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I am the girl next door... who reads tarot!
Exploring the 78 cards of tarot through the lens of life experiences, plus the perspectives and opinions of a professional tarot reader and witch.

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When Bad Things Happen to Good People—A Pagan Perspective

I watch the news with my mother sometimes. For the record, probably not something I would recommend, especially when I have more leftist leanings and she is surprisingly conservative for how open-minded she is on certain topics. I digress. No matter how different our perspectives are, we usually end up saying the same thing after a particularly heart-wrenching news story about yet another murder or tragedy: “What is this world coming to?”

I was raised Episcopal, so I would assume that the whole idea of “God must have needed that person in Heaven, so He took he/she away from us here for a good purpose” filtered into me, by osmosis since I don’t remember anyone ever saying that to me directly. Since I never had to deal with personal tragedy, there was no reason for me to ever hear this statement, so I didn’t really think of it much until lately. Yet I keep saying that good ole phrase in the back of my head: “There must be a reason for this.” What if there isn’t?

Tornadoes touching down, destroying schools and children dying. Children gunned down within a school, someplace they felt safe (I can’t wrap my head around it, because I certainly never had those thoughts when I was in elementary school... I never even entertained the concept of “safety” when I was that age, so it makes me sad that kids now are aware of this!). Proudly gay, bisexual, or transgendered folks having to hide who they are in one of the known havens of NYC for queer pride because they are fearful of being attacked and killed simply for being who they are.

Tell me again what the justification is for all this tumultuousness in the world? What does a Pagan have in the stead of “God has a plan” or “This happened for a reason or greater purpose”? Do we simply take the glib perspective and “goddessize” it, turning it into “The Great Mother has a plan” or “God/dess has a plan”? I think not. I think as Pagans we are driven to see the web underneath, the “why” of the matter, and random occurrences sometimes simply don’t make sense to our interconnected world view. OR there IS a pattern underneath, and we cannot see it yet, either divinely or mundanely.

I readily admit that this post sparks more questions rather than provides answers, much like an oracle deck to me seems to cause more deep introspection and even "deeper down the rabbit hole" questions.

These supposedly random occurrences also got me thinking about the role of divination in all this... what is divination? Is this tarot thing that I do supposed to see it all coming? Is the mystery of the random occurrences in the not knowing rather than the knowing? Are some things simply not to be avoided but instead experienced... because the lesson is WITHIN the experience?

Why is the art of divination called “divination”? Let’s break it down etymologically: “divine” (deity) + “tion” (state of being) = “divination” (playing “God”?). Are we "playing God (or Goddess)" by the simple act of performing divinations for ourselves and others?

Or could it be “divine” (to ascertain) + “tion” (state of being) = “divination” (in a state of determining the truth)?

I'd like to think of divination as the latter option, seeking truth. The fact of it is, some people will come to a reader, or I myself would go to a reader to understand something. But it is very difficult to understand the in-understandable. Some questions are beyond the scope of a tarot reading, and most of those fall into the "why" category. Why me? Why now? Why her? Why him? Why not?

I am a tarot reader, and I'm here to personally say not everyone has all the answers, all the time. In fact, some questions are unanswerable. They are way beyond the scope of our limited understanding. I'm a Pagan, and I'm saying the same thing.


Image courtesy of fotographic1980 /


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Owner and content-provider of Tarot by Hilary, professional tarot reader with over fourteen years of experience slinging the cards, posts weekly on the Tarot by Hilary blog, and all around woman-about-town. My clients are awesome, and you should be one of them.


  • Jamie
    Jamie Friday, 04 October 2013

    Ms. Parry,

    Thanks for sharing a tarot reader's perspective on divination and fate!

    The Pythia and the priests (when not corrupt) at Delphi offered visitors the wisdom of Apollo, in the form of ambiguous yet sage proclamations.

    The wise would heed the Pythia's answer to their question, look inside themselves, and probably come away better off.

    The foolish would bring untold ruin to themselves, and others, by choosing the most selfish and self-serving interpretation of the oracle's words.

    Why? I think that Apollo did it because genuine fools are constitutionally incapable of actively listening to true wisdom...and sometimes the rest of us need to learn the hard way.

    The avoidance of suffering, after all, is not the purpose of our existence.

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