A new instalment by Scorpio – a new adventure which gives a beautiful insight to the traits and personalities of tarot cards.
“It’s getting dark,” said the Knight of Pentacles. “We can see that,” snapped the Knight of Swords. “I think we’re lost,” added the Knight of Cups. “Rubbish,” said the Knight of Wands, waving his phone about. “We just follow this path. Look,” he said pointing to the small screen. The others followed for a while, then Swords said, “The scenery looks familiar.” “That’s because it is familiar,” said Pentacles. “We’re walking back on our tracks. And,” he added meaningfully, after a pause, “it is getting dark.” “I hope you charged your phone before we set out,” said Cups. “And who left theirs at home?” replied Wands. “We’ve no back-up if my phone loses power.”
The four Knights had decided to do a day-long walk in fell country. They were properly dressed and shod and had, as they thought, planned their route carefully – at least Swords and Pentacles had, the other two were more relaxed about the excursion. “I think we need the torch,” said Pentacles. “Torch??” asked the other three. “So we can see where we are going.” “Well you usually take care of all that sort of thing,” said the others to Pentacles. “I thought one of you had taken it as I couldn’t find it before we set out.” “Then we’ve only got the light from my phone, until that runs out,” said Wands. “We should have made sure we were well on the homeward track by this time,” said Cups. “You know I don’t really like the dark.” “Yes, well, you’re going to have to like it,” said Swords “I think we should sit down for a few minutes and think.”
They sat down and thought. Pentacles ate a banana while they thought. “So,” said Swords, “does this thing have a compass on it?” “???” “Then we can work out where North is.” “That’s West,” said Pentacles, helpfully, “it’s where the sun is going down.” “And don’t add it will get dark soon or I will throttle you,” said Swords. “We can’t do the round walk now,” went on Swords, “we should key in the postcode for where we started from and go straight back that way.” There was a pause, the sort described as “pregnant”. “Oh, no,” said Swords and Pentacles together, glaring at Wands, “you’ve forgotten what it is.” “Actually, I can’t get a signal just here, these hills are in the way.” “That’s what hills do,” said Swords, drily. “I don’t like …..” started Cups. “Shut up,” said the other three.
“I propose we walk back along the path we have just come along and then look for a light somewhere. It might be a pub or a dwelling, but there would be people there we could ask,” said Pentacles. “Agreed,” said Swords and Wands. Cups said nothing; he was sulking.
The four young men set off, walking cautiously in the fading light. They rounded one of the nearby hills. “No, still no signal,” said Wands, and they continued. “What’s that?” asked Cups, pointing. The Knights paused. “It’s not a steady light, but it does seem to be a light. I think we should investigate,” said Pentacles. So they set off again, barely able to make out the stony path. “I wonder what time the Moon rises,” said Pentacles, “though it would only help if it’s full moon and I can’t remember if it is or not.” “Well, we can’t see it now,” said Cups. “We should keep walking towards the light.” Cups did indeed keep walking towards the light and failed to follow the others along the track which was winding round the edge of boggy ground. “Aaaargh!” he shouted. “I’ve gone into somewhere wet.” The other three waited unsympathetically for Cups to get back on dry land.
The four Knights picked their way more carefully towards the light, and then became aware that the light was moving towards them, slowly. It wasn’t a trick of the twilight, the light really was coming towards them. “Hello!” called out Swords. “Is anyone there?” The light moved nearer and then stopped. “Are you looking for me?” asked a tall man. “We are looking for somewhere where we can get our bearings, and then get home.” “I can help you get your bearings,” said the tall man, “but you won’t be able to get home this evening. Follow me.” The tall man made his steady and sure-footed way back to a small building and gestured to the Knights to follow him inside. He put his lamp down on the table where it continued to flicker and cast an unsteady light around the room. “I need to charge my phone, I think,” said Wands, “then I can look at the map and work out how we get back.” “Electricity is from a generator and used for cooking when necessary,” said the tall man. “Otherwise just oil lamps.” “????” “Sit down,” said the tall man, and disappeared into another room, He returned with four glasses of water. “Drink this,” he said, “then we’ll see what we can do.”
“Water tastes strange,” said the Knight of Wands. “It’s spring water from outside…… Oh, it’s quite safe and clean,” added the tall man, seeing Pentacles look alarmed. “I can give you something to eat, it will be very simple, just what I keep by for occasions like this, but it will fill you up until you can get back home.” Four bowls of what looked like porridge appeared, and after slightly disappointed glances and some tentative tasting the four young men wolfed it down.
“So what are you doing here?” asked the tall man. “We were out for a walk,” said Swords, “but we got a bit lost, and it was later than we thought,” “And we couldn’t see properly” added Cups, “so I walked into a bog.” “We didn’t,” said Pentacles, “we followed the path.” “Yes,” said the tall man, “it’s always best to follow the path, even if you can’t always see it clearly.” He opened a drawer and pulled out a folded document which he opened up and spread on the table. He lighted more oil lamps which flickered pleasantly. “Do you know what this is?” he asked. Four heads leaned over the table. There was an inexplicable design of swirls in various shades of brown, with some random patches of green and blue. “Haven’t you seen a map before?” “Not like that,” said Wands, waving his mobile. “Before maps on mobiles we had these,” said the tall man. “We still do. They don’t need batteries, and you can keep them dry in something waterproof, or in your inside pocket. And you just need a torch to read them when the light is bad, and a compass so you know where north is.” “Well, how do we know where we are on this?” asked Cups, just a bit crossly.
After an hour, all four were familiar with contour lines, dotted lines, railway lines, the symbols for churches, the little speckles that indicated boggy ground. The tall man pointed out where they were, and the route for the morning. “We didn’t do anything like that at school,” said Wands. “We did,” said Pentacles, “but I had forgotten all about it until now.” “You never know when some apparently useless knowledge will come in useful,” said the tall man. “Now it’s time to settle for the night. Sunrise is at 5.30 so you’ll be on your way then.” “No breakfast?” asked Pentacles. “My porridge is very nourishing,” said the tall man. “You won’t be hungry in the morning.”
The four Knights woke simultaneously at 5.30 and softly made their way out. Beside their boots in the porch were four bottles of water and some apples. “I hope these are all right to eat,” whispered Cups, eyeing the misshapen fruit warily. They set off on the route they had memorised the night before and were back at the starting point by 8.30, without having had a single difference of opinion about which path to take. They drove home in a restful silence, with no thought of stopping somewhere for breakfast.
“Do you think there was something in that water?” asked the Knight of Wands a few days later when they had all returned to their usual selves. “I felt different after I drank it.” “Me, too,” said each of the others. “Here’s one of the bottles,” said Swords. “If you hold it up to the light you can see tiny writing just here.” He pointed: “Compliments of the Hermit.”
ｩ Lucy Voss June 2019
Deck: El Tarot Universal De Waite, published by Editorial Sirio