Due to popular demand, I cross post here a Tarot encounter, initially published on my Taro(t)flexions website.
It is not often that, in connection with my tarot readings for people, I refer to them by their names. But last night, after reading for a fellow academic who has been reading my writings on both my blogs, I was encouraged to make a full reference to the event. This is due to two reasons: first, the woman herself keeps a blog – and asked me for permission to post what I said to her – and second, she finds it refreshing that other academics are not afraid of repercussions if they disclose that they are into ‘weird’ stuff – well, by academic, and therefore venerably rational standards. She told me that in the UK academics never say a thing about their more interesting, fascinating, and soul-searching interests if they want a promotion. They stick to the rules of ‘obey and conform’ that inform all schools without exception. Where I am concerned, I don't give a damn. Where she is concerned, while she needs no more promotions as she is an established scholar and full professor at King’s College in London, she is now happy that she has finally outed herself as a Reiki healer. Indeed, more power to us, the ‘funny’ ones, who may just be able to recover the long lost tradition of being both a diviner and an academic torch-bearer, or what Plato used to call, the bachoi.
So, I was reading tarot for Susan Castillo. As Susan informed me, and as she writes about it on her own blog, on June 8 her husband suffered a massive subdural hemorrhage, and has been in a state of diminished consciousness ever since. Susan booked a reading with me because she wanted to know what the cards might indicate about his recovery.
I did what I always do: start with a short intro on my method, as there are many out there. I insisted that while I don’t do predictions, I do look at the trajectory for the future that the cards may indicate. This basically means that if a person doesn’t like what she sees in the cards, she can go home, as it were, and change it. So, one always retains agency – some people are worried about that. Then I proceeded to inform Susan that I have faith in the cards. I have faith in the images’ potential to activate in us what we don't see, or don't want to see. Susan was apprehensive about how the cards would fall and what they might mean, but I assured her that what I was going to see in the cards she was also going to see.
I pulled three cards for her:
TENPERANCE (Temperance), LA FORCE (Strength), and LE CHARIOR
The cards’ message was clear, and I said to Susan: “Your husband is trying hard (La Force) to maintain his balance (Temperance). It looks like he'll pull through, (Le Charior), though he may need a wheelchair.”
After this we discussed what else we can look for in the cards, for a more nuanced reading and understanding. How do the elements in the cards interact with each other? For instance, I pointed to how the two chalices in Temperance’s hands rhyme with the two horses that the charioteer is trying to control. The chalices become the horses. But the horses seem to be pulling apart. In spite of the forward movement, this may indicate that while the charioteer may have the will power and props to advance, he may not be so much in control. But movement ahead there is. I also suggested that La Force is literally trying to get some sounds out of the lion’s mouth. Make him talk. ‘He's trying to talk,’ I said, ‘look at that big mouth that some nurse is trying to open for him.’ Here, Susan wanted to corroborate the way in which the image verifies the very thing that is happening now. As Jonathan has lost the ability to communicate, much of the training at the hospital is dedicated to making him talk.
In this case here, then, it was quite clear that while I wasn’t making any predictions, the cards themselves did. If one looks at the way a situation is embodied in the cards, as framed by the context of a very precisely formulated question, if one looks at how movement is represented, and at how a rhyming pattern emerges, then one ends up with a very good answer to one's question. And it is left to ourselves to decide whether we take such a direct and unmediated message as comforting – as Susan did – or not. It is left to ourselves to imagine that a recovery can go like that. And it is also left to ourselves to see or not just what the other, on whose behalf the question is posed, is going through. The art of tarot is in its poetry. In its allowing for the randomness of visual material to become a concrete reality. In this context here, tarot proves its value once again, namely that it can heal not only the other(s) for whom the cards are read, but also the reader herself.
Thank you Susan for your trust. I want to know when – if yes – Jonathan will speak and be more mobile again. All good wishes to you both.
UPDATE: Sadly, on November 1, Jonathan succumbed to higher forces, and his will(chair) turned into another type of carrier. In hindsight, we can see how the water flowing abundantly in Temperance stops short at the lion’s neck, and interrupts the life-flow. But there is a reason why we don’t immediately make such connections, and that has to do with our need to keep up hope in times of distress. My heart goes to Susan, who bravely stood by her husband until the end. My deepest condolences.
Note on the deck: Tarot de Marseille, Edition Millenium, as reconstructed by Wilfried Houdoin.