So the tarot is really just this old game that likely appeared before the 1400’s, and all this divinitory mumbo-jumbo? Antoine Court de Géblin* made it up whole cloth. A salon goer with a keen sense of the mystic and the dramatic, he invented the tarot as we think of it today. Oh, the cards existed before. But they were as good as playing cards. In fact, they were playing cards.
The tarot can be a tool to tell you what you already now. If you use it in a “divinitory” sense, it forces you to think about the information you already have on hand, because the supposed “meanings” give you a new angle to look at things from. You could use a favorite book this way, rolling dice to determine a page, opening to it, and reading a sentence, figuring out how it applies to your situation. The tarot is a thinking tool.
I had to ask. I had to, because New York cried the night of my leaving, and those tears delayed my flight another day. More raining, more flooding. I had to ask because last time, I was struck ill the day of my leaving, and was sick for weeks in bed back in Florida, as if my own body was screaming at me to stay. I had to ask. Because I already knew, and some small voice, a voice of authority said, “You must be responsible, and stay in Port Charlotte, and be an adult, and stop your flights of fancy, and stop your silly writings. Find a grown-up job you hate. Stay there. And that’s all there is to life.” Another voice said, “But there are people you love in Port Charlotte, don’t abandon them! They need you.” And yet another voice said, “Steady, steady. The road forks. This is like to that. Remember when you moved to Tampa? This is like to that.”
So I pulled three cards for myself last night, with only two words in my mind. New York. The Sun, the Moon, and the five of pentacles (or coins). In the complex meanings that folk have invented for the tarot over the years, it called my attention to a number of things. Point the first (the Sun): I will be happier in New York. It is filled with opportunities I am poised to devour whole. It is a thinking place, and I will meditate on its delights. There is warmth of the mind and soul there, waiting for me.
Point the second (the Moon): I know I will be more creative in New York; there are more people there with whom to be creative. I step into the subway and poetry sings in my veins. The ideas pop and fizz and buzz and jiggle, restless little spirits, my only children, clamoring for voice. There is a dangerous aspect to where I’m going though, too. Were it a forest, I’d call it feral, but it is not– I’ll call it fae. Rackham faeries can hang; I’m scared of the fae folk as much as I yearn after them. Beware, beware, says the Moon, things are not what they seem. Trust. Trust the voice deep inside, the one they call intuition, the one I call friend, self, whole. The voice not in the head or the heart, but way down, deeper still, down in the gut. Listen to that one.
Point the third (the five of pentacles): I am due for a set back of the physical world. Mainly, I have to leave a good portion of my things behind. I have to divest myself of items. It is material, while the gains are immaterial. But you know what? Stuff is silly. I can sift through it, make things and sell them, decide to give things away because they are things– like grains of sand falling through my fingertips. This culture teaches things are important. Things define you. And there have been many voices claiming otherwise. We tend to believe with our ears and deny with our doings. We collect stuff. Bah to stuff. I will keep the things I use most. I will keep the tools of doing (drills and hammers and tape measures and carving tools and the like), I will keep some of the books of learning (I can’t read them all at once), and I will keep a few tools of ritual (ritual’s tools can always be replaced, no matter how friendly the feel of my multi-tool athame in my hand). But everything I have learned? The richness of my friends? I get to keep those. All of those. They are not things, but knowings, feelings, rememberings. I will move with all my true wealth.
I had to pull the cards to tell me what I already knew. To sit and think about the dilemma at hand with a clearer mind. It is no dilemma at all. I know I will do what I knew was right for me all along. I just had to find a way to see what I had already taken in. And I thank Court de Géblin for his flight of fancy… because tarot cards are a much more respectable tool of thinking than a magic 8 ball.
*2005. Harvey, David Allen Beyond Enlightenment: Occultism and Politics in Modern France. DeKalb: Northern Illinios University Press. Specifically Chapter 3, “Invented Traditions,” pages 62-90.