Where Is Denise? – A Missing-Person Cold Case Reading

I fist tackled this nearly 40-year-old cold-case puzzle back when I created my “Train to Nowhere” missing-person spread. Since this blog didn’t exists then, I most likely posted the results on the Aeclectic Tarot forum but, although that now-defunct site has been archived, finding anything on it is difficult. Unfortunately, I didn’t save the original reading anywhere else since it was only a test run of the spread. The missing woman has yet to be to be found despite ongoing efforts, so I decided to refresh that reading with a new look and a slightly updated version of the layout.


Here is the latest news article on the search for Denise Daneault:


I used the slightly ominous Night Sun Tarot with reversals for the reading, and selected the Queen of Wands as the Significator based on her physical appearance.

All images copyright Los Scarabeo, Torino, Italy

The Queen of Wands turned up reversed in the second of 13 “cars” (piles) in the layout; this position is titled the “Coal/Wood Tender” in keeping with the antique railroad theme of the spread. The text for this position reads “Working; in a rough or dirty place.” Since anyone in the workforce for almost 40 years would leave some kind of financial trail, I discounted the first interpretation and focused on the second one. The authorities are apparently using excavating equipment to dig up locations in a wooded area, which would qualify as “rough” as opposed to “developed,” and the outcome will certainly produce a good deal of “dirt.” Also, there is a reference to both “underground” (coal) and “woods,” so there is at least a preliminary match here.

The series of cards in the Queen of Wands’ pile was the 4 of Wands; the Queen of Wands reversed; the Sun reversed; the Knight of Pentacles reversed; Temperance reversed; and the 8 of Cups. At first glance, this sequence doesn’t give any obvious clues as to location other than the predominance of reversed cards, suggesting that it is well-concealed (hold onto that “well” thought).


The definitions for the 4 of Wands in the LWB (“little white book”) for this deck have the usual allusions to “completion” and “stability.” Unless this portends a successful end to the investigation, I think the ones that catch my eye are “mistaken evaluations; stagnation,” even though the card is neither reversed nor “ill-dignified” by elemental association. This tells me that the investigators may still be “barking up the wrong tree,” and that the case is not likely to advance significantly although some progress could be made.

The reversal of the Queen of Wands implies that she is “head down” in her present state The Significator has no other implications in this spread other than as a “marker” to zero in on the location.

The Sun usually means that everything is revealed and there is no place to hide, but the reversal gives me the idea there are some shadowed corners that aren’t giving up their secrets easily. She may be someplace “where the Sun don’t shine.”

Because the Night Sun tarot is considered a “Thoth clone,” the Knight of Pentacles carries the esoteric meaning of “Lord of the Wide and Fertile Lands,” and has a strong connection with agriculture. Since the thread we’re pulling here has a connotation of “rough and dirty,” the possibility of abandoned farmland has some merit. But many areas of New England were once in agricultural use, so this may not be remarkable. In the past, police have tried to forge a link between Daneault’s disappearance and Terry Rasmussen/Bob Evans, who has been potentially linked to six murders in the general area of Daneault’s home, but he has since died and that trail seems to be a dead end. The reversal could simply be referring to “underground” at an old farmstead. In her letter to Aleister Crowley while painting the Thoth version of this card, Lady Frieda Harris made mention of a “flail,” which was both a medieval weapon and, in Asia, a farming implement for threshing rcde by beating it; this may have a bearing on both the agricultural link and a possible mode of death.

I consider Temperance to be a card of great finesse and of “Right Action,” but it’s reversal may reflect the ineffectual methods that have heretofore been applied during the search activities. It’s also possible that there has been a lack of good coordination between local, regional and federal officials in the case.

The 8 of Cups is the most interesting card here. The image shows a woman holding what look like two sets of four iron pots by chains.  By appealing to the spiritual ancestors of this card in the Thoth and RWS decks and applying a little intuitive free-association, I’m starting to pull together a picture that may be worth exploring. The RWS version shows a man (who might be the Knight of Pentacles here) walking away from an array of eight cups in apparent resignation and defeat, while the Thoth card portrays what looks like a dismal swamp where nothing grows. I sometimes refer to this card metaphorically as “the poisoned well.” From  there it’s not much of a leap to see the eight iron pots and the chains in the Night Sun version as showing her bound and weighted down.  The Cups suggest a watery place, and the reversals have me thinking of an ancient dug well that may have been filled in with soil.

Just some food for thought since the clues in the cards provide rather slim pickings for a more coherent interpretation.

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