An artist wanted us to look at the year ahead in 2018. There was no specific question, and I drew 13 cards, one for each month of the year starting with January and laid them out anti-clockwise. The thirteenth card went in the centre and represented a key question, comment or theme, like so.
This is known as The Wheel of the Year Spread. There are variants.
Number 1 represents Aries the first House of the Zodiac and the start of the Astrological years.
Number 2 is Taurus, 3 is Gemini, 4 is Cancer, 5 is Leo, 6 is Virgo, 7 is Libra, 8 is Scorpio, 9 is Sagittarius, 10 is Capricorn. 11 is Aquarius and 12, Pisces.
My eye was quickly drawn to cards 6-8. There seemed to be a flurry of artistic impetus collected there, heralded by the appearance of The High Priestess in position 6, early autumn in 2018.
The client draws, paints and sculpts animals, though not only animals, and is not only a very talented artist but a very generous patron of a number of small animal charities.
The High Priestess is an apt card for describing her. This is a lady well used to keeping her own counsel. Her art is her shrine and it is sacred.
My eye was drawn to the owl. I could equally have chosen to focus on the scroll or the pomegranate but no, on this occasion it was the detail of the owl that drew me into the card.
Had she ever made a particular study of drawing or painting owls, or was she planning to? No, but the idea appealed, why did I ask?
Cue mad moment.
Reader duly opened gob and proceeded to do a thing one could inelegantly describe as gob-shiting….ie speak and not self- edit or self- censor.
‘I want to say, why do I want to say it? I don’t know, but I’m hearing it, so I’ll say it. There are two goddesses wanting to work with you, you are the priestess, your art is the shrine, but wild life is the greater shrine. There are two goddesses. One is Athena, and the other is Artemis.’
I was aware that the owl, specifically the Little Owl is the special bird of Athena, and that Artemis is the goddess and guardian of all wild creatures, but still, I had not read this card in this way before. Athena shown here as portrayed with her beloved ‘Bubo’ in Clash of the Titans.
We were doing the reading via Skype, using the web-cam.
‘Look at this, Katie-Ellen!’ the client leaned in close. ‘See this little medallion on my chain here?’
She held it forward to the camera.
‘Look!’ she said again, ‘I’ve got Athena on this side…’
She flipped it over…
‘And on this side, Artemis! How about that?’
How about that indeed.
She was delighted. It chimed a note she had been hoping to hear but didn’t have a question for finding, and this is typical of what Tarot can do when in full flow.
The trick is to learn your stuff but then go with the flow. Easier said than done, but that’s what you need to do, to get those weird eureka! moments.
I’ll leave you with a picture of a Little Owl, Athene Noctua. This individual is Dudley the Deadly, here he is, sitting on my gauntlet, the ferocious little scamp, and I met him at the Barn at Beal in Northumberland.
Late on Monday evening Il Matrimonio reminded me that the vote for the EU Repeal Bill was due to take place that night, and I reached for my playing cards. It was already 10.00 PM, just hours to go as I drew the cards illustrated below, asking, would the Bill be passed? I left the cards out on the table, made my initial assessment which was that it was a yes answer, then went to bed and tried to forget about it till morning.
These were the cards left out overnight. The top line contained the yes answer, but on what basis did I arrive at that interpretation?
To get at a yes/no answer, you lay out a row of cards using an odd number, 3, 5 or 7.
It’s a question of preference. On such a weighty and hugely multi-factorial question, 3 might seem too few, and by now I’ve trained myself to read in fives. That’s what this stuff is about. You learn your chosen system of divination, whether that’s playing cards, Tarot, runes or whatever. You study it. You learn and you practise, practise, practise until you internalise the code, the programme, or whatever you like to call it, until, if you persist, it feels like second nature.
You activate your internal oracular programme on request. The most psychic psychic in the world – whoever that is, and it isn’t me, doesn’t go round being psychic all the time. Do they heck. They wouldn’t be able to function. Prescience isn’t omniscience, with tools, you learn to manage, instruct and direct that innate human capability. So, how do you direct it?
If it’s cards you’re reading, you do it simply by stating your question aloud as you shuffle. Not for the purpose of enlisting any rogue, random spirits in the room (or, wait… no, are they…are they… aaaggghhh…imps of Satan come to steal your soul?)
No. It is just so that you will hear yourself say it. Then stop shuffling when you feel ready. That’s it. You just stop shuffling when you feel ready, then you take off the top five cards and lay them out from left to right, creating a story-board moving forward in time.
The red card suits are Hearts and Diamonds, simplistically read as supportive or positive.
The black card suits are Clubs and Spades, simplistically read as challenging or negative.
5 red suit cards represents a definite yes
4 red suit cards represents a probable yes
3 red cards represent a likely yes
2 red cards represent a likely no
1 red card represents a probable no
0 red cards says forget it. The answer is no.
So what did we have here? 3 red cards and 2 black cards, suggesting that it was more likely than not, that yes, the Repeal Bill would pass. But we had those 2 black suit cards. What else could be gleaned?
The first card out, the 10 of Clubs, is a card of business and far-flung travel and clearly represents the bottom line. Additionally, the 10 Clubs also represents the idea of a body of water. It might be a sink or a bathtub, or it might be a sea or a channel. For the first card out to say ‘The Channel! La Manche!’ provides quite a benchmark.
The second card out, the 8 of Hearts, speaks of a gathering, a convocation. It looks surprisingly cheerful here, there would appear to be more goodwill than so much other evidence suggests. It is strongly suggestive of togetherness (huh? eh? really?) It is suggestive of total sincerity at least, on both sides, whichever side of the argument you personally happen to support.
The third and central card, the pivot or hinge card here, is the 3 of Clubs: a card of confrontation but also collaboration. Three way deals. My goodness, there have been some mighty interesting conversations behind the scenes both sides of the House.
The fourth card here represents a male figure, highly significant in this debate. It might be David Davis, Jeremy Corbyn, or both. Any one card may have multiple meanings. My initial impression was that while David Davis was, despite everything, within his personal comfort zone, while Jeremy Corbyn was faced with a perplexity; needing not to alienate Labour voters who voted to leave, whilst needing to reconcile opposing elements within his party.
The final outcome card, the 4 of Hearts, is traditionally a card of a settled home, indicative of a solid, foursquare outcome. Because this card falls in the final position, this swung the cards more strongly towards a yes answer, denoting a solid but hardly sweeping result, and we now know there was a majority of 36 votes, with 126 challenges and amendments already tabled.
And if you got this far, you might be wondering about those other cards. What were they about?
When a question is so heavily loaded, supra-personal and complex, I cross- reference, coming at the question from different directions, looking for repetition, pattern and breaks in pattern.
The second row is talking about Theresa May herself. I had asked, would she achieve the result she was looking for? Again, we had 3 red suit cards and 2 black translating as, yes, more likely than not. The 2 black suit cards here however, were spades, which are to do with intellect, focus, strategy, loss – and stress, suggesting that while Theresa May will hold her nerve going forward, she is acutely aware of past mistakes and errors of calculation (the jack of spades is bad news, tricky in the extreme.)
The 9 of Spades together with the Queen of Diamonds, speaks of stress and strain, loss, attack and grief, concerning a reserved, pragmatic woman of quick instincts and warmth. It also seems, interestingly, to have foreshadowed the challenge of the 9 Conservative MP’s now tabling amendments
There is no doubt the Prime Minister has felt the sad and terrible events of 2017 no less profoundly on the personal, human level than the rest of the general population, and if anything, more intensely because some of her responses were criticised, and, wherever the culpability lay, because these things happened on her watch.
The third row of cards was looking at those opposed to the passing of the Repeal Bill. Would they be happy with the outcome? We see here 4 black suit cards and only 1 is red. The King of Spades here is Jeremy Corbyn again, or Keir Starmer, but those who were disappointed can be assured that some concessions will be negotiated or obtained, especially and broadly pertaining to business affairs, as suggested by the outcome card on this line; the lively, mercantile Jack of Diamonds.
In laying out the final row, I had no specific question but was looking for a general sense of how things seem set to progress. The indications here are that the UK will leave the EU more or less according to the scheduled deadline. If there had been a spades card at the end of this row, it would have suggested delays, perhaps even significant delays, and if it had been the Ace of Spades, may even have detected an aborted exit process. The only spade card here however, is at the commencement of this row and it is the 6 of Spades; a positive if solemn card, denoting a departure; charting a new course. It represents progress, though of course, not without effort, cost or struggle.
Below: The Six of Swords (Spades) from The Gilded Tarot by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti
The outcome card, the 2 of Hearts, suggests a 2 year time-frame, possibly accelerated by whatever is being flagged up here by the 9 of Diamonds sitting just in front of it. It looks as though, because of the electricity of the diamonds suit, that certain significant dealings in respect of transport or travel, and possibly also power stations, may be settled somewhat more advantageously to the UK than many fear. Let’s all hope so.
This is not about politics, promoting any political viewpoint. This is about learning how to read the cards in respect of public affairs, reading cold, developing skill of interpretation via benefit of hindsight.
The lessons of hindsight facilitate wider, deeper future foresight. Reading practitioners develop intuitive muscle by tackling questions. All kinds of questions. Exposition builds the reader’s vocabulary, and with it, the capacity for more in-depth precision of card interpretation, and context is king.
Merriam- Webster: Divination: the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers. 2 : unusual insight : intuitive perception.
Counselling: the provision of professional assistance and guidance in resolving personal or psychological problems. “bereavement counselling”
Depending on the reader, it may be either or both. There are Tarot Counsellors who specialise in taking a counselling approach, often based on Jungian training. These readers may not handle the psychic challenges of divination and forecasting. Other readers, working the psychic approach, may offer valuable, sensible advice but without a basis in formal counselling.
In preparing for a reading, Tarot, runes, cards etc; the agile reader can only prepare to respond. The person will wish for verifiable feedback, or how else can they see if you know your stuff? They will want feedback, advice, prediction, hard, workable information, or they may be fragile or tired, looking for a bit of hope and cheer. But it has to be credible, to them, in the form that it takes, and spouting la- la is cheating and it ain’t going to cut it, nor does it deserve to.
You must take your cue from the cards or runes or whatever is your oracle of work. That’s what you learned it for and what you have presented at the point of sale or service. It isn’t about you.
Questions will often be presented as entirely hard boiled, to do with money or business outcomes. The client may want a yes or no answer; is this merger going ahead, will I win or lose this court case, if I spent 50 K on building this extension to my premises will I get that money back when I want to sell?
Time will tell whether you get it right, and you better had, far more often than you get it wrong, or you won’t be doing this work for long. But nothing is ever entirely factual and hard boiled. Wherever time, thought, worry, hope and effort is invested, there are high emotional stakes.
