A neon eye and triangle blaze the word “PSYCHIC” in a strip mall window. A fortune teller with a crystal ball in a smoky room cracks an egg and tells you a misfortune will befall you if you don’t pay her $300 for a “good luck spell.” An old woman spits on your shoe and curses you for the rest of your life.
We’ve all seen the tropes surrounding fortune tellers and Tarot cards. Often regarded as a money trap for the desperate or a whimsical activity in the midst of a festival, Tarot cards can actually serve a purpose dear to our content makers’ hearts that is little known to the public.
With their brilliant colors and suggestive imagery, Tarot cards can carve a path straight to your subconscious. Even when you don’t know the story behind each card, the imagery can spark inspiration. When you do know something about the story, you can dig in deeper to the meanings and the collective human experiences that the cards represent.
Here are three easy steps to use the Tarot to jumpstart your content creation:
The Tarot is basically a set of archetypes, or common patterns for human behavior. The cards tell the story of the Fool moving through his journey, with each card using an elaborate design to show a particular action or event. Most Tarot decks are beautifully drawn, with colors and details from which to draw inspiration.
Consider the randomized nature of shuffling a deck of 78 cards and selecting just one of them. What idea might you find within the designs and stories?
If you have a deck, try shuffling it and picking a few cards to see what kind of meaning you can see. Or Google the meaning of a couple Tarot cards. Suddenly, that new post you’re trying to come up with for your micro-niche blog about the benefits of rowing machines swims into focus (pun entirely intended).
How cool would it be, if instead of just you and your mug of coffee staring at a blank screen, you have an idea randomly selected for you — but still an idea that comes from your own inspiration?
Now, sit down with the cards, or find a random Tarot card generator online (just Google “free online Tarot reading”). Pull two. Sit for a minute with the cards, stare at them, and let your mind wander.
You may not have done this since grade school, but on a piece of paper or a word processor — whichever feels more natural to you — write or draw whatever your brain wants to. Use free association based on how the cards make you feel, and keep going until the well runs dry.
After an hour or so, go back over those notes and look for an emerging narrative. See how it applies to your content and where you can make great content from these ideas.
Most importantly, look for emerging narratives that speak to what others may need from your unique skill set.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the following images and tell me you don’t feel something stir in your inspiration-maker. While you’re at it, let me give you some blog post examples inspired by each one as well, across a wide swath of disciplines.
Take the Chariot and the Sun, for example. The cards invoke different feelings and ideas in different people, of course.
For me, I look at the Chariot and get a sense of controlling opposing forces, harnessing two elements into one forward-driving machine.
With the Sun, I feel utter warmth and joy, reckless abandon, and overall positive vibes.
Let’s go back to our micro-niche fitness blog on rowing machines.
The Chariot gives us a feeling of controlling forces and driving forward, while the Sun gives us a feeling of freedom, joy under the open sky (also, being nude on horseback, but we don’t want to promote that for our rowing enthusiasts, due to sheer overall comfort considerations).
If you’re a little stuck on how you feel about each card, or even if you’re less of a visual person and more of a words person, take a gander at the meanings and see what those do for you.
From Tarot.com, we find:
“The Chariot Tarot card points to a triumphal feeling of freedom, as if the Charioteer is being paraded through the streets as a hero (or heroine). The card reflects congratulations for high achievement, and serves as a sign of empowerment. Huge wheels and frisky steeds speed the rate at which the driver’s willpower can be realized.”
The same site tells us that the Sun card is about the self:
“Who you are and how you cultivate your personality and character. The Sun’s radiance is where one’s original nature can be encountered in health and safety. The limitations of time and space are stripped away; the soul is refreshed and temporarily protected from the chaos outside the garden walls. Under the light of the Sun, life reclaims its primordial goodness, truth, and beauty.”
Why don’t we craft an article comparing models of hydro rowers vs. air rowers with a specific eye toward how close each one gets you to the experience of rowing on the open water (the idea of freedom as inspired by the Sun) without sacrificing power (idea of controlling opposing forces and big, sturdy wheels as inspired by the Chariot)?
