The Lesson of the 3 of Cups

I tell you what, rarely do I become so shocked over something that my mouth drops open and I am struck dumb, but it happened to me 3 days ago, and it’s all courtesy of someone in the packaging/shipping department at B& (Barnes & Noble).

On July 2nd I ordered Emily Carding’s Transparent Tarot from B&  I never order from them as I prefer Amazon, but I had a $25 gift certificate and that is a pricey deck, so I figured I’d get it from B&N and use my gift certificate, plus B&N had a 15% off coupon & they allowed me to combine both for one order, so I figured, oooh, a bargain!

Well, … On July 5th I was informed they were getting ready to ship my item.  On July 7th I was told in email they were delayed and would let me know when they could ship my item.  Said item didn’t arrive until July 14th, 12 days after I had ordered. Had this been Amazon I would have received it a lot sooner.  So, based on that alone I decided to never use B&N again and to ask my friends to not give me B&N gift certificates.

The deck arrived and the box for it had obviously been opened as the seal was no longer present.  Also, as the seal was broken this gave the cards room inside their box to move around so all the majors and half the wands were splayed out and thankfully trapped between the plastic cover, companion book and reading cloth provided.  So I carefully put back the majors and wands in order without really looking at them since I wanted to read the book first.

When I dive into a new tarot deck, depending on the deck itself, I may decide to play with the cards immediately or go intio the book first.  When I read I use a highlighter.  So there I was happily highlighing bits of interpretation that differ from the traditional.  As I reached the Hermit card I decided to take the deck out and look at all the cards.  This is when first shock, then absolute disgust ensued, and I’m NOT referring to the artwork on this deck, but rather the condition in which B&N had sent it to me.

Firstly, these cards are printed on clear plastic, like transparencies used for overhead projectors.  They show up best on a light box, and being that I’m an artist I do own a light box.  The art is very simple, but also gorgeous in that Emily Carding managed to take each card down to the bare essential of its symbolic meaning and use that for her illustrations.  But I digress.  This not a deck review.  I’ll post one later once I’ve had more time to play with my mutilated deck.

That’s right, mutilated, and PURPOSEFULLY mutilated.

So there I am gleefully examining each and every card. Once I got past the Wands, however I noticed that the cards had FINGERPRINTS on them!  These are transparencies so they do pick up your oils and you can see your fingerprints on them.  Also, some of these fingerprints were a bit dirty.  I hadn’t examined the deck when it first came (BIG MISTAKE I’LL NEVER MAKE AGAIN!).  Otherwise, I would have seen immediately that all the cards had been examined.  I wondered why the heck someone at B&N would have gone through that deck and figured at some point they would have put the deck down and stop before reaching the end.  However, the fingerprints continued, and by the time I made it into the Cups suit that was when my mouth dropped open and I was struck dumb – LITERALLY!  I simply could not speak.  Had I been able to, nothing nice would have issued forth from my mouth, I assure you!

Someone had defaced the 3 of Cups.  Not with a Sharpie marker, or some other artistic medium.  Nope. They had used a pair of scissors and had made TWO CUTS into the card, both from the right-hand side!!  The 3 of Cups in my copy of the Transparent Tarot is RUINED.

I was absolutely furious.  Firstly, due to the fact that Emily Carding worked hard on this deck and it’s a great deck, one I am sure I will get years of good use from.  Secondly, this is not a cheap deck.  It retails for $59.95.  Now, I did get $25 off, plus had a 15% coupon, but still, it was the principle of the matter.

Since I’ve already highlighted in the book I can’t return it.

However, all is not lost.  There were 2 additional cards, one with ordering information and the other with the publisher’s logo on it.  I now use the logo in place of the 3 of Cups.  I’ve taped the actual 3 of Cups so it won’t further fall apart, and have only had it come up once so far in a reading, so I’ve removed the logo and carefully placed the 3 of Cups into my reading.  So the deck is fine, still useable.  I see no problem in using the logo in place of the 3 of Cups once I charged the logo card accordingly.

Now, what do I take away from this experience?  First of all, I’m never ordering anything from B& again.  This is the third time they’ve had a hard time shipping my order out and the other two times I wasn’t ordering decks (one was DVDs, the other was a Stephen King book).  Secondly, it left me wondering – was there a message here just for me?

My first reaction was some crazy person working at B&N is going around defacing tarot decks, probably thinking it is their Christian duty to do so.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I attend church (Lutheran) in an attempt to give our 11 year old daughter a well-rounded spiritual education.  She’s learning tarot on her own, attending church, and she is a reiki master.  I’m NOT blasting Christians, but there are some, let’s face it – who do take it upon themselves to attack pagans, our practices, and our spiritual beliefs.  Every religion and spiritual point of view has got a few bad apples in the basket.  That’s just a sad fact.  So, my first thought was that someone at B&N was defacing every tarot deck they could get their hands on and that totally infuriated me.

Yesterday, while using this deck the 3 of Cups came up for me for the first time in a reading. I was asking about my most recent artistic pursuits & where they may lead for me.One of the interpretations of the 3 of Cups is “creativity” and it came up in the strength position of the Celtic Cross.  I carefully replaced the Schiffer logo with the actual 3 of Cups so I could do my reading.  Then I got to thinking.

