When I was a kid, Halloween was always my favorite holiday. No doubt that was because you got to go around to people’s houses and get candy, not to mention you got to wear a costume while doing it. In the half-century since, Halloween has remained a favorite. Some fifteen years ago or so I became interested in alternative spirituality. That’s not true: I have been interested in it all my life. In the fall of 2003, though, a confluence of events resulted, among other things, in my beginning to learn about Celtic spirituality, in a thoroughly unsystematic way.
I got sober on the 25th of August, 2003. My game store was going to be closing at the end of that year. I didn’t have the resources to keep it open, and I was trying to adjust to that reality while living one day at a time, which really is what you have to do when you’re getting (and staying) sober. In the fall of 2003, I went down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole. A few days after the 25th I googled “Cayce Nostradamus 9/11” and found myself immersed in the wild world of conspiracy theories about the attacks on the twin towers. That was only the beginning, and by December I was getting pretty unhinged.
I was going out early in the morning trying to spot Planet X in the eastern sky. I knew all about chemtrails, secret bases on the moon and Mars, and a half dozen other “tinfoil hat” conspiracy theories. Coast to Coast AM was a staple of my nightly diet. I had indeed gone to Wonderland, and a very dystopian place it was.
One of the less crazy parts of this period of my life was my research and reading about Theosophy, which led me among other places to reading about the Celts and their spiritual beliefs. I found a website maintained by John and Caitlin Matthews, which was not filled with conspiracy theories. It did have a lot of good information about Celtic spiritual beliefs.
One of the things I learned, of course, was about how Samhain became Halloween. And for some reason, for the first time it occurred to me that I may well have been conceived on Samhain. (I’m a Lughnasa baby.) In succeeding years I would come to think of the seasons in terms of the Celtic cross-quarter holidays. And I would look at Halloween in a different light.
A few weeks ago I began working with my Tarot cards again. I received a deck sometime in early 2003. It was actually left at my house after a D&D session, and no one ever claimed it. I worked with the cards on and off thereafter. I did quite a bit of work with them in 2009, when I was in homeless. I stopped working with them after I got out of the “transitional housing facility for the homeless” in 2010, and didn’t touch them for about a year. Then I worked with them for another six months or so in early 2012, stopped again, started again in 2015 or so…. You get the picture.
Most people connect Tarot cards with gypsies, fortune-telling and the like. They were never meant to be used to “tell fortunes.” They are, I believe, a set of tools by which an individual can examine his life and gain greater understanding of his physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self.
This time around I feel like I’m getting more out of working with them than ever before. More than anything else I think that’s because I am working them, and not just using them The difference may be thought of as analogous to the difference between someone who does some carpentry, but doesn’t really consider the work he’s doing critically, and puts the “finished product” aside without evaluating it properly.
My life is changing in so many ways, as Neil Young sang all those years ago. There seems to be a qualitative difference to the changes I’m experiencing currently. I think a lot of that has to do with the aging process. But I’m feeling like perhaps, at last, I am beginning to gain a glimmering wisdom. I don’t and never will claim to be wise, for only a fool does that. I am receiving insights which I am able to use to change my life for the better. The cards are a part of that, but again, they’re only a tool. And any tool is only as good as the person using it.