The Bardic technique in Tarot is a way of using the cards to formulate a story. You usually begin with one card which sets off the story in a certain way and the addition of other cards allows the narrative to branch out, giving you locations, characters, events and situations to deepen and broaden the adventure. The Tarot is a system that's rich in symbolism and placing its messages in story form can be a great way to promote free thinking and fresh perspectives, allowing you to look at your own story from a new point of view. The best thing about the Bardic technique is that it's inspiring and allows an incredible degree of imagination so that you can escape from the mundane and be 'carried off' into another world which will usually serve to enrich the one you actually live in. Writers who read Tarot have been known to use this technique to enhance their fiction but it can also be very useful for Tarot therapy and can go a long way towards providing decent emotional support in troubled times.
Here are three spread ideas I've formulated that are meant to utilise the Bardic technique in order to offer insight and clarity.
- get into character
Draw a card to describe who you are in your own story. Do you agree with the card that's been drawn? Perhaps the Queen of Pentacles is suggesting that you're empowered and strong but you don't feel that way. Maybe The Tower accurately picks up on the sense of chaos and concern you feel about your current issue. Draw cards to represent other people in your life as characters in your story. How do these characters interact with you? What do they have to teach you? Defining yourself and those around you in terms of character traits and story lines can help you to pick up on circumstances and personality types that may have influenced actions and words.
- two tales
Draw a card to begin the story. Let's say you draw the King of Pentacles and decide that this begins your story by focusing on a rich king who has everything he could want and oversees a huge kingdom. Then, split the story off into two separate tales by drawing cards for two different plot lines. Perhaps in the first story The Devil and The Tower appear to suggest that the king is secretly struggling with hidden addictions and gambling problems, squandering his money and not focusing his attention on what really matters. The other story could include The Star and the Six of Pentacles, to suggest that the king is charitable and compassionate. Observe how differently the two stories unfold and, as you're doing this exercise, think about the choices you have in life and the sense of empowerment you can gain through accepting that different choices create different results.
- one book, two authors
In this post I approach the value of Gestalt therapy, which encourages patients to look at the way their behaviour affects those around them and places importance on the need to appreciate other points of view. Draw cards to create a story which is meant to describe your feelings towards another person. Are you surprised, inspired or troubled by the messages that arise? When you're done formulating and analysing the story, do the same to attempt to gain insight into the point of view of the other person. What are the differences? Does the story from the other person's point of view reflect the very different ways in which you view the issue? Using this technique reminds us of a very important fact: there are always two sides to every story.
I nod to the power of the Bardic technique in several of the readings I offer. Perhaps the most obvious is the Rabbit Hole reading, in which I formulate a weird and wonderful story with the querent as the central character, offering plenty of symbolism and representation to interpret and use.