Monday, June 20, 2011

Do You Trust Your Instincts? Week 9 with Tarot's Fool

The Fool has been resting since his startling meeting with Strength, a young and innocent maiden who showed him the importance of using his will power for higher purposes. (Week 8 post. Links to previous posts in this series are at the end of this entry.) Will power, yes. He knew that, but every fiber in his body was calling for using that will power not for higher purposes, but for bold action against enemies and obstacles. (He wanted to attack, to somehow overcome agents' infuriating unwillingness to see the wonderfulness of his novel. He's revised, he's carefully picked agents who say they're interested in his genre—although he's seriously doubting their honesty at this point—and still he's getting rejections. True, the rejections aren't the form ones any more; agents are actually asking for partials and writing to him with specific issues, and even some praise. But that's not good enough!)  Nothing he's done so far has worked to get him a foothold with the gatekeepers to his goal (a good agent to sign him), and he's exhausted.

Trying to get a handle on that whole 'higher purpose' thing is depressing him, too, even though he thought he could do it when he was in Strength's presence. There's no question that he's a good person (and a good writer!). He really is. But there is seemingly no end to obstacles. And now instead of fighting back he's supposed to elevate his emotions to higher purpose?

This is how he feels. Like he's in a sarcophagus with his own image on top, his sword stuck to the side of the coffin, and three more swords hanging over him, pointing at him! 

The picture is misleading, though. The Fool realizes this when he notices that he's starting to feel better. He isn't entombed; he is being given the gift of deep rest that supports an active deep mind.

The Fool relaxes, and lets his deep mind do its work on the vital subject Strength suggested to him: how to use his energy for higher purposes. How to dig deep within himself and make his true mettle manifest, not just for all to see, but for him to embrace as his own.

Talk about a challenge! To achieve higher purpose requires not only giving up youthful, superficial ambitions, but engaging in introspection, searching, and solitude, as well as seeking guidance. (With a painful loosening of his grip, The Fool lets go of his lust for recognition, approval, and material success, and turns his heart to the quest for true greatness through humility and understanding of loss, love, joy, pain, hope. This, in turn, will allow him to write a beautiful novel.)  For this he must transform himself into The Hermit.

In a cabin deep in the woods The Hermit (previously known as The Fool) hides. He reads, cleans, organizes and just plain rests. (There are brilliant books he's never taken the time to read before. And the writing! It's incredible. He slashes his own manuscript's extraneous prose and spends weeks crafting succinct, deft phrasing. He cuts his word count from 110,000 to 85,000. Whew!) But that's all during the day.

At night, every night, he ventures out into the dark, and walks for miles and miles, carrying only a staff and a lantern. He's searching, and he's finding the things he's missed. Things about himself and the world. He's thinking deeply about these things. Whenever he stumbles, his staff rights him. (It's not just about strong plot lines and deft phrasing, it's about knowing who you are; it's about the love and pain from within, and the strength to know and express that.)  Whenever he feels lost, he holds the lantern up in front of him and trusts it to light the way. (He goes still and quiet and waits for illumination, which he knows will come.) The staff is his strength. The lantern is his instinct, the pilot light of his soul. It will not guide him wrong.

Although he will soon step back into the world again as The Fool, he will never again display the trappings of youthful naiveté. The light from the lantern has allowed him to see and deal with the contradictions that surround him. No longer will irresponsibility, dependency, incompetence, or even innocence be acceptable to The Fool as part of his own behavior. At the same time he will not shun love and joy; he will not be cynical. He has become a person who solves the problem in front of him (he's honest with himself about those agent comments, and figures out how to discern the good ones and make his story stronger through their guidance). He has become someone who finishes the task without sweeping anything under the rug, no matter what the task is. This is huge—far greater than he realizes at this moment.

He's about to get a taste of what it means to let go of need, and in return be given abundance. Come back next week to find out what happens when The Fool comes upon The Wheel of Fortune.


Links to Fool's Journey posts:  0—The Fool1—The Magician2—The High Priestess3—The Empress4&5—The Emperor, and The Hierophant6—The Lovers; 7—The Chariot; 8—Strength 

My interpretation of The Fool's Journey as it applies to the writing life is my own, but the journey is long-established from a variety of sources. Those I've relied on most heavily are:  TAROT BASICS by Burger & Fiebig, AECLECTIC TAROT by Thirteen, and EVERYDAY TAROT by Fairfield


  1. I can really imagine his walking in the woods with that lantern--spooky!

  2. Linda, I love the fool! I'm still on his path. I feel the one thing that is delaying my writing is being "out there." Hundreds of emails, demands, family, work, clubs... I need to pull in and become that hermit, too. While he walks the night with his lantern, mine may be burning bright beside my Mac. Focus. Determination.

    "The Fool lets go of his lust for recognition, approval, and material success, and turns his heart to the quest for true greatness through humility and understanding of loss, love, joy, pain, hope. This, in turn, will allow him to write a beautiful novel." I love this.

    Ever heard of the dark night of the soul? I'm thinking they were talking about writers! And the fool.

  3. Trusting our instincts is so important and yet sometimes so hard to do. I feel for the Fool, I've been there!

  4. I'll bet you've been there, Lydia. Maybe in daytime, maybe in dreams, but yup, spooky it is.

    Karlene, yes, the dark night of the soul and writers! Or as a pragmatist once said to me: "writing. you had to choose that!" and I thought, 'choose?" Never worry, I know you well enough to know that your lantern will keep those fingers clicking on your Mac!

    Heh, Heather, yes, pity the poor Fool! But hooray for him and for you, too. You've been there, so you've been through the self-doubt and are still standing (and writing and publishing!!). Yay!

  5. ROFL at this: although he's seriously doubting their honesty at this point. :D

    I'm the hermit right now, cutting some scenes and creating others. ;)

  6. Are you liking hermit-ing, Stina? Such a wonderful/difficult/necessary stage in the process. I'm guessing you're feeling seriously powerful (when not exhausted).