Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"The Three Tarot Cards," Part One

By Laura Stamps

Spring arrives late in the Blue
Ridge this year. Only the second
week in May, and the soft fur
of buds and new leaves still
covers most of the trees at higher
elevations after an unusually
long, cold winter. At four o’clock
Ravena turns off the Parkway
and drives back to her hotel
along the country road that joins
each mountain town to the next.
Dark storm clouds gather in the
west, and she’s thankful to have
left the mountaintops before the
sky cracks, releasing its barrage
of fire-sticks and silver seeds.

When Ravena returns to the hotel
the thumping of steady rain pummels
her car, but by the time she walks
into her room the deluge stops.
Outside, water puddles pockmark
the courtyard, and a sparrow
jumps in one, fanning its wings,
splattering itself with water. Up
and down it hops and splashes,
until a robin twice its size charges
across the lawn, and the tiny bird
darts beneath a bush. The birds
in Ravena’s backyard bathe in rain
puddles as well, but none to such
a joyous tempo as this tiny sparrow.

Ravena steps out of her wet shoes
and pads across the room to the
bed, where she sits in the middle,
her legs folded neatly beneath
her, rummaging through the bag
of magical tools for her tarot deck.
She places it in the middle of a
cotton scarf illustrated with runes
and the image of Athena, Goddess
of Wisdom.

With her wand Ravena
casts a circle around the bed, calling
upon Athena’s guidance. Then she
closes her eyes, grounds her energy,
and says, “Dearest Athena, Great
Goddess of Wisdom, should I leave
Odell and my marriage?”

Ravena cuts the deck, shuffles three times
to symbolize the phases of the
Moon, divides the deck into three
piles moving left, stacks it again
in the same direction, and then
draws the top card. The Nine of
Swords reversed. A reversed card
always means “No,” this particular
one symbolizing a time of confusion.
“I don’t understand,” Ravena mutters.
“Dear Athena, show me another
card to clarify your answer.” She
props the Nine of Swords against
her magical tool bag, cuts the deck
again, shuffles, divides, stacks, and
draws The Star this time, a healing
card. “Now I’m really confused,”
she says. “Help me, Athena.”

Setting this card next to the first
one, she goes through her routine

one last time, drawing The World.
exclaims, thoroughly frustrated.
“None of this makes any sense to
me,” she sighs, staring at the three
cards as if they could speak, but
hearing no revelation from Athena.
“Not one word,” Ravena mumbles.
Slowly she gathers the cards and
packs them away in her bag, deciding
to try another reading tomorrow
before she leaves town for home.


Laura Stamps (www.kittyfeatherpress.blogspot.com) is an award-winning poet and novelist. Over seven hundred of her poems and short stories have appeared in magazines worldwide. Winner of the "Muses Prize Best Poet of the Year 2005" and the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and six Pushcart Award nominations, she lives in South Carolina and is the author of more than 30 books and chapbooks of poetry and fiction.

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