Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Artist's Path Spread

Today I decided to Explore the Artist's Path through tarot. I have done this spread about once a year for the past few years, and it actually never changes that much for me, which is disheartening because that means I am not growing or addressing the issues I need to be in order to make progress. This is a long spread over tender subject matter so I won't be offended if you choose not to read *smile*

1. THE SELF-PORTRAIT : What is your self-image of an Artist? What is your relationship with this identity?

The Devil - No surprise to me here. I think it is amazing and stupendous for other people to be artists. I am in awe of them and I am happy for them, even more so if they can make their living creating, doing something they love. As for me, however, I often view time I spend in my art as wasted. It is not making me any money and it is not adding to the children's lives in a concrete, measurable way. One of my favored ways to beat myself up is to call myself lazy and wasteful, and most of all selfish, when I spend time just reading, writing, or daydreaming, even though those are critical activities for a writer to be doing. I would never speak to a friend this way, but I hold no compunction about talking this way to myself. Sometimes I catch myself doing it and am able to change the internal dialogue, but sometimes I don't.

I am also concerned that given the opportunity, I would let myself simply fall into a pattern of wanton hedonism. Now, this is obviously not the case, because I somehow manage to keep my life in pretty good order now, and I could choose to do different things with my time and money now, but I don't, because the party lifestyle doesn't really appeal to me, but for some reason I think it might if I had the money? And possibly some small degree of fame or notoriety?

And if I get that money, or any material thing, from this art have I sold out? Is it still a sacred thing for me, or have I corrupted it for greed?

I KNOW the answers to these questions logically, but knowing something logically is not the same as feeling it in your heart.

2. THE NOW: Where are you now, while looking at your path with an Artist's eye?

Seven of Swords - Again, no surprise, especially not with the particular imagery of this card in the Deviant Moon. The performer, the artist, has the swords precariously balanced. So far, he is making it, but how long can he keep up that delicate balance? And when it falls apart as it inevitably has to, there is sure to be a disaster. He has not made a plan to deal with this possibility and I do not have a contingency plan, either. I can't not write, it destroys me, but I have not taken the steps I need to be able to write, full time. I keep trying to keep the one sword balanced on the balls of my feet while keeping the other from dropping right down my throat. The evidence of my other failures lays strewn around me. Ray Bradbury said "First you jump off the cliff and you build wings on the way down." Well, I don't know if he had kids to feed and a ravenous ex that wants to prove that he couldn't take care of them properly, but I do. I often tell myself that if it were just me I could take risks that I can't because I have three little ones that need me.

3. THE DRIVING FORCE: What is the driving force; what feeds the internal springs of your creativity?

The Chariot - Sometimes tarot has a real sense of humor. The Chariot as "driving force"...haha! The Chariot is my personality card and it does fit. I am always moving ahead, always striving for mastery and control of a situation. This is a blessing, and a curse, because that Tower Shadow card likes to remind us that we do not have control over every situation nor should we. I keep plugging away at anything I choose to do, because that is how I am. I write for a lot of the same reasons I use tarot - to give voice and reason to the internal conflicts I feel.

4. THE MUSE: What external factors or forces inspire you? What gets you going?

Two of Wands - The figure in this card is digging up, or planting, some roots. Either way, that relates to reasons I write. It is often an internal excavation of things that go on inside on the landscape of my mind. It is also planting the seeds for projects that I want to complete later. Often I write something in a day, and come back to it later, sometimes months later, and I am inspired to try again, and do more. This card shows single minded focus on his work, and that state is when I feel most myself. Feeling good in one's own skin is a powerful motivator!

5. THE BLOCK: What blocks your creativity?

Three of Cups - Well, again, this is not really a surprise. I know exactly what this card is saying to me. I like this card, it is a celebration. But, as artists, we have to be careful how much we let that take over our lives. Moderation in all things. I am hesitant to write this at all, because while I am not an alcoholic in any sense of the word, and I would hate to give that impression, I promised myself to be completely honest here, with myself, and my readers. There are times when I have had a glass of wine or two, and honestly, what I have written is just effing brilliant. However, there are just as many times when it is complete rubbish and I have lost an evening to the haze of the wine. I also realize how dangerous it is to be dependent on any single thing to produce. So, if I have to give up my dinner wine on nights I need to write well, that is a small price indeed.

