Friday, May 27, 2011


“Your Imperial Highness,” I begin, my throat closing in anxiety and my voice hitting a couple of octaves above my normal speaking notes. I breathe deeply, lower my head and clear my throat.

“Your Imperial Highness,” I address the Empress in something closer to my usual speaking voice, “I have come here today to ask for mercy. It’s the Law of Gravity. I … I need a personal exemption.”

The Empress smiles fondly at me. I wonder how many of these harebrained requests she gets a year. She adjusts a pillow for greater comfort.

“Haven’t you come to the wrong place, child?” she murmurs. “Justice is down the hall.”

“No, Mum,” she prefers her loved ones to call her Mum, “no, Mum, I have had Justice’s ruling. It is your Mercy I seek.”

“Tell us about your plea, then.”

“Thank you, Mum,” I breathe my relief in just being heard. “It started a long time ago for me.”


A three-year-old with cornsilk hair stands on her tricycle, trying to see over the picket fence into the yard next door. It is warm and dusty in the Florida afternoon, a good time to be in the shade.

“Can you come and play? Can someone come and play?” she calls over the fence in invitation.

She is persistent, a lifelong trait as it turns out. She wants the neighbors to like her. She wants them to be friendly and to play. She is innovative. She cannot see over the fence without her tricycle, a handy step-ladder. She can see the neighbors in their house, looking at her and smiling. They don’t come out. She grabs the points of the pickets, still calling out in invitation. The neighbors laugh.

She hops a little, her tiny shoes lifting off the seat of the tricycle. The wheels roll and she slips, a sharp point of a picket catching her just under her chin. Her mother hears her cries and scoops her off the fence, staunching the blood with her skirt. The doctors stitch the wound so that it is barely noticeable. The neighbors never come out. Her mother blames them forever.


The girl has just turned six and she is in a round in-ground swimming pool, the deepest point in the center of the pool. It’s a birthday party for her kindergarten classmate Buzz. Buzz’ family has a big house and a big yard. Buzz’ birthday party will be featured in the Sunday newspaper where fashionable society events appear. She likes Buzz, his infectious laugh, his crooked teeth turning his mouth into a perpetual grin. She has a new bathing suit. She does not know how to swim.

She grasps the tiles at the rim of the round pool while moms sunbathe and the other children scream with happiness, cannonballing into the water to make the biggest splash. The sunlight sparkles on the water. Her feet slide on the slanted pool bottom and she loses her grip. She goes under towards the deep center. She thrashes, her head momentarily surfacing. She is facing the moms in their lounge chairs in the sun. She screams for help but her cries are lost amid the other children’s happiness. She goes under again, swallowing some water, gravity dragging her down. She fights for the surface and learns, in an instant, that no one will be there to save her no matter how long she calls for help, no friend, no one’s mother. She cannot swim but she must. She does, awkwardly, frantic but determined, and reaches the tile edge. She is proud of her accomplishment, teaching herself to swim when it was most needed, and angry too. She knows she was almost ignored to death.


“Poor darling!” the Empress soothes, a small crease appearing between her brows. “Your mother sent you to swimming lessons after that.” The Empress knows these things.

“Yes,” I nodded, “but gravity, you know. Gravity’s pull almost got me again.”

“But it wasn’t always that way?”

“Well, no, not exactly,” I hesitated. Then I started again knowing she would understand this too.


The little girl with cornsilk hair is in her pink cotton nightgown sitting with her knees drawn up under her long skirts in the driveway in front of her house just before dawn. She loves the colors of the dawn, how light and color seep into the fluffy clouds, then reach farther out across the sky. She contemplates that color purple, then the next and next until they are plums and peaches. She stands up, looking at the grass and its heavy dew, and determines to try one more time.

Her father finds her sobbing, her back against the carport post. She is inconsolable. He is afraid she has been hurt and reaches down to pick her up, her face red and dripping, her nightie sopping and clinging wet with dew from the lawn.

“Are you OK?” he asks, looking up and down the empty street for the bad man who must have hurt his youngest, ready to retaliate against the unseen.