There are also those questions where the only validation possible is in the heart and mind of the other person and whether or not your answer finds resonance within them.
Here’s a recent (disguised) example from a social media forum, readings free of charge.
Questioner. ‘Help me please? Is there a spirit of a unborn child surrounding me? Here are the cards I drew.’
Responder 1: A better question would be asking such spirits who they are to get your answer.
Responder 2 : Ask them who they are!! I have 4 guides and they always come in 2’s. Never by themselves.
Responder 3: Katie-Ellen: I don’t think so, not in a literal sense, but I see mourning. The Fool card represents the unborn. Is this why you are asking? Are you grieving a lost baby?
Questioner: Yes, and my other children seem highly attracted to my tummy all of a sudden and clingy. Its weird.
Katie-Ellen: I am so sorry. It is a grief like nothing else. I know this from personal experience. But in answer to your question, no, I think based on your cards here, there is no ghost. The Fool card especially, says the little one’s returned to source, held safely again in the palm of the Universe, or God, whatever you like to call it. The Tower and the 9 Swords, I see as reflections of you, your own shock and sorrow. You would not want baby stuck and trapped at your side, being a soul too small to know why. You can make a shrine inside yourself, in your heart, with a candle there to light the way back to life one day for that little soul, and in that way, you can be the baby’s very own guardian angel for all time.
Questioner: I love that idea! But why do my children keep wanting to touch my tummy?
Katie-Ellen I think that perhaps your children are responding to your grief and they feel the source of it. They’re wishing to comfort you and also they want to be reassured themselves that everything’s all right.
Questioner: So not a ghost then?
Katie-Ellen: I’d say the baby is gone to source again safe and sound, and the ghost now is the memory and the aftermath of loss. Your body may feel like a haunted place for the time being, not because the spirit of the baby is there but because mind and body are one. But it’s not for me or anyone to say for sure. The one card in the Tarot most suggestive of a ghost…as in an active, ongoing haunting is The Moon card. It’s absent here and a card is sometimes actually most conspicuous by its absence.
Questioner: That’s such a weight off my mind, I can’t begin to tell you.
This was not about divination as such. It was non- factual and non-verifiable. But was it counselling? I’ve done some of that work and training in previous jobs. Maybe I do use it unconsciously sometimes.
Look at the replies from those first two respondents, those replies reflected a philosophy, and in doing so, bypassed the story actually cards altogether, and did not seem to raise the question in their minds – what was the reason for this lady’s question?
My response, whether ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – meaningless terms here – were prompted by the cards themselves, cards not drawn by me. These were the questioner’s own cards- so that I acted simply as an outside translator.
There are facts, there are truths and there are poetic truths.
There are many weightier matters I find myself investigating with cartomancy; the use of ordinary playing cards for divination, using these instead of, or alongside my tarot cards.
I may find myself investigating business questions, will this merger go ahead, and when? etc etc I could be surveilling what seems likely to happen next vis a vis Brexit etc.
I do look of course. Wouldn’t you? I occasional post readings on public matters, but heck, Life is also made of little things, and who needs pointless hate from total strangers on social meejia in this overheated alt-climate.
I don’t see Yellowstone blowing any time soon, or World War V, and they’re rather weighty matters.
We have recently been on our travels, an undertaking by car and ferry, and for me, by wheelchair, touring in France: The D day beaches, Pornic in Brittany, Rocamadour in Lot in the Dordogne, a night in Nantes and north again for a final night in beautiful Bayeaux before catching the ferry home again next day – a 5 hour crossing to Portsmouth.
Rocamadour is spectacular in the extreme. We stayed in a small hotel, Les Esclargies– at the top of the great cliff above the famous sanctuary with the old main street below it. You can go down in a funicular.
The hotel is in an oak clearing or glade and after a stormy 6 hour drive from Pornic, we arrived after heavy rain to see a red squirrel robbing a hanging bird feeder. We had a downstairs room with a good sized bathroom and wet room. We stayed a few days and late one afternoon, I sat outside with my cards while inside with the patio door open, Il Matrimonio snoozed.
I shuffled my playing cards asking, what is Il Matrimonio doing right now?
Why would I bother to ask when I already knew the answer?
That is precisely the reason for doing it. To see if I draw the cards I expect to draw when I already know the answer, and to see if those cards are an accurate or meaningful reflection of those facts already known, harnessing that benefit of hindsight in order to challenge my accuracy rates in randomly drawing a relevant card.
I expected to draw the Four of Spades in its most benign aspects.
Traditional Meanings: Bed, rest, illness, recuperation, the need for caution, the sick bed, hospital room, coffin, a jail cell, rest, confinement, exhaustion, need to take it easy, move at a slower pace, bed-ridden, feeling fenced in, staying at home, an unhealthy situation, feeling trapped, feeling sick and tired.
Gentle snorting noises proceeded to issue from the open door behind me.
But no…I didn’t draw the Four. I drew the Three of Spades.
Traditionally: loss and deception, lies, misunderstanding, confusion, a growing problem, a worsening condition, deterioration, disease, infection, third-party interference, a third wheel, meddling, a love triangle, what goes on behind the scenes, trials and tribulations, a test, an exam.
I associate it with the Tarot’s Three of Swords; heartache, separation, quarrels, mourning and sometimes literally, cardiac or respiratory symptoms.
Il Matrimonio is somewhat prone to indigestion. I found that if he avoids gluten, he doesn’t seem to get it, but travelling, on holiday, avoiding gluten was not such a practical proposition for him, and besides, the croissants and pastries at breakfast were rather too delish.
Uh oh, I thought, contemplating the Three of Swords, what’s this? I hope everyone’s all right at home, and as for him, I wonder if he’s got a bit of heartburn.
And no sooner had I articulated this thought, there came a burp from inside and Il Matrimonio sat up muttering something about wanting the bicarb.
I think that counts as validation.
So, to add to the vocabulary of the Three of Swords, let us add, indigestion, heartburn, bicarbonate…and burps.
Here’s a kicker though.
Here’s the sting in this tale.
Something strange happened our last night there, a Friday night or Saturday small hours. I had the distinct and quite startling impression that someone pulled twice, quite sharply at my bed covers, trying to drag away the small cushion supporting my knees (pain management of rheumatoid disease)
I mentioned it immediately. We had only just switched the lights out when I felt the first sharp tug, but Il Matrimonio hadn’t noticed anything odd, not the first time nor the second time, but a bad night followed, for the first part of the night. Frightening dreams involving being pushed in a bed, a malevolent coven and the fear of imminent death.
I have had such experiences before, not often, and at the time they have made no sense, – one might as well have put it down to booze or something, although I do not drink or use substances likely to tamper with my view of reality. But days later, and on one occasion, eighteen months later, these dreams or whatever they were revealed themselves to have been a foreshadowing. I once dreamed of an earthquake at the end of my road, I was trying to jump a widening crack in the pavement, and a week later to the day, and after an odd, jittery day, the real one arrived at one in the morning. An actual earthquake…in Lytham St Anne’s in the small hours, and it made the national papers
The epicentre was in Market Rasen in Lancashire, and it was teeny, but the experience when it actually happened, was eerie as hell. I don’t want even to imagine the terror of a big one.
I reckon we can sense these things in the same way that birds and animals are known to do…given sufficient absence of distraction.
And the Three of Spades, like the Tarot’s Three of Swords, can mean mourning.
We returned to shortly receive news of a death, a phone call and it was an uncle of Il Matrimonio’s. This was a quiet death in hospital after a short illness and at the age of 82. It happened on the Friday following our last night in Rocamadour and apparently, some tube got pulled out of his uncle’s arm as he lay in his hospital bed, with fatal results although perhaps it would not have made any difference either way.
Poor Il Matrimonio nurses kind memories of his uncle … tears were shed.
Meanings: Mature person, benevolent, an advisor, mentor, king of ceremonies, financial success, abundance.
The equivalent card in the Tarot deck is, appropriately enough as his team has won the FA Cup Final, the King of Cups.
So we’d just had a bite of lunch yesterday, a bit of psychic salad with spooky peppered mackerel, andIl Matrimonio said as he is prone to do from time to time, ‘I bet you don’t know who is playing in the final today?’
I said, ‘what final?’
He said, ‘you’re joking.’
‘Well, is it the FA cup final? Maybe there’s a European Cup Final for all I know.’
‘That’s next week,’ he scoffed, and you gather, I don’t follow footie too closely though I have the odd moment. Besides which, maybe I had other things on my mind.
‘So, who’s playing?’ said Il Sarky Bastardo.
‘Hallelujah. Who are they playing?’
‘Man United? No. Spurs?’
‘No, but it is a London Final. It’s Arsenal. So, what do you think? Will Arsene Wenger be resigning?’
‘Who’s the Chelsea manager these days?’
‘Antonio Conte. He’s fun. Lively, runs up and down.’
‘Give me a few minutes,’ I said and went into the study to sit with my deck of £0.99 playing cards. The Tarot is my oldest friend, my right hand man in divination, but lately I have exploring cartomancy, reading with ordinary playing cards. and practice makes – not perfect. There is no such thing, least of all in divination whether that means Tarot, Runes, Pendulums, whatever…
Ultimately, there is only doing. You can read up, you can swot all you like, and you better had, and I do. There is a lot to study, but theory is merely your start point and should never be the ending point. You only develop skill by doing, and that’s how you also advance the theory. Lots and lots of doing, falling on your face if that’s what it takes, and you certainly will, because you are human and the oracle too, is human, and its wisdom is the wisdom of ancestral understanding while its frailties are yours alone, the reader’s.
So this is what came up.
Will Arsene Wenger be resigning after today’s match?
Answer: the Four of Diamonds.
The Four of Diamonds denotes patience. The stability of the four did not suggest change, while Diamonds is the suit of business. It is literally, a foursquare card. The answer could have been read as a yes, therefore, according to this traditional colour system of interpretation but based on the individual card meaning, I did not see any change in Arsene Wenger’s role, or at least, no change for the ‘worse.’ Not if he doesn’t want to.
I put the card back into the deck, shuffled blind and for the sake of an even handed comparison, asked the same question about Antonio Conte. Would he be resigning?
Il Matrimonio yelled, ‘no way! Stupid question!’ and I told him to shut up. I know diddly squat about any of it, which is kind of part of the interest in doing the reading, and how I work is how I work and requires a certain logic.
So I asked and bless my soul, I pulled out the same card: the Four of Diamonds. So perhaps then, I deduced, the cards were educating me that neither would be resigning, both were staying in post, and additionally, I could in future take the Four of Diamonds to translate as ‘a football manager.’
‘I don’t think Arsene will be resigning,’ I said to Il Matrimonio.
But who was going to win?
(A question of less moment than the forthcoming General Election, and I think the polls are probably on track THIS time.)
These were the cards.
