Stories are everywhere but sometimes when you are sitting at your computer and facing a blank screen wondering why it is taking so long to come up with a thousand words, the ideas can simply vanish.
One way to get them back is to relax and stimulate your subconscious. There is far more going on in there than you know. The trick is to get at it.
One way is to use tarot cards. I like Barabra Walker’s tarot cards, although the deck is currently out of print. I used them to construct the plot of my novel Winternights and to tease out more detail about the characters.
I found this image of the Babylonian fish god, Dagon, on a blog called Mandrake’s Rootwerx. Interestingly, the writer says on his blog that it’s one of his favourites for constructing plots and for overcoming writer’s block. I’ve chosen this image because it features in my novel. It comes up during a tarot reading and helps the protagonist track down the murderer.
Many people are frightened of the tarot. They are frightened to look at the cards or to touch them. This illustration of Dagon does have something a little scary about it. It has a primal, jarring quality. There is even something diabolical about it. I won’t put an image of the devil card here in case it really freaks you out, but if you search for the picture in Google Images, you will find dozens of different horned creatures set against fiery backgrounds and with worshippers or abject slaves at their feet.
That fear or even revulsion that some people have is a sign that the cards have a lot to tell them. I was very scared of the tarot at first. When I was a teenager, my parents wouldn’t have it in the house. It is this emotional relationship with the images that makes them so powerful.
A popular tarot deck is Robin Wood’s. He has written books on the tarot but he says
“I advise you not to look at the booklet, for my deck or for any others. I find it works far better to look at the card, and assign it the meaning that feels right for that particular reading.”
I agree with this. Although I am very literary and read dozens of books on everything, the best way to use the tarot is to let each card speak to you through its imagery. In fact, I have trimmed all the writing off my Barbara Walker deck. I just use the pictures without any text at all.
Barbara Walker, incidentally, wrote two very good books about mythology and symbolism:
The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects (1988), Castle Books, ISBN 0-06-250923-3
The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets (1983) ISBN 0-06-250925-X
She wrote many more books than these, in fact. I’ve found they are good not just for women.