|"Morrigan" by Jessica Galbreth|
***The tarot card giveaway gave me an itch to share a new project I am working on. My newest novel, Morrigan, is still a work in progress. I am about half way done. Below is just a small sample, from the very beginning of the book. The main character, Morrigan, is named after one of my favorite Celtic Goddesses (shown in the pic above). Morrigan is a teenage witch who has been shuffled from one foster home to another all her life. Now she is about to discover she is a princess from the mystical land of Tir Na Nog. The handsome werewolf Philtairn guides her through countless perils to find her mother, Cerridwen, and grandmother, Hecate. Only together can they complete the magical triad and save their world.***
Morrigan closed her eyes and began to shuffle the cards. As she did, she allowed her breathing to become more even. A silence filled the room as the rest of the mortal world fell away. Soon the only sound she heard was the light thump of her own heartbeat, echoed by the quicker, fast paced beat of the hearts of the cats. She wasn't sure how much time passed as the cards slipped through her fingers. It might have minutes. It might have been hours. When she was in a trace, as she was, time became insubstantial, irrelevant.
The tarot cards were so old; she had to shuffle gently to keep them from crumbling to pieces in her hands. Yet they held a power that she knew no newer cards could ever offer her. As she shuffled them, she focused her energy into them, silently requesting to be given the answers she was seeking. She allowed the image of her mother to fill her mind. When she finally felt the cards had fallen into the order they were meant to be in, she placed the deck face down on the floor, and cut them with her right hand. Then, taking one last, calming breath, she lifted the top card from the pile. With a trembling hand, she laid it down and read it.
"Wheel of Fortune," she said aloud.
In the center of card was a wheel. As she stared at the picture, that wheel seemed to start turning clockwise. The movements made her feel slightly dizzy. The bedroom around her began more and more surreal. Te scenes on the cards became her reality. The figure of the sphinx that on top of the turning wheel looked so very real. It might have turned its head to look at her. Its lips may or may not have moved. But Morrigan swore she heard a deep, resonating voice whispering in her ear the meaning of the card. Destiny approaching. An unexpected and sudden change was coming—change that could lead to good fortune.
It was the card of fate and karma returned. It meant that she needed to be prepared—to expect the unexpected. Morrigan knew the cards were telling her something was going to happen—and soon. Her destiny, whatever it was, was about to be realized. And even if it brought with it fortune of some kind, it still scared her to death. So much so that she considered packing up the cards right then and there. Her rational mind had every intention of doing just that. The problem was her hands didn't get the message her brain was sending them. Before she knew what she was doing, she had already flipped over the second card.
"The Empress," she whispered. She exhaled deeply. "My…mother."
It was the only interpretation imaginable. And even as she said it, the pregnant woman, crowed with stars and adorned in a gown decorated with pomegranates, turned to her and smiled. No longer the vague featureless face of a stranger that was there just a moment ago, but the same face she had sketched earlier that day—a face that mirrored her own. It was an older version of her own face, which she saw in the reflection in the nearby full length mirror, had turned chalk white.
The Empress was a symbol of maternal power—of a strong feminine influence. But could it mean…did she even dare to hope that it might mean her mother was returning? The mother who had deserted her so long ago was going to return? She had never allowed herself to even consider such a possibility. To dwell on something so unlikely would have been too painful. But now, with just the flip of a card, she found herself daring to dream it might be. There was only one way to find out if it could be true. She had to keep going with the reading.
"Six of Cups."
The third card in the spread represented her past, and to a point even her immediate present. The six of cups specifically symbolized childhood, and she was after all, still technically a child. But she had a feeling that her childhood was about to end quite abruptly. The cups in the picture were lined up across a high, stone wall, each cup holding the memories of her past.
Her past. It was nothing but a childhood filled with longing—longings which were perhaps about to be fulfilled. She visualized herself taking each cup down from the wall, and pouring the troubling memories away. It was time to start fresh. A new world was about to open up for her. She had known it as soon as she had seen the image of her mother's face. But what would that world be like? What was waiting for her in the future?
Morrigan turned over the fourth card.
"The Knight of Wands."
The man on the horse carrying the staff had her baffled. Not because she didn't know it's normal meaning, but because as she stared at the card, it began to take on the physical attributes of the knight in her drawing. The same long dreadlocks, the same bewitching stare, the same cocky smile. Not at all the blank face that was nearly worn away from time that should been staring back at her. But the knight of wands was representative of a dark man, a man filled with a kind of honey-tongued charm. But he was also fiery and arrogant, a man with a definite possibility of a dark side. If this man was coming into her life, she knew she needed to proceed with caution.
She thought she was done with the fourth card and was preparing to move on to the next, when once again, she found she had lost control of her own body's functions. This time, her hands refused to move, while her eyes forced their way back to the knight in the card. She watched as the long haired stranger began to move forward—wondering over various landscapes—some high mountains, some meadows and fields ripe for the harvest. He kept looking back over his shoulder, as though he were speaking to someone. So he was on a journey, and he wasn't alone. Morrigan didn't need to see his companion to know who it must be.
So, her journey would soon begin, and she wouldn't be traveling alone. Whether or not that would be a good thing was another question best left to the cards to answer. However, the next card told her nothing she didn't already know
"The Moon," she said. "Caution."
It was a scary card. It warned of tricks and illusions. The two howling wolves that stood under the moon, looked back at her menacingly, growling, showing their pointed fangs in a snarl. And for the first time since she began the reading, Frick & Frack made their presence known by lifting their heads and hissing threateningly in the direction of the beasts.
So even the cats sensed it. This journey she was about to embark on wouldn't be all fun and family reunions. There would be obstacles and deceit, most likely from people she would think could be trusted. The moon was a sign that danger was certainly awaiting her. In was an ominous omen.
She hushed the still hissing cats, and gave them each a gentle stroke to try to settle them down, though she was far from settled herself. Again she felt the urge to stop the spread. Her instincts were telling her that no good was going to come out of this reading. That she was only going to scare herself. She should never have done it in the first place. When would she learn that sometimes it was best to just let life play out without interference or prophetic warnings? But then again, she knew that to be forewarned might be her only advantage on this bumpy road she was apparently going to travel. So with more bravery than she felt, Morrigan flipped over the final card.
"No…" she gasped when she looked down at the terrible, skeletal face. "Oh no…"
She should have known. She thought perhaps a part of her did know even before she had even glanced down at the gruesome scene—a skeleton with a scythe in a field of body parts. With the divination going in the direction it had been, what else could be the final outcome?
"Death," she whispered. "Death."
She knew that in most cases, the death card was more a symbol of personal transformation than literal death. But a deeper sense of understanding told her that this time the card was supposed to be taken literally. She saw only glimpses and shadows in her mind. Brief flashes of faces, some familiar, like her mother and the knight—some still strangers, like a beautiful, almost angelic blonde woman in a flowing white gown. But around them all, including herself, she saw the shadows of death. Someone would die. That was certain. Whether that person was Morrigan or someone else, neither the cards nor her sixth sense was willing to reveal.
Morrigan felt decidedly shaky as she gathered up her tarot cards. She placed them securely in the bottom of her bag just as she heard the door downstairs slam shut. The reading hadn't made everything as crystal clear as she had hoped, but one thing was certain. She would very soon be leaving on a journey—a journey that would undoubtedly lead to death.