Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Writerly Tarot: The Three of Pentacles

At the tail end of last week, I finished the draft for what I am hoping will be the sixth book in my mystery series. 86,558 words. It felt really good to lay down that metaphorical pen and walk blinking into the sunlight.

It's a big step, but of course it is only a step. Next it goes to my editors. And that's where the Three of Pentacles work begins. We've visited this card twice in the past (I wrote about it as a representation of the Great Work HERE, and as the card of collaboration HERE) and so today I look at it through my own personal lens, which this morning is one of amazement at all of the different facets a creative work brings into focus.

There is planning, represented here by the figure with the blueprints, the bringer of equations and theory, eye-pleasing arches and load-bearing walls. There is practice, the worker atop the bench, translating the words and images into brick and mortar. And there is inspiration, the tonsured priest, providing the reminder that the spark at the heart of any creative endeavor can be a connection to a larger purpose (and that one would not be off-base to think of it as Divine, if one so choosesnot required but absolutely appropriate).

At different times in the process, I am all of these people. I serve as priest and architect and craftsperson as word by word my work begins to stand on its own. Hopefully it will be a place that people will want to visit—I have tried to make it welcoming and lovely and accessible, tried very hard—but I am content that it exists as both a product of my expectations and separate from them. I am content that I did my very best.

It's not turn-key ready, not yet. But I am excited to think that it will be soon.

This week, consider the different ways that you show up for your own work. Ponder the specific joys and satisfactions of each. There is delight in sandpapering that is equal to the delight of blessing that is equal to the delight of planning the broad strokes of a soaring cathedral. Be grateful for them all.

Monday, May 22, 2017

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Seven of Swords

It is raining here as I write, not the gentle showers of April. No, this is the roaring lion of May come down to growl and pace and throw himself around a bit. My dog is hiding with each thundercrack, and I am grateful to have a roof over my head on such a night.

I am one paragraph away from finishing the draft of what (I hope) will be the sixth book in my mystery series. I need to get to that paragraph. I need to be done. And yet I am still crossing off items on my to-do list. I have paid the bills, cooked the supper, written the letters, proofed the blog. Check and check again.

And now this last thing to do. When did tarot become a chore? A task?

Alas, that is not how it's supposed to work. So it is with little surprise that when I finally settle down to get this post written, and I turn over the card, it is the Seven of Swords, the card of sneak thievery.

He has tiptoed into our readings before. What I said about him then still resonates:
Of course, to call him a thief is to presume that the swords he is so stealthily carting away don't belong to him already. Perhaps he is simply reclaiming what was rightfully his in the first place, which makes this a mission of liberation, not larceny. The image is open to interpretation, and that's what you must do this week.

Contemplate the Larger Enterprise of which you are a part — has something of creative value been taken from you (or vice versa, it must be admitted)? What means justify the ends of getting it back? What steps should you take to correct this imbalance? And what exactly is it that's been (or is being) snatched away?
If I am to heed my own advice (and surely I should, for what's the point of sharing useless advice?), then I must look this thief in the eye and realize that he works for me. I hired him to steal snippets of time. He picks the locks with his tool of multitasking, but what he doesn't say is that his services cost me more than any purloined bounty he brings.

Today I have double-teamed every moment I have had. Not one has been deep, or singular, or purely experienced. I have charged through every single one, desperate to get to the next item and check it off.

Some days are like this, I know. Best to put one's head down and keep moving forward, stubborn as a bull. One step after another. But today there have been gardenias and rainbows and red wine, and the thief I hired to steal time for me has instead stolen moments from me.

This, not this week. Right now. Put down your creative to-do list and claim instead an hour of non-productive non-work. Don't check off anything. Don't rush through an unpleasant task. Creativity is a gift we give ourselves. Send the thief packing. Let the seconds run through your fingers indolent and lovely. And know that I am taking my own advice, as of right this very second.

