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The Holy Baseball Tarot Deck 

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The sun has exiled its brilliance into the palm of my sleeping hand.

“Kether,” says Osborne, the 12-year-old pitcher. “You’re falling asleep.”

Baseball is poetry. The chi between the bases, like the meridians between acupuncture points on the body, resonates a kind of holiness of the diamond self: the diamond body of the baseball diamond. The diamond sutra is a mantra of “Strike, you’re out, play ball, batter up.”

“Swing the bat effortlessly,” I tell them.

“The umpire hates us,” Osborne says, hitting me with his glove. I smell the leather as his glove covers my face. This is his first year in Little League, and he hates losing.

“Which incarnation is this for you?” I ask him.

“You said it was my first incarnation as a baseball player,” says Osborne. Some other boys are on the dugout bench, looking bored.

“And you said you used to be some guy named William Blake,” snorts Osborne. “You’re Blake the Flake!”

“I was,” I say. “I wrote flaked-out poetry, and made a crazy tarot deck about God and Adam.”

“Strike!,” yells the umpire from behind home plate as one of our players takes a bad swing.

“But now you have a baseball tarot deck,” says Osborne excitedly. His short black hair seems to want to leap off his head when there is mention of my Holy Baseball Tarot Deck.

I ask, “Made out of what?”

“Baseball cards,” says Osborne. “Will you throw them? Please!”

“Okay,” I say.

I pull out a wooden box from beneath the bench, where I have a first aid kit which is standard issue to all team managers in Thunderbird Little League.

“You know you’re up soon,” I say to Osborne.

“So hurry,” he says. “Kether’s gonna throw the cards!”

Most of the boys gather around my end of the bench to watch.

“Make enough room for everyone,” I say.

Then I unwrap the purple silk from around my collection of old baseball cards. I have drawn on some of the cards and pasted photographs over parts of others to create a fairly accurate 76-card deck that reflects the subtle truths of both baseball and Western esoteric traditions. The deck has four suits of minor arcana and a major arcana suit. I have grouped the great hitters into the suit of wands, since baseball bats are a type of wand. Great pitchers are in the suit of pentacles, since pentacles are round like baseballs and represent the element earth, like the pitcher’s mound. Speed means air, the suit of swords, and therefore the great base-stealers and runners such as Lou Brock are of that suit. And a baseball glove is a kind of cup, really, so the famous gloves of the game like Willie Mays are in the suit of cups. The major arcana starts with Yogi Berra as The Fool and ends with the 1969 Miracle Mets as The World. Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn are, of course, the Lovers.

“C’mon, Kether,” says Osborne.

I shuffle the cards three times, then cut them three times into three piles. I reshuffle them, then pull the top card.

“Aren’t you going to do the Celtic Cross?” comes a voice from the gathering of boys.

“Not enough time,” I say.

I turn the card over and it is Hank Aaron, King of Wands.

“Looks like you’re going to hit a long ball,” I say.

Osborne asks, “Think it’ll be a home run?”

“Might be,” I say. “Let’s see what comes after.”

I pull a second card. It is Justice, from a real Rider-Waite tarot deck I once owned. I have since drawn over the figure to make it look like an umpire. As I place my hand on the card, the psychometric sense I feel is sinister.

“If you hit a long one,” I say, “hold at third base, unless you hit the ball over the fence.”

“I’m gonna hit a long one,” says Osborne. His hormones haven’t kicked in yet, and he has a pure fascination about life very much like The Fool.

“Strike!,” calls the umpire.

Osborne’s best friend, Todd Alan, has just struck out. Osborne goes on deck, while the next batter comes to the plate.

Now, usually, you would not find a witch coaching a Little League baseball team, especially an unmarried witch with no kids. But I have wanted to try out this deck for years, in a real baseball setting. To get here I simply burned a yellow candle, with some High John The Conqueror oil on it. A few days later, I heard from a friend that Thunderbird Little League needed a coach. Here I am. I keep my pentagram tucked beneath my jersey, and the only thing that shows is that I don’t care if we win or lose. If people found out they’d call me a warlock, not knowing that name actually refers to those who turned in witches during the Burning Times. It has nothing to do with being a male witch. The rest is all a fantasy of Disney.

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  • Fiction writer Brent Bovell's metaphysical pitch.

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