One day in December 2007, when it was clear that either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama was going to get the nomination as Democratic candidate for president, I chose a card to see who would win. It made sense to ask about something specific whose outcome would be known, so we could follow the unfolding of the event.
If the answer had been a King or The Emperor or some obviously male card, then it would have been Obama who would win; a King reversed, however, would have indicated Clinton as winner.
If the card chosen had been a Queen or The Empress or some obviously female card, on the other hand, then Clinton would have been chosen; a female card if reversed, however, would have shown that she would lose.
In the event, the card I picked at ransom was the 6 of Swords, reversed. What can it mean? There is no clear and immediate answer, I think, so we need to look at the card and see what we can deduce or puzzle out.
First, we are not being given a quick and easy answer. We see both a man and a woman in the picture; and it's reversed.
If it had been upright, we would see the man doing the work, so to speak, and making the boat move, so we could say that Obama would be in the stronger position, or in some way running the show. But the card is reversed, so he isn't.
The card might have been an indication that it was too soon to say who would win. With some questions, the situation still has to develop and we can't as readily know in advance how it will turn out.
Or perhaps, being reversed, the card is telling us that the nomination is there to be lost, rather than won. Both Obama and Clinton were in a position to win in late December when I chose the card, What might be more important, however, was: What would they do that would cause them to lose ground in the race?
We could look at the number of the card - it's a 6, and is ruled by Venus, the goddess of love and harmony. So Venus, reversed, looks to be putting Clinton in a weaker position; and she's in the boat being transported. The woman in the card is passive, though we'd probably look for a winning candidate to be active — as well as looking like she can do what she says she can do.
The picture might also be showing us how to proceed, so if we were advising either candidate, what could we say?
The picture shows someone helping a mother and child to go from point A to point B. It probably shows working on behalf of others; or helping those in need; or bringing about new and - we would hope - improved conditions.
These could be the ideas that both candidates have to get across to voters — that they will help and work on behalf of those who need it. They don't have to prove or promise that they can run the armed forces, or stand up for the US in world conflicts, or set up missile defence systems. They have to show they are not extremists, but diplomats.
Will the winner be the one who can present himself or herself more believably as a worker on behalf of others, as someone who will take care of those in need?
These were all random thoughts, however, but we want to know who will win the nomination.
The picture shows a man, woman, and child, and that is Hillary rather than Obama. Even though Barack has children, they are not really people in their own right in the public's mind, or at least not yet. His daughters do not have the profile that Chelsea Clinton has.
The card is reversed. Hillary will not win. Obama will.
I read in a Vanity Fair magazine article some time later, after Obama won the nomination, that Bill Clinton's behaviour and comments had badly damaged Hillary's campaign in Carolina at a crucial early stage of the process. Had it not been for Bill (the boatman), Hillary could well have won.