I read cards and I know it’s met with laughs and eye rolls, but I do have a history with cards. A natural affinity. Growing up weekends were spent at grandmoms house, and on any given weekend my brothers and I could be found selecting which topped saltine cracker from the lazy susan would go well with our hot tea with milk, followed by a late night of board games and cards.
Cards were a staple at grandmoms house. Bored kids? Hand them a pack of cards. From 500 Rummy, to Black Jack, to PokenO. yes! Google that. It’s an actual game. Bored kid with no siblings around? How about a rousing solo game of MATCH. Lay the whole deck face down and see if you can remember which card pairs are where. She was a smart lady that way.
When I was nine my mom bought me a deck of Gypsy Witch cards. I’m not sure why other than the fact I was still fascinated with all things magical. I remember her handing them to me in their bright orange box with the black lettering. The cards themselves looked pretty novel and childlike, purple with a silhouette of a classic pointed hat witch along with a cat and cauldron. They were a bit too difficult to grasp for my nine year old self, but whatever, I had something magical that nobody else had. I had a secret deck of cards that could tell me anything! Super Neat!
Years would go by eventually and upon becoming a teenager more important things would take over my life. Make up, boys, boom boxes, big hair, a stellar collection of feather earrings tossed in the proverbial pot along with a healthy dose of your typical teenage angst. There was no room for cards in that world. Cards wouldn’t reappear in my life again outside of a drinking game, until I was 20.
I remember it like it was yesterday. My friend and I were at the mall waiting for a mutual friend to get off work. She worked at a high end make up counter. We got the best discounts on all the super expensive make up and facial products, but I digress. To kill time we walked over the book store, my friend being the brainiac she was browsed the classic literature section while my eye for novelty was immediately drawn to a yellow box high on a top shelf near the astrology section. I’ll never forget that moment. I had never seen anything like these before that day. I looked them over again and again, reading the back, picking up the accompanying book placed next to it. I bought them on this reasoning: First, they were cool. My 20 year old self now a hard core Ronnie James Dio fan, resurrected my magical self of childhood, only a darker hipper version. Being different, weird and witchy was the new cool. And second, I worked the graveyard shift at a gas and if station and if anything they could help me kill time and keep me awake during the dead zone hours. Never could I have imagined then the love affair of these cards that would ensue.
I began my study with the classic and honestly only book available at the bookstore that day, Eden Grey’s ‘The Complete Guide to the Tarot’. I can’t remember much about that book now in the wake of so many on the market I’ve blazed through in the past three decades. I’d sit night after night in that booth reading and looking through the cards one by one. I could just feel their power zing through my fingertips on every shuffle. Once again, just like when I was nine, I had a secret deck of cards that could tell me anything! Eventually the hooligans from the neighborhood up on the hill behind the gas station would find their way down to me. I had begun to know them through my first few months of working there. You know the ones, always prowling along the neighborhood late at night, looking for weed, or getting ready to hit last leg of the bar scene. The drifters and loners. The ones constantly unable to keep out of trouble. Eventually I’d develop a soft heart for one of these misfits, after all, like attracts like even when you’re terribly unlike; a story for another day. I became known up on the hill as “the girl who reads the cards”.
The gas station I worked in at the time was nothing more than a glass booth, clear on all three sides. What idiot would put a sweet 20 year old girl in a brightly lit booth in the middle of the night alone on a stretch of boulevard now that I think about this as a parent myself is beyond me. Why not just put a big neon arrow there too shouting “pretty young girl alone in the middle of the night!” Again, I digress. I just got a visual what this must have looked like to the casual passerby. One girl, three dudes, all sausaged into that tiny booth sitting crossed legged on the floor, staring mystified at a deck of cards in the center of us all, that is of course if you could see anyone of us through the thick haze of weed and cigarette smoke that consumed that little 7’x7′ square box. I’d throw the cards, make up some wholesome BS trying to get these guys back on track and out of trouble. I was like the super cool version of Wendy Darling and these guys, they were my Lost Boys.
Because life is really a roller coaster ride and a never ending spiral my Tarot days halted in the wake of my new Jimmy Swaggert phase. Pre adultery of course. On the scene now were the fire and brimstone evangelist preachers consuming our televisions. Born and raised in the Catholic church back in the day, the guilt of embracing your authentically weird card wielding self didn’t quite fit their standard of norm and that stuff doesn’t shake off too easily. One day a friend and fellow Jim and Tammy Fay Baker fan of mine had brought me a book while visiting, ‘Satan is Alive and Well and Living on Planet Earth’ my beloved cards hit the trash can. They wouldn’t resurface again for a few years down the line. Later I’d convert that same friend into a Tarothead herself. Soon I’d begin to read these cards finally for people once again… or would I really?