I always knew I was going to be a writer. When I was 8, I declared it. With all the gusto and certainty that an 8-year-old could muster.
I read voraciously and bought all the notebooks my mother would allow me to get at the dollar store. I always had pens and pencils, and I specifically remember stealing a really nice Pilot pen from the drawer in the kitchen where my parents kept the good writing utensils — just under the phone with spiral cord.
But it wasn’t until high school and college that I felt like I really came into my own. I felt like I could write at the drop of a hat. It was as easy as cracking the spine on the Moleskine I kept in my back pocket, and just writing.
My mind was constantly moving. Lots of stream of consciousness. Lots of moments where I found myself dipping into words that seemed to flow inside my head like a river.
I carried those notebooks everywhere. I remember taking one out in the middle of a movie as I sat in the theater next to a friend. She was mortified as I sat there in the dark just writing. I also did that in the back seat of her car on the way back to her house.
Everyone always wanted to know what I was writing.
And for the most part, it was just words. Nothing special. Just like dipping a cup into a flowing stream and looking at what’s in there when you pull the cup up.
I couldn’t explain it. It was mostly just words. But those words were the basis for stories. For poems. For essays.
And I had to dip the cup. Had to. It was important. Because if I didn’t, the words overflowed.
Having access to that was key. I knew that I could write anything if I kept my tie to that stream.
Grad school was different.
It was like a true test that I feel I failed.
There was no creativity in my writing program. There was efficiency. There was progress. There were word counts. There was never a moment where a professor cared about our mental health or what we were going through outside the classroom.
There was just the need to have 50,000 words completed for the novel writing class. And several essays for the media theory class. And 15 books and responses completed for the fiction reading class.
It was brutal. A semester killed me. And I was working two jobs at the time.
It’s not something that I like to admit, but during that time, I was the most creatively blocked that I’ve ever been.
And during that time, I could no longer dip my toes. The stream had dried up. Or perhaps the stream was still there, only I couldn’t find it.
It’s like I had lost my way.
I stopped carrying notebooks. I had my laptop with me at all times.
I had nothing that linked me to the person I was.
And though I’ve spent the past 10 years trying to get back to that place, I think I’ve finally found the portal.
My Tarot History
I got my first tarot deck when I was relatively young. An aunt gave me her copy of the Smith Rider Waite deck that had been collecting dust in her house. I didn’t know what to do with it, really.
And I was honestly way too young to understand any of the symbols or to understand how to connect them all.
I wound up giving the deck to a friend who was a practicing Wiccan. (She would later give me the deck back in a trash bag full of witchy items that she hid at my house when her Christian parents found out about her beliefs.)
But it was years until I cared about the tarot again. And only recently have I really started caring about them.
After studying the cards and listening to some podcasts and reading some books, I feel like I finally have a grasp on how to use them. Or rather, on how to interpret the symbols and apply them to areas of my life and the lives of others.
I do offer tarot readings to anyone who would like one, but I think I may have found a better use for the cards.
Tarot in the Writing Workshop
This past Saturday, I took an online workshop hosted by Pam Grossman and Janaka Stucky. It was all about creating writing rituals, finding your muse or deity, and using the occult to channel some writing.
At one point in the class, after calling a circle and giving thanks to various deities, we were instructed to pull a card.
I pulled the two of cups from the Santa Muerte tarot, a beautiful deck with saturated colors and Día de los Muertos images. My mind was on fire.
We were instructed to write for a minute, and my pen flew across the page.
It was the first time in a long time that I felt capable of doing that, of just writing and letting the words flow.
It reminded me of how easy it was to write when I was younger, when I didn’t care so much about productivity, when I didn’t care so much about structure or form.
I was able to come to the stream. It was still there, where I had left it, if only a bit more full these days from lack of use. I dipped the cup and brought it up and words spilled out on the blank page in front of me, blue ink splattering the words.
And that was when I realized why tarot has been in my life in some form or another for so long. I was being primed.
I think, perhaps, the stream knew I wouldn’t always be able to find it. So, when I was young, just after declaring that I would be a writer, the tarot appeared in my life.
I rejected it then. I didn’t exactly need it, but I knew of it.
And then, years after I finished my graduate program, I slowly came back to the cards. They were there, waiting, as if to say they knew the way, if only I’d try. And I tried. I learned so much about them. About archetypes. About numerology. About different cultural interpretations.
And finally, a friend recommended this workshop to me because she knew I’d need it. Perhaps, something in her subconscious told her to tell me. She, after all, was in my creative writing classes in undergrad, when the words flowed so freely.
Perhaps she too had also felt a separation from the stream.
It’s strange to think all the things that had to align in order for this to all happen. But they did align, and now I am back to the stream I used to visit all the time.
I have stocked up on notebooks. I’ve put all my tarot decks on my desk. And now, I sit there and know that I will always have the words I need.