You can focus on the feeling of absolute freedom in your watercraft, and juxtapose it with some of the other potentials a rowing enthusiast would like to consider, such as the smoothness of the drive and catch of particular models, and how in control you feel with the design of the machine — maybe even how the flywheels affect the experience on each model, with a nod to the Chariot.
Now you have a hot post titled “Top 10 Rowing Machines that Bring You the Closest to Being on Open Water,” sure to capture the attention of rowing enthusiasts looking for advice on that very subject.
Boom. You’ve opened up a new arena for creativity and are tapping into a part of your brain you don’t necessarily use every day. And where did it come from? Two crazy pictures that sum up some of the experiences that make us collectively human.
Until this article goes viral, it’s probably a spring of inspiration others never use, so this could give you an edge on the competition.
Admit it, now you really want a hydro rower so you can look just like Robin Wright on “House of Cards.” Well, I do, anyway.
If I could come up with this after just five minutes of research on rowing machines, imagine what an expert could do with that inspiration?
Maybe you have a blog that is more home and lifestyle oriented. Let’s see what comes up for this post.
After my next shuffle, we have the Two of Wands (left) and the Six of Swords (right).
Traditionally, the Two of Wands is about sighting down the road, planning for the future, while the Six of Swords translates to overcoming difficulties and making it to a safer shore after a difficult journey.
What may start to come together for a lifestyle/personal finance blog is planning for the future after a difficult period of time, and how to both achieve more stability and start work on a future in which you’re not only safe and stable, but thriving.
I’m immediately seeing potential for not one but two articles here, both based on the Two of Wands and the Six of Swords. Let’s do an article about how to recover from financial losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and how to risk-proof your financial future: “15 Ways to Be Debt-Free in 2 Years” and “6 Things We Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic about Risk-Proofing Your Finances.”
I already want to read these and I just thought of them.
Going a little further in our little experiment, take a gander at the Tower and Strength. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, just in case you ever get a Tarot card reading on a whim, but the Tower is one of those cards that signifies impending doom so clearly that Tarot readers joke about it in forums with the skull emoji and a crying face.
It’s clear from the imagery that the Tower isn’t exactly the happiest of cards. People are falling, lightning is striking, the tower’s top has blown off. This is a very serious card intended to invoke in you the feelings of disaster and impending danger.
Couple that with the Strength card. How do you feel when you look at this sunny beauty? A young woman grasps a lion’s mane, in no imminent danger. She represents grace under pressure, and together they represent the combination of beauty and fierce power.
Let’s say instead that you have a blog about modern romance. We have a disaster (again, COVID-19 is a real champ about being the butt of our jokes today), and we have the feeling of strength in the face of utter chaos.
We have an article on “Top 7 Ways to Meet the Love of Your Life Post-Pandemic.” We will talk about grace under pressure, how to present yourself in the dating scene again, what to watch out for psychologically as people begin to meet online and in person more regularly, and, ultimately, how to put your best foot forward romantically in the face of a truly difficult dating scene.
Again, I already want to read it and may just have to write it now.
Through free association and the randomized nature of shuffling a deck of cards, you will essentially be tapping your subconscious for what the Tarot cards have provoked in you.
I hope this little trick gives you some joy, leads you into your subconscious, and inspires your content in a new way. I also hope it drives you to do new and wild things with your content that benefit you.
Give that old Tarot deck a shuffle. Whether it’s an uncanny familiarity, fear, attraction, hope, joy — whatever the images invoke in you, it won’t be boring.
And you might just get to see what shivers up from the depths of your own subconscious.
Erica Lynn Geller has been freelancing and blogging for 20 years. At present, she manages 2 plump house cats (Jackson and Chance) and a writing career while also coaching clients in the fields of self help, mindfulness and spirituality. If you’re interested in reading about her chaotic and furry life, follow her blogging adventures on SoulUnfold.com and on Instagram @soul_unfold_visions.