Sunday, September 15, 2019

Using a Mandala Spread for Character Development in my Tarot Story "Sacrifices"

Procrastination is as much a part of the writing process as writing is I believe. This was no less true when I began working on the challenge of writing my tarot story "Sacrifices." When I began working on the story, I did my Celtic Cross for planning a good month before I actually started writing the story. I just couldn't quite figure out the person these events were happening to. I knew I wanted my character to be someone a little bit strange, and the story to be somewhat fantastical, but beyond that I had no clue.

To solve my little hiccup, I decided to follow up my Celtic Cross planning session with some character development using a Mandala tarot spread. A mandala tarot spread is typically used for personality analysis and helping a querent understand themselves. So, this should be the perfect spread for helping my understand the character Ursuline I was trying to develop! Once again, why reinvent the wheel or do some fancy process for developing a story with special spreads when the spreads already exist?

Developing Ursuline's Character with a Mandala Tarot Spread

We're slowly moving toward fall and all that's creepy and a little spooky, so I got a head start by selecting my Mildred Payne's Secret Pocket Oracle to work with for this exercise. I don't use it nearly enough and I'm overly excited about the approaching fall season, so creepy character development with a creepy deck was what I went with!

I was also much looser with interpretation using the oracle deck. I feel oracle decks do open that freedom up more so than tarot, particularly the Mildred Payne. The deck is full of very specific pieces of imagery, almost like a Lenormand deck. Because of this, I found that the imagery came into play more so than the meanings.

1 Self

The Ear (9) reversed appeared to define Ursuline's core self. She constantly describes hearing the shades howl, and at one point they are referred to as banshees. I wanted there to be a strong sense of hearing in the story. I'm not sure I quite succeeded in driving that sensation home, but it was the intent. Ursuline is also hyper vigilant of her situation, perhaps overly so. She probably has a lot of other options for her situation, but she's overly sensitive and aware of what the shades want.

2 Ambitions

Ursuline very much desired to be likable. The Flower (23) is a card of blossoming, but at a cost. Ursuline would love to reach her full potential, and she believes that she can only do this with the help of others.

3 Ideals, goals, and path to spirit

Between the Arrow (64) and the Boot later in the spread, I knew there would need to be some travel in store for Ursuline. She believes that carrying her message of teamwork will help achieve her goals. When she meets the witch, she throws caution to the wind because she is too hopeful that this witch is like her.

4 Accomplishments and life path

The Star (67) took on a bit of a very literal accomplishment/life path for Ursuline as she gets turned into little twinkly bits in the dark! Who says every card has to have some deep meaning? Sometimes face value is all you need.

5 Dependencies, addictions, erroneous values

Ursuline encounters her Spider (51) in the witch and makes the unfortunate mistake of believing that the strong female force she encountered was benign.

6 Strengths, positive personality traits

It might take Ursuline a long time to feel the effects of a situation that is Poison (45), but eventually it will take her down. Endurance is a positive trait, but it doesn't hold in there forever. Unfortunately, I don't feel I had room in the story to reveal this about her as much. Keep in mind for a creative project, you don't always have to use everything you plan!

7 Faults and weaknesses

Ursuline was smart to observe before getting involved with the witch, but she allowed herself to become too caught up with her curiosity. She was also way too giving. The Octopus (44) appeared reversed, and so we have a character who takes on more than they can handle and gets in deeper than they can actually handle.

8 Self-awareness and self-image

The reversed Boot (20) was not only another indicator of travel gone awry, but also a sign of feeling stuck. Ursuline's impetus was to try to resolve feelings of being stuck in a situation that wasn't great. The trip itself was not necessarily a bad idea, but her entire engagement with the witch was throwing caution to the wind a bit.

9 Desires and higher purpose

Ursuline doesn't just want to make her life better, she wants to make it better by bringing together other people. She wants to feel joy, but the reversed Boy (5) indicates yet again that though she might bring that joy into another's life in a way that gives way too much of herself.

Pulling It All Together

Ultimately, this reading didn't slide as seamlessly into the story as my Celtic Cross spread did. However, it did stimulate a lot of creative thought and small details which worked into the story and helped develop it into what it ultimately became. Tarot stimulates creativity and intuition, and so I don't feel like doing this extra thought process with this spread turned out to be a wasted enterprise at all.

If you would like to receive a Mandala reading for yourself, they are available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

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