Last night, as I was knitting and the Laird Hamilton was being equally glamorous and ironing his shirts, we spoke about the cloudiness of our ancestry. This topic had come up earlier in the week during a barbecue we hosted, and I was keen to know his thoughts on the matter.
I have always been rather desperate to know the specifics of my family’s past – their home, their religion, their dress sense outside of the string of pearls that I inherited. I ache for the sense of belonging to a chain that stretches back in time.
He, on the other hand, didn’t seem troubled by it. He said that it didn’t matter to him if he was a Stuart or a Foster or a Hamilton – he was still my husband, still our cat’s daddy, still the owner of our lovely house. Why would it matter?
I couldn’t help but laugh at his suggestions. Perhaps his surname would be different if his full ancestry was known, but there was no way he was questioning if he was Scots. Of course his heritage is Scottish – one only needs to look at his beard for confirmation of that. We could have a different name, but to be without a tartan would be unthinkable.
On the other hand, I have learned slightly more of my ancestry. I know that my great-granddad was in the Russian army before he and his family immigrated to America with the assistance of the White Star Line. My great-grandma had said that their third class stateroom was built for a queen; her phrase has a ring of Lenin’s ‘Taj Mahal’ assessment when he saw an example of an American kitchen. Perhaps Russians are just prone to hyperbole.
In light of this, I have done a Tarot reading today for my ancestors. Obviously, there is no way of gaining confirmation of my findings now, but the results feel right to me. Ultimately, that is the point of a Tarot reading, I feel.
Thus, without further ado: Tarot, please will you tell me what I need to know about my ancestors?
For this reading I have done a five-card spread and read it like a journey. None of the usual past/present/future spreads or even the classic Celtic Cross felt suitable for a purely past-orientated reading. So, first of all, we have the Wheel of Fortune, which sets the scene for their journey. Generally considered positive, it reminds us that we can have our fortunes changed – the Universe has a hand in our progress and downfall.
Next, we have the Nine of Coins. This is one of the most positive cards in the deck. It shows harmony and material satisfaction. The harvest has been fruitful and leisure pursuits (such as falconry, which we see here) can be taken on. There is also a fluffy lamb at the back, perhaps displaying innocence or livestock with a renewable resource in their wool.
Following on, we have the Knight of Wands – a knight of passion, fire and growth. Even the grass seems to be made of fire in this card, and the knight’s livery is covered in vines as he charges ahead. This card indicates impulsiveness and courage, charging ahead regardless of risks.
Then we see The Tower, one of the most tragic cards in the deck. It depicts helplessness and fear, dealing with dramatic change beyond control. As it often speaks of disaster and upheaval, I was not shocked to see this card; immigration is a very stressful thing. Circumstances often forced people to immigrate, and happy occasions (such as marriage, which led to my own transatlantic resettlement) would have been unlikely. So, in this card, we see a tower in (red) flames and someone leaping out of it in desperation. If I were feeling heavy-handed, I would point to the October Revolution. At any rate, the old structures were no longer working, and so it was time to abandon them.
Initially, The Tower was my final card and I felt a little dismayed. After all it’s the worst card in the deck! But I asked for a card representative of the aftermath, and drew the Two of Cups. This one slightly resembles the Nine of Coins – both feminine in nature, accompanied by sheep and an exotic bird. The robes are still rich and the woman appears pregnant, which I heard my great-grandmother was when she went through customs. This card is one of partnership, of love and, indeed, happy beginnings.
I wonder if my ancestors look on my ‘return’ to Russia a few years ago as a betrayal of their escape. I like to think that they would see it as a short stint in the Motherland, and a relearning of the culture that they left behind.