My encounter with a reader of Tarot cards who knew more about what the Bible said about divination than I did sent me to the dictionary and the Bible. Synonyms for divination are predicting, forecasting, or foretelling. In the Bible, the word is often but not always associated with witchcraft, demons, and the dark arts. 2 Kings 17:17-18 tells of how Israel had become enmeshed in evil. Divination is one of their sins.
2 Kings 17:17-18
Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him. So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah. NASU
In the New Testament, Paul was followed for days by an annoying young maid with the spirit of divination. Her master was making money by her “gift.” She followed Paul constantly proclaiming he and his companions to be servants of God. Finally, Paul reached his limit, turned to the girl, and spoke to the demon in her. “I charge thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” The demon left her immediately but Paul’s act, which cost the girl’s master money, got Paul and his companions tossed in jail.
And it came to pass, as we were going to the place of prayer, that a certain maid having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. The same following after Paul and us cried out, saying, These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim unto you the way of salvation. And this she did for many days. But Paul, being sore troubled, turned and said to the spirit, I charge thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And it came out that very hour. ASV
Lining Jackson Square in New Orleans are people who, for a fee, will tell their version of your future, using Tarot Cards. They sit at card tables in folding chairs under bright umbrellas with their Tarot cards on the table. They are usually colorfully dressed, some cleaner than others. Many wear large jewelry and scarves.
It was an early rainy Sunday morning and I almost didn’t go to church. I had my excuses. We were leaving on the River Boat at noon. What if I didn’t get back in time? It was thundering, lightning, and raining. Surely, God understood. Alas, St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square kept whispering my name. I was dressed in time for the 7:30 AM mass but didn’t go. At 8:30 AM, I gave up the argument and caught a taxi to Jackson Square for the 9:00 AM mass.
The Taxi dropped me off on the corner. Walking in the rain, a plainly dressed middle-aged woman with long blond hair sitting at a card table containing Tarot cards caught my attention. She looked so out of place that I wondered if she was a customer. Because of the rain, there were only a few Tarot card tables set up. She and a teenage boy sitting behind her were huddled under her umbrella.
I paused and she looked hopeful. Uncomfortable, I quickly moved on. As I left, I felt even more uneasy. Was God was telling me to talk to her? How do you talk to someone that reads Tarot cars for a living? Surely, I won’t be welcome, I prayed.
I felt God saying, “I am always with you…” Touching my silver bracelet, I walked over. “Did you change your mind about a reading?” she asked.
“No,” I laughed nervously. “I don’t need a reading. Have you been doing this long?” I was fumbling for small talk as I waited on God to supply the words.
She didn’t seem mind the conversation. I suspected it was either because she hoped I would ask for a reading or because there weren’t any other potential customers around. “Since my oldest daughter was born.”
I asked, “What happened when your daughter was born?”
She answered, “That was when I received my gift.”
“What do you mean by gift?” I asked.
“I can use the cards and see the future.” I knew she was selling to me but I also sensed sincerity. She believed in her gift.
“Did anyone else in your family have this gift?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “My father and grandmother had the gift. My sisters don’t. My gift didn’t come until after the birth of my first daughter.”
I told her a little about the Pocket Full of Quarters journey. “I listen to people’s spiritual stores,” I offered, still looking for what I call a “conversation turn.” The “conversation turn” is when I feel the Spirit of God move and the conversation turns towards God.
She responded, “I’m real spiritual. I could tell you stories.” I encouraged her and she seemed eager to talk.
“I had terrible nightmares. I visited church and began praying. The prayers helped me but the dreams got worse. I almost gave up praying but realized that the prayer was worth the bad dreams. Once I decided to continue the prayer no matter what, the bad dreams stopped.”
“Do you go to a church now?” I asked.
“Oh, I go to lots of churches but not all the time. My views are broad. I had my children baptized at birth but wanted them to find their own way.”
I turned to her teenage son who was sitting with her. “Have you found your own way?”
“I’m a Christian and a Baptist,” he said shyly.
I showed my surprise and the mother laughed. “For some reason, he decided to pick a church and go to it. I already had him baptized but he decided he needed to be baptized again. Whatever,” she said waving her arms as if confused.
“So you asked Jesus into your life,” I confirmed. He smiled and nodded.
“Do you like your church?” He timidly smiled and nodded again.
“I’m also a Christian and a Baptist. I love my church. I consider them my family,” I said. “Do you have the gift your mother is referring to?”
“No,” he said.
“Do you believe your mother has a gift?”
“Yes,” was his only response. I believed him. I almost asked his opinion of her gift but felt led not to put him on the spot.
I turned to the mom, sensing a battle going on for her soul. She continued to play with the Tarot cards while searching for God in churches. “Do you believe in Jesus?”
“Do have a close relationship with God?”
She hesitated. “Not as close as I want but don’t you think everyone struggles with that? It could be better.”
I shared my testimony and described my relationship with God. “Do you think your spiritual battles have anything to do with the Tarot cards or your gift?” I gently suggested.
She knew her Bible and referred to it. As she talked, I realized how little I knew about this subject. She told me, “I know the Bible says this is bad but that was only because people were using it for evil. I can tell when someone has crossed over.”
“What do you mean by crossed over?” I asked.
“To the dark side. Using it for evil,” she said. “They start thinking they are doing it instead of the cards doing it.” I thought of Darth Vader in Star Wars. I assumed that by “doing it” she was referring to telling the future. She continued, “The cards are dangerous and can cause someone to become evil. I only use them for good and give credit to the cards so I’m safe.”
She didn’t seem “safe” to me. I sensed darkness and torment in our soul. She had sought churches and had obviously read the Bible. Like the young woman with the Spirit of Divination who followed Paul, this modern day soothsayer believed in Jesus Christ. Like the young woman in the Bible, she is seeking Christ but continuing to dabble in the dark arts.
What I do know is that by seeking Christ, she had evoked a power far greater than her cards. That power showed her teenage son the light and drew me to her. God is fighting for her soul.
I could tell the conversation was over. I gave her a Pocket Full of Quarters card and left for worship. I have no idea how much good the conversation did. In writing this, I thought about the disciples in Matthew 17 unsuccessfully battling a demon that was living in a young man. “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” they asked.
"Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17:20-21 NASU)
I realized that what I saw in the reader of Tarot cards were demons battling God for her soul, peace, and happiness. She is going to have to choose between God and the cards to find the peace she longs for. Like the disciples, I longed to drive the demons out but left feeling unsuccessful.