Sometimes, when you’re looking for fodder to use in tarot reading practice, the perfect questions just serendipitously present themselves. Such was the case this morning while reading the Op Ed page of my local newspaper. My paper often carries syndicated columnists from the New York Times, and yesterday morning there was a scathing screed by Charles M. Blow regarding the latest revelations—yet another proverbially dropped shoe—connecting the administrative team of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy with Russian conspirators trying to sabotage and influence the election. It’s not a subtle opinion piece, and it’s easily stated that Mr. Blow’s vitriol expresses a distinctly Democratic-liberal viewpoint…(that I myself share). And while the polarization of viewpoints seems to be at an ultimate divergence-point between conservatives and liberals, it can seem like drastic accusatory diatribes like Mr. Blow’s become necessary simply as a counter-fulcrum to the apathy, dismissiveness of irregularity, and utter falsehoods that erupt from Trump’s current administration and fan base. Collusion seems to be blatantly evident to people like myself and to Charles Blow when reviewing the evidence; and yet, collusion is just as equally and adamantly refuted by conservative pundits. Apparently, conservatives and liberals-progressives own very different dictionaries from one another, with vastly different definitions for such terms as “collusion.”
Be that as it may, and without diving into the specifics of Mr. Blow’s opinion piece article, this enraptured reader of the morning paper noticed that the op-ed article simply began with three questions posed:
“What befalls a country riven by a dynasty of deception and disrepute? What comes of a country forced by its puerile “president” to retreat from its world leadership, set to a soundtrack of world mockery? What to make of an enterprise of corruption that Trump calls a family when they abandon any semblance of propriety and all things we once found appropriate?”
Gee…those seem like perfect questions for a tarot reading! So here we go… Let’s see what the state of the union currently is according to answers provided by the tarot deck…
Q: “What befalls a country riven by a dynasty of deception and disrepute?”
A: Three of Wands
Hmmm… Isn’t that just the way when you’re expecting a card like the Tower (XVI) to show up? Well, this is our challenge when unanticipated cards come up that we’re not expecting. We don’t need to throw “qualifier” cards just yet; we just need to concentrate on what the Three of Wands could reveal for us in this particular instance…
I have to admit, that several national trends and reports since the inauguration of Donald Trump have flummoxed me… Things like the ever inflating Dow Jones, and improving employment rates. I expected the stock market to react negatively to Trump’s irrational and despotic executive orders. But no; corporate America seems to have lost any sense of its ethics and morality (if inanimate entities like corporations were able to have an ethical or moralistic soul*…). Corporations instead seem ever poised to take advantage of the disadvantages of other and individuals, staking profits on the inequality of the classes and economic disparity. …And the stock market seems to reflect this gleeful Capitalist precept with the prospect of additional corporate and banking deregulation as promised but the Republican administration. How did we get here—to this disparaging of economic equality and celebration of economic meritocracy?
So this card—the Three of Wands— does represent some of the economic anomalies of the installation of Trump’s presidency and administration (even though, as is so often forgotten, many of the benefits of progress are simply a riding wave crest from the hard work and policies in place from the previous administration—in other words, Trump, like other presidents before him, takes all the credit for someone else’s hard work). The Three of Wands is often described or defined as “watching your ship come in”—somewhat of a literally interpretation of the card’s image. In contrast to the Two of Wands cards, where we are building our dreams and aspirations, envisioning our goals, formulating the tactics of executing our plans, thinking in big terms for success…the Three of Wands sees the far side of those plans, the success coming back at us in reaction to the ducks we’ve lined up…
The problem is, Trump doesn’t know the first thing about duck hunting. He doesn’t know very much about getting his ducks lined up in the first place, for that matter. If he’s stepped up to the metaphorical duck-hunting booth at the fair, he’s decided the pellet guns are too beneath his dignity, and brought out the elephant gun that the Koch brother absent-mindlessly left on floor the Republican National Convention underneath all those precocious red, white, and blue balloons, and now Trump is not only using it to shoot out the back of the game booth, he’s also shot and mutilated all the stuffed toy prizes hanging from the rafters, and the game booth vendor, and several spectators in the petting zoo and on the roller coaster ride on either side of the game booth as well.
Or perhaps the figure in the card represents the Trump “base”—those individuals who ideologically refuse to believe that Trump could be anything but a messianic savior with all of his supposed business acumen. They are standing there, waiting for the promises to be fulfilled, waiting for Trump to personally give them all coal mining jobs and better health insurance opportunities, waiting for Trump to “make America great again” as though there were some golden era which had been lost and in which those followers didn’t have utter and complete responsibility for having deconstructed themselves. …If Trump is the ship, he’s never going to come any closer to shore—to fulfilling any of those false promises, to breaking bread with all those “poor” people he’s quoted as “loving.”
Here’s the thing about this card, the Three of Wands… In this instance, the fellow waiting for that ship to come in is no smarter than the Fool setting off on his journey off the cliff face. Yep, sometimes you have to take that leap of faith off a precipice and believe that there’s going to be something down there that’s going to break your fall. But the Fool isn’t completely about just taking the leap of faith and free-floating through the air, it’s about using built-up and collected knowledge to become something other than the Fool and so that one can meet the many challenges in life and apply virtuous applications towards resolutions that create stability and enlightenment.
The fool in the three of wands is waiting for a ship that’s never going to dock and meet him on the shore…the ship, if you’ll notice, is anchored and it’s sails are tied up. It’s forever going to just bob in the water just out of reach; whatever cargo this fellow is waiting for is going to just sit in the ship’s holdings while he stands there stupidly on the shore expecting the unmanned ship to steer itself right up to his feet.
There is no one else around in this image. The fool is standing all alone on the shoreline because he’s too stupid to realize the predicament he’s gotten himself into. Everyone else knows that the stalls at the port are closed, that the ship’s men are all on shore in town at the brothel, that nothing is going to happen by just gawking at an anchored, unmanned ship sitting in reachable offshore. And there’s something else…
Perhaps there is no one else around because they know the danger of the predicament. Another facet of reading the tarot is noticing things in the cards that you never noticed before. Frankly, I never noticed that the sails had been tied-up on this ship before. What I had thought was that the bright sky to the right of the ship’s mast was a sweeping, full sail bringing the ship into port. I had previously thought that there was movement in this card—that the wind was active, and, indeed that this fellow’s “ship was coming in.” But closer examination reveals that the sweep of the bottom of what I thought was an open sail…is merely the landscape beyond the ship on the horizon. But what an odd sort of horizon it is! Who has ever seen such a slope to the sea? …Like a mountain approaching. Those who actually live on the coasts are more familiar with such warning signs, and they know…that tsunamis are dangerous, deadly, and catastrophic things. Every seaside community is familiar with the posted signs that read “tsunamis evacuation route” because like all disaster planning, you have to know what your plan of action during such a cataclysmic event will be.
Those unfamiliar with how tsunamis work and what they do…perish from their ignorance. Tsunamis are the result of a cataclysmic natural aberration in sea level. Tsunamis have been triggered by massive ice sheets of ice bergs falling into the water (there were tsunami warnings issued in response to the Delaware-sized ice shelf that fell into the Antarctic Sea just this past week), or in a colossal shift in the continental shelf below the water—earthquakes. PEOPLE DIE FROM THESE THINGS. In the 18th century an Atlantic tsunami killed over 20,000 people in Lisbon, Portugal—over one-fourth of the population of that city at the time. In this Three of Wands card, the man on the shore is as uninformed and foolish as those millions of predecessors throughout history who have been swept out to sea by tidal waves that inundated miles inland…because they refused to learn from history, or learn the dangers, or the signs of the forthcoming catastrophe.
In answer to the question that we posed for this card… The thing that “befalls a country riven by a dynasty of deception and disrepute” is impending catastrophe… and it’s not like we don’t have parallel lessons from the past by which to gauge our predicament. We somehow refuse to read the signs, refuse to remember past errors and suffering, and taunt fate by standing in the path of decimation and cataclysm.
Q: “What comes of a country forced by its puerile “president” to retreat from its world leadership, set to a soundtrack of world mockery?”
A: Four of Swords
Sometimes we need to take a break from it all, recoup, let the melatonin wash through our bodies, and dream about another pathway. The Four of Swords is variously depicted as a crypt with a sculpted death relief on top—this would be the ultimate “rest”—or as an individual literally taking rest in bed, with swords dangling overhead (or possibly mounted on the wall) and another sword resting nearby in case a hasty defense is needed in the night.
There is time for resting, and there is time for acting. It would seem that once a person is elected president, that the time for resting is over. You have won the scepter, the throne, the empire’s armies are at your disposal to wage justice…
…And you’re spending another weekend at Mar a Lago, wasting the sovereign coin and the taxpayers’ tithes? You criticized and mocked your predecessor for playing too many rounds of golf on the weekends, but within five months-time in your first term you’ve exceeded the previous president’s total vacation hours away from the Oval Office?
…Instead of diplomatically engaging in the defense of your allies, creating beneficial ties, and participating in their collective striving for justice, you—completely inept in the art of sword combat—pick up your inadequate blade by your bedside in the middle of the night (read: Twitter account on your phone) and senselessly pillory, attack, malign, and sabotage your allies, as well as the fonts of wisdom from learned men in your own kingdom, and the columns of the republic that support the very empire you supposedly rule. …That’s it—close your eyes so you can’t see the embroiling disaster happening outside your chamber… If you pretend to be asleep, perhaps they won’t ask you to do all those stupid tasks and boorish responsibilities you’re supposed to be handling… The only way we know you’re true colors is by the “thwack, thwack” of your thumbs typing another covfefe on your tiny little screen.
The saints and historical heroes pictured in the stained glass window apparently are no inspiration for this president at all. The fact that our greatest moments of victory came from the diplomatic friendships and collaborations we hewed is completely lost on the individual who isolates himself behind veiled criticisms and untactful slights. Perhaps that window is filled with the icons of the Marquis de LaFayette, of Winston Churchill, of Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko, or perhaps of America’s own great foreign diplomats, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.
Q: What to make of an enterprise of corruption that Trump calls a family when they abandon any semblance of propriety and all things we once found appropriate?
A: Five of Wands (Reversed)
Now we’re talkin’! This is kind of the perfect card for the Trump administration inside the White House… The contemporary card often depicts five individuals clashing with their staves. But the intention of their actions are completely muddled. Are they fighting with one another? Are they simply practicing their martial arts skills, preparing for combat? Are they friends? Are they enemies? Are they performing a ritual dance collectively; or are they falling out of order because someone tripped causing a discombobulation in the marching order?
By all accounts from observers—media correspondents who have been covering the White House for years and decades; from Congressional visitors and aides; and even from leaked messages from employees inside the White House itself—the Trump administration team and their employees are one big, fantastic, tantamount shit storm. …Can’t get anything done because the infighting, clash of personalities, different priorities, and cutthroat passive aggressiveness completely undermines the day-to-day work of the Oval Office. A group of incompetent dissemblers who never expected to win the election are hardly in a position to rule a nation, much less represent the most vast military power in the world. ...Shit storm, I tell you.
Yet to hear it from the White House itself, one hears just the opposite. Trump has very publicly and brazenly stated that his administration has accomplished more in his short time in office than any other president before himself. Who is one supposed to believe? Who is obfuscating the truth? The media and Congress-persons who have witnessed years’-worth of previous administrations’ accomplishments by which to compare? …Or a known dissembler who is off-handedly willing to throw his own administration under the bus when it suits him?
Not only is the administrative team in full, hurricane-wind-force shit storm mode, but as the reversed position indicates, the administration—and Trump himself—are completely focused on their own internalized appearances. The world and the media may be closing in on them, but their own well-being and their doltish illusion-making seem more important than transparency or truth.
What are you witnessing before your eyes? Buffoonery, corruption, nepotism, and ineptitude? Or agility, devotion to the greater good, loyalty, and swagger? Can you tell? Are you confused? Whose story do you believe? What historical precedent do you allow to filter your perception of reality?
…Wait… what’s that down there on the pavement underneath those embroiled stave-bearers? Is that a crack in the ground in the shape of a type of star? Is it a hole that those men are digging for themselves? Is it a rift in the stability of the rights of the American citizens on the backs of whom they are trying to establish un-American franchise? Is it a ditch into which they intend to try to cover up incriminating evidence? There is no transparency in this card. It is meant to be obfuscating…it is the state of the union: obfuscated. It’s meaning, intent, and future are unclear. We could throw down the Moon card (XVIII) here and feel none the wiser for our foresight. But the Moon card wasn’t drawn in this spread…instead, we have clues that need deciphering.
There are no Virtue cards thrown down here, because virtuousness flees from the machinations of this administration. There are no Major Arcana cards drawn here because the prerogatives of the administration aren’t worthy of greater thoughts or higher ideals—this administration will always wallow in pettiness and drivel and uncouthness and “alternative facts.” There are no suit of Cups involved here because Trump and his plutocrats have no emotional attachment to the people of the nation; they care only for money and power and fame. There are no suit of Coins involved here because the Trump administration has no groundedness, no affection for the Earth, no devotion to the body politic of the American nation, no fealty towards the masthead of the Constitution, and no respect for the the people—the bodies—they serve. All that’s available are the phallic suits of wands and swords—swung dauntingly around with patriarchal folly and callous carelessness.
*This is, of course, a highly debatable and theoretical area of constitutional rhetoric as well as philosophy, for which the Citizens United Supreme Court case in 2010 has only added fuel to the fire. Ethicists and constitutional ethicists will be arguing for years to come whether truly “corporations are people.” The Supreme Court case gave that argument a lot of credibility and precedent. However, any rational person would be pressed to try to explain how a notarized piece of paper filed in some random city hall, exclaiming incorporated status—a piece of paper that cannot vote or even register to vote—can have the same constitutional rights as individual-citizen-flesh-and-bone human beings. The argument, of course, is that corporations are ruled by boards of directors made up of human beings who can have collective political views and opinions. Of course, all those board members have the right to independently cast their votes during an election, so it rather seems that (1.) board members have the dubious distinction of being allowed to support candidates and referendums to a greater, duplicitous (independently and through corporate lobbying), and more advantageous method than individual citizens; and (2.) board members of corporations have access to monetary funds not of their own possession, but rather of a business entity which they are connected to, sometimes in unfathomably excessive-greater capacity than an individual could ever have the capacity for. Independent citizens who do not serve on corporate boards do not have the same capacity for influence—monetarily or via marketing capability—and are therefore inequitably served by the “corporations are people” argument and legal ruling.
Tarot deck used in this block post is Kat Black’s Golden Tarot (U.S. Games Systems, Inc., ©2003).