Canada’s East Coast is far more mystical than most imagine, at least according to New Brunswick-born RM Vaughan. “I come from a place where people talk about ghosts and visions the same way people in Ontario talk about gas prices and traffic; it’s just part of our daily discussion,” Vaughan says. “I started doing [tarot] readings at about age 13. It was a way for me to negotiate the world as a queer person living in a very small and somewhat backward place.”
The author and multi-media artist’s fascination continued into adulthood. His first two novels featured the occult, and he’s done occult-based performances at such events as Nuit Blanche and Pride Toronto. Now he wants to decide once and for all whether he has real psychic ability.
To assess his aptitude, he’s conducting three evenings of experimentally structured tarot card readings. “This performance is structured as test,” Vaughan says. “It’s designed to, as much as possible, negate the factors that are traditionally used to dismiss psychic readings.” For instance, people might think that because Vaughan is asking them questions during a reading, he must be monitoring their responses and basing his reading on their facial gestures rather than on the cards. To address this concern, at Super-Diviner, Vaughan will be unable to ask any questions.
In addition, participants will neither see nor communicate with Vaughan. They will simply pick their cards, pass them to him through a drawer, and he will give his pronouncements before returning the cards via the same mechanism. When exiting, participants will be invited to share their feedback on paper or with the docent, Keith Cole.
Super-Diviner is the first in a three-part project called Entreat. The structure and aim of the project as a whole will develop based on information gathered during the first two parts. Cryptically, Vaughan says he expects the project’s overall result to be something “both personal and larger.”