Tuesday, April 22, 2014

No Exchange for You!: Fortune Telling and Free Will

Back at the end of December I made a purchase (on a whim) of a book that turned out not to be what I was looking for. I considered returning it, but was a bit unsure about whether I should do that, or keep it and add it to my library. So for a few months it sat on a table in my kitchen, neither here nor there, its receipt tucked neatly into the pages.

Finally yesterday I decided to see about exchanging it for something I'd get more use out of. I'd bought it at a local metaphysical shop where I happen to be taking my weekly mediumship class, so it was great timing: I could arrive to class a few minutes early, browse a bit, then make the exchange and go to class. I was slightly anxious about it since, while the book was in pristine condition and I had the receipt, several months had passed, and I was worried that  there would be some 90-day limitation on returns that I wasn't aware of. But nothing of the sort was printed on the receipt, and nothing appeared when I checked their website, so I figured I'd just take it in and see what happened. When I told my concerns to my sister, she thought it was silly - of course they'd accept it as a return, and if I wanted an exchange, even better!

So I threw a few Lenormand cards to see what I might expect, and this is what I pulled:

Snake - Mice - Sun

Enchanted Lenormand - Caitlin Matthews

Ugh. I was hoping that with the Sun on the end there would be some sort of successful ending to the affair, but as they say, the Mice either eat up or poop on the cards on either side of it. And Mice was also the center card, which gave it extra importance. I figured that I'd interact with a woman (Snake) who would inform me that the exchange wouldn't be able to happen (my loss - Mice), which would cause disappointment (Mice - Sun). However the woman herself would likely be pleasant enough (Snake - Sun). Nevertheless, I decided I would still bring the book with me just to see how it would all play out. Just for curiosity's sake, I decided to lay out a line of 5 on the same topic, to check out the details:

Key - Heart - Fox - Cross - Whip

Enchanted Lenormand - Caitlin Matthews

Bah. The Fox told me there was something "wrong" about the situation, and I'd probably end up feeling deceived in some way. Key - Heart was about my deep desire to make things work in my favor, but Heart - Cross said, "Nope! That ain't gonna happen!" and Cross - Whip indicated I'd probably land in a somewhat awkward discussion with the lady regarding the situation. As it was about an event occurring that same evening, even the negative cards took on a far less intense energy than if this were a reading covering a several-month period of time. For daily draws, Whips usually indicates "an awkward interaction," in my experience, rather than the usual "strife, arguments (etc.)". I don't like awkward interactions, much less ones that occur in public places and in close quarters. So I had an option - I could call the store and ask about the possibility of an exchange, thereby avoiding any potential discomfort later on. Oh the brilliance!

So I gave the store a call, and a nice sounding lady answered. I explained that I was hoping to exchange a book I'd previously purchased but never read, and that I had the receipt. Then she explained  very kindly that they don't do returns or exchanges EVER for books, candles, incense, and a few other odds and ends. So there you have it. Why no returns on books? Maybe because they don't feel like becoming a library for people who buy, read, then return, I suppose. Who knows, and I'm not feeling motivated to inquire, either.  

But this reading illustrates an important aspect of fortune telling that I think is worth highlighting (despite the fact that the event itself was rather unimportant when all is said and done). I didn't have any reason to think that an exchange wouldn't be possible, but my cards indicated otherwise. By confirming a negative outcome using a second spread, I was able to make a decision about how to proceed with the situation, and in addition was able to prepare for a potential outcome that didn't reflect my wishes. Rather than deal with a slightly awkward interaction in the store, I was able to alter my course of action. So instead of bringing the book with me to "see what happens" I chose to call and inquire first, which gave me my (expected) answer, leading me to avoid the awkward situation portended by the second reading (in particular the Cross - Whip). When readers speak of Free Will they often consider this to mean that the future is not knowable, and that in each moment we can alter the course of our destiny. The latter is somewhat true, but I feel that it's not quite as fluid as people are wont to believe. As a reader who practices fortune telling, I've seen that the future is often very much "knowable." Rather than seeing this as disempowerment, I see this as an opportunity take some control over the things that may come to pass in my life. By understanding what is likely to transpire, we can make choices about how we will confront it, and therein lies quite a lot of power and agency - and Will. 


  1. I think there are zillions of options for the future, depending on what choice we make in this present moment. Perhaps the cards, following your energy, will show you the possible future depending one your most likely choice. In doing so they provide you with the possibility to choose otherwise.
    I like how this turned out in the end. Great post :D

  2. Thanks Ellen! I suppose in some ways this particular reading wasn't the most precise example since even though I wasn't aware of it, their return rule already existed. I'm referring to events that we can foretell that we have very little ability to impact. For instance, In December or so I saw a family member making a sudden trip to visit his sick mother and sure enough it happened. Or seeing the outcome of a friend's difficult work situation even before supervisors had met to consider and make decisions about the case. Well you know, the list goes on! So I do believe we have options in life, and that's why I love "fortune telling." The degree of influence we have differs depending on the situation. And sometimes if I truly don't want to know, I just won't look at the cards, it's true :-D

  3. Oh, I really like the very concrete example you use here to make your point. And I agree with this idea of using the cards as way to give ourselves a heads-up AND an opportunity to take a different path, if possible.

    I was thinking about a similar situation I had a year ago when I was out of town teaching a two-day workshop. Before leaving my hotel room for the second day of the workshop, I threw two tarot cards to get a sense of the day ahead. Tower and Page of Swords! Uh-oh!

    What I saw was that there would be some upheaval and that I should stay emotionally uninvolved. And, in fact, a topic arose that lit a fire under the entire group. As facilitator, I was able to stay emotionally uninvolved and help the group move through the issue and come out the other side.

    If I hadn't done the reading, I'm not sure I would have remained cool-headed. But as soon as the energy started to surge among the participants, I thought, "Ah. Tower." And did my Page of Swords act to good effect.

    Also (sorry, long response), I like that both HERE and on Christiana's show on Sunday, you mention the difference between the energy of a longer-term reading and a daily draw. I tend to forget that and always think in bigger energetic terms. But you're right. Daily is smaller and more manageable.

    Great post. Thanks!

    1. Wow, great example of this, thanks for sharing it! And it's also a great way to illustrate how Tarot serves a similar function. It's amazing how even just being prepared for a possibility can help so much with how we work with it when it comes up in real life.

    2. Hi Jamie. This subject got my attention too. I tend to read the cards to in depth for a daily draw. Tower for Upheaval is great. No need to stay the day in doors LOL. I will try to read the cards less heavily loaded for myself

    3. Thanks, Ellen and Olivia!

      (Obviously, Olivia, I thought I was reading your most recent post. But I'm still glad I caught this one, as it's really underlining an important message.)

    4. Ha! No worries, silly! And thanks :)