“Daddy, I can’t fly anymore!” She bubbles, wiping her nose with her arm.

He stops a moment not understanding, his confusion clear, but relieved there is no monster.

“Let’s go have some orange juice and cereal.” He was confident food should fix this problem whatever it was, and he carried her from the dew and dawn into the blue house with sparkles on the walls.


“It actually got worse from there,” I explained. “I mean, I’ve fallen down stairs all over the United States. The worst was in the Field Museum of Natural History and those marble stairs. My feet hurt so badly that I couldn’t feel them any more and I landed in the Egyptian exhibit. The baskets and cat mummies went skittering across the room. It was mortifying.”

She smiled and adjusted her crown, the twelve stars reflecting rainbows all around them.

“Is that a nice tribute to cats they did?” she murmured. “I know you love cats. They just wanted to keep them forever to be with them in the Afterlife. Cats are very special to me, you know. And none of the cat mummies were actually damaged that day.” She tilted her head and gave me a fond look. “Even you weren’t actually damaged that day even though those beautiful marble stairs were sharp in places.”

“True.” You can’t lie to the Empress after all. She’s going to know it if you try. “But what about that scooter thing in 2001? That was a gravity humdinger. The elbow, the knee. It’s a wonder I didn’t get a head injury too.”

“That backpack you had kept your head off the concrete. Remember how happy you were when realized you could see and wiggle your toes? And that nice man with the terrible look on his face was so startled when you asked him to get your scooter for you! And you got back on and rode it down to the ferry dock and didn’t even know you’d broken anything or ripped all those things until you tried to stand on the dock. And by then, all your friends were there to catch you when you fell the second time.” She smiled at her unruly child.

I nodded remembering the day, the fear, the relief, the ice packs, the phone call to my husband explaining that we would need to go to the emergency room.

“That’s just it,” I said, pressing on with my point. “I don’t mind the weather elbow so much. It’s nice to have another little predictive tool. And I’ve learned a lot from my knee about humility and taking life slower and the nature of pain. It’s been 10 years and I’m really grateful for only a few encounters with gravity since then. Why, that tush-over-teakettle thing in the ghost town in Nevada was actually one of the funnier parts of that vacation!” I hesitated.

“It’s just that I feel I have done my part to demonstrate the power and effectiveness of gravity. And, well, I was hoping for something like a hall pass. I’m just thinking that I don’t bounce as well as I used to. So I know it’s not fair, not just. Everyone is subject to the Law of Gravity. But, well, you being Mother Nature and all, I was hoping you could grant me an exception,” I added shyly, “Mom.”

“We’ll see,” she said, smoothing a wrinkle on her gown. “You need to eat your vegetables though and fewer potato chips. I know that astrologer told you that Gravity is not your friend, but that’s not exactly true. I feel if you learn to work with Gravity, Gravity will work with you.”

Moms are like that.

Best wishes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

FREE Tarot Readings on World Tarot Day

World Tarot Day is May 25, 2011, and I’m trying something new. At Readers Studio last month, Marcus Katz introduced us to a new website called As part of the debut of this new site and in celebration of World Tarot Day, on that day only the readings are free. So I’m in! I will be available for tarot readings online through from 8 am to 8 pm Pacific time and every reading is FREE that day only. Later in the day works better, by the way.

Picture Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord
One of the panel discussion questions at Readers Studio was What’s Next for Tarot? Everyone got to participate in that one. One major theme was How Do We Help Tarot Become More Accepted? And an interesting perspective on that came from Caitlin Matthews who suggested that instead of wishing tarot were more mainstream, embrace the fringe. When people start to run from the cookie-cutter answers from the center, we will be there at the fringe to assist them with their next steps. I liked her answer. In many ways, if we accept ourselves as normal people on a sort of frontier instead of sideshow freaks, so will others. Naturally, some people will never feel comfortable with the tarot.

