On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

8 Maids a-Milking

I’d better be careful, or I’ll be crying over spilt milk again.

I had a lot of ideas for the number eight. The problem is that a lot of them were too involved to fit into a short post like this, or were ideas I’d like to spend more time with before writing about publicly. What to do, what to do?!

Then it hit me: I could share a lot of my brainstorming ideas with you! I like the idea of sharing this — a snapshot of the way that my mind works, at least in this case. It provides a record of some ideas I may explore later. Finally, it’s a reminder that tarot doesn’t have to be all serious and somber and divinatory; it can be used as inspiration for “mundane” things, like writing and brainstorming. (I put mundane in quotes because creativity is sacred in some parts of the world or our history. Think about the Celtic people or ancient Greek culture!)

Here is my list.  Now with 40% more exclamation points!

Geomancy: I like geomancy and I know at least two people reading my blog do too. Eight is half of the sixteen geomantic figures so it’s an apt topic. The relation of the figures to planets, by day or by night, could fit here. Alas, I really wanted to stick to cards and I didn’t have a particular geomantic link to explore. Although I just remembered my geomantic card deck!

The queens and princesses (pages), the Eight Maids of the tarot: The pages might well be maids in the traditional sense of the word, but the queens certainly aren’t. Yet these eight — provided I treat the pages as females — ladies of the court could provide a topic of interest. But how to explore them? I imagined interviewing them, and giving them names like Ana Cortez does for her courts. But I didn’t like the idea of imposing names on these women. Then I had the idea of writing about what they’d do in a mother-daughter talent competition, which would be a lot of fun. What would the mature queens do alongside their spirited daughters?!

That reminds me of a couple of games played with the tarot deck that I’d like to try. One is a solo game about saving the newborn queen who will one day save the universe; the other is a humorous multi-player game about guiding your drag queen to victory in a pageant, with some slapping along the way!

Eight also brought to mind the eight colors of magic, and the eight spells of the Octavo, from Terry Pratchett’s humorous fantasy Discworld series. Surely some of you are fans! (And if you love Granny Weatherwax and her “headology” then definitely let me know in the comments!) But this is the kind of topic I’d have to spend some time with to write about, beyond making an allusion. I’m also not fresh on the finer details of Discworld as I’ve not read most of the books for ages. (I still like the earlier books best.)

Then there is feng shui and the use of the Eight Mansions to arrange your future for positive qi and success. Which is something I was just reading about, coincidentally, as I don’t know that much about feng shui and am curious. While I could fit the tarot into the ba gua square, I don’t know enough for it to have a purpose beyond the exercise. (But it does bring to mind that Vitruvian Square!)

A compass: four directions of north – south – east – west; and the four directions in-between them. It would be interesting to see what kind of “tarot compass” could be devised as a reading technique. This reminds me of a technique in the seemingly overlooked “Tarot for Life” by Prospero: spread the deck in a circle, look for a card representing a problem you’re stuck on, then using the cards around it to figure out a solution.

Last but not least… I had the idea to write all this up as my post. Here we are!

If you would like to explore tarot brainstorming — using the cards themselves as visual inspiration tools — I suggest books by Mark McElroy. He has one on the workplace (despite the cheesy cover it’s a great book!) and one on relationships. Both give techniques to explore and solve problems in their related subject area, whether it’s approaching an annual performance review, how to strengthen a relationship, or dealing with a break-up.

Addendum: I used the tarot to help me caption the Vermeer picture above. The cards in my RWS deck (Lo Scarabeo pictured) were:

2 of Swords — The Star — The Chariot — 3 of Swords

If any of these ideas resonate with you, feel free to explore them and send me a link. Or if you really would like me to explore them later, let me know that in the comments.

I hope everybody is having a fun, safe and sane holiday season!

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