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      Tarot Reading (1842)

I have sometimes wondered how a tarot reading works. Is the Reader using intuition? Is there spiritual stuff involved? Is it supernatural?

I have an idea of what may have been going on in times past.

Imagine that it's the year 1842. There's a small town, more of a village really, way out in the middle of nowhere. Most of the people who live there are farmers. Everybody knows everybody, and they're all good folks.

There's a little old lady who lives in a cabin in the woods a few miles from town. Her husband died long ago, and she's a widow. Everybody knows her, and everybody talks to her when she comes into town. They call her Granny Wilkinson.

She's a very old woman, and she has more life experience and more wisdom than anybody else. She is a treasure. She could give you good advice about anything that you might ask her about.

In the little town, there's a girl named Sarah. She's 15 years old, and is quite beautiful. She has taken up with a boy, Roger, 21 years old, who is a "bad apple." He gets drunk; he's been known to steal money; he's even been known to steal chickens. He has a bad reputation, and he deserves it.

Sarah's parents have learned about her relationship with Roger, and they have forbidden her to talk to him or spend time with him.

Sarah is deeply in love with him. She knows about his past, and she knows that he has a "bad streak," but she believes that if she loves him enough, he'll change.

He once got angry with her and punched her in the face. But he apologized, and she forgave him.

She and Roger meet secretly, as often as they can. She sneaks out of her house at night.

Roger has come up with a plan: he wants to marry Sarah. He says they should run away together. They should get together one night, saddle up their horses, and go to a nearby town and get married. He tells her that he loves her; that he'll find a job, and will support them both; that he has changed his ways; that most of the stories she heard about him are not true.

Sarah has almost made up her mind to go with him.

She remembers Granny Wilkinson, and how people have said that she has a 'gift.' They say that the gift has come down to her through her family. She has been known to sit down with people, light a candle, pull out of deck of special cards, and "read' the cards.

Sarah is a typical teenager, as teenagers have always been throughout the centuries: she doesn't want to take advice from older people. She certainly doesn't want to listen to what her parents have to say. But she figures that if Granny Wilkinson can consult The Spirits, she'll get some real guidance.

One afternoon she gathers up some apples and some fresh-baked bread, and asks her mother if it's okay to go out and visit Granny Wilkinson. Her mother says yes.

Sarah rides up to Granny Wilkinson's house, and finds her out front chopping wood. Granny Wilkinson knows her. "Aren't you Isabel's daughter? I haven't seen you in so long! You've gotten really tall."

They go inside and sit down at a table. Granny Wilkinson lights a candle, and says, "Is there anything special that brings you out here today?" She already knows that Sarah has something on her mind.

Sarah pours out her heart. She tells the old woman all about Roger, all about how much she loves him, and their plan to elope.

The old woman nods. She pulls out a deck of Tarot cards and shuffles them clumsily; her hands aren't as nimble as they once were. She tells Sarah to select a card at random.

It's The Chariot.

Granny Wilkinson stares at the card for a second. "The Chariot. Hmmm ... looks like somebody's planning to put some plans into action."

She looks up at Sarah, who nods solemnly.

Sarah pulls a second card. It is Justice.

The old woman says, "This card is all about the consequences of your actions. You know ... you reap what you sow."

The next card is The Emperor. Granny Wilkinson says, "I think this card represents your father. Have you tried to think about how worried he would be if you just vanished, if you ran away from home?"

The next card is the Queen of Wands. "This is a woman who is a leader, someone who is forthright and honest ... is that a good description of your mother?"

Sarah nods her head. She starts to look worried.

"One more card," says Granny Wilkinson. Sarah pulls a card. The Fool.

The old woman shakes her head slowly from side to side. "I think I know what the cards are saying. This is a warning. If you follow through with this plan, if you run off with Roger, it will not turn out well. You will hurt your mother and father. You'll be going off on a risky enterprise that could end in disaster."

Throughout the centuries, it has been hard for old people   —   people who are wise and experienced and are able to make good decisions   —   to give advice to young people, because young people, by nature, don't want to take advice. They want to make their own decisions and run their own lives. All through their childhood, there's been some adult telling them what to do, placing limits on them.

So how can we get past this defensive barrier? Let the young people think that they're tapping into the Otherworld.

Granny Wilkinson knew what advice she was going to give, long before anybody looked at any cards. She knew how to give guidance to this young girl who was about to make a huge mistake. No matter what cards might have come up   —   Granny Wilkinson would have found a way to interpret them (read them) to be a warning for Sarah not to elope.

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