Tarot – An Exercise in Creativity

First of all, I think divination is a load of hogwash. I don’t believe in mystical energies and such nonsense, but I do believe in the power of the human mind. I find that the best fortunetellers are extremely skilled in observation and communication. Using their tools, both mental and physical, fortunetellers construct a story they think relevant to the one seeking their guidance.

And stories, mind you, are extremely powerful. They are one of the cornerstones of human civilization. It is in our nature to transform any event, any emotion into a story using whatever tools we have at hand: words, paint, music, ect. 

That is where Tarot comes in. It’s ironic isn’t it? I don’t believe in divination; yet, I practice reading Tarot cards. But I am a sucker for a good story nonetheless, and Tarot abounds in them.

Now think about the elements of a typical narrative

  • Setting
  • Character
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Climax
  • Resolution

Next, let’s look at a commonly used Tarot spread: The Celtic Cross

Celtic Cross Spread

  1. The Present                       
  2. The Challenge
  3. The Past
  4. The Future
  5. The Goal
  6. The Reason
  7. Advice
  8. External Influence
  9. Hopes/Fears
  10. Outcome

Tarot is used to foretell decisions and consequences, and the probable outcomes. It can also be used for introspection and self-examination. Just the elements which are critical to a well written tale. Based on the meaning and position of a card, you can develop an interesting interpretation

The biggest obstacle to writing is the blank page. Now using the Celtic Cross I have developed an initial draft of my story. Using the center cross, I can form a character and a conflict. With the side column I can create a plot, climax, and resolution.

Let’s try a real example.

            Position                 Card                     Meaning

  1. The Present              Queen of Pentacles       Fortune
  2. The Challenge            King of Pentacles        Pragmatism
  3. The Past                 Ace of Wands             Initiation
  4. The Future               Temperance               Patience
  5. The Goal                 Prince of Swords         Ingenuity
  6. The Reason               Ten of Hearts            Success
  7. Advice                   Four of Swords           Seclusion
  8. External Factor          Six of Swords           Passage
  9. Hopes/Fears              Ace of Pentacles         Reward
  10. Outcome                  Two of Swords            Balance

An interesting result…


Let’s see, my main character will be a woman. She has it all, a great job at the local newspaper, a loving husband, a large home, and beautiful children. One thing she doesn’t have is satisfaction. Something is missing from her life.

Before marriage she had dreamed of becoming a freelance journalist and traveling to strange and sometimes dangerous lands to tell the world’s stories.  At the same time she loves her family and the life she has now.

Her pragmatism tells her not to give up a good thing, but her heart yearns after adventure. Then, an opportunity comes along. She is invited to join a news team on an assignment abroad. She decides to take it. Away from her family she will decide the path she wants her life to take.


Before, examining the tarot cards, I only had a vague idea of a story. Now I have a solid foundation to work with and the words are flowing. There are many spreads to choose from depending on your mood and needs. However, every shuffle of the cards yields a new story and a new adventure.

What are some of your methods to help creativity flow?