THE GODDESS TAROT: XXI THE WORLD – GAIA

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On The Meadow

 

Darren lay on the meadow, pebbles sticking into his back through his T-shirt. He loved spending time among the trees and often felt he had a special connection with nature. Sometimes he thought the trees reached out to him, as if they wished to tell him a secret. He would then close his eyes and listen, but could never understand the message.

On this occasion, bathed in the warm sunlight, his mind was on the ground, how wet and cool and lumpy it was. He breathed in the grass, the moss and damp earth. With closed eyes, he thought about the millions of feet that had walked upon the piece of dirt on which he lay. Animals, insects, birds and humans, how many had trampled here?

Minutes passed, and he noticed a slow and steady thumping; he opened his palm and touched the ground. It pulsed, thud, thud, thud, louder and stronger as if footsteps, big stomping footsteps approached. Darren opened his eyes, and a shadow fell across the pastel blue sky. He turned his head to one side just as a boot stomped beside his shoulder. Another plunked down by his hand.

Traipsing boots and gaiters soon engulfed Darren; the pungent scent of leather and mud stung. The ground shook with the footfalls, and the boom of the march so near his ears sounded like cannonballs. He lay motionless, heart racing, while above him the sky turned red, and a reeking cloud of wool, metal and gunpowder seared his nostrils.

As the boots marched away, Darren sat up and glimpsed the backs of British soldiers, their long red coats, muskets, bayonets and tricorn hats fading into the forest. Darren wanted to stand up and rush after them, but the sun was too bright and the heat weighed heavy on him. He lay back down and closed his eyes.

The setting sun was casting an orange hue over the meadow when Darren awoke. He perked his ears and listened for footsteps, but heard nothing except the sounds of the evening forest. Darren walked home—his own footfalls loud in his ears—wondering whether the troop had been a dream or the specters of a long-dead reality.

TAROT DRACONIS: 10 of Wands

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Light and Shadow

 

Julie stared at the empty seat in front of her, a fake smile pasted on her lips and gaze cool as ice. She seemed the incarnation of the Snow Queen, but inside, she was a pure fire sparked from rage and fanned with insult.

I’m seething, she thought.

Melvin and Cora, she cursed.

Revenge, she wished.

The train stopped at the station, and the doors opened. An old woman, short and chubby, took the seat facing her. She smiled at Julie. Julie pursed her lips into the kindest grin she could muster as the train left the station and plunged into a tunnel.

Light, then shadow, fell on the railcar as the electric lamp crackled, the woman’s face clear and kind, then old and ugly. The train’s clatter screamed in Julie’s head, chug-a-chug, Melvin-and-Cora, on and on, so loud and steady she thought she would explode.

The old woman glanced around, then smiled at Julie again. Julie stared straight ahead; if the old woman smiled one more time, the invisible chain which kept her wrath from exploding would shatter.

The old woman noticed the slight tremble in Julie’s hands as she opened and closed her fist to the rhythm of the Melvin-and-Cora mantra in her head.

“Let it go. He ain’t worth it.”

The woman’s voice rang clear above the din of the train against the rails, her face in light.

“What do you mean ‘he’?” Julie hissed through gritted teeth.

The woman shrugged, ugly in shadow, “Only a man can anger a woman so much. I know your wrath, and trust me, it’ll poison you.”

Julie pursed her lips, the fire inside threatening to explode.

“There’s a dragon inside me, and I don’t think I can keep it chained much longer,” Julie muttered, half hoping the woman wouldn’t hear, but deafness did not ail her old age.

“What did he do? Cheat?”

“Yes, with my sister,” Julie fought back lava tears.

Melvin-and-Cora.

“He’s not worth it.” (Light)

“I know, but it doesn’t make me less angry.” Julie’s jaw clicked when she spoke.

“Then, for your sake, let that dragon out. Don’t keep it bottled inside, it’ll rot you.” (Shadow)

“How would you know?”

“Because I’ve been where you are. He slept with my sister and I vowed revenge.”

A chill crawled up Julie’s spine as the woman spoke, her words mirroring Julie’s thoughts. 

“Did you get it?”

“Oh yes, I screwed with their lives and hounded them to death, slow and steady, for years. But I got nothing in return.”

Julie gulped. How could the woman know she was planning a slow and simmering revenge?

“What was his name?” Julie asked unnerved, yet intrigued.

“Melvin,” The flickering light cast the woman into shadow, and Julie blanched.

“My sister’s name was Cora,” the woman continued.

“What? How?” Julie gaped.

“I kept my dragon locked up and made their lives miserable. I took their money, their livelihood, their happiness. Whatever they built I destroyed. I used everything in my power to screw them six ways from Sunday.”

Julie remained silent as the train chugged on, the wagon eerie in the sputtering light.

“They died in poverty and starvation.”

“Are you sorry?”

“Yes, but now I can redeem myself.”

“What do you mean?”

“On my deathbed I repented, and here I am.”