Oh, and if you’re one of those people and you read my blog just because you like me even if you think I’m a bit odd, huge HUGS for you. I love you guys. And it’s totally OK if you never want a tarot reading. I love talking to you anyway and hearing your thoughts. The idea here is that my life in tarot is really a lot less different and occasionally a lot funnier than you might expect. It’s just life. And so is tarot. People sometimes mistake it for religion; it isn’t. So if you don’t feel converted, it’s OK. That wasn’t where I was going either.

But, if you would like to try something different like I decided to, you don’t have to get dressed up and bring money. You can connect with me through If you put Marcia in the search box (that’s the one with the little magnifying glass), you’ll get the short list of Marcia readers and I am of course Marcia McCord Tarot Reader. It should look something like this:

If you go for a reading, we will be in a private chat room where we can both see the cards. It will be my experiment and free to you.

Shindig was met with interest and curiosity at Readers Studio. I asked so many questions during the demo that I was pretty sure the Shindig man thought I was a heckler. The left side of my brain momentarily took charge and I had assumed analytic mode. I’m used to asking a lot of questions about software and systems. I’m used to thinking outside the box and digging deeper than usual.
One of my questions may have seemed crazy to them at the time, but it stemmed from my own experience. A long, long time ago when I bought my first computer, back before there were hard drives and full color monitors generally available (no, I did not date Barney Rubble), I wrote a program. You guessed it: It was a tarot card program which dealt the cards out into the well-known Celtic Cross spread. I was so pleased with my little self, my glowing green screen blinking with 10 cards and their “book” interpretations. I fiddled with it for a while and realized that the tricky part, considering the limitations of printing and display technology at the time, was creating the shuffling part. The simplest random number generator I knew of in my “baby programmer” days was based off the computer’s clock. It proved too simple because, as it turns out, computers just hate being random.

OK, OK, while there are some fascinating advances in artificial intelligence coming on the scene, computers don’t hate or love. What they do really well though is compute mathematical formulas and repeat themselves. And that’s the problem. Random means not repeating, at least against great odds.

When we shuffle a paper deck of cards, there are a lot of ways to shuffle. After the shuffling and reading, hardly anyone I know puts their cards back in the order they originally came in: Fool, Magician, etc. So the next time I take my deck out, it is actually already shuffled as a starting point. I start from that unknown order and shuffle some more.

All that shuffling I do with real cards, sideways, riffling, stirring them up on the table, and the reversal flip-flop thing I do ends up being, well, fairly random. If I come up with the same card or couple of cards we had last time, I am sure I haven’t stacked the deck, knowingly or unknowingly. If you get the Ace of Swords over and over after shuffling this way, it’s clear that it’s some kind of message.

My own little program written so long ago had a flaw. My shuffler wasn’t random enough and I would get the same sets of cards repeated a lot more frequently than doing it by hand. So I asked some squirrely questions at RS11 about the random number generator that, well, glazed just about everyone’s eyes over. After a fascinating sidebar conversation with the effervescent Mike Hernandez who also has a long background in technology, I figured, wottheheck, go for it. I really want to see how it goes.

It feels right somehow that on this year’s World Tarot Day, a website will debut that was the topic of my first programming efforts. It’s a lot like The World in tarot, both an ending and a beginning, a culmination of what we have been through at the end of the Fool’s journey through the Major Arcana, tarot on the world wide web. What a great way to connect! Will it work? Absolutely.

What’s that you ask? Oh, no. Absolutely nothing will replace the feel of the cards in my hands as all the possibilities of the universe unfold. If we get the chance, I’d much prefer to read for you in person. In the same way that a website isn’t a deck of cards, electronic communication can never replace real human interaction. I’d rather be with you.  But if distance separates us, give this one a try!

Best wishes.

