A Piece of My Mind: I Love a Parade

By Jeanne Fiorini

People often ask how I came to be involved with the Tarot, in the same way as someone might inquire about how a person met their spouse.  The manner by which the rails of connections have been forged is a continual source of interest, especially when it concerns people, places, and things that fall on either side of the median.  “How’d that happen?” – emphasis on the “that”-- is what people want to know. 

And in the mind of many, since the thought of reading Tarot is about as remote as having gone to the moon and back, an assumption is often made that this particular area of interest has been with a person all their life.  This was not the case in my evolution toward the Tarot.

I began the college years with intentions as a math major.  It was the early ‘70’s and my dad advised getting into the computer field; he was an IBM-er and was aware that these monster machines were the next big thing.  Had I listened, I’d be sitting on a beach in Cancun right now sipping a lifetime supply of margaritas and being tended to by an adorable cabana boy…..but I digress. 

You live long enough and you can see how one thing leads to another, not in any regular or expected pattern, but that choice #1 has led to choice #2, and on it goes until you find yourself at the present moment.  I can look back at my college years and see seminal bits of clarity that would eventually feed the stream of Tarot: an interest in Art History and the intrinsic power of images and symbols; the realization that any work focused on traditional sciences, facts, and/or figures held no allure (precipitating the inevitable disappearance of computer technology from my resume;) a post-graduate project where alchemy, art, and Carl Jung’s psychology converged. Much more interesting stuff there, with tangible threads to the Tarot.

But before all that, before college, and even before high school there was baton twirling… and an experience whose relevance echoes through the work as a Tarot reader and teacher. (Who’d have thought?)  

It was somewhere in the mid-1960’s.  On Saturday mornings we’d travel to the neighboring town of Johnson City where twirling class was taught by a 16-year old who was just about the coolest girl I’d ever seen.  Sherrie was confident and popular and got to hang out with boys and drink soda by the cement wall at the side of the high school during breaks. I couldn’t wait to be sixteen. 

One year, the town of Johnson City asked Sherrie if a batonist from her class could lead the Memorial Day parade down Main Street, a procession which would include the usual collection of Girl Scouts, veterans, and community groups, in addition to the remainder of the baton class. And so auditions were held, and we all were expected to try out.

There were probably 20 other girls in the class, and by no means was I the best twirler in the crowd. 

But I got the gig – and knew that I would.  It wasn’t because of my stellar abilities with the baton, but rather that the others were best able to follow my particular lead and tempo; the most cohesive unit was created as I guided the pack from front and center.  I borrowed a pair of white majorette boots and off we went.

In this instance, being flamboyant, flashy, or even “the best” wasn’t as important as being steady, consistent, and reliable.  What a great lesson to have under one’s belt when engaged in a non-traditional, highly specialized field where people with a wide variety of personalities and skill sets converge! 

It would have been very easy for an introverted fledgling with a moderate dose of self-doubt to be overcome by feelings of inadequacy while treading the path toward a Tarot practice.

“Who do you think you are?”  “Do you really know you’re doing?”  “Who cares about that stuff anyway?”  “Do you think you can make money doing that?”  “How do you know that what you’re saying is true?”  “Don’t you have to be psychic or gifted or something to read Tarot cards?”  “You must think you’re pretty special.”  “You don’t really believe in all that, do you?” 

Sound familiar?

For my part, it has been inordinately helpful to remember that I don’t have to be the best Tarot reader on the planet in order to be effective.  I am fully aware that there are scads of people who know more about the Tarot than I could ever hope to.  This doesn’t mean good work can’t happen in my own sphere of influence, nor should it stop me from doing so.  The memory of parading down Johnson City’s main street in is a reminder that it’s just as important for people to be able to follow your lead (in Tarot-terms, be able to grasp the guidance/wisdom/support/message in your words) as it is to be the brightest star in the sky. 

I hope you are taking this message personally, since these are meant as words of support and encouragement for anyone who does the work of Tarot.  I’ve internalized the personal significance of the memory, and am passing along its wisdom to you:  that we all have our part to play, our message to deliver, our perspective to convey, our own unique selves to be brought to the Tarot process. It’s not about filling the role in any idealized, just-like-so-and-so manner, but about bringing who you are to the Tarot table. 

Huh…no kidding, it just occurred to me:  The Magician.  The ultimate baton twirler.  All these years of musing on this specific event and it never dawned on me that a majorette could be viewed as a Magician-figure.  Maybe the Tarot’s connection with that long ago parade isn’t as remote as I thought.

All images used with permission.

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