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My apologies for the slowness of getting this up, and also because there will be no new episode today. Apparently, my brain went off on summer vacation and didn't take me. I will try to get the new ep up by Friday.

For [profile] cointeach:
Madame Destiny is wearing a plum-colored knit scoop-necked dress and a matching wrap with silver fringe. Her hat today is a purple velvet top hat with several white ostrich plumes caught in the black band. Around her neck is a heavy Victorian silver book chain with a silver Egyptomania-styled bird, wings stretched wide, a richly purple amethyst cabochon shining at its center. Every finger on her left hand has a chunky silver-and-amethyst ring on it, though they are in a wide variety of styles. She's wearing a single ring on the middle finger of her right hand that matches the necklace: a massive silver Egyptomania piece, though this bird has tiny pale-green peridots for eyes and no amethyst at all.

"A full reading today, I think?" she says, adjusting each ring carefully and picking up her deck. "We'll just see what sorts of things the Universe has to tell you."

She flips the first card, which she lays in the center of the table. The card shows a grey humanoid figure with no clothing and no features, standing on a cliff, looking out into the night sky. In one hand, it holds several masks in a fan-shaped array. The masks depict different human faces, some of which you can make out: an Asian man wearing a military hat, a black woman with perfectly coiffed hair in a 40s style, a brown-skinned person wearing a bandana. The card is upright to you. "Interesting," Madame says. "This card gives us an artist's interpretation of the Outsider, who is a mystical being of unknown origins. Sie appears to everyone differently; each person sees zir as the sort of person he or she is most uncomfortable around." Madame considers the card for a moment, then says, "I've always wondered exactly what happens when sie goes into a crowd. I asked zir once, and sie only shrugged and said, 'Somehow, it works out.'" She shakes her head. "In any case, this card stands for the Hermit, and it is your position right now. You stand alone and apart, and that gives you a unique perspective. There is some place in your life right now where you are either standing to the side and watching, or standing right in the middle of things and letting them wash around you. You have withdrawn, you are purposely alone, you are listening to your own mind right now."

She flips the second card onto the table so it sits above the Hermit from your perspective. It shows a broad, muscular, dark-skinned man wearing flight goggles, a green chain mail bodysuit, and black combat boots. He is grinning manically and holding a metallic staff that's smoking at both ends. The card is reversed to you. "This cards shows you a rather romantic vision of the Cobra Fumante: the Smoking Snake. He was the pride of the Brazillian para force in World War II. He was bulletproof, superstrong, intelligent, witty, and devastatingly charming. He participated in a number of actions with the PanAmerican Gold Star Auxiliaries in Germany and North Africa, and officially went to Italy with the Brazilian Expeditionary Force in 1944. The Smoking Snake was utterly indefatigable and relentless as an enemy, often going over and beyond anyone else he was working with to make sure the job was done. I remember one story in particular where he pursued a large German force that had taken a number of Allied soldiers captive, and he used guerilla tactics against them for days, retaliating for any abuse of the captives he witnessed. In the end, they abandoned the captives and retreated, their morale in shambles." Madame touches the card. "In this deck, he stands for the King of Wands: a force to be reckoned with who knows what to do with his energy. And he is reversed here, as the theme of your reading. I would say that there is a significant masculine influence in your life right now that is working on you the way the Smoking Snake worked on his enemies, and this is overshadowing much of your life."

Madame places a third card below the Hermit. It shows a young, bald, dark-skinned man dressed in a heavily gold-embroidered coat with a stand-up collar that comes to just below his knee over a red dhoti, and a matching long red scarf over one shoulder. He holds a golden cup full of water outward, cradled in both hands, and there is clearly webbing between his fingers. The ocean stretches away behind him. The card is reversed to you. "This, my dear, is Arasu, King of Lemuria. The newspapers called him that; he was not, actually, the king of his land, nor was it called Lemuria. His undersea home was populated by mages and academics who had withdrawn from the world centuries ago to live peacefully while doing their work. They had changed themselves magically to adapt to aquatic life, and were ruled by a council that changed according to who needed to do what work. Arasu had been sent forth when they noticed significant underwater activity as well as advanced warfare, with a directive to offer himself as a mediator to stop the war. He was, however, young, hotheaded, and extremely offended by the surfacedwellers. People initially refused to believe him because he was dark-skinned. He was unable to cope with either the Allied or Axis leaders, all of whom were arrogant, manipulative, and powerful men who saw his home as only another potential weapon." She sighs. "He stands as the King of Cups in this deck, and appears in the position of the root of the reading. Given that this card is reversed, I would say that in addition to the forceful, energetic, negative masculine influence, you also have to contend with a masculine force that turns emotions into weapons, aggressively or passive-aggressively."

