How to Be a Tarot Muse: Part 1

A tarot muse, as I see it, is someone who uses the tarot as a tool for connecting with their creative subconscious, whose approach to symbols and meaning is fluid, and who isn’t happy just doing/believing the same as everyone else. A tarot muse might also be a writer or an artist, but that is not a requirement — at the very least, it is someone who lives their life artistically, or who tries to, or who would like to. If this is sounding the bell of recognition in your heart, then read on and I shall provide some not-rules to follow in order to nurture your inner muse.

First of all, you know that little booklet that comes with a pack of tarot cards that explains what each of them means? It is not important. Nor are any of the books you might have that outline the precise significance of each card, nor are any of the websites you use, and so on. Keep them! Keep the books, the browser bookmarks, the little folded pieces of paper. Keep them handy — but not too handy. You want to be able to use them if you get stuck during a reading, but you don’t want to rely on them.

In fact, I’d advise that you keep them completely separately from the cards. What the cards mean to you and what they mean to someone else are different and they require some distance between them. If you can, try a setup similar to the one I employ: all my cards are kept in a box on a shelf, while on another shelf I keep not just my tarot books but my books on archetypes, poetry, psychology, fairy tales, art — anything that I feel might enhance a reading and help me find deeper meaning. See my ‘inspiration shelves’ below (which are certainly not my only shelves, but the ones I draw from liberally when doing tarot and creativity work).

The more familiar you become with the practice of being a tarot muse, the more you realize that anything you encounter can enhance your understanding of the tarot (and by extension your inner being, and even the world at large). Draw inspiration from nature documentaries, from comic books, from snatches of conversation overheard on the bus. Underline liberally. That sentence in the book you’re reading that made your stomach flip? Underline it, highlight it, save it somehow. That newspaper headline that struck you as funny, enlightening, or (perhaps accidentally) indicative of the human condition? Take a picture, write it down, keep it in a trinket box. Even if you don’t know why you’re keeping it yet, if it gave you pause, if it made you think of something, it might be worth coming back to. Collect words, collect insights, collect experiences. A tarot muse is, in a way, reading tarot all the time.

Take the Page of Cups, for example. If this card shows up in a reading and you are drawing an absolute blank, definitely reach for your tarot manual — but, equally, see if you can find meaning in your art history book or your essay collection or what have you. Don’t draw the line of inspiration anywhere. Ask yourself what you are drawn to in that pesky Page of Cups. Perhaps the pattern on his garment? If so, do you have any fashion design books handy? Any magazines? Can you find a similar pattern anywhere? If you do, what is the context and how does it make you feel? Does it bring anything else to mind?

Or, maybe what you’re drawn to is not the Page at all, but rather the fish in his cup. Well, reach for that biology book, or re-watch your favorite David Attenborough fish moment. Anything that comes to mind is valid. Write it down: write down your thoughts, your questions, even your words of surrender. There could even be meaning in the fact that you were unable to find meaning in the Page. Leave it, come back to it tomorrow, see if you have any freaky dreams or any shower-time ‘ah-ha!’ eureka moments.

Just remember that being a tarot muse is holistic; all things can, and do, connect, if you are open to seeing the connections.

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