Tomorrow is the very last day to sign up for the Tarot for Writers:Hero’s Journey. There were only a few seats left when I wrote this but I post-date my entries. If you are doing the NaNoWriMo writing challenge, I’ve scheduled this to start on 11/1 so you can use the workshop to help you hit your 50,000 word goal.
Here’s part of the first lesson to help you on your journey even if you can’t take the workshop now.
The Hero’s Journey is a monomyth. This is a description of a basic pattern found in many narratives from around the world. To learn more about how and why Joseph Campbell came up with this, you should read his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Bollingen Series). The first edition was in 1949. What Campbell did was give parameters to something all good story tellers new. Campbell named the building blocks of a story. Another book I highly recommend is The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition.
For the purposes of this workshop, I will use Hero predominantly but for this exercise Hero will be genderless. The journey can be the hero’s journey or the heroine’s journey or even the villain’s journey. Protaganist and antagonist both have journeys through every good story.
The first step is the Ordinary World which is the ordinary mundane existence of the Hero. He knows his place in the world—whether he likes it or not. The very commonness of his world will stand in strict contrast to where he must journey.
Think of this in terms of yourself. Your background is part of who you are. This is part of your Ordinary World. Getting up and going to work is part of your Ordinary World. This is a very important position because here we are given the backstory, basically. Who is this Hero and how did he get to where he is?
I have pulled information from my own knowledge as well as other sources. My Ordinary World consists of my apartment, my job, my pets, going to the grocery store, doing laundry. All these things make my world. If you were to place me in a penthouse apartment with servants and an unending bank balance, you would be thrusting me into a special world. This is important because the Ordinary World by default must be looked back on from time to time to remind the Hero of where he’s come from and how far he’s gotten. Sometimes this is a reality check.
Often the Hero chafes at his existence in this Ordinary World. He knows something else is out there—like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz or Luke in Star Wars. They both knew they had to seek some intangible, indefinable thing.
This position can be seen as the Emperor, the four card in the Major Arcana. Four is a number of hard work. The Emperor is the father figure in the Tarot. He is the sign of Aries which is the head in the astrological body.
We have Aries as the starter, the initiator but within the rules and structures of society as the Hero knows it. You could think of it as the Emperor being an actual figure in the story. This Emperor is not kind or moderate in his judgments and must be taken down so that a better world can emerge.
There is a flaw in the Ordinary World. There has to be, right? Why else would the Hero leave his safe, comfortable world? He is often not aware of what is wrong. Something just doesn’t feel right.
So think about your character and your setting. If you know things about your initial setting already, write it down. If not, don’t worry.
So what are you waiting for? Don’t be left out when we start up this motivating workshop on November 1st! If you don’t have a Tarot deck, I recommend Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot or my personal favorite (and this is the deck I read with) is the World Spirit Tarot by Lauren O`leary & Jessica Godino.