With the 2019-nCoV (“COVID-19”) coronavirus spreading relentlessly worldwide, I decided to do a reading to examine what the chances are for a global pandemic of epic proportions to occur over the next few months. I had not yet had the opportunity to test my apocalyptic forecast (the “Armchair Cynic’s Guide to the End of the World”) in a real-life situation, and this certainly looks like one. I applied my favorite sociopolitical deck (which at times borders on socio-pathological), Brian Williams’ Post-Modern (aka “PoMo”) Tarot to this reading, using only the trump cards without reversals. Since this spread presumes the self-undoing of humankind through some sort of”unnatural disaster” couched in the somber language of poetry, it may not be the best choice for this subject, but I figured I would go with it since there are reports (or at least conspiracy theories) that the coronavirus outbreak could have started in a Chinese laboratory. I noticed after I posted this that the US Center for Disease Control believes there will be a pandemic, so this reading amounts to confirmation.
In the two-card “Eliot Option” column (Will the situation end with a bang or a whimper?), the Star (“Sweetness & Starlight”) in the former implies global cooperation to forestall a rapid and total wipe-out, while Strength (“Sheer Force”) in the latter suggests a fierce onslaught of contagion that is likely to lay humanity low over time. (It reminds me of a doctor forcing a reluctant patient to “open up and say “Ahhh.”) So “With a Whimper” seems to be the best bet.
In the “Pick Your Poison” column, Judgement (“The End”) in the “Boiling” position could be referring to high fever as the operative mechanism in the decimation of “the world as we know it.” The rest of the cards convey a less compelling argument for their alternative modes of self-immolation. The High Priestess (“Mona”) isn’t saying whether we might nuke ourselves first, the Hermit (“Out of It”) isn’t inclined to tell us of impending incineration even if he knew, and the Magician (“Expert”), in contemplating the slow build-up of greenhouse gases, simply says – mimicking Ogden Nash – “sicker is quicker.”
The Hanged Man (“All Hung Up”) in the “What Does Spirit Say?” position does indeed imply that the world will be brought to a standstill by this growing epidemic (there are already travel bans, lockdowns and quarantines even at this early stage).
In the three-card “What Comes Next?” scenario, will it be MacLeish’s “dark pall of nothing, nothing, nothing – nothing at all,” Poe’s “chilling and killing” wind and “tomb by the sounding sea,” or a thorough Gaian purge which might be construed as Mother Earth “cleaning house?”
The Moon (“Night”) in the “MacLeish” position looks like a nightmare in the making (Williams’ title reminds me of another literary tour-de-force, Eugene O’Neill’s play Long Day’s Journey into Night). Temperance (“Neither Here Nor There”) in the “Poe” position hints at a policy of “containment,” or having to make compromises that will further isolate the most severely affected regions, possibly writing them off in the interest of “the greater good” and leaving them, in the words of Firesign Theater, “not anywhere at all.” The Tower (“Disaster”) in the “Gaia” position gives the impression that a reboot of civilization will occur only after the virus has run out of victims, not a very encouraging prospect. Conquering it swiftly through the orderly means of science and medicine does not seem to be indicated, unless “amputation” of certain segments of society counts.
I certainly hope I’m wrong, but based on these cards I think it’s going to get much worse before it gets better. The Tower at the end definitely suggests “epic” to me. I think I’ll go re-read The Stand to cheer up.