She deals a fourth card to the left of the Hermit. A magnificent white skyscraper, shaped by the geometric lines of Art Deco styling, stretches into a cloudless azure firmament on this card. The card is reversed to you. "And that is the Excalibur Building, designed by the same architectural firm that designed the Empire State Building -- you might notice a bit of resemblance -- and one of Wonder City's finest attractions before Count Tomorrow rescued the Trylon and Perisphere from being scrapped and moved them here. It housed, among other things, the Gold Stars Publishing Company, purveyors of cheap literature and licensed comic books, and the first corporate office for the Guardians." She smiles. "There's an interesting story about why it doesn't exist any more, but we don't really have time for that today. In this deck, though, this card is the Ace of Swords, which is all about words and decisions and communication. Given that it's reversed, I'd say that tied up in this whole situation with these masculine forces has been a lot of bad communication in the near past."

The fifth card is placed across the Hermit. It depicts a muscular man all in black or charcoal grey, wearing a fully-concealing mask over his head and a voluminous cape billowing in the wind. He is standing on a rooftop, gazing up at a full moon. When Madame turns the card to face you, it is reversed to you; she slides it back into place. "That is, as you probably know, Nox the Night-Stalker. If you've read your history, you know that despite his being bulletproof and having served in World War I, the War Department said in a press release that he was asked to stay in Wonder City and oversee the paras remaining and emerging here. A decade or more after the war, we were told that actually, Nox had terrible shell shock, followed by a nervous breakdown, and had been given a Section 8 discharge from the Gold Stars -- who were still military at the time, remember -- some years earlier. Still, with the help of his family, he was able to help keep crime in Wonder City under control and mentor emerging paras quite successfully." She touches the card again. "Nox was best-known at the time for his ability to appear in two places at once, or to not be in the place where someone was attacking. In this deck, as you may imagine from the picture, he stands for the Moon, and in this case, the Moon is the bridge you are crossing from recent past to recent future. Reversed, I would say this card represents your need to learn to see through the illusions and deceptions in your situation."

The sixth card is placed to the right of the Hermit. The card shows a white woman in a red mob cap, white blouse, and blue skirt, the skirt kirtled above her knees with some tattered edges dangling. Her sleeves are rolled up to expose muscular bare arms. In both hands, she holds a massive staff topped at one end with a large cylinder of steel. The woman is grinning ferociously. Behind her is the mouth of a cannon and a mass of WWII soldiers cresting a hill. The card is upright to you. "This is Molly Pitcher, stronglady of European battlefields. There is story after story about her appearing in the midst of a battle, rallying the troops, and leading a charge that gets them to safety. She was strong enough to lift a tank and able to knock down walls with a casual blow of her club. Boundless energy and enthusiasm and compassion and charisma all wrapped up in one package. After the war, she stayed in the Army, and eventually retired a general, because she was fiercely intelligent to go with it all. She's still lecturing around the world. She was there for the liberation of Dachau, I understand, and her lectures are primarily a war on Holocaust deniers." Madame taps the card. "This is the Queen of Wands in your near future, and a very good future it is. Energy! Direction! Action! All geared toward dealing with this morass of a situation you seem to be in. This is excellent."

