The Cartomancer: A Decent Reading

The Cartomancer: A Decent Reading June 22, 2016
three tarot cards from the marseille tarot deck placed flat on a bookshelf
Marseille Tarot by Jean Noblet, 1650, as reconstructed by J-C Flornoy. (Photo: Camelia Elias)

When I don’t ask for peace of mind, I ask for clear vision. I get my wish granted – usually. Related to the latter, this week I’ve caught myself delivering meme-like statements in my classrooms. During daytime, I was imparting literary and cultural wisdom to graduating students at my university: ‘Be decent, folks, and don’t forget to ask the real questions’, I would say to the eager ones, ready to venture into the world.

I didn’t care much about the fact that universities these days are all about money, documentation, facts and quantifiable data. No one seemed to object though to my intangibles, and how we might possibly measure decency and test ‘real’ questions.

During nighttime I was instructing cartomancy students into the art of reading visual texts: Marseille Tarot, Lenormand cards, and playing cards. It occurred to me that in this particular classroom, while present in a non-verbal way, the notion of decency was not used as a prescriptive, but rather as a descriptive marker manifest in the activity of reading cards.

A good reading begins on that premise of decency. You can’t read cards if your eye is not clear of judgment and obscuration. In cartomancy it’s not enough to have good capacity for decoding patterns, or a quick and vigilant eye, able to move up and down the image only to disappear through the rabbit’s hole.

In cartomancy what you need is a decent eye. It’s the kind of eye that can smell rats, or penetrate truth. It’s the kind of eye that can taste what your cognitive faculties are cooking. What you’re cooking is breath; the breath of the seeker sitting in front of you, desiring to know.

Your reading is decent when you do more than impart knowledge from the garden of Eden. Your reading is decent when you bring awareness and awakening to the table.

You don’t just interpret and evaluate. You say: ‘This truth tastes like a juicy plum’ or ‘what I hear you saying is a song accompanied by the sound of a fat organ in a fat church.’ After anguish and pain are localized in the body, they are dismissed by a grand gesture that the corner of your eye makes: ‘This is crap, but it has no reference point’, ‘that is sweet, but it has no reference point’. You say all this, while maintaining a straight spine.

‘How are you going to predict the future?, your sitter wants to know, and you offer the simplest and most truthful answer: ‘By being in eternity.’

Here’s what I said to a student, who also happens to be a mathematician:

‘A reading can sometimes be a game with yourself and your shadow. A competition. Sometimes you win, other times the shadow wins. The arbiter is the corner of your eye. That’s the real master. The stretched eye, the inverted eye, the one that registers what happens in the space between the impenetrable obvious that your shadow can see and the feeling in your gut that the language of your mother can speak. Train the eye and your reading will be more than a game of chance and boldness. It will be a game of supreme wisdom with a wink in it.’

People ask interesting questions at midnight, and if the full moon is also turned on, then the questions get real. They get real because of the poetry hidden in the decent.

Can I be wise? Can I have clear vision?

People who come to me at midnight, come to the right place.

They get interesting cards: The Hermit, Force, and Judgment.

close up of three cards of the marseille tatot:  the hermit, strength, and judgement.
Marseille Tarot by Jean Noblet, 1650, as reconstructed by J-C Flornoy. (Photo: Camelia Elias)

You can be wise if you reflect, if you let the fire in your lamp enflame your passion. Passion about what? Passion about investigating your context, passion about inquiring into the nature of your question, your sacred and secret text.

You wrestle with what is not of your kind, and yet in your hands. It’s not for you to gaze into the lion’s mouth. You must strip naked of your references and identification points: ‘You are not THAT’, you hear a trumpet blowing, and you start getting it.

Your clear vision is made of sound, dripping from your natural breath and from that of your cultivated whistling. You share, and in that sharing you’re shared.

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