As someone who’s taken an abiding interest in the Tarot — American and otherwise — I decided I’d go and see a fortuneteller yesterday.
She was younger than I expected a fortuneteller might be, shockingly pretty, with a leonine mass of red curls and not much patience for my spineless academic equivocations. She passed me her Tarot deck — not a Rider-Waite, I saw — and, after I cut the cards and handed them back, set out a slightly altered Celtic Cross: three cards on the vertical axis, five cards on the horizontal axis, with an additional four-card vertical column on the right. Each card, in its position and relation to other cards, represents an aspect of the circumstances and fortunes — past, present, and future — of the querent.
Far left on the horizontal axis, one’s recent past: The Page of Cups, reversed. Writing and alcoholism. Ah, yes.
Second from the left on the horizontal axis, one’s situation: The Ivory Tower. As in the Rider-Waite deck, the Tower is broken, fractured by lightning, and falling. Upon close examination, one sees that the figures falling from the tower are the Stanleys: Aronowitz and Fish.
In the middle on the horizontal axis, one’s self: The Loon. Similar to The Fool, the fortuneteller explained, only The Loon likes to furiously beat its wings against its chest and make lots of self-righteously loud, abusive, and splenetic honking noises.
Second from the right on the horizontal axis, one’s challenges and opportunities. The card Judgement, reversed.
Far right on the horizontal axis, one’s near future: the Zed of Coins. I’ll not make make money anytime soon — but, o fortuneteller, I could have told you that.
Vertical axis, bottom card, one’s foundation. The Bun. This is rather different from the Rider-Waite Major Arcana card called “The Sun,” the fortuneteller explained. As best as I could understand her account, it means that I base my life on an over-enjoyment of bread and other yummy baked goods.
Vertical axis, top card, one’s higher power. The Spokesperson, reversed. The imagery in this card closely resembles that of the Major Arcana card titled “The Magician,” but places its figure behind a lectern and microphone, reading from a TelePrompter. Not sure what the reversal of the card means.
Right column, bottom card, one’s inhibitions: The Hermit. Self-explanatory.
Right column, second from the bottom, one’s allies: The Cats. Tink and Zeugma, of course.
Right column, second from the top, advice: the Nix of Swords. And here, the fortuneteller suggested, was the most concrete advice she could offer. Be pleasant, avoid conflict, and make sure you have something nice to say to everybody you meet. Advice well taken, for which I’m grateful.
Right column, top card, one’s future:
Ah, she said. That’ll cost you another twenty dollars.
I walked away, wallet empty. But I can’t shake my deep sense that the last card, the one she refused to draw, was the Pen of Tentacles.
I wonder whether another fortuneteller I know might offer any guidance.