Saturday, September 3, 2011

O, I Am Fortune's Fool!

I wonder if I should just go ahead and apologize in advance that this is not a food-related post. The response was so enthusiastic, I definitely will do more!

In the spirit of trying to become more blog-worthy, I have decided to try and court adventure. You may say that what I should be doing is trying to REPEL it, but that is really not in my nature. Sigh.

A friend suggested a while back that I visit a tarot card reader, just to get some clarity and focus in my life (note: clarity and focus do not go well with adventurousness.) I thought it would be an interesting experiment. I have sometimes been curious about fortune-telling, but mostly dismiss it. Remember Miss Cleo? No? Good. I had the vision that palm readers and their ilk were nothing more than glorified carnies, swathed in silks and bathed in myrrh and something that smelled awfully like Brut Cologne. Not particularly a pleasant thought.

Today, however, I decided to take the leap. I don't know what it was: maybe the fact that a shopping excursion resulted in a receipt totaling $7.77 - but something made me feel if not lucky, not cursed. It would be fun, right? Nothing too specific in mind or heart - just an urge to see what the stars had laid out for me.

I was warned by my friend that the - what would she be, seer? - was very blunt, and if I was going to die, or be sick, or anybody else I loved was going to meet some foul end, she wouldn't hesitate to say. With this knowledge in my back pocket, I rang the bell at the appointed time.

The woman that answered the door was tiny. I am 5'7", and she barely made it to my shoulders. You do the math, because I am tired (and keep in mind that I am fairly evenly proportioned; I don't have coltish legs or a short torso.) Olivia is a caretaker of the elderly during the day, and reads tarot out of her home on evenings and weekends. Everybody's gotta have a side gig in this economy, I guess.

She led me to a room no bigger than a shoebox. I sat on one side of a small table that looked like the type you would prop your dinner on while watching TV and she on the other. A red cloth placemat lay in the center. She handed me the cards, and told me to shuffle, then split them into two stacks.

The cards were greasy and thick with wear. Olivia explained that her parents taught her the craft, but one had to have the gift to interpret correctly. I knew from my friend's stories of all the accurate predictions Olivia had accrued: marriages and deaths and pregnancies and jail time and deportations, so I was hopeful (and worried) that she would prove to be right.

She slapped the cards down with authority, and began. I had been careful to dress blandly, not wanting to give anything way, and also had decided to let her do most of the talking. I didn't want to goad her or give her any ideas. Right away she launched into my story: two daughters close in age, that I was prone to depression and emotional instability even though I seemed to have everything. I was born under, for lack of a better, more elegant term, a big-ass lucky star. She told me to watch out for my older daughter - that I needed to spend more time with her and teach her how to have more self-confidence, because her sister was dominating her (very true.) She went on in great specificity about my marriage, unusual problems I was having with specific friends, the work that I was doing (great success is on the horizon!). Some of the things hit very close to home and stung like a slap. It was uncanny. A whole hour for twenty bucks! It was like a mental massage. But more painful. At least there was no death or destruction on the horizon, but she said I had to be very careful, because I like to court danger. Me?

I left somewhat shaken. A lot of things she said had hit right on the mark. Others, not so much. But the things that did were very specific. It was eerie, but should it really have been?

I think that after a long while, people can get very good at what they do. It's the natural result of practice and passion. Maybe she's just good at reading people, not cards. Olivia seemed like a nice lady; I don't think she would deliberately mislead someone, but I think it is impossible to ignore cues in people's body language and responses, even if (like me) they tried not to respond too much. In the end, it felt a bit like going to a therapist or spending some time with a good friend talking about important things: heart-clearing. And for me, it felt good. Even if she couldn't give me the winning lottery numbers.


  1. Hello Maggie:
    How very intriguing and how brave. we are sure that we should never summon up the courage to visit a 'fortune teller'of any kind as it would simply have us mulling over the predictions for days if not months on end.

    Perhaps we are but fatalists by nature and just accept that what will be, will be and that whatever it is somehow we shall find the strength to deal with it. However, we do have a sneaky curiosity about people like Olivia and do agree that she is probably a better 'reader' of human nature than of any cards. Bewitching just the same, though!!!

  2. Hi Maggie,
    Firstly, thanks so much for stopping by with encouragement. Enjoy your babies as much as you possibly can, in a blink of an eye, they are dating boys, staying out late and moving out, then your worries begin!

