Lisa immediately recapped the spoiled creamer and placed the container in the kitchen trash can. She stood with the initial resolve to take the trash out in the morning, but recalled what the judge had just said about preparation and lack of preparation.
It was rotten luck that the creamer had gone off, but it would be downright negligent not to take the container out before it warmed up and burst. The sound of the noticeably expanding container settling in the trash can was enough to emphasize the importance of taking care of immediate matters immediately.
As Lisa took out the trash, she noted that the sun had already set and night was quickly smothering all familiarity and friendliess from the streets. The thickening chill reminded her of the Moon card and she shivered and hurried to get back into her warm apartment.
She closed the door behind her, took one step, then turned back to the door to verify both locks were engaged. The knob lock was set, but the deadbolt required manual action. How many times had she just trusted the knob lock to be enough?
She started to mentally review all the other checks that a normal adult would usually check. The location of her keys, wallet, purse, and money. The oven. The coffee pot. The fridge door. Was the toilet running? Was the closet light on? Was her phone charged? Where is her phone, anyway?
She made herself dizzy with all the minutiae of life that she really had not paid much attention to on a regular basis. How was she supposed to keep track of everything? And on top of that, to be on the lookout for random events that could bring her harm like the near hit by the electric truck? It’s too much, Lisa thought. It’s far too much for anyone to pay attention to!
Maybe she should bring all this to a halt, Lisa thought. Didn’t she already see how dangerous tarot is, Lisa thought. Now that she was aware of more cards, those cards could influence her life, Lisa thought. Those cards could rule her life, Lisa thought. Better then, to destroy those cards, stop the cycle, and recover what she can of her life and get back to normal, Lisa thought.
As her thoughts spiraled into a point that frustratingly remained out of immediate focus, Lisa initially placed her head in her hands, and then leaned over as if the weight of those thoughts were more than she can bear. She had the nagging sense that something about the chain of reasoning was wrong, but the intensity of the feelings stirred up by that chain was adding to her confusion.
“No no nonononono NO!” She pulled her head up in an attempt to pull herself out of the panic. “I’m being lied to! Someone is playing dirty with me! I know it! I just don’t know how!” The desire to destroy the tarot cards was almost greater than the desire to regain control of her thoughts.
She felt tired and weary. A quick nap would be good right now, Lisa thought. Then she could deal with the cards after being refreshed, Lisa thought. A deep sleep will settle so much, Lisa thought. No need to prepare for a dream, after all, Lisa thought. She sat back down on the couch to think this all through further.
“It’s too bright for a nap, though. I’d have to turn off… the… light.” Lisa turned first to stare at the bright kitchen lights, then out the window to the deepening night, then to the table where the neatly stacked decks were waiting. “Motherfucker… That fucking bitch nearly did it to me again…”
“MOON! I GOT YOUR ASS AND I’M GONNA FUCKING ECLIPSE IT!”
She stood with with renewed determination and went to the table as a general about to address her troops. Taking the seat as a dare to any judge that may be present, Lisa sat before the tarot decks. She spread out the cards and unfolded the torn list of meanings. She clasped her hands on the table and took a deep breath.
“I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing.” Her shoulders fell as Lisa accepted her lack of knowledge. “But, I’m wide awake now and not… yea.”
“Okay, Hermit. What d’ya got for me tonight?” The keyword card declared it would be solitude, guidance, and introspection. The catchphrase for the card was “Alone, but not isolated.” Lisa thought about how the two could be related. She thought about which forums she could crawl through looking for more information about the card and remembered her anonymous question that she had previously submitted.
Getting to the Witch 101 blog was easy. Having to scroll through dozens and dozens of questions and answers were not. But she found her anonymous question, posted exactly as she had submitted it. The answer was very short and very painful.
“There are no such thing as tarot spirits. Witchcraft is all about waking the inner self and empowering yourself to deal with religions and bureaucracies that would make slaves of us who will not kneel. If you are “seeing tarot spirits”, then witchcraft is not for you and it would be better if you were to seek mental help instead. Once you have stabilized your mind, then you can come back and seek to elevate it.”
Lisa made an ugly noise as her sole commentary on the answer. After hearing so much about this person who was supposed to be a trendsetter of the witchcraft community and how witchcraft was supposed to be about love and light, she was miffed and offended to be dismissed without any consideration to her question. Wasn’t witchcraft supposed to be all about the spirits? Why would she be rejected like that?
She looked back at the card. Because it’s the Hermit’s time to interfere in her life, that’s why. She was certainly feeling the Hermit’s “alone” time now that night had settled in. There was no way she would be able to ask any of her closest friends about tarot cards. Like the bartender at the club and that club’s owner, they all regarded tarot cards as something to make a quick buck by scamming the elderly and the naive. There was no way she could tell them not only that she had tarot cards, but what they were actively doing in her life.
