How to write with tarot?
Bernard Weber, in the master class that I am on The Artist Academy, offers, in one of the videos, advice on the mechanisms of the initiatory novel.
He says straight away that writing a novel works well as therapy, because the writer transfers his problems to the characters he creates. By this very fact, the reader takes himself for a hero. This is the function of the novel.
The transformation and evolution of the main character follows his initiatory path. How to create a biography page on Wikipedia as such, Bernard Weber uses the divinatory art of tarot as a writing tool. He uses it to know how his characters will evolve, and not to predict the future!
The Arcana of Tarot According to Bernard Weber
We agree that I am sharing Bernard Weber’s comments on tarot cards as compasses to guide the evolution of his characters. There is nothing mystical about any of his words or mine.
The juggler is a man who performs a magic trick. The hero then knows that he is ignorant and that he has to do some work on himself. By his tools, this character lives in the illusion because moreover, he is a cheater. But, he deeply wants a spiritual step.
The popes says you have to read books. She gives this advice to the juggler in secret. It is the first step of spiritual initiation.
The Empress helps the hero and introduces him to the Emperor. It allows man to move forward. She has power.
The emperor teaches the hero how to move forward on his course. He is in action.
The Pope gives spiritual teaching to the hero, who needs to do some work on himself and on his spirit. The Pope continues the work started by the Pope.
With the lover, the hero is faced with a choice to make. The situation is unblocked by the angel. But, the map remains troubling. In spite of everything, the deadlock situation persists. What characterizes a hero is that he has to make a choice.
After making his choice, the hero believes he has succeeded and believes he has taken his life in hand. He feels like a powerful man and he ends up doing anything.
The hero is caught by justice. He receives a warning shot of life in the intrigue that surrounds him. This is an unexpected element.
The hero finds himself alone; he lost his friends. It is the crossing of the desert. He is alone to move forward in his story.
Things suddenly work out for the hero, then get complicated again. He is unsettled, the reader is wondering about him. Unjust trials and rewards arise.
A woman teaches the hero to master his strength in order to deal with his problems. She teaches him self-control. The hero will normally have fewer problems when he is able to manage his strength.
The hero ends up falling into the trap and finds himself stranded. Looking at the world upside down, he finds new solutions; this allows him to change his outlook on the world. So the hero can move forward again.
The nameless arcane or death is the dreaded card. It represents change, a questioning. It indicates a new beginning. The hero has a life that doesn’t work. He made too many mistakes. The questioning must be global.
The hero must settle his spiritual part. At this point, he has to control his body and his mind. But the hero still did not understand.
This is the moment when the hero lets his primary impulses speak. Its bad side therefore takes over. He gives in to ease. It is the experience of the body. He will be able to evolve anyway.
This card marks the end, the destruction, and the irreparable. This is the point of no return.
The star teaches the hero to distribute his energies and to put his life in order. She helps. The hero is therefore ready to move forward. But he still has details to work out.
The moon represents a dark aspect of the hero, his primitive part in fact. He has to deal with a childhood injury. He cannot yet fully advance. He must first clean up his inland lake.
The sun is finally shining. The hero meets his soul mate. It gives him yang energy. He saw a beautiful story of love. He enters into good communication.
The hero is ready. He has successfully completed his initiation. Heaven’s righteousness appears. The dead can come back. The hero released the energies held everywhere.
The world represents the treasure, the grail, the joy. The character has accepted his feminine part and his masculine part in him. He feels perfectly balanced.
The hero has finally understood everything. He must take to the road again, with the knowledge acquired during the initiation. It is the only card where the character advances in his gestures. This also means that we must not stop even when we have succeeded. We must continue to evolve.
The necessary steps
At this point, Bernard Weber cites the example of his first successful novel, Les Forums. At some point, an ant realizes that there is another world within. It works the same for The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. This is called the step-by-step initiation.
