On creative dialogue: a conversation with the tarot

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At the beginning of the year, I wrote about the buried memories my memoir has been inviting me to reclaim — stories I was told about who I was, or should be, in childhood and adolescence that I didn’t know how to integrate or reconcile into a cohesive sense of self. I’m emerging now from three weeks in subterranean search mode with much more of the picture. But reentry has been jarring.

One reason is that I’m holding so much new information. Writer’s block isn't always about a lack of words or ideas — sometimes it’s having too many. Without a way to organize all the material clamoring for attention, I get overwhelmed by the din.

I once thought the only way to cope was to disengage from the glut of sensations. Shut it down, an inner voice would whisper with growing urgency. Step aside now.

So I did. I believed (and still believe) in pacing, in strategic breaks. But it was easy not to return to the work because the mess of the material was still, well, a mess. I needed a way to prioritize areas of focus, to step out of my mind and back into my body without succumbing to overstimulation.

During one of the most intense periods of inner chaos and outer stagnation in my writing, I began using a tarot deck as part of my creative process. As I shuffled the cards, I posed a question to myself: what is the energy that wants to be worked with to guide this project? The card I drew would inevitably contain a symbol or image — not unlike my dreams — that would shake loose a specific idea that I could focus on and let the rest temporarily fall away. The illustrations in the cards and, as I grew more familiar with them, their particular meanings in the traditional narrative of the tarot became a playscape in metaphor, the mother tongue of my creativity. I was at home with this kind of dialogue, I realized. And I let it lead the way.

Today I went to one of my favorite decks, the Fountain Tarot, to decide how to tell you this story. The card that came forward was, of course, the Sun in reverse.

The Sun (upright), from the Fountain Tarot

The Sun (upright), from the Fountain Tarot

The creators of the guidebook to this deck write that this presentation is about “separation from oneself and others, an ambiguous future … disconnection.” The upright meaning — i.e., the potential result of working through the challenge or imbalance that the reversed card indicates — is an invitation “to know yourself and the world newly, and to embrace the clarity felt deep within your gut.”

In the aftermath of a deep dive into the writing cave, and more importantly, the call to reassemble a fragmented past, knowing myself and the world newly is exactly what I hope sharing these words will help me do.

Are you interested in exploring the tarot as a tool for your own creativity? Follow my stories on Instagram (@draftcreativecoaching) for occasional tarot prompts to guide and inspire your work. Or for a 1:1 conversation for support with a creative block, e-mail me by clicking the button below to set up a free call.