Sample Tarot Reading - O. J. Simpson

On September 21, 1995, I did a Celtic Cross Reading based on the following question:

What is the O. J. Simpson trial telling us, as Americans, about ourselves, our legal system and our society?

O. J. Simpson is accused of murdering his ex-wife and her friend in June 1994. His trial has been an ongoing source of interest, conjecture and debate since its inception in January 1995. At the time of this reading, the trial is winding down with closing arguments due shortly.

I chose to do a reading about the O. J. Simpson trial because it has been such a riveting drama for the American people. In many ways, it captures the conflicts and uncertainties that are rampant in our society. What are these and what do they say about our current situation?

Cards Chosen -

  1. Position 1 - 2 of Swords
  2. Position 2 - 3 of Wands
  3. Position 3 - Knight of Swords
  4. Position 4 - 8 of Cups Reversed
  5. Position 5 - Queen of Swords
  6. Position 6 - 6 of Cups
  7. Position 7 - 5 of Swords
  8. Position 8 - Knight of Pentacles Reversed
  9. Position 9 - King of Swords
  10. Position 10 - Queen of Pentacles
Bold phrases are from the information page for the card, italic phrases from the position page.
The first thing I noticed about this reading was the total dominance of the Swords suit. There are five, including 3 of the 4 court cards - an unusual occurence. The Swords are the suit of justice, fairness and integrity, so their presence makes sense; however, Swords also represent challenges and difficulties. Let's see what that means in this case.

Card 1 represents the central issue or fundamental problem. The 2 of Swords in this position is telling us that we are avoiding the truth. Many people have commented that this trial has become a farce. We are refusing to consider the facts and, instead, indulging in game-playing and media hype. We are also at an impasse - stuck in a mire of details and conflicts.

In a larger sense, the 2 of Swords suggests that we, as a society, are choosing "not to know." We sense there is something very wrong, but we don't want to look at it and deal with it honestly. We are keeping each other at arm's length; that is, adopting a cynical, defensive posture that separates us from each other. The woman on the 2 of Swords reminds me of the figure of Justice who is normally shown with a scale in one hand and a sword in the other. In this case, the scales are gone, and Justice is blind, not because she is impartial, but because she doesn't want to see the truth.

This central theme of avoiding the truth is reinforced by many cards in this reading. First, let's look at the environment of the trial as shown by the Knight of Pentacles Reversed (Card 8). In the upright position, this Knight represents dogged persistence, meticulous concern for details, and a sloooow and careful methodology. These are certainly features of this trial, but why then is the Knight reversed?

A reversed card sometimes means that its energy is only present in a pseudo-sense. The card's qualities appear to be in effect, but are not actually present or serving their intended purpose. I take this to mean that the stubborn thoroughness of this trial masks the lack of any real pursuit of truth.

The Knight of Swords (Card 3) also gives us some clues. He represents the source of the problem. Why did this murder happen in the first place, and why are we failing to deal with it appropriately? I feel the Knight is telling us that as a people we have become too arrogant, judgmental and unfeeling. We are becoming cold and insensitive - treating people as numbers and cutting ourselves off from the softer impulses of tolerance and mercy. We're more concerned with finger-pointing, than truth. I'm right - you're wrong. He did this - you did that. We really don't like each other very much. [ more ]

Also, we can see that in the Past (Card 4) we have not concentrated on what's important in this trial and in our collective lives. We have not looked sincerely for the answers to our questions. The 8 of Cups Reversed suggests that we have refused to consider the deeper meaning and purpose of justice in regards to our fellow man.

Consider also the Queen of Swords (Card 5) - how we view what is happening and our expectations for the future. Not a pretty sight. The Queen of Swords is someone who is honest and forthright. She faces the truth and plays by the rules. She gets to the heart of the matter quickly without pretense or guile. Here, however, she is reversed. Her approach is blocked or rejected.

Is there anyone left who has faith in this trial? We know the process has gone seriously astray. We accept that it is full of lies and deception and we also accept that these are pervasive in our society as well. Look at our self-image, the 5 of Swords (Card 7). We see ourselves as selfish and dishonest. We are set against each other - choosing discord over harmony. Collectively, we've lost our moral compass and have sacrificed our integrity. In the context of the trial, we're looking for the win-lose result, and, be assured, the "winners" will gloat when the verdict is in.

I have rarely seen such a consistently bleak and cynical picture as the one painted in this reading. I would be very discouraged if it were not for the rest of the cards which present a surprisingly positive hope for the future.

First, there is Card 2 - a factor for change. The 3 of Wands suggests that if we are to turn around our view of ourselves and our system, we need leadership and foresight. We need people who can take the long view - look beyond the self-serving actions of the moment to find new solutions. Each one of us needs to set an example of what is possible. The figure on the 2 of Swords refuses to see, while the figure on the 3 of Wands gazes far ahead; he is a visionary.

Card 9 also shows us a key factor. We have already examined the Swords cards that describe the perversion of justice - the 2, the 5, the Knight and the Queen Reversed. Now, the King of Swords calls on us to rediscover the true spirit of the law. This King is a key representative of truth and justice in the Tarot. He suggests that we must return to highest principles in our legal system and our lives. Each of us must become a moral/ethical leader within our own sphere.

More is required, however. Look carefully at Card 6 - the 6 of Cups. This card is riveting in the context of this reading. It shows two children sharing a gift of flowers. Even though they are surrounded by "Swords," their simple goodness and innocence shine forth. What a beautiful beacon of hope in the midst of gloom.

The 6 of Cups could suggest that Simpson will be acquited and found innocent in the near future. That is one possibility. In a larger sense, though, I see this card as saying that we can and should embrace the love these two children demonstrate. We need to reestablish basic good will toward one another - to share what we have and remember kindliness. These ideas may seem simplistic, but they are powerful nonetheless. Remember that the Knight of Swords suggested that our problems are due in part to our loss of fellow-feeling. [ more ]

The avowed goal of this trial is to determine Simpson's innocence or guilt, but, more generally, don't we all need to look at this theme in our own lives? We cannot let this trial draw us into further conflict and self-interest because that path will only lead to a further breakdown of our community. We can instead choose to acquit ourselves and move on.

The Queen of Pentacles (Card 10) presents an unexpected, but welcome outcome. She suggests that even though our society seems to be mired in selfishness and dishonesty, we can move toward a more positive environment. If we make the decision to explore new approaches (2 of Wands), return to true ethical standards (King of Swords) and begin to care for one another again, we can create a society that is nurturing, secure and worthy of trust.

The following thoughts were added on October 1, 1995:

**6 of Cups: On 9/29, I was thinking about the striking quality of the 6 of Cups when I suddenly saw this card as an almost perfect visual representation of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman before the murder. A boy/man is handing a girl/woman something (a pair of glasses?) while standing outside a house. There is an atmosphere of caring and friendship. Surrounding them is a "circle of knives" - all the Sword cards in positions 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. This reading contains within itself the image of the crime.

**Knight of Swords: As I was driving on 9/30, I started thinking again about this card. It struck me that it also represents Simpson himself in his relationship to his wife Nicole as presented by the prosecution during the trial. Certainly he expected immediate compliance, was overbearing and insensitive. Simpson's domineering pattern is the immediate basis of the situation. In a larger sense, he is a symbol of a greater fundamental pattern that leads to so much suffering in our world.

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