Joe’s Ark

Lancashire Writer & Tarot Practitioner, Katie-Ellen Hazeldine
Lancashire Writer, Business Intuitive & Tarot Practitioner, Katie-Ellen Hazeldine

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.

A full frontal view of the Angel of the North,...
Image via Wikipedia

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.”

‘Eh?’

‘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.

great flood

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

‘Miaow!’ Said The Tarot.

Tarot says ‘Miaow’ A Tarot reading for a cat??? Oh yes. I kid you not.

ktln at home june 2015 1

A few summers ago we had a broken down old patio replaced. Sam, who did the work for us, asked me to look in my tarot cards….on behalf of his cat, Bilbo.

Sam lived alone with his cat, and there were no problems so far as Sam was aware, but he wondered how his cat was doing.

What might Bilbo want to say to him, given an opportunity?

Mini Reading for Bilbo

(Performed In Absentia)

Card One: The 8 of Swords.  Entrapment, frustration, chagrin, damp. Swords is a suit referring to sharp things and clear things…like windows.

My feeling about this card prompted me to put it to Sam that Bilbo had a difficulty in getting outside whenever he wanted to. Sam confirmed this to be the case. He lived in a downstairs flat. Bilbo usually had to go in and out by means of the sash window. There were no cat flaps, so if Sam was not there, Bilbo’s options were to be inside or outside.

Card Two:  The Page of Coins Reversed. This is a card of Earth, and of small amounts of money, while Pages often refer to pets and also small items and objects.

Bilbo seemed to be saying to me he wanted a pot of earth. This prompted me to ask Sam, what were the toilet arrangements for Bilbo? Sam explained that he kept a litter tray in the flat. What was it lined with? Pellets or what? Shredded newspaper. And just outside the flat window, there was a shrub in a pot, which Bilbo liked to sit in and scratch at.  There was no garden in front of the flat, only an area of hard standing. I therefore suggested Bilbo might like  some  nice deep ‘diggable’ cat litter for his tray, and maybe a ‘play tray’ full of soil outside. Oe more shrubs in pots.

Card Three: The Page of Cups…a card of kindness, and love, and childhood, also love letters or visits.

Bilbo did not think in terms of love, not having the words. Nonetheless, like a baby that cannot yet speak, he loved Sam, and a very little affection in return made him very happy. Just as one would expect, Bilbo lived in the moment. This card also suggested that he was physically in good condition (Cups is a healing suit), and that he was, in general, happy and content.  Cups being the water suit, he probably liked fishy tastes (not all cats do, birding is more natural to cats than fishing.) This was confirmed.

I asked, what about these love letters or visits I was sensing?

What about them? Sam wanted to know. I thereupon drew:-

Card Four: The Queen of Cups Reversed. Indicative of a lady with certain qualities of self-indulgence, or to feelings of unhappiness, a lady who did not reciprocate affection?

The reading was for Bilbo and purely complimentary, done over coffee. Therefore in answer to Sam’s question, I confined myself to asking whether a blonde lady visited his flat sometimes? The answer was yes. I then asked, had he noticed that Bilbo made himself scarce when this lady was in the flat? Yes, he had noticed.  Bilbo, for whatever reason,  did not view this lady with favour. Did this surprise Sam? He thought a moment then said, no.

I heard from him a few weeks later, that Bilbo had a new kind of cat litter now. The lady was unlikely to be around again. What Bilbo had been picking up or reflecting had been Sam’s own feelings about the situation with the lady. This figured, absolutely. It made perfect sense, as pets are sensitive to atmosphere and ‘their’ human’s mood.

Ethically dubious, do you think, reading for the puss cat without his express permission?

Purr-lease.

The Tarot is self regulating. If Bilbo had not wished to be observed or shall we say, eavesdropped on, and the Tarot had therefore not wished to read for him, any feedback obtained would have been nonsensical to Sam.

I’ve learned that the Tarot does not disdain to speak of whatever concerns the person approaching it.  The Tarot’s an oracle of the human heart and warmed by human hands.

The image below is of a watercolour drawing I did many years ago, a portrait commission of a cat called Tuppenny.

Until next time:)

A Robin’s Tarot Tale

A real reading done for a robin, befitting the season.

