SENSITIVITY WARNING: The odds of a lightning strike are -- and I cannot stress this enough -- astronomical due to the sacrilegious content of this story.
Buying myself a deck of “Biblical Tarot” cards this Christmas may have been a little tone-deaf, in retrospect: it turns out that the Bible thumpers hate the Tarot nutjobs, and vice-versa, thus making it near-impossible to find anyone who will agree to sit for a reading in order to help me practice the occult.
Fortunately, my next-door neighbors have questionable morals, a lot of time on their hands, and no particular allegiances. They are not only my favorite neighbors ever, but also the perfect collaborators for this project.
Excited to jump right in on the mysticism, I phoned up Beverly first thing today. She was busy getting tipsy and doing some online shopping, but she said she’d be happy to come over for a reading when she sobers up. I jotted a note to call her sometime the middle of next week, then asked her if Daniel was around.
Dan was out in his workshop. He can be a real jerk, but I know that if I asked him for help, he would do it. However, I didn’t want to interrupt whatever he was working on; also, if I gave him a bad read, I would hear about it for months (“Remember that time we drew Devil/Tower/Investment? Just about bankrupted me. I hope your new neighbors would’ve had yappy dogs and monster trucks, you twit!”).
There’s another set of neighbors past Bev and Dan, but I don’t know Chuck and Sandy that well, so I’m on my own. I figure I can at least test out my first “spread” on myself, to get a feel for the thing. (A spread just means the cards you draw and lay out in the ritual.)
I settle on the most common configuration, a three-card spread, which is supposed to represent your Past, your Present, and your Future. How hard can it be? The set even came with a handy booklet that tells me the meanings of the cards.
(“Booklet” sounds so irreverent for this ceremony, even though it’s about the size of a pocket calendar, so I shall henceforth refer to it as “The Tome.”)
I draw my first card: my Past is “The Fool.” (And we’re off…!) That one actually isn’t a bad one, I grudgingly admit. I did buy this deck in the first place during a spate of hypomythica.
I go to look up that card’s meaning in The Tome, when it suddenly occurs to me that I forgot to – lemme consult the Pre-Tome User Manual – “Cleanse the deck when beginning, and also between reads.” That has something to do with herbs and evil spirits.
Google says a lot of people use something magical called a sage smudge for this, which I don’t have, but I figure if they just mean sage, I have some in the kitchen. It’s old, but it’s sealed, so it still should be free of evil spirits or whatever is the point here, right? I uncork it, sprinkle some of this “magical potion” on the cards and mix well, being sure to adequately coat them with sage.
Ok, what’s next? Oh… guess I should have read further. Apparently it’s different for different cards, I see now. Sage is only for “Fire cards.” If I had read the User Manual before I started, which is really not my thing, I would know what Fire cards are. But I didn’t, so I don’t.
Trusting to beginner’s luck on this whole deal, I figure sage is probably just fine for everything. I don’t have a ton of options in my spice cabinet, anyway, and I generally use the rest.
My deck now smells like a roasted chicken. If this ritual summons any spirits, I hope they already ate, because I only have just a very specific number of cards, and I need all of them.
Brushing off sage flakes, I get back to “The Fool” card.
So, it turns out that “The Fool” really just represents the starting character in life or on a journey. That is a good one to draw for your Past, because we all had to start somewhere.
According to The Tome’s Tarot interpretation for this card, it means “strange travel, ecstasy, and giving up any resistance,” in the positive sense; negative meanings associated with it are “uncertainty and escape from reality; also, problems with alcohol and drugs.” (But they said ecstasy is a plus, so that last part makes no sense? Either way, the cards have spoken, so I comply. Tarot is fun!)
According to The Tome’s interpretation of the Bible verse linked to this card, it “expresses the crazy behavior of those who abandon reason for madness.” Check! The actual verse is printed as 2 Corinthians 16-28. Huh? That doesn’t even exist; it’s literally not a thing. Ah, it must be an Easter egg for the Fool card. Well played, deck.
Since those two interpretations in combination make sense, otherwise, I’m feeling good and mystical about my start so far; there are two more cards to draw, so I leave The Fool in the Past.
The middle card I draw is “Death.” I briefly consider reading the User Manual to see if I’m doing this right or if I should start over, but I’ll stop being a spoiled-sport and just take the lump. Magicks don’t lie, as the old saying goes. Probably.
According to The Tome’s Tarot interpretation for this card, it doesn’t mean actual death. It means “sudden change, disillusionment, cutting with the past”… oh no wait, it does also mean actual “death,” I see right there. And those are the positive associations. Negative connotations are “disappointment, spiritualism, and a fatal deadline.” I’m guessing I just pick one from each set of descriptions? I’m not even sure where I put the User Manual at this point, since the outcome of that first draw. Because this is the Present card position of the three-card fortune, I am going to go with “disillusionment with spiritualism.” At least, so far.
According to The Tome’s interpretation of the Bible verse linked to this card, it expresses “the sudden end of a situation.” The actual verse they reference is about Cain slaying Abel. A literal death. I guess that was technically also the sudden end of “a situation,” so sure, ok, though that phrasing kind of reminds me of “The Sopranos.”
Time for my final draw. This one’s to predict my Future. I feel like I should be blowing on dice before I draw this one…the x is kicking in, and I’m feelin’ Vegas-y!
Knight of Coins: “Chastity.” … bahahaha. Not a fan of that one. Certainly can’t be anything related to my Future, so I decide to draw another – you get a Mulligan on these, right? I say we do:
Five of Cups: “Error.” Nope, you play your way, I’ll play mine. This one doesn’t count, since the extra draw wasn’t an Error. I’m thinking another Mulligan is absolutely warranted.
Page of Coins: “Prudence.” Ok, Mulligan. Seriously. None of this is even close.
Six of Wands: “Shame.” No thanks. I can reasonably justify another try.
Four of Cups: “Disgust.” Feeling kind of personal now. Ok, one last time. This one is all or nothing:
“Death” again? There was only supposed to be one in the whole deck …
Upon further consideration, I may not have used enough sage.