March 22 2017

How I use Tarot for my Writing

In October 2015, I was introduced to using Tarot and the Hero’s Journey for writing by the wonderful and amazing Arwen Lynch. I watched her video Character Interview Spread. And it was synchronicity. I knew I had to take her course. I knew I needed to find out more. I’m a visual person so using a visual aid like tarot made sense to my brain (especially since I’m one of those folks who uses their right and left brain in various ways to learn, write, create art, etc.).

I purchased Arwen’s course: 33 Days to Finish Your Book.  And it was worth every dime I spent–though to be honest it isn’t expensive at all. Using tarot and the hero’s journey meant I needed to know more about the actual hero’s journey. So when I signed up the for the course, I also purchased Vogler’s The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, as well as Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, and the Tarot Kit for Beginners. If you’re going to use tarot for your writing then you need a basic deck, and the only tarot deck I had wasn’t a Rider-Waite deck, which is  what most people would consider to be a core/basic deck. Since then I’ve accrued several various types of tarot and oracle decks and books.

Why? Well, using tarot cards (along with oracle cards) for my writing has proven to be a powerful brainstorming tool, a wonderful and exciting way to open and increase my imagination, as well as my intuition in regard to my writing. I soon realized I wanted to know as much as I could about using tarot for writing so I also purchased Corrine Kenner’s Tarot for Writers, and I’ve just purchased Kenner’s Astrology for Writers (I’ll let you know how that one is next Wednesday). Along that same line, I have Linda Perfect’s The Storyteller’s Tarot  and Diana Castle’s Writer Faster With Tarot . So…

What do I think about using tarot for my writing? Has it really helped? How do you use tarot for writing?

Writers have used various prompts and other tools to help with their writing for ages. Famous authors like Stephen King, Piers Anthony, and John Steinbeck are just a few writers who have used tarot cards for inspiration, so why not me? Well, it’s definitely helped me with my writing. Back in October of 2015, I created a video series when I was preparing for November’s NaNoWriMo that showed my journey with tarot and the hero’s journey, using Arwen’s course and many of the books I’ve mentioned above (but mostly, in the beginning it was Arwen’s course that laid the foundation).


Since then I’ve Arwen’s course, tarot, and the hero’s journey, as well as a few other things (like some of the books I’ve mentioned above) for my writing and it has helped me grow as a writer. Not only have I gone from being a pantser to a planner in regard to outlining, but I now love outlining, though I am still a bit of a loose outliner (meaning, I don’t actually outline scenes, just Acts and Chapters). I love creating Character Profiles/Sketches using Tarot. And now that I’ve found  Caroline Myss’ Archetype Cards it is becoming much easier to create my Character Profiles/Sketches.

Within the tart cards there are 22 Major Arcana cards that represent major events, life’s journey, archetypes, etc., and 56 Minor Arcana that represent everyday events, everyday people, etc.

The Minor Arcana is broken down into suits (like a regular deck of playing cards) and you’ll definitely want cards with pictures on them (there are PIP decks out there that don’t have cards with images in the background–they look more like regular playing cards).

  • Wands correspond to Clubs, and represent the element of Fire (as a wand, which is usually made of wood, burns), and symbolize spiritual experience. Or it might be someone with a fiery personality; or tempers flaring; or maybe something is about to go up in flames; literally, something catches on fire or figuratively, something explosive happens.
  • Cups or Chalices correspond to Hearts, and represent the element of Water (a cup or chalice holds water/liquid), and symbolize emotional stuff. Or it might be someone who is very emotional; intuition; or someone has a specific desire or want; or it could be the beginning of a love affair (this could be your B story, or if you’re writing a romance a definite lead into your story).
  • Swords correspond to Spades, and represent the element of Air (swords cut through the air, think of Excalibur), and symbolize thought and communication (swords and spades both “have a point to make”). Or it could be someone who is very intellectual; or someone who uses words as weapons; or maybe ideas between others come into conflict; or it could be that people in your story have interests in common.
  • Coins or Pentacles correspond to Diamonds, and represent the element of Earth (or money, or a few other things), and symbolize physical, material, and financial things. Or  it could be someone who is wealthy; or someone having money trouble;  or someone is buying or selling real estate; or maybe there is an opportunity to make lots of money.

Like a regular deck of playing cards you will find court cards within each of the suits:  King, Queen, Knight (Prince), and Page or Knave (Princess).  You will come across some differences between various decks so I find it helpful to read the booklet that comes with your cards. But it’s important that you choose a deck that speaks to you in some way.  Because with tarot you can apply the imagery and symbolism of the 78 cards of the tarot to help you with things like developing plot, conflict, character profiles or sketches, setting and scenery, as well as to introduce conflict, twists, etc..

There are a number of books and spreads out there to help learn tarot.  I looked up a few worksheets online (check out pinterest), but I basically use the spreads that Arwen uses for the course, and sometimes I add in a spread or two from Kenner’s book. You can do whatever feels comfortable to you, what works best. As a matter of fact, you could use 3 act structure, Save the Cat, or whatever other outlining method you prefer and add tarot to the mix.

When it comes to creative aids for my writing I have an open mind, which means I usually embrace anything and everything that might help me with my writing process. 😀 Which is why I’ve preordered: Vivien Caethe and Amber Peter’s book The Writer’s Block Tarot, and now have the Tarot Coloring Book by Theresa Reed.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Posted March 22, 2017 by Burgess Taylor in category "#amwriting", "Camp NaNoWriMo", "characters", "Creativity", "Hero's Journey", "Inspiration", "NaNoWriMo", "NaNoWriMo Prep", "Outlining", "Planning", "Productivity", "Stephen King", "Tarot", "Writing", "Writing Life", "Writing Process", "Writing Prompt

About the Author

Hello Y'all! I'm a writer, an art journaler, and a coffee addict. I'm working on a novel and chronicling the process and my progress. Grab a cup of Java (or Tea) and sit a spell. :D