I still remember the days when carnivals would wander in and out of America’s small towns every summer. Rickety roller coasters, face-painting, acrobatic performances, games of luck and skill, and icky-sweet sticky cotton candy in pastel shades of pink and blue were just a few of the welcome diversions the traveling band provided. My favorite ride was always a toss-up between the Swings and the Ferris Wheel, but what carnival would be complete without its resident Fortune Teller?
Alternating strands of beads and bells framed the doorway of the tent ostensibly occupied by a Gypsy. The tinkling sounds offering a glimpse into the future were often given a wide berth. In small towns along the Bible belt, it was paramount to avoid accusations of wrong-doing from the more vigilant religious watchdogs. But if curiosity got the better of you, you might risk your reputation as an enlightened rationalist just to see what all the hullabaloo was about.
Several minutes pass as your eyes adjust to the darkness within. The tent appears to be deserted so you take your time looking around. In the soft glow of flickering candlelight wisps of smoke curl up and around decorative silks hanging from the ceiling overhead. The pungent odor of incense makes your nose twitch uncomfortably. Feathers, carved wooden wands, colorful stones, a dark mask with a mouth cut into a grimace, and a heavy black iron cauldron are just a few of the items you see scattered about. A small grouping of tiny stoppered bottles catches your eye. You peer intently at the smokey opaque glass wondering what magical ingredients are contained within.
In the center of the tent on one side of a round table is a stack of four or five overstuffed tufted pillows bearing a gold tassel at each corner. A three-legged stool sits opposite the cushions. The unadorned wood’s natural beauty provides a sharp contrast to the bright colors splashed haphazardly throughout the space. Several heavy embroidered cloths are draped over the table reaching almost to the floor. An unadorned deck of cards and a large round object covered in white silk sit next to one another atop the cloths. You imagine colors swirling mysteriously beneath the crystal ball’s smooth surface.
Suddenly an attractive middle-aged woman of Eastern European descent steps up to the table. Her clothing resembles the same brightly colored material as the tent, explaining why you didn’t notice her before. A long auburn braid intertwined with colorful ribbons and shimmering gemstones is arranged artfully atop the woman’s head. Unnaturally long black lashes frame her bright blue eyes and beneath the thick layer of makeup you discern strong cheekbones and a wise expression.
Slowly she takes her place on the stool and in a thickly accented voice, asks, “May I help you, traveler?”
I have lived in this town all my life, you think to yourself, you are the traveler here. Without taking her gaze from yours, she reaches for the deck of cards. You watch, mesmerized, as long delicate fingers covered in gold and silver rings deftly begin to shuffle. Then, as if in response to your unspoken thought, the Gypsy replies, “We all travel different paths in this life, some with the feet, others with the mind. I can see that along either, you will go far.” The cards move through her hands like water as you digest her words. You have the sudden sensation that your mind is an open book. A shiver of trepidation runs down your spine. What secrets has the Gypsy already unearthed from your past, and what message of doom will the cards tell of your future?
The realization of your mistake dawns. “S-s-sorry, wrong tent!” is all the reply you can manage. Without another word, you turn and stagger outside, relieved to find yourself in the blinding sunlight once more. As your heartbeat returns to its normal rhythm, you cannot resist looking back through the dark opening. For an instant, you glimpse the Gypsy’s cobalt eyes dancing in a flare of candlelight. What must it be like to cast spells, read minds and see the future? you wonder. Then you remind yourself that magic is impossible. Shaking off a vague feeling of loss, you slowly make your way to the merry-go-’round.
The circuitous path that led me to reading Tarot cards spanned some forty-plus years. As a young child I had often seen strange things in the night. These visions were followed by inexplicable occurrences and coincidences that began in high school and continue to this day. You can read more about one such experience here.
Sometime in the ’90’s, I experienced a spiritual awakening that brought me into the world of forth-telling and even fore-telling. There was a day when I could walk into a Starbucks and get some tidbit of information about every person inside just by looking at them and concentrating. What I knew usually came in the form of pictures and occasional words. The church called my gift ‘prophecy’. Instinctively I knew that this sort of invasion was not something to be practiced on the unsuspecting so I effectively shut down my ability to ‘see’ for the next twenty years.
Most of my adult life was spent working in some form of Christian church leadership (mainly the Conservative Evangelical vein). I taught Sunday School, led worship, and served on multiple committees. My disappointment in the overall lack of spirituality continued to grow over the years. The average church-goer’s life admitted virtually nothing in terms of the supernatural, and it had always seemed to me that the mystics and monks were closer to the truth than the typical American pastor. Unfortunately, the circles I ran in branded spirituality as either ‘new age’ (Yoga) or ‘heresy’ (Catholicism).
I came to realize that organized religion could not fill the empty space inside of me that longed for spiritual connection. And by the time I left Christianity behind, I also understood that religious beliefs are not a prerequisite to knowing that there is much more to the world than what our eyes can see, our ears can hear, what we can touch or smell or study. Even science is coming to understand this once more.
In the Spring of 2015 I began to meditate and my intuition reawakened. That summer I had several visions and was dreaming like never before. In November I purchased my first deck of Tarot cards and in February, 2016 began attending a Meetup Group focused on psychic development. It was there that I learned to trust my intuition on a new level. I have since discovered crystals, numerology & astrology, as well as energy healing.
When I began reading the Tarot for others, I was amazed at how consistently the symbols on the cards related to the question at hand. I have come to understand that the cards are energy, just like we are (and everything else in this world). For me, the primary strength of the Tarot is its ability to connect to the energy of the subconscious mind. This part of us understands and relates to the world through symbols and archetypes (see Carl Jung), and the Tarot is able to reveal and speak to the deep spiritual nature within us – something we cannot do using rational thought alone. In this way the cards bypass our thoughts to expose our deeper truths, things found only in the heart or higher self. The spiritual realm is one of mystery and symbolism that the rational mind needs help navigating. At the moment we ask for help we open ourselves to the different ways that Spirit (God, Goddess, Universe or whatever you call your higher power) can speak to us.
But why Tarot? Whether for myself or others, my goal in reading the Tarot is the same as my goal in sharing any information I find useful: to grow together, move forward on the journey, and find ways to push past the places where we get stuck. Tarot cards are but one tool that can help us do that.
Many modern people today still believe that reading Tarot cards is a magical or even demonic practice. But the Tarot is not evil and there is no such thing as magic. The misconception that a psychic knows every thought you’ve ever had or exactly what is going to happen to you next year is just that – a ridiculous misconception. For me, reading Tarot cards is a form of psychology – spiritual counseling if you will – and my ultimate goal is as it has always been: LOVE. ❤
For without love, I am nothing.