    I used to read my own tarot cards but had to stop because it got too scary! Maybe not the best idea as I knew so much about the subject in question, me. But they did reveal things that later came true, and not all nice. What is it about us humans that want to know what's on the horizon? We are strange creatures. I've tried everything, tarot, palm reading, hypnotic regression, astral projection, you name it' I've done it. I am still such a curious soul and open to anything!
    Have a great weekend

  3. I get my tarot read often and I have my own set that I sometimes use. Like a horoscope, I think you can get what you seek out of the cards. Even cards that are thought of as "negative" like the Devil or Tower can have meanings of starting over or breaking from a possibly negative influence. For me, it's sort of like a little practice in meditation and the power of positive thinking. It's also a way to look at your life in the big picture to see if you're following a certain theme--good or bad. The themes are pretty much similar for all humans, just the experience different which is why I think the cards sometimes hit very close to home.

    Do I believe there's messages in the cards that speak to me? Do I think someone can see what is in my future if I continue along a certain path? Let's just say that despite all my skepticism and desire for proof, sometimes taking a leap of faith is refreshing.

  4. I had the wonderful fortune of hearing you speak of this adventure over the phone, so you know my thoughts. :)

    When I was in my last year at university, a fairly handsome guy with dreads and questionable body odor sat next to me in a conference room for a study group in adjunct to a lit crit class. It was a long table at which we were all seated and he looked straight at me without a word, slid across the table a tarot card by my books and then just stared at me silently with this odd smile.

    I didn't touch the card.

  5. "to visit a tarot card reader to get focus and clarity into my life" ????

    For Heaven's Sakes, how gullible can one person be?

    You may be guessing that all mumbo jumbo is far from my belief system; if I need clarity I'll sit myself down and get real; and if I can't do it by myself I get a trained professional to give me a helping idea or two.

    But no fortune teller is ever going to be my guide.

    I am glad to see that you realise that these people are extremely good at reading others and know about the mistakes people make in their lives. So they'll get it right 50% of the time.

  6. Intriguing but I stay away from all types of fortune tellers. I do not believe that any one can see the future and, if they can, it is only in a hazy and fragmented manner.
    Glad you enjoyed my last post. If you are interested in the Phoenicians, I found a great website:

  7. Maggie,

    I've been exposed to three fortune-tellers in my life. The first one was a gypsy who harassed my girlfriend and I at a parking lot when we were only 13 or 14 years old until we agreed to have our "future" read. She looked at my palm and told me a bunch of nonsense that I couldn't even understand. The second time I went willingly to a Tarot card reader (I was 24). She got some things right (like I was going to marry a foreigner) but also failed in many things (she said I would have two boys and I have a boy and a girl, she also said I would open a business with my husband--never happened. And that I would marry in December--I married in January.) For my bachelorette party, my girlfriends brought in another Tarot-reader, who didn't get one single thing right except that I was getting married (but wasn't that obvious?) But I can say one thing, the first Tarot reader gave me the reassurance I was seeking to marry and move to another country.

    I've been doing a lot of research about this subject for my third novel and I have come to a conclusion: people want certainty in a world of uncertainties. Deep down, we know what the right decision is for us, but we need someone else to tell us (preferably someone who can tell us that the decision will have positive consequences for us.) Also, people who seek the advice of fortune tellers/clairvoyants/psychics are people who (for the most part) want to believe. So they'll have a tendency to forget any inaccuracies and focus on the things that apply to their lives. People who do this for a living are experts at reading others, and if you think about it, we all have similar conflicts (love, money, career, illness, family problems) so it's not that difficult to perceive what is bothering the other person. You probably gave away more about yourself than you think.

  8. i used to do my own Tarot reading until I realized it was a dark depressing medium. I switched to the I-Ching that is much more positive, accurate and did not interfere with my religious beliefs, but even this harmless oracle, when overused, could bombard you with crossed messages. Fortune-telling devices are to be used wisely even if you are the one doing the telling. It´s like that Harry Potter mirror that didn't show the future but what the looker wished to happen in the future.

  9. Now, of course, aside from your funny tale of this adventure, I love that you posted a listening list! Luck Be A Lady, indeed!

  10. What could be better than to have been born under a "big ass lucky star?" Methinks there's nothing else you need to know ;)

  11. To everyone: I am enjoying all of these comments! I will say that I do not believe anyone can really tell the future. However, the phrase the woman opened with (sorry that I cannot share it here) was SO personal and SO specific (not anything about money problems or relationship problems or anything else) about an event nobody else knows was just creepy. As in, mouth-dropped-open-creepy.