It's time to unplug and sit with the lightning.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Empress

Occasionally here at The Writerly Tarot, I break procedure and instead of pulling a random card from the deck, I choose one deliberately. I do this on the sabbats, those eight turnings of the Wheel of the Year that mark the solstices and equinoxes and cross-quarter celebration days.

I'm being deliberate again today, even though this weekend's holiday is a secular and not particularly spiritual one--Mother's Day. (Hint: If you haven't called your mother already, this is the Universe reminding you to do so). This day is probably second only to Valentine's Day in terms of floral purchases--likewise perfume and candy--but there's actually a deep significance to Mother's Day that goes deeper than its commercial expressions. 

The modern concept of Mother's Day began with Anna Jarvis, who wanted to celebrate her own mother, peace activist Ann Reeves Jarvis, who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War and who created Mother's Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. And while the holiday does celebrate (as Ann Jarvis describes) "the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world," the day actually celebrates the deeper commitment to service to humankind.

And to peace. Julia Ward Howe's famous Mother's Day Proclamation echoed this call boldly:
Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be of water or of tears! 

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
Like Mother's Day, the Empress has depths. On the surface, she is the epitome of creative fertility, the Queen of the May, the Lady of the Land and all that it provides. And she is. But she is also the Lady of blood and fire and pain, for both birth and death are her purview. And yet here, as the Empress, she offers us bounty and blessings, abundance and Love, the big good kind. Her arms are open to all.

This week, be grateful for all the mothering and nurturing that you have received, and for all the ways that you have been able to share it, whether in a literal sense with your own mother, or in a metaphorical sense with women and men who have cared for you or nurtured your endeavors. And you know those people.

So yes, be sure to call your mom (that's the second time I've told you, so...) But yes also, say thank you this week. Say it in an email or a phone call or better-best in person. Be specific. Surely there is someone in your life who provided some precious water to a seedling of your very own. The Universe wants you to let them know you are grateful.

And have a blessed and fruitful Mother's Day. Peace be with you.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The King of Cups

First, a confession.

I cannot look at the King of Cups as depicted in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot and not think of Q, the almost-omniscient troublemaker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Something about that weird hat crown. And the whale-tail throne floating in the middle of the ocean. And the blue dress. And the necklace with the fish amulet, which is not something Q wore, but only because he hadn't thought about it yet, I am sure.

Because let's face it, the King of Cups is an odd combination of traits. He's one of the court cards, tricky devils when it comes to interpretation because they can represent the querent (the person getting the reading), a person in the querent's life, or some manifestation of the energy of their suit. So if he shows up, he could be you, or somebody else, or some kind of kingly presence.

The Cups themselves are also notoriously hard to pin down. Like the watery element they spring from, they are always ebbing and rising, flowing and switching course, in a perpetual state of constant change (ponder that paradoxical concept a moment). They transform and are transformed in continual movement, only temporarily contained. The King of Cups represents that dynamic, especially its emotional power. The Cups are the suit of the heart, after all, and this King is deeply in touch with feelings of all kinds, especially compassion and love.

This contradicts with the outwardly-focused, actively-engaged nature of Kings. Masculine cards are direct, linear, and somewhat relentless in their drive forwardinterior work is not their forte. And yet here is the King of Cups representing just that.

Also, you must understand that in the tarot, concepts like masculine and feminine have nothing to do with genderthey simple describe ways of being in the world by creating two poles on a continuum. So Kings don't always refer to men, and even when they do, they don't always reference the "manliness" of said men.

In summary, be on the lookout for the King of Cups this week. He'll beto quote Suzanne Vega's "Left of Center""in the outskirts/ in the fringes/ in the corner/off of the strip." He may be disguised, deliberately unassuming or delightfully outrageous. He may be in your own heart, or sitting next to you on the bus. He may be a she, or an it, both or neither. And he'll have a message for you.

What does this have to do with writing? you say. Excellent question. You should probably ask this King when he appears. He may answer with a riddle. But he'll always answer. Guaranteed.