Card Games

April 6, 2012

This may come as a bit of a surprise, considering my profound faith in astrology, and even the I Ching, but I’ve never given much thought to the Tarot. I guess I always associated cards with games, like BlackJack and Poker, where it’s luck, not fate dictating which card you turn over. I just wrote it off as one of those Ren Faire novelties, and took a neither here-nor-there position on it. 

A few weeks ago, a couple friends and I did that thing where you pull one card out of the tarot deck and read it. It was fun, so we decided to do a simple 3-card reading for each of us. We went in a circle and picked another. Then another. In a 3-card reading, the first card represents your past, the second card is your present, and the third card is applicable to your future. I was honestly surprised by how relevant our readings turned out. As one example, a friend who recently gave birth to her second child selected the ten of cups as her “present” card. This card indicates familial bliss and domestic harmony.

My reading went like this:

10 of Wands
5 of Cups
5 of Swords

(From the Golden Tarot, the deck we used for our reading: http://goldentarot.com )

 

 

 

Past, 10 of Wands: A downcast man struggles with a burden of ten wands. Nearby are three heavy sacks as though waiting to add to his burden. A high wall is behind him, but ahead is a beautiful city with a harbour surrounded by protective mountains.

Take care not to take on more than you can handle. Spreading yourself too thin could lead to an emotional and spiritual low. Hidden forces may be working against you. Take care that your trust is not misplaced

 

 

 

Present, 5 of Cups: A Pope sits on a chair despondently resting his chin on his hand. At his feet are five cups, two of which have fallen over. A priest tries to comfort the Pope, and a black angel floats mournfully in front of him. There is a column with a carving of God admonishing Eve as Adam sleeps after “eating the apple”.

To have tasted from many cups, and forgotten the sweet wine – recalling only a bitter aftertaste. Jaded cynicism and disillusionment. Regret, anger and bitterness. The ending of a relationship. Loss, sorrow and grief. Depression. This card warns of a tendency to focus on negative memories.

 

 

 

Future, 5 of Swords: A man stands holding three swords. Two more lie at his feet having been discarded by fleeing opponents. He looks saddened, as though it was a hollow victory. At his side stands a large white attack dog.

A failure or win against an unmatched opponent has left you demoralised. Trickery, manipulation and unfair tactics have been used against you, but you must accept the outcome and move on.

 

 

When you approach a tarot reading, you are supposed to have a clear inquiry. Because we were sort of just playing around at first, I didn’t come to the table with a definitive question; still these cards were speaking to the uncertainties deepest within my heart. My friends found their readings relevant and entertaining, then carried on with the evening. I, however, was captivated. I analyzed the cards and read their interpretations, and analyzed again.

By my interpretation, the cards said something like this:
You have carried a number of cumbersome emotional burdens through life, and it has been overwhelming at times, but the promise of something much better has always pushed you to persevere toward that golden city (pictured on card). Now, you feel jaded and unable to enjoy reward. Experience has left you focused on betrayals and consequence. You believe you, like Adam, were removed from the existential Garden of Eden by the actions of another. And, like the Pope in the image, it has become hard to appreciate the three full chalices, in light of the two which have spilt. If things continue as they are, you will likely experience a hollow emotional victory. You may have exposed those who hurt you as manipulative and wrong, but ultimately, it doesn’t change the past or make you feel any better.

Heavy, right?

There are people from my life who I am immediately able to associate this reading with. People who regularly occupy my thoughts. People I trusted wholeheartedly, who deceived me, then did it again. People for whom my heart struggles with magnanimity.

I suppose everyone has experienced this at one point or another, but there are people who I have removed from my life due to their repeated deceptions. And betrayals from others which I dwell incessantly upon, in spite of my best efforts for genuine forgiveness. These are people with whom I shared countless laughs, adventures, and experiences, yet the relationships have become colored by resentment. It becomes hard to keep a sense of cynicism at bay. My defenses are alerted, constantly second guessing whether I am being protective of myself, or simply sanctimonious.

As my mama bear says: Would you rather be right than happy?

If nothing else, this reading gave me a lot to think about. The predicted feeling of hollow victory really resonates.

Righteousness may feel empowering, but at what cost? What is the value of upholding consequence? When we feel an ethical contract has been breached, or as though we have been “disrespected,” when do we stand our ground, and at what point do we concede for the sake of amnesty?