The cards are mocking me today…

This morning I didn’t fully participate in the Tarot for Writers meeting because I was at work, so using the cards wouldn’t work. Instead I read the chat and took notes, knowing that I can always do the spread later and work through it.

My other problem with going too far with the exercises is that I don’t feel satisfied with my work last week. I know I want to use the Cassandra story as a starting point, but after the past/present/future (PPF) spread and the 7-card Freytag’s Pyramid plotting spread (FP), plus the 2 card conflict spread, I still don’t know how I am going to bring the mythology into present-day. I want to give everything a modern twist so it feels fresh and new. So instead of starting my lunch break with a Celtic Cross spread to learn more about Cassandra, I decided to redo the PPF and FP spreads from last week. I used my Universal Waite deck instead of my collage majors in the hopes of getting more variation, and therefore more plot ideas.

The PPF was somewhat successful, in that I got different cards. But the meanings I read in them were similar. I started by shuffling and saying to myself what I wanted: New cards that would focus on the story in present-day, and starting with the end of the story moving forward. The beginning of the book/end of the story is 10 of Swords: utter defeat. That is in keeping with the fall of Troy. (Compare with The World, which I saw as Cassandra having the weight of the world on her shoulders.) The middle is 2 of Wands. I saw in the card a boy holding a globe and looking out from very high above the land. This reminds me of Cassandra, with the globe representing her prophecies — holding visions of the future in her hand — and the world below representing her seeing the big picture with a perspective others don’t have because they are too close to the situation. (Comparison: Strength- conquering fears?) The end of the book/beginning of the story is The King of Swords: he is intellectual, and prophecies are connected with the mind. I also saw him as sitting on top of the world, but he is all alone. Cassandra is much the same. The 2 of Wands also shows someone on top of the world, but alone- nobody believes her prophecies. (Comparison: The Hierophant, an authority figure, just like the King of Swords is an authority figure.)

The FP spread, though is where things got really freaky. Remember my old PPF spread I just mentioned? The World, Strength, and The Hierophant represent the book going forwards, and the story in reverse. Just like last week I kept the first three cards separated out and shuffled the rest of the deck. I said to myself that I wanted to bring the story to the present-day, but this time I forgot to tell the cards I wanted the story backwards. So instead I dealt 7 cards that went from beginning of the story to the end. How did I know they were backwards? Because I got, in this order, The Hierophant, Strength, and the World as Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. Those are the exact same cards I got last week in the reverse order, and I had to laugh because I immediately knew the cards were playing a joke on me. “You don’t believe me? I DARE you to try again looking for different results.”

Don’t you see? My cards are Cassandra, and I am the people of Troy who don’t believe the truth she tells me. Remember what happens in the end? TROY ENDS UP DESTROYED, AND THE PEOPLE LOOK LIKE COMPLETE FOOLS!!!! So now I am the puppy with its tail between its legs, who should have just worked with what I had.

“And isn’t it ironic… don’tcha think? A little toooooo ironic….” (Alanis Morrissette lyrics, of course)

So now I am working with two 7-card spreads. The first is from last week, the second is the reversal of the cards from today so that the story points match up. I still have to finish working out the plot, but here are the two sets of cards, working from the end of the story to the beginning, thus the beginning of the book to the end (lost yet? don’t worry, I’m not). Fitting them with the labels of exposition, etc. will be a challenge for me, but I’m not concerned with that right now.

  1. Exposition: The Fool / The Tower
  2. Inciting Incident: The Empress / The World
  3. Rising Action: The Wheel of Fortune / Strength
  4. Climax: The Emperor / The Hierophant
  5. The Devil / 7 of Swords
  6. Temperence / 4 of Wands
  7. The Tower / 2 of Cups

A few things to point out. There are still a lot of Majors in the second reading, which was a complete shuffled deck. One reading starts with the Tower, the other ends with it… which means both times I laid out the cards, the Tower was placed in the last position (remember, the second reading is flipped from when I dealt them). I took a bunch of pictures of the spreads, recreating the ones from last week too. I also took photos of correlating cards together (both in position 1, both in position 2…) so I can see what I can make of each position by reading the cards together.

I’m not going to mention my notes on the cards yet, because I’m still working on plot. The Conflict Spread I redid (yes, even after the cards told me not to) actually opened my eyes to a new perspective that I think will help me move forward. Last week I got the High Priestess and the Magician. I read that as a conflict that Cassandra must decide if she wants to keep her prophecies to herself (High Priestess = a woman keeping secrets), or if she will tell her prophecies, even though nobody will believe her (Magician = her trying to help people).

The new spread is, duh, similar. But it also gave me some new ideas. This time I got the Queen of Pentacles and the 3 of Wands. I looked at the Queen and saw the pentacle, money, and thought about fortune tellers. They make money for predicting the future, but many people are skeptical and don’t believe that fortune tellers have any real talent. So maybe Cassandra has turned to fortune telling as a career.

The 3 of Wands didn’t give me anything until I looked it up on the Learn Tarot site. Having foresight, being visionary, getting a premonition, seeing the big picture… sure sounds like Cassandra to me! This site says the Queen is nurturing, big-hearted, down-to-earth, trustworthy, and resourceful. So maybe not so much the fortune teller, but it is certainly an interesting idea.

Here is my conclusion about the conflict spread. Cassandra hides her predictions, pretends to be “normal.” The conflict is that she has premonitions of really bad stuff, feels like she needs to come out as a prophetess, even though nobody believes her. Maybe something happened to her as a child, and she was punished and locked up (this idea comes from Cassandra research- nobody believed her and she was locked up as being crazy) until she “admitted” she was lying; leads to her hiding her predictions.

I think I’m getting somewhere with this conflict spread. I want to take these ideas and keep them in mind when I’m looking back at my FP cards. Then I can fill out the form I was supposed to do after last week’s meeting, and THEN I can do the Celtic Cross and see where that takes things. It was a very exciting lunch break, and I’m glad I’m leaving work soon, and I am off tomorrow so I can play with these ideas some more.