 

 
Image: Public Domain

There are many depictions of animals and birds in the Tarot.  They form a great part of the human landscape physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and symbolically. If there’s a heaven, what would it be without them? I wouldn’t mind, personally if mosquitoes, maggots, deadly snakes and komodo dragons didn’t make it. Spiders would be all right as long as they were non-venomous and less than two inches in diameter. However, it’s not me in charge.

The  songbird traditionally most associated with Christmas, or to give the winter festival its older name,   Yuletide – is the robin redbreast. The cheeky, dumpy little European robin, Erithacus rubecula is a member of the flycatcher family.

Its preferred habitats are woodlands, hedgerows, parks and garden. Its staple diet is worms, seeds, fruits and insects. It will fight over sunflower seeds and it adores mealworms. You can buy these in dried form in lots of outlets including many supermarkets. They look revolting though people used to baiting fish hooks won’t mind them. Robins have been to take mealworms by hand, so irresistibly delicious are they to robin-kind.

Male and female European robins are identical to look at, adults of both sexes having the red breast, while young robins have no red breast, and are a speckled golden brown colour. The lack of red breast in the young defends them from territorial attack by adults. The robin lives a little over one year on average. If it lives beyond 1.1 years it may achieve twelve years and has been known to reach the age of twenty, but long life is rare.

The robin’s endearing appearance belies its feistiness. It’ll fight to the death for its territory, and one in ten die in combat. They have been seen to chase off pigeons much bigger than they are. The one in my garden right now however, is rather timid and will scurry into the rosemary when a pigeon appears. Well, I suppose they are individuals just as we are.

Robin redbreast builds a cup-shaped nest in a hole or hidden in ground cover, and will sing all year round. Click here to hear its song and for other general information from the RSPB:-

The robin received the human pet name of ‘Robin’ in the fifteenth century. It has a special place in the library of legends embedded in the Tarot, and a robin may be observed in some decks, including the King of Pentacles card in the Sacred Circle Tarot Deck.

It belongs there by virtue of the symbolism and superstitions attached to it.

Some older people consider the robin a bird of ill omen, a harbinger of death. It is considered unlucky for a robin to fly into a house as Death is expected to follow. For this reason, a Christmas card with a picture of a robin on it is not always welcome with people aware of this tradition. But compassion and care for the dead is also attributed to the robin. One legend says that it tried to help Christ by pulling off a thorn from the crown Jesus had been made to wear, injuring itself in the process – hence its red breast. Another old tale says that it was a robin who found the bodies of the lost ‘Babes in the Wood‘, and who buried them with a golden coverlet of fallen leaves.

If your robin seems shy, it may be a visitor from Europe. British robins haunt gardens more than their European relatives, are more used to human contact and are bold in comparison with European winter visitors which tend to favour woodlands in their native lands.

All right, you robin.

English: Robin Redbreast
English: Robin Redbreast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m on my way out with  sugared bread (for energy it’s better to give them cake or sugared bread than plain bread) Here are some more of those revolting mealworms, and let’s hang up another half coconut of fat and nuts. But note this, my fine robin friend; this is not just for you, but is for sharing with the blue-tits and coal-tits, the blackbirds,  sparrows and the finches.

The North Wind Doth blow

And we shall have snow

And what will the robin do then, poor thing?

He’ll hide in a barn

To keep himself warm

And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

Let’s see what the robin currently peering out from the safety of the big rosemary bush, will communicate via the Tarot.

Are you a cock or hen robin?

Answer card: The High Priestess. Just to make sure, I pull another card and get the Moon Reversed. Meanings: I am a hen bird. I am solitary right now, I want no mate. This is not the time.

What are you thinking right now?

Answer card: The Empress. Meaning? What have we here? Food! I have discovered a new harvest!  Being provided for, I must eat my fill while I can.

I pull another card, just as the robin flies off again…and, strangely enough, the card is The Chariot.  The robin has flitted just a short distance to sit on top of the seed feeder hung in the bare branches of the laburnum tree.

Why have you gone to sit there?

Answer card: The Seven of Wands Reversed.  Meaning: I am new to this garden and I must be careful. This is a good vantage point from which to spy out enemies and not be taken unawares.

What’s your favourite time of year?  

Answer card: The Empress Reversed.  Meaning: A time when there are plenty of fruits and seeds, but there are still sheltering leaves on the trees. A time when there are still long hours of light to feed by, and sometimes there’s still warmth…the night is not so bitter, the air does not bite so hard. My legs creak like sticks at first light when I must move for food or die. How I wish it could always be the time of the Empress.

