Exvies Try Stuff: Tarot Edition

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Idols, tarot cards, AND singing bowls? So many sins to choose from!

Growing up Evangelical we had a lot of rules. There were shows and movies we couldn’t watch, music we couldn’t listen to, toys we couldn’t play with, and people we couldn’t hang out with. Now that I’m no longer an Evangelical, I decided it’s time to try new things and break the rules.

Welcome to Exvies Try Stuff.

This month I practiced the sin of spiritism by having my tarot cards read.

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After last month’s Ouija board escapade, I decided I needed to delve a little deeper into the world of spiritism. According to OpenBible.com, there are 100 verses that warn against Spiritism, or contacting spirits or the dead. The one I was most terrified by as a child was the story of King Saul as told in 1 Chronicles chapter 10. The author explains the circumstances of Saul’s suicide, but wraps up the chapter by telling us

13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14 and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Reading verses like this as a kid, it seemed to me that if you consulted a medium, God might strike you dead at any moment. Which is probably why I felt so nervous before my tarot appointment!

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I chose my tarot card reader, Xtina, for her good Yelp reviews. We’d set up our appointment via email and I made my way downtown to the small shop where she worked.

After a few twists and turns inside Pike Place market, I entered into an unmarked door off of the Gum Wall and walked up a flight of stairs into an indoor courtyard. The tables were full of tourists, and there were many families of young children innocently eating their sandwiches. Little did they know the EVIL that was taking place one flight above them!

I finally found the shop, Tenzing Momo, on the second floor. The windows and shelves were crammed with boxes of incense, tarot cards, crystals, Buddha statuary, chakra oils, and other mystical wares. I was a few minutes early and nervous as hell, but I tried to act casual as I browsed the shop. The whole place smelled overwhelmingly of incense and sage, which they sold in large baskets by the door. I had heard from my hippie friends that sage is meant to clear away evil spirits. Hopefully there would be no evil spirits in my tarot reading!

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So. Much. Sage.

Finally it was time for my appointment. In a small nook surrounded by bookshelves stacked with New Age reading materials sat Xtina, my reader. She was a middle-aged woman with wavy blond hair sporting a bold green eyeshadow. As I sat down across from her she was mumbling to herself and writing a note about the “fringe energy” that was currently coming from Neptune. I smiled like this was completely normal and rubbed my sweaty palms on my skirt.

When I emailed her to set up the appointment, I mentioned that I would be writing a blog about this for Fundamentally Free. She mentioned to me that she herself was a “Evangelical refugee” (which I could tell, because she had the nerve to take the “Christ” out of “Christina”). We chatted a bit about her faith background, she was raised in a conservative sect that broke off from the Missouri Synod Lutherans. (Yes, there is a group of people who found Missouri Synod Lutheranism too liberal.)

We each eyed each other with a fair amount of suspicion. Xtina wanted to know what exactly this blog was about, while I was suspicious that she was going to con me.

I don’t believe in spirits, ghosts, “energies,” or auras. In this time of spiritual deconstruction I waver between believing in empirical materialism (what we can observe is all that exists) and wondering if there is something more out there. I’ve certainly had spiritual experiences in the past, and part of me longs for a spiritual connection to something greater than myself. I feel torn between being “open” to spiritual possibilities and feeling very skeptical. Going into this reading, I suspected that Xtina would perform a hot reading on me, (after all, I am very Google-able) or a cold reading.

Perhaps Xtina could sense my skepticism, because she went on to explain that, while tarot readers vary in their practices, she wasn’t a medium. She believes that while spirits are constantly trying to talk to her, she isn’t interested in talking to them. (She also noted that my previous Ouija experiment sounded very dangerous, and she recommended that I not mess around with spirits and demons.) Instead, Xtina believes she is an energy reader. She can use the tarot cards to read my subconscious energy and can see in me what I can’t see in myself. That sounded fairly reasonable, though later on I would question some of this explanation.