She wished she had access to Rebecca right about now. The question Lisa wanted answered the most was why did Rebecca give her the cards in the first place. If Rebecca knew that the tarot card archetypes would become animated visitations, then why sic them on a ratty and negligent person like Lisa? Wouldn’t it have been better to give the deck to someone in power, someone who could use the tarot spirits to make things better for others? Why her?
She felt herself getting bummed out and disheartened again. She felt herself tire far too early into the evening and only wanting to sleep again. She felt herself wish for before she received the tarot cards and for when it was just party and fun and party and doing just enough on the clock to earn paycheck. She felt very upset with herself for nearly falling into a Moon-powered daze again.
“Jesus, fuck, what is it with that card? Maybe if I focus on the Hermit card here, it will keep me in the present.”
The decorated deck’s version of the Hermit card had a black background that was roughly illuminated by slabs of white. A bird like creature stood on two legs on a large checkered floor. A short pedestal was on the floor before it, and a large green book was held by the creature above that. The bird was facing up and a double halo graced the crown of its head.
Not very terrifying, Lisa thought. In fact, not terrifying in the least. The image conveyed the sense of isolation well enough, as well as the idea that the isolation was desired as the figure had something best worked out in private. Lisa felt comforted by the card, in that the artist knew what she was feeling at the time and had put that emotion into an art piece.
“Very well, then. If this is the card for solitude and learning, then by hell, I’mma learn something tonight.” She propped the card next to the mug of flowers and started a new online search about the use of tarot cards as magic tools, and of tarot card spirits as possible allies.
Again the overwhelming amount of forum and blog posts overwhelmed her. Nearly each one promising to have the One True Knowledge that she needed as a newbie tarot reader. Each one contradicting the others and sometimes contradicting itself. Lisa felt helpless and ignorant. This was a fine time for Elpis to crawl out of the damn jar, she thought.
“Wait.” Her attitude perked up. “I have context after all. I know that for the Star card, for me, Elpis is part of that card’s story. I have a story for all the cards I’ve encountered so far. These stories, these encounters are how I’m carrying the lessons with me. I don’t need to know everyone’s story of tarot card encounters. I just need to know how tarot cards encounter me and look at stories that are similar.”
“Yes! I can do this!”
She started all of her searches over, but this time, she ignored forum and blog posts where the context of the post wasn’t similar or compatible with her personal context. This meant she clicked past and through many more posts than before. But the posts she did settle on to read were much more informative and relevant.
As the evening went on, and her body grew tired, she found herself falling into the beginning stages of the Moon’s brain fog easier and easier. She knew she would have to go to bed sometime, but now that she was actually learning something about tarot, she didn’t want to give the Moon any chance to take that understanding from her.
She understood the decorated deck’s Hermit figure, now. Why they were standing in the darkness, holding a book as both offering and focus. Once you start learning a thing and understanding it, you just want to hold on to it forever and not be distracted by crude shit like taking a shit. However, her body’s desire to do just that forced her to walk away from her thoughts for a while and take care of physical business.
It was on the toilet (and after having brought an extra roll of toilet paper with her, just in case) that Lisa realized how the Moon card was able to affect her then as well as affect her now, and how Fortune could cause a string of bad luck. Different interpretations of different tarot readings often gave a wild swing of attributions to the cards. The Sun card could be a gentle light to one reader and a searing unforgiving ball of nuclear fusion to another reader.
Without context, without framing, the meanings of the cards could swing all over the place. And in her context, without framing and willful control, the influence of the cards could swing in her favor or against her. The Sun card is defaulting to being in her favor and bringing her light and warmth. The Moon card is defaulting to being against her and bringing to her the desire (and probably methods, though she wasn’t going to push her luck by trying) to not change her life any further because of her delusion in thinking what was wrong with her life in the first place.
She came to this eureka moment in the bathroom because her physical needs had taken her away from the Hermit’s focus. She realized that the Hermit wanted to be a forever student, a person who was always enrolled in one class or another, someone who wanted to be permanently installed in academia in some way but never finish the studies to emerge into the real world. (And get a job, she noted drily.)
But going to the bathroom broke the Hermit’s hold on her psyche and allowed her thoughts to run away from tightly controlled theoretical conditions. It was time, she concluded, to start actively using the tarot cards that she did know to help prepare herself for the tarot cards she did not know. It was time to put theory into practice.
As she left the bathroom, she stumbled from near exhaustion. She’ll put theory into practice in the morning, Right now, she had to acknowledge her body’s complaint about the stresses of the day. She left the cards and laptop on the table out in the living room. She diverted the target of her movements to the bed and promptly fell into a deep sleep.
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