Reading cards with my gramma

Hi friends,

It’s officially Autumn now… the juiciest time of the year…. with the best weather…. and leaves turning colors…. the crisp air… and days getting noticeably shorter, making me wanna hunker in… and oh yes – pumpkin flavored everything.

Fall is by far my favorite season.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandma. She died just over a year ago, on the day after her 94th birthday. (I was so thankful to be home and have some lucid last moments with her. <3)

The other night I was watching the final episodes of Hell on Wheels – where the two railroad companies are competing to complete the train track in Ogden, UT.

Both of my grandparents were born and raised in Ogden. (And both of them, as far as I recall, loved trains. But then again, who doesn’t? Trains are amazing.)

The whole show had me wondering about the lives of my ancestors who ventured west back in the day, but that night especially got me to thinking about my grandma.

So I lit a candle or two and pulled out my cards like I do – in an attempt to make a line of connection. To gain some kind of insight or some guidance.

But none of my cards wanted to talk to me.

As I was fishing through my drawer, wondering which deck was gonna spark something, I kept picking up this blue pouch. Then I’d look inside it, and see that there was a deck of Rook cards, and I’d say to myself – no, not those, they aren’t for reading! Then I’d put them back in the drawer and keep fishing.

I must’ve done this three or four times before it dawned on me – those Rook cards were my grandma’s cards! duh. just read them!


Part of the reason I’m actually drawn to reading cards is because it reminds me of my grandma.

She was always playing with cards. She’s the one who taught me how to shuffle, and do that fancy bridge thing.

Playing with cards makes me feel close to her.

She didn’t read Tarot. I’m quite sure she thought tarot – like all forms of divination – was evil. I know she thought playing cards were bad too, as most Mormons do*, but she owned some. (I’ve got a picture in a box somewhere to prove it!)

But she always had a pack of cards nearby. She played Solitaire mostly, with those Rook cards.

I’ll never forget those colorful Rook cards.

When my grandma passed last year, it was her deck of cards I wanted the most.

rook cards

The odd thing about this deck, is that it’s not the deck I remember. The deck she always used (in my mind) had lots of little red birds on the back. The deck I found in her things was a blue deck, with just one large bird on it.

But there in the deck of blue cards was one single card with red birds on the back. So hallelujah! I’m not crazy.

That one lone card with red birds on it, is the green 4 (pictured in the first photo).

Green = hearts/cups (love/family) Four = stability/security

That pale lime green is so freaking nostalgic to me. Part of the reason I loved this deck was for its interesting off-colors… the green was lime, the red closer to mauve or cranberry, the yellow more orange or pumpkin ish. Either some very fashion-forward cards, or they were from the 70s.

So I took the lime-green 4 card, with the little red birds on it, and removed it from the deck. And I put it on my altar, for my grandma.

And then I started reading the cards.

We had quite a long conversation, me and grandma, by way of those Rook cards.

I cried a lot. I felt her absence, and her presence so much.

There’s so much I don’t know about her life and her parents’ lives. There’s so much more I wish I would’ve asked while she was alive and well.

When did my ancestors land in Ogden? And how? And why? (FFS why!?)

I’ve never been all that interested in ancestry or genealogy. I’ve had sparks of curiosity here and there, and I’ve really tried to connect with it at times. Lord knows I’ve paid a lot of lip service to ‘ancestor reverence’, but it’s mostly only been in theory.  Before my grandparents died the whole thing just felt so damn abstract.

But now it’s real. My ancestors are real. And I miss them so much.


That’s another thing that I love about this time of year – people from all over are beginning to think about and celebrate their ancestors, in one way or another (Dia de los Muertos, Samhain, All Saints Day, Fet Gede, and so on…)

…even if the holiday has been so contorted and materialized that we’ve forgotten what it’s about (hi, Halloween)…

This is definitely the time of year when the dead want to be acknowledged.


I’m keeping her cards in a purple pouch now. She let me know she prefers the purple one over the blue.


Love you, my sweet grammalou. I’m so glad your cards are with me ❤



Do you practice some form of ‘ancestor reverence’? How do you communicate with/remember your ancestors? I’d love to hear.



*I honestly don’t know how Mormons feel about playing cards now. I image most don’t care anymore, except for the really staunch ones. But I know, at least back in the day, they saw playing cards as sinful. I think because of their connection to gambling.


4 thoughts on “Reading cards with my gramma

  1. That’s lovely, Sami.
    My grandparents played cards a lot for entertainment in the evenings as well. They taught me how to play. On holidays the whole big family used to sit around the table and play for washers 😉 There were pennies put in the pot but, in England then, pennies were big and heavy, like silver dollars, so we added up the washers at the end and the winner took the pot.

    And, like you, i couldn’t really get into the ancestor thing. I thought my grandparents were sweet but dumb. I didn’t have much respect for my heritage. Still don’t really, beyond being glad I was born in England.

    Thanks, this got me thinking in a more grateful way about my past.
    Love Pam

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this Sami!
    What a wonderful connection to your Grandma, the season and the Tarot. I don’t know anything about Rook cards, so that was a discovery! You probably know that I am a CrowWoman, and thus, I am especially intrigued.

    Yesterday, I was also on a bit of a Tarot journey, opening a new deck, then going back to my original learning deck which I have had, oh, so long. I ended up the evening reading more in Issue 33 of “Witches & Pagans” magazine whose theme was Tarot & Divination. (Its probably still available). In it were a couple of articles about readers whose entry into Tarot was through their mother’s cards and how that led to dual explorations into the cards and their lineage. A couple of the articles talked about the evolution of the pips/number cards into the Minor Arcana.

    The other part of your post that spoke to me was about how your ancestors have become “real” now that they include relatives who you remember. I am right there with you. My dad died a year and a half ago now, I never fully processed it . I am learning about his life now through his things – he was so very worldly. One of things he was passionate about was Genealogy, and so when he died, so did a huge connection to the past…I wish I had learned more while he was alive.

    So, thank you for sharing the story of your Grandma and getting me thinking about how I am going to honor him and others this Samhain.

    ❤ Rebekah

    Liked by 1 person

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