Thursday, 12 May 2016

A Tarot Spread for Musicians (and other creatives!)

Are you a musician, poet, writer, artist or creative who is feeling stuck? You might find that you’re trapped in some kind of 'artist identity' where you keep recreating the same kind of work simply because that’s what you do. If you are looking for a new direction with your work, or a new act altogether, then this tarot spread is for you.

The reasons that we get stuck and uninspired are complex and very personal. Here’s a tarot spread that I designed to help myself figure out why I’ve been like a broken record for years with my songwriting; I’m now finding it really useful with other creatives who I’ve been working with and I’d love you to try it out for yourself!

For the uninitiated, here is a basic description of what exactly a ‘tarot spread’ is. You can design your own spreads to represent anything you want to know, in any shape or design you fancy. Good, eh?


Here’s how we work with the Lego-Pyramid Spread. Starting with the bottom row of five cards, you will read the cards from left to right before progressing up to the next level of the pyramid. These cards (1-5) will represent challenging information which you need to conquer before progressing; they are your foundation. Happy creativity-based cards (6-8) lay on row two. At the very top is a final, overall advice card representing something you need to grasp before you mentally climb on top of it, raise your flag and proclaim yourself ready to embark on something truly new. Hooray! 

For my personal reading - given as an example below - I chose the Tarot of the Cat People deck to work with; the first tarot deck I ever bought back in 2004 and a truly gorgeous deck full of incredible symbolism and righteous, fantasy felines. 

Here’s what each card position represents:
  1. The Creative Phase That’s Died. This card will capture what you are really closing the door to, to gain extra understanding of where you’ve been before you move forward.
  2. Where You Are Right Now. Always helpful for some perspective - you’re never quite where you consciously want to be.
  3. What You Need To Work On. This could represent skills, attitudes; anything at all - practical, mental or emotional.
  4. Hidden Hopes. A card to uncover sub/unconscious motives.
  5. Hidden Fears. These things trip you up.
  6. Creative Inspiration. Something that will provide inspiration for a new direction. Keep an open mind!
  7. Assets available. Understand what’s in your favour right now and what will help you.
  8. Something Random and Fabulous. A baffling wildcard which will shout something helpful and cryptic at you. It may not make immediate sense - but it will slowly sink in.
  9. Final Advice. A card that waves its wise finger like a smart schoolteacher and says, “now before you start, always remember this, child!”
(note - this is not from the tarot deck I'm using, it's just a random image from the internet. My taste in tarot decks can be kitsch at times - but this would be pushing it.)

Shuffle the cards and concentrate. Choose 9 cards at random in whatever way feels right for you. There are no right or wrong ways to choose the cards, providing they’re faced down. Pile the cards up one by one and then deal the bottom card to position one, the second to bottom card at position two, and so on until the final card is dealt to position nine.

Here’s what happened with my own reading which I conducted when I finally made the decision to end my previous music project of ten years. It was my main focus in life, seeing me release four albums and performing in over 15 countries; as you can imagine, it was a really big thing for me and this spread was very helpful. My personal notes were very detailed but I’m just offering a few sentences as an example. Reading in-depth tarot readings that others have performed for themselves can be as dull as hearing blow-by-blow accounts of other people’s dreams - it’s always far more interesting when it happens to you! Nonetheless, I hope it gives you an idea of how you can use the spread to full effect, so do delve in deep when taking notes for yourself.

  1. The Phase That's Ending - Ten of Swords. The bad ending, the feeling of hopelessness that everything is ruined and nothing is salvageable. In the end, I felt completely irrelevant, like a total loser and I came to not even like my music much myself. This card nailed it and puts it in perspective exactly why I needed to stop.
  2. Where I Am - Strength. A figure rides on a huge leopard, travelling through the darkness in the areas of the land where nobody else goes for fear of attack. It’s the only Major Arcana card in my spread; the change is major, and positive. It’s a very self-explanatory card, a simple image. Move on, have Strength.
  3. What I Need to Work On - 8 of Pentacles. An older woman sits with a younger girl, teaching her to play an instrument. I know I’m capable of making different kinds of music, but am I able to get out of my laziness, take the time to learn, study and work on new approaches? Learn new tricks…..sound advice gals!
  4. Hopes - King of Wands. The king of his creative field. Here’s my embarrassing hidden hope : “I will astound and impress others with my ingenious and unique new project!”. A warning against arrogant, unrealistic (embarrassing) hopes which lead to disappointment. Hope to make something you’re proud of; don’t hope to be admired for doing it.
  5. Fears - 5 of Wands. 5’s; chaos, conflict, clashes. Wands (yep, wands again); passion and creativity. Chaos with creativity. A man is floating in air, trapped in 5 turning wands - it’s like he’s at the wheel of an imaginary car which is driving him. I often feel that everything needs to have quick deadlines and I’m already panicking that I’m not doing something new right now. Self-sabotage, taking on a million ideas at once.
  6. Inspiration - 6 of Wands. Card number 5 was the 5 of Wands, card number 6 is the 6 of Wands. How orderly! A man with heavy clothing and a big Russian-style hat appears from the darkness carrying 6 lights of success. Instantly, this guy is my very talented poet brother Chris (he even used to wear a hat like this), who was funded to undertake a huge poetry project. Chris helped me with a music-tarot funding bid I put in recently and this card was inspiration for me in requesting his help (note, I didn’t get the funding, but I did get a lot of new ideas from the application which I’m putting to use with this blog and new songs I’m writing). 
  7. Assets - 10 of Pentacles. A second number 10 - another completion of a journey, this time relating to earth (pentacles), home, finances. A chilled woman looks proud with her adopted kitten family; I've got a supportive husband, part-time satisfying work that leaves me the actual time to create and a lovely new home after hating where I used to live. These are homely assets that I shouldn’t take for granted. Safety and security will help my creativity.
  8. Something Random and Fabulous - Page of Wands (Reversed). At the time of doing this reading, I avoided reading 'reversals', but somehow I pulled a reversed Page regardless. The random is the inexplicable reversal (I shuffled them all upright). Am I the Page of Wands, who often represents an enthusiastic learner of new passions? Is this a stifled new beginning, delayed (reversed)? I just wasn’t ready to learn new tricks at the time of the spread and I'm not sure if I even am now, eight months on.
  9. Advice Before Starting - 9 of Wands. This is the 3rd time that the number of the card correlates with the number in the spread (9:9); rushing is pointless. 5 Wands out of 9 cards suggests an abundance of creativity present. The woman in the card stands before a prison; behind the bars, 4 or 5 scruffy cats claw at her from the darkness. She looks like she’s on guard against a threat. But if there is a threat, it’s the cats behind her, who she doesn’t notice. There’s a lot that I need to leave behind in Ste’s Historical Queer Punk World before I progress. Paranoia, defensiveness, ego. Look at what’s right in front of you, the negative ways you are already thinking; your problems lie right here, not in other people.
Now, that’s enough from the dark depths of my mind. Go try it out for yourself!

Did you get any interesting insights into what’s lurking in the back of your brain when trying this spread? Did anything confuse you, inspire you, freak you out? Did you get the urge to go out and try something new? Comment below or email me. I’d love to chat more with you and I really hope that this helps you on your creative journey, whatever it be!

Love Ste / Tarot Cat x

The Tarot Cat is a tarot-reading DIY musician based in Scotland. I blog about tarot (with a special focus on musical-tarot connections) and I provide creative tarot readings via my website.  

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