Teneice Durrant, creator of Tarot with Ten, will use various tarot and oracle decks to provide monthly readings for writers, with exercises on using imagery and intuition as prompts. November’s prompt will help you craft a hero’s journey for a story.
Writing the hero's journey
Popular craft books like Save the Cat Writes a Novel discuss the opening image and ending image as being a reflection or inversion of each other. In the epic hero’s quest, the main character returns to the starting point to find that both they and the place they left have changed.
So this month, we are going to draw one card to represent the place where the story begins, discuss how we would invert that, draw three cards to represent challenges the main character will face that change how they see that place by the end of the story, then draw one more card to represent the journey's end.
This month's tarot reading and writing exercise are below, but as it is more substantive than previous months' readings, I thought it would be helpful to give a sample reading first, to demonstrate how we can read and analyze the cards I pull to craft a longer narrative.
Hero’s journey sample tarot reading and analysis
Opening image: The Ten of Wands
The Main Character is hauling their harvest to town. The wands represent creativity and artistic pursuits; but in this situation, their creativity feels like a burden weighing them down. They don’t realize how close they are to their destination (the town), and they are ready to give up.
Three cards to represent the main character’s journey: The Seven of Wands, The Eight of Swords, and The Lovers
The Seven of Wands represents learning healthy boundaries and choosing battles. The image is literally someone taking the high ground and defending their space.
The Eight of Swords represents being trapped by one’s own thoughts. They could very easily remove the blindfold and remove themself from the situation, but they are in a prison of their own mind.
The Lovers is also called the choice. This card represents a soul tie to another person or a recognition that resonates on a soul level. Their eyes are clear, and the card represents a willing and mutual connection.
Ending Image: Reverse Ten of Wands
The main character has discovered that their creativity and artistic pursuits may be a difficult journey, but they are strong enough to carry the burden of creativity and bring these new ideas to the world. They now know that the journey is what informs their art, and they know their destination.
These cards could represent a character who starts out struggling with the burden of their creativity and trying to manage this talent. They are tested and learn boundaries, but then feel anxious about setting those boundaries. Finally, they learn that it’s okay to make a connection with someone and share their experience or burden. They can’t close off from everyone. The main character then realizes that their creativity isn’t a burden and that their art and passion can be accepted.
I hope giving a sample reading and analysis helps you see one example of a main character’s “journey” you can use tarot to craft. Now, I’ll pull some cards for this month’s exercise.
Hero's journey tarot reading
As always, these images are from the Rider Waite tarot deck, via Pixabay (Creative Commons license), and you can flip through all cards from this reading here:
Opening Image: Nine of Swords
Fear, worry, anxiety, sleepless nights, nightmares, victim mentality. The figure in the card is having nightmares but still has their security blanket. It’s not painful enough for them to move yet.
Three cards: Judgment, Knight of Swords, and Queen of Pentacles
Inner calling, destiny, fate, rebirth. The Judgement card represents a second chance. The imagery is of the second coming.
Knight of Swords
This card represents charging forward with conviction and a steel spine.
Queen of Pentacles
Homemaker, emotional fulfillment, loyalty, hearth. The Queen of Pentacles represents a life of quality over quantity.
Ending Image: Reverse Nine of Swords
Reversed, the Nine of Swords shows us the main character removing themself from the nightmare situation. They are ready to experience life without the pain, even if the transition is uncomfortable.
A writing exercise
Using these cards, see if you can draft a story about a hero’s journey, or apply the template to an existing or in-progress story. Your character starts in turmoil, but isn’t quite ready to take action yet. Then, they feel a calling, or experience a kind of rebirth or second chance to right a wrong, which instills in them a sense of purpose and conviction, a steely resolve to act. They glimpse the emotional fulfillment they could have and the path that leads to it. Finally, they are ready to act, to end the turmoil and leave the bad situation.
That’s a whole novel! Fortunately, November is National Novel Writing Month. While we’re already halfway through it, we won’t tell if this reading inspires you to start your novel late.
Until next month, here’s how to find me outside of the Center:
YouTube Tarot with Ten
What did you think of this tarot reading and the cards as visual prompts for story development? Share with us in the comments, and contact us if you’re interested in working one-on-one with Teneice in part 3 of Writing Toward Balance and Wholeness: Tarot and the Narrative Arc (taking parts 1 and 2 first is not required).
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