Storytelling and the Tarot

chrissyToday’s guest post is by C. LaVielle, author of the new fantasy novel Forging the Blade. As Chrissy mentions in the kind words of her introduction, we share common interests in both the hero’s journey as formulated by Joseph Campbell, and in the seeker’s journey to transformation through the Tarot trumps.

While both represent potential life paths, they also represent interesting structures for novels and short stories.

Storytelling and the Tarot

I first “met” Malcolm in August of 2010. I’d just finished (or thought I’d finished) FORGING THE BLADE and decided to do a blog about the process of getting it published. Because the book’s story arc follows the order of the tarot major arcana from The

We are all Fools.
We are all Fools.

Fool (Chapter 0) to The World (Chapter 21), I also decided to write posts about the tarot and The Hero’s Journey. Malcolm was one of the very first people to comment on my posts because Word Press saw that we were both writing about the Hero’s Journey and we were both interested in the tarot and referred us to each other. His on-line name at the time was The Knight of Swords—a most apt handle because he is both an author (knights and swords deal with communication) and a knight in shining armor to me. He was, and still is, always there with a word of encouragement when I need it most. And as a newbie writer I need all the encouragement I can get. I have decided to write about the tarot and stories—topics of great interest to both Malcolm and me.

Our stories are some of our most valuable possessions. We tell them not only to our friends and family, but also to ourselves because they define us and give our lives meaning and purpose.

The Tarot Deck

The Magician teaches us how to gain control of our own stories.
The Magician teaches us how to gain control of our own stories.

A typical tarot deck is exquisitely designed to generate an infinite number of stories. When a reader lays down a spread, each card she lays down is a piece of a story which she reads to her clients. It is a satisfying and healing experience to have a small part of our own story repeated to us from a new, non-judgmental perspective. It validates us and helps us understand things and see things we might have missed.

The major arcana cards, such as The Fool, The Empress, Death, etc., represent the archetypal events that occur in our life stories. These are the biggies. Events that are destined to happen. Turning points and major plot points. Events that the Multiverse is sending us because:

  • They are what we must accomplish at this particular point in our lives.
  • They are who we must be or who we must encounter at this particular point in our lives.
  • We have single-handedly fought our way into this situation and there is no other way out.

The minor arcana are, essentially, a modern deck of playing cards with the pip cards (aces through tens); and four instead of three court cards (pages, knights, queens, and kings).

The Four Suits

The Chariot: Where there's a will, there's a way.
The Chariot: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

In both the tarot and a deck of playing cards, there are four suits, each one symbolizing one of the four magical elements.

  • Diamonds and pentacles: earth: money, business, health
  • Spades and swords: air: communication, logical thought
  • Hearts and cups: water: feelings, intuition, relationships
  • Clubs and wands: fire: motivation, inspiration, passion

When a tarot reader deals a spread for us she is looking at a sub-plot of our life story. The pip cards indicate what is happening on a mundane level and what part of our life is involved—money, love, health, passion, art, etc. The court cards indicate who the main characters are and, depending on their suit and placement, how they are dealing with the situation. The major arcana cards are wild cards dealt by the Multiverse, or, if you will, the Divine. These are the things that we, at this point, cannot control.

The Devil is master of the material realm. Don't let him ruin your story by convincing you that money and stuff are the things that are really important.
The Devil is master of the material realm. Don’t let him ruin your story by convincing you that money and stuff are the things that are really important.

Tarot as Story

A tarot reading is a story, complete with plot points, characters, and divine intervention.

  • Our lives are made up of hundreds of stories.
  • During busy or confusing times, we may be living two or more of these stories at once.
  • Plot-lines tend to repeat in our lives, but with different characters and settings, until we figure out how to make them have happy or at least appropriate endings.
  • These stories can happen in a moment or they may take years to tell.

The pictures are from “The Fool’s Journey Through the Tarot Major Arcana,” a ritual I wrote for last Summer Solstice.

More information about her novel:

forgingthebladeForging the Blade
An Adventure Through the Tarot Major Arcana Sixteen-year-old Molly Adair would love to spend all her time in WarCraft Universe. On-line she is Darkfire, a sexy wizard who fights dragons and saves kingdoms. In real life, she’s a chubby nerd with cut scars tracking up her arm, a knot in her stomach that won’t go away, and a nightmare of plunging through screaming blackness that slams her awake every night. Her life totally sucks and Molly is sure it can’t get any worse… Until her parents die in a plane crash and a terrifying shadow begins to haunt her.

A mysterious grandmother appears and whisks her away to Portland, Oregon, where a bizarre young man materializes in her bedroom, clicks a button on his smart phone, and sends her screaming into the land of Damia. The kingdom is at war, a rogue dragon is terrorizing the countryside, and the shadow continues to stalk close at her heels. A magical black cat and a gypsy’s promise are Molly’s only guides back to her grandmother’s house. On her journey Molly travels through each of the tarot major arcana cards, beginning with The Fool, Chapter 0, and ending with The World, Chapter 21.

2 thoughts on “Storytelling and the Tarot

  1. Thank you for contributing your storytelling and Tarot guest post. I hope writers and/or seekers will continue to find it and further explore how pathways through the Tree of Life and through the Tarot’s Major Arcana have applications in life and in telling great stories.

    Yes, the URL for this blog is still “knight of swords,” using the term “knight” from my Thoth deck. (Other decks refer to the knights as kings.) The good and bad attributed to this court card all describe me one way or another, though when using this deck, we don’t attach any significance to a card being upside down in a spread, so I never see the cards as “reversed” or “negative.”

    I hope a lot of people find your novel and enjoy the story.


  2. Pingback: Tarot cards after all these years | Malcolm's Round Table

Comments are closed.