SPREAD: Killing My Muse

Recently I responded to another author’s journal about “Why Do YOU Write?. She responded. I responded back. One of the things that came out of that back and forth was this

Sometimes I wonder… if we have muses, if we don’t also have enemies of our muse. Those thought patterns that continually try to tear us down. In Tarot reading, I call these “old tapes” and they seem to be related to our own feelings of inadequacies that are usually (not always, but usually) fed by our own dark selves.

Then I said, “Hmmm…and now I am seeing a need for a Tarot spread that answers the question “Am I Killing My Own Muse”. Well FINE! Lol. I guess now I have a mission.”

That mission has been nudging me ever since. I like introspective spreads. I want to dig deep into something to see what the problem might be or if there even is a problem. Sometimes, like any good angsty fishy girl, I create problems where there aren’t any.

So the spread had a name but no form, no pattern, no questions and therefore, for me, no meaning and no use. I am going to create this spread here and now. By that I mean I am literally writing out the process of how I decide on a spread. And it is not unusual for me to have the name first. Cart? Horse!

Killing my muse for me is letting old tapes play. So who are the authors of these old tapes? Why am I holding on to them? What am I still getting from them? Because there is no reason to hold on to something if you aren’t getting something from it, right? (Says the packrat as she looks around her cluttered apartment) But we aren’t talking about bulldozing my apartment–although maybe we should.

I digress–rather I rabbit-trail which is to say I follow thoughts to their natural (or sometimes very weird) end. I have three questions so far. For me, questions are at least one part of a spread. So let’s list those.

1. Who are the authors of my old tapes?
2. Why am I holding on ot them?
3. What do I gain from holding on to them?

For me a logical next step is what would I gain from releasing them? And how do I release them? And, if they have been killing my muse, how do I nourish that voice, that spirit, that creative part of me? What does my muse need from me?

More questions then:

4. What will I gain from releasing them?
5. What is one way I can go about truly releasing them?
6. How do I nourish my muse?
7. How do I honor my muse?
8. What does my muse need from me?

Because I am fond of the trinity aspect and nine is the trinity trined and because I like having one “Bring Your Towel” spot, I would add a ninth question.

9. What is something I need to know about this that I may be missing?

“Bring Your Towel” is a Douglas Adams reference in a very oblique, Arwenesque fashion.

My next step is to do a test reading to see if it clicks. Using the Daughters of the Moon Tarot (color version), I did the following spread. I apologize for not posting pictures. My scanner and my computer have had a lovers quarrel and aren’t speaking to one another. I am hoping that my laptop will play Ame-no-Uzume to my desktop’s Susano’o and my scanner’s Amaterasu.

  1. Who are the authors of my old tapes? The Three of Cups shows up here. What an interesting answer. This card is called “bonding” in this deck. The LWB talks about accountability and friendships. As I was shuffling the cards, I was recalling a childhood friend who told me that I was lucky to have her in my life because she was blonde and pretty and danced and sang far better than I ever could. And this card of feminine friendship shows up. Could it be that I still have her stuck in my head somewhere telling me I will never be good enough?
  2. Why am I holding on to them? Two of Cups is next. I always wonder with a brand new deck if I just didn’t shuffle well enough when this happens. Second guessing things as usual. 2 of Cups here is the Whirlpool and shows two cups going down in a terrible storm sucked into a gaping maw of a whirlpool. Well that’s lovely. And right from the LWB I am told “The watery anger of cups hidden below the surface now appears. Internalized anger or emotional shutdown is a whirlpool that leads to depression.” Ouch. I am so familiar with depression that when I am not battling it or skirting the edges of it, I worry that I don’t know what to do. In the past few years I’ve begun to realize that in my emotional closet, depression needs to be thrown out. I’m done with that emotional rag. But this makes sense to me in this position because I hold on to those negative words from that erstwhile friend because her ropes on me feed that need to be depressed.
  3. What do I gain from holding on to them?Eight of Blades shows up. This is the Goddess Hokmah – Decisions. She stands in the desert holding two scythes while the other six whirl about her. EEK! If she grabs the wrong one at the wrong time, she’s going to lose something important. And all the LWB tells me is that this is who we invoke to make decisions. So does holding on to the old tapes prevent me from making decisions? That feels right in this position. If I don’t make decisions, then no one can tell me I’m a bad person you see.
  4. What will I gain from releasing these old tapes? 5 of Pentacles – Earthquake. Wow! This is such a negative card here but I feel very positive from it. From the LWB “circumstances have gotten out of hand and must be shaken from their accustomed form.” I would agree. If I let these old tapes continue to play, I lose. So to get rid of them, I need a veritable earthquake in my life.
  5. What is one way I can go about truly releasing them? One of Flames – Creation. This is a spectacular card, y’all. A bare=chested woman leaps in joy. She seemingly bursts whole from the flames. Our LWB tells me that this signifies a new project or undertaking and lots of growth. I take this to mean that by actively creating and continuing to create I can eliminate those particular old tapes of not being good enough.
  6. How do I nourish my muse? HA! Cerridwen the Crone of Flames is looking back at me. I know her to be a Goddess of Tranformation. The LWB tells me that “if she appears in front of you, you are becoming wise in the use of your energy.” And she is the end of Flames as the One is the beginnning. I like that progression. This tells me that I nourish my muse when I write and when I create.
  7. How do I honor my muse? The mother of Pentacles – The Great Corn Mother is bent over her fields. She carries a baby on her back and the sun is on the horizon–or is it on her? She is working her fields. This card represents Taurus. This says that material rewards are mine. Hmmm, is the muse asking for chocolate and ice cream? Darn it…I think she wants hard work and sweat. Why can’t I get a muse that responds to sugar?
  8. What does my muse need from me? Seven of Blades is my answer. Meditation is this card. This is a hard one for me to jerk myself out of the traditional meaning. Still, this is not a sneaky bastard card. An Inuit woman kneels with her dog nearby. She is contemplating things before moving. This is “a psychic journey into dreams, memories and realities that give us insight into deeper parts of our beings.” Hmmm… so pay attention to the deep journeys and let the muse out to play in them, I take it.
  9. What is something I need to know about this that I may be missing? Oh very funny, DoTM Tarot. VERY FUNNY! The only Major Arcana falls in the spot of “bring your towel” and it’s a doozy. Coyotewoman has come to call. The Trickster is what I may be missing. I think this means that I am stuck and need to take some risks. It talks about opening myself up to rapid growth.

