Drawing Cards II: Storyboard Results

This past week my wife and I decided to try the Tarot reading technique Slade described in his guest piece here, Drawing Cards: Storyboarding the Tarot. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, we’re going through some interesting times financially, and we felt like we needed some additional guidance on next steps. The storyboarding technique looked like it would be a lot of fun, and would allow my wife in particular access to her intuition, since she’s unfamiliar with the cards.

ire4First, I handed her three Tarot decks (the Rider-Waite, the Morgan-Greer, and the Crowley-Harris Thoth) and asked her to pick one. She opened them and played with them, and ended up picking the Thoth Tarot. This deck simply had pictures that appealed to her the most. As it turned out, this was an excellent choice, because so much symbolism is packed into each card; she was able to pick and choose among the symbols according to what caught her eye.

She then held the question in her mind — “how can we get more money?” –, shuffled the cards, and drew the first three: the Sun, the Queen of Swords, and the Magician.


She worked with the cards, trying to form them into a composition that she liked. She was briefly tempted by a vertical arrangement — with the Sun at the top, the Magician at the bottom, and the Queen in the middle — but finally settled on a triangle arrangement, with the Sun on top, the Magician on the left, and the Queen on the right.

Then she began to draw with colored pencils. I couldn’t reproduce her colors, but I think you’ll agree that the composition and flow of line are evocative:


Now, all this time I was in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner. When I came over to see what she’d done, the first thing I said was, “You picked those cards?! Those are the cards you picked? For real?”

I was floored, because if you had asked me ahead of time which cards best represented myself and my wife, I would, without a doubt, have said the Magician and the Queen of Swords, respectively. That she drew them out of the deck for this exercise just blew me away.

The next thing that amazed me was the way she worked the three cards into a coherent picture. There are definitely three main sections to her drawing, but at the same time each of the three parts would seem incomplete without the others. It’s striking the way the male figure seems to be handing the sword to the female figure (and notice that, given the flow of the drawing, he is definitely handing it to her, not the other way around) and the way that the swirls of energy are flowing from the sun into the male and female figures.

Notice the symbols she picked from each card. From the Magician, the only things she took were the figure himself, the mysterious apelike being underneath him, and the spirals of energy there. As for the Queen, she is clearly floating on clouds, and the star behind her head is strongly emphasized. From the Sun card, we have the sun and its swirls of energy, as well as the two angelic figures and the wall. Note she didn’t draw the hill — just the wall.

Notice too how the flow of form in the picture starts with the Magician, flows through the sword to the Queen, up the sun-swirl to the angels, and then is blocked by the wall.

It was clear to both of us: I was the Magician, she was the Queen, the angels were probably our children, and the Sun was the money/resources we were seeking. Most likely, I had been using the sword to try to break through the wall, and failing. We weren’t clear on what the apelike/fishlike thing was under the Magician, but my wife had a feeling that whatever this was, it was keeping me from using the sword effectively.

Now we had one more big question: what was the sword?

What ever was, it was something that I had been using to try to get through the wall, without much success. Now, in my current career, I’m primarily at using my head; I’m using my linguistic expertise and analytical ability in my work for a dictation software company. While my income from this is perfectly reasonable, it’s not enough for us to reach our goals. The fact that I’m giving her a sword is very appropriate — in the deck, the sword represents analysis, intelligence, and decision. So the picture seemed to be saying, very clearly, that my wife should use her own considerable talents in these areas to generate income.

As it happens, there are a couple of projects that she’s been thinking about for several years, projects that she hasn’t taken up because she’s put all her energy into motherhood. Now that our youngest child istwo and a half, she’s got a little more time and mental energy available to think seriously about these projects. I won’t say anything more about them here — I don’t think we’re ready for that yet — but I’ll just say it’s a perfect combination of her cognitive science degree and her experience as a mother of four.

So for us, this exercise was tremendously valuable. Without knowing the first thing about the Tarot, my wife was able to use the cards to find a way to break through the barrier between ourselves and the abundance we need. Now we just need to put it into action.

