Begin with a Tarot Map

Depth Tarot Work
The Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Losche

Before setting out on a journey in unknown terrain it is useful to have a map. In my Intensive Journal Writing class, I provided a diverse selection of Tarot decks and after talking about the range of experiences we can encounter as we journey I asked participants to choose a deck and carefully make a map of the Major cards.

We quietly meditated as we took in the details of our maps and chose two to three cards that ‘called’ to us, that symbolically expressed experiences we have had. Then, using what is called stream of consciousness or free writing, we speed wrote, without consciously thinking or worrying about grammar or spelling, for twenty minutes.

The results were staggering! After drawing the Tower from the Thoth Deck I wrote personally while others began writing fiction and came up with base ideas that could lead to rivetting novels.

Self Imposed Cell

Jerry Gorovoy, Louise Bourgeois’ personal assistant for 30 years, stated: “She had psychological issues, of course, a lot of anxiety, awe, fears, depressions, and a great remorse for not being a good mother… but she knew that art helped her survive, all her creative process, not only the cells, were a therapy for her.”

Louise Bourgeois once said that “art is a guarantee of sanity.” These are words that explain her strong desire to pour her mind in art as a way to heal her past and inner pains. Even though she denounced Freud and his psychoanalytical theories, it’s clear that she was a person who explored and materialized her fears.

I drew Louise Bourgeois from the deck of Art Oracle Cards. Like Bourgeois, I found myself limited by my mother’s possessiveness. Likewise, I know that the creative process and escaping into an interior world has quite literally saved my sanity. Since I was very young I have spent a lot of time alone and I am finding that Bourgeois’ work on ‘Cells’ is resonating for me.

Bourgeois began to make her self-enclosed structures known as Cells in 1989 and they became an important part of her output for many years. In these works she explores themes of being trapped, anguish and fear. The word ‘cell’ can refer to both an enclosed room, as in a prison, as well as the most basic elements of plant or animal life, as in cells in the body.

This week, within my journal, I am spending time thinking about a room/space I spend a lot of time in and the ways in which I have confined myself to a cell. I may also give some thought to designing a mock-up of an alternative cell I would be happy to confine myself to, consider found objects that I would surround myself with.

Stand on Shoulders of Art Giants

Art Oracles by Katya Tylevich and illustrated by Mikkel Sommer, is the first pack of oracle cards to offer daily mantras from some of the world’s greatest artists. Be guided and inspired by Henri Matisse, Grayson Perry, Gilbert & George, Yves Klein and many more with this hilarious creative set.

In our journal writing sessions, we are being guided and inspired by artists. Each week we draw out a card and consider the insights into how to live, work and gain inspiration. Everyone was surprised by the diversity of artists represented in this deck of cards and were eager to learn about someone who emerged who they had not heard of. The mantras on the cards we draw prompt very lively discussion.

Louise Bourgeois 1982, printed 1991 Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00215

The first card I drew was Louise Bourgeois and there is no doubt that I can learn from her. Louise Joséphine Bourgeois (25 December 1911 – 31 May 2010) was a French-American artist. Although she is best known for her large-scale sculpture and installation art, Bourgeois was also a prolific painter and printmaker. She explored a variety of themes over the course of her long career including domesticity and the family, sexuality and the body, as well as death and the unconscious. These themes connect to events from her childhood which she considered to be a therapeutic process. Although Bourgeois exhibited with the Abstract Expressionists and her work has much in common with Surrealism and Feminist art, she was not formally affiliated with a particular artistic movement.

In the class, after reading the advice about life, work and inspiration we applied the technique of freewriting and I found myself, contemplating what Bourgeois would make of me if we were to meet. If this first session is any indication there is no doubt that the artists will stimulate our thinking about how we live and work as creatives.

Maman 1999 Louise Bourgeois 1911-2010 Presented by the artist 2008

On my first foray on the internet, I found an extensive biography on the TATE website.  Subsequently, I put ‘Louise Bourgeois Tate‘ into the search engine and found some wonderful stimuli that I might explore in my journal this week. For example, on the children’s site, they write about spiders as artists and suggest writing a spider poem. Another great suggestion was to design a cell or cage and decide what to put in it, to think about how you would feel about going inside it.

This week I will research more about Bourgeois and I am looking forward to the feedback on the artists that members of the class drew from this wonderfully creative set of cards.

