Monday, March 23, 2009

The Hierophant and the Hanged Man

Trying to plan events on Valentines Day is like dancing your way across a minefield. Who can be in a room together? Who likes who? Who will misinterpret the guest list? Zombie movie or vampire? Decisions to be made.

After roladexing through several people that fateful day, I finally settled on Kiersten Mitchell, Sean Dey and Jenn. We decided to watch the most wonderful valentines day movie ever: American Movie. Epic. Truly.

Sean is his usual two hours late. Jenn is getting romantic with House reruns in her bedroom. Keirsten comes over promptly on time and I fall in love all over again.

Keirsten is a mix between Natalie Portman and Blossom (looks like Natalie, dresses like Blossom). She has on jean shorts with tights, a tee shirt and high tops. She’s also rocking a huge pair of black nerd glasses on top of her perfect nose.

Keirsten is a natural hippie, floating through life in bright colors and flowy skirts and all the serenity you can handle. She likes to garden and play guitar and has the sweetest, most gentle manner of speaking. I just pretty much love everything about her.

“Hiiiiiiiii.” She sings, her lovely voice floating through my house. “I brought my tarot cards.”

Keirsten is a beginning psychic and it is the best thing in the world. Because she’s kind of just starting her psychic journey, so sometimes she gets confused about goddesses and seasons and says ‘oh fuck it!’ in that wonderful voice.

We take our generous helpings of single-girl-red-wine and sit down at the table on my front porch. Keirsten takes out her tarot cards and shuffles through.

I feel a pang of discomfort. I had tarot cards in high school when I was a practicing Wiccan, and got rid of them shortly after becoming a Christian. I am not quite sure how I feel about them. Especially after the last few months.

I look behind me to the couch on the other end of my porch. I remember sitting there one night, a few months ago, reading scripture and trying to keep a panic attack at bay. I felt like my heart was wrapped in ice, like something was going to kill me any second and my body was trying desperately to warn me. The bible was shaking in my hands and the words were blurry. I could only think one thing: iamgoingtodieiamgoingtodieiamgoingtodie-

Jenn came out onto the porch and sat across from me. I didn’t say anything to her.

She shivered and stood up. “Do you feel that? It feels….terrible out here. I’m putting on some worship music.” Jenn walked into the house.

I left immediately, terrified and guilty that I had brought some sort of demonic spirit into our house.

But, not all spirits are evil. As Keirsten shuffles I begin praying that only nice, sweet, kind, well-dressed spirits talk to Keirsten. As I pray a card falls out, face up. It is The Devil.


Keirsten picks it up. “You know, that card doesn’t actually mean something bad.”

“Well then it’s horrible marketing.”

“Is there anything specific you want to know?” Kiersten asks, placing the cards in three piles. “Romance, money, job stuff?”

A story from the Old Testament floats up from my memory. Something about a king consulting with a psychic and God getting super pissed that the king didn’t just ask Him. I shrug. “Nah, maybe just a general one.”

She puts the first card.

“That’s you.” Keirsten says. “It’s the heirophant, a woman who is wise but constricted by the people around her.”

She places the next card across the first.

“This card represents your difficulties, your obstacles.”

She puts down another card.

“Wonderful,” I say.

"This represents your fears. Whatever you are the most afraid of, is what ummm..."


"Is happening now, or will. Or something." She lays down another card quickly.

"I think she represents the past- success, money, happiness...but I'm not sure..."

"This represents traveling, or some journey, but it's in the place where your finances are supposed to be...hmmm.."

"Well, that's good. That's where you end up."

She then lays four cards in a straight line going down next to these.

My stomach lurches.

“That’s interesting.” Kiersten mumbles.


“The Devil card, it’s in the place that signifies what you fear. You’re afraid of the devil?”

“Not thrilled with him.”

Kiersten looks at the other cards. “Ummm….well, this one means, uhh-“ She rummages through her purse for the little booklet that comes with the tarot cards. She points to the blindfolded person. “This represents the past, anguish, solitude, fear. And.. ummm…”

“What does this one mean?” I ask, pointing to card of a boy holding a cup.

“I think, I think that’s supposed to represent your family, but it can’t be. If it does represent your family...hmmm…but that one really should not have come up…”

She flips through the booklet for another few minutes. I sip my wine.

“Oh fuck it!” She sighs, throwing the book down. “I really need to get better at this shit.”

See, she is the greatest, I told you.

“Let me try another way,” Keirsten says.

“Wait. I’ll tell you what I see.” I look at the cards, and it seems very clear to me. “The heirophant is me, Christ is over me, protecting me. I’m trying to view everything through his eyes right now and not mine. This woman is what I used to be, I used to be very strong. The man with knives is what Christ is protecting me from. From myself. And this man riding away represents people that are leaving me. But this other woman over here, the strength card, that’s me, soon. And she’s strong, and she’s alone, but okay with it. And the devil can kiss my ass.”

