Who is the Mysterious “Lainey” from The Playing Card Oracles?

“Crow Dance” – an excerpt from the upcoming new book by Ana Cortez, “Oracle Alchemy.”


“After high school graduation, I decided it was time to blow out of Nebraska and road trip to my dad’s before heading off to college later that Fall.

I remember waiting in the living room of Dad’s new place for him to arrive. It was sunny in Denver, and the porch door was open. I sat at the heavy black table, glancing from time to time to the street outside.

The house was populated with the usual, far out antiques. Like who could ever forget the glass table with the life sized black man crouching beneath it?

Ghoulish and imposing portraits hung at intervals around the room – excerpts from “the paintings” my dad had completed shortly before. The lavishly adorned “Lords” and “Ladies” looked like something out of Dracula’s family tree. Was there a secret family history, I wondered?

But nothing in that old Victorian Brownstone was quite as strange as the woman who was waiting there with me.

This was Dad’s latest acquisition, I thought, a woman I would eventually come to know as “Lainey.” We didn’t exchange any words, but Lainey was dancing, if you could call it that, in a world all her own. Looking back, I think she was nervous, me showing up unexpected and all.


Any time i see crows now, I am reminded of Lainey. Not only was she crow like in many ways, but she was the one who got me looking at the Spades in playing cards as little crow silhouettes. Lainey was the first to take my dad’s images and use them to read cards. She would talk often about crows in her readings, as if people could possibly understand what she was carrying on about. Crows were thieves. They were survivors, and they had knowing, like Lainey.

I’ll never forget Nina Hagen’s “Nunsexmonkrock” blasting otherworldly cacophony out of Dad’s monolithic sound system, and Lainey, flapping her arms and strutting around as if possessed, making strange, bird like noises. I remember thinking she looked like a crow from another planet, her black hair and black eyes accentuating the whole vision.

Lainey was beautiful and exotic, with warm colored skin and cat like eyes that curled into gentle points at the edges. Maybe it was a cat and a bird trying to live in the same body that created the whole problem with Lainey in the first place.

What did I learn from this experience, I am asking myself now that I am putting all this on paper? Well, again, I learned A) Don’t be judgmental of others and be open to life’s experiences, but also B) It’s okay to dance like nobody’s watching, but maybe save it for when nobody actually is watching, or you could wind up in the looney bin.*

*Lainey actually did spend some time in a sanitarium.

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