Lost and Found; what the cards said


I lost my iPhone this week. It then found its way back to me in an astonishing stroke of luck, though that didn’t prevent me from suffering 12 hours of acute anguish while the drama unfolded, during which time I sought the cards for some sort of pointer or consolation, anything that might help or distract me. I received some very interesting results from the cards, which only became apparent with hindsight. It all started when I decided to call in at a shopping mall after work to do some errands. I was using my phone as I entered the mall so during the convulsions of my later panic I couldn’t even delude myself into thinking “oh well, maybe I left it on my desk at work”. The phone entered the mall with me. I bought a few things – some candles, coffee – then had something to eat. I was just going into a bookshop when I had that sudden urge to pat my pockets and check my phone. It wasn’t there. I dug deep into my bag. No, it wasn’t there. Then priding myself on my clear-thinking and resolve  (though with panic rising like bile) I strode into the nearest shop and calmly asked them to telephone my number, poised ready to hear my phone ringing from the depths of my bag and – oh how we would laugh, the unknown shop assistant and I – except that it didn’t ring in my bag. The girl looked at me, saying “it’s ringing but nobody’s answering.” I saw the expression on her face sort of sink when I said “it’s an iPhone. I have had it less than a month.” She made a rather stoical gesture which I took to mean prepare yourself for the worst. I then retraced my steps and went back into all the shops I’d visited asking the assistants to ring my number. After I while I stopped saying it was my iPhone because I couldn’t deal with the expressions of hopelessness on their faces. I went back to the restaurant where I’d had dinner, the café where I’d had a coffee, everybody was very obliging but it was bad news at very turn.

Eventually I went to the information desk to ask whether anyone had turned it in, highly unlikely given the circumstances, but I had to keep my spirits up. They gave me a contact number to call the next day and then after a critical twenty minutes had passed,  I concluded – depleted, hot and dishevelled – that it was time to go home, face the truth and deal with the cancellation of the phone line and get myself sorted out with a new card and new phone. I caught the subway home, thinking of all those lost contact numbers in my address book, the complications this would entail, the fact that I have had cheap mobile phones for years and never lost or misplaced one, yet within a month of getting an iPhone and loving it, I lose it. I’m so new to this I hadn’t even heard of the “find my phone” facility until the day after when everyone told me I needed to download it. I cannot begin to describe how angry I was with myself. Once home, I called the phone company and set about suspending the phone-line so nobody could make long distance calls in my name. I was just about to go to bed exhausted when I decided to play with my cards to try and switch off. I grabbed a deck I don’t even like (the Llewellyn Steampunk Tarot), shuffled frenetically, shuffling my anger out – it wouldn’t matter if cards bent –  and laid out three cards and got a very interesting combination. The spread was what I call a “snapshot” spread. Three cards to tell me about a situation. I read them in a line, all three telling a narrative. I like these kinds of spreads. I also call it my “speak to me ” spread. No positions, just a message. What can you tell me? I got the following three cards The Magician, the Queen of Swords and King of Cups.


As soon as I saw this I wondered whether the Magician should have been reversed. I sometimes use reversals but in this case didn’t. I still think it should have been reversed. Or at least instinct should tell me to read this card with a negative meaning. Remember “sleight of hand”, that older meaning for the Magician, which so few people use nowadays? Perhaps sleight of hand reversed, a slip of the hand, misplacement. I certainly saw that the cards were saying that the phone had been misplaced not stolen, since I had been wondering whether maybe someone had managed to put their hand into my bag and steal it. I read these cards as misplacement, misfocused thought, i.e not putting something back where it should be. A woman found it. The Queen of Swords (calculating? Self-seeking? I remembered a meaning I’d read in Anthony Louis’ book; Queen of Swords as “a right bitch”) then gave it to the sensitive, feeling man in her life. The gesture in the Queen of Swords card of giving, seemed exceptionally vivid to me. See how she seems – at first glance –  to be handing something beyond the confines of the card, in the direction of the man and how contented he seems, how smug. And how her gesture echoes the gesture of the Magician offering his cup. Something in that. This was how I read the cards before going to bed, even though if you look closely it seems somebody is simply taking her hand as if leading her to dance. But in a flash I read it differently. A woman found it and gave it to her boyfriend. Perhaps.

