Saturday, February 4, 2023

Putting all the Cards on the Table: My Journey into Tarot and Cartomancy

Card on the wet street
It all started at the age of sweet sixteen for me. Ironically enough, it occurred at my German high school where my French teacher of all people happened to read my Tarot cards as part of an afternoon show and show-your-talent spectacle on the school premises. Incidentally, the very first card I picked was the Death card though as you may know or guess the reading itself turned out to be not that gloomy after all because every ending, symbolic or not, signals and ushers in a new beginning.

At the time, the topic and question at hand in those days of youth were most likely linked to and associated with a girl, while the wished-for relationship did not materialize – it very rarely did - the fact that there and then I became acquainted with the beautiful and astounding world of Tarot was a spectacle and an unforgettable event in and of itself. This passion and boundless love of mine for cartomancy continues to this day and beyond. In fact, I could not and cannot imagine a life without cards – and no, rest assured, gambling has never been my thing, at least not yet.

My French teacher had struck a chord and lit a match, which sparked a torch with the burning light of wonder and curiosity, and he even told me to which bookstore to go to buy my very own guidebook and deck of cards. To this day, I proudly possess the same book, and this is the reason why my readings since then have involved some translating and juxtaposing from German into the preferred language of choice, be it Farsi, Spanish, or English.

Immediately, I put the Tarot cards to the test, and from the age of sixteen onwards, I have been doing off-and-on readings for myself and for a select group of others, family, and close friends. With each reading, my faith in it has grown exponentially although I must confess that I do not always follow its advice (though I know I should). The readings are all not as fatalistic as many assume them to be they rarely tell me point-blank what will happen but rather give me an overall picture of trends, circumstances, and potential outcomes.

The secret ingredient that glues it all together is my self and my own actions. If I take this particular course of action, the following path will unfold, and I would get from here to there. And if I do not, I will get somewhere else. It is like a wise friend or parent who gives you heartfelt advice, but it is up to you to heed it or not. In fact, in various cases, friends have chosen not to divulge the topic or wish in question and halfway through I already knew not only the question but also the best possible answer to their issue or dilemma.

All this increased my curiosity about its close cousins, such as the I Ching, Eastern philosophy, and mysticism. And then, some years later, as an undergraduate student in Canada, I saw a movie that impressed me. It was the Jules-Verne-inspired The Green Ray (Le rayon vert) by the wonderful master filmmaker Eric Rohmer whom I continue to hold very close to my heart ever since I saw my first film of his L’ami de mon amie, awkwardly translated as Boyfriends and Girlfriends. Although The Green Ray is not my favorite film of his, there was a certain scene that caught my eye and once again lit the torch of curiosity deep inside of me.

The main protagonist would occasionally find seemingly random playing cards on the street. And yet, these cards would always serve as soothsayers especially to her who knew the hidden meaning and the personal message that they transmitted to her. What others would see as a mere coincidence or happenstance, she knew to be a spiritual whisper and echo of truth; based on the specific meaning of the card, she would know what the near future would have in store for her and what her best action would be. All of this leads to a flash of blissful insight at the end of the film brightening not only the horizon but enlightening the recesses of her troubled soul.

My immediate thoughts after seeing the movie? Would it not be grand if I could also find cards on the street? I was aware of the connection and correlation between the regular playing cards and the cards of the Tarot and would be able to interpret them accordingly. And to my surprise and wonder, my wish was granted and ever since that day I have found literally hundreds of cards even across different cities, countries, and continents! And not only myself, but friends and family members have had the great fortune to do so as well and to call me up about specific meanings and interpretations.

Is it magic? Of course, it is! Is it crazy and insane? You bet! Out-of-your-mind crazy and bonkers to boot!

At times, I would be hesitant to mention this to people as they would either think that I was raving mad or that I was lying and either one of those choices did not sit too well with me. That may be part of the reason why I would pick up the cards whenever possible and take them home with me; as a result, I have now a stack of random cards that I tend to use as bookmarks. But if people find it hard to believe, I understand and sympathize but whether we see or believe it or not, there is indeed more to the world than is apparent to the eye.

Over more than thirty years, they have given me the heads up, the thumbs up, or the lowdown of what was to come in my future - near and far - and that has helped me to be better prepared for everything and anything coming my way. The best thing would be that it would occur sporadically and spontaneously. There would be a period of time when I would find different cards one following upon the other and sometimes even half a deck. Then, it would be quiet, and I would ask myself “I wonder when I will find another one.” And at other times, I would seek guidance and wish and hope to find something to tell me where I was at and what would be coming my way. I find finding cards to be more organic in nature as opposed to doing an intentional reading for myself. Sometimes I would have to be patient and wait for a while until I found another one.

Countless decisions have been made and supported by a lucky card found at crucial and sometimes life-changing moments in my life. For instance, when I first met my wife, I found a very fortunate and uplifting card on the streets of Mexico (the wonderful nine of coins!) giving me the proverbial green light or ray. I knew then that she would be the right choice, my life partner and hopefully partner for life.

It is not always clear and smooth sailing in life, relationships, and cartomancy. On the contrary, when they are warning me of coming misfortune and impending doom, I have accepted it with a heavy but grateful heart. At least it would not come to me as a complete surprise. And that way, I would be better prepared and equipped to deal with the given issue or misfortune.

The most baffling cards I found on the street were actual Tarot cards. A few years back, I found The World card. Now this is doubly awesome and astounding. First, the card came in French, a nod to three French-inspired instances in my life: one, my German French teacher; second, the wonderful aforementioned French filmmaker, and third, my main livelihood is teaching French, the field I have intensely and intensively studied for years at school and at university.

The final “coincidence”? If you don’t already know – you arrived on a random click, got here by accident, or were just curious about cards and cartomancy - then take a quick peek at the title of this blog. I found the cards years after this blog’s creation and my blog has been my heart and soul for all these years and has even become and turned into a podcast since the pandemic. This is my world, which I like to share with you and with your world. May it also light a torch deep within you at best, and at the very least, may it be a source of entertainment and some food or snack for thought.

And now that you have read this, keep your eyes peeled on the road. Just recently, my son has found his own first couple of cards (one of them is depicted here as a photo!). I find it a blessing. I cannot explain it, nor do I understand who would “lose” or put all these cards on the ground but they have been both meaningful and very helpful and always reassuring. Next time you find a card and believe me you will, then drop me line to tell me about it, and if you need guidance in terms of meaning and interpretation, do not hesitate to ask, and I would most gladly oblige.