Today is my mother’s birthday. She is not around any more, as she died in 1998. But I always get a present on her birthday for myself. And this often has to do with one of the topics we used to discuss, something ranging between logic and divination. She was into both. As a logician, and presented with a question that would resist formalizing, she would ask me, ‘are you stupid or something,’ when insisting on wasting her time about the benefits of precision in physics or the benefits of accuracy in fortunetelling. As a diviner, she would ask, ‘how can we entertain ourselves with this picture,’ if it was cards we would look at, a quote from the Bible, or a Vedic string often hidden in a Bollywood movie.

Today I got my fingers soaked into my fine old playing card decks. You don’t want to know what that feels like. I asked 5 decks to tell me something about plain fortunetelling. I wanted to give myself the gift of appreciating just how easy it is to read cards. And how joyful. I owe mother this truth: that wherever people go after they’re dead, they play cards. So I practice.

What happens if we insist on the irrelevance of accuracy in fortunetelling?

10 Diamonds, 9 Hearts, King of Spades.

(Deck: Otto Tragy Jugend Spielkarten, Ver. Stralsunder Spielkartenfabrik, 1910)


All the money that you may wish for, you will not get.

. . . . . .

But is money the aim in fortunetelling?

6 Diamonds, 2 Clubs, 9 Diamonds

(Deck: Dondorf, Patience-Karten, Frankfurt, 1915)


Yes. You channel the money you already have to work out new solutions that will get you a very good deal for significant changes in your economic situation.

. . . . . .

But how does the universal idea of ‘there’s no truth’ enter in relation with the equally universal idea of ‘there is truth’ in fortunetelling?

7 Hearts, 7 Spades, 7 Diamonds

(Deck: Dondorf, 1890)


First you laugh at your problems, then you cry at your problems, and then you laugh some more at your problems; or basically what the cards actually say is that it pays to laugh and cry at your problems.

(A special thanks to mother for this 777 right now. She would have been 77 today. Double trouble. And yet, the highest magic is here for sure.)

. . . . . .

What’s the best about fortunetelling?

Jack of Clubs, 8 Hearts, 9 Hearts

(Deck: Piatnik’s version of Dondorf, 1930)

You work enthusiastically to get what you love thinking about fully on your plate.


. . . . . .

How can we be ‘true’ to fortunetelling?

2 Spades, Queen of Spades, Jack of Diamonds

(Deck: Brepols, Turnhout, 1920)


By not cutting any deals that are not economical.

. . . . . .

To all those into fortunetelling, remember this: fortunetelling is not for the fainthearted. You aim for the cash and nothing else. That’s the tradition. But beyond tradition, ‘eh,’ as mother would say, and she just loved trashing all tradition, ‘there’s play. You laugh, you cry, and you laugh some more.’

Happy 77 Anna – the finest woman I know.

. . . . .

A special thought goes to those who drank wine with me today, honouring Anna in the best of ways, with playing cards at the house of spirits. Thank you, dear friends.


    1. cameliaelias says:

      Thanks, Maralyn. My mother was something, that’s for sure. She was the sharpest axe I’ve known. Merciless. And fair. Fascinatingly grand, and above all, generous. I’m very fortunate indeed.

  1. kfj says:

    Great that you did a visit here at your mother Anna’s birthday! Good wine too… Funny reading too, all that Lenormand nonsense…kfj

    1. cameliaelias says:

      That’s what I thought too. Reading cards is fun, and thank god for it, there’s no ultimate ‘read with the cards that speak to you.’ Such nonsense. A serious diviner will read with anything. A serious diviner knows that we’re dealing with a world of representations, suggestions, manipulations, and poetry. And that’s the art. And that’s what mother knew.

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