The Top row represented Arsenal
The Bottom Row represented Chelsea
The bottom 2 cards were just additional comment cards.
The central and final cards contain the answer in a 5 card line spread. The other cards provide the premise of the question, and additional comments.
The first card, top left, made me smile. Two of Clubs, eh? Well, yes, this is a question of two clubs, right enough. Next to it, the Nine of Hearts is generally viewed as a highly auspicious card; wishes granted. The central card, the heart or linchpin of the answer, is the Nine of Clubs and is nicknamed by Romany tradition, ‘The Achiever,’ which speaks for itself. The 3 of Spades is a dreadful card. Sorrow. This card was surely reflecting the current mood of the nation; our grief as well as rage and frustration in the aftermath of the terrible crime and ensuing tragedy in Manchester.
The last card represents Arsene Wenger himself; a quiet man, looking back over the match, seeming pleased but in a rather quiet way.
Arsenal in summary: There were 3 black suit cards and 2 red suit cards which on the face of it didn’t look too optimistic. But the Club cards were both positive in translation and the terrible card, the 3 of Spades…rightfully belonged here somewhere in the story, with a minute’s silence was observed at the beginning of the game.
Arsenal could certainly win, but I couldn’t decide without also looking at Chelsea.
Chelsea’s cards on the bottom row were all black suit cards. First we had The Joker which could mean absolutely anything. It is a destiny card. A wild card.
On this occasion, I asked Il Matrimonio, was there a Chelsea player who was a bit of a maverick? A dark young man? (I was looking here at the Jack of Spades next door to the Joker) He looked as if he might prove significant to Chelsea’s chances. This might be in a good way or not.
That was probably Diego Costa, Il Matrimonio said.
The central card, a key card, was the Five of Clubs, nicknamed The Renovator, it can be a sporty card, but often indicates that some change is overdue. Perhaps to the line up or the formation? The Ace of Clubs seemed auspicious, I felt it might well represent a goal, but the final, outcome card, the eight of Spades, nicknamed The Workaholic, somehow suggested that Chelsea would get into gear too little, too late, and would end working harder than when they had started.
The two comment cards, drawn with no question in mind, just as an add on were both eights: the eight of Diamonds and the Eight of Hearts. Did Il Matrimonio know which player/s would be wearing a Number 8 shirt? Was it one of the strikers?
He was by now glued to the box and shouted through, ‘I hear your question.’
The match hadn’t started yet, but he was absorbed in the buildup, lots of yelling and excited voices, the testosterone was rising, and he was there, becoming part of it and didn’t want disturbing.
‘It looks like Arsenal to win,’ I said.
The player in a Number 8 shirt turned out to be Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey (above) who scored the second goal for Arsenal after Alexis Sanchez scored the first goal, uphold after some controversy as to whether it was allowable after the ball had appeared to touch his arm.
Diego Costa (the Joker?) scored the Chelsea goal.
And he is a dark young man but perhaps the ‘dark young man’ detected by the Page of Spades was not only him, but I had also sensed another player, who was also a ‘dark young man,’ Victor Moseswho was, I found out later, sent off for ‘diving’. This Page is sharp, quick, clever, but sometimes controversy can attach to him (and in other readings, it might of course be a her)
Il Matrimonio said afterwards that my forecast had been out of step with most of the commentators and pundits, except for Ian Wright.
Ian Wright has warned Chelsea that Arsenal are beginning to find some form – just in time for the FA Cup final. (The Sport Review.com)
I’m going to keep on getting to know these nifty little cards. They are not nearly as visually interesting as my beloved Tarot decks, and some might say, who cares, if they do the job? And fair enough, though what price on beauty – wherever it is found?
It’s been a while since I last blogged here at True Tarot Tales. Sombre times one way and another, don’t we all feel it, and my older daughter has been unwell. There has been a lot of card reading going on meantime, but I haven’t got round to gluing my behind to the blogging seat * Slaps own wrist*
Daughter is well on the mend now, though not yet back to work. Micro-angiopathic Haemolytic Anaemia, a viral trigger is suspected but has not been identified. She needed a series of plasma infusions and also haemodialysis.
The illness came on suddenly and I had been puzzled, a little uneasy at the repeated appearance of the 9 Spades in the days before Il Matrimoniowent away to Colditz
They let him out again, drat it, and he didn’t even need the famous glider glued with porridge in making his daring escape to Leipzig in search of a schnitzel.
The forthcoming trip was flagged up in my playing cards by the 10 of Clubs but the 9 of Spades kept popping up too, next in the sequence. This is generally regarded as a dire card, signifying illness and worry, and I decided the trip would go fine, the cards were not showing me an illness for Il Matrimonio, but I didn’t know why it was popping up, or for whom, and could almost certainly not have done anything about it anyway.
This is part and parcel of divination of course, and that potential for possibly totally unwarranted stress is just something to be handled. Three times now, I have drawn the Devil card and noted the fact of its ugly-mug appearance hours or days before a major terrorist attack, and this is of no use to me or to anyone, but still, it is rather odd. I drew the Devil and The Chariot four hours ahead of the attack in Nice, and fretted about a car journey we were due to do next day, being unable to identify the context in real terms.
Returning to the 9 of Spades and my daughter’s sudden illness, a 999 jobbie, we all had a bit of a fright but, that first emergency over, the Knight of Cups indicated she would would be all right, and might go home within the next twelve days of admission, (the Knight suggested twelve)
And she did improve well within that time frame but she was in hospital longer, so my cards were slightly over optimistic on that score, or else I started counting forward from the wrong day, and should have read it as 12 days from the day of reading. In any case I’d have been closer to the mark had I drawn the King of Cups, equating to a stay of 14 days.
We have the pip cards, and these are self-explanatory, Ones/Aces through to Tens. Then we have:
Pages= 11 (these might be hours, days, weeks, months, years etc depending on the suit)
Queens = 13
Kings = 14
During a recent Tarot reading for a young client, I opened the reading with my usual opening spread; a five card cross which I think of as my tin-opener.
There was some distress surrounding The Sun and 3 of Swords, a breakup. This was quickly apparent and confirmed by the client who was clearly looking for a handle as to what had gone ‘wrong,’ which the Tarot was able to present to him as a story. This story made sense, so he said, in accordance with his own understanding of events, and certainly, there was no blame attached; my young client had done nothing ‘wrong’ whatsoever.
But he had been deeply upset, spinning his wheels, not having any story to tell himself, that seemed sufficiently clear to him. The reading changed nothing, simply offered him a handle, without which our minds may keep grinding on, and he had been experiencing headaches in the aftermath of those recent events – unusually for him he said.
The central card of this cross, denoting the heart of the current situation, was The Eight of Coins.
‘This card seems to be talking about your next step,’ I said, ‘this is a card of apprenticeships in general, and also, as you can see for yourself here, look, it’s also a money suit card. He looks like he is looking at a bill, doesn’t he? ‘
The client smiled and said he was starting an apprenticeship in Accountancy in September.
Tarot said, ‘good move, young sir. It will suit you down to the ground as your next best step. Please don’t let anything derail you.
If you want a reader’s best answer, don’t think to test them by misdirecting them. Nothing useful will be learned that way. If you mistrust them, or this kind of stuff in general, just leave it be. Don’t go there. Don’t play games with your chosen reader. It is a waste of their time and energy, and your time and money, and you might well ask, why would anyone do that, but occasionally they do.
You don’t say to a doctor, you tell me what’s the matter with me but don’t ask me any questions because if you need my help in reaching a diagnosis, you , sir or madam, are nothing but a quack.
Actor sprog went to meet with a casting agency yesterday. Sprog has an agent already, and likes that agent very much but 12 months on, there has been nothing as yet; not one send-out, zip, de nada. and just not much sign of activity in general. She had decided to look about for somewhere perhaps more pro-active, had made enquiries and been invited to drop in at another agency, take along her acting CV and meet the creative director (male).
How would it go?
I drew the Ace Clubs, Jack of Spades, 2 Diamonds, Jack of Hearts and the Queen of Clubs. and read it left to right as a story board
Card 1 The basic issue or premise: Ace Clubs denotes a new work, new job, also, a cave or leaving a cave in the quest for new knowledge. It’s a fiery card, well suited to the entertainments industry. Think of a spark, or a ‘bat out of hell.’
Card 2 Jack of Spades, this is whom we are talking about; the sprog, and in Tarot the equivalent card would be the Page of Swords. The archetype is a good fit, and she is an air sign subject; Aquarius, which corresponds with the suits of Swords in Tarot, Spades in playing card reading, or as it is more formally termed; cartomancy.
Card 3 Hinge card: 2 Diamonds; well, this is promising firstly but not exclusively because it is a red and not a black card, sitting centrally, but the card itself denotes agreements, investments, suggesting she may receive an offer of representation with this new agency.
Card 4 Jack of Hearts. So what comes next? This card also signified the sprog, I felt; a sharp but comical, quirkily humorous creature in possession of – no use pretending otherwise, a somewhat mythical but edgy beauty, and this card also suggested some ease of rapport between her and the figure in the outcome position.
Card 5 Queen of Clubs, the outcome card.
Why not a king card, I wondered, based on the preceding communications?
Sprog arrived 15 minutes early to be bang on time, shutters were rolled up at 3 o clock prompt and she was received, not by the creative director who was away on holiday, she was told, but by a fellow director, a lady.
So that then, was why I had drawn the Queen of Clubs.
This card denotes an outward going woman; honest and extremely confident in dealings. No one tells her what to do, and this living embodiment of the queen said she could make no promises, offered the sprog a few pointers, tips and some constructive criticism, and concluded with an offer of representation.
The sprog liked this clubs queen very much but also has other enquiries outstanding, and I have no wish to interfere, prophecy can be vexatious and meddlesome whether it is eventually proved correct or not, so we will see.
3 black cards, 2 red, and a majority of black cards can be taken simply as a no answer, where a majority of red is taken as a yes, and the colour method is often accurate, but it just goes to show, in divination it’s a mistake to rely heavily on short cuts.
Recently I added to my reading mix, a deck of ordinary playing cards. These have been in use for cartomancy; divination and fortune telling, for at least 400 years longer than the Tarot, and neither one of them began as fortune telling tools. They were both invented for gaming purposes. In the case of playing cards, it’s thought they first came to Europe from the Middle East, arriving there in turn from the Far East.
Fully illustrated Tarot cards contain pictorial ingredients offering unlimited possibilities of translation via associative thinking, but playing cards, while less interesting pictorially, and somewhat prosaic, will do the job.
I thought I’d try them out in a recent face to face reading for a new client, reserving them for getting at a few yes or no answers if required.
Asking for the Tarot’s insight into my client’s recent significant past I drew The Fool and The Ace of Pentacles from The Gilded Tarot, images by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti.
