I love the Fall Equinox (which was Saturday, 9/22/23). Nature's scorching heat of summer is beginning to give way to cooler, gentler Autumn temperatures - and with it we begin to shift our attention from the Lazy Days of Summer to the excitement of Back to School / Spooky Season / and all things Pumpkin Spice.
The State Fair is in full swing here in Oklahoma and with all the electric buzz of the fairway, I had the sweetest memory come rushing back to me:
My first experience with tarot cards was while attending a carnival at the Washita County Fairgrounds as an eight year old girl.
Tucked away in the back corner was a cocoon of layered scarves and rugs with an enigmatic sign offering "Tarot Readings". Outside of the hut, a beaded curtain created a portal which was guarded by a smiling, bearded man in overalls. I walked by once or twice, watching as an etheric, long-haired, scarved and bejeweled specter of a woman occasionally floated in and out of her cocoon, welcoming folks coming in and going out. With each exit, she'd offer a hug, a knowing look - and I sensed that I was witnessing some sort of magical energetic exchange. Her guests would emerge from the tent looking lighter, softened in some way...opened. She seemed to be changing these folks with each reading.
I wondered to myself what it was like within that candle lit cocoon. "Is she casting spells? Is that a crystal ball? Where did she come from? What would Mama say if I were to sneak in for a reading...let alone Nana...Nana wouldn't like that at all. They always told me tarot and fortune telling were 'of the Devil" and 'not to be messed with'...I wonder if the church knows a witch is in town?..."
But, another deeper part of myself asked, "If it were really that dangerous or BAD, why does everyone look so happy and healed when they come out?"
I had chosen a seat behind the crowd at the cake walk raffle. There, it was easy enough to have a direct line of view into the psychic's magic corner, while my sisters were distracted from seeing my subversive interest by a rowdy and rousing crowd doing the cake walk behind me. I sat quietly in this abandoned corner of the Fair Barn and observed for quite some time. Apparently, I, too, was being observed.
From behind his beard, the psyhic's burly doorkeeper bellowed over to me, "Well, little lady, have you made up your mind to get a reading?"
Startled, I looked him over with wide eyes.
"We've got about 2 spaces left, so if you want to get in to see the Missus, you're gonna have to do it in the next 20 minutes." Before I could even respond verbally, my body jumped up and I walked over to take the next place in line. "Now, do you know what to expect," he asked. "No, Sir," I replied.
"Just think about what it is that you need to know. Just start there."
The beaded curtain parted and I was invited within the space. Across her table, two or three headscarves served as a table cloth and a crystal grid had been put in place. The psychic held out her hands for mine, with a deep breath and eyes closed. When I presented my small hands to her, she enfolded them in a warm grasp. Another breath. Eyes still closed.
"Sweet Spirit, what would you have me know about this young girl..." she trailed off and opened her eyes. "What's your name, Sweetie?"
Her eyes closed again, "Hillary. Spirit, what would you have me know about Little Hillary."
She opened her eyes again and released her grasp, turning my palms up toward her gaze as the began a palm reading.
"Oh, you've got a very deep, very strong life line, here..." she traced an etching in my palm. Something that, before now, had gone unnoticed, but now offered some sort of meaning and mystery to me. "But, look, there's a faint fork here later in life...a decision you'll have to make. Notice how one of the lines trails off into nothingness and the other is deep + strong?..."
I was mesmerized.
I recall the palm reading progressing into a card reading in which she described many of the emotions and concerns I felt as a young girl in a troubled family. I felt "seen" at a soul level, and better still - was told that those feelings are not only normal, but healthy. "Listen to that inner voice, Sweet One. It's your closest friend."
I remember her encouraging me to continue climbing trees (something I was often disciplined for). She told me that it was important that I keep "taking my alone time" because she saw my need to center down and ground amidst my chaotic family environment. She told me that I, too, possess psychic abilities and need only to speak to my angels, my guides and ask to be more open and in tune to it.
I recall leaving the carnival that day and feeling something sacred and special had happened to me. That some sort of awakening or new beginning had just occurred. And, though I had no access to a deck, I had access to my spiritual team and now I knew connecting to them was as simple as a few deep breaths with eyes closed and heart opened.
If my experience is any indication of the average human's first experience with tarot, I can say that it was a path of fear, skepticism, curiosity, willingness to try and then, finally, a transformation. An opening. A recognition of and an opening to Spiritual Messages.
In an excerpt from his book "Cosmic Trigger I, Final Secret of the Illuminati" renowned occult philosopher and Gonzo Journalist, Robert Anton Wilson, describes a similar trajectory in his experimental forays into spiritualism. Describing his first encounter with the tarot, he wrote, "...the Shaman bought a deck of Tarot cards, announced that he was psychic and started giving divinations. This rapidly forced me to use portions of my brain normally not used, and I became aware of neurological functions growing in quite an astonishing manner. Of course, I was here running head-first into the brick wall of my own ingrained skepticism and it was two years before anything happened of a really dramatic nature. Meanwhile, I became alert to all sorts of signals previously invisible; my empathy with others was becoming intensified. I also learned a great deal about how easy it is to deceive those who want to believe; and this showed how easily I might be deceived if I wanted to believe."
There's that opening. The transformation he described post-reading, occurred for him much like it did for all those Washita County Fair patrons I'd witnessed all those years ago.
If one chooses to open themselves to a tarot reading, they are in some sense, initiating themselves into a new and mystical world - a shared language with Spirit.
Stroll through a local gift shop or scroll through social media, nowadays, and you're likely to encounter divination tools. Runes, tarot cards, pendulums and other scrying tools are not only growing in popularity, but they are also becoming more accessible in our day-to-day lives. Google Trends shows that over the last two decades, the search term "tarot" has nearly doubled from 50 to 96 points.
What exactly is divination and why is it becoming so popular?
To divine (or to practice divination), is to seek insight or access "hidden knowledge" through the means of ritual or occulted devices / practices. Often, this is considered to provide access to divinely guided knowledge or wisdom provided by one's higher self or helping spirits. Divination takes many forms, including, but not limited to the interpretation of planetary movements and natural omens, casting of lots, drawing of cards, reading of tea leaves and coffee grounds or the swinging of pendulums.