I feel like some of my recent readings have been veering dangerously close to relevant and heartfelt guidance, and we can't have that. Today, I want to focus on a different aspect of the tarot; specifically, how messed up some of these cards are.

We'll start with today's cards: the Queen of Swords and the High Priestess.

Tarot cards depicting a woman with a sword on a throne, and an elaborately-dressed woman seated between two pillars.

This is why I like the Rider-Waite deck. The art is just bonkers. Not so much the Queen of Swords here: she's pretty stern and sober, and carrying a stern and sober sword, and even the little cherub on her chair is stern and sober. It's a straight-laced card with no bombast or craziness. You could speculate about the robe of clouds or the tiny little river in the distance or that single bird in the sky, but why scratch for scraps when we have a full buffet next door?

And I mean no disrespect to the Queen of Swords, but just look at the Priestess here. This is some high-voltage in-your-face occult symbolism. Every time you draw this card, a fundamentalist Christian somewhere gets an inexplicable urge to write a panicked letter about Satanism.

Look at that hat. Or the cross on her chest. Or the crescent moon at her feet (or maybe it's a boomerang, or it's like that spinny thing Xena always threw around). And the scroll in her lap which almost says "TORAH"...or does it? We don't really know what that letter is, do we? It's either a timeless mystery or someone deliberately truncated it for a crossword-puzzle answer ("28 Down: title of the scroll held by the Priestess, four letters").

And...okay, I had to look something up. I know it sort of goes against my mission statement, but I know that some of you so-called adults are basically just tall third-graders, and if I don't get a definitive answer, I'm going to get some immature comments about the letters on those pillars.

So anyway, yeah, those are supposed to be references to two pillars in front of Solomon's temple, because it's not at all weird to name a couple of pillars, right? Not at all weird, and if you don't believe me, you can come to my house and ask Dwight the door-jamb or Ellen the windowsill.

Once you start talking about Solomon's temple, you start getting into some Freemasonry nonsense, and then probably the Knights Templar or the Grail or so on, and this, I think, is the beauty of these cards. You could write a book about this card. You could stage a History Channel special about this card. You could sell tickets for expensive seminars about this card. You could build a vast business empire around mining and marketing ever last iota of overwrought nonsense this card contains.

Or you could just write a rambling blog post for free. And speaking of the blog, I suppose I should tie this together with a message for today's reading. Um...okay.

Clearly the Queen of Swords is saying: "Why does this always have to be a competition with you? Okay, yes, I bought a new throne, but it was on sale, and I had a gift card, all right? It doesn't mean you had to go and do...that."

And the High Priestess, with an innocent look, says: "Do what?"

Don't over-complicate your lives, friends. Sometimes a throne with a grumpy cherub is enough.

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