WARNING: SPOILER ALERT
If, by any chance, you are planning to read the novel Last Seen Wearing by Colin Dexter or if you watch the Inspector Morse television series, you may not want to read this post, as it reveals the ending of the story!
I have been experimenting with oracle cards lately by doing Yes/No spreads. On a couple of occasions, my friend Helen has pulled Tarot cards to answer the same question, just to see how similar the two readings might be. We decided to team up again and share the results here on Tarot Notes.
This time, I am using the Mystical Kipper fortunetelling cards by Regula Elizabeth Fiechter (AGM Urania). My question comes from a novel in which a teenage girl named Valerie disappeared about six months ago. The police had been treating it as a runaway situation, but as the novel begins, a new detective assigned to the case is convinced that Valerie is dead, even though her parents recently received a note signed by her, telling them that she is fine and not to keep looking for her.
So the question is: Is Valerie still alive?
Before reading any further in the novel, I am drawing cards to answer that question.
In the method I am using, even-numbered cards represent the answer “Yes” and odd-numbered cards are “No.” Let’s see what answer the Mystical Kipper gives to my question.
Bereavement (19) – Wow. Being an odd-numbered card, this one suggests that No, Valerie is not still alive. And it’s called Bereavement. Can we get any more direct, obvious, or on-point?
A Journey (10) – An even-numbered card, which suggests the answer “Yes.” An appropriate card for Valerie’s situation, as she disappeared from a small town in England, and the note her parents received was postmarked from London – which does indicate that she went on a journey, traveling away from home.
Military Person (22) – Another even-numbered card, suggesting a “Yes” answer, and also intimating that perhaps a military person is involved or was involved in Valerie’s disappearance or in her current life away from home. Regula Elizabeth Fiechter tells us that this card “has the quality to emphasize and underline a fact that shows in the card’s layout. It tells you that this particular matter is to be expected just so.” But which of the two other cards is the “fact” of the matter?
Let’s see what Helen’s cards can tell us!
“I am using the Hanson Roberts Tarot by by Mary Hanson-Roberts (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) and my Yes/No spread that works this way:
- Deal out cards until either you get an ace or get to the 13th card, then start a new pile and repeat once more
- You should end up with three separate piles either consisting of 13 cards each or stopping at an ace before the 13th card.
- 3 Aces = Yes, 2 Aces = probably yes, 1 Ace = probably no, No Aces = No
The cards seem to think that it’s probably unlikely that Valerie is still alive. In this line up of three we have The Emperor, Wheel of Fortune, and Ace of Cups. What does this tell me?
Well, the Wheel of Fortune seems to indicate that things are not as balanced as one may hope, perhaps for Valerie they have taken a down turn. There is a person who’s in control. He’s strong and cannot be manipulated and he’s the one that calls the shots. I think that the Ace represents Valerie and shows the overflow of emotion that she felt/feels. I think she may have known her kidnapper. The Ace indicates that she panicked, acted on a rush of feeling, and her actions may have backfired. The wheel may have turned in the wrong direction for her. However it is the Wheel of Fortune and there is just a slight possibility that she may be alive. The Emperor is not a forgiving man, he does what it takes to stay in control.
In these cards we have a number 4 which in tarot can represent stability and structure but also if you think of four walls it can indicate entrapment. The Emperor I think represents what is holding her where she is. The wheel is number 10 (1+0 = 1). It’s endings and beginnings all in one number and also the Ace is a 1. 1 is the number that indicates a new beginning, now, for Valerie, whether it is in this world or the next, we’ll have to see.
All in all the cards seem to offer no real hope for her survival and they think that the odds are against her.”
Now for the reveal!
Ultimately, near the end of the novel, we learn that Valerie is alive. However, over the course of the story, the author cleverly flips readers back and forth, up and down, so that we think for a time that she must be dead, then we are certain she must be alive, and then back the other way again.
The detective in the novel starts out being certain Valerie is dead. At one point, he decides she is alive but Valerie herself tricks him into thinking he is wrong. Eventually, he does confirm that she is living under an assumed identity, but she vanishes again, having committed a murder in the meantime for which she does not want to be arrested.
Both Helen and I drew a card representing authority and control (Military Person for me, The Emperor for Helen). I see this as perhaps referring to the detective in the novel, an authority figure who wants and needs to have the situation “under control.” A quote from the book: “Morse slept fitfully that night. Broken images littered his mind, like the broken glass strewn about the rubbish tip. He tossed and turned, but the merry-ground was out of control.”
Helen’s Ace of Cups does reflect Valerie’s emotionally motivated actions throughout the novel (most of which we only learn about late in the story).
I now see the Bereavement card as referring to the murder that Valerie commits. Morse expects to find a dead body – namely Valerie’s – but when a body does turn up, it is that of someone he considered a suspect in Valerie’s disappearance.
The Journey, as I mentioned before, shows how Valerie traveled far from home – first to end an unwanted pregnancy, and later to escape being arrested for murdering someone who had wronged both Valerie and her mother.
Helen’s Wheel of Fortune card seems to apply quite well to the ups and downs of the detective’s efforts to solve the case, as well as Valerie’s own “ups and downs” in her life and the decisions she makes. One reviewer described the novel as a “spiralling and dizzying collection of dead ends, mistakes, and good fortune.”
The “entrapment” suggested by the number Four in Helen’s reading seems to be of Valerie’s own making. By trying to hide her identity and then murdering someone, she paints herself into quite a corner! As to the number One, Valerie did try to make a new beginning under a false identity, and at the end of the book, she flees the country in hopes of starting over again without paying for her crime.