Edit Desk: Seeing into the future


For my 19th birthday, a friend of mine gifted me a set of tarot cards. 

If you’re not familiar with the term, the tarot is a set of playing cards used for fortune-telling. Each card in the deck has its own imagery and symbolism and the cards can give guidance on subjects like love, money and careers.

When I received my deck, I didn’t know much about tarot readings or fortune-telling. At the time, my only experiences with the topic were at carnivals and birthday parties when women in scarves told me I would live to be 100 or have five children.

But ever since I was little, I’ve had an obsession with the divine and the occult. I loved Harry Potter and other magical books. I would always concoct “potions” in my bathroom. I was fascinated by reading my horoscope in magazines and I collected all kinds of “witchy” objects.

As I grew older, I began to write these things off as childish and didn’t engage much with my mystical interests. But in recent years, spiritual topics like crystals, astrological birth charts and manifestation have become trendy thanks to TikTok. 

Now that it was more mainstream, I rekindled my penchant for these holistic pursuits. I downloaded Co-Star, an astrology app, and started journaling about the things I wanted to manifest into reality.

By this point, I felt that tarot reading was right up my alley. So I picked up a guidebook and started reading, curious to see where this tarot stuff might take me.

I began to familiarize myself with the terminology and started learning how to actually use the cards. Immediately, I was astounded to see how much actually went into giving a reading. There were words to memorize, visual representations to understand and numerological and elemental associations to apply. From there, it started to become a real hobby.

At the beginning of this school year, I brought my cards to Lehigh, mostly for decorative purposes, as I thought they would look pleasing on top of my dresser. And for a while they did, until one day my roommate asked for a tarot reading and I quickly became a fortune-teller among my friends.

My friends and I then began gathering in my living room once a week or so for our fortune-telling ritual. 

Each time, we craft the perfect ambiance with candles and calming music, and, one by one, I make predictions about everyone’s future.

Sometimes I give insight on big life events, but most days I predict how someone’s week will go, how they’ll do on a test or whether their crush likes them back. And people seem to love it. Every week, I get texts from friends and acquaintances alike asking for a reading to predict the future of something they’re worried about.

While I’m happy to do it, I always remind them that I’m not a psychic, I don’t have clairvoyant abilities and half the time my interpretations are pretty arbitrary. Admittedly, my interest in tarot cards has never been something I took especially seriously. But, I’ve found that as with all of my mystical hobbies, the reason they’re so fascinating has nothing to do with “truth” at all.

Reading my horoscope and picking a few cards out of a deck probably doesn’t mean much. These activities are not based in science and I don’t take them too seriously. But their power lies in interpretation and the reason I think so many people swear by them is because they force us to be introspective.

When I give a tarot reading to myself, I look at the card’s meaning and I try to apply it to whatever is going on in my life. If I’m low on money, a card that indicates scarcity tells me I should start budgeting. And while I could have come to that conclusion on my own, the card acts as a catalyst, urging me to look closely at my own life and make changes accordingly.

Looking inward and trying to make sense of our feelings and behaviors is an incredibly important practice that allows us to have a better sense of self. It’s why many people meditate, journal or participate in religion. 

So while a lot of people might write off tarot reading and similar activities as “woo-woo,” there’s merit in the way they help us to find answers and purpose in our lives. 

Next time you find yourself in front of a fortune teller or stumble upon your weekly horoscope, don’t shy away just because you think it might be a hoax. Instead, view it as an opportunity to self-reflect and maybe even learn something new about yourself.

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