When I was a primary school teacher story time was my favourite part of the day.
We’d get the class tidy and the children would come and sit on the carpet and choose a story (or three) for me to read to them. It was a gathered moment at the end of the day, a space when we could all have a few quieter moments after the busy work of learning.
Stories are a core part of human experience. We have been telling each other stories for thousands of years, drawing them on cave walls and in temples. Stories allow us to weave our histories, shape our own stories and experiences. Folk and fairy stories speak of the unspeakable, capturing the longing for understanding of our origins and exploring the mysteries of conscious existence.
For me story telling is a core part of tarot reading. The cards are the pictures in a cosmic storybook encouraging me to weave a narrative. When we read cards it becomes an art, a craft. To read tarot in this way allows for the interplay, the interweaving, of creative flow and intuitive insights. It binds common human experiences together and anchors them in the specific circumstances of our question or our querent’s query.
I first found a version of this exercise first Mary K.Greer’s 21 Ways to read a tarot card. I find it a great way to start readings, the process of detailing the card begins to get the creativity and intuition flowing and paves the way for deeper insights and messages to come through.
Pull a card at random. What can you see? What objects are there? Describe them in as much detail as possible.
Who is in the picture? What are they doing? Why might that be? How might they be feeling?
What else is going on? For instance here I am struck by the waterfall in the background. What would that sound like? What does it suggest to you? How would it be to stand in the meadow with this Empress, what sounds might be around you?
Now tell a story from this one card you have drawn. Give the figures in the card names, describe the setting, describe the emotional colour of the card, explain what is happening and what they will do next.
Your story can be as silly or sensible as you like. We aren’t seeking to create a fixed “truth” but to explore the emotional and experiential connections that arise from this card. Allowing ourselves to tell stories plugs into a sense of creativity and flow which unpicks the ruled lines of our book learning and rigid education-system experiences and allows us to connect to older ways of knowing and understanding.
We will be exploring this further in the next “lesson”.