After weeks, nay months, of anticipation, the night of the first Republican presidential debate has finally arrived. Ten candidates made the final cut, and Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and John Kasich will be sharing a stage Thursday night at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
But instead of playing basketball, these 10 men will be playing the game of distinguishing themselves and their policy positions in five minute bursts that will likely feature a lot of interruptions from other candidates.
In advance of the debate, some people have compiled questions they'd like to see the candidates answer. Others have speculated about who will perform well and who will cave under pressure.
I opted to reach out to my friend Emily Hexe, an intuitive tarot reader currently living in Vermont, to give a reading to each of the men participating tonight.
Emily used a Rider-Waite deck and, in order to read them, channeled the candidates as emotional—rather than political—creatures. She drew three cards for each: one symbolizing their past, the next symbolizing their present, and the last symbolizing their future. She often used "this person" to describe the candidate being read. (And for those interested in rankings: Emily said that, of all of the men she read, John Kasich's present card—the Star—bodes the best for his debate performance.)
Below is a transcript of the reading.
Past: Six of Wands (upright): The minor arcana is broken up into four suits, and the wand represents the self. In this card, it's a very victorious card. To speak about Donald's past, he's been a leader and a champion and the victorious one people will follow. There's an energy bringing him out and up. He's the leader. He's the guy. He's Donald Fucking Trump.
Present: Seven of Pentacles (reversed): The pentacles represent money, wealth, abundance, beauty—all the things you find valuable to yourself. This person in the upright position is looking upon all of this hard work that they've done and they're really disappointed. They've worked really hard and it hasn't come to fruition in a way they imagined it would. But in reversal, it means there is something obscured around this person's hard work and its value to this person. It's veiled to them.
Future: Six of swords (upright): Again, it's a leading card. The water in this card is representative of tumultuous emotional, negative vibes. And this person is leading people into still water—into calmness.
Past: King of cups (reversed): Cups represent emotions, relationships, creativity. In the upright position the King of Cups is really detached from his emotions. He's just staring straight ahead, he's not in touch at all. But in the reversal, there's a relief. He was able to move through his inability to connect with his emotions and now is perhaps more able to be in touch with his sensitive side.
Present: The Devil (reversed): The thing about the Devil is that there are these two people changed under the feet of this Satanic beast. And while they're chained, their hands are free. So they could really free themselves at any time, but they make this choice to be in a really unhealthy dynamic. In the reversal, I would say it's a lack of awareness that this dynamic even exists or it's somehow fulfilling a need for him so he keeps it suppressed. He isn't being forthright about whatever this relationship means to him in his life.
Future: Knight of Cups (upright): All the different knights—there's one for each minor arcana—they all have different relationships with their horses. With the Knight of Cups, there is a respectful, symbiotic relationship. His body language is very upright and the horse is almost in a bow as though there is someone waiting on the other side of the card to receive this cup from this person. This person is grounded and ready to present themselves in a respectful way to whoever is on the other side.
Past: King of Wands (upright): The wand represents the self, and the King of Wands knows himself very well. You go through this whole journey with the minor arcana when you line them up, and the end of the journey, to be the queen or the king, is to be very self-possessed. To be the King of Wands is to be the masculine aspect of self-knowing in this very outward way. He's not scary. He's not a scary ruler. People respect him.
Present: 10 of Wands (upright): This person is completely burdened by the needs of others. All of these wands that he's holding are representative of other people, and he's breaking his back trying to carry the weight.
Future: The Chariot (upright): The Chariot is all about action and movement and driving forward. It's about making a choice and just going—it's movement. A powerful, forceful trajectory.
Past: Queen of Swords (upright): Swords are about truth, knowledge, and intellect. They can be a cutting truth, almost something you don't want to hear. So with the Queen of Swords, she's sitting by herself, summoning out with one hand with this sword—this powerful truth—in her hand. It's like she's preparing to receive something. I see something lacking maternally here, though. It could mean he is lacking it himself, or that was something lacking for him.
Present: Two of Swords (reversed): Think again about holding on to truths and knowledge that might be painful. In the upright position, this woman has blindfolded herself and is using that knowledge as a shield against what she doesn't want to see and hear. But in the reversal, it's like the swords are falling from her hands. It's like she's letting go of what she thought she needed protection from.
Future: Five of Cups (reversed): It's a sad card. This person is grieving and there are these cups spilled out on the ground before them, but behind them, there are these upright cups that are full. So if they were to turn around to look at what they still have and not be so focused on what they've lost then they wouldn't be so sad. But in the reversal, there's nothing. There's just grief, it's total. This card can be a message of opportunity, but in reversal it's lost. I don't see this as being very good.
Past: Judgment (upright): The concept of judgment is so straightforward, but it's hard to illustrate the nuance that this card depicts. There are all of these dead bodies rising out of coffins, basking in the song of this angel. Ben Carson has come to a place where he worked through judgment. He was judged, I don't know how else to say it. It wasn't a bad thing, necessarily. He was just in a place where he worked through what was difficult about that judgment and turned it into a gift, like a teaching.