Want to find out more about World Tarot Day?  Check this out!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Sword of Action

I was talking with a friend at work today, saying I hoped I had at least 8 more years of work in these “Be Happy You Have a Job” days. As long as I keep my youthful illusions (like typing faster than most people, being a smart-aleck, having a sense of humor and solving problems really quickly), I hope I can be useful in the workaday world. Oh, yes, I have my secret weapons like looking at things from a different point of view, an unusual gift for viewing systems from the unsuspecting user’s point of view rather than knowing all I really know, and factoring the dimension of time into the usually only barely 3-D imagination of computer system changes in what might ordinarily be thought of as a dull insurance job. It’s not dull for me. It’s entertaining. I remember weird stuff that comes in handy. It’s sort of like “Day Job Jeopardy.” Maybe my other talents bleed over into the Day Job too. I’ve always wondered how much of that happened and whether it was a good thing or a bad thing.

Being an intuitive in a linear world is not always a blessing. Just ask any intuitive. You get all the linear people surrounding you just before they stone you asking, How did you know that was going to happen?? Shoot me, it was obvious. But not to them. Of course, they are also willing to stone you if you mention in advance what appears likely to happen as the result of decisions. If they listen, and most of the time they don’t, they think you’ve lost your mind. Then, even if they did listen to, when it does happen, they will ask you why you didn’t warn them.

Start to get the no-win scenario here? The linear people outnumber the intuitives by about 7 to 1 so brace yourself if you’re intuitive. You’re surrounded.

Of course, I’ve had moments where even the intuitive people are a little spooked. One time back in Illinois (I almost slipped and said what decade; boy, that was close) when I was a baby programmer, I realized something I had seen earlier in the day was going to cause a program to fail or as we used to say in the Big Iron Age “abend.” I called the central office in Louisiana just as the program was dying as I knew it would. By then I was familiar with the voice on the phone there having helped them through a few long nights previously.

“Marcia,” the night operations manager said, “you aren’t supposed to call us when a program blows up. We’re supposed to call you. That’s scary.” I laughed and said that we had recently instituted psychic debugging at the home office but the announcement hadn’t come out yet. At least I was calling with the easy fix to the problem with a happen ending.

Often, though, I have found that being an intuitive in a linear world is mostly dangerous. It’s probably worse if you’re an optimist like me. I tend to like people, linear or intuitive. I like the energy that differences bring, the frisson of alternate points of view, the refreshing…well, you get the idea. And I have the optimist’s affliction of thinking that, if I like them, they like me. This is not a good assumption. It is one that needs to be proven in the specific each time before engaging. The usual scenario is that I’ll end up helping people who have been and will continue to be mean, nasty, selfish, conniving, lazy, self-serving or, in the case of arrogance undeserved, let us say misinformed. I’m a sap. I used to really fight with these folks for the right to help them, believing as I did then that anything could be helped with good will and a little understanding. In my maturity I have stopped doing that. If they continue to be really mean people, I just withdraw my help and let them wallow in the results of their own bad judgment. I would really rather have helped of course.

I’m pretty sure I can’t fix everything, of course. Some computer projects have a momentum all their own and it pays to know how to step aside and let the avalanche go by. That happens with people, too, of course, because it’s people who mess up computer projects, at least drawing first blood with the consequences of a bad project having the unhappy result sometimes of harming people. For instance, a “really good idea” that gets implemented with a very detrimental and unforeseen effect on business can result in people losing money or their jobs. They might blame a computer for it, but that’s only because they don’t know the name of the person who was so gung-ho to get that project in that they didn’t want to hear all the analysis from others. Maybe they did hear it, but it sounded so much like a sneeze causing a hurricane across the world that it didn’t make sense to them. It was beyond their belief. But maybe someone near them did understand that sneeze and its consequences.

So what’s this got to do with tarot, you ask? Well, maybe just about everything. In our traditional schooling, we’re taught to think about things logically. Obviously, the linear people are going to really happy with this because this generally means turning chaos into order. That’s alphabetical order for the really linear, like the way my first husband stored his socks: Black comes before blue. I was lucky they got in a drawer, being the non-linear one. Well, THAT didn’t work out as you might imagine. But what happens if you’ve got something going on and all that linear or merely 3-D thinking isn’t working? Logic is only one tool at our disposal; it’s not the only tool.

