Tarot Tuesday with Alayna Williams - Relationships in the Cards

As I work through telling a story, I often use Tarot cards to give my characters a bit more depth and dimension. The cards are rich storytellers, and if I let my imagination rove around the symbols a bit, I usually gather more information about any plot points or characters I'm stuck on.

Take Tara Sheridan and Harry Li in ROGUE ORACLE, who are federal investigators attempting to catch a killer who's selling nuclear secrets on the international black market. Tara is a criminal profiler who uses Tarot cards to solve crimes. Harry is her straight-laced partner, who had difficulty believing in all things woo-woo. 

I first wrote about Tara and Harry in DARK ORACLE. They'd just met, and attraction overcame the obstacles of their very disparate means of working. They were good foils for each other: intuition and reason. But I can't just let them skate by in the second book without obstacles. Relationships in the real world have problems, and Tara and Harry are no exception. To flesh out their challenges, I did a Tarot card reading for them. Here's how it worked...

1. I drew a card to represent Tara in the story. I pulled Strength, which shows a serene woman closing the jaws of a lion. Tara has evolved since the last story, where I figured her as the Queen of Swords, a woman of coldness and mourning. In Strength, I see that she's working on mastering her power as an oracle, symbolized by the lion. She will do so in a way that isn't harsh or brittle, but in a way that flows naturally to her. In Tara's dreams, she imagines herself as the woman in the card, walking through the desert with the lion (her intuition) at her side.

2. The second card I drew to represent Harry. I got the Knight of Pentacles, reversed. Harry was the Knight of Pentacles in DARK ORACLE - a reliable, methodical man who believes in what he can see and touch. He was a good partner for Tara then, drawing her out of her sorrow and into the real world.

But here, he is reversed. When the Knight of Pentacles is reversed, this is a sign of overwork, of burn out, being a workaholic. Between the events of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE, many months have passed, and Tara and Harry have been separated because of Harry's new assignments. He's starting to crack under the pressure of being an isolated federal agent in the Special Projects Division, to the point of nearly beating a suspect to death. He's lost, and Tara has to rescue him from himself.

Tara sees him in her dreams, too, as a Knight sucked under in quicksand. She tries to save him in her dreams, but wonders if she will be able to in real life.

3. The third card I picked represents the relationship between the two. I chose the Nine of Wands. The Nine of Wands shows a wounded man leaning against a staff, surrounded by a wall of staffs that cuts him off from the rest of the world. The card traditionally signifies anticipation, estrangement, and delays.

Harry's withdrawn into himself. It will be up to Tara to reach through that history they have, through the cage of wands and heal him. Both Tara and Harry are guarded types, not given to spontaneous displays of emotion. One or both of them will need to swallow their pride to achieve a reconciliation, to learn to work together and be lovers again.

The cards can be a big help in fleshing out characters and their relationships. One doesn't need to be a professional Tarot reader to try...just grab a deck, a book of meanings, and make up your own spreads. Choose a card that looks like your hero or heroine and your mind's eye, or pick one at random. Shuffle, and start generating ideas. I find that the cards often lead me to possibilities I hadn't considered in the story, helping me make connections that otherwise would have been hidden to me. 

~Author Laura Bickle writes the Delphi Oracle Series as Alayna Williams.

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