The Fool is about opportunity, enthusiasm, a gamble, a birth. The Ace of Pentacles suggests a windfall, a new job or business, a new home, a garden or a new, precious object.
These following The Emperor prompted me to ask the client, had there been a recent major change or opportunity to do with a new job or new kind of work, and also maybe a new home?
And was it possible this new home might be in the countryside or else have a big garden or some land?
He said he had bought a house with land, and was planning to build on that land, and he wanted to know, what were the prospects for successful completion?
Yee-haa! Time to put my ordinary playing cards to the test and I drew these.
My first observation was that I had drawn two red cards and one black. Learning to do psychic readings is all about self-programming, and like learning anything, involves rote and repetition. I’ve decided a red card mean yes, whether it’s a diamond or a heart, and a black card means no, whether it’s a spade or a club card. And then I go for best of three, and the numbers might swing my thinking.
You could decide that a black card means yes, if you wanted, and a red card means no, and it might work splendidly reliably if you are consistent, though it might prove counter-intuitive as the most challenging cards in a playing deck – most, not all, are contained within the suits of spades and clubs.
Once decided on your own system, you need to stick to it. There’s no right or wrong with these things. There’s what works subject to proof. This is where there can arise a problem with going to classes ‘to be taught’ how to read. You are your own best teacher. Learning to ‘see’ in this way is solitary. Even lonely. It is not gregarious at source. Study adds skill and there is a vast library here to study, but in the end, while rendered articulate by skill, the oracular spirit, to be true to itself, remains a cat who walks alone.
The short answer to the client’s question therefore was yes, but I was struck by the appearance of two diamonds cards, equating to the Tarot’s suit of Pentacles; the suit of earth.
I was additionally struck by the fact that the middle card was twice the number value of the first card. a 4 and an 8. It made me think of foundations, and plumb-lines; four walls, and then four walls, doubled.
It didn’t seem random, it felt as if it might be significant and I said to the client, ‘are there going to be TWO buildings, by any chance? And one is twice the size of the other? But this black card, the 3 of Clubs, suggests there’s a bit of stress already?’
Notice, I was asking him. That’s because I did not know if this was correct. I only knew that’s what I was being shown, and wanted to check.
‘There ARE going to be two buildings’ he said, nodding surprised, ‘log cabins and one is going to be exactly twice the size of the other one. And yes, it’s fair to say there’s a fair bit of stress…’
And so the discussion moved forward.
Well done, my little £1.99 fortune-telling friends. Although I don’t tell fortunes, you’ve clearly got my number, and I think you and I need to get better acquainted.
It can be confusing for potential customers to know what a psychic reader actually does. Often a caller has not looked at your website, and I may find myself explaining that I do not work as a medium. No, I tell them. I do not ‘get the other side.’ And I don’t. I really don’t, but I have experienced things, some rather odd, that mean I don’t like to send people away entirely empty-handed either if I can refer them or help in some other way.
One night not long ago I was rung by a lady wanting a medium, ideally to come to her house 20 miles from where I live. I explained that I was not a medium, and she said she needed help desperately, because something was going on in the house, terrifying her, her partner and the children. Someone – a woman- a ghost?- had spoken to one of the children. Now, at 8 in the evening, they were all huddled in the sitting room, scared even to go to the toilet.
This wouldn’t do. And yes, fear is contagious but pooh-poohing would absolutely not do. I said I’d make enquiries but meantime stated emphatically that there was absolutely no danger. The whispering lady may have been a dream, but whatever it was, she meant no harm. She had said only loving things, hadn’t she, to the child? For now, I suggested the lady put a comedy film on the telly, switch all the lights on, make a noise and dominate the house. Assert her claim to the space right now, going straight to the kitchen to make hot drinks for everyone.
A few quick cards did include the Death card reversed, indicating there may indeed have been something ghostly either in the house OR in the memory of someone in the family. But what is a ghost anyway? A sentient being, knowing exactly what it is doing, or the manifestation, seemingly external, of a memory with great power and atmosphere attached?
If the children saw that she wasn’t frightened, perhaps they’d take their cue from her, and then maybe the strange manifestations would also calm down. I felt there was stress in the house and one of the children in particular was highly sensitive to atmosphere, but sensed this was some kind of stress related psychic family event rather than a haunted house situation.
Later I called back with the name of a reputable medium able to make house visits.The medium and I have spoken subsequently and I was glad to connect professionally with such a nice, capable, cheerful sounding sensible person for potential future referral. The medium told me that in her opinion, the house was not of itself haunted, but the lady had worries and had suffered losses I won’t mention here. The whispering ghost was, according to the medium, the children’s grandmother.
However unwelcome this manifestation, her whispered words to the frightened child suggested her care and love live on, at least in the memory of a close by living person not aware of the power of their own mind ….
A Styxian Journey: The Six of swords from The Gilded Tarot by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti
On another long ago occasion someone asked me, ‘has my father gone to heaven yet?’
The funeral had been held the previous day. This was a loaded question, even though I hold no religious belief, nor a brief for or against heaven. What does it mean, ‘heaven’? What does ‘yet’ mean? I could just have said yes, and that would have been the easy thing but contrary to what ‘skeptics’ might expect, a sincere reader will not ‘diss’ his or her oracle by making up answers. People do NOT pay just to hear my personal opinions. Access to oracular Tarot is what they have come for and that is what they get.
Tarot drew the Three of Swords and Queen of Swords Reversed. These indicated that her father had been at loggerheads with his wife for a long time, which the client confirmed. Here then, I concluded, I was reading the dead, not as a medium, but through the telepathy of the living person who had known him. That’s what Tarot does, operates via telepathy – in this case, via my telepathy with the living person sitting with me whereby I intuitively accessed her own understanding of the person who had passed on.
The indications to me were that he had been terribly frightened at the imminence of death but the moment, when it came, was so easy, he hadn’t fully cottoned on yet that it had actually happened. He only knew that he felt better but strange and different. I felt quite sure he was still in the ‘valley’, but he wasn’t frightened and he was doing all right. He was getting there, wherever or however it is we go.
She could talk to him, I suggested. He might still be in hearing range. Tell him out loud what had happened and tell him he was fine, and so was everyone else at home. (His wife too. Loggerheads or not, there was still warmth of feeling there.) This idea did not seem to disturb my visitor. She smiled and said she would probably do that; it seemed quite in character for him to take a while to make up his mind to go.
Death is as individual as it is universal. And while the oracular doesn’t fudge the inescapable, that death may be uncomfortable or even painful; an anxious, confusing or downright frightening experience, there is something beyond or afterwards, there is indeed something outside our ken, more easily experienced than described. Humanity has known this from the beginning, and religion does not come into it, though it rose out of it.
We could have stayed immortal, had we been content to continue as primordial soup reproducing ad infinitum by identikit cell division. But we weren’t. We, the current denizens arisen from that protean soup, got bored and demanded a new deal. The soup began to mutate new programmes and to differentiate and create amazing and interesting plants and animals, but this demanded unimaginable feats of energy, space and organisation. And this in turn demanded boundaries so that Life came up with the solution of Death, and while Death might seem the ultimate antagonist, anathema to us in our highly realised state of individual awareness, we should at least give it credit for letting us out of the soup, and after all, that was always the deal.
So thanks, Death. I am grateful to be me today, not heaving in the soupy-gloop, bored right out of my tiny multitudinous nucleii. And I will try and remember that next time I am fed up, or Il Matrimonio annoys me or I don’t feel like cooking the tea. Today it’s casserole – rather primordial in fact, but I predict it won’t have enough time to get bored and mutate.
The lines on these roads are not where we paint them. There is more map than there are roads on the map, and the map itself is subject to parameters not proven.
Tarot interpretation works on real life synchronicity, but what is synchronicity?
Definition as supplied by Merriem-Webster: the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality —used especially in the psychology of C. G. Jung
Classically this card refers to reaping a reward for hard work or patience and suggests that there will be a good return on a long term investment, but no quick returns. If it comes out reversed I’d be sensing a future poor performance or loss on your current or proposed investment. If you were a buyer, I might be sensing not to buy in this or that product range as not representing a good acquisition. It may either not sell well, or take forever to shift.
The client was asking about the shifting of retail stock, but while money was the presenting issue, and as often happens, a card detail suddenly leaped out at me.
‘Do you have sheep living behind your house?’ I asked.
‘Yes’, he said, ‘a field at the back.’
And this is typical of what Jung meant by synchronicity. Does it mean I enquire about sheep every time this card appears in a reading?
No. It absolutely doesn’t. It just so happened that on this occasion, it did.
Would it appear in a reading done for a sheep farmer?
It ought to.
If I was thinking of buying stocks or shares and this came up, would I go for it? Probably, depending on the surrounding cards.
Tarot loves to start off a reading, playing parrot.
Just as Art imitates or rather, conjures Life, that’s how Tarot works. As within, so without. The first thing I aim to do in a reading, is ask the cards to help me identify my client’s most pressing concern or question. The Tarot tells me by ensuring I draw the card that most accurately mirrors that unspoken concern or question, as closely as can be managed from among the 78 cards in a Tarot deck.
This ‘mirror-card’ tells me and my client that we are on the same wavelength, which provides a reliable baseline for the rest of the reading.
My Tarot did it again today, and deserves one of those little nectar pots adored by larikeets and parrots alike.
I was about to self- inject for the first time, trying out a new med for quite a severe severe rheumatoid-type illness (I have tried MANY approaches in 20 odd years, with too much ground covered to mention, while exercising great care in agreeing which pharma meds to try )
The med is called Orencia or Abatacept. It is a new class of meds known as biologics. Orencia works to inhibit the production of T cells, T1 and T1. These are normal proteins, and are essential for your normal immune response, but if that goes wrong for any reason, they can go into overproduction, causing an inflammatory cytokine cascade resulting in acute pain and long term damage.
These biologics, while for some they offer a last chance of respite, can be dangerous, so I thought I’d pull myself a few cards before injecting.
The first card out was The Tower.
Just look at that pic. How well did the Tarot do, with a deck of 78 cards to work with, shuffled and drawn blind and at random…in guiding me to draw this card, signifying the issue in question.
Look at the card again. Look at the injector pen.
Squawk! Pretty Polly!
This is how readers know their question has been heard and logged by their unconscious mind. The first card out of the deck will mirror the stated question, or even the unstated question.
Next I drew
4 Swords, (illness)
Ace Swords ( a sword, or in this case…spring loaded needle)
and 7 Pentacles. (tend to the crop, patience is required.)
This last card was also a suitable reflection as this med is is a weekly injection.
I therefore concluded, that while I could not expect a miracle, or even a significant observable response, there would be no significant negative response; a finding which I am so far in a position to validate.
