Family gatherings become much more interesting if everyone decides to take the host’s lead and sit in a circle. Start drumming. Then read cards. Any cards.
The question is the hardest, as they say, and I believe that. But here’s a method that works every time. When in doubt, let the cards decide what the question should be. And is there something that we could all be interested in? Even better.
Use two decks for this method. One, an oracle deck for the question, and then another deck from which each person can draw a card (or more, depending on how much time one wants to spend on the reading).
Tonight I used the Dark Goddess Tarot. I shuffled the deck, and let one of the other participants cut it. Lilith, the Babylonian Goddess of Darkness made her appearance. As often with oracle decks, each graphic card may be accompanied by a prophetic line – in this case here Lilith says: ‘Be seduced by the strange to grow your mind’. We turned that into our common question: ‘How can I be seduced by the strange to grow my mind?’
I took another deck, the Dodal Marseille, and shuffled. The Devil insisted on popping out of the deck, landing on the floor. I decided to let him stay, as he rather looked just like Lilith. Then I offered a card to each in the circle, starting with the person on my left. My nephew, Paul, got the Magician. I liked how he answered ‘his’ question and the way in which he reasoned about it. He said, ‘so, if I’m to be seduced by the odd, then this probably means that I have to find a way to flirt with the idea of correctitude, as the Magician is not exactly the most honest all the time.’ ‘Good answer,’ I thought. Indeed it would strange for the Magician to show scruples.
‘What did you get?’, he then asked me, and after we did the other people’s rounds, with cards ranging from The Sun, The Pope, and the Hanged Man, I turned mine over and said, ‘I got the Popess.’ I felt slightly flattered when he said, ‘you always get the High Priestess.’ ‘True,’ I said, while thinking about how odd that is in itself. Especially since I never use any Magician’ tricks. I don’t ‘fix’ the cards so that I end up with the ‘wise one’.
In this context here, I thought my card was easy. In this card The Popess sits with her big book on her lap. Unlike the Pope, she is not into formalized ceremony and sermon. Her disciples are unknown. Her knowledge is like that of the oracle at Delphi: mysterious, deeply hidden, and poetic. To be seduced by hidden knowledge rather sounds to me like getting into the occult. Fair enough. I do some of that already. The secret and sacred text has always interested me. Even in my day job I dig it. And by night Lilith may well be a steady companion.
The point of the family circus for me is to always learn something besides laughing, sing, or gossiping. I like it when we all take a dive together into our own private mysteries. The metaphysical is a good starting point, as it’s not about gaining the kind of knowledge that floats in the unknown. The metaphysical is a physical concern with death. How do we think of it? How do we live it? I can warmly recommend for people to leave their chairs and hit the ground. Sit on animal skins. Light a candle and drum. Get some cards on the table. You will come out of it infinitely wiser. And if you have a dog, allow it to participate. Mine, Frigg, was an exquisite companion tonight. She was the one who approved of the Devil. Standing to Frigg’s right, he was winking.
Note on the decks: The Dark Goddess, by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, 2013, ArnellArt. Marseille Tarot, Jean Dodal, 1701, as reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy, 2001. A hand-stenciled set.