I lost my favorite pendant. I had been chasing around town, attending meetings and running errands in different corners of the city. When I got home, I felt the silver necklace slide from my neck and land at my feet. The clasp was stuck in the open position. There was no pendant in sight.

After a couple of days of searching, I decided to turn to tarot. I asked “where is my pendant?” and the one card spread showed the 7 of Cups, happily upright.

In the Rider-Waite deck, and most other modern decks, this card has a nondescript figure standing in front of 7 golden chalices, each one filled with some random, mysterious object. Snakes! Castles! Even necklaces! The card is most often associated with daydreaming, scattered thinking, or being a jack-of-all-trades. I saw it and thought of the Price is Right — what’s behind Door Number Three? I took it to mean, “look everywhere!”

And to cut to the chase, I found it in the coolest way! I went back to the gas station I’d used that afternoon. I couldn’t call ahead because it was impossible to find a number for this random station with a tiny service garage and office. When I entered the office, I spoke to the first of two men, and immediately wondered if I should back out slowly. It’s not that the man was threatening, but he seemed not quite all there, and I got the impression from the second man’s body language that he was being closely supervised in this setting.

“Have you found a pendant? I was at the station a few days ago and think I might have dropped it here.”

The man looked at me and said, No, I don’t think so, in several different ways under his breath. And then, “wait a second, maybe…”

I watched him slowly kneel to the floor and reach to the back of a low work shelf. He pulled out a small copper bowl — A cup! A chalice! — which he held in the palm of one hand. His oil-covered fingers poked through the rather grimy sundries in there — dirty buttons, dusty old pennies. What were the chances? But as I watched intently, he drew my pendant from the bottom of the cup. When I looked at his face again, he had a huge and knowing smile, like he’d been expecting me for days. I felt awe-struck, as if I were in the presence of tarot’s Fool, or at least the Knight of Cups. I felt I’d been through a learning exercise on how to hear, believe, and act on messages from the Tarot. I remember that lesson every time I wear my necklace.

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