As a veteran Tarotist and deck collector, it is always exciting to see a new deck, especially one that advances on or adds to the possibilities of purpose and use. The Story Prompt Cards by Tea Silvestre Godfrey is just such a deck and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. There is much to explore and learn, so this is simply a first pass, but assuredly more spreads with this deck will be shared.
And, as a Narrative Strategist, the focus and purpose of this deck couldn’t be more intriguing. In a narrative consultation questions are asked to specifically reveal a person’s own true story, the one they are authoring – not the story written for them by others, the culture, other social constructs, or an outside expert. Solutions are found by unearthing one’s personal story and editing it based on the querent’s mission and values. I have long used the Tarot as a tool for this type of story exploration so the “Story Prompt Cards for Business Storytellers” will no doubt by a wonderful new tool.
Presented below is a first attempt at using these cards in a Pentacle Spread format, rather than the longer form Celtic Cross. I’ve also included a much shorter version of the same reading, done after the Pentacle; a Past-Present-Future spread. I hope you find it as interesting as we did.
As a corollary to the Prompt Cards I will be using the Light & Shadow Tarot for which I wrote 78 incantations (poetic verses) for the cards of the deck. Those meanings will appear in parentheses after each prompt card question/meaning. I want to see if this new approach can be further amplified within the context of a Pentacle Spread reading informed by the LS Tarot.
Not because the prompts/questions aren’t enough … by no means. By using the tarot spread we can reduce some of the randomness of selecting a card and running with it. Here, when a prompt card falls in a particular position on the pentacle it fine tunes exactly what part of that question to really dig into deeper – within the context of physicality (earth), ideas (air), action (fire), intention (spirit), & emotions (water). this adds additional layers to and already rich story. The conversation was long as we delved into each pentacle point, much too long to record here. These are the highlights.
Querant: Small family business owner concerned about how his business will move forward.
Query: “We’ve made progress but we’re still digging our way out of the recession and it’s taken it’s toll on the team. Our structure and processes got all wonky due to cutbacks, workarounds and more than a few fundamental disagreements. How can I get the ship upright and moving forward again?”
NOTE: For an effective reading it is important to pose a question that will yield not only insight but action items as takeaways. I encourage “How” questions as they almost always provide both insight and a course of action.
Question Card: 5 Knives (swords)
This card asks to explore and focus on how he presents himself, his business, how he leads with his words, how he is the captain of his ship, an expert in his field. (LS Meaning: The locusts have devastated your crops, but perseverence and faith will get you through to an even greater harvest).
Challenge/Obstacle: King of Cabbage (pentacles)
The challenge is to look at your reputation, and recognize the good works that you and the team do…then how do you get the word out. (A down to earth, common sense person, who doesn’t need to prove himself.) This was an ah-ha moment to think about how this point of view, which he agreed he held, was getting in the way. Proving himself is a deep personal struggle we uncovered.
Starting in the Earth position we draw the Pentacle deosil (clockwise) as he is inquiring about creating something (vs. banishing – counter clockwise or widershins)
Earth: 10 Whisks (wands)
This card asks to consider and really recognize the overwhelm of the past several of years, and how a) he managed to get through it, & b) has he or the team rested at all during this time?. (LS:Burdened by your own beast, goal is visible & perseverence will win out.)
Fire: Knight of Cabbage (pentacles)
Here he is asked to consider a time when he had to set boundaries and stick to his plan – and most importantly, how he did it. (Interesting, because the Prince of Pentacles represents the personality type that is slow to action, slower to anger. But, when push comes to shove he can muster the energy to do what’s needed.)
Water: 3 Cups
This gets to the heart of his question and query card, doesn’t it? Look to a time when he was a successful leader and exactly how he captained his ship then. Perhaps now’s the time to consider a community service team project outside of work environment to rekindle his leadership skills and provide the team an opportunity for success. His idea! (LS: Abundance, bounty, conviviality, celebration, friendship – fellowship.)
Air: 4 Knives (swords)
Digging deeper, where there may be some pain points, here’s a chance to examine failure, or a specific part of the business that has been neglected. He is asked to examine how that happened, the damage it has done, and what could happen if repaired. Not surprisingly he said “morale”. (LS: This is the card of truce, finding rest and peace among opposing views.)
Spirit: 8 Cups
Hah! Didn’t he say something about “workarounds” and the like? Here the prompt card asks that he examine his relationship to processes, when they help & when they hinder. Sometimes you have to work within the system(s). He says he has been bucking the system “since the womb”. (The LS card meaning – restlessness, a kind of flight or fleeing. But, the summit promises fulfillment.)
Outcome: Page of Knives (Princess of Swords)
When have you thought outside the box? And, how was that for you? Interestingly he has a daughter who he currently doesn’t see as a likely successor. The Princess of Swords in the LS deck represents a wild young woman (think Burning Man type Bohemian) – BUT, all her emotions and behaviors are rooted in an unconventional, non-traditional wisdom that is often overlooked or dismissed.
A lot to think about and process right? The conversation was eye opening but somewhat overwhelming. So to make it a bit more digestible, I suggested one of two ways to distill the insights into more manageable and meaningful terms. We could either reduce the original eight cards of the spread down to three (shuffle the 8 cards and select three from them) – Past, Present & Future. Or, break out one of the pentacle points, do a pentacle spread with that card at the center, then shuffle and select three for a Past Present & Future reading. He chose the former. [Making his own editorial decisions.]
Fascinating! The Present card (center) is the challenge, the past (left) refers to his approach to process, and the future – the daughter with a new perspective.
So what did he get out of it? What’s his plan? Knowing that his daughter would whole heartedly support the team donating time to a Habitat for Humanity project, he will partner with her to spearhead the effort. A time to bond with her in a new way and to dig deeper into how she sees the future of the business. Also, this will give the team and the company an opportunity to develop new relationships within and outside the business, promote a good cause that they can share as an experience and outward gesture of community service. Above all, it will create a new way to be a team together that may increase morale and inspire new vigor to press ahead to the success that is sure to come with their hard work.
In the same way that Helen Palmer, brought the Enneagram out of esoterica into the western modern age (e.g. The Enneagram in Love and Work: Understanding Your Intimate and Business Relationships), Silvestre-Godfrey has re-fashioned tarot principles and wisdom for the business world and brand storytelling. Quite an accomplishment and kudos are due Tea for her marvelous deck.
What’s especially wonderful about the Story Prompt Cards is the variety of stories it coaxes out of folks when it comes to their businesses and how they work in or run them. Imbued with the energy of the tarotic structure they carry a great deal of historical, alchemical insight without the esoteric imagery and symbolism. This new deck provides an opportunity for those less familiar, or uncomfortable with oracle divination, to access the great power of the Tarot.
Just like with the Tarot, one card is good, but the more you add and provide context for, the deeper the dig into the dynamics of the current situation and the greater opportunity to discover concrete, tangible solutions within a self-generated story. Best yet, due to the innate nature of the narrative consultation, solutions are authored by the querent rather than an outside “expert”. The power of one’s own personal story and insight far surpasses that of an observer, wouldn’t you agree? I would love to hear your thoughts, so don’t hesitate to share them.
Below is the same Pentacle Spread with the Light & Shadow Tarot cards corresponding to the Story Prompt Cards.