I remember the days when carnivals would wander in and out of America’s small towns bringing rickety roller coasters, acrobats, games of luck and skill, and icky-sweet sticky cotton candy in pastel shades of pink and blue. My favorite ride was 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 frame the doorway of the tent. In the soft glow of flickering candlelight wisps of smoke curl up and around the decorative silks hanging from the ceiling. The pungent odor of incense makes your nose twitch. A heavy black iron cauldron rests on a stack of books with worn leather bindings. A small grouping of tiny stoppered bottles catches your eye. You peer intently at the opaque glass wondering what magical ingredients could be contained within.
A small round table covered in heavily embroidered cloths sits in the center of the tent. On the table are an unadorned deck of cards and a large round object covered in white silk. You imagine colors swirling mysteriously across the crystal ball’s smooth surface. To one side of the table is a stack of four or five tufted pillows bearing a gold tassel at each corner. A plain wooden stool sits opposite the cushions.
An attractive middle-aged woman of Eastern-European descent steps out of the shadows. Her clothing resembles the same brightly colored material as the tent, explaining why you didn’t notice her before. Twisted and secured atop her head is a long auburn braid intertwined with colorful ribbons and shimmering gemstones. Unnaturally long black lashes frame her bright deep eyes and beneath the thick layer of makeup you discern strong cheekbones.
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. The cards seem to flow like water in her hands. As if in response to your unspoken thought, the Gypsy says, “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.” You have the sudden sensation that your mind is an open book and a shiver of trepidation runs down your spine.
“S-s-sorry, wrong tent!” you croak weakly. Without another word, you 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. There you glimpse the Gypsy’s cobalt eyes dancing wildly 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 – a fairytale for children. You shake off a vague feeling of loss and slowly make your way to the merry-go-’round.
My path to the Tarot spanned some forty-plus years. As a young child I had often seen strange things in the night. These visions were followed by inexplicable coincidences that began in high school and continue to this day. You can read more about one such experience here.
Most of my adult life was spent working in some form of Evangelical church leadership, teaching Bible studies and leading worship. The average church-goer’s life admitted virtually nothing in terms of the supernatural, and it always seemed to me that the mystics, monks, and even missionaries were closer to the truth than the typical American pastor.
In the mid-’90’s, I had 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 (pictures and occasional words) about every person inside. There were times when I could see where a person’s path would lead them, should they choose to remain committed to it. Instinctively I knew that this sort of invasion was not something to be practiced on the unsuspecting, so I shut down my ‘sight’ for the next twenty years.
At length I came to realize that organized religion could not fill the empty space inside of me that longed for spiritual connection. By the time I left Christianity behind, I 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.
In the Spring of 2015 I began to meditate and my intuition reawakened. That summer I had several visions and I began to be drawn to the Tarot. In November I purchased my first deck of cards. I was amazed at how consistently the cards related to the question. Now I understand that the primary strength of the Tarot is its ability to connect energetically to the subconscious mind. This part of us understands and relates to the world through symbols and archetypes (see Carl Jung). The symbols contained in the Tarot speak to the spiritual nature within the heart or higher self.
Many people today still believe that reading Tarot cards is a magical or even demonic practice. But the Tarot is not evil and people do not have the ability to read minds or accurately foretell the future. Reading Tarot cards is a form of psychology – spiritual counseling if you will. In reading the Tarot it is my hope to provide guidance, helping people learn ways to push past the places where they are stuck. Ultimately I aim to empower myself and others to take control of the chaos of the outer world by connecting with and listening to the inner world of the heart. The Tarot is able to bypass the mind and reach the inner man with the light of truth and love.
Many blessings on your journey into the light.