venerdì 12 settembre 2014

Tarot readings

Next week I'm going to read for a stranger and it will be the first time after years. I came back to read tarot for others months ago, but they were friends or people I know in some degrees.
When I received the call I felt like I had to advise her: "Tarot is not mainly divination... I'm not going to predict your future... It is more on possibilities, attitudes, other perspectives", but she told me that this is exactly what she is looking for. So, fine - I enjoy reading for other people as much as I do for myself.

I thought about my experiences with tarot readers and how I began as a teenager with playing cards.
I was 16th years old then and I was  introduced to the cards by an older boy during my summer holidays in Maremma. I felt I could connect with them and I started bringing with me my personal cards from Tuscany - the ones employed by Disney's Madam Mim in her solitary.
In my house there were at least two or three other decks, all curiously missing one or more cards: as a child  my granny taught me games, and when I was alone I imagined the lives of the court cards and attributed magical powers to the aces: the ace of hearts for love, the ace of flowers for friendship, that of pentacles for success and the ace of spears for danger.

Tarot came later, during the first year at university: close to our faculty there was a shop selling cards and stuff for role games, collectibles, statues of elves and fairies and artistic tarots, mostly published by Lo Scarabeo. I remember a student with large flowered skirts and deep dark hair who used a large version of the Tarot of the Gnomes in the courtyard after lunch, while I grew fond of the 22 Arcana of Tarocchi dell'Alba Dorata, whose names differed from the originl Rider Waite. The Fool became Imagination, The Star - Desires, the Empress - Intelligence, Judgment - the Awakening and so on.  In those years I knew some other students who read the cards, I went once to a professional reader, a woman, living not far from my house and had a tarot reading at a famous summer medieval festival in Umbria. In my twenties I spent several evenings with a friend reading for each other and exchanging opinions on the cards.  

I decided that some cards had specific meanings for me, independently from the traditional ones. I knew for example that everytime The High Priestess showed up there was some kind of protection from a female dead ancestor; that the Hierophant was strongly linked to the literary profession - editors, critics, publishers -, but not to writers or artists; and that my life was significantly influenced by the Six of Cups for reasons I might explain in the future.

It's not that easy to meet tarot readers in Italy - I've mostly met old women from my neighbourhood, my grand-grand-mother included, taking off the evil eye or working with Catholic symbolism and blessings, but completely unaware of tarot and surely more interested in magic or religious forms of  protection than in esoteric knowledge. Yet years ago I went to visit a woman living on the hills, a psychic,  who reads tarot and practices automatic writing. She impressed me. She employed a worn out deck of Visconti Sforza and while shuffling she was able to visualize the core of the problem. She put down the cards barely looking at the images in a tower-like spread and she started talking to me about the things she saw from my past and present. I remember two Queens and The Devil from that long, intense session and of course the many details, my dear dead ones and the way she explained their presence. Through the cards she recognized faces and people, producing quite precise physical descriptions.

Last time I had the cards read  was in September 2013, the day before I left London. I went to a woman in the east, in her basement flat. She used Thoth Tarot, and made me several questions, which was ok: I don't like to be silent and passive. I went back to my place in Crouch End quite satisfied: I was saying goodbye to the town and I didn't know when I would have come back - so that was a good way to depart.   Maybe through tarots you don't only see possibilities, but a completely new, different life, another world in which a part of yourself moves and hopes and loves. And it's fascinating to explore this kind of existence through the eyes of a stranger.

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