Tarot Card Reading: Secrets and Shadows

By Gina Rabbin

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave what some historians say is the greatest speech ever. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., his "I Have A Dream" speech is said to have prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal. How far have we progressed in civil rights in the four decades since then? Did we, as a nation, attain Dr. King's dream that "…one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'" Have we created a nation where all people are treated as equals, where discrimination is a thing of the past? Or is that an illusion, a secret to keep hidden in the shadows? In light of recent events in Louisiana, it is a question many are asking.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina may have uncovered some of America's illusions, some of her secrets and shadows. As the city of New Orleans was being devastated, as her residents were trapped in flooding homes or seeking shelter in the Superdome and the Convention Center and freeway overpasses, questions quickly surfaced about the sluggish reaction by the federal government. Allegations of racism and classism as the reason for the slow response to the New Orleans relief efforts have been made. The Reverend Jesse Jackson charged that race was "at least a factor" in the slow response. CNN's Jack Cafferty said, "[We] in the media are ignoring the fact that almost all of the victims in New Orleans are black and poor." Fox's Shepard Smith described citizens of New Orleans stranded on an Interstate as possessing the face of an African-American man, woman, child or baby. And members of the Congressional Black Caucus have criticized the pace of relief efforts, saying response was slow because those most affected are poor.

While these charges may indeed be proven to be true, I have a sense that the tragedy in New Orleans is but a symptom of a deeper crisis throughout America. The waters of Katrina have washed away the façade of equality and laid bare the deepening chasm between the haves and have-nots in our nation. While we may have felt this division, while we may have understood that there are some people in this country who continue to struggle financially, while we may have read about the millions who have no health insurance, and while we may even see the homeless on the streets of our cities, have we chosen to keep that truth a secret so that we can still believe the American Dream exists for us all?

The images of the disaster in New Orleans may prove that belief to be an illusion and force us to see the truth. Sarita Sarvate, a physicist and a writer for India Currents and other publications, wrote, "Ironically, America's response to the predicament and suffering of Katrina's victims has been eerily reminiscent of that of a Third World country. If there is one useful purpose that this monumental tragedy can serve, it would be to raise American consciousness about the "Third World" nation that lies within its boundaries."

Are we really a nation living in an illusion? Have we simply turned away from what we just don't want to acknowledge? And if so, I can't help but wonder why. Why did we stop caring about the poor among us? Why did our activism turn to apathy? Why did we agree to ignore the poverty and hopelessness of millions of our brothers and sisters, to bury them beneath our conscious awareness, the awareness of a nation? And now that we are faced with what we've kept ourselves hidden from for so long, what are we to do?

In the same way that we are mirrors for each other, reflecting back something within ourselves we need to see, so are America's shadows a reflection of the shadows within each of her citizens, each of us, of you and me. To understand how and why we collectively chose to shield ourselves with illusion, and to gain clarity on how we can shift from illusion to truth, we need to look at our own individual selves. As an intuitive tarot reader, my tool for such deep self inquiry is the tarot, and once again I ask the cards for guidance and clarity. The five cards I pull from the deck help me to see my own reflection mirrored back.

The first card I pull is the Five of Pentacles. Five, as the number of instability and change, merges with the pentacles, represented by the element of earth, to make us feel as if the ground beneath us were made of sand. Feeling unsteady, feeling as if our lives could crumble at any moment, instills in us a fear of destitution, of lack, of complete aloneness. In the way that we are mirrors for each other, when we see the manifestation of our deepest fears in someone else, when we see lives of poverty and lack, we have to turn away and pretend it doesn't exist. To recognize it, to acknowledge it, means that there exists the possibility it could also happen to us, and that is a scary thought.

So we find it easier to live in illusion, to tell ourselves that people don't live that way in our country, not in America. We choose to live by the dim light of the moon, as the second card, The Moon, tells us. Living by the light of moon, we become too easily susceptible to illusions, unable to discern what is true and what is not. It's easier to push down into the depths of our subconscious that feeling that things aren't quite as they seem and to live our lives from the surface.

It's easier, that is, until something happens that is so devastating we have no choice but to open our eyes. Hurricane Katrina has given us the opportunity to see the truth, to go beneath the surface appearance, beyond the illusion, to see what life is like for many of this nation's poor. Not just in New Orleans, but all over the country. And the third card that emerges from the deck, Justice, reflects this opportunity. Justice reminds us that the truth often is hidden beneath the surface, and in this instance we've chosen to hide the truth beneath the surface of our consciousness. What do we want to do, this card asks? Are we ready to face our own fears in the faces of those we've chosen not to see?

Card four, the Ace of Swords, tells us it's time for a new beginning. It's time, this card says, to take action, to take up the sword and begin the fight for truth, for reality, and for change. It is with this sword that we can reveal what has been hidden, the secrets and shadows that we've not wanted to face. It is with the strength and energy of this card that we can emerge from our cocoon of illusions and create justice and harmony.

And that, the fifth card tells us, brings the potential for a fresh start. The Ace of Cups lets us know that beyond the struggle of the Ace of Swords is the possibility for healing. We do have the ability to create a nation where each person has an opportunity to live a life of joy and contentment and abundance in all things. If we can acknowledge our fears, if we choose to see the illusions, and if we commit to making the necessary changes both in ourselves and in our country, we can move closer to making Dr. King's dream finally come true.

I welcome reader questions! If there is an issue you would like to see addressed in a future column, please email me at (Please note that real names of clients are never used in this column.)


Gina RabbinGina Rabbin is a life-long intuitive and catalyst for clarity. She helps people clarify and resolve their personal and professional issues in order to create more fulfilling and meaningful lives. Currently residing in San Francisco, CA, Gina is available for tarot card readings in person or by telephone. For more information, please visit http://www.ginarabbin.com.