Killing the fortune-teller

I’ve used this title in a few places. I like how it sounds, how it brings to mind the concept of killing the Buddha, and for a few other reasons.

I thought it also leant itself to some interesting questions for the cards. The first: Why kill the fortune-teller?

I started with my go-to deck, the Noblet.

Cards: Five of Swords, Death, the World. Extra card: Judgement

A quick answer: Kill the fortune-teller to release the trap. Change the nature of what surrounds you.

So what does that mean? Relating it back to the Buddha version of the saying, it could have something to do with rejecting the dogma of various fortune-telling systems.

Or maybe it’s about rejecting the duality of yourself and your fortune (your fate, your future). On the left side, you (the central sword) can be trapped by your belief in fate. The outer swords are different from the inner one, and they’re holding it down. On the right, you are still encircled but it’s harmonious–everything works together and there’s no conflict.

The Death card is central in the spread, which is interesting for this question about metaphorically killing another metaphor. Here I see the card being about releasing something, or cutting something free or loose.

The five swords look like an animal trap, and they suggest a bodily conflict, even a bloody one given the red sword in the middle. Compared to the World, which is free and complete on an epic scale, the swords also suggest more mundane problems. Maybe this has to do with the problem of considering fortune-telling as a solution to daily problems. It also highlights how the World may be freer but it’s still enclosed.

Swords remind me of pens, which suggests the body of written work about fortune-telling–the dogma–how it conflicts with itself, and with my distaste for most new age and magickal stuff.

That central sword seems to transform into Death’s arm, and then into the figure of the World. The red sword becomes the left arm of Death, becomes the World. (Ooooo.)

The surrounding swords seem to turn into Death’s back and scythe, and then the mandorla surrounding the World. It looks like Death cuts the circle of swords free, and it turns into the World. By cutting yourself free from dogma, from the notion of encountering someone who can tell your fortune, you free yourself.

Judgement shows people rising from the dead, or from the boxes they’ve confined themselves in, and being renewed. Here that seems to suggest a renewal of spirit, or of an interest in life.

So kill the fortune-teller to free yourself from depending on fortune-telling to solve your problems. Do it to remove the duality of you and your future. Maybe it’s something like that.

I ran this question past two other, weirder decks. First, one of the gothiest decks ever, from Bird Ov Prey:

Kill the fortune-teller because all of this esoteric nonsense will dig its claws into you. Do it because you become what you consume. The stuff in the cup (or your heart) embeds itself in your hands.

I also asked Edward Gorey’s Fantod deck:

Kill the fortune-teller because the traditions are an empty dream that give you tunnel vision.

I’m seeing the blue dog as Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s story, “Eyes of a blue dog,” which is about living in and for a dream, and the sea as showing emptiness.

That might be a stretch so here’s another answer: kill the fortune-teller because the old, weird ways will leave you sad, in the dark and lost at sea.


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