The train came to a halt, still in the tunnel; the light held steady and shone bright on the old woman. They locked eyes and Julie almost screamed; the woman’s eyes were her own, and her gaze, albeit old and bitter, was the same gaze that greeted Julie from every mirror.

“I’m telling you, Julie, you can change the course of this lifetime. Let the dragon out. Revenge is not the way; you’ll end up alone and sick and bitter.”

The light flickered off and thrust the wagon into darkness. Julie’s spine tingled at the woman’s hot breath by her ear as she whispered, “Heed me.”

The light flashed back on and Julie found herself alone in the wagon; the train resumed its slow ride to the station.

ALEISTER CROWLEY TOTH TAROT: I – The Magus

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Only Illusions?

 

Johnny watched in awe as the magician came onstage.

“It’s only illusions,” Dad said.

“I know,” Johnny answered, a burble of wonder tickling his spine; illusions fascinated him.

“Magic doesn’t exist,” Dad whispered when the magician pulled a dove out of a hat.

“I know, Dad,” Johnny hissed. Dad had a way of spoiling even fake magic.

Johnny knew magic was all sleight-of-hand, distraction and optics, but it fascinated him. That our brains tricked us into believing someone pulled a dove out of an empty hat intrigued him. Dad was a scientist and shot down anything unproven. He leaned over and whispered it was only science and illusion. Johnny shifted in his seat. Didn’t Dad understand he wanted to watch the show, magic or no? He liked magicians; they were more fun than clowns and he enjoyed trying to figure out their tricks.

Dad and Johnny left when the show ended, and, in the car, while Dad turned on the ignition, Johnny took out his allowance and counted it. Maybe it would be enough to buy the magic kit he’d seen in the toy store in town.

“What’s up, bud?” Dad asked when he saw Johnny counting his money.

“I want to buy a magic kit.”

Dad looked askance at him and opened his mouth to speak but Johnny interrupted him.

“I know, Dad. It’s all illusion, but I want to understand the science behind it.”

Dad smiled. One little seven-letter word and Dad was hooked.

At home, Johnny cradled his new magic kit. He sensed that something could change as soon as he opened it. Deep down Johnny wanted dragons to exist and to imagine he could snap his fingers or wiggle his nose for cool things to happen. Yet, if he opened the kit and learned the tricks, all fantasies would end. He closed the door to his room and sat cross-legged on the floor.

Johnny opened the box and frowned. The lid said it included “everything necessary to learn the art of magic: one top hat, one wand, one deck of playing cards, five colored scarves, and one instruction booklet.” But the box only contained two items, an old book and a small green pouch.

When he touched the book, it tickled his fingers and sent a delightful surge through his spine. It was old and leather-bound and Johnny turned it over searching for the title, but it had none. He opened the cover. The first page was blank, and the second, third and fourth. The whole book was blank! He flung it away, disappointed.

“Boy, what a waste of an allowance!”

He turned his attention back to the box but all that remained was the velvet pouch. Johnny reached for it and the contents inside clinked with a strange thick sound, unlike the jingle of coins. Small stones sprinkled the carpet when he opened the pouch and overturned it. The nearest one had a crude R carved on one side. Johnny flicked it away and watched amazed as it rolled back to him. He picked it up and the same funny feeling ran through his fingers, up his arm and down his back. He held the stone in his palm and thought for a moment it had sparkled, but it was just a trick of the light, right?

“No way it glinted,” he whispered, but there it was again, a tiny green spark, like a firefly.

Johnny reached for the book; the stone flew from his hand and attached itself to the cover as if the book were magnetic. One by one, the stones on the floor bounced up and stuck to the book. He opened it and dropped it, aghast, when writing appeared. As the writing progressed, like an invisible pen writing visible words, the pages flipped by themselves. The writing was not English. In fact, it wasn’t any recognizable language; it looked like someone was writing with sticks. Johnny realized they were the same characters carved into each of the stones, but jumbled and organized, as if they formed sentences.

When the book flipped to the last page, it slammed closed and lifted a cloud of dust which engulfed Johnny in a sparkling tornado… And whisked him away.

GOLDEN BOTTICELLI TAROT: 9 of Wands

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Shivers

“No!” Jason yelped when the chain of his bike broke as he turned the corner. First the snap and then the pedals limp under his feet. He teetered on the bike, braked, and hopped off before he hit the ground. 

Jason puffed his bangs out of his eyes. Of all places, here. He would have to walk his bike through this street instead of zipping down it like always. It wasn’t the street he dreaded, but one house; the house. 

Jason began his uncomfortable trek, the bike rattling beside him, and thought of the myriad of legends and stories he’d heard about the place. The sun set in the horizon and the last rays of orange and pink faded into a blue darkness. Wind high above blew the copious clouds into zip-like patterns, so that the sky looked marred by giant claws. A storm threatened.

The house was dark, like a cave, and as Jason approached it, his stomach tightened. He gulped. He couldn’t remember when someone had lived in the house. The weeds overgrown, the wind rustled through the tangled branches, the iron-barred windows dead and black. The gate, hanging on one solitary rusty hinge, creaked open and shut.

