The Cartomancer: Attending to the Supernatural

The Cartomancer: Attending to the Supernatural October 26, 2016

cards in a three by three grid next to a crystal skull, beads, and bells
The Lenormand Oracle: Erwin Kohlmann/Oswin Volkamer, Verlag für die Frau, Leipzig 1982 (Photo: Camelia Elias)

In a way, my work with the cards can be said to be all about attendance.

  • How do I attend to my question?
  • How do I attend to how I formulate it?
  • How do I attend to paying attention to what I see?
  • How do I attend to what I see beyond conditioning?

Two weeks ago I wrote about how you can attend to your dead ancestors. I made a ritual with cards for it that has elicited interesting results, surprising the people who have tried it out. Try it out.

Last week I recorded a lecture on The Craziness of the Heart Sutra and Tarot, about how we attend to weird texts with the cards. I put it out there as a birthday gift to myself, intending to follow it up with a live Q&A session this coming Saturday. 77 folks so far have responded to it, and now I look forward to the weird questions coming in on what this text can teach us about reading cards like the Devil – and beyond. You can still join us, if you’re curious.

Now, what interests me always is the kind of material that prompts us with thinking precisely about the beyond.

  • What is beyond good and evil?
  • What is beyond moral and immoral?
  • What is beyond love and hate?
  • What is beyond me and you?

The reason why we want to go beyond is because it’s possible.

The beyond manifests as the heart of the supernatural, which is the ordinary in the extraordinary. Why else do you suppose you can speak with the dead, divine your future, or give clear and precise answers with the cards to yourself and others on current concerns or old wounds?

Because the more the heart opens up, the more what it opens up to is receiving the gift of grace. Which you don’t control. Sorry for the bad news.

The more you aspire to unification, the alchemical integration of your parts and pieces of yourself that you’re not aware of, the more you place yourself in attendance.

It is the rule of all spirituality that you don’t receive the gift of grace because you can make an effort to hone your mediumistic skills, or cartomantic skills, or magic skills, or witchy skills. No.

Experiencing the supernatural, the precise real in your heart is contingent on your ability to place yourself in attendance.

When the heart opens itself up to the beyond, you find that you rest in attendance to what you’re doing every single moment. That in itself is the beyond, the meditation, or the so-called path of the spirit walkers.

Resting in attendance is also the only challenge, for resting in attendance doesn’t require a schedule: ‘I’ll do it tonight, when the moon is waning and Jupiter makes a trine to Venus. I’ll do it on All Hallows Eve, when the veil between the worlds is thin. I’ll do it tomorrow, when my body is relaxed, and my new cool Halloween costume has arrived from China.’

You can do all these things as part of your devotion, but none of it is required for the actual experience of the supernatural, the real in the ordinary, such as listening to a bird singing just as you get into your car to rush to work, or decoding messages in the smoke dedicated to Papa Legba or Lucifer on a Tuesday instead of a Monday.

What resting in attendance does require is your constant presence without grasping at belief or effort.

Resting in attendance requires your paying attention. Plain and simple.

See the bigger picture

Here’s a short reading of a 9-card spread with the Lenormand cards that enables us to understand what is at stake in the idea of attending to whatever it is that we’re attending to, in the moment, for instance, the very moment of reading these cards here.

So this is meta-reading. That is to say, instead of having a concrete question – as I always insist on if it’s divination we want to perform and not just random storytelling – I ask the cards this:


So this is basically a reading about reading. A reading about experiencing the supernatural at the heart of the natural, the extraordinary at the heart of the ordinary. But it is also about attending to things that we don’t perceive, simply because we’re not trained in perceiving anything. We are trained in imitating.

Imagine having the freedom to perceive beyond conditioning. To me, that is the highest magic: to perceive things beyond imitation.

I’ve written tons of essays on how to read the Lenormand cards on Taroflexions, so I won’t go through the mechanics of it. You’re welcome to dive into it, if you have the time. I recommend starting here:

I’ll plunge right into it.

cards layed out in a grid three by three
The Lenormand Oracle: Erwin Kohlmann/Oswin Volkamer, Verlag für die Frau, Leipzig 1982 (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Given that this is a reading about the heart of the ordinary, I’ll start my reading from the card in the middle, here, the Child, a card of joy and new ventures, when combined with the Fish above it, a card of money and resources, and the Garden below it, a card of public affairs and networks.

So I attend to playing around with the idea of cash flow.

Why does this interest me?

The corner cards disclose this: Tower to Snake suggests a lying institution. Unless, I don’t know any better, I can testify to my current discomfort about my university, a lying institution, being all about idiotic politics and who is to be master on the strength of competing for who is to be the most incompetent. Lately the university has been promoting a new policy: The more incompetent you are, the likelier it is to be bumped up to the higher level. Bad news for the ones looking for the ‘higher’ in the ‘higher learning.’

So I consider taking the opportunity that the Clover, a card of luck in the top left, presents me with, as it goes to the Ring, bottom right.

The Key, here between the Tower and the Ring is to be found precisely in a fresh partnership. Fresh, because of the Child at the heart of the tableau.

‘Talk about an original solution,’ to use that grim word, ‘solution’, the middle row suggests. ‘Attend to a fresh perspective.’ I’m trying…

‘Beware of snakes in the Garden’ – like, d’oh. Have you ever seen a garden without snakes in it? Me neither.

Basically, then, what the cards suggest that I attend to is stuff that I already know, such as having to deal with a dishonest institution, and stuff that I need to be careful about, such as plain poison in the public sphere. Fair enough. As a magician, I can come up with antidotes.

I like the surprise card here: The Heart. While shuffling the cards, the Heart fell out of the deck twice. When this happens I don’t think of it as a sign, so I just put it back in the deck. But it looks like the Heart insists. It wants to be seen.

The Heart card features another young man on it, the Knave of Hearts – another heart.

The Child in the middle also offers a Heart to the Key. We’re definitely here with a heart theme.

But, wait, didn’t I say something about the heart of things?

It goes to show. Configurations such as these make me the diviner that I am. One who has her heart in the right place, in the middle of everything, in the middle of grace itself, the most magical supernatural you can think of.

How do I attend to this grace? See, we can go on…

Enjoy your magics and your attending to your October crossings.

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