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Posts Tagged ‘tarot’

In Which Jane Austen Tells Your Fortune, and Other News

August 29, 2013 | by

Austen-Tarot

  • Oxford Dictionary Online (not to be confused with older sibling OED) has added twerk, derp, and selfie.
  • “I have realized that the traditional omelet form (eggs and cheese) is bourgeois. Today I tried making one out of a cigarette, some coffee, and four tiny stones.” The Jean-Paul Sartre cookbook.
  • The top twenty books people leave in motel rooms. (Fifty Shades Freed leads the pack.)
  • The (inevitable?) Jane Austen tarot deck.
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    The Witch and the Poet: Part 3

    November 23, 2012 | by

     

    The story so far: the author visits a fortune-teller whose prediction that she will become a poet changes the course of her destiny.

    In the U.S. there are two groups concerned with the conduct of tarot readers. The Tarot Certification Board of America, which posts a Client Bill of Rights, and the American Tarot Association, which promotes a Code of Ethics. The TCBA’s Bill of Rights states, among other things, that as a client you are entitled to confidentiality; that readers are not qualified to give medical, financial, or legal advice (except if they’re doctors, financial advisors, or attorneys); that readers are not qualified to predict the future; and that they’re not qualified to make decisions for you.

    The ATA believes that “Ethical Tarot readers are people who help others better hear their own inner guides.” And they reiterate the TCBA’s Bill of Rights, making the additional point that if readers happen to be doctors, financial advisors, or attorneys, they will “clearly differentiate between the tarot reading and any professional advice additionally provided.”

    While there was an extant Association of Tarot Readers in 1964, the TCBA wasn’t formed until 2002. In any case, I doubt the witch in Galilee was a member of any professional group. She was probably a rogue reader, in that she didn’t charge for her services and only read for friends and guests in her home. I’m not sure if she offered our futures as a politeness, the way you’d offer an extra piece of coffee cake, or if she wanted to mess with us. Clearly she overstepped her bounds with Wendy on the “predicting the future” issue. If I were Wendy, I’d start watching for falling pianos on my 84th birthday.

    The witch was on target with me in the “helping others better hear their own inner guides” category. But what are the repercussions of telling a 19 year-old she is one thing or another? Most tarot sessions start with a question: the seeker, or client, winnows away her world until the yearning is laid bare. Will I be happy in romance? Is my career on the right track? Should I get a puppy?

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    The Witch and the Poet: Part 2

    November 22, 2012 | by

    The story so far: the author and a friend visit a local witch for an assignment and, unexpectedly, the witch informs Pamela that her destiny is to be a poet.

    Things went downhill pretty quickly after our visit to the witch. I wrote the story for our college paper and naively sent it to the witch for verification. Trying to imitate the brutal truthiness of the New Journalists I was reading, I’d described her as “somewhere between middle aged plump and any age fat.” I didn’t expect she’d be pleased, but I did believe that Truth was inescapable and we all had to accept it, in print or in the mirror. The witch didn’t see it that way. Eschewing magic, she threatened to call down a different but equally powerful set of spells on me—the legal kind. She said she’d sue my ass if I ever printed a word of it.

    I regret calling her fat. What a churlish thing to do. (How often does that word come up? It’s a good one, and a rare one, especially in memoir—especially if you use it about yourself.) I thought I needed to tell the truth as I saw it. It never occurred to me I could edit out the bits that might be hurtful.

    I often wonder about the witch: what did she edit? Did she see the train wreck that would almost kill me seven years later, but think better of bringing it up and ruining my night? Maybe the cards aren’t that specific. Surely, though, a massive Amtrak wreck with sixteen dead and hundreds injured, a crushed jaw, broken ribs, and slashed lung and spleen would contribute to one of the “down” times ahead?

    Did she see that I was gay? Again, alternative sexuality certainly brings its share of ups and downs, as she put it. But if that’s what she intuited, the witch didn’t call a spade a spade. Would she, like me, not have had the vocabulary to identify something she might have glimpsed in my future or in my soul? Or would she just call me a “poet,” in the way people used to say Oscar Wilde and his set were “artistic?” How far outside our own experience can we—dare we—tread when mapping the lives of others? Or did she exercise the judgment I lacked and edit out information that might have been too deterministic? Or too negative? Who can say how the witch’s socio-political belief system broke on the issue of homosexuality.

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    The Witch and the Poet: Part 1

    November 21, 2012 | by

    Toward the end of February, 1980, a witch told me I was a poet. This happened in the town of Galilee, in Rhode Island. Like the other Galilee, it was on the coast, and also like that Galilee, it was as good a place as any for a creation myth.

    I had to interview the witch for a newspaper my friend Allen edited at Brown. I don’t know where he found the witch or why he lent me his car to go interview her. I was nineteen and hadn’t written anything, though I claimed to “write,” as if writing were more a state of being than a practice. I got the assignment, I think, because Allen wanted to date me, even though I had no intention, ever, of going out with him. (Okay, I went once: a very cold winter picnic in a park at midnight, with blankets and a blindfold, but that was it. I suspected then that I wasn’t just uninterested in Allen—I was uninterested in picnicking with men in general—but hadn’t yet learned the vocabulary to explain what that meant, even to myself). When I went to see the witch I made my roommate Wendy go with me. No way was I going to see a witch alone at night.

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