And while she’s hacking away at the wall, I can turn around and deal with this monkey-fish thing. What on earth is that?…

10 responses to “Drawing Cards II: Storyboard Results”

  1. From http://www.newagedirectory.com/dream/dictionary.htm
    Monkey: One who is not under your control. Qualities of a monkey applied to a person as an excuse for their behavior.
    little fish: concerns, problems, difficulties that need to be thought about.

    My first thought about the man handing over the sword to the woman was that perhaps it was time to let your wife deal with the more cognitive hurdles for a little while… Perhaps she could be your next guest blogger. 🙂

    As far as the monkey/fish, it’s an interesting symbol… From what I can tell, they are problems that are outside of your control. Perhaps while your wife tackles the immediate task of figuring out how to increase your income, you can identify what the problems are that you have been trying to deal with, that happen to be outside of your sphere of influence, and either work to bring them into your sphere, or stop worrying about them. It is a very difficult task, since us humans are a meddlesome bunch, and we like to take on any task that we notice, whether we can make an impact or not. 😉


  2. Thanks for that insight, Adam. I do have a feeling that the fish/monkey/waters there have something to do with uncontrolled, perhaps uncontrollable energies. But I also keep thinking of the salmon of knowledge, which appears in a number of Cletic myths… The story is that in the Otherworld there is a fountain of wisdom, and the salmon that swims there carries the wisdom with it into our world. The greatest Welsh poet, Taliesin, gained his gifts from a single taste of the cooked salmon.

    Clearly I need to meditate on this. Funny how one meditation leads to another… it’s quite habit-forming…


  3. Jeff,
    Thanks for sharing your experience with this technique – I was interested in trying it after reading Slade’s article, and now that I’ve “seen it in action”, so to speak, I’m twice as eager!


  4. The fish is Fintan, the Salmon of Wisdom.


  5. Thanks, Anne!

    I’ve done a little more research into the meaning of the monkey in Crowley’s Thoth. There is a monkey in each of the three Magician cards Harris created for the deck. In each case, the monkey seems to represent intelligence unbound (and I’m afraid I can’t give a specific reference for this, other than the general impression I got after doing a lot of internet searches and reading Crowley’s Book of Thoth). By “unbound” I mean unbound by ethics, previous expectations, unspoken assumptions, etc. — it is the “monkey mind”, the raw, rational, creative urge. In Leary/Wilson terms, it’s the 3rd circuit without the 4th holding it in check.

    Clearly these are deep waters… and I have some swimming to do.


  6. Jeff,
    It’s Saturday am, March 17, 2007 – I just went to my Reader to catch up on what I might have missed around here…
    I had NOT read this Tarot follow-up until today – clearly AFTER the personal email I sent you yesterday. Check out the section in my email that I titled with your wife’s name, in which I describe how you are passing a part of your power to her, in a very specific way.
    When I first saw her sketch here this morning, I was stunned – don’t you see the resemblance?
    (Damn, I wish I’d written you before this post went up – so much for impact… But for me, I’m nodding my head as I read about your reading… I LOVE this post – great blogger transparency)


  7. Jeff,
    Did you see Dianne Sylvan’s post on the “Storyteller Spread”? Thought you might find it interesting…


  8. Thanks, Erik! Yes, I did see it — it looks extremely cool. Have you tried it yet? It would be interesting, I think, to try Dianne’s spread on the same topic, here, and see how the two techniques reinforce/complement each other.


  9. […] may remember the Tarot reading Emily did for us earlier this year, in which she used the Storyboard technique recommended by Slade to ask about money for our family. […]


  10. Jeff…. Just wanted to say how funny I found this post, stumbling upon it today (it came up as “similar to” the one you just wrote about Zen and the Tarot). So your wife drew a picture of you handing over your “sword” to her while leaving you to deal with the mysteries and chaos of the “monkey-fish thing,” eh? And this didn’t strike you as… worrying? 😉 Anyway, it all worked out!

    Also, I’ve discovered I have a viscerally negative reaction to the idea of you ever one day calling me your “wife.” Can we stick with “partner,” if it’s all the same to you? 🙂 I love you, darling. Now let’s go whoop that monkey-fish thing together, eh? On the count of three… One….. Two……..


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