A CARD TRICK November 25, 2019

Photo: Camelia Elias

Having finalized a major house project, again moving thousands of books and finding just the proper place for them, I got to the point where some art had to follow suit, having to find just the place for it on the walls.

Some walls dictated themselves what they wanted. The magically inclined people will know what I’m talking about when I say that all you need to do is ask the place what it wants and it will tell you.

But as I like conversations, I thought about how two or three different things will talk to one another, when they have to share the space.

Adopting the same magical drill of asking, some of the things answered unambiguously, while others refused. The category in between yes and no is made up by things insisting on being together even when either the logic of the space dictates differently, or when the aesthetic sense may rule in some other stuff’s favor.

For instance, while you wouldn’t think that an image of butoh dancer, Hijikata Tatsumi, would want to converse with my Gelede African mask, this paring was done on insistence from both parties. I said, ‘OK, you want to be together, you’re welcome.’

Photo: Camelia Elias

But now to the point of this short essay.

When in doubt, ask the cards. It’s great exercise to go through the stuff that’s hanging on your walls, or on your window sills, and perform some divination as to how ‘happy’ these things are to be there.

Feng Shui practitioners or others invested in paying attention to the house spirits have their own approaches to figuring out juxtapositions, but going about it via the cards can yield interesting results.

For instance, I have a kitchen wall that’s quite well lit and positioned. Even before I moved in, I put a Buddha mask on it. After the move, I kept looking at the space around it, thinking about what else to place next to it. But the more I thought about it, the more I experienced resistance. I gave up searching for the right choice, and instead ask the cards about it.

Who want to sit next to this Buddha?

The answer was, ‘your sister’.

Dondorf playing cards (Photo: Camelia Elias)

I got 9 Diamonds, 5 Hearts, and the Queen of Hearts.

I associated the 9 Diamonds with the Buddha. After all, he was brilliant.

As the card of the 5 Hearts is associated traditionally with the body, and the Queen of Hearts indicates a familial relation, the answer was obvious.

What’s more, when I first made the gelatin silver print of my sister, my partner exclaimed: ‘She is a Buddha’. This was a year ago. I laughed then, but now it made perfect sense. It was clear to me that the wooden Buddha would love the company of my sister Buddha. So the issue was settled quite elegantly.

Photo: Camelia Elias

Try this for yourselves. If you’re in doubt as to the extent to which two things go together, in spite of style, space, or logic, asking the cards will not be the dumbest idea.

Stay in touch for cartomantic courses. Next in line is the Playing Cards Foundation Course in February.

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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