I Gave My Cat a Tarot Reading
I’m an odd guy. I do odd things. When someone says my cat and I might share a psychic bond, I do something to find out.
That "someone" is a commenter who recently suggested that my cat, Thomas, might be my “animal familiar.” This concept has taken many forms in spiritual practices (including Paganism and Wicca), but it essentially means an animal with whom one shares a psychic connection. So Sunday night I inquired about it.
My first stop was my own unconscious mind.
Whoa whoa whoa, time out, Cat Dandy. What do you mean? Just what I said. I communicate often with my unconscious mind. I’ve done it since I was a teenager. You can do it using a pendulum. It’s an amazing thing, really. I read about it in a book my dad had on self-hypnosis, and I've learned more about it since then. You can’t get extended “essay type” answers, but you can ask specifically worded Yes/No/I-Don't-Know questions to learn a lot about yourself and those around you.
Why would you ask your unconscious mind about metaphysics? Because I believe it’s connected to what Carl Jung called “the collective unconscious” -- one big psychic pool in which we all swim, many of us without ever knowing it or taking advantage of it.
Here’s what I asked, and the answers:
- Have Thomas and I known each other outside of our current physical forms? Yes.
- Is Thomas our “animal familiar?” I don’t know.
- Should we attempt to communicate with him using Tarot cards? Yes.
Hold on. Tarot cards? Seriously? Yes. They’re among several methods of divination I use. Some (such as the pendulum) are grounded pretty solidly in science. Others (such as Tarot cards and Runes -- small stones containing letters from a defunct Northern European alphabet) come from mystic traditions.
I say that if you want to find the truth, you gotta mix it up. So I did.
I don’t know a lot about Tarot (my girlfriend, Daphne, knows more), but I do know there are many structures for readings. Susan Levitt, in her book Introduction to Tarot, gives basic instructions on including animal companions. I kept in mind that Thomas is a cat, so I made the reading short. I presented three questions, asking him to choose cards for each one. I spread a Tarot deck in front of me, asked him to approach, and whatever card he touched with his paw first I considered his choice.
Question 1: What is the nature of our relationship?
I had Thomas choose three cards to represent the past, present, and future. What follows are his choices and excerpts of their explanations from Introduction to Tarot as well as Tarot for Everyone by Hajo Banzhaf.
The King of Cups (past): The card emphasizes activity and an energetic approach to things. The King of Cups is a sensitive person who embodies emotional strength, good intuition, spiritual depth, compassion, and care.
The King of Swords (present): [It] symbolizes an intelligent, versatile person who is astute, eloquent, independent, and flexible. ... Ideas are very focused and directed, but at the expense of the heart. Denotes rational mind, linear thinking.
The Three of Swords (future): [It] indicates sobering disappointment and painful realizations. ... It is often an unpleasant, but not necessarily bad card. ... The word on the bottom of the card is sorrow, sorrow due to loss. ... It is best to weep, grieve, and release the pain in your heart and mind.
My interpretation: Thomas and I have a solid, loving foundation and past (whether in this life or a previous one). At present, we're each going a little "left brain" in trying to improve our relationship, so we should remember our emotional connection. As for the future, well, Thomas knows that humans live longer than cats, that there's heartbreak ahead, but it's a natural part of the cycle.
Question 2: What role do I play in your life?
I had Thomas choose one card.
The Queen of Wands: Queens stand for ... mostly women but sometimes also men. ... They emphasize the patient, waiting attitude, being prepared to receive something. [The card] indicates a self-confident person who has will power ... and who is easily motivated and able to inspire and fascinate others. ... [It signifies] openness, receptiveness, stability, love of life.
My interpretation: I am Thomas' queen, an open, receptive, stable person who's patient and gives him love.
Question 3: What if Daphne and I got another cat?
I asked Thomas again to choose only one card, which he did. But then he returned to the spread and put his paw on another card -- as you can see in the photo above -- so it came up off the carpet under his weight. He stayed on the card for a couple of minutes.
He didn’t move until I took that card. My interpretation? "Look at the second card in addition to the first."
The Star: [It] represents new hope and a nice future. ... It indicates that the topic in question has some future. ... On a deeper level, this card symbolizes an insight into the cosmic laws.
Justice: [It] is the embodiment of well-deliberated judgment, a wise decision that was very carefully considered.
My interpretation: Considering I recently listed the reasons I'm not getting another cat, I was a little upended. But maybe this clears up one item on that list -- I had believed Thomas wasn't ready for a new feline friend and needed more stability. From this reading, though, I gather that I'm his stability, and that he trusts that any cat Daphne and I bring home will be the result of a well-deliberated decision.
Before we started, a voice in my head said: "Bowers, you'd better have a backup idea for your article this week, because this could turn into nothing." In fact, it was opposite. Thomas was receptive, engaged, and interested the whole time.
His choices were telling. Looking through the Tarot books, I saw cards he might have chosen: The Fool, The Hermit, The Hanged Man, The Devil, Death. The ones he chose were applicable -- including one I might not have wanted to acknowledge.
So I conclude that maybe Thomas and I are connected beyond this time, this space, and these bodies. Is he my animal familiar? I still don't know. But I sense a deeper connection.
Oh. Yes. Almost forgot. I concluded one more thing: He's definitely a cat.
Cat Dandy -- sees all, knows all, spills it on Catster:
- 5 Reasons Why I'm Not Getting Another Cat ... Yet
- I Think of My Cat as My Friend; Am I Out of My Mind?
- Jackson Galaxy Interview: The Cat Daddy Meets the Cat Dandy
- An Obituary for Toulouse, a Neighborhood Cat I Loved -- and Might Have Saved
- I Got My First Cat-Sitting Assignment -- And I Blew It
- Angry Birds Attacked My Cat, and I Broke It Up -- Stark Naked
- I Love Animals, Including the Ones I Eat: Thoughts from a Cat-Loving Omnivore
- Am I a "Cat Guy" or Just a Guy with a Cat?
- Why I Let My Cat Go Outside
About Keith Bowers: This broad-shouldered, bald-headed, leather-clad motorcyclist also has passions for sharp clothing, silver accessories, great writing, the arts, and cats. This career journalist loves painting, sculpting, photographing, and getting on stage. He once was called "a high-powered mutant," which also describes his cat, Thomas. He is associate editor at Catster and Dogster.