CARDS AS GHOSTS October 2, 2019

Madam Morrows Fortune Telling Cards (Photo: Camelia Elias)

In cartomantic parlance we use different phrases that describe cards on the table. It’s easier with shuffling. Shuffling is shuffling, whether you use the riffle style or the overhand style for it.

But once the cards hit the table, we use different expressions for what we perceive is happening at the first glance.

A card that ‘pops up’ is not quite the same as a card that ‘shows up’. A card that ‘manifests’ is also not quite the same as a card that’s ‘on display’.

My own preferred option is to think of the form the cards on my table take in terms of their appearance, especially since ‘appearance’ not only subsumes the other three – popping up, showing up, and manifesting – but also links them in a dance of show, reveal, and disclose.

Insofar we we operate with an unknown entity when we pose a question from the heart – people come to the cards because they want to know something that escapes them, that’s hidden, or that resists them – it can be said that the premise for this operation is one of dealing with apparitions. I will advance the proposition here that the subtle attraction to all forms of divination is that what we want is to see what ghosts incarnate on our table.

When the cards manifest, they give ‘popping’ purpose. When the cards ‘show up’, they embody a ghost.

Thinking of just what words mean, without either eating them up non-discriminatorily or dismissing them on account of some popular and judgmental opinion, becomes all the more interesting when you have to think of them as they relate to a specific action, when you read a visual text according to a metaphor.

For instance, one of my most favorite layouts with the cards is the 9-card layout. The reason for this has to do with the pleasure I take in X’ing the tableau.

The primary function of X’ing anything has to do with placing things under erasure, as it were. This is also the case when you have to place an X in an empty box, to mark your choice of something. You X the situation because you understand what the deal is, and you want to participate in change and effect.

When cards appear on your table, as in manifesting what you express is the case right then and there, what you’re dealing with is the recognition that the intangible is now tangible. Even when it’s a metaphysical concern that drives the question, when you place an X over the apparitions you can do both, give concrete voice to your conclusions, and also silence them, as in expressing finality: ‘up until here, and no more.’

In the tableau below, since the Woman significator card popped, we want to know something about what she manifests.

Madam Morrows Fortune Telling Cards (Photo: Camelia Elias)

The Scythe is next to her, flanked in turn by the Tree. So we’re here with the theme of trimming. This is enforced by the Garden above the Scythe at the center of the tableau. A Scythe connected to the Garden suggests the cutting of weeds; with the Tree, pruning. As we’ve have entered the Autumn season, cutting and pruning is the order of the day.

Metaphorically, however, since the Garden is a public space, the Scythe next to it suggests the cutting of all that which is not beneficial to the cultivation of beauty. The Mountain above the Garden looms large, acting as a dominant power. A public space can be dominated by bullying forces or by rumors created by enemies, spreading like Clouds and fogging the light. Traditionally the Mountain is an ‘enemy’ first, and then an ‘obstacle.’ Flanked by the Clouds we’re with the manifestation of how the Mountain moves.

In this case here, however, as the Sun comes out again, casting its rays on a healthy Tree, all ends well.

I’m X’ing my tableau by concluding that the apparition of the enemies on the starry firmament will be short lived, as the sharp tool to deal with it is at hand.

In a recent interview with Gordon White for the Rune Soup podcast, coming out later this week, I talked about how I think of all my writing as a form of exorcism, one that starts with identifying demons and then dealing with them according to their rank. For instance, I have little interest in negotiating with demons of low rank, as they’re quite boring and uninteresting. They are also loud, and since I’m quite Zen, preferring silence, I leave it to you to imagine just what I do to the unoriginal pestering forces.

But the same applies to the cards when we think of them as taking the form of apparitions: This goes, this stays, this I negotiate with, and this I don’t.

If anything else pops into my head in terms of strategic action, then it has to do with how much energy I want to invest in revealing the reason for or the outcome of an exorcism. Some hungry ghosts don’t even deserve being denounced.

It’s the Autumn season. The season when we swing the axe, and send the bullies to the underworld, when we X the spot and sharpen our distinction. Not all that appear as mighty are mighty, and not all that claim to be helpful are helpful.

Let us intone once more to Margaret Thatcher’s words of wisdom: ‘Being powerful is like being a Lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.’

Now extend this wisdom to other applications, such as dealing with these trite manifestations that have to do with the illusion of control, or identification with a dictated uniqueness.

If you have to tell people you’re YOU, you aren’t.

If you have to tell people you’re in control of your life, you aren’t.

If you have to tell people you’re courageous and brave, you aren’t.

If you have to tell people you’re brilliant, you aren’t.

If you have to tell people you’re a stable genius, you aren’t.

Autumn season is here. Identify the transparent ghosts. Take one death at a time, one funeral at a time, and one breath at a time.

For more X’ing and Axe’ing, try the Lenormand Foundation Course, now open for registration.

About Camelia Elias
Camelia Elias, PhD & Dr.Phil., is a former university professor. After 20 years in the academia, she left her career to pursue her interests in teaching and writing on the philosophy and practice of reading cards. She works with contemplative arts, oracular language, and martial arts cartomancy and Zen at her own school, Aradia Academy. You can read more about the author here.
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