The Tarot Card Reader and The King of Swords

As you may recall, a few weeks ago I wrote about a tarot card reader in the Mile End. Unfortunately, Duncan, the reader, was booked on that particular day and could not see me. A strange thing happened as I walked away from our brief meeting on the steps outside his business. I had gone to see Duncan on a whim two years ago for a reading. As I walked down St-Joseph Boulevard, I thought about that winter morning  and remembered seeing a Queen in my spread. Duncan had asked me if I was having problems with someone close to me, a woman. At the time, I was having a problem with my mother, but in hindsight, the difference of opinion we were having was insignificant. He told me that the problem with this person would go away. I said that we often disagreed, and this problem wasn't likely to go away. "No," he insisted, "based on what I see here, this problem should disappear."

At the time of my reading, my son was about 8 months old, and I was already thinking about my return to work and the upheaval of trying to drop off two kids in the morning instead of one. As I walked along the sidewalk on St-Joseph I thought about my son's birthday. He would be three years old in June, then I stopped. My mother had died unexpectedly less than 18 months after that reading. I thought about this coincidence for a few minutes and had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Then I went to pick up my daughter.

Have you ever had your cards read? 

I met with Duncan on the following Saturday at the end of March for a reading. I had a few questions for him and was expecting a nice light discussion, much like my visit to the Cuban Santeria shop. I learned from this Ottawa native that there were apparently no occupational hazards working with the occult. I was hoping for some ghosts stories or strange occurrences, but no such luck. I was also curious about his clientele. I was told that 95% of his customers were women between the ages of 18 and 35. I kidded with him a little because he reminded me so much of someone I grew up with in Eastern Ontario. Duncan has the large imposing eyebrows of a Scotsman and an easy laugh. At times while we were talking, I felt a little insincere asking him questions about a topic that I wasn't sure I believed in, something that he had chosen as his profession and took quite seriously.

Then, however, he surprised me. I asked him about why he had chosen to become a tarot card reader. He said that when he was 12 years old, there had been an explosion at his school and that he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a result, he was bedridden for a year. Initially, doctors said that he would never walk again, but then something unusual happened. A reporter from the now defunct Ottawa Journal came to interview Duncan and brought a British astrologer with her. Apparently the astrologer was very attractive, and unsurprisingly, she had the 12-year-old's rapt attention. She told him that she could see an accident in his astrological chart and that the second part of his life would be much better than the first. It's no small wonder that Duncan developed a special interest in astrology and the occult.

We eventually got to my tarot card reading. Before cutting the deck, I asked a very general question about the direction of my career. Once again, I was taking the whole session very lightly, too lightly in fact. As Duncan looked at my cards, he crossed his arms and arched an eyebrow. Then he told me some very unwelcome news. In my spread, a very authoritarian man (the King of Swords) was looking to cause me harm. In addition, he told me that someone was stealing from me (Seven of Swords). I immediately tried to think of who this authoritarian man could be, but drew a blank, and as far as I knew, I didn't have anything that someone could steal. Duncan advised me to be vigilant, and when he noted the concern on my face, he pointed to the last card and said that I would come out of whatever was to happen unscathed.

I walked away from this reading feeling unsettled. My husband poked fun at my concern and gave me his dime-store interpretation of my reading. However, dear reader, what Duncan predicted has recently come to pass, and I'm thankful that I was on my guard. The pain would have been unbearable further down the road. I have lost on a material level, but that isn't what pains me. The hurtful part is coming to terms with the betrayal of a complicit party and having to revise fond childhood memories. But strangely enough, this incident has allowed me to take off my blinders and see what I have been ignoring for years, and now that I see it, I have the peace that comes with closure.

Well, hmmm....I guess you're wondering if I believe in the occult now: I'm still not sure. Would I ever go and get my cards read again? For the time being, I'm happy to live in the present.

The doll postcard is an advertisement for raplapla.

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Imported Afro-Cuban Magic
More Mile End Magic


Zoe C. Courtman | May 3, 2010 at 3:31 PM

Wow - powerful, creepy tale! Jury's still out for me on the occult, but I'm always learning, always seeking. And events like yours just make it all the more immediate for me. Great post - and nice blog!

Heather | May 3, 2010 at 4:39 PM

I've always thought that a story told from the perspective of a tarot reader would be fascinating. I know that Duncan told me a very compelling story about a young lawyer who had come to see him because she had fallen in love with her client, who was later sentenced to prison. I pressed for more info, but tarot card readers do, as I discovered, invoke client-spiritual guide privilege.

After my last reading, I was pretty creeped out, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out who this authoritarian male figure was. Obviously, as a feminist I avoid those types, but that was my clue. There was no one in the last 10 years who was authoritarian, but there was someone who was part of my life about a decade ago. I'm so happy that I had that heads up.

Thanks for leaving a comment. I'm flattered that a horror writer would find my post creepy. All the best, Zoe.

SilvanaMondo | May 4, 2010 at 1:38 AM

Hey Heather, Great post on an interesting subject. It really was suspenseful! I have gotten my fortune told in various countries and each experience is a bit different but interesting. I can't say that anything has ever happened of note, although I have been present with friends and their fortunes 'came true'. Weird. I come from a Slavic/Mediterranean heritage and in general that culture is rife with 'readers' 'healers' and 'wise women' (men of course too. People (even I) read the grounds of coffee cups, toss 'beans', read playing cards for information the list is endless. It can be amusing, social, sometimes bringing awareness and even on occasion, truth and insight. Thanks for posting. SVH

Heather | May 4, 2010 at 2:10 AM

Hi Silvana,
It would be interesting to know about all the different types of fortune telling techniques in the various cultures. I had a Russian friend once who could see auras. She also practiced witch craft, which is apparently very common and widely practiced in Russia and the Scandinavian countries, where my ancestors are from. Thanks for your fabulous comment.

Doreen McGettigan | May 4, 2010 at 4:30 PM

My 2 daughters and I had are cards read April 24th, 1999..we were told there would be violence all around us and we would not be happy for a long time. Two hours after that reading my young brother was beaten to death in a random Road Rage attack. The reader even told us if we were in danger to crawl underneath a was scary. I have not had my cards read since then but have recently been thinking I would like too and I hope for good news this time!

Heather | May 5, 2010 at 5:18 AM

On my goodness! I'm so sorry to hear about your poor brother. That must have been devastating and very frightening.

If you do go back, I hope that your next reading will be positive. I'm so sorry for your loss. H

Anonymous | May 7, 2010 at 10:14 AM

A very enjoyable post; I'm not sure about tarot, it's something anyone can do with a little practice. I would rather live in the here and now even though I have experienced otherwise.

CJ xx

Heather | May 7, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Well, after that experience I'm all for the here and now. :)

Hersal Gibs | March 14, 2011 at 11:53 PM


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Online Tarot Reader | May 31, 2014 at 3:08 PM

What an amazing story! It's interesting how many readers and psychics often experience either illness, physical injury or near death experiences. It's as if those moments of crisis open up something bigger than ourselves. Great post - I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

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