These steps are necessary. Otherwise, the character suddenly cannot understand. Because, then, the risk would be that the reader would not be interested in him. The character will live as we live ourselves. He will be wrong, he will believe he has all the answers. Life will take care of correcting him and telling him to stay awake, to ask himself questions, to read, to meet people, to overcome his fears. This is the basis of the initiatory novel.
The writing exercise
Bernard Weber suggests writing from tarot cards. You draw 5 cards from the tarot deck and place them crosswise.
Here are the stages of your character’s evolution:
1. the hero
2. the adventure
3. what helps him
4. what doesn’t help
5. how does it end
The writer advises to write a 2 page story with a plot in the story. He suggests looking at the details of the tarot cards, the colors. Wikipedia page creators he insists on letting your intuition and creativity speak for itself.
Here is my draw:
1. justice (the departure of my hero)
2. the empress (the adventures)
3. the unnamed arcane (which helps him to live his adventures)
4. Hermit (which blocks the hero)
5. The star (how it ends).
Here is my text:
The cruise has a rendezvous with the past
Laurie had always wanted to travel forever. But, she had repeatedly rejected her desires for elsewhere by taking refuge behind the desires of her husband and the constraints of family life.
She was a mature woman, a senior as they say in the media. The term, moreover, still annoyed her, for she felt hopelessly young both in her head and in her mind. She was not yet in her sixties. She was still active, impatiently waiting for the moment when she would have plenty of time to indulge her passions.
She was now living alone, after a difficult break at the age of fifty with the father of her two children, daughters now independent and capable of making their own life choices. She was at a crossroads. The midday demon had caught up with her ex-husband who had fallen in love with his secretary, thirty years his junior. He seemed to live happily, but she only saw him now and then for Camille and Carla’s birthdays. They had managed to maintain friendly relations. She didn’t blame him for leaving. She didn’t take it as an abandonment. Their life together had been too much of a boring routine, in which neither of them had really flourished. Rather, they had lived out of habit.
She was not looking to start her life over again, she needed calm and solitude to rebuild herself.
She wanted to let chance act in her place and in her own way, according to the encounters and the vagaries that life would certainly offer her. She suspected that at some point she would have to make choices, but she put it off by living day to day, enjoying life’s little joys to the fullest.
Laurie appeared to be a calm woman, but appearances could be deceptive. She had an unwavering will, rising challenge after challenge casually, quietly and staying in her place. She observed a lot, listened to everyone, tried to understand others. It had developed in her a finesse of mind that many envied. This woman was respected in private, but also in the world of work.
Laurie didn’t know what life would hold for her, but she knew anyway that she wanted to travel. Finally! As a teacher, she took advantage of each vacancy to discover a new place. She spoke English and Spanish, which facilitated exchanges in foreign countries. She therefore decided for the summer of her fifty-seven years to take a cruise between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, between the Moskva and Neva rivers. She had gone to Russia, in the days of the USSR, when she was still studying in high school where she was learning the Russian language. She absolutely wanted to go back in the footsteps of her adolescence, where she had met her first love, Tom, an Englishman from the north of England. It would undoubtedly bring back many pleasant memories to him.
She felt like a call, forty after her first visit to this beautiful country, where she had been impressed by the kindness of the Slav people. Laurie felt that her travels transformed her little by little, made her feel good and gave her the serenity she needed. It allowed him to see something else, and especially to mourn his past life. She needed renewal, to practice activities that she had not been able to do as a couple.
A page was turning, and she was delighted.
This cruise on Russian rivers and canals began under the best auspices. The boat accommodated a maximum of seventy people, with luxurious cabins, plentiful and tasty food. Her flight from Paris to the Russian capital had gone well, and she had reached the dock of the cruise ship safely. The reception was up to his expectations. Here she is for two weeks of discoveries, sensations and diverse and varied encounters.
But, Laurie was mainly going to discover herself. She felt, deep inside herself, a little something, a little voice, her intuition perhaps, which whispered to her that this trip was going to change her life. Forever.