Editor's Note

A Tarot Skeptic Gets Her Cards Read

And finds some inspiration in divination.

By Rebecca Jacobson January 29, 2019 Published in the February 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

have an abiding ambivalence toward the world of divination. Maybe it’s because I grew up on Harry Potter and, as an overachieving know-it-all with unruly curls, identified with Hermione—and her skepticism on the subject. (She calls it “woolly.”) But I’ve always enjoyed reading my horoscope, and friends and I once spent the good part of a weekend in a Mt Hood cabin studying our rising signs. I’m Capricorn: ambitious but prone to self-doubt (bang on the money).

A free palm reading in New Orleans during a work conference last June burned me, though. The reader, a real Trelawney type, squinted at the lines below my pinkie. She whispered into my ear: “I see you marrying young.”

“I’m 30 and single,” I replied.

Her eyes crossed. “Let me see the other one,” she said, lunging for my ringless left hand. (Maybe a Marriott ballroom isn’t the best place for palmistry.)

Image: Michael Novak

But as I embarked on this month’s cover story on wellness and all things woo-woo, I decided it was time to dabble anew. I turned to tarot. My prior experience was limited: Shortly after Prince died, Portland Monthly style editor Eden Dawn (who keeps an impressive wellness routine of her own) made up a tarot deck inspired by the Purple One. I drew “2 Tixx to the Gun Show Prince” (weird flex but OK).

On a soggy winter afternoon, I settled into an hourlong reading at Seagrape, the scent of burnt lavender still hanging in the air. Tarot reader Iris Misciagna dealt the cards. I studied the Empress at the center, surrounded by a lush garden. I was leery of the Fool, skipping off a cliff as a small white dog nipped at his heels. And that Four of Swords looked downright foreboding.

Yet, as Misciagna began to read the spread, a strange calm came over me. There was something lovely about letting someone else weigh in on my future. (See self-doubt, above.) And she asked thoughtful questions—about my childhood, my stubborn attachment to achievement.

Was any of it real? Did the spirit guides seriously think I should take a hard look at what I want in my life? If so, was I actually going to listen to them?

I have no idea. But I know that, for an hour, it gave my busy mind some much-needed redirection, and that I’ve returned often to that reading in the weeks since—not as any sort of blueprint for the future, but just as additional grist for the mill. And that’s what we hope you find in this issue: not all the answers to the trials of modern life, but a few ways to feel at least a little bit better, whether that means learning to swordfight, getting high on toad venom (and please, exercise caution), or simply snuggling with bunnies. It’s a wild—and, yes, woolly—world out there. Go try something new.

Rebecca Jacobson
Digital Editor

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