in the journey, spaces where there is both much in the past and much in the future. They carry with them a sense of integration and balance, of the celestial spheres orbiting elegant and proper in their cycles.

As such, it is a very "in the moment" card. Your choices in the past have brought you here, and your choices now will carry you forward, but now -- in this singular unique now -- there is cause to celebrate. And because this is the suit of wands -- the suit of creativity and passion -- chances look good for the writers of the world to experience a tossing of confetti this week.

As a mystery writer, I am especially delighted to see this card pop up. I'm heading for Bouchercon, the largest mystery convention in the world, where many of my colleagues are up for prestigious awards. Such ceremonies are the Six of Wands energy in action, and I'm excited to know that some of my friends will soon be riding that high horse to victory.

I won't be one of them. I'm not up for an B-Con award this year. But -- and this is crucial -- I'm still celebrating.

Such is the nature of the Six of Wands. This week you're the rider on the beribboned and bedazzled horse. The next you're in the crowd, cheering as another receives the accolades. Whatever your role turns out to be this week, show up. Be wholehearted and open. Rejoice without envy or smugness; these are the grit in the gears of abundance. The Universe is a generous place. Be grateful for all its gifts, including that of supportive community.

And most of all, trust the horse. The horse is saying, here's looking at you, kid. And the horse is always right.