This weekend I’ve been spending some time with cards at the summer-house. Inspired by some talk with cartomantic friends and collectors of caliber, my partner dug out some treasures belonging to his family, all inveterate card-players. One deck in particular made my heart jump. A pristine unopened Piatnik box from the 1940s. ‘It’s all yours,’ he said, ‘do what you must.’ What was a must for me was to tear the wrapping instantly and start shuffling. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. The more I shuffled the more I could feel the lush card-stock. The gold corners were sparkling in the sunset. The rays of light went in and out of the deck, passing through the witch stones, and making sigils on the table. The gold on the back against a cherry red pattern was almost blinding me.
‘What say you, lovely cards in my hands?’ I asked, and then laid down a square of 9.
The Royal heaven descended upon the table. The women are ruling, not from the center – women never do – but from the places that are more important. The men in strategic positions, although dealing, are caught up the women’s world. The king of Clubs fancies the Queen of Diamonds in the presence of his consort. But she is more interested in disciplining her falcon and her son. The King of Diamonds, in trouble with his Queen, fancies the Queen of Spades, but she’s more interested in reflecting her magic in the Queen of Clubs’ mirror. ‘All very good,’ I felt. ‘I like this deck. I like this deck,’ I murmured to myself. ‘Why do I like this deck? Why do I like this deck?,’ the deck urged me to ask in my trance-like state. ‘What’s the connection between these old cards, in their original package, with no other hands having touched them, this family I’m in, and myself? Why me and these cards, here, among special spirits on the Western coast of Denmark, a very wild place, and quite unknown to most?
9 cards fell on the table. No other hands have touched them. A very special moment was revealing itself. A deep breath. . .
The ways of money for learning (6♣ J♣ 10♦). Tears for the wish. Let it happen. You’re on target (7♠ J♥ 9♥). The community of wise women, one gathering, the other splitting. The splitting of the hairs. Abracadabra. It is as I say it is (Q♥ Q♠ 8♠). The way of magic leads to the Queen of Hearts. The Queen of Spades knows how to deal with young men
(J♣ J♥ Q♠). Great resources wished for are put into the service of the coven. What coven? I don’t pay allegiance to any one congregation. No system. No rules. And yet, as the cards seize me to go with a magical application – there are here the very 3 cards that indicate we are in the presence of magic – 7♠ magic, Q♠ the witch, 8♠ the coven – I’m reconsidering. The surprise card 3♥ tells me I’m in the company of familiars. But why isn’t the 7♠ next to the Q♠, so we can see her at work, casting spells? Perhaps because this witch is an educator. A woman of great authority. She spanks her students with her feathers, the most magical of all acts. She is in agreement with the target boy’s mother. ‘We’re here to learn,’ they all say. ‘To live magically.’ ‘You’re welcome to the house of cards,’ says the Queen of Spades. ‘Let us all intone to this hymn: The women hold the power of truth. What is imagined in truth, becomes the amen of the 8♠.’
Thank you to the cards, Bent, Ida, and the Sørensen and Laursen clan.
Note on the deck: Piatnik, Goldeck Nr. 167, 1940