Ah, the Tarot cards. That mystical channel to lifting the veil, tapping into hidden answers, future possibilities, maybe meeting your own doom or higher self.
Sometimes I forget about the cards, along with one of my favorite alternative personalities, a certain wacky psychic known as Madam Bacardi. I am, however, freshly inspired for I have a surprising new deck of Tarot Cards! I was presented a gift certificate for our own Topanga Homegrown and while browsing through the many charming treasures therein, my eyes lit upon an intriguing dark box, upon which was pictured a noble magical black bird, draped in a diaphanous vail. Across the top was printed, Crow Tarot. My heart leapt.
As of late I have become quite infatuated with my corvid friends, much to the consternation of the Beleaguered Husband who questions his wifeâ€™s sanity as she stands outside cawing aloud to a trio of ravens who come to visit daily. The cards were designed by a talented award winning, Seattle artist, Margaux Jones Cuillinane, who is likewise fascinated by the mythical winged species. Each of the 78 cards she has created are magnificent, combining whimsy, nature, secrets, loss, humor, struggle, death, rebirth, wisdom, joy, and of course, foolishness. Now, I may not be an expert on reading the cards, but I know enough about humans to appreciate, as did Shakespeare, that we are all fools. And thatâ€™s a good place to start.
The Fool card asks that you have faith in the universe and live fearlessly. You will come through the storm! If you allow hope to replace fear, imagine the adventures you have waiting.
Unfortunately, it takes true, pure innocence to remain a fool. After living in this wicked world, it gets harder not to notice the open-mouthed crocodiles gathered under the rolling log heading rapidly down river, on which you are precariously balanced while singing, â€śRow, Row Row, Your Boatâ€ť or perhaps, â€śJimmy Crack Corn And I Donâ€™t Care.â€ť At least the crow has wings to fly away but my fellow fools and I are in store for a wet and rude awakening.
Tarot cards in one form or another have been around for centuries, appearing in Italy in the fourteen hundreds, and emerging in France in the seventeen hundreds where a first deck was published. Alesister Crowley, of the Order of The Golden Dawn, claimed the origin of Tarot came from Ancient Egypt which even predates Madam Bacardi. Now and then, over the years I have thrown a few cards, having discovered them in the sixties when the classic Waite Rider Deck, along with incense, became popular. Whereas Bacardi and I are in no way schooled professionals, we do respect the cards and process some intuition and a certain flare. In fact, I recall being quite insightful when working the Fortune Telling booth at the Topanga Elementary School Carnival, (yes, Madam Bacardi rocked a turban). I advised one second-grade boy to pursue a career as a baker and he responded, â€śBut how did you know? Thatâ€™s exactly what I want to be.â€ť
When a rather small boy drew the Five of Wands, a card depicting a group of rowdy youths brandishing long sticks at each other, it came to me to suggest that when he is a bit older he join a debating team. A group of fifth-grade girls came in and stayed for an hour, sitting on pillows, just talking to me about their futures, sharing their hopes and dreams. If the cards can open such communication between those young, shining spirits and this old soul, bless them indeed.
Inspired by my new deck I drew my own cards, choosing the simple three-card spread, past, present, future. It was an amazing and accurate spread. The Six of Cups represented being anchored in my joyous and supported past; the Three of Pentacles acknowledged my present state of teamwork; and lastly, a card ushering in a future that will include contact with and guidance from the High Priestess herself.
Now, not all cards tell you something you like. The other day I randomly drew a card on a whim and pulled the worst card in the deck and Iâ€™m not talking about Temperance or The Hanged Man, or The Devil. I can just hear, the wise and knowing Madam Bacardi advising, â€śAh, my dear, one should never be random when dealing with the cards.â€ť
How right she is for I held in my shaking hand, The Tower, a card of complete destruction, loss, upheaval, and devastation. Its meaning is so bleak that each day that passes without my being surrounded and pulled down by total destruction and calamity feels like a gift. I can handle the dentist, the hundred-degree heat, the vacuum cleaner bags we ordered that donâ€™t fit, the gophers that destroyed our yard, the money that was supposed to be in my account, even the disappointment of the mirror. What care I? The house still stands, we have our health, family and friends, the cat sleeps near the door and outside the crows fly.
Calling in an expert, I channel Madam Bacardi to pull a card for Topanga. One card for all of us. A little guidance from the High Priestess. The Seven of Wands appears. It depicts a warrior or ruler on top of a mountain. The card warns that although weâ€™ve made it to this elevated place, we must not be complacent. The Seven of Wands asks that we remain self-confident, stand up for our beliefs and have courage when facing challenge, then states,
It wonâ€™t always be easy at the top, but youâ€™ve earned the right to be there.
And so, each one of us here, varied and diverged, mixed and mottled, jerks and angels, aged, newborn, and everything in between is somehow deemed worthy of standing on this sacred, hardscrabble ground, of feeling Topangaâ€™s breeze, walking its trails, of blessing its roadkill, wishing on its stars, and sharing this place, at this time, with each other.
Well done, all of you.
Donâ€™t fall off the mountain!