I didn’t sleep that night. Anger kept me awake. Anger at my own distractedness and sheer bad luck. I kept replaying the moment when it slipped beyond my fingers, wondering how I didn’t notice. Did it fall onto the hard floor? Why didn’t I hear anything? Cosy and forlorn in its little leather pouch, left behind, me whistling unawares. How brief its time with me was. My mind went round and round in hamster wheel torment, though I tried to force myself to let go. In the morning I dug out an old mobile phone from the back of the wardrobe and set about getting it up and running. How clunky and awkward it felt after the smoothness of my iPhone. Then my home phone rang during breakfast. I answered it and heard my father’s voice, “have you lost your phone?” He then went on to tell me that he had just received a phonecall from a policeman. The information desk at the shopping mall had handed in the previous day’s lost and found flotsam at the police station and my phone was among the assorted bits and bobs. I could go along and pick it up. I couldn’t believe it. I raced over there and spoke to the very policeman who had called my father. I asked him if he knew who had handed it in, but he didn’t know. He had been given a bag with various lost items from the day before and he was sifting through it when he came across my phone, went through the numbers and when he came across the contact for “Dad”, decided to call that number. I was ecstatic. Disproportionately ecstatic (just as I had been disproportionately despondent a few hours before) because I know we are not supposed to be so attached to items but I was reflecting on how this loss was going to complicate my life endlessly in terms of contacts, work and my own frustration at how I never seem to learn the lesson of being careful with things. The policeman was very kind to me, very chatty and warm-hearted. I’d taken along some Belgian chocolates to say thank you. Then on my way out of there, after shaking his hand firmly, I suddenly thought “yes, it’s him. He’s the King of Cups.”. I bet he was handed that phone by a woman. Not a right bitch as it happened. Far from it. And then the spread made sense in a different light. So often we need hindsight to see a reading correctly, to remind ourselves that – yes – the cards are right again.


About Le Fanu

Tarot collector in a far off land; loves ghost stories, magick, tarot, wistfulness, spookiness, Victorian spiritism, ectoplasm...
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15 Responses to Lost and Found; what the cards said

  1. Aj / Melia says:

    Glad you got your phone back! Why don’t you like the deck? It is one I’ve thought about adding to my own collection.

    • Le Fanu says:

      Thank you! Just not my style. Some cards are lovely, others less so. Plus the courts are heavily weighted towards the feminine and so feel less balanced. But with time I suspect I may learn to love it. I’ve read with it twice on this blog already which isn’t bad for a deck I profess not to like.

  2. Chiriku says:

    Great story. How unexpected that whomever (shop assistant or customer) found an expensive digital device would turn it in to Lost and Found instead of do exactly as you first suspected that Queen of Swords had done. Too bad you couldn’t find the real “queen” and give her chocolates, as well.

    I know all too well the feeling of reaching for something that’s always “been there” where you put it only to come up with the hollow, sinking feeling that it’s unaccountably gone. In the most acute example of this, it turned out to be a highly violating burglary but it has happened with mislaid things as well. Yes, I am attached to “things” and there’s no getting around it. No point in my insincerely claiming the more socially acceptable credos of zen anti-materialism and “larger perspectives.” And a lost phone with its lost memory card with its hundreds of contacts and its once-in-a lifetime photos you didn’t have time to transfer to your computer is a major loss.

    Your interpretation of the cards is amusing in how close to the bullseye yet colored with/skewed by high emotion (yours at the time of the reading) it seems. To my eyes, that Queen looks rather vacant, not smug at all–although vacant in the hollow-eyed stare sense of a soldier steeling themself for battle (she’s got a nice surprise for the hand-holder, in the form of the sword she has hidden at the ready). That card is interesting…makes me ever so slightly consider looking up more images of a deck I’d completely written off due to an unjust bias against “that whole Steampunk thing, whatever it is.”

    • Le Fanu says:

      Thank you. It surprises me that the few times I use this deck it gives good readings, though I have long been a believer that we don’t have to love a deck to get good readings from it. So often I am distracted by my own love of the decks I think I like, and yet the less well-liked ones come up trumps at the reading table. And yes, a lesson in how our emotions colour readings if we’re not careful, especially at such a highly charged time as this!

      • Chiriku says:

        “…and yet the less well-liked ones come up trumps at the reading table.”
        Now that you mention it, I think there’s something to that idea. I’m not inclined to test that theory with a truly odious deck (i.e. Tarot des Femmes), but I’ll bet it applies often to the decks that are just somewhat “off” or lackluster to us.

  3. sapienza says:

    What a beautifully written story, thank you for brightening my morning. I’m really sorry about your time of stress before you had the phone back and am very pleased it was returned to you. I just love that you wrote about this incident, possibly my favourite of your posts ever, and that’s saying something!

  4. Great essay! Glad you got your phone back – and kudos for the Queen of Swords!

  5. Alex says:

    What a curious definition for the Magician – I’ve never thought of it that way, but I shall certainly be keeping it in mind in future.

    Out of curiosity, which are your favourite decks to use?

    P.S. Very happy you got your phone back!

  6. winter says:

    Wonderful story…. and maybe a hint to back up your phone etc…. When things like this happen I often feel there is a message for us, in the event itself……. Thanks for sharing, and so eloquently as always.

  7. morganesky says:

    Thanks for such a fabulous blog! Long time reader, never commenter, but I had to pop in and mention that it was this post that inspired my purchase of the Steampunk, as I just loved the Queen and the King layout, so bizarre and very tarot.

  8. nice, the few cards in your story looked so enchanting, stunning shades of color. The Steampunk tarot, got to check that out… next time when you want to know something, do as I do, use the whole deck, with quiet calming music, gaze at the cards, one by one, over and over it you have to, This is magic, think of the power in using the knowledge of all the cards of the deck. Let them speak together for an answer.

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