Invoking the Support of a Female Mystic

Mother, mother, what illbred aunt
Of what disfigured and unsightly
Cousin did you unwisely keep
Unasked to my christening, that she Sent these ladies in her stead
With heads like darning-eggs to nod
And nod and not at foot and head
And at the left side of my crib?
-Disquieting Muses 1957 Sylvia Plath

Back in the day, when I began running writing classes, I used to invoke the Muse by setting up an altar, burning sage and having everyone actually imagine they could hear the rustling of gowns as the muses came to join us. Ask anyone who participated at that time and they will leave you in no doubt that the Muses were responsive. These wild women were overjoyed to be invited, having felt that they had been all but forgotten for centuries.

At this same time, I was establishing the Soul Food Cafe and one of the early sections I built was The House of the Muse. As a part of this feature, I gathered a collection of hymns to the muse. Then, when my late husband and I travelled throughout Europe for six months the absolute highlight was finally reaching Delphi, Mount Olympus and other sanctuaries in Greece. At Delphi, I called upon the Delphic Oracle and all but plunged myself in the famed waters of Castalia. I bought back bottles filled with water from the Castalian Spring, decanted the magical water into smaller bottles and gifted these to those willing to anoint themselves and experience a heightened sense of creativity.

Time has passed and I have never forgotten these big-hearted muses who were so responsive to my call for support. Perhaps it was these heavenly spirits who gently reminded me that there is a whole cast of female mystics who would willingly give their time to massage the creativity of those who feel that it has waned a bit.

Little wonder that, seemingly by chance, I came into possession of Mirabai Starr’s ‘Wild Mercy – Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Female Mystics’. It is the perfect text to introduce early in my Great Escape – Intensive Journal Writing Class.

So, in the first session of the Intensive Journal Writing Class, we drew cards from the Goddess Knowledge Card deck.

Then we sat quietly with our eyes closed and allowed ourselves to contemplate our strengths and weaknesses as we begin intensive journal writing.

We each, silently considered how the Goddess who emerged might help us harness our strengths and mitigate our weakness.

I set an alarm and we began a twenty-minute free-writing session where we introduced ourselves and called for support as we begin this work.

Upon completion of the speed writing, we spent time critically analysing what had emerged from our speed free-flowing writing and shared what we had gleaned. It proved to be a moving exercise as each participant found that the Goddess who had stepped up for them resonated in very personal ways.

Certain that in another life I was a Native American, I was delighted when the Native American Changing Woman emerged from the deck to support me as I  adjust to the changing landscape of the field I have worked in. The technique I found myself turning to in the twenty-minute free-writing session was what Jung described as Active Imagination. Changing woman and I began to dialogue and I was touched by her tender-heartedness and motherly approach.

The homework I set was to research further and to work with the Goddess every day.  Working with the Goddess might mean establishing an altar and making a daily offering before calling upon her for some guidance and a message. It might mean spending meditative time calling upon her and then journaling her daily message.

My Daily Goddess is no longer posting but I found her work on Changing Woman and discovered that she has some lovely ideas to explore. If I apply some of her suggestions I can work with these in my journal. Personally, I am looking forward to working with the range of Goddesses who appear to be queued up, ready to help me as I reframe the way I work.

Note: This post will be updated as relevant, supportive material presents itself.

An Entry Point

The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life, by Julia Cameron is a non-fiction book written in first-person point of view about the creative process. The book contains the author’s own experiences of writing and lessons learned, also exercises for the reader.

The premise of ‘The Right to Write’ is simple: No matter what, just WRITE! Write your way to clarity and love. You can do it.

The prompts in this book are pretty much exclusively for getting in touch with your keeping-a-journal, writing-about-your-own-experiences self. Cameron is not offering prompts for fiction but my experience is that the work we do in our journals can be manipulated and become part of fiction or memoir writing.

Kabir says that ‘wherever you are is the entry point’.

Today your entry point is to write about where you are emotionally, physically and psychologically. If you are unsure how to begin, consider doing a body scan first.  I have also made body scan recordings which you will find here. Doing this full-body scan before writing in our journals drew amazing writing from participants in a recent workshop.

Another strategy is to get out your trusty Tarot deck. Corrine Kenner has two interesting books which explore how a writer can use a tarot deck to enhance their writing. For now, using your preferred Tarot deck lay a spread.

