Using the Tarot for Creativity and Empowerment

The Artist’s Way & Tarot: Recovering a Sense of Identity

Artists way


How are you coming along with your Morning Pages, Artist’s Date and Affirmations? Hope you are finding them not only easier to do now but also fun. I have actually ceased writing my morning pages on the computer and am back to doing them longhand. I’m enjoying this new method of doing them. I forgot how much I’ve missed the feeling of pen against paper.

But enough prattle….on to Chapter 2.

The theme for Chapter 2 is Recovering a Sense of Identity. It is in this chapter where we talk about establishing and maintaining boundaries, a topic I feel is extremely important for Tarot Readers as well as other artists. Often, our identity is wrapped up in the needs and dramas of others and we suffer in the process. We will learn how to move into our own self-defined identity.

Going Sane

In this first section, Julia talks about how our self-doubt can turn into sabotage. She states:

As we gain strength, so will attacks of self-doubt. This is normal, and we can deal with these stronger attacks when we see them as symptoms as recovery.

These self-doubts then turn into self-attacks, which can send us right back into the “artist closet”. So what do we mean my self-attacks? This is when we tell ourselves such things as:

“That was beginner’s luck. I’ll never be able to do that again.”
“I probably did this wrong.”
“Who am I kidding? This work is crap!
“I not really reading the cards. I’m just making things up.”
“Why bother? I’ll never be as good as [insert popular person’s name here]”
“I’m a fraud. Eventually, they’ll figure out that I don’t have the skills.”

So you get the picture. Once we begin listening to these bouts of self-doubt, they can sabotage our work. I knew one extremely gifted Tarot reader who once told me, “I could never go professional. I’m nowhere good enough to ever consider taking money for readings. Most people are much better than I am.” Julia points out that while such attacks on ourselves are groundless, they can be very convincing and buying into them keeps us where we currently are: stuck and blocked.

So what can we do to combat this? One thing is to pay attention to that nasty little critic in your head, one who tells you that everything you do is crap or that you are a fraud. We can stop the critic in its tracks once we learn to recognize it for what it is: a mean-spirited saboteur.

Another method for combatting these self-attacks is by using affirmations, a topic we’ve already looked at. So every time that voice says to you “You can’t read the cards. You’re no Rachel Pollack or Mary Greer, that’s for sure,” respond with an affirmation such as: “I am a confident and skillful Tarot reader, and I get better every day.”

Julia also makes a wonderful point at the end of this section in which she tells the story of a man who showed his morning pages to another blocked writer. When she critiqued them, he became blocked again. In other words, do not show your work to anyone when it’s in the beginning stages – and this means your friends, parents, spouse, or partner. It’s important that work only be sent out into the world when it’s been revised and polished. So this of course means that nobody should ever see your morning pages – they are a tool meant for your eyes only.

Tarot Task

Take out your tarot deck and pull three cards. The positions for this spread are:

  1. How do I sabotage or attack my own work?
  2. Why do I do this?
  3. What first step can I take to move away from this behavior?

As an example, I pulled the following cards using the William Blake Tarot of the Creative Imagination:

Blake tarot cards

Position 1 – 9 of Science I sabotage my work by indulging in self-pity from time to time. We all think that we’re not good enough, that other people’s work is better than ours or that our work doesn’t matter or has little value. Being a card of mental faculties, this card relates to our negative thought processes. I also tend to isolate myself so that doesn’t help matters either.

Position 2 – Three of Music This is a card of entertaining gatherings and get-togethers. This card may be telling me that I’m too easily influenced by other people (and hence, too easily distracted). I do belong to several writer and critique groups during which is it easy to compare your work to that of others. I need to find joy in my own work and not allow myself to become so distracted.

Position 3 – 7 of Painting The 7 of Painting is a card of patience — of slowly allowing the fruits of your labor to come to fruition. This card makes sense as I do have a tendency to rush things, hoping and expecting results right away. The 7 of Paintings tells me stop expecting immediate results and continue on my slow, steady progress. Nobody is an overnight success (well, rarely) but rather success comes from consistent and persistent work.

If your cards don’t make sense at first, put them aside for a day or two and glance at them whenever you get a chance. Or spend some time sitting and meditating on the spread. Eventually, the meaning of the cards will become clear to you.

Artist’s Way Task

List twenty things that you enjoy such as rock climbing, baking pies, riding a bike, making love, sipping champagne at the beach, horseback riding, reading poetry, going to a museum, baking bread, going swimming, watching a sunset, going skiing, and so forth. When was the last time you did these activities? Next to each one, place a date. Don’t be surprised if it’s been years since you’ve done some of your favorite things. This list is an excellent resource for your Artist’s Dates.

After I did my list, I decided that just for the heck of it, I was going to do a couple items on my list next week. I can’t wait!

Need a copy of The Artist’s Way? You can get yours HERE

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