The other night, I had my first tarot reading over Zoom.
This required more faith than usual since I couldn’t actually see which cards the psychic was pulling from his deck.
Was he making it all up, on top of making it all up?
I couldn’t tell.
As for the reading itself, the only revelation I can share with you is that I’m out $20.
The tarot has been around for six centuries, so there are countless decks to choose from.
Almost all the decks contain a Moon card, and most Moon cards contain three basic elements:
A lobster clambering up a shoreline.
A pathway snaking between two towers.
A dog and a wolf howling at a human-faced moon.
What does the Moon card represent?
Consult any of the innumerable keys to the tarot and you’ll come away with a dizzying variety of meanings:
The cosmic Mother
The transition between life and death
And let’s not even get started on what an upside-down Moon card signifies.
Of all the tarot decks in circulation, the Rider-Waite deck is the most popular with over 100 million copies sold.
This deck was the brainchild of A. E. Waite, a British scholar who joined more occult secret societies than I can count. (He belonged to the Freemasons, the Knights Templar, and the Hermetic Society of the Golden Dawn—just to name a few.)
It was in the Golden Dawn that Waite met “a most imaginative and abnormally psychic artist” named Pamela Colman Smith.
Waite hired Smith to paint an original tarot deck, for which she received a small fee and no credit. Despite painting the most popular tarot deck in history, she died in poverty. I wrote about this episode in occult history for Sunday’s Boston Globe.
On her death certificate, Smith’s occupation was listed as “Spinster of Independent Means,” which is a phrase I may have to borrow for my next year’s taxes.
One reason I’ve always been bad with money is my collection of tarot cards.
I currently have my eye on a deck inspired by Gérard de Nerval, the French Romantic poet who ended up in an asylum after walking a pet lobster around Paris on a blue silk leash.
I’m not drawn to the tarot for its supposed divinatory powers.
Nor do I collect them like baseball cards.
As soon as I get my hands on a new deck, I break the seal and fan the Major Arcana on the floor.
I just like to look at them.
They say, if you stare long enough into a tarot card, you can enter the depicted scene as if stepping through a doorway.
But if you do go venturing into The Moon card, I recommend you stick to the moonlit path that winds between the two towers.
And on the return journey, it’s imperative—as any magician worth his Dead Sea salt will tell you—to shut the door behind you.
Otherwise, an astral crustacean could come scuttling into our reality.
And then you would have to buy a blue silk leash.
And those aren’t cheap.
Have a wonderfully disturbing Halloween, everyone!
A brief programming note: With moon-related news coming thick and fast these days, I’ve decided to pick up the pace. You will now receive a Lunar Dispatch on the night of the full moon AND on the night of the new moon.
So I’ll see you all in two weeks.
In the meantime, if anyone is planning to buy me a Christmas gift, forget tarot cards. Today’s newly revealed lunar motorcycle just shot to the top of my list:
PS. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to the newsletter. If you’re already subscribed, consider sharing it with a friend. Thank you!
i don't know if you'd be interested but if you are i do tarot readings and ill be happy to show you the cards as we go but regardless!! love ur newsletter
Loved this one!