The Four Weapons of Art: How to Understand the Physical World

Can you weaponize your writing? Perhaps sharpen your skills as a painter or musician? And what exactly are we combating in this metaphorical artistic battle? Writer and comic genius, Alan Moore, relates his creative process to making magic. And the same advice given to magicians can work equally well for writers and artists. He calls these the four weapons of art and relates them to the four suits of the Tarot deck. We’ll focus on the first weapon, Earth, and how it helps the artist understand the physical world.

Earth — The Material World

Alan Moore relates his “weapons” to the four suits of the Tarot. For him, Discs and pentacles is the starting tool we need to consider. We’ll explore the this here and tackle the other weapons in subsequent posts. 

Discs and pentacles relate to the classical element of Earth, representing stability, materiality, groundedness, and practicality.

Pentacles are related to material wealth and abundance, as well as physical manifestation and grounding. And the classical element of earth emphasizes the importance of building a solid foundation and putting in the necessary effort to achieve one’s goals.

Don’t Be a Starving Artist

First and foremost, the weapon of Earth reminds us of the practicalities of life. We need food in our belly and a roof over our head. As a artist, we often abhor the basic necessities of life in favor of living in the clouds. But at the bare minimum, we need to have some way of making a living. Whether it be through a part time job, a supportive partner, or a full time job with the creative aspect relegated to the minutes we can spare, we need to maintain a solid foundation on which to build our art and writing career. 

Know the Physical World

We exist in the material world and we should know as much as possible about it. As writers or artists, acquiring knowledge is essential to the bedrock of our artistic endeavors. We should be greedy for this information. What makes the world tick? How things fit together? What makes people do the things they do? Science, philosophy, history… all necessary elements to an artist’s armory. 

In order to create works that are accurate, believable, and immersive, a writer or artist must have a deep understanding of the physical world and the subject matter they are exploring.

The process is about becoming a better person. The more you can improve yourself, the better you’ll be able to create down the road. 

So what battle are we fighting with these creative weapons? Perhaps slicing through procrastination and crushing ignorance. The more we sharpen our mind, we give a keen edge to our work. 

Tim Kane

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