Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nov 27: What's in your cards?

A few weeks ago my friend the Hot Italian and I rented a booth at a church bazaar and did tarot readings: 10 minutes for $10. We do readings for each other once in a blue moon, but neither of us had read for other people in a while. We each did five readings, which paid for our booth and for printing business cards and gift certificates. Not a financial success, but we surprised a few people with our razor-sharp insights and uncanny ability to tell the future just by analyzing pictures on cards .... I lied. We can't really tell the future. The future changes depending on what you do. But people are always surprised at what we can tell them about themselves from the cards.

It was interesting watching people's responses as they stopped by our table. Some said, "I'm already pretty sure I know what my future will be. I don't need that." One of us would say, "We don't predict the future." And then we'd get the condescending smile and nod. Some people admitted the cards made them a little nervous. Maybe that's not ridiculous. They're afraid of what we'll know about them from reading the cards. They're afraid we'll throw out the dreaded Death card, not realizing that death is just the end of one thing and the beginning of another.

But the ones who did stop and pay their $10 got their money's worth, I think. All of them left feeling more grounded, with better understanding of whatever situation they were asking about, or with the knowledge of certain choices to be made. One probably didn't get as much out of it as he could, because he wanted to do all the talking and tell the cards what he wanted them to say. That's OK. It was his reading. I gave him the message, which he may or may not ever hear.

If you're as cynical about things like tarot cards as I am, I'm surprised you've read this far. I really don't believe in such things, and yet there's something about what happens when I read for someone that I can't explain. It's like when I have dreams sometimes that come true. I don't want to believe it happens, because it freaks me out, and yet I can't deny it does. Some things defy explanation. Miss Serendipity certainly defies explanation, and yet she is my constant companion.

I once read an article in Reader's Digest, which I consider a pretty conservative magazine, about a freelance writer who wanted to debunk the tarot. So she learned to read, and found that she could see things in the cards that she couldn't have known. So she went further. She started giving readings over the phone, and again, she told people things she couldn't have known. Much as she wanted to prove that tarot readers were charlatans, she couldn't do it. She ended up on the dark side, much as I did.

Shortly after I read that article, somebody gifted me with a deck of tarot cards. Soon after that, one of my good friends called and asked if I wanted to take a tarot class with her at a local pagan store. I said I might as well. Miss Serendipity was going to keep hounding me if I didn't. So we signed up for the 4-class session.

I found out I was pretty good at it. In our reading swaps with other students, I saw things in the cards I couldn't have known about them. Things about their families, situations they were struggling with. I see a lot anyway--it makes some people uncomfortable--but the cards somehow focused my attention on the details.

8 of cups
A couple of memorable things happened in that class. One night as the teacher, Vickie, was going through the traditional meanings of the cards, she told us about the 8 of cups. She gave the textbook meaning: movement away from some emotional issue, disappointment in love, a man who has lost something he loved .... Then, because tarot is more intuitive than learned, she asked if any of had ideas about what the card might mean. A few people said a few things.

She was just about to move on when I said, "It doesn't look like a man to me. I think it's a woman named Mary and she thought you loved her enough to call her back when she turned away. She's moving slowly because she's waiting for you to make the next move."
Vickie looked shocked. "How did you know that?" she asked.
I didn't know how I knew it. It seemed like a smart-ass remark, and I wasn't sure why I said it.  "I don't know," I said. "You asked what the card said and that's what it said to me."
"You couldn't have known about my friend Mary though," she said. "We had a fight and I've been waiting for her to call me to make up."
"Maybe you'd better call her," I said.
Vickie seemed a little shaken. "Yes, I hadn't thought of that, but you're right," she said.

Eh, I don't know. Could be coincidence. Our last class was September 11, 2001. LtColEx was stranded in Albuquerque. I'd been home with the kids all day feeling the slow boil of suppressed panic. My friend and I decided we'd go to the class anyway. I did several readings that night. In every one, the Tower came up. It didn't matter how well I shuffled. It didn't matter if someone else shuffled. The Tower came up every time. Again, could be coincidence. There are only 78 cards.

That same night, Vickie brought her friend, the Psychic. Vickie believed in a lot of metaphysical stuff. She didn't seem very discerning to me. As for her friend's psychic abilities, like I said, shit happens that I don't understand so maybe she's got something going on. But I'm always wary of people who claim big abilities--I suppose much as I am telling you about my abilities now. Whatever. I'm a fucking hypocrite.

Anyway, Vickie wanted her impressive psychic friend to see me read. So I read, like a trained pony. And the psychic friend watched intently. I read her cards and she didn't say anything as I did it. Disconcerting, but the whole day was a nightmare. Some hokey fucking psychic couldn't throw me after the mayhem I'd watched on TV that morning.

After I finished reading--Tower card and all--she said, "You don't need the cards to do that, do you?" Now I had no idea what she meant by "do that," but I said no, I didn't. Because I've always been empathic and intuitive to a fault. I see things people don't want me to see. I see their entire stories, and sometimes when I tell them back .... Well, some people don't like the way their stories look out in the open, all in hard black and white words. So I see things, but I don't necessarily think there's anything metaphysical ..... just shit I can't explain.
"You see a lot more than you tell people, right?" she asked.
"Sure," I said.
"You let me know when you're ready to develop your powers. I'll guide you," she said, and she gave me her card.
I laughed. Powers, my ass. And then I said, "Thanks, but I don't really believe in that shit."
She smiled. I never called her, of course.

