If You Really Need to Be Right, Go Ahead

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Separation.

She was a former High Priestess, they told me. I didn’t understand how a High Priestess could become “former.” What happened?  Did she turn her back on her spirituality? Did she lose it? I didn’t understand.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy


Sometimes I think of this woman I met last year and get a tightness in my throat. According to her, she wasn’t a former but an ex High Priestess—an anomaly for Northwest Florida— and we might have  become friends, except that she made life choices based on safety and materialism. On ego. And I think that’s why she was an ex High Priestess.

The first time I met her was at a friend’s cottage, and she spent a  straight three hours complaining about her non-pagan husband and how  she was staying with him only because she didn’t have to get a real job and she could live in a really nice house, a really big house, and she could  work only when she really felt like it. It was loveless marriage, but she had security, and that’s what she’d chosen. She’d picked her safe, secure husband over the man she really loved, the soul mate she left be- hind. But hey, that’s what she wanted.

She was miserable. And though she spoke of magick, it was clear  that the spiritual nature of her works had vanished over the years. I felt no power in her. Just a void. It was a little scary to feel that in a High Priestess.

The last time I saw her, a couple of weeks ago, she’d invited herself to my house for a Gathering. I hadn’t planned to have a Gathering that night. I was under deadline and that evening to finish a project. I was also feeling a little sick and a  lot  stressed  and  didn’t  really  feel  up  to  having  company.

After some degree of pleading on her part, I agreed to host a  Gathering, provided it started by 6 p.m. and was over early, say by 9 p.m.,  so I could get back to my work. I could probably use a break, I decided, and if I don’t have a friend to pull me out of any drudgery, I’ll forget to go do something fun.

About 10 p.m., she showed up, with friends in tow and en route to a night of clubbing in Destin. I’d put on the big pot of turkey spaghetti, a nice salad, and bread, and I’d already fed the girls and proceeded to  work  on my project while I waited for my guests to arrive. I’d honestly  given up on them by the time they rang the doorbell.

They’d eaten elsewhere and not told me. But hey, spaghetti freezes, and that’s fine, too. Rude, yes, but I wasn’t really out any time, effort, or money because of it.

Privately and in an embarrassed moment, one of her friends confessed that the real reason she’d invited herself over was that she wanted to see my house, which she’d heard was big like hers. Ah. No, the real reason was she wanted to compete, and me, I didn’t want to even play.

Flying By Night novel

As usual, I’d put out a selection of wines for my guests. I enjoy  doing that. I like playing hostess at my Gatherings. Her friends asked to share the bottle I’d already opened, an Aziano chianti. But she turned up her nose at every bottle on the countertop.

“Don’t you have anything sweet? A white wine?” she asked. “Maybe I’m spoiled, but the last bottle of wine I had was a $400 bottle.”

My daughters rolled their eyes and walked out of the room. They were already tired of her comments on how she’d decorate if it were her house and would spare no expense. I was tempted to follow the kids. I considered asking her to leave at that point, but I knew there was  something I was to learn on this night, something I was to see.

I offered her a Piesporter and she drank it down in about five  minutes, agreeing that it wasn’t half-bad for cheap wine. At the bottom of her glass, she found the courage to com- pare square footage and  worse…our spiritual lineage and our respective Third Degrees.

Time to show off again, I suppose. She wanted me to read Tarot cards for her. As I’d told her before, I don’t consider myself gifted at  reading them for others and I’d heard many times that she’d said she was extremely good at it.

So she declared that she’d read for me. Like it or not. Being tipsy was even better for her abilities, she swore.

She gave specific, bizarrely complicated instructions for how I was to shuffle, and being the vision of patience that I am, I screwed up. So like the master giving the rival witch a remedial lesson in divination, she explained very, very slowly what I was to do and how to shuffle the cards. Had I formed my question or intent? Of course.

“Oh. Your question’s about money.” “No, it isn’t.”

“Yes, it is,” she told me emphatically. “I can tell. I’m gifted.”

I shrugged.  My  question  had  been  one  of  the  heart.

Money was way down on my list of priorities, not even a distant second to the question I’d formed. It was purely a question of the heart. And nothing but the heart.

She proceeded to flop the cards down in a misshapen Celtic Cross pattern and announce my fears to everyone in the room, including my kids. Except they weren’t my fears.

When I tried gently to tell her she was off-base, she said angrily, “I hate it when people refuse to see the truth. I tell them exactly what’s in the cards and they don’t want to hear it so they question me. Well, I’m right and if they can’t accept that, they just don’t want to see the truth.”

She continued to jab her finger at various cards, telling me that she understood from mutual friends that I was recently divorced. She predicted that I would lose the house if I had to depend on just my own income to keep it, telling me I was un- happy with the stable and financially solvent man I was sleeping with and that he and I fought about money all the time.

I didn’t bother to tell her I wasn’t sleeping with anyone or even  involved with anyone and therefore not fighting with him about money, and that I wasn’t in danger of mortgage fore- closure as she’d said. I just let her ramble. I’d never seen such an off reading in my life, even my own.

When she was done, she told her friends she was ready to go clubbing. She was smug when she left, and I’m sure she felt very secure  in the knowledge that she was a better High Priestess than I was. Okay. Whatever.

When she left, I still didn’t feel any power in her. All I felt was a void, that same void as before. Wounded and hurting inside  but  still  smug  and  arrogant.  Self-protection  wrapped around such insecurity.

Then after she left, it occurred to me. She really was a gifted Tarot reader! Only she hadn’t read my cards.

She’d read her own.