OK, verification may not be an option as with readings done for domestic species.  Still, I have done animal readings before, and know intuitive communication can work inter-species. Maybe it would not work with all species, but the tarot affords a means of extending perception beyond the boundaries of self, and living things share common drives and goals. Sentient and sensate beings, whether bare or feathered, scaled or furry, are inextricably subject to vagaries of environment, the common denominator in shared consciousness.

During the severe winter of 1962/63, the UK robin population was worse than decimated, reduced to an estimated 50-60 breeding pairs. Spare a little if you can, for your fellow creatures outside this winter.

Until next time 🙂

Divinity In A Dish? The Tarot Feeds the Cat.

Cover of
Cover of The Gilded Tarot

Updated: A light hearted look at an ‘Option selecting’ reading, and at deploying the tarot as an alternative tool for animal communication.  All, hopefully, will become clear…

Our cat Willow was thirteen at the time of this reading. A small black and white moggie, she’s  an introverted, timid and fussy cat. When she’s hungry she trots into the kitchen and meows. Obtaining service, she’ll jump up to sit by the window, a model of composure, looking studiously in another direction, affecting not to notice while you open her food and put it on a saucer.

The food served, Willow’s dignity demands she must not notice it immediately. The trouble is, she often loses interest altogether, jumps down again and stalks off, leaving it to congeal malodorously, so she refuses it later.

She came in meowing and my daughter said. ‘If I feed her, she’ll only turn her nose up, whatever I serve up.’

I knew from previous readings for cats, and other species that the Tarot will sometimes assist, verifiably so, with animal communication. ‘Let’s see if the Tarot knows what she wants,’ I said and drew a card for each of the available options on the menu.

Card 1 represented Turkey 

Card 2 represented Duck

Card 3 represented Lamb 

Card 4 represented Beef

While shuffling I asked the Tarot (ie the portion of the mind that is ‘Tarot’) to ensure the cat’s preference would appear right way up (Dignified) and any she wouldn’t eat would appear upside down (reversed, Ill-Dignified)

I laid out the cards, a row of four and Willow’s selection as translated by the Tarot leapt straight at me, by means of the only upright card amongst the four which was the Queen of Pentacles. The Queen represented the Duck (with courgette) option. Oddly, the colour scheme of the duck pouch matched the green of this Queen’s dress. The Tarot couldn’t quite manage to rustle up a duck, but it did well to produce a peacock.

Image: The Gilded Tarot: By kind permission of Ciro Marchetti, Llewellyn. Buy From Llewellyn or Amazon.
I almost feel I should apologise to this eminently dignified Earth Queen. It hardly seems to do her justice, to summon he rin this fashion,  and yet..if this was too menial a question to put to the Tarot, it begs the question, how low should the bar be set, out of respect for the dignity of the Oracle the Tarot represents? Tarot will talk about the highest things we reach for, also the simplest things. The greatest loves are bound up in simple things, and who is to say what is worthy of another’s attention? Who is to say, what’s simple, just because it appears simple?

 

The thirteenth century visionary Julian of Norwich  said, ‘God does not disdain to serve the body.’ Divinity is in anything, even I suppose in sh… ahem.  Pentacles represents all things physical, including crops and animal husbandry and cat food therefore resides absolutely under the jurisdiction of this suit. The Queen of the suit is a Demeter and derives her own happiness in taking care of living things. As a Taurus woman, well over 40, I am represented archetypically in the Tarot as a Queen of Pentacles. Willow is a  queen cat and a Virgo subject, so she too, is a Queen of Pentacles in her own right.

No sooner was the duck on the saucer than she gingerly sniffed it, and dived in, leaving two tiny crumbs and not a lick of gravy.

There are implications beyond this, for the using of  the Tarot as a sensing device for animal communication, or for people, in sensing whatever might be meant by ‘right choices’. I use this approach quite often in business readings, in order to help identify a target or best strategy.

Dozy old cat. Companion animals roaming our homes.   They help us stay close to our roots. We need their lessons and reminders. The Tarot promotes our innate telepathy.

The High Priestess Reversed was a little fish villain….

The High Priestess Reversed was a little fish villain…..

