I just finished reading Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road by Neil Peart. Peart is best known as the drummer and lyricist for the progressive rock band Rush. Ghost Rider is Peart’s memoir about the time in his life just after he lost first his daughter then his wife within less than a year’s time. He chronicles the road trip he goes on via motorcycle to come to terms with, and sometimes attempt to escape, the reality of losing everything.
I’ve talked about the fact that I have a bit of book ADD before. I have been known to top out at 10–12 books I’m “reading” at one time, but within that I usually fall upon one book that catches my attention over all the others and devote all my time and attention to finishing that book. With that spirit, within about 50 pages I ignored all the other books on my “Currently Reading” shelf and focused solely on Ghost Rider.
It was in that fevered reading frenzy that I reached a portion of the book that made me squeal out with an “eeeeeeeee!!!!” and wake my husband up from his doze.
“NEIL PEART GOT HIS FIRST TAROT READING!!!” I yelled, shaking my husband vigorously. He grumpily looked at me, and rolled away from me, throwing the covers over his head. Did I mention it was at 3am that I reached that point in the book? (No wonder he was grumpy at my literary revelation.)
Peart was at Venice Beach, and he was intrigued by the myriad of tarot readers there giving readings. Never having had a reading before, he decided to go for it. “From among the sidewalk readers I chose the one who wasn’t dressed in gypsy garb, a spare, fit-looking man of about 60 years with a weathered face.”
If you want the nitty-gritty details of this reading, not to mention a really good memoir, pick up Ghost Rider for yourself. The reading basically described his past up till then and future events which ended up coming true. In hindsight, Peart writes, “My jaw dropped, and it’s still dropping. That little oration was so true in every respect, then and now, that, as I said at the time, ‘It rocked my world.’ It was so far beyond the possibility of guesswork or generality, and subsequent events and future readings only reinforced that experience, gave me the ‘empirical evidence’ of repeatability. For days after that reading I walked around shaking my head. One part of my brain was seeking in vain for a rational explanation, while another part was trying hard to find a way to incorporate this understanding into my world-view. How does a rational-scientific-skeptic find a place in his orderly philosophy for that? (Though I could say the same thing about death.)”
Later on in the book, Peart describes trying to read the cards for himself: “After the unbelievably accurate tarot reading I had in Venice Beach last May, I have learned to do simple readings for myself (through one of those ‘Idiot’s Guide’ books). Last night I did a ‘three-card spread,’ and laid out The Fool, the Six of Cups reversed, and the Nine of Wands reversed. Briefly, here is my interpretation of the first two cards: ‘You are trying to set out on a new adventure, to explore new paths and commit yourself to the future in a brave and carefree manner, but you’re not ready. Your emotions are still caught up in the past, with feelings of nostalgia, and you have to cut yourself free of that before you can move on.’” My professional opinion as to his attempt? Right on, man!
With Peart’s attempts at understanding the language of tarot and where it fits into his life, I would definitely bestow an Honorary Tarot Reader badge on him! His curiosity about the tarot led him to discover its potency and its ability to change lives and examine patterns in a different way.
The experience he chronicled in getting his first tarot reading, and subsequent attempts at reading the cards on his own describes exactly the reason why I love tarot so much and encourage everyone who has a reading with me to embrace the tarot in a similar way.
Take this tool. Now that you’ve found it, use it. Heed its messages, and incorporate them into your life to live the way you choose to. Allow the tarot to better inform the choices you make presently, and gain clarity into the choices you made in the past.
Above all, make it yours.
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