“See, you are intuitive!” Keirsten smiles happily. “Sometimes you sense things in the cards, sometimes you don’t. It’s hard for me to give readings for people I know.”

I look at the cards and they make me very sad. I pick up the man riding away and smile at him.

“Let me try for you.” I shuffle the rest of the cards. I ask for the spirit to speak through the tarot cards. I cut the deck into three piles and touch my finger tips to each one. I am trying to see if I feel a pull towards one over the other.

I settle on the slimmest pile. I pick it up and move the other two to the side. I lay down the first card.

I lay down the second card.

“Wow.” Keirsten breathes.

“I think that means you should come the fuck back to church.” I say, with all the psychic wisdom I can muster.

The next card is the moon and the stars. Then a priest surrounded by material things.

“Okay, this is what you think Christianity is. Stuff that holds you back and clutters your way. The sun and moon card represents where you are going now, to something pure and simple. But I think Christ is there too, in fact, I think he would rather be there, then where you have left him.”

I point to a card showing two people talking. “I think this means that someone is going to try to control you in some manner. I don’t have a good feeling about it. But I think it’s still connected to spiritual things. Your mother maybe.”

“My father.” Keirsten nods.

“Maybe I should be a tarot card reader for Jesus.”

Keirsten laughs at me. “You could probably get away with it.”

Sean makes his grand entrance just then. Keirsten decides to practice some more on him, and I can hear her frustrated, sweet curses from my kitchen.

I hung out with Keirsten tonight, talking tarot, and she let it slip how much she hates getting the devil card. My response: Why? I thought it didn't mean anything bad?

"Oh, ummm, well. Actually it represents evil and suspicion, I just didn't want to upset you."



  1. tarot card reader for jesus. absolutely.

  2. When one really gets into it as an adult, not as a pseudo-rebellious "goth" kid, the knowledge that Tarot has nothing in it that contravenes the tenets of the Holy Bible, should you decide to live according to that book, becomes clear. I imagine that the Biblical incident you refer to is Saul's visit to the Witch of Endor. The hypocrisy is that Saul himself had outlawed familiar spirits. In the 613 commandments to the Hebrews in the desert, witches and sorcery are prohibited - but frankly, those rules were laid down to help a nomadic society stay together as they journeyed. And they have nothing to do with Tarot. Why are a set of archetypal symbols on cardboard wrong? Who said so and why? You need not fear the cards or their use. Your friend needs more experience before reading for people. Resorting to the LWB during a reading is asking for confusion.
    By the way, you are a splendid storyteller; a marvelous writer. Are you a professional writer?
    All the best,

  3. I'm glad you finally wrote about this. But it still freaks me the fuck out.

    You're dialogue is so smooth. Teach me.

  4. Eliot:

    You should probably have asked me why and how long I was Wiccan. For example, if you had known that my mother is Wiccan and I was raised on it for 16 years, your above comment is painfully ignorant.

    However, you are completely correct, and it was a total goth phase. ;-)

    I never said I thought tarot cards were bad. I am only rightfully careful of the spirits I invite into my house.

    And no, I am not a paid writer, but I would love to be. Let me know if you'd like to help a sister out ;-)

    Megan: I have great friends that speak very well. Again this is all memoir based, so I am trying to remember actual conversations as best I can.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. dang! i deleted it, but your name still shows up. sorry Keirsten

  7. LOVE this.
    LOVE title.
    which book is this for Kate?
    I have become confused.
    You have to many splendid ideas. to much for me to keep up with.

  8. I think I want to call my mothers book 'the hierophant and the hanged man'. Just a thought.

  9. Having just discovered your blog, I can only plead completely guilty to any charge of ignorance. Just for clarity, I did not mean any comments about religion and all that as a personal reference to you, just in general. Even the goth comment was not aimed at yourself. But that's just as clarification.
    As to writing have you tried submitting items to publications? I read many personal blogs and I always enjoy when there is such a keen and clear style as you demonstrate. I could give some suggestions. If you wish to discuss it privately,try emcphd(AT) In April, I begin a two year term on the Board of Directors of the American Tarot Association as Vice President of Communications. If you would feel better contacting me through them, it's ata-tarot(DOT)com. You'll find me there under "About ATA." All the best...

  10. oh eliot! I was just being a pain in the ass. My wiccan phase was exactly that, a high schoolers rebellion. I will email you shortly.

  11. "oh eliot! I was just being a pain in the ass."
    And a right fine job you made of it too. And welcome to the happily still growing list of women who have rolled their eyes and shook their heads as the wearily said to me, "oh, Eliot!" Glad to see that age has not withered nor time diminished my capacity to elicit said comment.
    Look forward to hearing from you.