Last Thursday, July the 14th, I was unsettled at what I saw in my cards. My question to the Tarot was, what kind of day could I expect the following day to be? We were away from home, with a drive next day to see family en-route home again.
Out came The Chariot, drawn reversed, and out also came The Devil.(Universal Rider Waite)
This was a combination that spelled bad news for a partnership, a venture, a vehicle, or a journey. Fear, anger or violence might be attached. I shuffled and drew again. Out they came again, The Chariot Reversed, The Devil, and The Wheel of Fortune Reversed.
Nasty. I felt a lurch in my tummy. I could see it was bad but what did it mean? Not being an all-seeing psychic with remote viewing (it has happened, but rarely. Such acutely specific psychic skills as that are extremely rare if not non-existent) I did what most of us would do, and thought first in terms of the immediate situation.
‘You need to take it extra easy on the road tomorrow’, I said to Il Matrimonio. ‘Maybe inspect the car before we leave the hotel. There’s something here I’m not liking to do with wheels and the parking is tight. I’m seeing tyres.’
The Devil card at at its worst extreme can mean murder. I did NOT think of that, but I was uneasy, deciding we may additionally hear bad news next day concerning family health, and we did hear news that concerned us, about the health of a friend.
Next morning, Friday the 15th…and The Devil is the Tarot’s fifteenth card, we woke to the appalling news from Nice.
The cards had been drawn about an hour ahead of the actual events. This, then, had not been an instance of prediction…but a vague, ominous though with hindsight, apposite foreshadowing. Tyres. Rage. Terror.
Sleep easy, les pauvres.
Vive la France.
How could the Tarot be used to avert disasters? Certainly, a reading may help an individual to avoid trouble if they heed a warning. I have certainly known this happen just as I have known a warning gone unheeded, and the consequences. On a public scale, it would need the right person to ask a reader a closed question such as, what is the risk of.(event X)….happening here (location Y)…at such and such a time/day (Y) And that person would need permission and resources to act on the feedback. Not gonna happen, is it?
Another instance of the Devil card featured in the news in May of this year, when a client told the Tarot reader he had killed someone after she drew the card in front of him. She rang the Police on 999 and was advised to call the non-emergency number which she did, going outside to make the call with the client sitting there. The Police arrived 52 minutes later, and in due course it was discovered that the money had told the tarot reader no more than the simple truth, in response to her drawing the Devil card, the Death card and The Emperor Reversed.
A man lay dead in a pool of blood.
Asking my brother, who is a police officer, what he made of this story, he was horrified that it had not been treated as an emergency. The tarot reader should have been assessed as being at immediate risk, herself, as a witness to a man who might have changed his mind at any time, about allowing himself to be arrested.
Usually, thankfully, The Devil does not operate at this horrific level, though the card is rarely, if ever good news in a reading with me unless it comes out drawn reversed. It may mean compulsive drinking, or drug use. Or it may just mean a temper tantrum. Who threw their rattle out of the pram, then?
There is a school of thought that presents the Devil instead as Pan, god of wild things, and some decks portray this alternative interpretation, but for that sense of things, I rely on The Hermit or The Ace of Pentacles.
Changing subject, but not entirely, recent diabolical viewing on the box or DVD has been…next to nil because I stop watching. Occasionally I will shout ‘shaddap!’ or worse if it’s just too inanely squawky but a repeat of ‘Coast’ will always soothe the feathers flat again. It never seems to get old.
‘The Secrets In Their Eyes,’ based on the novel of the same name by Eduardo Sacheri, is a story with the Devil at its heart, but also The Star, The Lovers, Judgement and Justice. It is a story of murder, enduring love, and the search for justice in the face of a corrupted legal system. Above all it’s an epic love story, set in Argentina during the last years of the Junta.
I saw the film first and read the book afterwards. There are a few plot differences but the crux, tone and feel of the story remain true.
It is a story of two heroes, the law man, called Chapparo in the book but Esposito in the movie. He’s a diffident character, not ‘heroic’ in the blockbuster sense, but such is his quality and his charm…you’re rooting for him to get the girl…. and then there is the enduring passion for a murdered wife of the bereaved husband, Morales, who is determined to apply justice when the Law does not, being corrupt and held on a Junta choke- chain.
The grieving husband’s idea of justice is not what you might suppose, and it costs him every chance of a new start, especially in the novel. Faced outright with the wordly power of the Devil he decides that for him, there is only one love, and there is nothing more to live for now but justice. A sad book, a sad film, but The Devil gets a comeuppance, quietly, secretly, at a great cost to the bereaved husband, as the mills turn slow but certain.
A friend came to stay recently and brought a present for my birthday. We thought it might be fun for me to try and guess what was inside the packaging using my pendulum and cards. It was roughly cylindrical, not too heavy, rolled in bubble wrap and brown paper.
I held my pendulum over it.
‘Are the contents of this package edible?’ The pendulum span anticlockwise. No.(sob)
‘Are the contents of this package paper?’ No. ‘Ceramic?’ No.’ Wood?’ Yes.
I drew the Three of Pentacles, a card signifying progress in business and pride in one’s work, and from The Gilded Tarot by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti.
‘Is it a craft item? I asked my friend.
‘Yes.’ she said, smiling from ear to ear, as ducks suddenly quacked outside on the pond and Il Matrimonio ran to the balcony to see there if there was a fox. There sometimes is. Then I drew the Six of Swords, a card of personal progress, solemn journeys and quests for learning.
Was it something to do with a river or riverbank, I wondered. Was it a little wooden boat? Or a frog? I like frogs.
‘No’. My friend said, smiling, ‘But you are warm. Now open it!
And inside it was – this! A wooden Indian Runner Duck. What a little character.
Well, I never. No wonder she’d been laughing to herself every time we’d fed the ducks, knowing what she had in store to give me.
Now, that is what I call a friend. And psychically, here was that darn Jungian synchronicity thing at work again.
Good try, Tarot my friend. Not a bull’s eye this time, but a respectable attempt, and this often is how Tarot works in a reading, too, regardless of the classical card meanings, sparking ideas directly off the imagery.
This is how, while Tarot presents a great academic study, anyone can read it, who likes to use associative thinking.
Carl Jung speculated that the Tarot works according to the principle of ‘synchronicity’- that psychic insights are triggered by apparently random and yet meaningful co-incidence, which he thought might be explained by Quantum Mechanics.
This Tarot king represents a man who is patient, kind, industrious. He is the salt of the earth. I said to the client that I thought he was a manager, and the work was practical in nature but also involved communication. It demanded precision or the ‘thing’ wouldn’t work but I didn’t ‘see’ as yet see what his job might actually be.
‘I might get at it though,’ I said, ‘now that my computer is talking directly to your computer.’
What I meant by that was, I felt we were on the same wavelength.
‘But that IS my job! I work for the government. That’s what I do…I make computers talk to other computers.’
A friend, also a tarot reader and a gifted clairvoyant; a true ‘Hermit’, had gone unusually quiet since coming round recently to collect a present for his coming birthday and to try out his newest Lenormand deck, doing a reading for me.
Afterwards we sat at the table reading separately, me with tarot cards, he with Lenormand cards, each enquiring about the likely outcome of the EU referendum June 23 to see if we had a consensus. There was. More about that in a future post nearer the time.
But a week later, he hadn’t got back to me after I rang on his birthday. Usually he’s on the phone within a few hours, when he is likely to ask yet again what do I make of David Icke and his theory about the alien reptilian conspiracy for world domination? (He’s been reading a book by David Icke lately, and the Queen is alien reptilian stock, apparently.)
I’ll spare you my usual answer to this question, but for argument’s sake, I’d be more worried about the possibilities for an Alien Insectoid Conspiracy. Chill the reptiles just a teensy bit, they’re too sleepy-byes to get up to very much. The insects too have their limitations but they’d be a far more formidable adversary, terrifyingly industrious, with a far greater population and range…
There has been flu about and he lives alone and has diabetes. I pulled two cards to see if he was OK and drew
The Four of Cups and The Six of Swords.
Well, good, he was OK then. The Four of Cups has a nickname ‘bored boy’ and I decided he had probably got cabin fever. The Six of Swords suggested a reasonably large journey, traditionally over water, but this is the UK and you don’t have to drive far to cross water.
My friend drives but I decided he had probably gone somewhere by train. He is something of a train-spotter and indeed, he rang an hour later to say he was sitting on a train in Euston Station. He had got up at 5 having decided to go down to London to visit Kew Gardens.
I am seeing a lot of Swords cards at present, not least when I enquired about the current steel situation.
I asked, what’s at the root of the problem? First card out, Ace Wands Reversed. The cost of power (fire) A international business ‘Ace’ backfires.
I asked What is the best prospect at this time? First card out. Two Swords. Controls. A state of truce. Diplomacy. Cool the fires but do not stop the fires. Steel is armaments. Duality of legal contract and Protectionism may be implied by this card, possibly for a two year period, while the suit of Swords is associated with the East. I hope it does not mean ‘mothball.’
PS My friend rang since I posted the above, and I kid you not, asked what I think about ‘the reptilians’. There were dragon statues at Kew….with royal insignia inscribed on them. Evidence.
What insignia, exactly?
Dunno, but royal.
Oh well. He puts up with me…what else do friends do.
I was cackling peaceably into my cauldron, ie; cooking lunch when Il Matrimonio meandered in, nonchalantly asking; what did it mean if you had lost something, and asked the Tarot where it was, and you drew the Page of Wands?
I paused in my stirring, and asked why. Il Matrimonio does not in general, derive interest from anything Tarot-related, unless consulting about financial matters, and is otherwise mildly dismissive, despite it not having let him down so far. He was never an accountant but would have made an excellently sound one.
Our friend Ms X had lost her diary, she had just told him via ‘social meeja’. She is learning Tarot, had looked in her deck of Tarot cards, asking where the diary was, and had drawn the Page of Wands.
But what might that mean in real, practical, where- the- eff- is- it, terms?
Using Tarot to locate lost objects can be a headache. But the imagery can prompt ideas or prompt the memory by visual cues alone, sometimes. Tarot reading works on associative thinking. Logic has its part to play, but psychic hits require lateral, not linear thinking. Readers build their own associations with the cards, over time and through practice. They add their own meanings to the cards, so that one reader can never say another reader is wrong, saying that a card means this or that in real terms, because interpretation arises from the reader’s own intuition.
My response was to say, adding a glug of olive oil to the pan was, that the card suggested, she took it out with her and had left it somewhere local.
Page = small. Wands = travel.
Additionally…or instead; I suggested, it was near somewhere warm or loud, such as a radiator next to a TV, or in the kitchen near the oven. Wands is the suit of the south, of warmth and anything loud and quick.
He came back saying, Ms X had been adamant she never took the diary out with her, and I remarked that, well, it was between her and her own Tarot, but that card strongly suggested she would find it, and probably quickly.