At Readers Studio 2011, Barbara Moore taught us different ways to develop a spread for tarot. One of my buddies said, “The 5 of Swords is stalking me!” We decided we would chase back and confront the cruel logic of the win-lose scenario portrayed in the 5 of Swords. We developed a spread called The Sword of Action.

First, we wanted to pin down exactly what the issue is, so we started out with cards in the pattern of a sword pinning down the issue. It looks like this:





If you squint, you can see that 1 is the handgrip and the blade (4 and 5) has “pinned down” something stuck in the earth. We looked at the traditional RWS 5 of Swords and decided that each of the cards represents the answer to these questions:

1. What’s in the air? The 5 of Swords has diagonal grey clouds that look like they are being whipped in the wind.

2. What sword do I set down? This card is like the logic, conflict or thinking that the main character has let go of or set aside. It’s not working in this case.

3. What sword do I pick up? This card is the logic, conflict or thinking that the main character (hey, that’s YOU) would pick up and use.

4. What is in the water? See in this card, beyond the people, there is water which represents emotion and undercurrent. Often in a situation where logic isn’t helping you, there is something else going on.

5. What’s beyond the mountains? In the background of the RWS 5 of Swords are mountains which can be obstacles to overcome or goals to achieve. What will be the outcome?

Now the really interesting part of this spread happens. We wanted to turn this from just a “let’s pin down what’s going on” reading into a “what’s the best action to take” reading. It’s the Sword of Action, after all. We agreed that for a sword to be useful, it needed to be pointed up and ready for action. How do we turn our sword around? So we moved our #5 card to the space above the #1 card to get the outcome closer to the issue and added our #6 card.

6. What is the best action to take to get to the best outcome?

The spread changes to this, the Sword of Action!






So, if you’re looking for a spread to help you get past that linear thinking, try The Sword of Action and make logic and intuition work for you.

Best wishes!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Diablo’s Backside

Remember how I told you I wasn’t a birder? I’m not. Really. I don’t keep a list of the birds I’ve seen in my lifetime. OK, I own a bird book and I can whistle like a Mockingbird imitating a Western Meadowlark. It doesn’t really count. That whistling thing was an aberration of adolescent boredom while I was riding my bicycle. And there really wasn’t that much to do at the time in eastern New Mexico besides watching the fenders rust.

It’s like my introduction for each birding class: “Hi, I’m Marcia. I’m not really a birder. I just like hanging out with birders because they are generally quiet and don’t want me to fix anything to do with a computer.” It sounds like a joke but the truth can often be pretty funny.

Nevertheless, my friend Ronda and I like to go to birding workshops and give each other the gift of a trek outdoors looking for our little feathered friends or whatever lands in our path along the way. Birding is generally a slow moving activity because sudden movement and noises make them fly away, spoiling the effort. We thought this year we would go somewhere we hadn’t been before, Mitchell Canyon on the “back side” of Mt. Diablo.

Tea Tarot
(c) copyright 2011 Marcia McCord
We figured we would see different birds from the ones we’ve seen before in Marin, Sonoma, Solano and Yolo Counties. And the description of the class had the tempting line, “…an easy stroll.” Ronda’s back has been bothering her but she’s recently made some excellent improvement with exercise. I have a bad knee from a scooter accident in 2001. I would call it a trick knee, but that sounds like more fun than it really is. Essentially, we birdwatch at approximately the same pace.

We had no idea how hard we would have to work for this “easy stroll.”

The first obstacle in our path was the paperwork.

“Did you see the form they want us to fill out?” we pinged to each other at approximately the same time. It was a medical history form. They wanted to know our complete medical history, what prescription and over the counter drugs we took, what our preferences were for lunch and dinner, all in case the emergency medical technicians had to be called.

“Does this mean the EMT’s are bringing our lunch?” Ronda quipped hopefully. The last time we had to call an EMT to one of our events, he was very entertaining eye-candy and right handy with a band-aid for our friend’s cut thumb. We paused in the vision of a well-made fellow in a uniform with a tray of our favorite snacks.

“Should I say I like unsweetened iced tea with extra lemon?”