So that is how I develop a spread. I talk/write it out and use the questions to form the positions. I may tweak this one as I go. For now, I will let it stand.

As to a position, my instinct is to start card one up to my left and then spiral inwards until card 9 is at the center of that spiral. It’s an inward spread meant to take the querent on a meditative journey.

I would really like to know what you think about this spread and I would like to ask for a guinea pig. If you will email me at Readings, I will pick someone to do this spread on. I will ask that you let me post the reading here in this blog along with your feedback though so make sure you are comfortable with that.

NOTE: I use decks I am not as familiar with when doing new spreads to make sure I don’t miss possible problems by being too familiar with the cards.

Thanks for following and liking me!

Author: TarotByArwen

Arwen is the editor-in-chief and owner of The Cartomancer. This print and digital magazine is devoted to divination. You can learn more here: http://www.thecartomancer.com. Arwen is also the author of The Fairy Tale Lenormand, Secrets of the Mystic Grove, Bianca Niero Tarot and more (all USGamesInc publications.) As the past president of the American Tarot Association (2007-2014), Arwen worked with an actively engaged board to rekindle that organization. Her true calling is as a Professional Joy Seeker. She co-creates with her clients to help them find their joy again. "Seek joy, y'all" is her motto.

13 thoughts on “SPREAD: Killing My Muse”

  1. Interesting spread, Arwen – and great reading topic! As I mentioned in my e-mail, it hit a chord with me and about halfway through I started identifying some of my own patterns just by watching you relate yours. I hope this helps you – isn’t it odd how putting recognizable names (three of Cups, for example) to a trait can help you, later on, look at your behavior and readily identify, then once identified, talk yourself down from it?

  2. Arwen,

    I have to tell you how much I appreciate all your posts — and your spreads in particular. I’m always looking for new ways to apply the Tarot to my writing and my life, and I come away inspired every time I read your blog.

    Thanks for all the hard work you put into these thoughtful, informative, useful posts. 🙂


  3. Hello, tarotbyarwen. I followed your trail when you commented on my Sling Words blog. Congratulations on your first published book. I’m bookmarking your blog. Tarot is fascinating subject. I’d toyed with a rom suspense with a tarot reader several years ago but did nothing about it. *g*

    Thanks for visiting Sling Words!

    Joan Reeves

  4. Emily: Patterns are a funny thing, aren’t they! Hmm… that makes me think about our lives as quilts which makes me wonder what that spread might look like.

    Lacey: I’d love to hear about other ways you utilize the Tarot!

    Joan: STALKER! LOL! Thanks for following me! I subscribed to your blog because I found it incredibly useful. My day job is internet marketing. 🙂 If you have any questions, let me know! I love to talk Tarot!

  5. I love the Killing My Muse spread. I’m going to be trying it this morning as soon as I get a chance. Thanks!

  6. Hey Arwen,

    I had the pleasure of getting a reading from you during the last Dallas RWA convention…2004 I think. Anyway, I’ve been perusing your posts and I wondered if you’ve given any more thought to writing your own book of spreads? You’ve got some absolutely brilliant ones!

    Any plans to post any other Fairy Tale spreads?

  7. Hey Arwen,

    I had the pleasure of getting a reading from you during the last Dallas RWA convention…2004 I think. Anyway, I’ve been perusing your posts and I wondered if you’ve given any more thought to writing your own book of spreads? You’ve got some absolutely brilliant ones!

    Any plans to post any other Fairy Tale spreads?

  8. Hi Arwen, Just read your Muse post and have to say that I really love the psych pull to the inner self, a short trip to the heart just walking through your words with you. Having just gone through the negative self talk re my own work last night only to be lifted by someone else’s feedback in the morning I found it highly relevant and extremely simple to apply. Always something to learn…

  9. Hi! With tarot, how would you say, I’m not very knowledgeable about it. Although I have learned some and a character in my “Magic” series uses primarily the Celtic Cross spread that one tarot reader helped me with.

    I am fascinated by it. Thanks for linking to my post. To me, I interpret what you’re saying as letting go of the past, embracing the future, and setting your muse free. You have much talent and you should draw from that and honor yourself and the world by realizing you can help the world with your talent.

    Did I get it right? :o)



  10. I’ve done the mission impossible meditation on the old tapes, which helps a lot (blog them up!)

    I love the spread and the logic behind it. Thanks for all the fish.

    Our muses stand ready to lend a hand, but we have to do the work. It’s always that way–the Universe can’t hand us what we don’t reach for. It takes CoyoteWoman and Uzume to break us out of the cave.

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