Shaping our own destinies

Published 8:41 am Saturday, December 28, 2013

“Eenie meenie chili beanie, the spirits are about to speak.”

– Bullwinkle J. Moose

Sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, I had a horoscope kit designed as a toy. About the only detail I recall is the psychedelic style of the packaging. Long since abandoned, its name is forgotten along with any predictions I might have made for other family, friends and myself.

Yes, I also had a Ouija Board, but the spirits never spoke to me. Instead, I found the Magic Eight Ball to be more responsive and coincidentally more accurate. The simplistic replies of ‘Yes, ‘Maybe’ or ‘My sources say no’ could serve as all-purpose answers to just about any question. That medium has also long since rolled away.

Then there was the time one of my grandmothers gave me a type of tarot deck, designed in Salem, Mass., which not surprisingly is also where Ouija Boards are made by the Parker Brothers. I might actually still own the cards, but they’re relegated to a small bagful of mementoes.

Not too many years ago my brother gave me a pack of tarot cards as a birthday present. The gift was well received not because I had an interest in fortune telling, but because it featured the renowned Rider-Waite tarot deck. I was less interested in divining the future, but more intrigued in learning about the artwork. Online sources indicate that it was created by Pamela Colman Smith with help from Arthur Edward Waite back in 1909.

Looking through the pack, I discovered a card missing. Not playing with a full deck. How telling.

Incidentally, I didn’t have the cards exchanged for the proper number. After that disappointment, any plans to actually learn the symbolism and layouts were quickly abandoned.

Despite being a Pisces – whose ruling planet is Neptune and therefore comfortable with mysticism – I am skeptical that such devices can actually predict the future. But I will suggest that instead they can serve as a way for a person to think about making his or her own future.

Originally, my plan was to study the arcane knowledge of the latter tarot deck, then I could have used that while concentrating on a question. As each card is turned over, the symbolism could trigger thoughts related to my concern and perhaps puzzle out a viable answer, and all without supernatural influence.

Then there’s palmistry, the supposed ability to foresee one’s path by “reading” the lines and creases in one’s hands. That’s never called to me.

No, I don’t confuse the crisscross patterns before me – or the bumps on my head – with specific directions to finding fame and fortune in 2014.

Our futures – both individually and collectively – can be found not in our hands, but by the work we do with them. Aided by our imaginations and thoughtful plans, they will shape our lives in the months and years ahead of us.

STEPHEN H. COWLES is the staff writer at The Tidewater News. He intends to continue working here in 2014. He can be contacted in this world at 562-3187 or