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Me: Hiya Kait! How are you this morning?
Kait Nolan: Good morning!
Diana Castle: Good morning!
Me: Good morning Michelle!
Diana Castle: Hi, Michelle. Thanks for joining us.
Michelle Roper: Glad to be here
Me: Shall we give people a few more minutes Diane?
Diana Castle: Looks like it’s about 5 after. Maybe a couple of minutes more. While we wait, can I ask our guests why you’re interested in tarot and writing?
Kait Nolan: I like it for plotting and getting to know my characters. I’ve got Tarot for Writers, and I’ve found it really useful in developmental stuff because it gives some parameters without too much restriction.
Me: Morning Maria!
Diana Castle: Tarot for Writers is a great book! Highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it.
Diana Castle: Welcome Maria!
Maria Zannini: Made it!
Diana Castle: It’s early so thanks for joining us!
Ayla: it’s not an idea I’ve come across before so I’m interested in how it can be applied to writing
Michelle Roper: I agree. I use tarot to build characters, finding their flaws.
Diana Castle: Great, Ayla. That’s what we’re going to cover this morning.
Diana Castle: Exactly Michelle. It’s a great character tool.
Me: Maria, Diane asked why you’re interested in tarot and writing if you’d like to answer before we start.
Maria Zannini: I’ve used horoscopes in the past to build character traits. I was hoping tarot would deepen it.
Me: Okay, I’m showing it’s 10 after, let’s start.
Diana Castle: Maria, if you’re interested, Corrine Kenner has written a book called Tarot and Astrology: Enhance Your Readings With the Wisdom of the Zodiac. She’s the same author who wrote Tarot for Writers.
Maria Zannini: Good to know. Thanks.
Diana Castle: You’re welcome. Okay, yep, let’s start.
Me: Welcome to the Using Tarot in Writing Panel. I’m Raelyn Barclay and I have been using tarot to brainstorm stories for about two years now. You can find my Meet the Cards tarot series on my blog most Thursdays. The tarot is a fabulous addition to the writer’s toolbox. And I have my co-panelist, Diana, to thank for turning me onto tarot. Diana, would you like to introduce yourself?
Diana Castle: Hi, I’m Diana Castle. I’ve been studying tarot for nearly twenty years, but it’s only been the past few years that I’ve used it for writing fiction. I’ve been writing for close to ten years. I’m currently independently publishing and you can find my e-books at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. You can also find them listed at http://dianacastle.com/
Me: As it is just the two of us, we’ll take questions and/or comments as we go. Feel free to jump in at any time.
Me: There are many aspects to tarot, far too many to explore in this single panel, and using it for your fiction writing. To start, you need a deck of tarot cards. And there is a tarot deck for everyone! I believe Diana, you turned me onto http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/ which is an awesome resource for looking at the numerous decks available. I currently own four decks. How many decks do you have now Diana?
Diana Castle: Oh, my, well certainly not as many as some people but far more than I would imagine the average sane person owns.
Kait Nolan: I love the artwork on them.
Me: Definitely Kait.
Diana Castle: That is one of the appealing things about the various decks out there. Some fabulous artists are creating amazing decks.
Michelle Roper: I love the artwork, too.
Maria Zannini: Do certain decks work better for certain genres?
Diana Castle: Yes, they do.
Maria Zannini: Complete tarot newbie so feel free to use small words.
Diana Castle: Of course, you can get by with using only one deck if that is the deck that speaks to you, but I like using different decks for brainstorming if I’m writing in different genres. Or if I’m working on plotting as opposed to characters or world-building as opposed to brainstorming ideas.
Diana Castle: No problem, Maria. Tarot is both simple and very complex.
Kait Nolan: Do you have some examples to offer Diana?
Diana Castle: There are so many decks available that it’s not at all difficult to find a deck that will suit your tastes, interests, genre, etc. Decks range from the Housewives Tarot to the Zombie Tarot. Interestingly, both decks are by the same artist, Paul Kepple!
Kait Nolan: I can just tell I’m going to wind up with another deck after today…
Diana Castle: I recently purchased the Steampunk Tarot.
Diana Castle: And it’s a great deck if you’re writing steampunk.
Diana Castle: The Aeclectic Website is an excellent place to start as it not only offers reviews of the various decks but also provides images so that you can preview some of the cards before purchase. They have also sorted the decks out by such themes as Fairies, Erotic, Russian, Steampunk, etc.
Kait Nolan: OOOOOO
Maria Zannini: Would you say tarot is more an intuitive art? That is, does different art help you interpret differently?
Me: Maybe, I should have warned Diane about Maria’s questions
Diana Castle: Yes, most definitely. If I’m using, let’s say, my gothic vampire deck or that zombie deck I’m going to get a different feel than if I use my fairy tale deck for example.
Maria Zannini: LOL.
Diana Castle: That’s fine. They’re great questions.
Me: I know…you should see some of the ones she’s hit me with on my blog.
Diana Castle: I would say that when choosing a deck for writing choose one that speaks to you but don’t be afraid to choose a deck that may not necessarily speak to you. Since fiction is about conflict, working with a deck that makes you uneasy may be just the thing you need to shake you out of a rut or a blockage regarding your writing.
