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  • Writer's pictureJeida K.

A Tarot Reflection for Ciel from The Women of Brewster Place

I'm currently reading The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor. I'm more than halfway through, but I had to put the book down this afternoon after reading Lucielia (Ciel) Turner's chapter. I had to go lay down, chile. WHEW! What an emotional, heartbreaking, and healing ride that was!

I thought it might be fun to pull some tarot cards to highlight some themes and glean lessons from Ciel's life. I'll try not to spoil Ciel's story too badly, but I'll still add a light spoiler alert here! Proceed with care.

Now, let's get into these cards for Ciel!

Lynn Whitfield as Ciel in The Women of Brewster Place (1989)


Five of Swords, Two of Swords, and The Tower from the Tazama African tarot deck lay on a white surface.

Five of Swords + Two of Swords, card on the bottom of the deck being The Tower.

Ciel finds herself in constant conflict with her emotionally unavailable, verbally abusive, and irresponsible partner. Eugene. Even when he goes missing for extended periods of time, Ciel is at the mercy of her affection and desire for Eugene to be the family man she and Serena, their toddler daughter, deserve. No matter how many times he leaves, she welcomes him back, often conflicted about the joy she feels when he returns. Perhaps to her, hearing that key in the door makes her feel chosen, like he's finally chosen their family over his own selfishness... yet something inside of her--her intuition--says otherwise.

The Two of Swords speaks about choice, more specifically, indecision. In Ciel's life, she takes a bystander approach, allowing Eugene to blow in and out of their home whenever he pleases and the choices she makes are in direct connection to what she believes will be most pleasing to and convenient for Eugene. She is aware that a happy family is what she desires but she isn't tuned into what her own intuition (and sound counsel from her neighbor, Mattie) reveals about Gene's ability to show up. It is actually the tumultuousness of her relationship that keeps her from experiencing true peace and harmony. She's unwilling to admit that Eugene being home is the source of strife and conflict. And, much like the Five of Swords, she faces impossible fights where no one really comes out the winner because even the last man standing doesn't have much to show for their "victory."

And, so, what do we do when our greatest desire is also the cause of our discontent? When what we think is the obvious path to our goal is actually the main opponent or obstacle. The tectonic plates underneath our semblance of happiness begin to create enough friction to shake the foundations. The damage that occurs can be minimal or it can be massive. In Ciel's life, her Tower moment is devastating. But without the Tower moment of our lives, we would continue believing that a piece of happiness is better than engaging the soul work it takes to embrace the fullness of joy we deserve. The Tower doesn't come to punish; the Tower comes without judgement to expose points of weakness in our foundations, self-limiting thoughts and beliefs, unhealthy relationships. Unfortunately, sometimes there are casualties as a result of the wreckage. But, we know that after The Tower comes The Star. Healing, restoration, renewal.

And we see this healing displayed beautifully in Ciel's life as well. In possibly one of the most gorgeous scenes I've ever read in my life, Mattie takes Ciel on a healing journey and brings her home to herself again. Healing does come and it lavishes its love and care through the hands of a praying Black woman.


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