Metaphysical elements in writing – tarot cards oracle cards

Hello, SE’ers!

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

It’s Jan again with another post about including metaphysical elements in fiction stories. Today’s topic is Tarot and/or Oracle cards.

Courtesy Canva

There is a multitude of ways these divination cards could be used to enhance fiction storytelling. Did you know that writers such as John Steinbeck and Stephen King have used tarot cards for inspiration? It’s not unusual at all.

Perhaps the most common use of tarot in a fiction story lies in creating a character arc. A character (whether it be a main or side character) who consults the cards for direction or inspiration says a lot about the character without having to tell the reader about that aspect of their makeup and/or beliefs.

Right away, you know the character is open to and tuned into elements beyond the physical realm.

Consulting the cards to deepen your character is extremely effective. Pulling two cards may tell you the character’s best and worst traits. You could use a three-card spread to represent your character’s past, present, and future. Or what about pulling cards to assign to such things as the character’s relationship with his/her mother, father, or siblings? A card could tell you the character’s greatest fear, strength, weakness, and perhaps even their goals. The possibilities are endless.

You can also use the cards to simply add a mystical element to the story. Maybe your character consults a reader and receives an ominous message. This is especially effective in a suspense or mystery. Or maybe in a romance, the character receives a confirmation, or it could be the opposite, with a warning about a relationship.

Author C.S. Boyack wrote an entire book based on the Major Arcana of the Tarot.

The Yak Guy Project uses many of the cards in the major arcana. The main character depicts The Fool, and as the story scenes unfold, you can spot the cards, such as The Hanged Man, The High Priestess, the Magician, and more. What a brilliant way to tell a tale! If you haven’t checked out this book, I highly recommend that you do. So, this is another way to use tarot in writing fiction.

I also want to share a totally different way to use tarot or oracle cards in writing fiction. What about those times when you are so focused on the nitty gritty, technical aspect of writing that you forget the power of the subconscious mind. Let’s say you’re stuck in a scene. What does it need? As writers, we can all feel it when the story is off. So, how about consulting the tarot for answers?

How would you do that? Hold the question in your mind, and shuffle the cards in whatever way you feel fits. Sometimes a card will simply fall out of the deck, or you may feel compelled to draw the top or bottom card. You can even spread them on a table and randomly pick one. See if the image on the card sparks an idea that can turn the story for you. Know that the most important meaning of this card is the one that appears in your own mind in relation to your question and your story. Did you know there are sites where you can randomly pull a tarot card electronically? Here’s an example: Please note I have no affiliation with this site and no personal recommendation, it’s just the first one I found. My point is that you don’t have to go out and buy a tarot deck to utilize it as a writing tool.

Oracle cards are completely different and would be used in the same way but with different results. Oracle cards have a message printed on them. Here’s an example from my dragon oracle card deck.

See how the message is clear? You can use these types of cards in the same way you use tarot, as far as method and application.

It all depends on what kind of story you are writing as to how you might include tarot or oracle cards. But, a note of caution. If you write a scene that involves a card spread, make sure you use a practical interpretation for the cards. Readers who are familiar with the cards will spot them instantly.

For instance, if your character consults a card reader and you describe the spread in detail, make sure you assign the correct interpretation with each card and the overall message. There is a ton of resources at your fingertips, and I am also happy to help in any way with that. I had a Tarot Tuesday post for years until I covered each individual card in the deck. You can find them by visiting my blog and typing “Tarot Tuesday” in the search box. And as I say, I am happy to assist or answer any questions.

I hope this post gave you some ideas on how you can incorporate tarot or oracle cards in your fiction writing. Thank you for joining me and I hope you’ll join me next month for another fun topic!

If you missed the previous posts here they are:

#1 – Intro –

#2 – Gemstones –

68 thoughts on “Metaphysical elements in writing – tarot cards oracle cards

  1. Ironic, but I used Tarot cards to write a paranormal romance that an editor at Tor wanted to buy, but Tor had just released another paranormal mystery with Tarot, so they turned her down:) Who knew Tarot were that popular? I really enjoyed your post. I never thought of using Tarot for book ideas when I got stuck. A fun idea!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s interesting, Judi. I didn’t know there could ever be too many tarot-based books. Every writer would create a different story. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and got some new ideas! I appreciate you visiting and leaving a comment.


  2. What a great post. And, for me a good reminder to pull the cards out and use them more in my writing. While I was studying for my MFA at Goddard College, Rachel Pollack taught some workshops on using tarot for writing. They were wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had to research Tarot cards to use them in a scene I included in my novel The Ghosts of Wingate Hall. It’s one of the manuscripts I’ve finished but have yet to publish.
    I thought Craig did a great job with The Yak Guy Project, another of his highly inventive takes on fiction.
    Thanks for the info, Jan!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Jan 🙂 I have never used tarot cards in writing… yet. I do enjoy when I come across them in reading. Good suggestions to add another layer to our stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some excellent suggestions here – I especially like the idea of using the cards when in need of inspiration. I also need to check out Th Yak Guy project now! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post, Jan. Similar to the paranormal building suspense or adding dimension to a story, metaphysical elements can as well. Thank you for illustrating that for us. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  7. As it happens, I’m currently reading an excellent Fantasy series, The Ravenglass Chronicles by Jon Cronshaw. It is a series also based on the major arcana with a novella for each of the cards. The story progresses in ways that suit each of them. It’s very well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Inspiration can come from so many things. I love this idea. As I was reading the post, I was thinking one had to have a decent knowledge of the cards (I have none!) unless, as you suggest, randomly picking one and using it as inspiration. Very interesting, Jan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love randomly picking cards, and that’s how I create the Monday card reading posts on my personal blog. I let the Universe lead. It’s the same with looking for character or story inspiration. And as Craig pointed out, sometimes just the artwork on a card will spark the imagination. Thank you so much for visiting and leaving a comment, Dale!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the idea of building a character using the cards, Jan. I’m at the beginning of a new WIP and will pull out my deck this afternoon, especially for secondary characters that are still undefined. What great timing. I pantsered my first book, and I had a wise woman who was something of an oracle. I chose a card at the beginning of each “Part” of the book. Not only did they become the inspiration for her words, but they set the direction for the story. I look back at that and realize it was very risky, but it worked. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m so glad the post was great timing for you and your story, Diana. Using the cards to create a character is certainly interesting because there may be some surprises. Imagine drawing the Devil card for a hero. 🙂 That would be a challenge. I love the idea of having a card at the beginning of each part of your first book. Now, I’m off to grab that book and add it to my TBR pile. 🙂 Thank you for visiting and for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha ha. I didn’t mean to make you pick up the book (Myths of the Mirror), but I think you’ll recognize the cards that were in play. Using the cards added to the sense of magic that comes when writing a first book. I felt like I was channeling the story. Lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a great post. They also have some amazing art depending upon the deck. Sometimes just examining a card can bring a bit of inspiration for a tale. Thanks for giving a nod to Yak Guy. It was fun to write that way.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Pingback: Metaphysical elements in writing – tarot cards oracle cards | Legends of Windemere

  12. I wrote a tarot reading scene in one of my books. It was a great way to introduce some foreshadowing, and fun to write. I happen to own a set of tarot cards and a couple of books about them, so made sure the meanings were right.

    Liked by 4 people

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