Ms X shortly later remembered that she had been to the hairdressers earlier that same day. She returned and found the diary was on the arm of a sofa there, next to the stereo.
Let’s the both of us add ‘stereo’ and ‘hairdresser’s, then, to the list of associations for the lively Page of Wands.
That’s how we have to do it. That’s how it’s done, and why it is an on-going study, however long you’ve been doing it.
Last time here on True Tarot Tales, the Moon card caused me to enquire about whether there had been a recent instance close by, of an upset tummy, possibly food poisoning, and it turned out, just as the Moon card classically depicts two dogs barking at the moon, two of the client’s dogs had been unwell after retrieving a ball from a dirty ditch.
Infection and disease may be flagged up by an appearance by the Moon card.
And so can flooding. I first saw this manifesting in my own cards during a Skype reading of 2010 for a client whose father lives in Pakistan, and her father had had to move house after flooding.
November 13, reading for someone in respect of a property in Hawick and the prospects for sale, I felt it might sell in August/September 2016, but, having drawn the Moon card, I asked the client, was there a river close to the property, and if there was, did it flood? Because I sensed flooding as a barrier to sale.
I was told the property is a top floor apartment, and is close to The Teviot but it had not flooded during the time the client had lived there (not many years) Nor had the client been aware or deterred by the proximity of the river when buying.
But, and very unfortunately for all affected, and by no means for the first time in its history Hawick flooded badly in early December.
I still sense my client may move home in 2016, I draw the Six of Swords which indicates progress and very often a domestic relocation, and certainly within the next two years, but the pathway may be more complex than anticipated when the property went on the market, and may, suggests the strategic Seven of Swords, involve the unwanted complication of a letting arrangement.
And, let us hope this is unduly doomful, no reader is infallible; I see signs we may well not be done with this Moon business yet. I draw the Moon card again, when asking about UK weather into February. Greater accuracy would demand a regional or even more break down, but there seems to be more ‘warm air’ coming where we don’t want it; the King of Wands Reversed.
A skeptical friend, who lives in Cumbria joked recently, that of all the religions he doesn’t believe in, the one he could perhaps go for is the Norse gods, and he may perhaps, even ask Freyr for help. Maybe it’s not such a crazy idea, and this morning, there is snow lying here on the Lancashire coast. But whatever you do, ask politely.
An outing for the Tarot’s Moon card, with Katie-Ellen, UK Tarot reader, writer and business consultant.
Happy New Year, and the tummy bug in question was nothing to do with me, I am happy to say, or the seasonal festivities. I was doing a Skype reading, investigating questions to do with ongoing and future creative projects- the client is an artist and sculptor, when I drew the Moon card.
The image below is from The Gilded Tarot, by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti. Also available from Amazon but the publisher Llewellynis getting this shout-out.
Classical meanings for this card are; the Moon itself, Fertility, monthly cycles, tides, floods (alas), conception, confusion, deception, secrets, vivid dreams, visions, leaps of imagination, fantasy, art, animals, hunting, secrets, fraud, theft, surveillance, risk, travel with danger attached, disease.
Reversed/Upside down: the meanings take on a different complexion, and may suggest any of these things- but they are fading away and now belong to the recent past.
The key challenge for a reader is to decide which meanings are relevant, and quickly, not to bore witless and alienate the client. One must say the first thing that comes to mind. I call it ‘gob-shiting’and I really shouldn’t; it’s hardly elegant and perhaps this should be a New Year’s resolution. The thing is, the reader needs to just speak.
I said the first thing that popped into my mind and asked whether a loved one had been ill, just recently, and perhaps they had gone down with a tummy bug? Or, could it even have been a bout of food poisoning, but whatever it was, they seemed to be better now?
I held up the card to the camera. ‘Look at this,’ I said, ‘see the two dogs?’
The client has several dogs, and said, ‘I don’t believe this! Two of my dogs have been ill. We went out a walk and they went into a ditch after a ball and they were quite poorly for a few days afterwards, both of them. A filthy ball in a nasty, dirty ditch. But they are over it now.’
The reader of Tarot or any other divination system must learn not to self- censor. If they do, because their first thought seems just too stupid, they will likely get it wrong, and then want to kick themselves. Learning to trust yourself enough to do that is the hardest thing, or at least, I found it so and I still sometimes have to tell that inner critic, aka saboteur of the oracular mind, to shut up.
People may well say, and many do, sod all the soothsayers. Wits or just good old common sense is what is called for, in working out a response to a problem. This is fair enough and often true…at least, it may be from where they are sitting. Nine times out of 10, in making their own predictions, they may prove quite correct. But what the oracular reader sniffs out, like a wild animal, using whatever oracle as a spade for digging in the primal mind, is what is hidden and could not wisely or even reasonably be expected.
The Tarot is nothing but printed card stock, physically. But the imagery and its many and deep rooted associations facilitate telepathy, triggering both receiver and transmitter. The client is equally active in this process, at a level they are not consciously aware of, any more than the reader is consciously aware of why they said A and not B.
For more information about my readings and how to get a reading, visit my website HERE
Can Tarot cards help with forecasting weather, accurately? The short answer is, experience tells me yes, but, and it’s a big but, the question needs a clearly defined context. As in, for example, what kind of weather can be expected at X location at X time? If I drive from A to B on this date at this sort of time, what kind of weather experience can I expect?
The Tower Card detects coming severe weather. Storms. It featured in this way in quite dramatic fashion in a previous True Tarot Tale, when it saw a storm coming, and we only had a tornado down our street the very next morning at about eight- o- clock. That’s right. A tornado in Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, UK.
You can read that story on an earlier blog post HERE
The Tower card, from the Gilded Tarot by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti.
Other associations: disaster, accident, argument, bankruptcy, shock.
Weather Associations- If learning Tarot, practise drawing a card for the day ahead, where you are:
From the North: Knight of Pentacles (grey, cool,cold, rain and snow)
From the South: Knight of Wands (sunny, heat wave, tropical storm)
From the West: Knight of Cups (sunny, mild, wet, windy)
From the East: Knight of Swords (fresh, cool, ice, hailstorms, biting winds, brrr)
Today, just for a change, the story really is a story, prompted by activities on a writer’s forum called Litopia. Do, please feel welcome to come and join there.
Flash Fiction: Boreas the Blustery
Boreas was bored. The North Wind was fed up of the North. Grizzling and moaning, he stamped about, bending trees, rolling rivers like mattresses and forcing polar bears to roll down snowy slopes, so he could laugh at the way their paws scrabbled as they rolled over and over.
‘Where’s some fun!’ he howled. ‘F*ck off , Captain Bird’s Eye, I want a bit of Southern Comfort!!!’ He ripped off some roofs in Carlisle, straining to go south, but the jet-stream was busy in the higher latitudes, and wouldn’t open the gates.
In the Gulf of Florida, Nota, the South Wind got, er, wind of this, and said to El Nino, ‘ I could fancy a ‘lil trip North to see this Boreas. I hear he’s quite the man.’
‘I can help you there, I think’, said El Nino, ‘I’m heading that way, myself.’
He steered Nota north, skimming seas into mountains and making dolphins sea- sick, isobars winding ever tighter until Boreas saw her, crossing the Atlantic towards him, driving the waves before her. And then they collided, and circled tighter and tighter, high and low . Wires and cables snapped and hummed, and dustbins flew like dust, and wild things cowered in their dens.
‘You couldn’t come to me! screamed Nota, lashing her hair, ‘so, Boreas, I have come to you!’
Shrimp and rice and coconut!
Fish and chips and doughnuts!
The way he loved her was frightening.
Lightening, thunder, until they span asunder
With no air left for more
They parted peaceful on the shore.
‘Great place you’ve got here’, said Nota, sinking weary to the sea. ‘Love it. Really love it. Let’s do this again sometime.’
Boreas puffed out his chest, and gently stroked a trembling tree top, ‘any time, my lovely. Your place or mine. Any time.’
My Tarot Website is HERE. Please note, I never use case studies except disguised for privacy and with permission.
In a recent reading with a client I drew the always nasty Ten of Swords. It was the very first card and correlated to career and advancement. I felt she was having stress connected with someone she worked with. This card also often flags up physical symptoms of back pain, neck problems or headaches.
My client and two others, had entered into a shared leasehold on a craft workshop during the summer, a sales outlet in a converted mill with many other units including arts, crafts, cafes and estate agents.
My clients share of the lease was £200 a month, and she had not as yet, sold any work at all via this outlet. One of the others, while not selling particularly spectacularly, was making sales with smaller, less expensive pieces, and now occupied more than 1/3 of the available work space, leaving the other two with less than a third each.
The joint leasehold had been my clients own idea. But when the date had come for them to move in, and to the dismay of the others, she had gone away for two weeks, and returned to find the other two had got on with it, and chosen their space, she had lost the initiative. What to do about this money leaking situation, and this other, to her, slightly intimidating woman? The client did not wish to withdraw from the lease, even if it was possible. Noblesse oblige.
Tarot didn’t feel the other woman was at fault, but she was focussed and determined. A vacuum had arisen at a crucial point, and she had filled it . Naturally, she too, wished for a return on investment.
The Ace of Swords Reversed alerted me and as it turned out, correctly that zero internet information or promotion was in place for my client’s business unit (!) while other units in this building were taking advantage of the advertising space under the umbrella of the Development, at a cost included in the leasehold.
Drawn the right way up, this card indicates valuable friendships, fun and family announcements; a wedding, a new baby. Drawn reversed, it can signify fleeting friendships, shallow alliances (now and then it’s a clubbing card, out on the tiles, and even excess, getting pissed as a newt and being r-a-t-h-e-r sorry next day 🙂
Then I remembered having drawn the Three of Cups Reversed in a previous reading for my client and that I had quite pointedly cautioned against ‘a business arrangement involving three women’.
I reminded her of this. Ohhh, nooo! Now she remembered the warning. And this is key; she had known, herself, all along. She had dreamed that she was riding a motorcycle. The other two were riding pillion, she could not steer and lost control of the bike.
A client had parted company from a boyfriend . This was indicated by the appearance of the King of Cups Reversed, and Page of Cups Reversed. The lady said it had happened two years previously, and there had been no particular boyfriends since. Two years was a long time for a lovely lady so young. Why was he still showing up in her cards?
I drew the Ten of Swords. Nasty card! and asked her if she was prone to headaches, neck pain or even migraines, and she said, yes, it was a problem sometimes, usually stress related, but she had started taking a targeted multi supplement, and was hopeful of improvements.
Had someone also let her down quite badly, I asked, because the Ten of Swords can indicate a sense of betrayal, as if, you know, a stinker of a headache isn’t enough to be going on with.