The Death Card: The Angel & The Hamster

Death Card To The Rescue…a true tarot hamster tale.

angel of death 

The Angel of Death, by Evelyn de Morgan.

 

The Death card has in recent years been distanced from death as a physical event by the Tarot profession. The motivation has largely been so as not to frighten or disempower anyone. The Death card has been repackaged with an emphasis upon its power and value as Transition or Transformation.

There is much to be said in favour of this change of emphasis. Life is full of change and flux. Circumstances change, die, evolve. Winter comes. Sometimes a situation is over-ripe for change, and the appearance of the Death card will identify this as a good time to let go and move on, which is helpful to know if decisions are called for. I often draw it in a guise that the querent finds entirely welcome.

But Death is inescapable. It walks amongst us in Life, and is the agent of much of our greatest grief and fear. It is not our enemy, except as the thief of desires unfulfilled. Nature wants Death. It has engineered it for Life In The Grand Scheme.

But it’s the ultimate gateway to the unknown, perhaps to the extinguishing of our uniqueness, our personality? I think our consciousness survives the moment of bodily death at least for a few days. Where it goes afterwards is not for anyone to know for sure.

In my own experience, the Death card is actually not the sole predictor of human physical death in the Tarot. I tend to see instead multiple and repeated combinations including the Fool Reversed, Tower, Judgement dignified or reversed, 4 Swords, 6 Swords, Ace Swords Reversed, Strength, Star Reversed and the Sun reversed.

But I have seen the Death card in readings where the card has done exactly what it says on the tin, detecting a recent death, or presaging one. Tackling or avoiding these discussions when the cards raise them requires careful judgement.  Readers must do no harm, and can get it wrong. Humility is the corollary of respect.

But the Death card can be a friendly angel. One afternoon two summers ago I drew this card, and it appeared to be referring to somebody in a state of childhood (The 6 of Cups)

I immediately got up to go and check on the hamster. I associate the suit of Cups not only with childhood, children, nostagia, happy times, but with animals, who live so pignantly in the moment, asking little.

The  hamster had recently had a fall. She did not fall far, she tumbled down the back of the sofa on to a cushion. Her landing was soft and Il Matrimonio laughed because it looked comical but something about the way she picked herself up worried me.

Bam-Bam the Bold, Beautiful and occasionally Bad (a toe nipper in her youth) had been ill two days after this fall, and we had thought she was on her way out.  Tears in our eyes, hankies at the ready, spritzing the air with Rescue Remedy  we took turns to hold her for more than three hours.

Then ANTICLIMAX. All at once the small personage decided she was better, and scrambled off. She was bright as a button next day, trying to climb the wine rack (that’s my girl) and chomping my Gombrich’s History of Art on the lowest book shelf (in hardback)

We were delighted of course, but puzzled. She was my tenth hamster and I’d never seen such a recovery from prostration. The little things don’t  ‘do’ illness.

So now, drawing the Death card ten days after this event, an awful thought struck me. I headed upstairs as fast as I could go to the Hamster Palace and found her in great distress, stumbling about. She tried to evade my hand and knowing she was sexist, as animals often are, I knew she would prefer my husband’s smell, I mean, scent, and went to fetch his pyjama top to use for getting hold of her.

I held her cuddled upright in this for two hours while she rested, unmoving. Later that evening she was sufficiently recovered to eat a small square of  brown toast with acacia honey (good for rodents with diarrhea) I offered her cooled chamomile tea, which she first refused at first but later took a real shine to. I had read this would calm her and possibly offer pain relief.

Speaking with the vet on the telephone. I wondered if Bam-Bam might have had a hernia of her diaphragm. If she did, then when it popped out that would explain her struggling to breathe. When it popped back into its rightful position,  it would explain why she recovered and why holding her almost vertically against my body produced recovery, gravity doing its work. The vet thought a hernia highly likely after the fall. But he had nothing to offer that would not involve distress for an animal so small.  And at 18 months, she was at a classic age for hamster health problems.

The third attack will be her last, I told my husband. (The 3 of Swords)

She left us two weeks later. The Angel of Death took her away in a kindly fashion with nothing of Swords in the manner of it.  I was deeply grateful to the Tarot for the forewarning that sent me to her when she was in distress. Even animals who are solitary by nature, will learn to look for company and when she went, she was not alone.

