Sunday, May 22, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Moon

And now we come to the second card in my Great Big Spring Into Summer Reading: The Moon. The first card was last week's Judgment; we'll get to Temperance next week. But for now, stretch out in a midnight shadow and look high above the trees—The Moon is beckoning.

The Moon is a card of the senses. It is lush, exotic, slightly taboo in its sense of otherworldly seduction. The Moon beckons. It pulls with tidal, irresistible power. This is the card of the subconscious, and as such, brings with it a knowing that is both deeper and more evanescent than conscious understanding.

It is mystery and emotion. It is fantasy and imagination. Writers should know the feeling it evokes very well. The Moon represents the times when our plot seems to twist away from our control, sliding its sinewy way into uncharted lands. Our characters refuse to cooperate with our plans, moving of their own agency in unexpected and perplexing directions. This is the time of fever dreams and rushing words, of barely being able to keep up with the story bursting onto the page. We feel possessed. Enthralled. Not entirely sane.

Such is the moon. It illuminates, but not in an entirely coherent light, which is something every lunatic understands (and we all have an inner lunatic, every one of us). But how does The Moon connect to Judgment and Temperance? What message could there possibly be in that trilogy?

One clue lies in the imagery of the card itself. The ocean represents the subconscious, the dog and the wolf the baying voices of fear. The path represents our journey out of the subconscious, past our fears, and into. . . . what? The card does not show us. The twin pillars in the distance represent the unknown, the boundary beyond that which you already know. You are being asked to walk through them.

Last week we looked at Judgment as a card of interesting times, of the call that pulls you out of the life you know into the life you were meant to have. The Moon is the portal you must walk through, past your fears and into The Next Thing. As such, both Judgment and The Moon function as cards of initiation.

And so does Temperance.

But we'll get to that dual-natured angel next week. Until then, pay attention to your dreams. Watch for synchronicities. Listen for whispers. The Universe is an engine of revelation, and it has an important message in the works for you.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: Judgment

This tarot thing, it's a practice. That word can be looked at as a verb: to perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain proficiency. It can also be extended to a related noun: praxis. The practical application of a theory.

And in the case of tarot, the theory we're applying is the theory of divination, the idea that something like a deck of cardsor a set of runes or a group of I-Ching stickscan be used as a tool for wisdom and guidance. A way to bend the attention of the Universe your way for a short time. As such, it is very personal.

That paradox is the foundation of what I do here each week for you, the members of my writerly tribe. I ask the cards what I, as a creative person, need to know in the coming week. I ask for me, but since the truly personal is also the truly universal, I am also asking for you.

Usually, I pull one cardeither randomly or by designbut this week I decided to pull three. It's spring moving into summer, the light growing stronger day by day. It felt like a big time, engaging the larger gears of the celestial clockwork, so to speak, so I decided to honor that feeling with a slightly bigger reading than usual.

The Universe heard my request. Everything but the "slightly," it seems. Because let me tell you, this reading was big. Three major arcanas: Judgment as the central card flanked by Temperance and The Moon.

So no, not big. HUGE.

Which is why I decided to take this reading one card at a time, and then explain the significance of the cards working together. I decided to do this in parts, starting with the card you see on the left.

First of all, don't take the title of the card at its most obviousthis actually isn't a card about judging (which I explain in this post). In fact, many decks prefer to call this card Rebirth, and the most important aspect of it isn't the naked folk rising from the grave or even the angel aboveit's the trumpet.

As you might expect, this is no ordinary musical instrument. For starters, it's a trumpet. Trumpets have a very long history, dating back to at least 1500 BC. They were found in Tutankhamun's grave in Egypt, also in China and Peru and Scandinavia. They were played in Solomon's Temple and mentioned many times in the Bible, especially as the symbolic "last trumpet sound" that announces the End of Days. In this sense, they are associated with the archangel Gabriel, the Great Revealer.

So no, not an ordinary instrument. And not an ordinary card.

Judgment reveals that you are at a crossroads. To quote the old Chinese blessing/curse, you are about to enter the Land of Interesting Times. Make no mistake, thoughthe road ahead is the one you were meant to be on. It may not be the road you wanted. It may not be the road you chose. But it's your road, and as such, it is as royal and rewarding as they come.

For writers and other creative folk, begin listening. Extraordinary trumpets rarely make a lot of noise. They are the still small voices of the creative ether. But once you've caught the note, there's no pretending you haven't.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Empress

The Empress is the tarot's equivalent of the Earth Mother: fertile, abundant, giving. It is my gift to you this Mother's Day, when we celebrate this ideal both personallyby thanking our own mothers or by being thanked by our childrenand symbolically, by celebrating the idea of mothering.

This week, take the gifts The Empress offers. She is the harbinger of great things being born into the world, but remember: nothing is born without pain and mess. These are her gifts too, the whole of the process.

Open to love. Open to trust. And most of all, open to the cycles and seasons of the Earth, and of yourself, every greening and keening thing. And be grateful for everyone who has mothered youall the mothers, even the hard onesalong this path.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Four of Wands

There's a saying about laurels—you shouldn't rest on them. They make a comfy nest spot, tis true, but comfort can lead to laziness. And laziness leads to more laziness and soon you're in a laziness spiral.

However...there's no reason you can't hoist your laurels high and dance under them for a while. Which is exactly what the Four of Wands suggests you do.

The Wands are the suit of passion and creativity, the element of fire and all the sparking and igniting and kindling and blazing that accompanies it. Writers recognize this feeling as being "in the zone" of a creative project, the feverish, timeless burn as the words flow and entire universes of potential shimmer into being.

The Fours, however, are the stop signs of the universe. They straighten the edges. They capture all that energy and hold it, however temporarily, in one spot. You might think this kind of clash would result in tension, but the Four of Wands manages a yin/yang balance—fiery but contained, if only for a short time.

This week, let the Four of Wands remind you to celebrate all that your work has wrought. Instead of looking ahead to deadlines and tallying up word counts, take time to rejoice and honor this present moment of accomplishment. For me, this means having a beer on the beach with friends and celebrating the publication of my fifth book (woo-hoo!) even as the deadline for the sixth approaches.

For you? Well, I'm not the one to answer that, am I? But I'll look for you under a beribboned canopy somewhere, and we can hoist our glasses to each other. At some future point, we can get back to work. But for now? OPA!