Will Burns

Unleash Creativity Blog

Scientific studies that help us unleash our most human attribute: creativity.

Can The Magic Of Tarot Cards Improve Our Creative Process?

Tarot cards, an arena for active noticing.

Tarot cards, an arena for active noticing.


This post is less a scientific study and more a connection I'm making between multiple studies. It involves Tarot cards, that ancient fortune telling method where the reader reads a display of cards for a subject who has a pressing question about life. The insights that come out of such sessions are often quite profound.

Well, I believe Tarot cards do actually work, not because they are magic, but because they force us to pay attention. And this insight has direct implications in improving our creativity.

Creativity requires active noticing.

We've talked about the power of noticing (Notice Irrelevant Things And Then Imagine) and the power of intrusive thoughts (Creativity: When Intrusive Thoughts Are Not The Enemy). We've even talked about how noticing irrelevant information may lead to "luck" (Like Luck, Creativity May Only Be A Result Of How We Look At Life).

In short, for new ideas to happen information must collide in one’s head. The information you have in your “collective experience” must collide with information “out there,” be that from something you stumble across in your environment or something from someone else’s head.

The problem is, people tend to be rhythmic and live rhythmically, going through their day-to-day lives with much of what’s around them going unnoticed. And much of what’s around us is information just begging to collide with our personal information.

How many ideas per minute, worldwide, never crystallize because potential new connections are not made? 

The “magic” of Tarot is in us, not the cards.

Tarot cards force a person to pay attention to new information in the context of a personal issue (the question the person is asking the Tarot reader to help him or her with). Put another way, the display of Tarot cards on the table in front of someone creates an “arena” for very personal idea-collisions to happen.

The brilliance of the Tarot is that each Tarot card is assigned a different meaning – there’s a guide that comes with every deck that tells you what each card means. And, as each card is revealed and is explained to the subject, this new information (the card’s meaning) enters the person’s collective experience, collides with other information already there and, sometimes, incites new ideas about the question asked.

Or if it's a psychic, the process works in reverse.

Each card, then, is the equivalent of a life experience, a thought, an inspiration, that, because you are now actively paying attention, can disrupt your thought processes.

The “magic” that people attribute to Tarot cards is really the result of two disparate thoughts colliding in the perceiver’s mind. The proverbial “Aha!” moment.

I think we’d all agree that having “Aha!” moments feel magical.

The world is our Tarot.

We don’t need Tarot cards to get this same effect. To me, life’s experiences are “Tarot cards.” Everything that happens to us, big and small, is information we could allow to disrupt our rhythmic line of thinking, thereby creating new thoughts, new insights, new ideas. 

Try this. Think about a marketing problem you’re working on. Stop on the street next time you’re outside and look around. What catches your eye? A sign? Some trash? An interesting car? Now, bring the thought of that object into your consciousness and see what happens. You might be amazed at what a daily “Tarot moment” like this will do for your creativity.

Could be we're surrounded by inspirational “Tarot cards.” But they only work if we pay attention.

Will Burns is a Forbes Contributor and CEO of Ideasicle

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Tini Grails  martini glasses, where a great martini is all in the glass.

Tini Grails martini glasses, where a great martini is all in the glass.