The Querent by Alexander Chee, an award winning author, is a story about fortune telling. In India, the idea of fortune telling is still popular and a career in astrology is a lucrative profession. Chee talks about a different kind of fortune telling-using tarot cards. As if Indian astrologers aren’t enough, there are tarot readers in this part of the world too. Chee was drawn into the tarot world due to his own personal tragedies. He writes in an engaging and informative way. For instance, we learn about the history of tarot reading.
“Crowley and Harris had attempted to take centuries of esoteric occult teachings and render them into a single deck of cards, whose regular use would, for the adept, also work as a kind of mnemonic exercise. Slowly you would learn, in other words, the relationships between ancient gods and goddesses, astrological signs, planets, alchemical sigils. Each card felt like it had the ability to be one of 78 windows into the secret life of the world, hidden somewhere beyond the air, under the skin of existence.”
Then you learn about the features of tarot reading:
“Tarot cards are composed of cards of two kinds, the Major and Minor Arcana. There are 22 Majors, numbered from 0, The Fool, to 21, The World, and they take you step by step along what’s called The Fool’s Journey, with each card representing forces like The Sun, The Moon, The Devil, and so on. These have more weight in a reading, typically, than a Minor Arcana card. The Minors are divided among 4 suits: Pentacles, Swords, Wands, and Cups being the standard types. Each of the suits is numbered 1-10, and then has a court of 4: a Page or Princess, a Knight or Prince, a Queen, and a King. There are 56 of these.”
He talks about the narrative aspect of reading the cards. He also explains, being a tarot reader himself, how important it is to ‘stay focused on the cards, not the person’. The legality of tarot reading is not accepted in all countries and Chee knows the risks involved in this exercise. Read this story if the story of the future fascinates you.