The ‘King of Cups Rev’ had done a bit of a cowardly dirty, but when and how might she meet someone new?
The client was in her early twenties, a young professional, and very pleasant as well as of being of a very pleasant appearance. But the cards were full of resistance. Only the Judgement card indicated she would meet someone worth meeting, within the next 20 months, perhaps sooner or later, but 20 months was a long time, and why was this? A few changes seemed to be in order, as suggested by the row of negative cards that were ‘blocking the way.’
There was a lack or loss of confidence, and a high degree of personal integrity by which, naturally, she measured others, combined with a lack of ‘bounce’ which could become a barrier to approach, or to change and opportunity.
The message I got was, here was an excellent girl, deserving of the best but perhaps she needed to ‘lighten up.’ The men most likely to approach her at present were ones she was not likely to fancy, while the ones she might fancy might steer away of a sensed earnestness. Go lightly. Safety first, but then a bit more easy come, easy go. But it is far easier to see this about someone, than for them to see it, and decide they can do something about it.
Tarot thought it might help, to paint a picture of the previous unworthy swain, such that she could let go with a sense of satisfaction, because the terms of parting had been dictated by him not her, and there was a lingering sense of injustice.
‘Anyway’, I told her, as prompted by appearance of the King of Cups Reversed, ‘you were well shot of him. He was boring!’
She looked startled, then began to smile. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘He was, a bit!’
I drew The Knight of Pentacles Reversed. The image is from the Gilded Tarot by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti.
Positive associations: steadfast, patient, reliable, salt of the earth, rooted, industrious, green-fingered, constructive in endeavour, stamina.
Negative Associations: conservative, lazy, lethargic, mean, dull, two speeds; go slow and stop, greedy.
Drawn reversed, in its negative aspects, I felt prompted to say, ‘and he had a thing about not eating his greens.’
She laughed outright, ‘Oh, NO! That’s true. He really didn’t like his greens.’
‘He will get fat while he is still young,’ suggested the Tarot, ‘and quite likely, lose his hair very early. Which wouldn’t matter, if it wasn’t for the rest of it, that he’s boring, introverted and selfish in a quiet way, and a bit sneaky and chicken. And is going to get fat. Completely unworthy of you, in fact, but it doesn’t matter. Time is on your side. It’s all learning.’
‘Oh, you’re GOOD!’ she said, smiling from ear to ear.
A Tarot reader aims to serve. What serves is sometimes whatever acts, in however limited a way, to cut a Gordion Knot.
Until next time 🙂 For more information about readings with me, visit my website HERE
I recommend inquirers to visit my website before booking. This is for their benefit, to make sure I’m the right kind of reader for them. Not every reader offers the same kind of service, and I would far rather lose a booking than disappoint a client’s expectation.
I once took an enquiry over the telephone from an unusually cagey enquirer. He had heard a colleague talking about a recent reading with me, and he wanted a reading, too. I later realized, putting two and two together, this new enquirer had been a police officer. I recommended that he also check out my website, and he did not book at that point, but called again some weeks later, and was startled that I remembered him, greeting him by the first name he had given (which was not, I sensed, his real name)
The client arrived and was polite but continued cagey to the point where it threatened to become counter-productive. I drew The Emperor card confirming what I had already suspected, and asked if he worked for the Government, was he is the civil service, Armed Forces or Police? He replied with some reluctance that he was in the Police, while a further card, the Seven of Swords, elicited that he worked in Fraud investigating.
I’ve read for a few police officers (purely off-duty) and had no problems. This was like pulling teeth, except I’ve never pulled a tooth. It was like pulling up a dandelion, or getting Il Matrimonio to tidy his clothes away.
The Emperor from The Gilded Tarot, by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti
I asked if he had visited the website, as I had suggested, to know how I conducted readings. He had not had time, he said, and I reminded him of what I had said on the phone, that I start readings cold, and expect to deliver ‘psychic’ insights but thereafter, a reading works as a dialogue, and this is how I am able to deliver a useful reading, drilling down on precise particulars.
‘You’re doing OK. Carry on,’ he said smiling, then stonewalled me, leaning back on his chair with his arms folded, letting me know he was alert to my ‘techniques.’
Please do not do this to your reader. Of course any reader with half a brain will tap into social cues when doing readings. Why ever is this considered the sign of a charlatan? A reader with poor observation skills is a social munchkin and unlikely to deliver a meaningful psychic reading either.
I sensed he was hoping for a bit of help, but would not value whatever was not delivered cold. I had already sensed disquiet attached to his marital situation, and said so, but he had so far declined to verify this.
Now I drew the Page of Swords Reversed and said, ‘I sense a legal issue. An unwelcome communication. A letter, an email. Have you received it or are you sending it?
He smiled. ‘Suppose you tell me?’
There was a pause while I drew more cards. I was not at ease. Stonewalling is socially hostile and I needed to make sure my own discomfort did not skew my impressions about the card.
The Page of Swords Reversed may indicate a minor stress as well as a legal document, potentially. (It can also mean a minor surgical procedure, a minor injury with acute pain, a spy or a young person born under an Air sign: Aquarius Gemini or Libra)
From the Universal Waite, by kind permission of US Games
I pulled The Hierophant reversed (marriage problem) and the Seven of Swords Reversed (a card of plain speaking or alternatively; surveillance and covert research)
I had a ‘ping’ moment, took a deep breath and said, ‘Yes or No? Have you, or have you not, recently visited a solicitor with a view to asking about a divorce, but without telling your wife?’
‘Yes,’ he said, and the Tarot proceeded to share its insights surrounding this event and its ramifications past, present and possible future.
That might seem a reasonably specific psychic hit for someone who does not advertise as a clairvoyant (though I am sometimes, and sometimes clairaudient) but he remained unresponsive, politely thanking me for my time when we finished.
It is your time and money, and the reader’s time and energy. Research their service.
During a reading the other day, with a delightful client; charming, brave and resourceful, we looked first at a number of questions focussed on her two businesses. Then the conversation moved to children’s activities and prospects, and in respect of her son, 18, I drew the Four of Cups and said, is this how he’s been sometimes, lately? Fed up, irritable and restless, wanting to do something new but not yet able to decide, or make a start?
The card prompting this question was the Four of Cups, a card commonly nicknamed ‘the bored boy,’ and whether you’re a boy or not, it’s an unpleasant state of mind, even while it’s not exactly a problem you can do nothing about.
So, what might be the path ahead for him? I drew The Eight of Pentacles, and as you can see, it shows an apprentice at work, happily engrossed, so much so, he is burning the midnight oil, watched by a mouse who’s probably hoping for a crumb of his supper.
‘I think he will do well in an apprenticeship, head and hand working together in unity, making or crafting something,’ I said.
He was wondering about something like that, the client said, maybe technical drawing.
Yes! Good choice.
‘What about the RAF?’ I said, ‘I feel it might be worth his while to see whether they’re recruiting.’
‘That’s amazing!’ she said. ‘How did you know? He has been talking about a technical apprenticeship in the RAF.’
OK then, his next port of call is sorted, and if he doesn’t end up there exactly, it will be something of that kind.
The 4 of a bored boy becomes the 8 of a busy boy, and to be busy, is very often to be happy.
Is the word or idea of the RAF anywhere written in the cards? No, of course not. This was just another instance of a word springing out, using a card as a diving board. Gob-shiting, I call it. Such are the various ways of reading the Tarot.
My brother and his wife were selling their house. The Moon card reflected, amongst other more specific things, their uncertainty about when it might sell and where they would go next.
It had been on the market the previous year and they had pulled it due to lack of buyer interest. It had gone back on the market in late May, and now it was mid June.
I whirled my cards about blind and drew the Three of Wands. Since Wands cards deal with travel, property, sales and movement in general, the immediate appearance of this commercial card was encouraging for better luck this time around.
‘There’ll be viewers soon,’ I said. ‘The future is not set in concrete but chances are good, you’ll have a suitable offer on it within three viewings, or within three weeks, three months max.’
‘We’ve had three viewings already, sis, he said.
‘Oh, OK,’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll be picking that up, I expect, but the cards often say several things at once. It’s still looking likely there’ll be developments sooner rather than later.’
Big deal, one might say. How very oracular and vague.
Well, er, quite. Oracles are not always easy to decipher, even for the oracular practitioner.
I now drew the Ace of Pentacles. This is the Tarot’s ultimate house, job and money card.
My brother and his wife have moved to a country lane near Stroud. This card proved a quite literal foreshadowing of their new home.
Illustrations from The Gilded Tarot, by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti. Buy on Amazon and other places or visit his website: http://www.ciromarchetti.com/
‘Positive developments round about the middle of July,’ I said, ‘It’s looking like the sale of house, or it’s job-related or both.’
Then I drew the King of Swords and the Queen of Pentacles. ‘I’m seeing your buyers here, I think. They’re a couple, just as you’d expect. She’s probably got dark hair and maybe eyes; very house proud, and he…well, he might be a legal advisor, or policeman; or it’s possible, a military man.’
The following week they had an offer on the house which they neither accepted nor declined, as it was well below the asking price and early days, the prospective buyer wanted to push for a very early completion. Then they received another offer a few days after that from another prospective buyer, a few days later. It was closer to the asking price, and less urgent for completion and they accepted.
Sales can fall through of course, and they had quite a rocky time of it but the sale went through and what made me smile was this news of the buyer: a family man, married with three children, and whether currently serving or not, my brother doesn’t know, but the buyer was not only a soldier but a Gurkha.
The rain beat down on the garage roof, washing August away, just as it had washed July away and most of June before that. The British Isles, like most of northern Europe, was losing its summer. It was coming soon, Joe thought, and fear gripped his belly.
He held Suzette, stroking her to calm himself while he considered the situation. Deciding when to put to sea was tricky. Too late would be…too late, but if he embarked too soon, he’d be eating into provisions unnecessarily. Noah had provisioned for a voyage lasting ten months, but then, he’d had the benefit of inside information.
‘We’ll be all right, Suzy, hinny,’ he told his pet, ‘I’ll make sure of that. But what am I going to do about the wife?’
Suzette cocked her head as if considering, her beady gaze held his, unblinking. Joe had tried to explain to Linda about the bird’s intelligence, but Linda detested Suzette, and said pigeons were thick, and they were vermin, and good for nothing but a pie. Joe knew better, and that that was just Linda’s jealousy talking. Suzette’s plumage was the colour of heather on the moors, or the hills at twilight, and with the little bird’s plump warmth in his hand, he always felt better, somehow.
He tidied away and she followed, pecking at wood shavings, picking them up and dropping them again until he was done and scooped her up, dropping a kiss on the top of the small head, hard as a nut, placing her in the cage he had built for her.
