Claire McEwen, hopeful romantic.

Reading the Tarot Cards in More Than a Rancher

This post originally appeared on Just Contemporary Romance.

Have you ever seen a deck of Tarot cards? Until recently, I had only seen them once, years ago, when a friend did a reading for me. But when I started writing my newest book, More Than a Rancher, and got to know my heroine, I quickly decided that there had to be a scene where she read the Tarot cards for the hero.

Why did I think this? Well, first of all, the heroine, Jenna, had already proven herself to be rather quirky during her brief appearances in my first book, A Ranch to Keep. She believes that everything happens for a reason, that the universe delivers signs that can guide us. It just seemed to make sense that she’d be interested in Tarot cards. And my hero, Sandro, was born and raised on a sheep ranch, in a family that wouldn’t consider pulling out a deck of Tarot cards, ever. The idea of him getting his cards read was so absurd that I couldn’t resist – I had to find out what his reaction would be!

Another reason I wanted to write this scene is because Jenna is a native San Franciscan, and anyone who has visited can tell you that – although the infamous Summer of Love that put San Francisco on the map in the 1960’s is long gone – you’ll still find shops selling relics from the hippie era. And there are plenty of mystical items to be found among the tie-dyed clothing, and incense. I wanted to incorporate that part of my beloved city into my book, especially because, as the city becomes more gentrified, the eccentric shops are rapidly disappearing.

And when I researched the Tarot, to see if it would work for the scene I had in mind, I fell in love with the images on the cards. They are full of symbolism, and are somewhat bizarre, perfect for unsettling Sandro, who is going through a bit of a life crisis at the time his cards are read.

Here is an excerpt from the book, as Sandro questions Jenna about the cards she’s dealt.

“Do you see the center card?”
“You mean the upside-down naked lady? Yup, I see her.”
Jenna laughed. “She isn’t completely naked. Her lower bits are covered! Anyway, that card is called the World and since it’s upside-down, we say it’s reversed. Cards take on sort of an inverse meaning when they’re upside-down. And placed in the center like this, it’s the overall theme of the reading. It symbolizes your present state.”
“So…my present state is an upside-down half-naked woman?”
“Elevate your mind, Sandro,” she teased. “It symbolizes frustration or a fear of change. It can mean that things are in the process of change.”
“So I’m in transition.”
“Well, yes. And possibly stuck there.”
Well, he had to give it to the cards—they were right about that.
“And over here on the left is the card that represents past influences that are still having an effect. You have the Tower here.”
Sandro stood up and walked around to stand behind Jenna so he could see the cards the same way she did. The Tower looked pretty formidable. There were people falling off it headfirst and flames shooting out the top. “That doesn’t look good,” he said, shoving down a twinge of anxiety. She was good at this. She was even sucking him in.
“Don’t worry.” Jenna glanced up at him, and he was actually glad to see that she was smiling. It didn’t matter if he knew this was all nonsense—that tower was creepy. “It looks worse than it is. It means you’ve been through some kind of enormous change, like getting a new job or moving, and you’ve done both of those, right?”

“Yup.” This was weird. How could these cards be hitting so close to home? Jenna was most likely reading into them what she already knew about him.
She pointed to the lowest card. Another upside-down naked woman—this one poured a jug of water into a pool. “This card also relates to your past, to the reasons behind the changes you made. It usually symbolizes self-doubt, stubbornness and an inability to express yourself.”
“This is a pretty grim reading, Red. Wasn’t this supposed to be fun?” A shiver went over his skin and he abruptly left her side and went back to the seat across the desk.
“Cheer up! You have to understand, these cards are just information about your past, about things that might be getting in your way. The next two cards deal with the future.”
Sandro looked at the last two cards. One had two more naked people—that looked promising. But the other had a man dressed in black, riding a horse with the word Death written underneath.

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