This is a series of blog posts about my life in tarot and my experiences as a tarot reader. The characters in the series are based on people I actually read for — sometimes I’ve combined traits and readings from more than one client into one character for the purpose of storytelling (just in case you’re a regular of mine and see a bit of yourself in here). I love all my clients and respect their privacy, so key names and details have been changed. I’d love to hear your feedback about this series and whether you’d like to hear more!
She was chewing on her lip, which was distracting. “I don’t even know what to ask,”” she said, her thick Southern accent rolling in her blushed cheeks. “I’m so nervous! Can you tell?”
“Just a little,” I winked. “You don’t have to be nervous though. I’ll be gentle.”
“It’s not you I’m worried about.” She pointed to the small brown pouch next to my beer, “It’s those.”
I shrugged, “Just paper. Ink. Pretty pictures.”
“Not exactly!” She laughed, then drummed her fingers together. “What kinds of things can they tell me?”
I pulled the deck from the bag and waved it around while I spoke, “They can tell you anything. Big things. Small things. Universal truths. Potty jokes.
“It’s like this, you can ask anything you want – or nothing at all. Most people ask for nothing in particular, but actually want to know something specific. I guess they assume the Universe is as invested in their personal desires as they are. It’s kind of annoying.”
I went on, “Ninety-nine percent of the people I read for want to know about love. It’s something base inside us. No one wants to be alone. If you want to know about your love life, I’m happy to tell you. But don’t try to trick me. The Universe doesn’t like that.” I picked up my cards and started to shuffle, hand over hand at first. Fan and then bridge. “And neither do I.”
She watched me shuffle for a moment, lost in the sound of the rifling cards, “No, I thought about it. I want to know where I should go to grad school.”
“That’s a good question,” I agreed. I gathered the cards in my left hand and took a deep breath.
I don’t remember how I felt — probably a thrill of danger, of mystery — when I found my first tarot pack at a garage sale when I was thirteen. I hid them under my bed from my mother. She found them of course. She urged me not to touch them anymore – that they were tools of the devil and that it would only bring me bad luck. I remember her trying to rationally explain her irrational fears – broaching the subject matter-of-factly, holding the cards out in her hand at arms length. And yet, she never made me get rid of them, never demanded I throw them out or burn them. She simply dropped them on my bed and backed out of my room. I’m not sure she ever looked under my bed again.
So I kept them. At first it was out of the wonder of disobedience. I have always been fascinated by metaphysical things – ouija boards, crystals, psychic readings. I loved watching the television psychic shows, partly because the possibility of people possessing those kinds of talents excited me, but also because I wanted to see them trip up. The history of American spiritualism is fascinating and full of bizarre fraudulence and I was and am smart enough to realize this. I always secretly hoped I’d get hit in the head one day though and wake up with some kind of gift to see into the dark corners of someone else’s life.
That never happened. Instead I read a book on how to read the cards, learned the symbols and what they meant. Did a few readings for myself, for my friends. It was surprising, very much so, how they worked. It surprised me. It made me feel awake and connected to the Universe. And when I was in my mid-twenties, the barrage of sitters I had forced me to put a dollar value on what I was doing. I went “pro” – if you want to call it that. But I still don’t hear people’s thoughts. I still don’t see into the dark corners of anyone’s life – unless they let me. And usually, when I’m shuffling and pulling cards, talking, pointing, explaining and yes, even guessing, they do.