Friday, February 19, 2016

The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life by Jessa Crispin

Image result for a creative tarot

I once went on an undercover writing assignment for a magazine to have my palm read. I sat with the palm reader on her screened-in porch at the back of her unassuming ranch-style house in the middle of a middle class subdivision. She didn't wear strands of amber beads or colorful, fringed, flowing scarves. She also didn't intuit by my palm that I was a writer. Although, to her credit she did tell me that I was some sort of artist living a creative life. She also told me that I was drawn to a solitary, quiet way of living.

In the past, I also had a brief fling with Wicca, more for its focus on nature and the turn of the seasons than on casting spells.

It is not too surprising then that I hold a mild interest in the Tarot, mainly for the little pieces of art that each deck of 76 cards holds. 

In The Dead Ladies Project that I wrote about recently (here), the author Jessa Crispin mentions that she occasionally read tarot cards for people to make a little money. So I wasn't totally surprised to find that her latest book is The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life. It was just published and I snagged the library's one copy.

Ms. Crispin uses the tarot deck to assist with her creative process. The cards, she writes, can be used to hook into one's intuition and imagination. A way to tell the story, not of one's past, but as an aid in finding clarity in the present or a guidepost as to where one might think about going next. 

She has studied the tarot and its uses. At first she just read the cards for herself and then friends started to ask her to do readings for them. In the book, she gives a brief history of tarot cards - they simply began as a card game. 

The tarot deck is not a fortunetelling device but more of a 'here's where you are now but maybe think about this and perhaps you could be here.' It consists of the Major Arcana - the archetypes - and the Minor Arcana - circumstances and conflicts. She writes:

The cards depict the whole realm of human experience, from love to death, from joy to sorrow, from loneliness to friendship. Some cards are particularly nasty; others easily cheer a reader up. But either way, you have to take the dark with the light, just like in life.

She writes about each card and offers an explanation of the illustration, its meaning, and what it might represent in your story. These little essays offer fascinating insights into human nature whether one wants to continue to study the tarot cards or not.

The High Priestess
Her card represents wisdom, secrets, and ritual.

She also ends each essay with a list of three or four recommended materials - art, photography, books, music, films - as a source of learning and inspiration. 

After writing about the deck, she explains how to lay out the cards - the spread - for different types of guidance: inspiration, creative blocks, creating structure, checking your direction, and bringing your project into the world. Then she offers a sample reading or two for each area. 

Finally, she includes instructions on how to do a reading - for yourself or someone else.

I am just barely into the book - or perhaps I should say tarot deck - and am finding it easy to understand and quite fascinating. There is no occult woo-woo here. No black magic or evil spells. Ms. Crispin puts her cards on the table, so to speak, in an entertaining and down-to-earth manner.

I don't think this will in any way send me off on a tarot card reading journey (although it might), but I am merely satisfying a long held curiosity about the cards. And curiosity is what propels a creative, inspired life. 

What about you? Have you had any interest in or experiences with tarot cards? 


  1. When I was a teenager, burning black candles in my bedroom, I had a Tarot deck. It disappeared somewhere in the decades since then. I was interested in Tarot and voodoo and the power of thought. I still believe in some of it. My niece has taken classes on palm reading and Tarot, and just gave me a copy of the 2016 Witches' Companion, so maybe it's slightly genetic.

    1. Oh yes, Joan. Black candles indeed. I burned a few myself back in my teen-aged, angst-filled days. I have never had my 'cards' read, but if you Google 'free tarot card readings' there is a site (Salem Tarot) that will do a three card reading for you. It also provides info on the different decks and meanings of the cards. Great fun.

      The Witches' Companion looks good too. I will have to say that my brief fling with Wicca was all independent study. I didn't join a coven. Maybe we could form a 'virtual' one!

  2. You do find interesting books to write about, Belle. I have not had any experiences with Tarot cards, and I'm hesitant because I feel like I am easily influenced--I'd rather not know something wicked my way comes (to paraphrase Ray Bradbury). That said, I am curious about them, and this book sounds very interesting. I'll have to see if my library has it.

    1. Hi, Kathy. I know what you mean - ignorance can be bliss sometimes! If you Google 'free tarot card reading' there is a website (Salem Tarot) that will give you a three card reading. And the site has other information about the different decks and the meaning of the various cards. Of course all of this is just an entertaining distraction! And we do love a distraction...

  3. Belle, I read your post on the Dead Ladies Project and this sounds even more interesting. I have read Crispin's blog entries and know she is a good writer. I've never dealt much with the future,but i do like the images on the cards. Sounds like a good one to check out from th e library!

    1. I have been reading this in the wee hours of the morning when I can't sleep. Her insights into the creative life are telling. With or without the cards...