Sunday, January 31, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Chariot

According to many schools of thought, the tarot represents the Hero's/Heroine's Journey. When we look at the cards that way, the Chariot signals completion of the first step in the human-becoming process individuation. Which is just a fancy way of saying that it's you being you, whole and complete. Acting as a separate identity with free will and exercising the power of choice.

Which should be no surprise to anyone who looks at this card it could be the movie poster for every sword-and-sandal film Hollywood ever made. Like Lawrence of Arabia and The Scorpion King put in a blender with Sparticus. Serious masculine energy, direct and unwavering.

But look closer. Our driver commands not horses, but two sphinxes, one white and one black. His forehead is star-crowned, and he wears crescent moons on his shoulders, symbols of success. There is Mystery here, and Power. Loads of it.

The Chariot is Drive. It is Control. It is Ego. And as such, it is a very good card for us creative types.

Oh, come on, don't tell me you've fallen for the pop culture notion that having a strong ego is bad? Far from it!  A solidly structured ego is a necessary vehicle for your will, especially if you want to take your creative work into the marketplace. Or share it with an audience. Or make it in the first place. The ego is a protective container for all the parts that must be open and receptive and somewhat soft (like our beating hearts and whirring brains). It mediates the forces that move us forward. It prevents the chariot from getting stuck up to the fenders in a sand dune. It keeps us on the right track, moving forward.

So this week, cherish your ego. Respect its boundaries; shore them up if necessary. Your ego is not you, of course, even though it may feel that way sometimes, which is why it gets a bad rap. People who confuse their selves with their egos can become a little desperate to keep everything unscathed.

But that's not the route to a healthy ego. A balanced ego can take a little scathing. Polish yours up and take it for spin this week. Snap the reins, pick up some speed. The road ahead maybe be twisty, but it looks jolly fun.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Queen of Swords

Straighten those shoulders you're in the company of a queen. And as the emissary of the suit of rationality and logic all that is spare and clean and straight this queen will appreciate your good posture most especially.

Court cards are often tricky to interpret. They can be symbolic of the attributes of their respective suits. They can be personifications, either of the querent (the person asking questions of the tarot) or people in the querent's life. Or they can operate as representations of states of being.

The latter is my favorite way of looking at court cards. This method reveals energies swirling and present some represented by the people around us, some attributes we could take on ourselves if we wish. According to this approach, queens are the experts of being. They rule by one decree they are what they are, and they don't need to do a thing to prove it. Especially not this queen, who rules the realm of thought.

This week, the Queen of Swords wants to remind you who you are.  You are, after all, exactly who you think you are. And she would like you to remember that you are a creature of both mind and brain, that your intellect serves you and not vice versa. You'll figure it out, she would tell you, it's not that hard.

You are who you think you are.

So...who are you going to be?

Monday, January 18, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Ace of Pentacles

Contrary to public opinion, tarot isn't a set of prescribed meanings. It's a library of shades and shadows, themes and symbols. It reveals itself in connections and side roads, memories and subconscious imagery. It's a journey, not a destination.

And yet, sometimes the tarot can be slap-in-your-face direct.

Like this week.

The Ace of Pentacles, the apex of its suit, the essence of practicality and foundation. Oh, it heralds success and riches and financial wonderfulness the suit is also called "coins" for a reason but the kind of wealth it references isn't of the sudden windfall type. It's not the lucky strike of a lottery win. Rather, it's the kind that comes after perseverance and dedication and lots and lots of hard work.

So the message this week? Get back to work. Sometimes that's all you need to know, and all you need to do.

See you at the keyboard!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Knight of Wands

It's been very Knightly around here recently. This is not a surprising turn of events, considering that we are just now moving from one calendar year to another (a man-made happening, true enough, but one fraught with letting go and cleaning slates and galloping forward, quintessential Knight activities). It's also the first Mercury retrograde of 2016, and nobody in the tarot does mercurial like a Knight.

So welcome Knight of Wands! We've been expecting you!

Now normally, I'd be telling you all about this Knight's proclivity for rushing into frays, charging forward, lance upraised. This is especially true of the Knight of Wands, whose lance is actually a tool of creation, not destruction. See those little green leaves, those tender twiggy shoots? His lance is a live thing, the archetypal staff of fertility and creativity. It channels the creative impulse into direct energy. It is a powerful tool.

But this Knight comes to us during a time of retrograde — a time of return and re-visioning and remembering — even as the calendar impels us forward. It's a contradictory impulse, looking back, especially for Knights, who are all about the "tally ho." But I think that's what we creative sorts are being asked to do as 2016 rolls out the welcome mat.

Go back a little to 2015. I'm sure there are many things you're releasing the decluttering of life is practically a religion now but the Universe is asking you and all the knightly parts of you to chill for a second. Take stock of the treasure chest that is the past, especially the recent past. It's a rich tapestry, your past, the warp and woof that makes you who you are. Find something here that matters to you, and tuck it next to your heart. And then ride forward with this memory, this blessing, as a talisman.

Like the knights who carried their Lady's Favour into battle, you now have a reminder that your work is a sacred, matter-full thing. That you are on a mission of the highest valor and importance. And that somebody up there loves you.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Seven of Swords

If there is anything I have learned during my time as an author, it is this: the publishing industry is run on exchange. If you want to write books for yourself and yourself alone, buy a journal, a pretty one that you can keep in a locked drawer. If you want to write for an audience, get ready to submit (and I mean that word in all its permutations and connotations).

We write manuscripts, and then those manuscripts are offered to publishers and editors, to agents and readers, to critique partners and contest judges. Our work is split open on various altars, whether to commodification or beautification or good old professionalism. And in return, at the end of this process, we receive our rewards. Reviews. Recommendations. Connections. Perhaps even — hopefully, maybe, miraculously — a little financial recompense.

It's an age-old cycle, this trading of goods and services. For as long as there have been artists and writers and creative works, there has been a market for such. And our sneak thief this week has had it with the whole shebang.

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? Better figure that one out before you raise the hue and cry. Or before you tiptoe past the guards with your arms full of purloined steel.

I'll just look the other way while you decide. And if anyone asks, I'll say I didn't see a thing.