As I am sitting here on a Friday evening, reflecting on the events of the week and how things have transpired, I am thinking a lot about how I got into the tarot in the first place, and how many people have been impacted by that choice in many direct and indirect ways as a result.
It was 1987, I was finishing up my last year of college and one of the most important social structures in my life was the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was a member of the local cast, which meant that every Friday and Saturday night, while the local theater showed the movie as their midnight movie selection, we would be there to hand out "supplies" and enact the movie in live-action on the floor in front of the front row of seats, what was known as the "floor show." I did not have reliable transportation nor parental approval, and so I was only able to be there on Saturday nights, but I became a valued and important member of the cast. I did not do the floor show, because I wasn't there frequently enough, but I was still part of the "family."
One of the other members of the family, a boy named Bobby, was someone I was particularly close to and spent a lot of time hanging out with him. I had a major crush on him, but I am not sure he ever knew this, as I was too shy to really say or do anything about it. We did develop a good friendship though, and I was invited to his eighteenth birthday party.
I remember going from room to room at one point at the party, looking for him, but he had disappeared. Everyone else was having a good enough time and hadn't really noticed that the guest of honor had gone missing, so to speak. I found him out back, in the yard, at a picnic table, with a bunch of strange-looking cards spread out in front of him on the table. They were larger than playing cards, with pictures on them in simple but nice colors, and he had a small paperback book that he was reading out of.
I was brought up extremely sheltered, and had never in my life HEARD of such things as tarot cards, much less seen them before, so I was curious to know what these were. I asked him what he was doing, and he said "I'm reading my tarot cards." As I recall it now, he didn't seem to have a lot of experience with them, because he would look up the meaning of each card as he went through the spread on the table. However, he sure had more than me, and at the time, I was really impressed by how neat the whole thing looked and how engrossed in it he was. So engrossed, in fact, that he could barely be bothered to acknowledge my presence.
I sat down across from him on the table and said "Cool, show me how to do that!" I don't think it sounded as demanding as it looks like it might, but it was more eagerness than anything else. I had a crush on him anyway, so anything he was doing was of interest to me, but these things actually looked neat in and of themselves, and I was genuinely curious.
Bobby looked up from his book momentarily and glared at me across the table. "Go away, would you? go get your own cards!" And with that, he returned to focusing on his own reading.
Well, I've always been a person who had the same reaction every time to being told this advice: I went straight to the bookstore in our local mall and went right to the weirdo new age section (that was how I thought back then, anyway) and I remember I looked through a bunch of books until I found the EXACT same book that he was reading. And then I went up to the register and they had a small display rack with a few decks of tarot cards, and there was a bright yellow box of Rider Tarot Deck cards, which I immediately recognized as the ones he had. I bought both the deck and the book on the spot, and took them home and began to read.
I first familiarized myself with the cards, looking at each one in order, then went and read the whole book cover-to-cover. It was "The Complete Guide to the Tarot" by Eden Gray. A small paperback book, and a fairly quick read, considering much of it was meant to be a reference not a straight-through read. I then proceeded to follow all the directions and do my very first tarot card reading. I do not now remember what the topic of the reading was, but I remember being impressed by the accuracy of the cards, right out of the box.
Later on I would encounter all kinds of advice from various people about them; that I should wrap them in silk; that I should sleep with them under my pillow, etc. I would experiment with these but found that they really didn't make much difference. The cards were accurate for me regardless of what I kept them in or where I stored them when I wasn't using them.
I remember that summer, I did readings in my little apartment kitchen for some of my neighbors and a few of my friends and they always thought it was really neat. Even the two girls who lived next door and who attended school at the local Baptist college eventually decided that I wasn't doing anything evil, and one of them even got her own cards read.
Over the years, something that started out being a personal hobby turned into a professional venture; I did readings for people, then finally I began teaching tarot classes as well, then writing professional tarot deck reviews. And finally, came the day when LoScarabeo approached me and asked me to design a tarot deck using my religion, Wicca, as a specific theme for the design. And the rest, as they say, is history.....
So whether you have had a tarot reading from me, taken a tarot class from me, had a reading from one of my students over the years, bought a tarot deck based on what you read in my review, or are using my Pagan Tarot deck for your own readings, you all have one person to thank for setting me on the path that has impacted your lives..... my friend Bobby. Sadly, life took us in two different directions a few months after that birthday party, but the legacy endures....
Yours in tarot,
Gina M. Pace (aka Wicce), creator of the Pagan Tarot, published by LoScarabeo, and former webmistress of Wicce's Tarot Collection, one of the internet's largest former tarot review websites