Writing Ritual Workshop – Three Card Ritual

Sunday, I attended the Rite to Write workshop by the glamorous, clever, and VERY energizing Jen Violi. It’s difficult to say whether the workshop was healing using writing or writing using healing…either way, it would have likely been beyond me a year ago, as I had some issues with things that are not measurable/reproducible.

There was this one bit, in the workshop….

It’s difficult to say exactly what this was for, or what it did. All I can report is that it appears to have done something in [balancing me/adjusting my perspective/clearing old thought forms/cheering me up].

These days I’m all about What Works, rather than What I Can Reproduce And Explain Empirically. So.

This was the procedure.

0. Determine a focus, a situation that is unsatisfying and would do well with restructuring, or with a new resoltuion
1. Select three cards from a tarot deck
2. In order of selection, dub them “Beginning, Middle, End”
3. Write a story with a paragraph devoted to each card, relating allegorically to what was determined in step 0; you have 15 minutes. Start with “Once upon a time”, to encourage you to not recite history, but something removed from it a step or two.
4. Read the story aloud, preferably to someone else.
5. Remark (or let your audience remark) on the indirect cues, ie tone of voice, patterns of emphasis, facial expressions, change in diction or meter or whatever might indicate emotional emphasis
6. Rewrite the story; same three cards, same step 0, same order, but resulting in a victorious or positive story; you have 15 minutes.

This should not produce anything but two hastily-written stories. In fact, the outward signs are two hastily-written stories. I seem to have found something more in the exercise, though.

My step 0: “I haven’t been writing, or doing much of anything else for me. I love writing, I feel good when I do it or have done it. Now most obstacles are out of my way and … I am still not writing.”

I drew from an animal-oriented deck.
The Wheel, showing all animals
Eight of wands, showing ants trudging in a labyrinth
Nine of swords, showing a crow on a shattered stump, lightning behind him

First round:

One upon a time –

–there was a man who could be anything. The secrets of how to share the strength of all things was his when he could focus to employ it, to take part. He knew to soar, and how, what it was to play and frolic in the waves or dance through the plains. The myriad possibilities were overwhelming to him; with all good things open to him, how could he choose what was right and proper to do? And the maelstrom of potential success and fulfillment bewildered him.

There were those in his life that he had chosen to love, and they had their own abilities and problems, different from his. They could do for themselves, but they chose not to — for whatever reasons — and so were unhappy. The man (who could be anything) decided to help his loved ones, and do for them what they did not do for themselves. Their needs were not sated, but multiplied, so the man split himself endlessly in the form of millions of ants, to fetch and find and carry and dig and care for. Soon there was nothing of him that was not split among the millions of ants.

The world, in form of a mighty black bird, found ants nourishing and pecked away at the man. Little by little, his split power and self was eaten until there was only an ant left. He took shelter in a tree, but the storms and the bird tore at it until it was shattered and uprooted, and he was trapped.

Okay, my inner 16 year old was alive and well. I got that.

I was paired with a lovely woman about thirty years my senior. We traded thoughts (having written oddly similar stories) and then rewrote.

Take 2:

Once upon — you know.

There was a man who could see the world. He not only could see what was in it, but could see the patterns of how it moved, and understood the reasons and the ultimate good of it. Knowing these things split him endlessly at first, but understanding the patterns of all things, he was able to guide his attention into a new vision of order, a grand march of majestic grace and power.

There were malefic entities in the world, and these took the form of the tiniest of creatures; ants. The endless scattered ants of trivial pain and petty frustrations bit at him, ran at the edge of his awareness and distracted him. With his new understanding of the patterns of all things, hew as not moved to resentment or anger — that burden would be too great, and not needed — but recognized that the pettiness and trivia need not be so great. He spun his understanding, guiding the ants through a labyrinth of his intention, spinning off the malefic portion each carried and leaving the ants to be merely ants, a part of the whole.

The trivial pains and petty frustrations he gathered up and laid at the base of the rotted stump of the tree of good and evil, piercing it through nine times (once for each of the charms Oden learned on that tree, so long ago) to hold them in place; if they needed to be malefic, they could do it there. Seeing that he had freed not just himself, but the ants as well (and perhaps even the malefica, which wants its own poisoned kind for company) he took wing — for understanding can let one do that — and returned to the majestic grace of all things, to see how he could take part in the beauty of the interwoven patterns.

So here’s the odd bit:

I’ve been writing, now.

I wonder if I’ll ever be smart enough to understand how this stuff works.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry