Tarot cards and burning candle
My Tarot Deck
by Mary McCarthy

Was a present from my high school friend
who liked to think witchy thoughts with me,
to push at the edges of the expected
and cook up a good scare
breaking all the rules.
Like going to the school chapel
late at night,
poking around in the relic case,
stealing sips of wine,
and a few unconsecrated hosts,
trying to cast spells
by circling the altar widdershins
and playing bawdy rock on the organ.

She was born on Halloween
and I on Lammas Day.
Dates we thought significant,
fitting us to be the perfect
modern witches.

I loved the cards.
The images spoke to me
of things at once
strange and essential.
I learned how to lay them out
for a reading
and surprised myself
because the patterns always made sense
telling a story
whether for a friend I knew
or for a stranger.
My readings were in great demand,
popular at parties, casual gatherings,
and even by appointment.
Until it became something more
and less than fun.
I could feel the pressure
of the needs they brought to me,
the threat of chaos
underneath the call
to find a story for them
that would make sense of lives
that seemed all too accidental.
Solutions and assurances
all far beyond what I could see.,
I quit my readings
but kept the magic cards
fifty years now
safe and quiet in their box
held in reserve
for unknown future

PHOTO: Tarot cards (stock image).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Thinking about a precious possession kept for many years, this Tarot deck came to mind. In the same way we used to scare ourselves with the Ouija board when teenagers, we took to the idea of these magic fortune-telling cards. It was part game, part serious — almost believing what I’d come up with in my interpretations of the patterns in the cards. Also delicious because definitely outside the rules of our Catholic nuns’ teaching at school. We loved thinking of ourselves as outlaws!!

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a photo of me in my younger, witchier days!.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. Her work has appeared in many online and print journals, including Earth’s Daughters, Gnarled Oak, Third Wednesday, and Three Elements Review. She is grateful for the wonderful online communities of writers and poets sharing their work and passion for writing, providing a rich world of inspiration, appreciation, and delight.