Tarot and Poetry with The Poetry Oracle

There are many wonderful ways to use tarot in your writing practice. Fiction users can pull inspiration for plot, setting, and characters. Non-fiction writers can use the cards to find where they need to add more detail. I want to share with you how poetry becomes like the tarot and serves as an oracle.

My wonderful friend Carolyn Cushing, of the Soul Path Sanctuary, created a wonderful poetry experience blending divination and the poetic form. She calls it the Poetry Oracle; and it was featured at #LOCAL, an Easthampton art gallery, during April 13-May 5 for their Art of the Word exhibit. This display featured West Massachusetts artists who crafted instillations while weaving verse into their craft. Her inspiration came from the desire to see how a written poem could function as an oracle. Does poetry have an oracular quality? 

Carolyn put out the call for submissions at the beginning of April; fitting because April is National Poetry Month, which celebrates poetry and poets in all forms. The theme for the project was “Possibility”. Writers from all over the Valley of Massachusetts (and one tangential wayward author from Oregon) composed submissions.

Jaymi holds the Poetry Oracle. She selects a poem to answer her question.

One by one people who attended the packed opening artists reception approached the Poetry Oracle and were invited to ask a question and pull a poem for the Oracle basket to receive a response. As Carolyn walked people through the process, she reminded them that poetry “tells the truth but tells it slant” as the poetry Emily Dickinson tells us; they might have to ponder the poem for a while. The response to this experience was powerful. Carolyn says: 

Here’s a report on last night’s unveiling of the Poetry Oracle. Local Gallery was packed and almost all of the poems went home with someone in response to their question. People were surprised and delighted that they got to take their poem home. When I said, “It’s yours to keep,” you would have thought I’d given them $100 or told them they could eat a whole chocolate cake. People I was able to chat with were finding that the poems were surprisingly relevant to their questions.

Carolyn Cushing, 2019

The best part of this Oracle experience was I got to witness it live on May 1st during my week-long visit to Western Massachusetts. Carolyn took another group of attendees through the process at LOCAL. This time we used my poem to introduce the concept of oracle to everyone. Then we took the group through the divining process by using a group question of “How can poetry help us live our lives?” Once everyone understood this deepening process, each attendee was given a chance to think about their own personal question. We passed the Oracle around and everyone got to select, and keep, a card which contained an answer inside the poem.

The Poetry Oracle was a huge success. Such a fun way to use poems as an oracular device. And a way to deepen one’s connection to working with oracles of all types using poetry.

Curious about my poem? Think of a question you’d like answered. Then click here to download a copy and as you read let the words or images provide you an answer to a question you have.

How have you used tarot to inspire your poetic verse? I’d love to know! Please leave a comment below.