Kait Nolan: I’m interested in some other resources or means of interpretation. As I mentioned, I’ve got Tarot for Writers, but at that level it doesn’t seem to matter what kind of deck you have, as the write up is the same. I’m curious how to really step beyond the basics of what’s outlined in the book to deepen my read so to speak.
Diana Castle: That’s going to involve really working one on one with the deck. Some people work with a card a day as a means of getting deeper into the deck. It’s almost like having a conversation with the cards.
Me: Similar to the Meet the Cards series I’m doing now. I learn new things every time I look at the cards.
Diana Castle: And you’ll find, Kait, that the more you use the cards for your writing, the more you will create your own interpretations of the cards.
Kait Nolan: Probably my natural bent is a bit more scientific than it need be to go with something like tarot
Ayla: I’ve not heard of using tarot to help with writing so can we go back to basics on that please?
Me: Definitely, let me go back to what Maria brought up. One thing I get asked all the time on my blog is, “how much knowledge of tarot do you need to work with it?” Which is almost always followed by, “is there a meaning to each card or is it more an intuitive interpretation?” What’s your take on those questions, Diana?
Diana Castle: You need no prior knowledge to work with the deck for writing. You could pick up a deck right now and start working with it for writing. The pictures on the deck help so much with that. As for a meaning to each card, there are “traditional” meanings to the card and it doesn’t hurt to know those, but you will bring to each card your own individual perceptions of that card. Are you familiar with tarot spreads, Ayla?
Ayla: vaguely
Me: Diane is my go-to person for tarot spreads. Perhaps you can start by sharing how to lay out and read a spread.
Diana Castle: A tarot spread is a design for laying out the cards. So, for example, I could lay out three cards in a row. However, each position in the spread would mean something specific. A three card spread could mean, past, present and future. I would then lay the cards out and interpret them in terms of whether the cards occupies the past, present or future space. The same card in a different position would, therefore, mean something different. That’s where a lot of the intuition comes through.
Kait Nolan: :tears self away from Aeclectic before I buy more than just the steampunk deck:
Diana Castle: Most tarot books talk about how to lay out and read a spread and there are even books totally devoted to spreads. If you want to learn more, just do a search on tarot spreads and you’ll find a lot of information on it. Spreads can be as simple as one card layouts to spreads that encompass all 78 cards of a typical tarot deck.
Me: LOL, isn’t that steampunk deck awesome?
Kait Nolan: I just put 3 other decks on my Amazon wishlist…
Diana Castle: Maybe it will help more if I provide an example of a spread I use when plotting. I use this when I’m brainstorming ideas for a plot. Tarot Plotting
Me: I have about 10 on my wishlist.
Maria Zannini: Diane, this is very useful. Thank you.
Kait Nolan: Ooo worksheet! I love worksheets!
Michelle Roper: Thanks. Love the worksheet.
Diana Castle: I basically shuffle the cards, think about my story or whatever idea I have for the story and I lay out the cards.
Diana Castle: Does anyone have any questions about it?
Kait Nolan: Okay so for example, you’ve got like the Midpoint and then a card below it dealing with the stakes. So you would interpret the midpoint card toward like…events that surround the midpoint and then the stakes card in conjunction with that?
Diana Castle: Yes, exactly. Usually when I’m plotting things start to get really heavy-duty around the midpoint. This spread gives me some ideas to brainstorm around with. I should say this is a purely brainstorming spread. Nothing is set in stone when I use this spread.
Diana Castle: I use this spread merely to get ideas.
Kait Nolan: so you have spreads where stuff DOES get set in stone?
Diana Castle: No, not really. I primarily use the tarot for brainstorming. Sometimes I may use it when I’m heavy into drafting but that’s just to get some ideas when I’m stuck.
Me: I use spreads in a more mind-map way.
Kait Nolan: How does that work for you Raelyn?
Me: Say I’m developing my character, using Diana’s Character Circle — my favorite by the way — which she’ll talk about in bit, one of spots on the spread is for the character’s fear. I’d write down my impressions of the card drawn for that spot, whether I felt it fit the story or not. Then if I needed more to define the fear I would look up the meaning. I’ve had someone tell me this was convoluted but it works for me.
Me: So Fear would be the center with my impressions around it in a traditional mind-map format.
Kait Nolan: Apparently I took a class from you before Diana. I just found the character circle worksheet in a folder.
Diana Castle: The important thing to keep in mind about using the tarot for writing is to find what works for you. That’s something I think is more important than anything. It’s very intuitive using the tarot so you have to find what works for you whether it comes to spreads, decks or interpreting. It gets easier the more you work with the tarot in your writing.
Diana Castle: Probably under one of my other nom de plumes. I have quite a few.
Diana Castle: I’ll post the character sheet now for those who don’t have it. Character Circle
Kait Nolan: Looks like something from 2010
Diana Castle: Yep, that was moi.
Michelle Roper: Will you be offering any more classes?
