The Use of Archetypes in my novel Water
Water, my fourth novel, opens with a dark night of the soul. The protagonist, Pearl, is 28 years old and has just repatriated to the States from living abroad. The relentless capitalistic, pragmatic nature of the U.S. has plunged her into despair. She feels desperate for soul.
Pearl resists a call to own her metaphysical self. Such a calling is just too odd. But she does ultimately find her connection to metaphor and archetypes through studying the tarot.
I believe our lives have to be more than the practical accomplishments of daily tasks that the U.S. (and other countries) so prides itself on. I believe our daily lives are so devoid of soul and spirit that we are suffering from the boredom and ugliness. Lack of spirit is making each of us ugly. I believe we’ve lost our rituals that help us live in soul as a daily part of life. I believe we’re all searching for something bigger, some higher energies, some dimension of soul that speaks a different narrative that is more dimensional than the one we are living.
I don’t believe there is only one way of accessing that connection to higher energies. In Water, Pearl uses the archetypes of the tarot to engage it. Walks in nature, poetry, art, music — there are so many paths up the same soulful mountain peak.
It isn’t just “fortune telling” that results from Pearl’s connection to the tarot; opening the channel opens her to the magic of the soul.
Each chapter of Water opens with a tarot card. A few nights before I was to finish the book and send it to my proofreader, I awoke and realized I’d missed an opportunity. There are 22 major tarot cards, each a major archetype that speaks to the big ideals we all live through on our journeys to individuation. I had used tarot images as opening to the chapters, but not worried about writing 22 chapters, or making sure the progression of the overall novel narrative fit the progression of the archetypes. I knew that had to change. So I got up, and did the ninth full revision of the novel to echo the arc of the tarot. My hope was that the very energy of the symbols would imbue the entire novel with a deeper magic that helped my readers transform.
I believe everyone’s soul is magic. And accessing that magic is part of our personal healing and the healing of our world. We have to make a conscious choice to daily engage the soul. Soulful energies need to be where we live every single day, not just something we maybe do after all the housework is done. We “contain multitudes” and most of us are living a too-small version of ourselves. For me, and for my protagonist, the archetypes of the tarot were simply a doorway to access the magic. I access higher energies now in my art and writing, and not just through the symbols of the tarot. I’ve learned that if I can swim in the waters of spirit daily, many of my ugly issues fade away.
What do you use to access the inexhaustible creative energies that flow from the source?