Present: Knight of Wands (upright): This is a hilarious knight card. The rider is freaking out. He's not on top of it, and isn't handling himself very well. There's hesitancy and a lack of confidence, and the horse is rearing to try to get him to move and go. This card, in the present, denotes a real lack of confidence.
Future: Death (upright): The Death card is synonymous with rebirth. It's a new beginning, letting go of the past: old habits, old friends, anything that doesn't serve you. It's moving victoriously into a new, unchartered path with yourself. But it's also death. There's a chapter that's going to close. There's another chapter after that chapter, but this chapter is closing.
Past: Moon (reversed): The Moon is very much connected to the divine feminine, so in the reversal he's not tapping into that at all. I don't like seeing the Moon in reversal. It's one of my favorite cards in the deck. Upright, it's so good. It's a whole energetic thing that the moon is doing: it's in charge of the tides, dogs howl at it, even the tallest buildings can't touch it. But in reversal, it's like being out of touch with all of that. Being out of communication with nature or the tides of your emotions. There's something disconcerting about it.
Present: Two of Swords (upright): This card is about self-protection from what you don't want to hurt you—things you don't want to hear or acknowledge. I wonder what it is he's afraid will hurt him.
Future: Three of Cups (upright): This is a very feminine, celebratory, autumnal harvest. There is celebration in Ted Cruz's future.
Past: The Empress (upright): The Empress is all about the divine feminine energy, the sun side. The sister card—the High Priestess—is kind of the darker side, more esoteric and about intuition and intellect. The Empress is all about nurturing and earthiness, about giving. She's in a throne in the middle of the woods, there is a crown of golden stars around her. The feminine symbol is resting at her feet. It's a very nurturing, mama vibe card.
Present: Five of Wands (reversed): In the upright position this card is really about all of these people fighting, just clashing wands, and the wands represent themselves. It's a very masculine, phallic fight. But in the reversal, it's being the bigger person. Releasing. Not engaging in whatever this foul play is.
Future: Four of Wands (upright): There's again this celebration, but it's more about an arrival. He's about to arrive at the place he's been journeying to get to.
Past: The Tower (upright): This isn't good. People are jumping out of the building and lightening is striking the top of the building. It's all a hierarchical structure that isn't good. This person is coming out of the breakdown of all that. I see this card a lot when people are going through a breakup or moving. The structure is going to completely change. There was a difficult transition in the past.
Present: Queen of Wands (upright): Similar to the King of Wands, the Queen of Wands is very possessed. Very calm, collected. She's respected. People will come to her for advice, but it's not a nurturing thing. This person has a cold side, but is a well-tempered person.
Future: Knight of Pentacles (upright): With the pentacles representing wealth, this person has decided to give a gift to someone. He has learned what is valuable to him, and wants to give that gift to others because he values it so much.
Past: Queen of Cups (upright): This is kind of the ultimate mother card. The throne she's sitting on is adorned with children. And her cup is the most beautiful in the deck. She's fixated on the cup because she's so proud of it—her little bejeweled baby. This person has worked very hard to create what, in their mind, is the ideal of something. And they are very pleased with the outcome.
Present: The Hanged Man (upright): The Hanged Man is all about shifting your perspective and the knowledge you receive by flipping the way you see things. He's illuminated. He sees the world differently than other people see it, which is why he has this golden, almost halo-like color around his head. It's also a card that people who are overcoming something—becoming healthier or releasing trauma—can play into this card. In the present, the Hanged Man sees the world in a different way, and he's almost ostracized because of that, though that may be taking it too far.
Future: Justice (upright): Justice is all about a decision that needs to be made. It's right or wrong, this or that—very black or white. It pertains to the law and justice being served. It does surround a decision, there is something that has to come into justice for Chris Christie, or he could have justice done to him.
Past: Page of Swords (upright): Whenever I pull a page—the messengers of the tarot—I pull another card to see what the message is. This will be a four card reading, but the first two will go together. So his second card is the Fool. The Page of Swords pertains to knowledge and truth, but then pulling the Fool—who is about to jump off the cliff because he's trusting the universe to bring him wherever. The Fool is very fancy free, he's a beginner. The Fool's journey through the major arcana tells the story of the tarot. That's the past for John Kasich.
Present: The Star (upright): This person is tempering different pools of emotion. They are tending very carefully to what's in front of them in order to be really well-received and shine the brightest that they can shine. There is also a devotion here. This person is kneeling at this pool and pouring water from these streams back and forth into this pool. She's being attentive and nurturing to what's in front of her, and that's what is putting her in the spotlight.
Future: Knight of Swords (upright): This person is really gun hoe, really hasty with decisions and needs to stop, or slow down at least. The horse here is trying to stop the rider from charging ahead so recklessly.