Category Archives: Narrative Therapy

Photo Generated Memories

When I run Left of Centre Memoir Writing courses we invariably use photographs to induce some speed writing.

Georgie has been quite intrigued by my use of tarot. She always focused on providing readings so she is fascinated that I steer well clear of doing so.

Over a cup of tea Georgie and I went through some of her old ‘photos’. I encouraged her to randomly pick two photos. Images of the lion tamer and acrobats performing bought back a host of memories and fascinating stories about her life in the Legrande Circus.

Resurrecting Buried Memories

Reliving memories as a writer is a way to keep our loved ones alive. Plus, it is also a way to help us heal from trauma or difficult experiences.

Using Tarot and a spread is an effective way to resurrect and relive some memories. As she looked at the image of the Two of Swords Georgie remembered Gesalda, known affectionately as the ‘Electric Lady’. She and Gesalda had been close friends and supported one another while they were both in the circus.

Georgie smiles as she remembers Gesalda taking a seat in a chair rigged with a Tesla Coil. She tells me how Gesalda would shoot sparks from her finger tips, light fire with her tongue and illuminate light bulbs with her bare flesh. We both agree that was a most unusual demonstration and I wasn’t surprised that the audience found it so shockingly entertaining!

Generating Narrative with the Murder of Crows

Sometimes we become so focused on the nitty-gritty technical aspects of writing and publishing that we forget the power of the unconscious mind, the part that understands story at a fundamental level.
from the Creative Penn

When I saw this spread on Instagram I asked Georgie if she thought this would be a good way of drawing out some of her narrative, tap into things that had been stored in her internal archives. She was enthusiastic so we busted out the Murder of Crows Tarot, a great deck for this kind of work. It worked a treat and we have rough notes to work with now.

Some of Georgie’s responses

1. The Nightmare: The Two of Pentacles

Upon seeing this card Georgie recalled that punishments were given when she had not performed, when she was perceived to be a bit disrespectful or didn’t pay attention. She was severely punished for any misdemeanour.

Drawing the two of pentacles drew out quite painful memories of a domineering aunt who took Georgie in after her mother’s death. Aside from her possessiveness her aunt had regularly punished her for minor infractions, sometimes locking her in an airless cupboard for hours. However, her aunts lover, the original Ring Master, was even more of a tyrant and he subjected Georgie to unspeakable abuse. Serving these two ‘masters’ was, quite literally, a nightmare.

Given the painful nature of these memories I simply listened and bore witness as Georgie spewed out painful details. I did suggest she might counter this by recalling anyone who actually supported her during these years and she recalled a clown who she befriended who discretely provided some refuge.

2. The Root of the Darkness: The Eight of Pentacles

It was normal to be told on a daily basis that she was rubbish, she was hopeless, that she was not good, that she was wasting their time, that she was weak.

Her aunt justified some of the extreme treatment as being necessary, constantly stressing that if Georgina hoped to eventually wear the mask of the Popess and become a divine healer she had to undergo intense training that might make her feel as though she had been bought to the brink of death.

Georgie recalled that there were many times when she thought she would die in one of the airless places where she was imprisoned for hours, forced to undergo ‘vision quests’. Both her aunt and the cruel Ringmaster insisted that she had to learn about discipline and their way of instilling this was by belittling and harassing her.

3 The Fog that Lays in Wait

As she looks in the mirror Georgie can see the past shrouded in fog. So many things that have happened are barely discernable. It feels like she is a little like looking in a rear vision mirror. She finds it hard to believe what she had contended with in the past and reflects upon the present and what the future holds.