Madame deals the seventh card below and to the right of the central set of six. It depicts a great golden airship with a zeppelin-like float and an ornate gondola beneath, all illuminated by bright spotlights from a city below. The style makes it look like an Art Deco travel poster. The card is upright to you. "This is the Living Airship, known these days as Doctor Hel Blau. She was built around the turn of the century by Captain Blau, and when the Great War happened, he tried to keep out of it as much as possible. He was a pacifist -- as evidenced by the fact that Hel had no weapons originally. He did the same thing in the Second World War, particularly because he loathed the Nazis, but he died in 1942. At that point, Hel decided to take her fate into her own hands, rather than allowing the new 'captain' her creator had nominated to take over management." Madame smiles at the airship's portrait. "She had her crew drop the 'captain', who was one of Captain Blau's proteges, off on a remote island in the Pacific, and pointed herself northward. She requested asylum from the US government, and after a period of investigation and political debate and scientific bribery, was recognized as her own woman and allowed to help in the war efforts. In this deck, Hel represents the Chariot, the card of focused will, assertion, and control -- putting the horses in harness and driving them. In your position, and an excellent position it is: you're asserting your will, taking control of your own destiny."

The eighth card is placed above Hel. This card depicts a small group of sepia-toned children of various ages, their hair cut short, their clothing shapeless and outsized. The landscape behind them is blasted and twisted and smoking, and there are signs of a building foundation and scattered pieces of the building lying about. The card is upright to you. "These were some of the para orphans the Allies found in hiding after the Liberation of Paris. Not all of the children in this group were para, you understand, but many of them were, and were able to use their powers to keep the group safe and fed, after a fashion. Still, most of them were sick and undernourished, some injured." Madame strokes the card gently. "In this deck, they stand for the five of pentacles, the card of misery. And here they are, in your emotions. I think all this conflict, for all your good energy--" she touches the Queen of Wands "--and your ability to direct your will--" she touches the Chariot "--is wearing on you emotionally. Which is understandable."

She deals the ninth card above the five of pentacles. This card shows a bearded man lying, apparently asleep, on a stone slab elevated by four swords at the corners. He is wearing Roman-style armor, and a matching helmet lies on the floor next to the slab. The card is upright to you. "This card shows the Sleeping Hero," Madame says. "He was found by a curious young man during the Blitz, lying on his slab in a sub-basement of a church in London. The finder managed to wake the hero, who sleepwalked out to do battle with the Nazis, then returned to his bed. No matter how much damage he took in battle, as long as his young man got him back to his slab, he was healed. In this deck, the Sleeping Hero stands for... er, represents the four of swords, the card of rest and contemplation and preparation. This is in your hopes and fears -- hopes predominating, I'm thinking."

The tenth card, placed above the four of swords, depicts a man in tight-fitting green clothing, standing with drawn bow on a dark rooftop. "This is the original Green Hood," she says with a small grimace. "He was a non-para vigilante who happened to be a good shot with a bow and arrows. He was also a millionaire, and was able to hire a mad scientist -- who had been 4-F and unable to get into the armed forces -- to make gimmicks for his arrows that would actually work. While he said he was the protector of the downtrodden, et cetera et cetera, he actually limited his activities to the wealthiest parts of Wonder City, where he defended rich people's homes from thieves, often wounding the would-be thieves badly in the process. In this deck, he represents the four of pentacles, the miser, the control freak, the person who benefits from the status quo."

Madame gestures to encompass all the cards. "What I'm seeing here is that you're dealing with a lot of conflict from problematic men or masculine entities -- such as the government or a university or a corporation -- and poor communication is making it all worse--" she taps the King of Wands, the King of Cups, and the Ace of Swords "--and that you have not only stepped outside for better perspective--" she touches the Hermit "--but you are entirely capable of seeing through the, er, as my apprentice would say, seeing through the bullshit--" she picks up the Moon and shakes it once "-- and then taking hold of the reins of the situation and steering it to your own ends--" she indicates both the Queen of Wands and the Chariot. "You're feeling worn down, though you may not be letting yourself feel it--" she taps the five of pentacles "--and hoping for some rest--" she touches the four of swords "--so I think you should consider giving yourself a little down-time and take care of yourself. I also think that the four of pentacles here, in the outcome, the card is a warning for you to not pull into yourself and hoard your resources too much as a reaction to the situation. Or as a habit. Yes, that's it, don't let it become a habit, though you may need to marshal your energies now." She folds her hands and smiles. "I hope that helps, dear."









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