This powerful novella is a classic of both existentialist and spiritual literature. One day Ivan Ilyich (the Russian name for "John Doe"), a moderately successful lawyer and minor judge, learns that due to a small injury, he is quickly dying. He has never thought about this possibility, and it tears away all the structure of his life and the values and assumptions which have supported him. This is why the existentialists revere this novel: It shows man stripped of all certainties, helpless and alone in a world he can't know. But Tolstoy doesn't stop there. He knows that this forlorn state is exactly the precondition for seeing deeply, and he shows how Ivan Ilyich, through the devotion and faith of his peasant servant, finds his way to a renewed faith in his fellow people, and to a vision in which death is superseded by spiritual awakening. Because Tolstoy has presented the shock of Ivan's sudden despair so vividly, we find Ivan's victory over his despair all the more heartfelt and moving.
Just as in any profession, mediums have specialties and areas of expertise. Unlike Allison Dubois in Medium, I don't work with the police in solving crimes. Or, unlike Melinda Gordon in The Ghost Whisperer, I don't help tormented souls cross over. Over the years, it has become very clear that my job lies in working with souls who have happily crossed over to the other side and, for the most part, are at peace. Sure, they may have regrets or unresolved issues, but they're not haunted or lost. Oftentimes, it's the living that are not at peace. The main goal of your deceased loved ones and spirit guides is to assist you in moving on, free of grief and struggle, so you can fulfill your life lessons and enjoy your time here on earth.
Matthews has authored several books on divinatory cards, and her latest is The Complete Lenormand Oracle Cards Handbook. This 36-card deck was named after the celebrity card-reader Mademoiselle Marie Anne Lenormand, who was popular around the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, though the decks bearing her name weren’t actually produced until after her death. The oldest packs in Matthews’ collection are two Lenormand-style decks, the French Daveluy of the 1860s and the Viennese Zauberkarten deck from 1864, which were some of the first decks to be illustrated using the technique of chromolithography.
But to balance such arcane decks, there are divinatory cards that offer little room for interpretation, like “Le Scarabée d’Or” or The Golden Beetle Oracle, one of Wolf’s most prized decks. “It’s just fantastically bizarre. There’s a little window in the lid of the card box, and when you shake it, the beetle appears, and points to a number,” he explains. “Then you find the corresponding number on a set of round cards, with beautiful script text on them, and read your fortune. Can you not imagine standing in a Victorian parlor in France, consulting the Golden Beetle? It was like performance art.”
Playing cards first entered Europe in the late 14th century, most likely from Mamluk Egypt, with suits of Batons or Polo sticks (commonly known as Wands by those practicing occult or divinatory tarot), Coins (commonly known as disks, or pentacles in occult or divinatory tarot), Swords, and Cups. These suits were very similar to modern tarot divination decks and are still used in traditional Italian, Spanish and Portuguese playing card decks.
From time to time, it may be helpful to seek out the counsel of someone objective for guidance or connection with spirit, and/or to gain a clearer read on your life. If a psychic, medium or any other intuitive healer speaks to you, I encourage you to set your intentions and then simply let go and go with the flow. Spirit will guide you as to who and what is in your highest and best good in that moment. Also, please remember that no one knows you better than yourself, and no one has a closer connection with your deceased loved ones and spiritual guides than you do. By learning to go within, listen to and trust your own inner voice, you gain access to everything you'll ever need to know. And what could be better than that?
Saint after saint has pointed out the positives of spiritual reading. Reading features rather prominently in the 6th century Rule of St. Benedict. Sundays are to be devoted to reading and meals are to be held in silence, with one of the monks reading to the community. St. Alphonsus Ligouri noted that “we cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions, and particularly in our doubts; but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us lights and directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will.” Many spiritual masters urged reading the lives of the saints for encouragement and models of holiness. Padre Pio recommended spiritual reading in general, but particularly for difficult times in our lives:
Future - Finally, there is the future card. The future is wrought with mystery and unknowns, and this card offers a magic view of what’s next in the journey. It can reveal where you are headed or could be headed if you do not make important changes. Looking into the future card, see what strengths you continue to develop, what you master, and what falls to the wayside as you pursue more meaningful endeavors. You might also be able to see where you will live, who you will fall in love with, or what kind of good fortune comes your way.