Story Mystic is a new column for writers. Each month I will draw five cards focused on the art of writing. What do the cards have in store for us? What writing challenges will the next month bring? Let’s find out!
A general card for writers right now — Ace of Wands
Oh, writers, get ready! The Ace of Wands symbolizes new ideas and inspiration. You may just be starting a new project and are packed full of ideas, or maybe you have not yet developed that new story yet, but it’s coming! No matter what, know that newness is coming. This card does not just mean that inspiration is coming to you, but that the universe is giving you a big, positive green light for your ideas. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Have you been working on a novel but feel inspiration for a short story? Put the big story on hold and allow yourself a day or two to experiment. Have an idea for a plot twist? Give it a try! Introduce that new character! Add that dream sequence! Want to take up painting landscapes for a while? Sure! Go buy those canvases and paints! All of your ideas have promise and meaning right now. Nothing is a waste of time.
Crucially, the Ace of Wands does not mean that all your new ideas will work out. You may start something and fail badly. You may begin that new idea and find that it begins to feel dull to you after a week. That’s okay! The Ace of Wands just points you toward newness, knowing that trying new things is the best way to grow. Whether your new ideas lead you to success or not, know that it is not the end result that matters here—the most important thing is that you have the courage to begin, to take a step down that path of inspiration, and allow yourself that chance to grow.
You may be feeling a lack of inspiration right now, however. This just means that the Ace of Wands is reversed for you. You may feel stagnant, stuck, or dull. You might be doubting your path as a writer. But don’t worry! Inspiration will return! Allow yourself this time to reflect on the old ideas you have had. Go back into your archives, or your story drawer, or trunk, or whatever you call it, and look at all the amazing things you have already crafted. Inspiration will return to you soon, when you least expect it. Just like a new card turning over.
A card for your plot — Two of Pentacles
The Two of Pentacles is a card that connects with the idea of balance in all its forms. Balance is a beautiful and tenuous thing. It may often feel unsteady, like you are barely holding on. You need to constantly shift and change to keep everything working together.
When this card is seen through the lens of plot, it means that you have a lot of plot threads going on. There is a lot of action, scheming characters, and twists and complications. This is a beautiful thing, as long as all remains in balance. But it may also feel that your plot is too much, and threatening to spin out of control. In that case, the Two of Pentacles emphasizes flexibility. You need to be creative and use all your skills and resources to keep this plot in balance. Trust yourself, reach out to friends, and know that you can do this. Eventually, all the pieces will come together in the way you wish, and it will be a wonderful thing.
A card for your characters — The Hierophant
The Hierophant is a powerful card, symbolizing both the power of teaching and learning. This card can sometimes be associated with academia and spirituality, particularly the powerful side of those realms. It connects to systems and structures of power in the world, and how those systems are built upon historical and (we hope) intellectual foundations.
In the context of character, this card means that you don’t always want to eschew the tried and true, the traditional path for your character and their path through the story. You may be trying to break the mold and try something new, which is very exciting! But don’t forget to consider the traditional path; there may be value in using a more usual character arc or plot device to get your character where they need to go.
And also—don’t forget about your character’s past! Their background has shaped them and their choices, and your character’s past will be especially important to your character in the month to come!
A card for unforeseen circumstances — Eight of Wands
A card of energy, forward movement, and power. This is a card of fearlessness, the let’s do this card, the card of the moment when you just decide to give up your reservations and dive in, fuck it all.
In the next month, it is likely that an unforeseen opportunity will come to you, or a wild idea about your story. This card is telling you to go for it. Don’t be frightened. Take that leap, try the new thing. Go ahead and kill off your main character suddenly; or if you’ve already done that, maybe resurrect them. Submit an application for the writer’s retreat or MFA program. Go for it! This is a gambling card, a card of chances. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Fuck your hesitations and your worries, they don’t truly know you. The Eight of Wands knows: you’ve got this.
A card for the wider world — Nine of Cups
Lucky you! The Nine of Cups is the card of wishes and dreaming. A card for fulfillment and joy. You may have achieved something that you have been working toward materially—finishing a draft, completing your degree, finally sending out the draft that has been languishing. Or you may have reached a moment of internal achievement, and have finally figured out the answer to that character/plot problem that has been languishing.
No matter what, the world is allowing you a moment to breathe. This is your signal to look back on all the amazing things that you have already accomplished and throw yourself a party. The wider world itself believes in you. You have worked hard and achieved so much. You can give yourself a pat on the back, celebrate with a writers’ group, or share your draft with someone else at last. Look at the way you have balanced your passion for writing with the rigors of life in their world. Take a breath and indulge a bit. The Nine of Cups says that the world wants you to throw yourself a party, knowing that you have worked hard to get to this moment.
Ann Langley writes speculative fiction and wild poetry, and can be found on twitter @alangleyyy for general chatting and hanging out purposes. She used the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot Deck for this reading, which can be found here.