Diana Castle: I’m hoping to but probably won’t be until the new year. I’m working on writing a book about using the tarot for writing. I hope to have it ready early next year.
Me: On to characters then. Help! My characters won’t talk to me. How to can we use tarot to develop them?
Diana Castle: Well, I sometimes do readings for my character. Meaning, I pretend that they’ve come to me for a reading. I lay out the cards and see what’s in them. By doing this kind of reading I can, for example, find out what my character is most concerned about, what they want, what they’re afraid of. It’s a fun way to find out more about my characters. The Character Circle is a great way to get into your character’s head.
Me: When you say you do a reading for your characters, I’m picturing them pulling up a chair, or not, and you shuffling the cards, having them cut the deck, then you laying out three cards in a past, present, future kind of thing. Am I close? I’ve never personally had a reading done, so how do you read for your character?
Diana Castle: That’s exactly what I do. It’s similar to writing exercises where writers interview their characters or have conversations with them. The only difference is that I’m using the tarot cards. Those books I mentioned on tarot spreads? There are spreads for all kinds of situations, circumstances. There are spreads that deal with a person’s love life, their career, their finances. But even doing a three-spread card can reveal a lot.
Kait Nolan: Do you have any other books you recommend?
Diana Castle: Yes, I do. Hold on and let me get my list. I had meant to load it and totally forgot to. Sorry about that.
Me: While we’re waiting for Diane to grab that list, any other questions/comments?
Diana Castle: Having trouble finding the list. but one book I do find very useful is Tarot for Life: Reading the Cards for Everyday Guidance and Growth by Paul Quinn. I like this book because he offers interpretations of the cards that geared more to day to day stuff and are not as mystical as other books. That kind of interpretation is much more useful for me when using tarot for writing fiction.
Kait Nolan: oo
Diana Castle: If you’re just starting out with tarot and writing, I highly recommend Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner.
Maria Zannini: Is there any truth to the story that Tarot works best if the deck is gifted to you rather than buying it yourself? I heard this once many years ago by a Tarot/palm reader. She’s the same one who said I was going to be published five years before I even considered writing.
Diana Castle: No, there isn’t. I have dozens and dozens of decks and I bought them all myself and they work fine for me. I know some people believe that but I don’t.
Maria Zannini: Old wives tale then.
Me: I’d be more worried I’d get something that didn’t speak to me!
Diana Castle: Exactly.
Diana Castle: It looks like we’re close to the ending of the workshop. Any final questions?
Me: Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner. The first half of the book is a Tarot for Writers 101 and the second half of the book explores each of the 78 cards individually, providing you with key symbols and keywords along with writing prompts. My copy is always within reach.
Kait Nolan: Mine’s on the coffee table right now
Diana Castle: Ayla, I know you said you’re new to tarot and writing. Definitely pick up Kenner’s book. It’s a great intro to tarot also.
Ayla: I will thank you
Kait Nolan: Thanks y’all! This was very interesting!
Me: We’ve looked at plot and characters. And, of course, we need the backdrop. How can we use tarot to develop the setting? Or even build an entire world?
Diana Castle: Well, world-building is a workshop in itself but I did create a spread for that too. World-Building
Diana Castle: Again, I just lay out cards and brainstorm off them.
Ayla: these worksheets are really good
Me: Ayla I have a few of them on my blog where I did the spread “live” if you will. It was last year but if you look under the Tarot category they should come up.
Maria Zannini: I’m not sure I understand how the world building spread works. Can you explain?
Diana Castle: The world building spread is actually one that I would recommend a person not use until they feel more comfortable with the cards. But I basically just lay out cards for each position. So, let’s say, I want to learn more about the religious system of my world and I pull the High Priestess card. That might suggest that this is a world where the religion is goddess centered.
Diana Castle: The more you work with the tarot and writing the more you’ll find it easier. The important thing is to relax and fun. The cards are there to help you when you’re stuck. Don’t tense up worrying whether you’re doing it right or not. Just go with the flow. The cards will speak to you if you let them.
Diana Castle: Unfortunately, I have to go but are there any final questions?
Maria Zannini: I need to run too, but I want to thank you both. This was very informative.
Diana Castle: You’re welcome, Maria. Thanks for coming.
Ayla: this was great thanks, I’m going to look into it for sure
Maria Zannini: I want to add too, There’s a Tarot scene in Mistress of the Stone, my latest release and Raelyn helped me crystallize some of the interpretations so that they feel natural to the story. — Ayla, that might be interesting to you since you just won that book.
Michelle Roper: I agree with Maria. Very informative. Diana where can I find out about your classes and your tarot writing book?
Maria Zannini: Yes. And can you repost your blog info too?
Diana Castle: Stop by my website at http://dianacastle.com/. I’ll have information about it there.
Me: Thank you everyone for showing up early on a Sunday
Maria Zannini: Bye! Lovely time.
Diana Castle: Yes, thanks! Appreciate you all coming.
Ayla: it’s 4pm for me
Me: LOL, I needed toothpicks myself Ayla!
Diana Castle: Gotta run, but have fun with the tarot.

Be sure to stop by the main Coyote Con site for more transcripts!