Remember “Preppy Thoughts”? The creativity technique, more formally known as “Relational Algorithms,” uses a set of relational words and prepositions to generate strange combinations, which can be used to spark ideas.
Using the same set of words, you can generate even wackier combinations by inserting them between Tarot cards. You can also change the relationship between cards in a Tarot reading.
You then use these combinations as stimuli for solving a problem.
First, draw three cards. Let’s say we draw the Eight of Pentacles, the Devil, and the Seven of Cups from the Tarot of the Renaissance:
You need a few keywords for each card. You can use keywords from the book or LWB (little white book) that came with the deck, or generate your own from whatever the image inspires.
Suppose we choose reject material wealth, betrayal, and choice for the three cards.
Now we need two words from the table below to insert between the cards: say and and within.
When we insert the two chosen words between the three cards, we get:
reject material wealth and betrayal within choice.
Usually, depending on the problem, the three cards above may be interpreted in several ways.
One way would be to read the three cards as a story, starting with the first card: for example, the querent has walked away from a secure relationship, but has been betrayed by the new lover. Now he or she faces a choice. Or is trying to discover what happened to love (Cups represent emotions), or is picking up the pieces, feeling somewhat lost.
A second reading might indicate a choice between rejecting material wealth and betrayal.
A third might be a warning that unless the querent walks away from the situation represented by the Eight of Pentacles, he or she is faced with a form of betrayal. A choice lies ahead.
Yet another might see the Devil as the spill around which the story revolves, the temptation that led to the querent’s banishment. She now resembles the old woman who looks slightly lost, searching for the rest of her cups.
(These are by no means the only possible interpretations.)
When the two relational words are inserted between the cards, they change the relationship between the cards. Now reject material wealth and betrayal are linked, within a choice. Such a reading might emphasize one choice or action that combines a rejection of material wealth and a betrayal.
The second type of problem solving with Tarot cards is coming up with ideas, rather than reading the story. The interesting combination of Tarot keywords and relational/prepositional words then serve as “ticklers” for ideas.
Using the keywords tread, darkness, and search for the three cards above, and the relational words along and since, a company seeking to improve a piece of software would come up with:
tread along darkness since search
This could lead thoughts along:
- providing a search history
- a “breadcrumb” search trail that is black on white instead of the other way around
- an improvement in the display of search results
- a usability study focused on user experience of the search function
- distinguishing search results from other text by using a different background.