Is it in the Cards?
When I began to work with Tarot, I was 16. I'd been turned onto the cards by a story in my school newspaper, the name of which is lost in my memory somewhere. Whatever it was, the name is no longer important.
A story ran, describing something done in the cafeteria during lunch hour: people predicting the future with sets of cards. To me it sounded like a game. In some ways, my perception of divination actually has not changed: it is still a card game with little or no meaning. The only time I ascribe any real meaning to divination is when I'm in ritual. To me, it isn't about predicting the future or understanding your unconscious. Hell, the more I hear about the unconscious, the more I think it doesn't exist. It seems to be a perfectly simple excuse to pretend that you really don't have any will of your own. But that's a different essay.
From the time I picked up the cards, though, I was fascinated by the game. I would ask questions and see what would happen. It wasn't a particularly Pagan exercise, but it was more like something Parker Bros. could have put out on a whim. I still find a Ouiji Board more credible than Tarot cards, but far less fascinating.
I had never bothered to self-identify with any cards, though. I figured that the cards were merely pretty pictures that maybe told a unique story if you set them up against other cards, and that was about the extent of it. I never dreamed that a person could be represented by the "Hanged Man" or "Justice".
One day, though, that all changed. I was talking with a girl, Curi, about Tarot for some reason. I was 18 by now, trying to sort things out. She looked at me, and then at Faith, and pronounced, "He's the Emperor."
"What?" I asked. "How am I the Emperor?" Suddenly, I saw the self-identification with the cards, and I was unhappy with this choice.
She shrugged. "He's a strong willed person, leading. That's you."
I still didn't like this. Immediately upon the realization that a person could self-identify with one of these pictures, I wanted the Magician. It's a cool card, and I was self-styling myself as one of these things.
Almost as if reading my thoughts, she said, "Well, you can't be the Hermit because you like attention, but your ego isn't big enough to be the Magician."
I almost protested that my ego was that size, but to my credit I decided not to. The conversation changed track, though, and turned into a "who's who" game, in which other people were assigned cards, sometimes seemingly willy-nilly. But I remembered that I was not the Magician.
Over the past few years, though, I've been told that I am other cards. I was called Temperance at a festival where I refused to drink. I was called the Hierophant after a ritual that went surprisingly well. I was called the Magician at long last, after a particularly egotistical display of magic.
There is a card, though, that I suspect fits me best, and always has. I came to this realization while shuffling through the cards last night, and if you don't know the card, you probably don't know me. The card carries a lot of misconception and occasional fear, which makes me wonder if people actually understand it.
I was, recently, called something similar to this card. It's made me wonder if this role is something that I desire, or if it's something that has happened? Perhaps more to the point, is this role something that I embrace, or something that I fear? I don't really know the answer to this. One day, I hope to figure it out.
Until then, I'll continue to play the game.
The game of choice, at the moment, is solitaire. I can't find anyone to play strip-tarot with me.
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