The Poetry of the Occult

IMG_20150719_160121Most mornings are the same. A run, a bit of yoga, shower, coffee and thirty minutes of writing.

It’s my secret life. Before I head to work and take on all the roles I have to take on to pay the bills, to stay in the world.

The last six months, I’ve been working on a manuscript. On a theme. And I’ve tried various tools to help me write something on the page besides, “Just keep writing, just keep writing…”.

I have a lot of prompt books, but most of them give “assignments”, which aren’t helpful when I am trying to find new perspectives on a work in progress.

The Observation Deck has worked well for me. But I find myself, after six months, pulling the same cards again and again. So, I was toying with the idea of getting a deck of Tarot cards. I am skeptical when it comes to the occult. Cautious. But I used to use a deck of feminist tarot cards for meditation, many years ago.

Oh, the things we lose along the way.

But I found the Poet’s Tarot, by Two Sylvia’s Press.

Yesterday, I pulled up Denise Levertov, as The World, and I read the guidebook. I am negotiating a turning point, in my life, and in my writing, and the ideas there were inspiring: encouraging me to look at the “wholeness” of my creative work. The aspects of my life that brought new perspectives on the project I am working on now.

Today, I pulled Light Up The Cave off my shelf. In her essay “Interweavings: Reflections on the Role of Dream in the Making of Poems”, Levertov writes:

“[…] just as in dreams we effortlessly receive images and their often double significances, rather than force them into being by a process of will, so in writing (whether from dream or non-dream sources) the process is rather one of recognising and absorbing the given than of willing something into existence.”

I finished Happiness last night. And can’t help but tie my thoughts together. Levertov could be talking about life, not just writing. (And, well, after all, isn’t that the definition of a poet: someone who just happens to point to the world, as they’ve received it? Like a child: Look!)

We should take what is given. Recognising (not in the sense of categorising, but of noticing) and absorbing what is given for what it is, not what we can force it to be. I think this is where humility and gratitude come in. The conditions that allow us to move beyond platitudes to an experience of beauty. Like a cold rain or a hot bath, what is given should bring us to a point of discomfort. Long enough for our bodies, our neurons to build the necessary bridge of memory, experience, that allows us to cross over, for a moment, and accept life.

We shouldn’t try to be happy. To squeeze our life into a snapshot of a toothpaste ad. We can’t will it into existence. It is a word.

Accept what is given, turn it over in our wordless observations, like a child pulled in every direction by the laws of physics, held upright by her intense focus. Ignorance. This kind of ignorance. Nothing in the world demands a measure of value. It demands to be experienced.


See more about writers working with Tarot for inspiration at Tania Pryputniewicz‘s webiste.

2 Replies to “The Poetry of the Occult”

  1. Love this one, Ren. Thank you for sharing. Meandered to this, your place, by way of your FB post “Because Running is Using the Heart”.