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Welcome to my series of Using Tarot in Writing based on Jenna Reynolds’ Tarot spreads. If you’re just joining the series, you may want to catch up on the earlier installments before continuing with this one.
Part one, Introduction
Part two, Plotting and Brainstorming
Part three, Character Circle
Part four, Character Creation

Part 5, The Hero’s Journey ~ Wheel of Destiny

Before I get into this post I want to mention Christopher Vogler’s The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (a recommended read). This book opened my eyes to so many aspects of writing I don’t think I could sum it up and do it justice. In my humble opinion, you should read this book prior to applying Tarot to the formula of the Hero’s Journey.

Side note: I love that diagram because it shows both the Hero’s Journey AND the Character Arc WITH the Acts.

When it comes to Tarot, you have a bit of a built-in Hero’s Journey within the Major Arcana, it’s called the Fool’s Journey. If you lay out the numbered cards in three rows of seven you end up with the three stages of life — youth, maturity, and mastery. For more information on that, I refer you back to Corrine Kenner’s Tarot for Writers where she has a chapter on Tarot Journeys.

Going back to Jenna Reynold’s spread, we can follow the Hero’s Journey using just the Major Arcana or the whole deck.

This spread reads counter-clockwise: Ordinary World, Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Meeting the Mentor, Crossing the Threshold, Tests-Allies-Enemies, Approach the Inmost Cave, the Ordeal, Reward, Road Back, Rebirth, Return with the Elixir

Based on Jenna Reynolds’ The Hero’s Journey ~ Wheel of Destiny Spread

Using just the Major Arcana of my Angel Tarot Deck ~

Act 1 (Separation)

  • Ordinary World — The Star — Our young heroine, Roxanne, daydreams of being anywhere else while helping out on her family’s farm.
  • Call to Adventure –The Hanged Man — Roxanne returns to the farmhouse and meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He offers to take her home with him for a visit.
  • Refusal of the Call — The High Priestess, reversed — Roxanne is interested but her parents need her help on the farm now that her brothers are away at university.
  • Meeting the Mentor — Strength — At school the next day Roxanne mentions her uncle’s offer. Her teacher encourages Roxanne to take the chance and assures Roxanne her parents can get by for a few days without her.

Act 2 – A (Descent)

  • Crossing the Threshold — Temperance — Roxanne agrees to go with her uncle for just one weekend.
  • Tests, Allies, and Enemies — Justice — Roxanne’s uncle shows her a world vastly different from life on the farm, on the edge of a small town. She likes this new world and the possibilities it holds but struggles to balance her excitement for the adventure with her sense of responsibility to her parents.
  • Approach the Inmost Cave — The Tower — Roxanne gets separated from her uncle during one outing. She can’t find him, he’s not listed in the phone book, and she can’t reach her parents.
  • The Ordeal — The Magician, reversed — Roxanne gets the help of a psychic but ends up kidnapped.

Act 2 – B (Initiation)

  • Reward — The Hierophant — While held captive, Roxanne befriends a young man, Michael, and they plot their escape.
  • Road Back — The Fool — Roxanne and Michael break free but are chased by the false psychic’s dogs. They run blindly through fields.

Act 3 (Return)

  • Rebirth — The Wheel of Fortune — Gasping for breath at the top of a hill, Roxanne recognizes where they are: just outside of the carnival where she first got separated from her uncle.
  • Return with the Elixir — The World — Reunited with her frantic uncle, Roxanne realizes life on the farm isn’t so bad after all.

Perhaps overly simplified (and a little Wizard of Oz) but I think you get the idea. Now, you give it a try…

Based on Jenna Reynolds’ The Hero’s Journey ~ Wheel of Destiny Spread

Using all the cards of my Celtic Tarot ~

(I’ve included some keywords/phrases from Tarot for Writers to get you started.)

Act 1 (Separation)

  • Ordinary World — 7 of Cups, reversed (indecisiveness, error, ambivalence)
  • Call to Adventure –3 of Pentacles, reversed (mediocrity, puerility, pettiness, weakness, humility)
  • Refusal of the Call — Strength (strength, power, energy, force, fortitude, heart, lust, life force, will, self-control, self-esteem, self-preservation, animal nature, instinct, heroism, ability, mastery, courage)
  • Meeting the Mentor — Knave of Pentacles, reversed (delays in physical development and maturity)

Act 2 – A (Descent)

  • Crossing the Threshold — 2 of Cups (love, attraction, romance, passion, desire, marriage, union, affinity, friendship, compatibility, affection, faithfulness, harmony, pleasure)
  • Tests, Allies, and Enemies — 9 of Cups (social events, parties, gatherings, a comfortable mix of business and pleasure)
  • Approach the Inmost Cave — King of Pentacles (a savvy and successful businessman, wealth, investment, business acumen, mathematical ability, success)
  • The Ordeal — 3 of Swords, reversed (healing, recovery, blessings in disguise)

Act 2 – B (Initiation)

  • Reward — 9 of Wands, reversed (obstacles, adversity, calamity, weakness, character flaws, fearfulness)
  • Road Back — The Sun (consciousness, optimism, happiness, contentment, enthusiasm, joy, light, enlightenment, clarity, glory, heat, passion, radiance, action, celebration, the ego, eclipses)

Act 3 (Return)

  • Rebirth — Three of Wands (established strength, business leadership and acumen, trade, commerce, cooperation, discovery)
  • Return with the Elixir — The Star, reversed (broken dreams, dashed hopes, disappointments, unfulfilled wishes, darkness, obscurity)

So, what did you end up with? I’d love for you to share in the comments.

There’s been some interest in a Q&A and/or Tarot 101 post. What I’ll do is gather up all the questions y’all note in the comments on any of the Tarot posts and write up a post at the end of the series. Thank you for the interest and support of this series.