But in all seriousness, this form was out of line with the current HIPAA medical privacy rules. There was no mention of who would have access to the information and what would be done with the records once the class was over. And there was the interestingly implied conflict between “an easy stroll” and the need for a med-evac by helicopter. We were smart women with long experience in business and technology, we reasoned. We’re pushing back. This form was like nothing we’d ever seen. They were asking questions my doctor wasn’t interested in and my husband probably didn’t know the answer to. And it seemed like they were discouraging the less than Olympic fitness crowd from attending. How’s that fit into the “easy stroll?”

We contacted the director’s office. He was on an excursion to Antarctica, the kind of trip on which I expect you might need to tell the EMT’s your menu preference, nothing like the little walk in the woods looking at the birdies we had in mind. After much back and forth with the organization, including mention of dropping membership, citing HIPAA laws, mentioning the federal funding they no doubt receive which could be looked upon with disfavor if the Americans with Disabilities Act folks should misunderstand their benign intent, I finally distilled my position on this ill-designed form with its invasive and ill-conceived questions with the ultimate sentiment from the parking lot scene of Fried Green Tomatoes: we’re older and we have more insurance. Basically, I told them, we’re just two old broads with bad knees and good cameras who won’t be giving them our money. They changed the form.

After this victory, we felt we had to attend. Fortunately, the day proved to be beautiful for being outdoors, although not ideal for birding. It was clear and sunny and that wonderful in-between temperature that requires your light jacket in the morning. It was also windy. The two ways you find a bird is by sound and by sight of movement. On a windy day, all the trees, branches, leaves and critters are moving. But we were surrounded by a concert of beautiful birdsong. We were a big class and I feared any self-respecting bird would flee in terror from a parade of binoculared grey-hairs traipsing around with lists, scopes, cameras and a class leader who believed he was making attractive bird calls. Doubtful as we were, we saw birds. I was jazzed about the golden eagle, my first. The coolest bird however was this lovely swimming-pool blue juvenile Lazuli Bunting, a blue like I had not seen on a bird except perhaps parakeets in the pet stores. Here's a fantastic photo taken by Steve Zamek featured in At that point in the path, that had been the high point of my day. Some bird!

I’d say it went downhill from there, but strictly speaking we were walking uphill and at a pace that Ronda and I couldn’t sustain. Of course, I like to take pictures of everything that isn’t moving too fast, so I have some yummy wildflowers currently in peak bloom in Mitchell Canyon and a rather unfortunate yet interesting dead mole on the trail, still in good enough condition for final viewing, RIP.

Our loud-birdcalling trip guide plunged forward at a breakneck pace, promising that our lunch stop was just around the next corner. About the fourth time he made this empty promise, Ronda had left “happy” back on the trail something like an hour previously and I was beginning to whine. Checking my watch, I noted quietly, so as not to start food riots or other insurrection among the birders, that we had three more hours of this trudging and the sun was rising high in the sky. “Easy stroll,” I muttered, both my bad knee and good knee singing louder than the birds. I had worked hard for this torture session but I was long past the point of caring if I saw one more bird even if it was roast chicken on a nice whole grain bread.

“OK,” the devil…I mean Dave the guide announced proudly as he dashed down the steep bank of the creek, tip-toed across a couple of unstable rocks and bounded up the steep bank on the other side. “Here’s where we’re stopping for lunch!”

Ronda and I looked with dismay at the impossible physical obstacle and the tick-infested clearing beyond. No. Way. If we got down, we knew we wouldn’t get up again and I didn’t relish walking back through the creek, including culverts, until we got to a flat spot to get back onto the trail.

