Object: Playing Cards
Location: Balcony of my home in Vinohrady neighborhood of Prague, Czech Republic
The deck of cards which I'm holding in my hand was given to me by an old woman in Jamaica who was the local witch in her hillside village. They are regular playing cards, bearing the lovely state seal of Jamaica. She gave them to me as a parting gift after I visited her in her home, where she served me hallucinogenic mushroom tea and entertained me with many fantastical stories. She told me that one day the cards would prove useful for me. I kept them for several years, but never used them.
One day, in 1991, when I was at a critical juncture in my life, looking for a more meaningful existence than working in the world of business in New York City, I visited the Strand Bookstore, where I found a used copy of a book by the mystic Dane Rudhyar called An Astrological Mandala. It was a sort of an astrological I Ching, based on the famous Sabian symbols. Rudhyar wrote that it could be used for reading one's fortune, using a regular deck of playing cards. I immediately thought: I have the perfect cards to use! I ran home with the book and opened the deck the old woman had given me. When I read my cards, I was stunned by the accuracy of the reading with regard to my present situation, but I was a bit mystified by the reading's advice, which was that I should become a teacher. Teaching what? I thought. Shortly thereafter, during the course of a single weekend, I met three different people, each of whom had a connection to Prague, Czechoslovakia. Each of them told me the exact same thing: what a beautiful city Prague was, that I should definitely go there, and that I could easily find work there teaching English.
That was 23 years ago, the beginning of the greatest period in my life, during which I have managed to fulfill all of my lifelong dreams of being a writer, a performer, a romantic lover, and a father. I came to Prague with just two suitcases and very few personal belongings. But one thing I made sure to bring was those cards, with which I have done many readings for friends over the years, all of whom have been amazed by the accuracy, insight and inspiration which those readings provided.