What if this purposefully defaced 3 of Cups was a message for me?  And why THAT card?  Why didn’t the person deface a major arcana card, for example, or any other card from the entire deck?  What was so special about the 3 of Cups?

The 3 of Cups is a card of happiness, joy, celebration, enjoying time with friends, socializing, and in the Transparent Tarot it also means creativity.  As I looked at the card the number 3 struck me.  My life has not been very joyous for the past 3 years.  My mother got very ill in March, 2007 & it turned out she had a blood infection.  After many weeks in the hospital and with major problems with her quality of care (she was even abused while in a long-term care facility), she finally got over the blood infection, went to a physical therapy facility where she worked hard for several weeks, and after 4 months was able to come home.  Home Health began visiting her and a few weeks later they somehow infected her with another blood infection.  She went back to the hospital never to come home again.  She died January 20, 2008.

My parents had been married 1 week short of 48 years when Mom died and they had exclusively dated for 4 years prior to that, so my dad had spent his entire adult life with my mom.  She was all he had.  He sunk into a depression, then his heart began to cause trouble and he was in the hospital twice for that, then I noticed he had developed a tremor in his right hand and his right foot was also beginning to shake. I immediately thought “Parkinson’s.”  He refused to see a neurologist until June, and the day before my birthday he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  There’s no cure, and the treatment is iffy at best.  His doctor gave him the medication they use.  It did nothing.  His condition was too far advanced.  By August he was losing his short-term memory, he could no longer find his way around so I had to take his car keys (what an awful day that was for everyone), and by the beginning of October he was quickly developing dementia.  He became violent and uncontrollable.  The last straw was when he tried to stab my daughter in the eye with a fork.  I had to find somewhere else for him where he could be properly supervised so I had to make the painful decision to place him in a nursing home.  Being unhappy with them I moved him several times before finally being able to get him into a rehab place where Mom had been where she had been treated so well. They treated Dad like a king, having all remembered him from when Mom was there, and he lived out the last 5 months of his life there.  He died on September 20, 2009.

I”m an only child so all the decisions fell on me, plus all the responsibilities. I also have a daughter, husband, and home to take care of, not to mention running my internet business, which at the time Mom got sick was doing very, very well. I was busy with orders every single day.  But when she got sick I had to start issuing refunds and slowly most of my clients stopped ordering.  I basically lost my business for 3 years and was in no condition anyway, so it all worked out for the best.  I would still receive a few orders from very loyal clients, but nothing like what I was receiving before, but I was thankful to have some work as it helped for a short time, at least, to take my mind off of the problems I was facing every single day on behalf of my parents.

As I looked at that mutilated 3 of Cups I was reminded of my parents and I.  It had always been the 3 of us, through thick and thin.  My parents had next to nothing, but they sacrificed for me to be sure that I was able to live a middle class life, even though it’s now quite clear to me in hindsight we were not middle class.  They sent me to camp, art classes in the summer, cello lessons, and when I sprung on them my junior year of high school I wanted to attend Northwestern University (at the time it was $13,000/year to go there, now it’s up around $40,000!!), Mom went back to work after staying home to raise me, and Dad took on a part-time job.  Neither of my parents wanted me to have to work.  They told me repeatedly once I start working all I’d want is the Almighty Dollar and I’d no longer be interested in attending college.  Once at Northwestern I took on a work/study job in the archaeology lab there (I received my BA in Anthropology), to help out each year, plus I did receive some merit-based help and had a student loan.

So, as I looked at that 3 of Cups with the 2 cuts in it I thought to myself, “one cut for my mom, one for my dad, the two people most important for most of my life now cut out of my life.”  I cried for almost an hour.  I looked at the card again and asked myself, “what could the message be, other than that?”  Well, first of all, I have a new 3 of Cups – Stuart, Ariel, and myself.  They are my two greatest blessings, without a doubt.  Upon further examination of the card and its meanings I also realized that I had recently return to doing artwork, something I totally gave up when Mom got sick and hadn’t even attempted all this time, with the exception of 2 soul portrait orders received through my site during this awful time.  I’ve been given a series of dreams in which I’ve seen animals morphing into one another or in close proximity and have realized these are the animal manifestations of various Egyptian gods.  I’m in the process of painting them now, and will continue until the dreams stop and the series is complete.

I’ve undergone a slow, but steady healing that began in December, 2009 when my husband took me to a Duran Duran concert (read the story here).  That took me back to Feb. 23, 1984 when I had first seen them at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago.  They were older, sure, but the only way they had changed is they had become better musicians.  It was an awesome show, all seen from the 4th row, too.  I experienced a major healing at that concert, one I won’t ever forget.  After that, it was slow baby steps as I slowly began to reclaim my life by returning to the things I used to enjoy doing before my parents became so ill and required all my time everyday.

So, in looking at that mutilated 3 of Cups I can honestly say that, yes, there IS a message here for me.  The message is that although I’ve lost, I still have.  Also, my creativity has been reborn and I now consider my healing to be complete.  I’m back to my old self, praise the gods, and I’m back to fully enjoying life just like I used to instead of being bogged down with stress and being pulled in 25 different directions at once as I was when my parents were sick.  That 3 of Cups with its 2 cuts gave me a very definite message.  It told me that I still have great blessings and that it’s time for me to fully immerse myself in my artistic pursuits once again.

I am taking that card’s advice.

Until next time, I wish you all many blessings!

Nefer Khepri

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