Arizona has a Stupid Hiker Law which says approximately that if you wander into the wild and into a situation that you know you can’t get yourself out of, you ought to pay for your rescue. Of course this was California, but the point was well considered. Wise women that we are, we turned back. That croning ceremony wasn’t fer nuthin’. About 30 minutes back down the trail we found a log to sit on, ate some of our lunch, rested our aching joints and admired the microcosm of nature within our immediate view. We actually saw a few birds on the way back that we hadn’t seen on the way up and attributed that to our being fewer in number and quieter than the large class. I brushed a tick off Ronda and to our credit we both suppressed our bug screams. We made it back to the parking lot, the bathroom, the water fountain, the nice ladies in the visitor center and gratefully to Ronda’s SUV. A couple of ibuprofens later and by the time we were in civilization again that awful grating noise in my joints had stopped and we were treated to the best bird sighting of the day, a mommy mallard duck and her four baby ducks crossing Clayton Road in the crosswalk. All traffic had stopped for the little parade and we rejoiced as the last little straggler ducky hopped the steep curb from the road to the sidewalk.

We need something duck speed next time, I thought. “So, next time,” I suggested aloud, “maybe we pick a botany class.” After all, plants don’t move too fast.

Later that evening, while I was selling drink tickets at the church spaghetti feed, I felt a tickle on my back. A tick! Grateful that it hadn’t yet found a good spot to bite, I quickly flung the little devil on the floor of the church hall and smashed it with the metal cash box from the drink ticket sales. There. I fixed it.

Best wishes!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Uranian Holiday

I just got back from Readers Studio 2011 in New York and I’m still recovering. I’d like to stretch it out as long as possible to preserve the glow. It was a weekend of Big Things. As it turned out, there were many more Big Things than I had bargained for!

Thinking back, the last bit of really confident control I had over the weekend was packing for the trip on Tuesday. I had an early flight on Wednesday and did my typical pack bags until 11 pm dance. And oddly, I remembered everything: the costume for the parade of trumps, the decks people said they wanted to pick up in New York, the boarding pass, the shoes, the whole catastrophe. I was ready. Or so I thought.

The alarm went off at 4 am and I was up like a shot, jumped into my clothes, grabbed my bags, kissed the cats and dog goodbye and we were off for the airport. The line to check bags at the curb was proof positive that horses aren’t the only ones who can sleep standing up. After a pleasant exchange with my skycap, lumbering through the security line, being x-rayed head to toe (best done when you’re asleep and not thinking about it), I was grateful my gate was at the top of the escalator. Before I knew it I was on my way, and with only a slight delay in Chicago due to what turned out to be a Presidential visit, I had spent the day asleep in the air, grateful for my tendency to go “lights out” the instant my seat belt buckle is snapped. There is such a thing as a calm before the storm.

First, I want to send my heartfelt sorrow to those who lost loved ones, homes, etc in the tornadoes that ravaged the South last week. I have just a few phobias and tornadoes are in that slot; I don’t really consider it a phobia if you define phobia as an irrational fear. I’ve been close enough to tornadoes in my life to feel assured that my fears are quite rational. Of course the first thing I found out after getting into my hotel room was that there were tornadoes reported in the Hudson Valley. I immediately started thinking about which would be better shelter, the bathroom or the hallway. Luckily for everyone in Queens, the tornado warnings/watches lifted and it just looked like an annoyed sky rather than a vengeful one. I talked to my husband John and he joked that I was not to call him at 6 am the next morning just because I thought it was 9 am and was having fun.

Picture Postcard Tarot
(c) copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

The Tower is a card indicating a change that is like a lightning bolt from the blue, something that resets your thinking, reprioritizes your life, makes you realize the good news or bad news that you have based your assumptions on some shaky ground and they are falling. It can be the “Great ZOT!” of realization but it also has its traditional “scary” meaning of something really big is going to happen, something you have minimal control over, something that brings your plans down in a sudden collapse of rubble. The Tower is tied in astrology to the planet Uranus, a surprise party planet that will be dancing in my sun sign of Aries for the next 7 years. Little did I know that my choice of Trump costume as Strength was going to be necessary in more than one way.

The call I got early in the morning on Thursday was a Tower call.

“Hi, Dolly.” He calls me Dolly.

“Hi, Sweetums.” I call him lots of things. “I thought you didn’t want to talk to me so early in the morning?” It looked at my watch. Was it 3:30 am or 4:30 am in California?