People spoke of murders long ago and strange happenings ever since. Jason had experienced nothing, but he’d never lingered long enough. The wind howled a ghostly moan through the door left open before time immemorial. The clang of the broken chain set his teeth on edge.

Another story spoke of strange creaks and noises and shadows appearing across the windows. Jason’s knuckles were white on the handlebars. He considered dropping his bike and running all the way home, but that meant returning for it, and the house was creepy any time of day. And Dad would ground him for life.

The scream, like a crying child, cut through the night and Jason stopped cold by the gate, heart booming in his ears, rooted to the spot.

“The baby,” Jason muttered, recalling the tale of the baby who’d died, yet still cried in the night. A cold, dense, electric wind blew around him, and Jason shivered under his thin jacket. He resumed his walk on wobbly legs at the quickest pace possible with the cumbersome, useless bike.

A movement out of the corner of his eye stopped his heart. His knees buckled, and he whimpered. Jason willed himself not to look, but the curious little sprite inside him turned his head to the house. Something flew by the soulless window and dashed across the yard. Soft treads sped towards him.

A dark figure appeared through the gate and crossed the glistening pavement. The streetlight flashed on its eyes as they fixed on Jason, the pointed ears illuminated by the lightning strike through the darkened sky. A crow cawed, and it scurried away.

“Stupid, stupid cat,” muttered Jason. Relief melted his tense muscles, his heart still in his mouth. Jason leaned the bike on his legs and slid his clammy hands up his jeans. The cat wailed again, baby-like, and Jason picked up the pace.

At the end of the street, he gazed at the dark, looming house. Thunder rumbled. The house still spooky as ever.

THE GODDESS TAROT: Eight of Pentacles

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Callie

 

Callie set her easel and stool on the grass, glad of such a beautiful spot. She took out her paints, aligned them in the order she preferred, tied her apron with pockets for her brushes and set the canvas on the easel. 

The day was bright and the wind blowing down from the mountains cooled the summer heat. The sky was cloudless and the world around her silent, save for the gusting wind.

Callie filled her brush with paint and smeared the canvas with a beautiful pastel and cyan blue for the sky. She painted the rolling hills in hues of green and the mountains black and purple behind them. The world around her melted away.

Callie omitted the details of the modern world and depicted the landscape before electricity poles blighted it, or the highways and railroads marred the mountains. She imagined this spot before the dreadful parking lot and overlook killed grass and shrub as they paved the way for progress. She loved to paint the long-ago world which came to life on her canvas. The sun set behind the mountains.

“Oh no,” Callie blinked and rubbed her eyes, “it’s getting dark.”

Dusk fell, and the wind turned chilly while she gathered her things. She bent down to put away her paints and as she stood, slinging the easel over her shoulder, she gasped.

“What the…” Callie murmured, bewildered by the absolute darkness. The street lights were unlit, and she had trouble locating the ugly parking lot in the distance.

Callie looked around her in the moonlight and blanched. The modern amenities she’d complained about vanished! No road signs, no trash cans, no paved path back to her car. She clutched her pack and listened to the far-away click-clack. Hooves? Was there a ranch nearby? Callie pressed her memory, but could not remember passing any ranches or stables on the road.

A dark figure appeared in the distance, formless in the silver moonlight. Click-clack, the figure approached. She perceived a horseman wearing a cloak and three-cornered hat. He rode fast and was soon upon her. Callie, too afraid to move and still clutching her belongings, stared at him.

“Hullo,” the man stopped the horse beside her; his face obscured by the tricorne and his voice a deep velvet, “are ye lost, madam?”

Callie nodded, unable to speak and rooted to the spot with feet together and hugging her things like a little girl afraid of the dark. His silver cloak pin glinted in the moonlight.

“Might I inquire as to your dwellings?”

Callie stammered and mumbled, unsure what to respond. She doubted the man knew Lincoln Street in Oakwell Heights. She pointed instead toward the general direction of her house.

The man nodded, and the moon shone on his face. He was dark, with a strong jaw, straight nose and piercing eyes, yet his kind smile softened the shadows on his face. He extended his hand.

“Come,” his eyes twinkled when he grinned, “I shall take ye, ’tis a cold night.”

Callie’s fingers brushed his, and static electricity charged through her. Her heart beat loud in her chest; the promise of an adventure at her fingertips. His warm fingers tightened around hers.

A car honked in the distance and ripped through the silence. The modern world blasted through the moonlight and Callie stood, her arm outstretched, grasping at the chilly wind.

Callie drew in her breath, dropped her pack and put her hands on her lips. Her mind raced, and she shivered, tears springing to her eyes; missed opportunities beat in her heart.

Callie bent to pick up her belongings; a glimmer of silver on the ground caught her eye. The cloak pin. Callie stroked it with her thumb and clenched it against her chest. Head down, she plodded to her car.

Callie wore the cloak pin on a chain around her neck and painted at the same spot every day, hoping to see the rider again. But the spell remained broken.