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The Witch Cards

A long time ago, my cousin and I were in a store in Salem, Massachusetts.  There was a barrel of tarot cards by the cash register, and I got a strong vibe that I was meant to own a certain deck in the barrel.  So I plucked it out and paid for it without a lot of thought.

They look like playing cards, but they have an object on each card along with a short description of what the object means.  The cards came with instructions on how to lay them out and give a reading.

tarot cards


Like the cards, I was drawn to Mental Floss’s recent post about tarot cards.  I especially love that they were historically a form of Choose Your Own Adventure story since my new book is about interactive fiction.

Most of the time they sit in my drawer.  I’m not really sure I believe in it at all. (Even though I totally believe that my body somehow knew I was supposed to buy this specific deck in a sea of decks.)  The ChickieNob is always begging me to read her cards, though I have no clue what I’m doing.  It’s sort of anticlimactic when you need to keep pausing to consult the how-to directions that come with the cards.  It would probably help if I memorized the instructions.

But there’s another part of me that thinks it’s better not to know anything.  That hearing something could make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.  And while I would be okay with life spoilers since I like having time to get accustomed to change, this in between — this maybe real or maybe not — probably isn’t helpful.  Right?

If there was a time traveler who could come back and definitively tell you the highlights and low points of your life, would you want to hear them?  Even knowing that there was nothing you could do to change the path because the time traveler could prove these fixed events in time?  (And yes, this “what if” assumes that you have no free will and your destiny is set, so just roll with that.)  Or would you rather not know anything and be surprised by life in the moment?

A P.S. to the story: I was in Salem a few years ago, and I swung by the store again.  They no longer sell them, and when I asked about them, the woman said they never sold them.  Creepy.


1 a { 12.29.15 at 8:54 am }

I don’t like surprises, so if everything were set, I’d want to know. And then I’d be depressed about how boring my life is…because when you’re 15 or 20, you want to have big adventures, which is the opposite of what I’m doing right now. 🙂

2 KeAnne { 12.29.15 at 9:04 am }

I think I’d rather not know, especially if there was nothing I could do to change the outcome.

I have a deck of Tarot cards and did a lot of readings at college. I definitely have no “gift” but I have a decent ability for psychological insight (wanted to be a therapist at the time), and I found mysrlf using readings almost like a therapy session.

3 Baby Blue Sunday { 12.29.15 at 11:27 am }

I’d like to know the lows and the highs that have a lasting impact. The Red Sox winning the world series was a wonderful surprise, and I liked it that way- but knowing that I would eventually have a child would have been nice to know. On that line, that I would lose one late into pregnancy would have been nice to be forewarned.

4 Catwoman73 { 12.29.15 at 12:37 pm }

If I have no free will, I wouldn’t want to know a thing. I can’t imagine anything worse than having all the good surprises in life ruined, and having advance knowledge of life’s unpleasant surprises, with no ability to change things. That is absolutely my version of hell. I love waking up and not having a clue what the day might bring. It’s all part of the fun!

5 Cristy { 12.29.15 at 1:11 pm }

Until very recently, I owned a deck of Tarot cards. An old neighbor taught me how to do simple readings (basically yes and no questions) and they were a fun thing to read when traveling or needing an ice-breaker.

I’ve never seen anything like your deck. Truly interesting. And I think you were called to them too.

6 Lori Lavender Luz { 12.29.15 at 4:40 pm }

Whoa. That the store never sold Tarot cards. Sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel. In those, the predestination is always sinister, the path difficult.

I like the surprise. I would not want to know details (you will die on MM/DD/YY), and probably not even general story arcs (that project you’re working on? It’s a lock.) I like to take things as they come.

7 Lori Lavender Luz { 12.29.15 at 4:41 pm }

(I think I say that from a place of privilege. If I had an Awful Thing looming, maybe I WOULD want to know how it turns out.)

8 Charlotte { 12.29.15 at 4:56 pm }

I wouldn’t want to know. If it’s bad, then what would be the point of ever getting out of bed again? And if it’s good it takes away all the surprise and joy. Ignorance is bliss!

9 Justine { 12.29.15 at 9:03 pm }

I had a pack of these, too! Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling cards. Orange box. Where the heck ARE they now, I wonder?

I wouldn’t mind some good news about my future. Reassurance. Maybe not in detail?

10 Middle Girl { 12.29.15 at 11:42 pm }

fa fa fa la la la (she sings with hands over ears).

Nope, don’t want to know. Unless, perhaps, not just the what and when but also the how to deal.

On second thought, nope. Don’t want to know.

11 Heather { 12.30.15 at 3:09 am }

I would rather not know about the bad parts but I’d like to know the good parts!

12 Valery Valentina { 12.30.15 at 2:56 pm }

mhmmm. When deep in the trenches of IF I was not a good person for my partner. I think it would have helped to know we would make it, stay together and have a little girl. (although I “knew” we would have a girl. I still feel guilty for not coming up with a boy’s name. But you and ChickieNob helped me out)
Now I’m wondering if I should try harder to see my brother overseas. I seem to wait for the right moment, and this moment takes its time to come along.
And if I were to die soon I would want to know about the possible future children of my cousins.
Writing this it seems I still would like to be able to tell my deceased cousin about my daughter. o well.

13 Twangy { 12.31.15 at 12:02 pm }

I don’t think I’d like to know. Yes, if it was good it would be reassuring to know. But the thing that keeps me engaged – keeps me turning the pages – is simply the desire to know what happens next, just like with any story.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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