Cartomancy and Character

tarotI’m not much of a believer in the occult, but I do love Tarot, not in any small part because the 78 cards in a Tarot deck can be so beautiful. There’s something undeniably fascinating in the symbols and images, and it’s easy to get caught up the magic.

My first reading was done by a real pro: author Nora Roberts. We were at the Washington Romance Writers’ annual retreat at the fabulous Hilltop House in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and Nora was doing readings for her friends. I think she told me my marriage was destined to last forever. The next reading I had was by another fellow writer, the late, beautiful Virginia Ellis, shortly after my divorce.  Ha! So as I said, I’m not much of a believer, but I do believe in taking brainstorming help wherever I can get it, and a good Tarot Card reading–for a writers’ characters rather than for the writer herself–can jumpstart a scene, or even an entire book. 

Like Nora, Gin Ellis was a generous reader. At a Novelists, Inc conference in Santa Fe one year, she read for every major character in my work-in-progress. I learned one character’s deepest, darkest secret, why another was afraid to be a mother, and why yet another  chose his particular career. There are many, many other ways to brainstorm, but none as intriguing or fun as Tarot.

I’m aware of one book on Tarot specifically for writers (Tarot for Writers, by Corrinne Kenner), but I’m sure there are more, because writers have turned to Tarot over the years (over the centuries, since Tarot’s been around that long) to help them develop characters and story lines. 

Tarot came into play with my upcoming novel, The Lies We Told. I didn’t use it to help me brainstorm, but my characters themselves use it to. . .  well, I’ll wait until the book comes out to tell you!

So how about you? Have you ever had a Tarot reading?


  1. Linda Spear on November 9, 2009 at 12:23 am

    Yes, I’ve had several and they have all been wrong. I see that people who claim to be psychics to help them along with their insights. I’d like to see such psychics do their thing, without the cards, which, as far as I am concerned, come up in a happenstance way. Aren’t psychics supposed to sense energy surrounding you–does that require cards of any kind?

  2. kate on November 9, 2009 at 5:26 am

    yes. i had a private reading done by shirley teabo in her home here in federal way. she used to do readings in the lounge of the very posh cliff house restaurant that overlooks commencement bay in tacoma. butch and i frequented that serenely lovely place often.

    i knew teabo was reknown for her tarot gift and her other psychic gifts; had even seen her being interviewed on television and had seen newspaper articles about her. (at first, when i heard her voice, it startled me that her voice sounded exactly like mine. then, that fact intrigued me.) one evening, i noted her sign outside the cliff house lounge, made a mental note of her phone number and called her the next day for an hour session. even though i was an intellectual and hypocritical skeptic at the time, i knew i couldn’t argue with my own personal spirit’s “knowing”; i knew i always lost an argument to my spirit. ultimately, teabo’s tarot reading, for me, was spot on in every detail, as i discovered when time unfolded. i still have her reading on a cassette tape. gives me the willies how much she sounds like me.LOL

    my mom used to read tarot cards at the kitchen table, when i was a child about a six year old. (and i began to read tarot when i turned 30-ish. have around dozen and a half decks from all over the world. my fav for personal clarity is my connolly deck. not fancy, but it connects.) mom was extreemly intuitive, though she preferred to call her gift “common sense” to prevent being ridiculed for it.

    i was thirteen when i first knew i had inherited my mother’s intuitive gift, though my version of her gift first manifested itself in mathematics. my math teacher recognized my intuition, told me he did, and told me he entered me, a seventh grader, in a district wide high school math competition because of it. nooo, i didn’t win the math contest. i only took 3rd place. but that math contest made me aware that her gift/my gift had much broader applications.

    for me, i find that tarot cards are good conduits for intuition. while i can do fairly good tarot readings for others (i’m better at dream interpretations), i find tarot cards most valuable for getting in touch with deeper aspects of myself when i feel i need to do so.


  3. Margo on November 9, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I’ve never had a Tarot reading but had my palm read a few weeks ago…I know this is not the same as Tarot but it was fascinating all the same.

  4. Denise on November 9, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    I had my cards read several times by an old friend who was fairly well-known and respected for her psychic and intuitive abilities in my area. She said some things that really did turn out to be true. Some of the things she said were extremely interesting, like the fact that she ‘saw colors’ around my daughter and that she would be very creative (she is). Of course, some things she predicted never happened (like the fact that I would remarry a man with sparkling green eyes…LOL).

    I also had them read at a ‘psychic party’ once. Nothing she said ended up happening. The only thing she did was scare the %&#@ out of me by telling me to keep an eye on my car tires. For several years, I was afraid of having a flat tire and accident.

  5. Diane Chamberlain on November 9, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    Kate, your intuitive experiences don’t surprise me a bit, from the little I know about you. And Denise, maybe that psychic was somehow reading ME instead of you. I have tire problems all the time. I am a complete nonbeliever. . . almost. I did go to a psychic one time whose gift I can’t explain. John and other friends experienced him, too, and none of us can explain it.

    I’m off to Smith Mountain Lake with some writer friends tomorrow. I’ll blog from there (and my website’s been updated, by the way!)

  6. Laura Dean on May 8, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Could you tell me if you know what the name of the tarot is that you have pictured here?

    • Diane Chamberlain on May 8, 2012 at 10:54 pm

      Laura, I’m afraid I have no idea!

Leave a Comment