Tarot, a Cure for Writer’s Block?

The term writer’s block was first coined in New York City in 1947 by Edmund Bergler, a well-known disciple of Sigmund Freud.

Bergler called it a form of “psychic masochism, the unconscious wish to defeat one’s conscious aims, and to enjoy defeat.” The history of the Tarot dates back to the late 14th century. It was highly regarded by Carl Jung who recognized the Tarot as depicting archetypes of transformation like those he had found in myths and dreams. He believed that the Tarot provides a method of divination like the I-Ching, and that anyone could use this “intuitive method” to reach into the collective unconscious and create a “cloud of cognition” to discover meaning in past, present, and forthcoming situations. Read more about Jung and the Tarot in Mary K. Greer’s Tarot Blog.

Writers are continually navigating through time and changes.

The Tarot provides a compass, frequently pointing out directions to sailors lost in a sea of words. You can ask for answers to focused questions about the process of your writing like:

  • What is this character trying to achieve?
  • My protagonist is at a turning point. What happens next?
  • What is missing in this scene?
  • What obstacle is about to appear?

I have developed the first step in learning to use the Tarot by providing an online set of the 22 cards that appear face down in a continuously randomized deck. Let the process of intuition provide answers by drawing a random card from the Major Arcana. Formulate your question first, but avoid asking questions with a yes or no answer. Simply touch any card to flip it over to look at the picture on the card. Consider how the image speaks to you. What thoughts does it stir in your imagination? Begin writing. If you need help, scroll down to the bottom of the page for the Jungian description of the card.

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