‘Sweet dreams, little hen. See you in the morning.’ The cage had everything he could think of; a nest box, a perch, toys, even a mirror. She had everything but the company of her own kind and the open sky, but Joe didn’t think she minded. He had reared her from a chick, hatching the egg in his beanie; she had never known anything else.
It was after five. Time to get the tea on before Linda came home from work. Joe went through into the house, there was a connecting door – straight into the hallway and no need to get wet.
Joe was an unemployed shipwright, nearly twenty years at Swan Hunter until the day came when they all got the chop and he had come home, stumbling with shock, his leaving cards in his hands, and walked in to find Linda, his wife, on the sofa on top of one of his friends. He’d never forget the look on her face as she ground her hips, looking down avid at the man on the sofa. Then she turned and saw him, and the look changed. Joe’s love for his wife died on the spot, snuffed out by the shock, though later when he calmed down, he understood why she’d done it.
They were childless. Joe was sad about it, but for Linda it was a sporadic madness, a devouring need she could not leave alone. I want more tests, she’d said. I want IVF. But Joe wouldn’t agree, and it wasn’t the money, though they had little enough of that to spare. No, it wasn’t that. But forcing gates just broke things in his experience, starting with the gate itself and now, he decided that Linda’s betrayal was not only a desperate attempt at a solution, but revenge.
Resisting his first terrible, desperate desire to punch her into the middle of next week – though he caught his friend later in an alley and gave him a kicking that left the other man retching on hands and knees, Joe mulled it over and decided he’d accept whatever blameless little cuckoo came as a result of this betrayal. He was even, secretly and not without a sense of shame, a little excited at the prospect and caught himself waiting, counting, watching for signs. But Linda’s plan, if that’s what it had been, came to nothing. Joe realised with the dullness of grief, there was not going to be any nestling. Not even a cuckoo. They talked about divorce but neither made the first move, and so they carried on, together but apart.
It was one night soon after this, that Joe had had The Dream. Had not God told Noah, hadn’t He solemnly promised, he would never do it again? But look what He was up to now! Flooding was never out of the news, rescue boats plying high streets the length and breadth of Britain and the price of everything going up. Lying as if paralysed in his solitary bed, staring sightless at the wall, Joe saw a land drowned by rain and river, sea and sky, and a wave that came as if from nowhere, the water cycle violently seeking new stasis as the ice caps melted.
He watched helpless, as a torrent came down the Tyne, bent bridges like hair grips and shoved them out to sea. People were swept away or crushed as they ran with their screeching children for the high places, and were overtaken. The Angel of the North looked on as buildings, bridges, roads were pulled apart like Lego, chewed and spat out. Afterwards came a hush, and the smell of rot, and the thriving of flies as the terrible silence and the empty days stretched on.
Everyone had nightmares and usually it was little more than a case of cheese at bedtime, Joe understood that perfectly well. But he also knew it could be something altogether different, something so much more. He’d foreseen his mother’s death in a dream and ignored it…it was only a dream, wasn’t it, and then, three days later they’d found her, dead on her bed, arm outstretched for the pills she’d been trying to reach, just as he’d seen in his dream.
There was indigestion, and there was prophecy, it wasn’t easy deciding which was which. Joe hadn’t forgiven himself for not going to his mother, he could not, and now, waking with a headache and needing to be sick, he decided this time, he would not turn away, to betray his vision. He would trust himself and carry out his own shipbuilding project. He did not tell anyone. Who would have believed him, and there was no-one he cared to confide in. But if a shipwright wasn’t up to the challenge, who was?
His decision made, Joe now had a plan, and was in oddly high spirits, negotiating the purchase of a little boat and two dinghies, spending every penny of his redundancy money. Linda spat fury. She even threw things, but Joe did not explain, didn’t make any attempt at trying to enlighten her, just stayed out of her way in the garage, customizing the boat, a seventeen-foot Arran, adding an outboard motor, a petrol tank and an automatic pump. He extended the tiny day cabin, and carpentered drop-down stabilizers, enabling the boat to function as a trimaran.
He applied himself, learning to use a compass and maps, he followed the shipping news. He took to hanging around the trawlers at Tynemouth until a skipper agreed to take him out as an unpaid pair of hands and he threw up all the way out and back again. Meteorology classes came next, and geography field trips with the Workers Education Institute.
Joe became a man of singular education, and though he had few certificates to show for it, he knew he was going to be put to the ultimate test, and he didn’t know when, but it would be soon. Meanwhile, he stopped seeing the few friends he’d kept in touch with after the thing with Linda, and kept his own counsel – the thing was too big, anyway, he wouldn’t have known how to set about telling people. He avoided Linda and he made the evening meal without fail every evening, his tribute for the uneasy peace between them, and was mixing a vinaigrette for a salad when the slam of the front door said Linda was home, and not in a good humour.
Linda Steel had one of those upside-down mouths that said she rarely smiled, and she was almost entirely sure she hated her husband with a passion. She would look at his lean, rangy body, and then his soft eyes, his soft mouth, almost flower-like in its softness, and think how deceptive were appearances. Joe was hard and cold, merciless and unyielding. He’d never touched her since that day. He barely ever even looked at her, never mind talked to her but he’d driven her to it, not listening to her about the baby. They ate in silence, rain oozing down the window panes, thick as dog slobber.
‘You do know it’s the Great Flood again, Linda?’ Joe said suddenly, over a forkful of tomato. She goggled at him, ‘You what?’
‘The Great Flood,’ he said, and took another mouthful. He had debated whether to say anything and had decided not to, but it seemed something within him had a different idea, some vestige of a love long dead, or just pity, ‘coming soon to a town near you. Want to ride it out with me, come with me on the boat? I’ll be taking it down to Tynemouth day after tomorrow.’
Linda spluttered and began to choke. Joe watched impassively. Her eyes were like gooseberries and he didn’t like gooseberries. Why did he used to think she was so pretty? It wasn’t until Linda’s face began to go purple that he scraped back his chair and slapped her back for her. Slap, slap, SLAP.
‘Water,’ she croaked, flapping her hand. He fetched it and sat down again. ‘You know,’ he went on as if nothing had happened, ‘we’ll need to be well out to sea when that wave comes in, not to get caught between it and the river. Then if we make it, if we can get clear, we’ll sail up to Hexham. Or mebbes the Cheviots. Whatever – Noah used the dove, Suzette’ll help us find the best place.’
‘I’d laugh,’ she said, still wheezing, ‘Except I’m not sure you’re joking? What have you been up to, Joe? Been at the wacky baccy, have we, out there in the garage? This isn’t Bangladesh or Japan. We don’t get tsunamis here.’
She drained the tumbler of water. ‘Aye, well,’ he said, clearing the plates. ‘We do actually. Ever heard of the Bristol tsunami, 1607? Ever heard there was a time once, you could walk from here to Denmark, till a tsunami drowned the land bridge? But never mind. Cassandra couldn’t tell them either.”
‘The wooden horse,’ Joe explained. ’She knew it was bad news, but you can’t tell people, can you? But I had to try. You’re still my wife, for what it’s worth.’
‘Oh, I see,’ she said, not seeing at all. ‘Well, thank you, kind sir, you bloody loony. I’m very grateful, I’m sure.’’
The Dream came to Joe again that night. Linda heard his whimpers through the wall, and thought, serves him right, turning over and pulling the duvet past her ears. Many a night she had cried herself to sleep.
Next day the boat was ready. One of the dinghies held provisions, while the other was for Linda, kitted with a week’s iron rations. Suzette perched on the rim preening, while Joe checked the inventories. Next evening he led Linda into the garage for instructions. She listened, arms folded, tapping her foot. ‘And how long may we expect this little jaunt to last?’ she said bitingly, ‘may one venture to ask when your lordship will be coming home?’
He sighed. ‘You don’t get it, do you, Linda?’
It was sausages and mash for tea, and Linda found sausages a lot easier to swallow than Joe’s prophecy, but watching the evening news, she was bound to agree things were getting alarming. ‘But it was as bad as this, almost, last year,’ she fretted, sitting alone with her coffee. ‘Nothing but rain and everyone ranting and raving about global warming. But August wasn’t too bad, and September, well, it was pretty good.’
Next morning they exchanged the barest of farewells. Linda spent the day at work dodging dripping ceilings and strategically positioned buckets, and came home to find he’d gone, the crackpot, just as he’d said, and so had the boat and that bloody useless bird. The silence boomed as she peeled off her sopping tights, and looked in the fridge. She couldn’t be bothered to cook. She made a cup of tea and cheese sandwiches instead, eating on the prowl, uneasy and unexpectedly lonely without her old enemy in range.
‘Well, pardon me for pointing this out’, she said to the empty room and the invisible Joe. ‘I’d hate to contradict you, Joe, but the world still appears to be here.’
But then in the small hours, something woke her. Strange noises in the street. She dashed to the window and looked out but the street was dark, the street lights were all out. A power cut again! She flung up the window and shrieked. Her car – everybody’s car – was heading down the street, borne on a rising tide. Other heads came poking out of windows, voices ascended, shrill with alarm. The street was a river. The river was growing. The rain was stabbing the earth to death.
Linda flew down the stairs and was met by water. She dragged the garage door open; a cold rill flowed round her thighs. Wading to the dinghy, her effort was impeded by the dark, and the ballooning of her pyjama bottoms. Linda sobbed, teeth chattering, as she flopped in bottom first, and fumbled to untie the mooring rope. Thank God she’d left the outer garage doors open as per Joe’s instructions. You’ll be trapped like a rat otherwise, he had warned her, and despite herself, despite everything, she had listened. Thank God.
‘Oh, Joe,’ she whimpered, and remembered all the ways she’d ever loved him, and he had loved her. And Joe had wanted her to make it, he had, sincerely, but she did not, all the same.
His vision was both correct and not. It was a point of technicality. Not the dam. The monstrous wave that came racing across the North Sea from Norway, the fatal collapse of a fjord wall, would have scuppered Linda’s frail chances for sure, but Joe’s pet had already secured the ultimate negative outcome. Rubber might not be tasty, but shredding it was a small amusement for a little bird in a moment of boredom, and now the idle activity of Suzette’s tiny beak slowly but surely laid waste Joe’s careful planning for his wife’s separate survival. Linda’s dead body went spinning down Church Street to St Peters, where her ankle got hooked in railings, and she was trapped there, a dancer graceful in eternal pilgrimage.
Joe came sailing in over her head some days later, coming in from the sea, following Suzette as they headed west under clear and sunny skies. The sea was blue again after the months of grey, and sparkling in the sun, but there were things in the water that did not bear looking at and Joe was careful not to look. What good would it do? The past was dead and gone. His new life started now.
First Published in ‘More Tonto Short Stories,’ by Tonto Press, 2007 . Performed at The Durham Book Fair, 2008 and & later, revised and published on-line with ‘Litro’ Magazine, 2014