∴ A Pointed Insight ∴
Candlelight laps at the painted stucco walls – in the whorls of the plaster you can imagine landscapes and faces as you perch on the hard pallet bed. The light is a comfort, as is the illusion. Beyond your little leaded window all is dark and unreadable, save for the twinkling nightlights of a few other late-to-bed acolytes. It is a moonless night. Not a time to brave the streets, but an opportunity for introspect.
With this in mind, you turn your gaze to the dog-eared deck in your hands. You have been shuffling the yellowed cards absently for what seems like an age, keen to discover but unwilling to commit. You remember your grandmother asking you to shuffle, when her hands were too rheumed to do so herself. You would sit for hours watching her craggy-faced friends at their parlour games, laughing and tutting over hot herbal wine.
Now another game is afoot. With a deep breath, like one about to slip beneath cold water, you cut the deck and turn the first card. A sigh of relief, for it is an old friend. The Hermit. He faces the West, old but unbowed, snow-capped mountains at his feet. In his right hand he holds a lantern. A guiding light, but a limited one. Not all will be revealed at once. And in his left hand he holds a staff.
No, not a staff. The realization hits you like a harsh wind. In the deck you were taught from, it was always a staff. But in these cards, your Grandmother’s cards, the detail is different. Instead of a twisted stick, the old man holds a sword. Tall and austere as the figure himself, it reaches past his shoulder, a figure-eight of blackened side rings at its cross, and another above its stern, angular lugs.Your trace the lines of the black grip, and pause at the place where they meet white steel.
The staff would have been a symbol of balance, and authority. But this is something different altogether. In an instant, you know what you must do. You gather the cards from the bed and, paying no heed to the moonless dark, draw your traveling cloak from its hook.