Once upon a time in the late 70s, a classmate of mine brought a few of her Persian friends to the house I was raised in. It was that evening that the innocent, wet-behind-the-geopolitical-ears Bowers family learned of unrest in Iran, and got a hint of the misdeeds of the soon-to-be-deposed Shah and his Gestapo-like secret police. Some time later came what we came to call the “Hostage Crisis,” which much later came to be the springboard of Ben Affleck’s excellent ARGO.
That same evening one of the Persian gentlemen entertained many of us by giving Tarot Card readings. I waited patiently for mine, but alas, the gentleman grew too tired to continue before he got to me.
As the years went by, every so often I’d pass a house with PSYCHIC glowing in neon in one of the front windows. I never quite gumptioned up to go in–not that I put stock in the existence of psychic phenomena, you understand. No, I was sure it was “For Entertainment Value Only”–but I thought it would be a kick, and would also scratch the itch I got that evening at the Bowers residence.
Flash forward thirty-some years. I shuttled myself up to Camp Verde for a low-expectations lunch date with my now-former (sigh) Sweetheart, Denise. After a fine plate of Mexican food at a mom-and-pop called La Fonda, and a brief reunion with the critters I’d left behind when I left Cottonwood, Denise and I took a stroll in Old Town and stopped in a bookstore . . .
. . . and in the bookstore, up on a little platform, was a table and chairs and a sign offering Tarot Card readings. I sat in one of the chairs. Denise went elsewhere in the bookstore. Soon a woman arrived, beatific smile, close-cropped hair with a bit of gray on the sides, and introduced herself: Stone Constance Veritas. Solidity Everlastingness Truth–what a name!
As she riffled her well-worn Tarot deck, she gave me an overview. She would begin with a prayer. She would be using the words “abracadabra” and “hallelujah.” She would use a pendulum when she had yes-or-no questions, calling on “Loving Spirit” for the answer. She also valued the presence of Mary, and I think though am not sure that she meant the Virgin of Guadalupe version.
After the prayer, which if memory serves asked Loving Spirit for guidance, and the thrice-repeated Abracadabra (and here’s a brief but fascinating discussion of that numinous word, courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abracadabra ) and Hallelujah, the cards were dealt, with a six-card plus-sign shape on the left and a sixteen-card four-by-four array on the right.
Death showed up right away, ending up in the middle of the plus sign. The Hermit and The Emperor flanked Death. There was also a thrice-stabbed heart, a lot of sticks, a lot of cups, and some geometric-looking crawlies that reminded me of Jack Kirby’s drawings of the Mole Man’s subterranean minions. (My monumental ignorance of Tarot cards is now evident.)
Stone was gracious enough to let me take this picture, of her and the array:
(In my “Tarot Cards” acrostic/drawing at top, you’ll see a really sketchy version of this photo in the middle.)
Stone was quick to assure me that Death symbolizes Transformation. A seed gives up its life, and Life is the result. And elsewhere in the array, she found that a meditation of where I was and where I needed to go was important, and that the pursuit of my calling would result; that healing would occur if a bereft person was consoled; that patience was all-important and that “Ego interferes with Love.”
I enjoyed her company immensely. The psychic connection she may or may not have was irrelevant: like the astrologer Madame Vesant, also known as Becky Vesey, that Robert Heinlein created for his game-changing STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, Stone is wise and good with advice, and uses the arcane medium as a tuning fork to fit the wisdom she has to the person she’s counseling. Whether her spirit guides exist exclusively in her imagination, or visit her from the vast Elsewhere, she puts them to good use. I would rather consult her than a psychiatrist, I think. Luckily I don’t need a psychiatrist–or do I? 🙂
Here are the words to the acrostic:
The symbols are complex yet basic
A primality laces the arcana
Reshuffling focus to arrayed order
Oracularly direct if a bit absurd
Truth sometimes uses odd routes