Fear of Flying

On a chilly day in December I came into work to find my fIrst client of the day anxiously awaiting our scheduled appointment.  She was 45 minutes early and she had the intense, slightly guarded demeanor of one who had been wrestling with a problem for longer than that and was ambivalent about sharing it.  “So what’s your question?” I asked brightly, realizing as I spoke that my tone might make her even more guarded. She fidgeted, then stated she had an overseas trip booked, but was afraid of flying and in fact had not flown internationally before.  Had a bad feeling about it, too.  Hmmn, a nervous flier.  Okay, this shouldn’t take long.  The spread I chose, a Celtic Cross, reflected her fear, but otherwise looked fine…..except for the crowning card, The Tower.  Sigh.  Annoyed, I concentrated on the other cards,  a fusion of friends, fun, a new environment,  but the blasted thing wouldn’t go away and in my mind’s eye I found all the cards began to lean in to it, almost pointing to it, in unison, in that strange way they sometimes do.  Damn.  Finally,  the story started to arrange itself in my head and I said, ‘Everything looks fine for getting there and during your visit. But change the return flight, if you can’.   Naturally she wanted to know why and naturally I didn’t really want to answer, though of course I did. “Well, at the very least, lots of turbulence…. I mean the really scary kind, with people getting nauseous and things flying around (feeling dumb here)…and you know….chaos, very unpleasant…” She frowned and then asked, “And so, at the very most, there could conceivably be a crash?”    Ah, cornered.  “Well”, I countered, “it’s not out of the question”.   She nodded. “So if you were me, what would you do, then?”  Honestly, I didn’t know what I would do.  I have the Moon and Mars in Sag in my 9th house so I am entirely capable of ignoring prudent advice, at least in 9th house matters.  “I’d look into changing it”.  I said.  Which was true.  If it had been my reading I probably would have at least looked into it.  I wrapped up the reading, wished her a safe journey and that was that.

About 2 weeks later I walked into work to find a lineup of coworkers greeting me at the door screaming “Lockerbie,  Lockerbie!”.  Huh?  “That woman you read!  She changed her flight!  She was supposed to have been on the Lockerbie flight!  She just called from Scotland wanting to talk to you!” I don’t remember if they had to explain what occurred with Lockerbie or if I’d already gotten wind of it (though I had no idea of her exact destination or travel dates and wouldn’t have connected the two). Almost before I knew what was happening, word had spread throughout the neighborhood and people started coming in to get a look at “the one who predicted the Lockerbie thing”. (It proved futile to attempt to explain that that wasn’t exactly what happened, though I did try, each time). Some of them scheduled readings with me only to ask they should change their upcoming travel plans, others became clients.  It was an interesting time and it made me a better, slightly braver reader, though I never read for or even spoke to that particular sitter again after our one follow up conversation. She confessed she had gone against her ‘scientific principles’ by getting a Tarot reading, and also by following the advice given, and although she was thankful she had, she couldn’t allow herself to fall further into it or “all would be lost”(!).(meaning her relationships and reputation and proclaimed stances on things might be questioned).  I thought this was odd, even ironic.  Had she not been listening to her own intuitive voice by coming for the reading?  It’s not like I didn’t get it.  It had happened to me, too, though at a much younger and less established (entrenched) age. I wasn’t as worried about my stances then, but it did in fact affect others reactions towards me and their general perceptions of me, usually in a negative way, which isn’t an easy thing to absorb at any age.  I sometimes found myself in the odd position of noticing my opinions carried both more weight (“she reads Tarot cards, she probably knows!’) and less (“but what could she possibly know, she’s into Tarot cards!”).  I was asked to perform tricks (“So what’s my sign, then?”) or to defend the work (“Sounds like you fell for a lot of bunk there!”) or deflect a hand in my face ( “You read palms, too?”) on a semi-regular basis. It’s a common war story among readers.  So it takes some time and a good dose of courage for most of us to fully embrace our thing.  Scattered along the path we get the occasional outward sign that our thing is the right thing, for us.  And then, once again, we’re flying.

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A History of Tarot (mine)

In the beginning, I was an Astrologer.  A lonely one.   I started out with sun signs like everyone else (Linda Goodman’s “Sun Signs”- an excellent introductory book, btw) but then went on to take lessons, read charts, do research and eventually have my own clients. I took a lot of guff for it.  Family, friends, even strangers were not shy about sharing their thoughts with me. “That’s only for gullible people, isn’t it?” “Hmmn, we thought you were smarter than that.”  “Pure superstition!”  Or my favorite, “You’ll be going to hell if you keep that up.”  During this period I took a job working for Weiser’s, the well known esoteric bookstore in lower Manhattan, owned by leading occult publisher Samuel Weiser.  I was given the job of overseeing the large astrology section and ‘keeping an eye’ on the tarot.  Up until that point my exposure to tarot had been minimal – one chapter in a Sybil Leek book and the little white pamphlet enclosed in a Marseille deck given to me by a coworker at my previous job. I did a few readings for myself with them, without having any real knowledge about them, and the readings were accurate enough, but the design gave me a headache and after awhile I put them aside.  Really,  I was too happily overwhelmed with all the astrology material now in front of me every day to do much more than glance through the occasional tarot book that caught my eye.  My clientele grew and about two years later I went to work for a specialty occult business,  also in Manhattan, which provided not only a job, but a reading space for my established client base and a platform to attract new ones.  Yay!  The only glitch was that I had to also be ready and willing to read Tarot. At a professional level.  In two weeks.  I had taken a few informal classes by then, but was essentially still a neophyte.  Talk about a learning curve, I knew I had arrived at mine.

I don’t remember the first Tarot reading I did there.  Or the second or third.  I was not an inexperienced reader (of charts) but I do recall feeling like a bit of an imposter every time I started shuffling those cards.  And with my boss listening unobtrusively (but in plain view of the client) nearby, not to mention the necessary time constraints imposed by the venue…well, I did enjoy rising to the challenge…but…whew….it was a lot of pressure.

For the next 5 and a half years I read tarot on a mostly full time basis.  I got to know other tarot readers too, and was continually surprised by all the variations of what constitutes a good one.  I knew I was a hybrid, an intuitive type with a strong love of book knowledge, a fascination for prediction, and an enthusiasm for keen analysis.  While these traits have served me well and are in fact necessary ones for the Uranian art of Astrology, things are a bit different on the more Neptunian landscape of Tarot.  I met some great taroists who didn’t read much of anything (some couldn’t), others who could wax and weave their way through volumes of arcane esoterica, of the type available to buy or view by appointment only at Weiser’s.  Yes, they were very different styles of reading, but equally impressive in their own unique way, and the (Leonine) snob in me was quickly and quite rightfully, silenced.

My journey in Astrology began early and developed slowly and comfortably, first on my own timetable, with limited materials, later in a more formal and structured sense through some excellent teachers and other resources I found along the way. The  journey with Tarot was different.  More like The Fool, followed by the Chariot, with a bit of the Tower and the Moon thrown in.  Grabbing the reins and riding that wave.  Thirty-something years later and I’m still holding on.  It’s a process. Feel free to wade in if the spirit calls you (and if it wants you, it will call).  It’s admittedly a challenge to attain any sort of mastery over those cards.  But the current is wide and the water is fine.