by Alayna Williams
I use Tarot cards a good deal in my writing, to give me ideas about creating characters and develop plot points. Sometimes, I pick cards on purpose that catch my eye, but more often, I deal them out at random. I let my imagination roam over the pictures to generate situations and connections.
One of the cards I used frequently in writing the ORACLE books is the Priestess. The Priestess sits on a throne, surrounded my the moon and shrouded in white robes. The black and white pillars to her right and left hands represent good (mercy) and evil (severity). She's about goddesses, mystery, intuition, and the subtle power of the moon.
In my stories, the Priestess represents a secret order of women, Delphi's Daughters. They are the descendents of the Oracle of Delphi. The title of Pythia, the leader of the oracles, is handed down through generations of women, all oracles with their own unique talent for foreseeing the future. Delphi’s Daughters are a secret organization, nudging world events and gathering information through vast networks of helpers. Their behavior is sometimes sinister, sometimes pure, but always secretive. No one but the Pythia herself knows how the puzzle of world events fits together, and her priestesses are often left in the dark, guessing at her motives.
Tara Sheridan, estranged from Delphi's Daughters, uses Tarot cards to solve crimes. Her relationship with the Pythia is contentious. She often feels the Pythia's hand in her cases, interfering, moving people around like chess pieces. Whenever Tara draws the Priestess card, I wanted her to see both the light and shadow sides of the card.
Interpreted in the upright position, the Priestess is the card of secret, supernatural power. She represents all the psychic talents Delphi's Daughters: cartomancy, astrology, pyromancy, geomancy...she is mistress of all the hidden arts. Used for light, as represented by the white pillar, they can be a force for immense good in the world. The Priestess can reveal secrets by the moon's light and teach magic to the initiated.
But the Priestess can also be a force for evil, twisted by her own power and shadows. Reversed, the Priestess represents keeping secrets and abusing power. She can lean too close to the black pillar of severity, becoming ruthless. She can forget the compassion of her intuitive teachings, amassing power for its own sake.
Tara questions these things about Delphi's Daughters. She sees that they are a force for good, sheltering the weak and seeming to work toward mankind greater good. But she also sees their shadow side...the ruthlessness, the ends justifying the means. She knows the brutal tests that Oracles must endure, has seen the Pythia kill in a cold, calculating fashion.
Not only will Tara need to fight to solve her current case - a spy killer who's selling nuclear secrets on the international black market - but she will also need to look over her shoulder. The Priestess can be her greatest ally or most devious enemy, putting Tara and those she loves in harm's way, seeking to sacrifice them all in the service of a larger goal.
Alayna Williams has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she's never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses. Like the Pythia in Dark Oracle, she's been known to belly dance. Unlike the Pythia she'd never consider herself a professional
Writing as Laura Bickle, she's the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket - Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she's the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE.
More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here: http://www.salamanderstales.com/
Laura/ Alayna’s blogs
http://www.salamanderstales.blogspot.com/ and http://delphisdaughters.blogspot.com/
She’s a proud member of Word Whores.
She’s at Facebook, and Fangs, Fur, and Fey.
Sparky the fire salamander from EMBERS and SPARKS has his own Twitter account, @SparkySalamandr
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