Because I really don't believe in this shit--except that when I read for people something really does happen, and I can't explain it.

A few months after I took that class, a friend who lives on the eastern seaboard emailed me and asked if I'd read for her over the phone. I said I'd give it a try. She was going through a rough time and wanted to see if the cards gave any advice. And she'd been in an abusive marriage, trapped in fundamentalism, for a number of years before I  knew her. She wanted to take back those things she'd been interested in before that time, and tarot was one of them.

Without going into the details, because that wouldn't be ethical, once again I told her things I didn't know. I saw things that made sense, given what I already knew, but one card showed something hidden. When I asked her about it, described what it was telling me, she admitted there was a large part of her life she had been hiding. It was there on the card. She was so impressed by her reading, she eventually started reading professionally and she writes one of my favorite tarot blogs. She's never done a reading for me, but I have no doubt she far surpasses my skills.

And yet I'm not sure if it's a skill or something else. It's more than learning meanings of cards from a book. That might help, but each card means something different depending on way the cards are laid out, where it's placed, its relationship to other cards, the situation the reading is about. So it's a skill, but it's more than that. It's also the shit I don't believe in.

So I'm careful. I observe my own set of ethics. I don't read other people's cards unless they ask me to. And even if someone has asked me to read, I don't read unless the person is involved. There are a few people who have asked me to read their cards, but for some reason won't or can't follow up. Even though I'd still like to see how their readings would turn out, I wouldn't read with the intention of seeing anything about them.

I also don't tell the future. I can say what might happen if things continue along this path. I can say what might happen if these actions are taken. I can even say one action would be wiser than another. But the future changes and can be changed. A warning taken can change outcome.

Last winter the Hot Italian and I read for each other in her office one Saturday. I told her she was going to find out a secret about someone. Recently she did, and it was a big one--possibly life-changing.

She told me something about a relationship that would develop, but it involved the knight of cups. He's a romantic, fun, outgoing, passionate kind of guy .... except when he's not. Except when he's emotionally fractured, whiny, deceitful, and self-centered. As she read him, he wasn't going to turn out to be a guy I could depend on. I didn't want to see that. I saw him in relation to other cards in the reading, and I said I thought he had potential; it could go either way with him. The funny thing is, we weren't even talking about a real man at the time ... but it turned out that knight came in and out of my life over the next few months.

She stopped by with some homemade bread Thanksgiving Day and reminded me of those readings. She said that knight of cups turned out just like she suspected he would. I said I still saw the things I wanted to see in him. I guess the point is, the only way to know if the cards work is in retrospect.

Got any cookies in that cup?
I would love to still believe in that knight of cups, but I believe in him about as much as I believe in tarot cards and dreams. Still, if I've ever promised you a reading, I'm in business. Email me. If I haven't promised you a reading, I'll still do it. Email me. I've also done workshops for women's groups that are fun--or so I'm told. It makes for a great party. Even if you don't believe in that shit, what have you got to lose?


  1. I did enjoy this post -- fascinating topic -- and like you, I don't believe in this shit either.

  2. Then I probably ought to read your cards, Rollo. There might be some surprises in there. ;-)

  3. As you know, I am beyond a simple skeptic when it comes to "this shit", but I am resolved to keep an open mind and an open heart. I'd like to have you read me sometime.

  4. Prepare to chip away at your skepticism, Diplomat. Or not. It's pretty firmly entrenched. ;-)

  5. I have a great deal of respect for Tarot. I see the cards as useful tools in the right hands. I don't think there's anything woo-woo about them really, though when you use them to focus your intuitive energy, it can look like some powerful woo-woo.

    Molly reads cards. I use them but I wouldn't say I'm a good reader. Yet. Maybe I'll have you do a reading for me. Send me details!

  6. I don't believe in this shit either. Except for the fact that I once had a palm reader read my palm at the beach and she was dead on (although, the child out of wedlock she said I would have hasn't happened yet...). I have tarot cards. I used to be kinda into them but shit happens, and sometimes when shit happens you don't believe the shit you used to believe. You know?

    That said, I would love for you to do a reading for me sometime. It would be hard for me to do that, but since when have I backed away from hard things? There's a part of me that really wants to believe in that stuff.

  7. i'm pretty sure i said so at some point recently, but i'd love to have you read me. (er, my cards.) (actually, i think the first statement stands either way.)

  8. 'Zann, I probably have more respect for the cards than these posts show. I just don't get how they work. I'm totally serious when I give a reading though. I do it because it works, but I don't believe it because it shouldn't.

    I'll message you details. :-)

  9. Lindsay, I would love to read you and your cards. ;-) Send me a message and we'll work out a time to get together.

  10. AutoD, I do know exactly what you mean. Some things have happened in the past two years that have caused me to question my own beliefs, my own connection to the unknown. Reading the tarot for people brings me closer to my spiritual center.

    We can do a reading whenever you're ready. You'll be safe.