6. THE BLOCK AT WORK: When you're blocked, what do you do instead of creating? How do you spend (or squander) your time?

Seven of Wands
- I like the imagery of this card, as I have mentioned in previous blogs. The little girl is frantic, rushing out of the forest she was lost in. The card alludes to confidence, faith in oneself to save oneself, and I think by this point in the reading it should be apparent that I don't have a lot of that, not in this area. There are lots of places where I am pretty sure I am all that, but my faith in myself as a writer is weak. I spend a lot of my time lost in a forest of self doubt, but if I would just be calm and look for the answers, or even just feel my way around in the dark, I would find my way out. Instead I get frantic and allow my anxiety to start whispering, then shouting, ugly things in my ear and I just run around in chaos, in my head at least.

7. THE MONEY: What are your views on the relationship between Creativity and Money?

Ace of Pentacles
- While this should be a very favorable card in this position, for me it's not. This Ace is a ferocious dragon, who never scared me before, but I have the distinct feeling of fear as I look at him now. Aces should be good omens, especially the Ace of Pentacles in a question about money. But so many of my fears revolve around not having enough of it, and that is not even for me, but more for my kiddos. I am worried that I cannot have both my creativity and money, that it has to be a choice. Again, I know logically, in my head, that this is not true, but we are not dealing with logic, people.

8. THE PRICE: What you need to give up in order to pursue your Artist's path?

Ten of Swords - This figure seems like they are in a completely hopeless situation, trapped in a box of sharp swords stabbing through the box they are in. I need to stop seeing myself that way. I am not trapped at all, except by the box I put myself into, and at any point I can get up and get out of there. Those aren't real swords at all. They are fake ones that my fear and anxiety has created, but my confidence and courage will make them dissipate.

I also tend to see this card as a person acting a bit overly dramatic, and I do have a tendency to do that. Just be calm, these cards seem to be murmuring to me in a soothing voice.

Further, I KNOW the situation at my work has to be over, but because I am so worried about the money, I have not been listening to the quiet prompts of Spirit. I could be building myself a Tower situation by not willingly taking the steps I need to now, instead waiting to be forced into change.

9. NEXT STEP: What you need to do next, to make sure you walk forth down the creative path you've chosen?

Nine of Swords - Here is the humor of tarot coming out again. I am currently in the process of making a large and deeply personal tarot journal for myself. I was ruminating on this card today, wondering how I could cast it in a positive light, or even as advice, when it is so clearly a card of negative connotations. I think the message for me here is that there is such a thing as productive worrying. Instead of taking matters into my own hands, I have kinda been haphazardly trying to let things unfold as they will. There is a time and a place for that method, but there is also a time and a place for careful planning and constructive consideration of a project. Also, I spend so much time worrying about things that are really just phantoms that my energy is consumed and I am not doing a good job of paying attention to what I need to in order to do well at this. So, in short, start worrying about the important things and let the rest fall away like chaff from the wheat.

10. THE ARTIST CARD: After dealing the nine cards of the Artist's Path spread but before reading it, place The Artist card as a Significator at the end of the spread (S). This card is You. Accept your creative powers and responsibilities, and your Artist's Path ahead will be clear.

The Star - I did not consciously choose this card, which acts as the Significator for the reading, but let the cards fall where they would. I do not own the deck this spread was created for, but I believe it has a special card that is supposed to signify the querent as Artist. I don't think I could have gotten a much more positive, encouraging card in this position, though! As much as I struggle, as much as I fall away from the path sometimes, hope springs eternal for me. I keep trying, striving, hoping, going for my dreams. Regardless of what happens for me, as a writer I gain insight and healing from the process of it, and at the end of the day, we all just want to be whole.

As I mentioned earlier, I have many of the same cards in similar positions in previous readings with this spread, but I am actually greatly heartened by this reading. The Major Arcana cards I see as positive ones, so that means I have control over changing the Minor Arcana that I am not best pleased with to what I see as a better path forward.

These images are from the Deviant Moon tarot by Patrick Valenza for US Games.


  1. I have read your spread. The one thing that I see in this is that you are being way to hard on yourself. I understand about not wanting to take risks due to the 3 children. I am also the same way. I don't see writing or reading etc as a squander of time. I see it is as if i don't read then I can't learn and if it is fiction then it is my thing to do to not stress and when I am less stressed everyone is happier.

  2. So basically. Try to not be so hard on yourself. Enjoy the process.

  3. Thanks, Sherry! I know I am hard on myself. That is why I need to do these readings *grin*

    I am working on being a little kinder, though.