“I’m at the emergency room.” The hotel room spins. And as it turns out he had emergency surgery later that afternoon. There was no way for me to get a flight back. Besides the weather delays, the President had made New York his next stop after Chicago. I called friends. I called in favors. I hoped my cell phone charge would last. I hoped I had remembered to take my blood pressure meds. Thank God for William, Nancy, Rosie and Derek and all our friends who tag-teamed to make sure John had someone there when I couldn’t be. Thank God for our family who tried to be there as best they could too from a long distance. Thank God for the surgeon and nurses and medical care performed with excellence and humanity. Thank God John is OK and home.

I should know better than to ask, “Good grief, what else can happen?”

Knowing John was safe, I stayed at Readers Studio and had a most excellent time. Thank God for all the Readers Studio folks who knew my story and sent healing and love and shored me up. I went to the wonderful classes on romance readings with Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone who are the Readers Studio organizers. I zipped over to the Aeclectic Tarot dinner and had a great time meeting people for the trade train. I had brought some copies of my decks to sell or trade and they went fast. The next day I talked to John all throughout the day, violating my own rule of having my cell phone on while in a class or meeting, but dashing for the door when it rang. All was good. The lovely Corinne Kenner’s class on astrology and the tarot hit the mark especially for those new to astrology and gave us different perspectives on the cards. “Cupcake” Barbara Moore helped us develop our own spreads with her effervescent charm. My group of three was proud of our new spread, the Sword of Action, and eagerly submitted it for Barbara’s compilation of the RS11 new spreads. I listened first with skepticism and then with awe and finally joy to Caitlin Matthews as she explained how she, once skeptical of using significators had learned their value. James Wells led a roundtable with our tarot stars. And my dear Thalassa provided wit and humor throughout, especially as organizer of the Parade of Trumps. And I fell in love, utterly head over heels with Lon Milo Duquette’s musical interlude, no less than the Pete Seeger of tarot!

My roomie Beth Seilonen stuck close to her vendor table and sold both her many luscious hand-crafted limited edition decks and my few offerings too. We agreed we were ready to take the bus to the diner with Marcus, Tali, Mike, Paul and the gang. I had the “lob-stah” and it was delish!

Oh, and I shopped. Wow, did I shop. I had seen Aaron Rathbun’s leather tarot cases at past tarot events and drooled. My goal this year was to get one or two. GOAL! My special orders will be shipped at the end of this month, pictures to come. There were cases made of antique sari material, cases made of recycled felted, quilted and embellished sweaters, cases knitted by the esteemed Mary K. Greer. There was jewelry and I indulged in pins made by the encyclopedic Robert M. Place, a cat, a mermaid and a wyvern, all at the hand of the alchemical master himself. And I sacrificed my checkbook at the table of the Tarot Garden, falling under the spell of a few goodies of rare and careful nature (Dan Pelletier was aptly cast as the Devil in our Parade of Trumps, tempter that he is).

And then the Tower proved not to be complete. As we were packing up after the certificates had been handed out and many of the hugs and email addresses had been exchanged, our hard-working Ruth Ann fell from the stage and landed hard and painfully. She broke her collar bone and a rib. I called 911 and handed the phone to a guard when they asked for the address. Those of us with her rushed to her side to provide what we could in Reiki, prayers and support, making sure that she was as comfortable as possible until the EMT’s arrived.

After a delicious meal at Uncle Peter’s with our enormous Sunday night group where I was fortunate to sit near some of our Australian attendees including none other than Annie Dunlop, former president of the Tarot Guild of Australia, we returned to the hotel. Invited for a nightcap and asked if I had one more copy of one of my decks, I dashed back downstairs to the lounge in time to see the stunning announcement by President Obama: Osama Bin Laden was dead. Yet another Tower moment for this amazing weekend! And we were all curious about the future once again.

Thanks to all of the wonderful people who were there, who were my partners in the classes, who were charming dinner companions, who purchased my decks and who made even the most Uranian of holidays a delight!

Best wishes!