The chosen cards: A tarot technique
Yes And But: clarification spreads to explore a problem

Wacky combinations with tarot cards: A creative technique

Combination-facial-features-portraitTarot cards don’t have to be used only for tarot reading. I think I have shown this throughout the blog!

One excellent use of tarot cards is in creative problem-solving. And at the centre of creative problem-solving lies combinations. Steve Jobs used to say that creativity is just combining things. You can combine objects, concepts, or ideas to create new products or concepts.

Here are a few examples:

  • The iPod combined the Walkman and digital music compression (MP3).
  • The Walkman itself combined a cassette player, headphones, and portable music.
  • The first smartphones combined a mobile phone with the functions of a personal digital assistant (PDA).
  • Aerosol paint combines aerosol cans and paint.
  • In popular music, a mash-up- is a blending of two or more songs.
  • In art, ‘combine painting’ combines paint and objects such as clothing, bits of paper, stuffed animals, and various found items. The result is a combination of paint and sculpture.

Musical styles, painting techniques, scientific concepts, architectural designs, or ideas from one or more fields can be combined to produce new concepts and products.

Combinations in creative problem-solving

The most common way to combine things to solve problems is by using random words. Nonsense word combinations like ‘elephant bicycle’ or ‘aeroplane paper’ have no inherent meaning; they create unexpected juxtapositions that can inspire creative ideas.

When you are looking for creative solutions, a wacky combination might be just what you need.

But where do you find words to combine?

You can use the dictionary or thesaurus to find random words to combine, or you could use tarot cards.

Using tarot cards to create combinations

Tarot cards have keywords, images, symbols, colours and more that can offer combinations. Try this:

  • draw a random tarot card,
  • list items on the card (use the character, symbols, keywords and other elements of the card for the list),
  • combine items from the list.

Let’s look at an example. I draw the Nine of Pentacles and Strength.

Nine of Pentacles and Strength from the Rider-Waite tarot

The Nine of Pentacles contains (for example) woman, falcon, luxurious robe, pentacles, trees, grapes, snail, glove, castle, mountains, yellow, red, the number 9, self-sufficiency, self-confidence, wealth, greed, success, reward, accomplishment, safety, discipline, peace, cruelty, materialism, mastery, solitude, homemaker, garden.

Strength might give woman, hands, lion, mountains, white robe, garland, infinity sign, tail, paws, strength, yellow, orange, the number 8, spiritual strength, faith, calm, taming, Leo, (self-)discipline, animal nature, honey (the story of Samson and the lion), fed to the lions, thorn (the story of Androcles and the lion), courage, wrestling.

Now I can combine words from both lists to give interesting combinations.

How can we use these combinations?

Let’s say I want to change my career, but I don’t know what I want to do.

I need some silly combinations. So, by combining words from both lists, I get:

  • lion tamer (discipline + lion)
  • circus artiste (mastery + hands)
  • zookeeper (garden + animal nature)
  • Buddhist monk (solitude + spiritual strength)
  • Dominatrix (glove + taming) (yes, even crazy ideas might lead to something!)
  • dress designer (luxurious robe + white robe)
  • mud wrestler (garden + wrestling)
  • therapist helping people explore their inner strength and gain self-confidence (self-confidence + self-discipline)
  • mathematician (mastery + infinity sign)
  • actress (success + garland)
  • nature conservationist (garden + animal nature)
  • kindergarten teacher (pentacles + taming)
  • gardener in a nature reserve (garden + mountains)
  • escape artiste (luxurious robe + wrestling)
  • animal ‘whisperer’ or animal psychic (falcon + calm)
  • guide dogs trainer (discipline + paws)

(I can’t explain how some of these combinations led to these career ideas. They just popped into my head. But that’s the nature of creativity!)

Afterwards, when I read through this list of ideas, I noted that one of the sillier ideas—lion tamer—could be modified into the more normal veterinarian or animal trainer. Animal psychic is another idea that could be the more sensible veterinarian (or not!).

And there I have possible solutions to my problem!

I'd love to hear how this technique worked for you.

Other creativity techniques with tarot cards at The Sceptic's Tarot

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