  1. Physically I need
  2. Emotionally I need
  3. Spiritually I need
  4. Mentally I need
  5. Currently I feel

Draw and lay your cards out in a spread. Meditate upon the images and then, remembering that thinking is the enemy, just write what comes streaming down your arm, through your fingers, into the pen and onto the page.

Check out more ideas about using Tarot Cards

Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner

Tarot Journal Writing Corrine Kenner

Tarot Ideas Generator

Tarot and the Fellowship of Fools

How to Use Tarot for Writing with a 2 – Card Spread

Using Tarot to Write Fiction

I found the work of Corrine Kenner after working with a Tarot deck to promote journal and fiction writing. On her blog, Corrine Kenner promotes ‘The Magic Cure’ as a sample piece of work written after drawing ‘The Magician’ in one of her workshops.

 

Four Reasons to Establish A Journal

Some Reasons Why You Should Be Journaling

1. Journaling Relieves Stress

Writing professionally can be stressful. Demands on word counts and creativity can be draining. You might think, why on earth would I de-stress from writing by writing? When you’re writing creatively, you’re writing for a specific purpose. You are fleshing out your characters, setting a scene, or moving plot along. But when you journal, you are just marinating in your own thoughts. Putting your worries, frustrations, and victories to paper can help you add closure to your day, and can provide an emotional release. (This is assuming that you’re journaling before bed.)

2. Journaling Helps You Process Your Thoughts

Sometimes in the midst of releasing your emotions on paper, your mind is clear enough to work through those emotions, and figure out solutions to your frustrations. I’ve had some great “a-ha” moments when I’m journaling, or maybe thirty minutes to an hour after closing my journal I’ve found mental peace after littering pages with word vomit. And who knows? Maybe in the midst of one of your own word vomit sessions, you’ll find the solution to that plot hole you unintentionally fell into. By the way, if you spend time journaling, you’re likely to be physically and emotionally healthier according to a 2005 scientific study.

3. Journaling Boosts Your Self-Esteem

If you spend ten minutes every day writing about something positive you did or something you like about yourself, your self-esteem will thank you. Similarly, writing five things you’re thankful for each day can make you more grateful, and as a result, can make you happier. You’re enforcing positive truths about yourself and your writing each time you practice this.

4. You’ll Be In Good Company

Kurt Cobain. Abraham Lincoln. Leonardo Da Vinci. Andy Warhol They all kept journals. If it worked for them, who’s to say what you’ll get from the practice of journaling? The hardest part of journaling is starting the habit. The easiest way is to schedule a time for yourself that will be consistent every day. Get a notebook that you love looking at or touching, or if you prefer to go digital, try Evernote or other note-taking apps. Of course, there’s always blogging if you’re ok with being more public with your mental processes. No matter which route you take, journaling is a worthwhile life practice to start. Do you journal? How does it improve your life? Let us know in the comments section!

Source: The Write Practice

Make a Start by Positioning Yourself in the Present

Set a timer for ten minutes and tackle these questions as spontaneously as possible.

  1. What is the story I tell myself about my writing life and who I am as a writer?
  2. How can I reframe this story?
  3. What is the story I would really like to be telling myself about my writing life?

Cabinet of Curiosities

A cabinet of wondrous curios
A delightful collection
Objects,
Carefully placed
Lying, seeming unconnected
Next to each other
Evoking,
Triggering memories
Permitting the mind to
Wander to faraway places

Microscopes,
Scales, microtomes,
Drafting tools,
Cameras,
Magic lanterns
Antique candle powered projectors
Fine laboratory glassware
Vintage beakers, funnels, test tubes, crucibles,
Dessicating jars
And a one-off hand blown, baroque piece carefully stored

A pair of rare wax anatomical models
Crutches and callipers,
Arm braces,
Blood pressure meters
And first aid dummies
Antique botanical prints
Woolly mammoth hair
Coprolites,
Spiny trilobites,
Skulls, fish and ammonites stored in labelled draws.

Butterflies mounted in Petri dishes
An Atlantis Moth
Obscure,
Whimsical and wonderful
Packets of seed,
Very old taxidermy birds, in excellent condition
Hand-made pills,
Patent medicines and toiletries.
The scent of human breast milk, swamp water and sex
Stored in tiny laboratory vials

All combine to fill
A purveyors
wonder chamber of
creative stimuli