Speaking the Cards

abalone and tarot

Light from the candle licked the gray planes of her face as she stared up at me. From behind my chair, out of the crouching intent group , a boy whispered, “Not the Tower.” My breath quickened. Carefully, I laid the card down. The bodies falling from the tall building made despair a reality. Lightning striking the roof in the picture glowed bright against the shadows in the card–almost flickering with the flame melting the red wax column between us.
I tapped the picture, “And, this represents the final outcome, the culmination of what will be if you don’t make changes in your life.”

Looking up through oily bangs, she exhaled a thin trail of smoke and stubbed out her cigarette into the abalone shell ashtray. “This works, right? I mean, Jack said you can really tell me stuff? True stuff?”

With words I searched for my own truth and I answered, ” The cards aren’t magic. They just help me focus my intuition and inner knowledge. We all have perceptions we don’t access well– society has taught us to ignore our inner voices. But I’ve studied this deck and as you and I manipulate the cards, I subconsciously sort them into ways that my conscious mind makes sense of. The cards allow me to access my intuition and the truth of our reality.”

She rubbed her bare shoulders and one of the guys, Jack, handed her his coat. “Okay, I trust you.” She pulled the warmth over the long naked length of her arms and over the washed out gray of her tube top.

I don’t remember what I said but I know my words rang within her. I know she believed them totally. Her body leaned towards me. Her eyes followed each gesture I made and her body began echoing mine–bending when I bent, nodding when I lowered my head.

The power of everyone in the room crouching round, stilling their breaths to hear my words was intoxicating but, after I’d finished, the thrumming that always accompanied a good reading receded and I felt scared. “Did I have the right to filter her life through my perceptions?”

After that night, I read the cards less and less. Over a decade passed where I brought the intricately patterned rectangles out as little as once a year.

Then, under the bright garish lights of Big 5 Sporting Goods store, I browsed for a birthday present.

“Excuse me.”

Looking over my shoulder, I smiled at the woman in the soft peach angora sweater.

“Aren’t you Kym?”

“Yes?” But my answer was a question because I couldn’t identify her.

“I knew it! Honey, it’s the woman I told you about. The woman who told me I would have a house on a cliff someday.” A kind faced man reached out and shook my hand vigorously, warmly.

Laughing she called two cute kids over. “This is Kym.” They recognized my name and smiled at me shyly.

Bewildered I gave up, “I’m sorry. Do I know you?”

“About 15 years ago, I came to your house with Jack. You were reading Tarot cards that night. You probably don’t recognize me because I only came that once but you changed my life.”

The counter cut a sharp line into my thighs as I breathed quickly. “Really? You…uh…felt you got something,,,real from the cards?”

Puzzled she looked at me. “Well, not from the cards. You know, you took the words on the cards and made meaning with your mind. You told me that I hated myself and was in despair. That the symbol of my life at that point was a house on a cliff. I could go over or I could build a strong house. You made me see that house I could build. And the family I could have. And I made the changes you told me to. I quit going to parties all the time and getting drunk. I even quit cigarettes. Every day I pictured the beautiful house on a cliff I could have and look…” She gestured to the family surrounding her. “It worked. We have a house right over the Russian River and I’m happy… ” She looked at my terrified face and seemed to waver a little. “I am happy.”

I reassured her truly that I remembered her. She asked me if I still “spoke the cards.”

“Occasionally,” I mumbled numbly.

But that night, I wrapped the cards in silk and placed them in their box for good. . .

I think. . .


Feel like messing with someone’s mind or even messing with your own:

Beautiful Humboldt created Tarot cards. Recommended by local Astrologer and Psychic, Antonia Lamb.

Place to have your Tarot read online.



  • I am so avoiding red haired men.

  • You realize that for you I tempted fate and read the cards again. I endangered my soul for you.

    I so get Jayne.

  • Oh that is so wrong. I did not even know you were endangering your soul and now you want Jayne. Wrong wrong wrong.

    You sure those cards did not say beware the red haired woman?

  • I’ve never had someone read Tarot cards for (about?) me, except for one silly woman who …well I won’t go into that.

    When I was about 18 some friends and I drove to another town and had our palms read and the only thing I remember about my reading was “there will be twins in your life.” Her reading definitely did not make me make changes in my life. 🙂

  • Well, as Oprah says: Women are for sympathy and men are for advice. My advice on readings is to avoid Madame Katherine in Eureka. I have some amusing stories but another time…

  • I think most of Tarot is reading the person, feeling their reaction to what you say and interpreting it through your perception of them. But… sometimes it has gotten a little too true. When I do a good reading, I get this almost humming pulse. But afterwards. . .I wonder how much I’ve messed with people’s minds. I don’t like that.

    Ben, Is Madame Katherine the palm reader at the north of Eureka? I’ve heard rumors. You need your own blog so you can tell these good stories. But I offer up mine if you want to do a guest blog.

  • [see i am not the only one who thinks you should do a blog ben]

  • Too steep a learning curve… Scares me.

  • It is easy. It is a blog, not a website. Not html required. You just type it is like replying to a post only you are making the post in the first place.

  • You should do it, Ben.

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