Vanderbilt's Fortune Teller

Tarot reader 1Who knew that Cornelius Vanderbilt relied on a fortune teller to guide him? All was revealed at the reading of his will.

In his opening statement over the dispute of railroad tycoon “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt’s will, attorney Scott Lord proclaimed that Vanderbilt was “a believer in spiritualism” and “clairvoyance and was governed by its revelations.” Lord argued that these beliefs, among other “impairments,” rendered Vanderbilt susceptible to undue influence towards the end of his life while drafting his will. The will allocated the majority of Vanderbilt’s massive fortune to his eldest son, William Henry Vanderbilt, with comparatively modest sums going to the rest of the heirs. The claims of supernatural intervention brought the name of a well-known 19th-century fortune teller, Madame Morrow, into the contentious court battle between William and his siblings.

Read all about it in the book Mortimer and the Witches

Under the pseudonym Q. K. Philander Doesticks, P. B., humor writer Mortimer Thomson went undercover to investigate and report on the fortune tellers of New York City’s tenements and slums. When his articles were published in book form in 1858, they catalyzed a series of arrests that both scandalized and delighted the public. But Mortimer was guarding some secrets of his own, and in many ways, his own life paralleled the lives of the women he both visited and vilified. In Mortimer and the Witches, author Marie Carter examines the lives of these marginalized fortune tellers while also detailing Mortimer Thomson’s peculiar and complicated biography.

ChatGPT Has An Opinion on Tarot

Tarot cards 2ChatGPT is a free Artificial Intelligence software where you can ask questions and a computer will give you an answer. I was intrigued and wanted to see how it might handle a question on tarot. So I asked the question: What do you think is the best tarot card deck currently available and why?

As an AI language model, I do not have personal opinions or preferences, but I can provide some information on popular tarot card decks and their unique features.

The Rider-Waite-Smith deck is one of the most popular and widely used tarot card decks. It was created by artist Pamela Colman Smith and published in 1909, and its images and symbols have become iconic in the world of tarot. The deck consists of 78 cards, with 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards divided into four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles).

Another popular deck is the Thoth Tarot, created by Aleister Crowley and artist Lady Frieda Harris in the 1940s. This deck features vibrant, complex images and symbols that draw from multiple spiritual and philosophical traditions. The Thoth Tarot also includes 78 cards, with 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards divided into four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, and Disks).

The Tarot of Marseille is another classic deck that has been used for divination and spiritual guidance for centuries. This deck originated in France in the 17th century and features simple, elegant designs and symbols. The Tarot of Marseille consists of 78 cards, with 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards divided into four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins).

Ultimately, the best tarot card deck for you will depend on your personal preferences and intuition. It's important to choose a deck that speaks to you and resonates with your own unique spiritual journey.

The Tarot Garden

Artist Niki de Saint Phalle has created a magnificent Tarot Garden with mosaic sculptures that represent the Major Arcana.

Situated in the Italian village of Capalbio, it started in the late nineteen-seventies when Saint Phalle had a vision to create mosaic representations of the tarot. What Saint Phalle, who died in 2002, left behind in Tuscany is, according to the New Yorker magazine, "dazzling or deranged, transcendent or tawdry, depending on whom you ask. Amid peaceful olive groves and ochre fields grazed by horses and sheep sits a house-size sculpture of a sphinx, with mirrored blue hair and a bright-red crown, a flower blooming on one of her breasts and a lavender heart on the nipple of the other. The interior is covered in shards of mirror, as if a colossal disco ball had been turned inside out. (During the two decades that Saint Phalle worked on the garden, her bedroom was inside one breast, her kitchen in the other.) A sprawling, fantastical castle, with a rainbow mosaic tower, sits near a blue head some fifty feet high, sprouting a second, mirrored head crowned by a huge hand. Downhill, the Devil stands amid some shrubs, a rainbow-winged hermaphrodite with a sweet face, womanly hips, and three gold penises. It is as if a psychedelic bomb had exploded in the most picturesque part of Tuscany."

For me, it would be something amazing to see!


A Tarot Testimonial

I am a big believer in the ability of tarot to help clear our minds of any static and focus on the issue at hand. This article in Salon magazine highlights all of the benefits of tarot in building clarity and even creating a stronger communication between people.

Tarot cards 2

Tarot helped me take advice from my mother

Our relationship hasn't always been easy. For a long time, tarot was one more thing I didn't understand about her

By Meryl Phair

My mom deals out the next three months of my life from a stack of blue cards. She flips over the line of cards one by one revealing five of cups, ace of cups, eight of wands, the Emperor, two of cups, the World upside down, and three of pentacles upside down. She examines the cards, pausing on the upside-down World. Her fingers trace the wreathed oval. She picks it up. "That's what you have to know about the cards," she said. "If it's upside down it doesn't necessarily mean it's negative." 

My relationship with my mom hasn't always been easy. For the longest time, tarot was one more thing I thought I would never understand about her. Tarot is a mystical guiding system that has been used throughout history for fortune telling. The cards first emerged in Europe in the 15th century and were used simply for card games. The use of tarot cards in divination came into usage during the 1700s and have since been connected to the occult and mysticism around the world. Recently, tarot and astrology have become popular with millennials, along with other New Age spiritual practices.

When my mother first got into tarot, I kept my distance. I believed there was no realistic explanation for predicting someone's life through a deck of cards. Then one day, during the pandemic, driven half out of boredom and half out of the certainty nothing could be weirder than what we were already living through, I asked my mom to give me a reading. It was startlingly accurate. Over the course of the next year and a half, I asked her for readings on a regular basis. She predicted the outcome of various periods of time in my life and gave me advice based on her readings, which were not only accurate but insightful.

In a tarot reading, the participant asks a question, and the reader will flip over a series of cards, interpreting an answer based on each card's meaning. Usually, I ask for a three-month overview of what is in store for me. My mom examines the cards, pointing out their meanings as she works to build the overarching message in response. After reading the cards and evaluating the relationships they have with each other, she fits the message into the context of my life.

Read the rest of the article here.

Readings By Madam Lichtenstein

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