I asked her if she could predict the future and she said no, but that she could see where the path I was on was leading me. But she definitely would not be talking to dead people today to read my tarot. “Why would a dead person who was alive 100 years ago have better information than me?” She quipped.

Xtina asked me what I was looking for from this reading. I mentioned that I was having drama with a friend (we’ll call her Natalie) and also I was looking for career guidance. I kept my answers purposefully vague because I wanted to see how much Xtina could get from “reading” me. She nodded and pulled out something that looked a little like a funny cigarette, but was apparently Palo Santo, and waved the smoke over me. This was to cleanse the space before the reading. I don’t know how effective it was at cleansing me, but it smelled nice. Then she handed me the cards and I shuffled them, to “put [my] energy into the cards.” Then the reading began.

The cards were very pretty, different from ones I’d seen on the internet which often have scary-looking symbols. These were more watercolor and abstract. Xtina said that the heart of my reading was good luck and independence. In the middle of the table was The Fool and The Eight of Cups, which meant I was starting something new and becoming more independent. So far so good. She laid out various cards around the table and talked about this theme of being more independent and “owning my truth” which struck a chord with me. Then again, many of these cards have multiple meanings, so they can be kind of a Rorschach test, the same way horoscopes are.

I noticed during the reading that while Xtina was talking she would check in with me and ask me what certain things meant, or if something resonated with me and how. I wondered if this was a cold reading technique. The reading felt vague enough at that point to be fairly applicable to a lot of people.

But then things got more personal.

In my “future” area, Xtina laid down the Eight of Wands. This is, apparently, a very auspicious card. The wands are flying across the sky, like they can never be put back where they came from. There’s no going back, only forward. Xtina explained that this card also meant that I was planting seeds which would grow up in the future.

She asked if I understood what that meant, and I said yes.

She asked if I really knew what that meant, and I said, I think so!?

This card was the message from my spirit guide/higher self/God. This card meant that I was changing and moving forward and could never go back. Combined with my Fool and Eight of Cups it meant that I was setting up new boundaries and gaining in independence.

But there was a downside to all this independence. That was the five of swords in my relationship corner. It meant that someone (I immediately thought of Natalie) was having trouble with all the changes I was going through and felt betrayed. In Xtina’s deck this was represented by a dude with five swords STUCK IN HIS BACK! But there was nothing I could do about Natalie’s feelings, I just had to accept them.

There were a few other predictions as well, which Xtina mentioned were good for the next 6-12 months because after that my “destiny was too intertwined with others” to see clearly, (which seemed to violate what she said about not reading the future, but OK.)

Despite my skepticism, I was very into the reading. I found myself wanting to believe that these cards could predict my future. I felt satisfied that my career was in a waiting phase and that sometime the seeds I was planting would grow into something big. Then again, as I’m deconstructing I often feel that I will believe in anything that comes along; I feel spiritually unmoored.

Xtina seems genuine in her beliefs. And while I don’t agree with her views, I can’t deny that she was very kind and generous with her time. It felt nice to have someone listen to and care about what was going on in my life. She also gave good advice: stand in your truth, be independent, don’t be afraid of change, know you can’t control the reactions of others. She definitely did not fit into the Evangelical view of a medium or spiritist.

I walked away from the reading $60 poorer but feeling very empowered. I was surprised at how much some of the images stayed with me, the wands flying across the sky, another image of a woman doing what can only be described as “praise arms” who was “standing on her own feet for the first time.” I even found myself quoting Xtina to various people, “You know, it’s the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac. Truth is the only currency.”

I was so inspired and empowered that the next day I sat down with Natalie and had a difficult conversation that I’d been putting off for weeks. It felt like a relief to get somethings out in the open, I was STANDING IN MY TRUTH.

I will probably not have my tarot cards read again anytime soon (I already have a therapist and attend a support group) but I think it was fun and I actually would recommend it. And God didn’t even smite me!

Not yet, anyway!