Tarot Cards in Turkey
I’m a romantic — always have been; always will be. I love the idea of knowing what the stars have to say, and am also one of those debatably crazy chicks who has memorised every characteristic of every zodiac sign. When meeting someone for the first time, there’s every chance I’ll be spending a significant amount of brainpower trying to guess their sun and moon signs. Yes, I know you like the back of my hand, Geminis. Think again if you want to charm me, Libras.
Before my recent trip to Turkey, I put seeing a tarot reader at the top of my to-do list, based on the fairy-tale idea that I’d find them all in the lands of the once-great Ottoman and Byzantine Empires. Being of Greek heritage myself, my aunties had told me of family members who frequently used to hit up the Turkish coffee cups to discover their fates. I remember staring into the gluggy remnants when I had the chore of clearing the dishes at family events, pondering over what all those granular splashes meant.
One sweltering day, my friends and I ventured across a bridge in Istanbul. The city wore summer so well! Aromas from street vendors selling roasted walnuts and corn in cups surrounded us; children played in fountains and fishermen gathered along the bridge, making their daily catch while hordes of people lined up for boat cruises along the Golden Horn.
After making the trek up the steep hill to the famed Galata Tower, we were greeted by a line a mile long. Instead of queuing in the sun, we wandered the bewitching streets and were met by a sign: Tarot Card Readings Here. We squealed like we were fresh out of The Sleepover Club. Was this meant to be?
In case you haven’t peered into your destiny in a while, allow me to give you the lowdown on what a reading actually is. Using an ancient deck of cards, tarot readers give insight into your life at the present time in reflection of your past, and guidance into your future. They do not attempt to tell you facts and definite fate, but instead show you the possibilities of the path you are currently on.
“I was a skeptic once,” our reader informed us, explaining that he only got involved in tarot at university after his girlfriend encouraged him to join her in a class. He claimed he has no gift and that it is, as they say, all in the cards.
At this point, I still thought this was all a joke and that it would be worth the 60 lira to have a giggle with my mates. But when my friend came out crying after her reading, I started to wonder if this could be just a little confronting. Not knowing whether to laugh or get out, I played it cool and put my poker face on to avoid our tarot card reader viewing my emotions.
I made my way down the little steps to the slightly deviated café, where only he and I were inside. While the sunlight poured in, you could see the bottom halves of street goers as they passed by the window. The soft music from the adjacent café and murmours of my friends outside while they took to cigarettes and deep discussions filled our space. None of these deterred me away from my focus on the cards and my reader. After a very nervous and quick, “Hi, how ya going?” I divided the cards as he asked and let them work their magic.
I had recently gotten over a breakup, which ended due to my partner shifting overseas. A fair amount of time had passed, and I had moved on. Well, apparently the cards didn’t want me to let go of this just yet, as they gave him all of the specific details about the relationship and more. That skeptical side of me started to think that this man was probably trained in psychology or interrogation rather than past reading, but I know I’ve got a good poker face and a cold heart. Also, the fact that he got the specific details was a little unnerving – he got everything right, from feelings on both sides of the relationship to the specifics of the break up and what was progressing with it in the present. He then gave some great advice about what I should expect and how I could develop as an individual in regard to my future love life after this particular experience.
What happened next though was that fate decided to dig where it hurt. I am the type of person who always wonders whether they’ll end up happy with the choices they make in life. It’s a reoccurring worry. The cards apparently wanted to give me a very big emotional spiel about the paths my life could take if I continue with my current mindset, from my career to my loved ones. I won’t lay the details on you, but let’s just say very specific, annoying things kept on coming up. You’ll just have to trust that this guy now knew me better than my best friend, Mum and dog.
By the end of this, my steely front was cracking. The tears broke through when he said he’d finished and asked if I had questions for the cards. One piece of advice: come prepared. My mind was so scattered it couldn’t put a sentence together, let alone figure out a way to use its basic communicative skills.
When all four of us finished being tortured by the cards, our reader came out and sat with us while we sipped on our complimentary Turkish coffee and wiped away our tears. “Dude, you really ripped our hearts out!” we exclaimed.
He finally got us to cease our sorrows as we spoke about the sometimes dumb and sometimes true theories of fortune, leaving us with a lovely little dad line before he attended to his next client: “Girls, the cards show the direction you’re going, but remember, you make the decisions.”
Cover by Kayla Maurais