Bam-Bam The Bold is buried under the pink rose in the back garden with her predecessor, the curtain climbing, mighty-for-her-size but ever sweet-tempered Coco the Courageous. There are Dog roses. I say, let there be Ham Roses or any kind of animal roses we want. Only animals? Well, so are we. It’s all Life, and what would a heaven be without them, anyway?

I’ll still swat a mosquito though, as soon as look at it, and think komodo dragons are entirely disgusting, from which I deduce I am not ready for Enlightenment.

Until next time 🙂


A Tarot Reading for Mustard The Pony

Mustard was a 13 year old gelding, and he competed in dressage. This much I had already been told before looking at his cards. My brief was to enquire about his general happiness and well-being, and to see whether the Tarot could pick up on any of his preferences or wishes. Here are a few of the cards we got, and an indication of the feedback I received from Mustard’s owner.
How was Mustard feeling about life at that moment? I drew the 4 of Pentacles. This card of material stability indicated that he generally felt safe and secure, and enjoyed his current routine. He didn’t seem too keen on sharing. He liked to hang on to any good thing he was given. He was by temperament, steadfast, slightly conservative, not given to impulsive behaviour. He liked a little bit of variety in his routine ‘but not too much’. His owner laughed at this description, saying she recognised it. He could be stubborn.
The 7 of Cups suggested to me that Mustard was sensitive and responsive with a good imagination. His owner confirmed this, saying he was the most easily trained pony she had worked with, very quick on the uptake.
I asked to know more about something he liked, and the 3 of Cups suggested Mustard had two special friendships. These must have been a horse and a pony he shared his field with during day time, his owner explained.
I asked about what might be coming up in the near future for Mustard. I drew the 6 of Swords, a card of possible relocation which made me ask if Mustard was aware of any plans for him to move. The answer was maybe; he was going to be moved very soon to a new, bigger stable with 30 horses and ponies.
The 5 of Cups , a grieving card, indicated Mustard would not like separation from his two old friends. His owner said he would still see his friends. Their owner and she rode the horses out together and would continue to do so.I suggested she try telling Mustard this, sending him a visual message of him going along the lanes with his old friends. He might not be able to understand the words but he might receive the ‘TV’ picture and the emotion she attached to that. Who are we to say he could not?
I drew a general advice card for Mustard. This was The Moon card and I sensed he felt afraid if stabled alone at night.
Rider-Waite Moon card, dreams, hunting, fear, psychism. U’S Games.

There were dogs barking somewhere near outside, he seemed to be saying; he didn’t like that. And strange shadows scared him. I suggested his owner leave an old coat with Mustard when he is alone, so her scent can reassure him in her absence. She confirmed that there were dogs on a neighbouring farm. There were two or three Jack Russells and they barked a lot. It hadn’t occurred to her they might worry Mustard with night barking as she wasn’t usually there at that time, but she was moving him to the bigger stable because she was aware he didn’t like being alone at night.

I drew a card to signify something Mustard else might worry about.
The 5 of Wands suggested Mustard was anxious in competitions. He didn’t like loud noise and if ever asked to, would be nervous of jumping a 5 barred gate. I suggested his owner try rubbing a little Rescue Remedy on his nose (not on the sensitive bits) the next time they competed, the following weekend. The owner did try it, and reported her surprise at noticing a difference in his body language from usual: she said he was much more ‘laid back.’
I drew another card, asking to know about something Mustard would enjoy but hasn’t got? I drew the Page of Pentacles, and The Moon card. These somehow suggested…and this was purely an intuitive impression – mangold or swedes. I was told he has never eaten one, to the best of the owner’s knowledge. Well, I hope he gets to try one soon so we will know. Meanwhile, on this point the Tarot remains unproven.
I was told Mustard was receiving citronella products to minimise insect bites. Tarot is not a vet and does not claim to be but The Empress Card suggested if there was any question of supplementing his diet in any way omega 3/6 oils – vegetable based, as with hemp or flax seed instead of fish oils might benefit him. Something to do with his grains or feed might not be suiting him…the card shows a field of what looks like wheat or corn.
Months later, I heard that the owner had changed Mustard’s hay intake, and this apparently sorted the problem.
Other species read for so far: dogs, cats, hamsters, fish and birds. I’d probably struggle with anything too different from ourselves. I seriously doubt I could read for a worm or a jellyfish, and verification might be an issue, but I’d be open to trying. Such is the fun of Tarot.