Question 1: What caused Brandon Swanson to vanish?
Queen of Swords – 9 of pentacles – Star (reversed)
Card pulled of the Queen of Swords: Page of Wands (reversed)
9 of Cups (reversed) – Knight of Wands (reversed) – Page of Cups (reversed)
Card pulled for the Knight of Wands (r): 3 of Swords
Card pulled for the Page of Cups (r): 5 of Wands (reversed)
2 of Swords – 8 of Cups reversed – Knight of Swords
Card pulled for the Knight of Swords: King of Swords reversed
Card pulled for the King of Swords reversed: The Sun
Disclaimer: Tarot readings should not be taken as absolute claims that something did or did not happen. I only report the meaning of the cards, their relationships and the meaning in the context of those relationships, as well as intuitions I have based entirely on the cards presented in the reading. When/if I say that something happened, in any part of a reading description, I mean that is what I am interpreting from the cards, their positions, and other related factors.
On May 13th of 2008, Brandon Swanson attended a party to celebrate the end of the spring school semester at the Minnesota West Community and Technical College Canby campus. He was 19 years old. Reportedly he had some alcohol, but based on what I read about this case, it does not sound that he had enough to be extremely impaired. A little after midnight, on the 14th, Brandon was on his way home when he drove his car into a ditch. He had taken back roads (or service roads) instead of the main ones. He reportedly couldn’t get the vehicle out of the ditch, despite there not being much – if any – damage to the car.
Brandon contacted his parents and told them he believed he was near a town called Lynd. His parents headed out to look for Brandon so they could help him get home. However, they searched for him, where he told them he thought he was, to no avail. Brandon and his parents tried flashing their lights to see if they could spot each other but it became increasingly apparent that Brandon must have been mistaken about his location. A later investigation would reveal that he was about 25 miles away from where he thought he was. It appears that he got turned around while driving the back roads and the darkness probably exacerbated that problem.
Brandon eventually grew frustrated with waiting for his parents to find him and so he told them he was going to try to walk to town. He said he could see the lights off in the distance. Brandon walked for almost an hour, while talking to his father on the phone, before he said, “oh shit!” No further words were heard and when his parents hung up and called him back, he never answered his phone again. His father thought he heard something that sounded like Brandon’s shoe slipping when he made his last exclamation.
Brandon’s parents initially found it difficult to get the police to assist them in searching for their son. At first, an officer reportedly told them that it was Brandon’s right, as an adult, to go missing if he chose to do that. Brandon’s parents would eventually go on to lobby for new legislation that would change wording concerning missing children to missing persons so that police would take reports of missing adults more seriously. A problem, back then, pertained to concerns about privacy issues and when it was considered acceptable to investigate cell phone pings to try to track a person’s location.
Brandon remains missing to this day. Though it sounds as though the area where he disappeared has been searched more than once, I don’t know the extent or scope of those searches. At some point, a tracking dog seemed to pick up his scent in the direction of the Yellow Medicine River. The dog jumped into the water and then back out again on the other side. The river was searched, but to my knowledge, no other trace of Brandon or his phone has ever been found.
The first card is the Queen of Swords. This is a card that represents a person or energy that is mature and likely a female. After taking in all of the cards that displayed for this reading, I am seeing the Queen of Swords as representing Brandon’s mother. At the time of his disappearance – specifically, just before it happened and during – he was receiving input and suggestions from his mom. She comes across as someone that can balance the head and the heart so in a situation where she would have been advising Brandon about what to do, she would have come from a place of logic and reasoning. The card’s attributes suggest she would have been trying to gather information and trying to give him instructions on what to do.
The card pulled in relation to the Queen is the Page of Wands reversed. This suggests a younger energy or person. It comes across to me as representing Brandon and his mindset while speaking with his mom. He was getting frustrated over the course of their communications, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw one or more tantrums of sorts (not necessarily anything dramatic) because the card represents kind of a younger and less mature energy. In its reversed position it is lacking the positive attributes of the card, such as the ability to generate new ideas, a sense of happiness, etc. Brandon was frustrated and making quick decisions that probably weren’t coming across to his mom as being the best ones in that particular circumstance.
Keep in mind, his frustration appears to link directly to his situation. While reading about Brandon’s disappearance there was mention of him being in contact on an almost constant basis with his parents. They tried to locate him by going where he told them he was, but they were unable to find him. The reason for this ended up being that Brandon was not where he said he was. He was about 25 miles away – in a different direction. However, the reading as a whole does not show an intention to mislead. Instead, the cards are communicating to me that he was genuinely confused about his whereabouts and his frustration was mounting as he became increasingly disoriented. Though Brandon had been drinking alcohol that night, his mindset is not coming across as someone intoxicated. His confusion probably came from being in a dark place, in an area he was not familiar with. I don’t know if he had his glasses with him or not, but if he didn’t then his vision might have been further impaired by this as well.
The Nine of Pentacles reversed gives off the impression that he was lacking in information to complete his journey home. He was missing a piece of the puzzle, which we now know pertained to his location. He became convinced he was in one location, but he was really in another.
Brandon’s frustration eventually turned to a sense of hopelessness and fear that he might not be able to find his way home. The Star reversed shows him as someone that felt at odds with everything at the time. This was not Brandon’s usual mindset, but I would compare his feelings to someone who kind of feels like the forces of the universe are conspiring or working against them – despite all the effort they put into resolving a problem or situation.
The Nine of Cups reversed tells us that Brandon was not in a great place emotionally. The Knight of Wands reversed seems to show the progression of Brandon’s emotional state. He came to a point where he was thinking more clearly since time had gone by and the seriousness of his situation was becoming more apparent to him. He really wasn’t sure what to do and he didn’t even feel as though he had many options.
The Three of Swords, in connection to the Knight card, denotes separation and loss. It is likely this card refers to the point in which his connection to his parents was severed. When he was speaking with his father, his last words were “oh shit!” and then he thought he heard a slipping sound. Intuitively, I am linking this card with an event that cut off his ability to communicate – literally. I can only speculate about what happened, but I don’t see this as the moment that Brandon himself had an accident because I arrange my readings in such a way that they tell me the story of what happened. We are only a little beyond the halfway point. Maybe he dropped his phone into the river and tried to retrieve it. That’s a possibility given that a tracking dog briefly jumped into the river.
Whatever happened probably really jolted him. The cards indicate that he felt alone and afraid. Having the phone connection with his parents was comforting because he hoped he would reach some kind of landmark at some point that would finally give away his location. At this point, even if he reached a landmark, he did not have his parents to relay that information to and he realized it might not help him.
The Page of Cups reversed is an energy or person that is feeling emotionally vulnerable and insecure. Though I can’t be sure, the energy seems to represent Brandon’s regression back into a negative or despondent mindset – something that is understandable given the dire nature of his circumstances. He knew he was in danger, and he didn’t know how to cope with that. He was probably looking for an avenue of escape his immediate circumstances – possibly somewhere to rest and get warm while he waited for the sun to come out.
The Five of Wands reversed was pulled in relation to the Page of Cups reversed. It is somewhat confusing to me because it shows someone who wants to avoid conflict and get away from a situation quickly. I honestly don’t know what to make of this. Did he come across a house or barn or something to hide in, only to be discovered – or close to being discovered? An interesting energy I am picking up on here is an intensified sense of fear. It is almost as if Brandon would have been reluctant to reach out to a stranger for help – even if he knew one was present in the area. He already felt that everything was going against him so there could could have been this additional sense of distrust and paranoia. Also, my intuition is picking up on Brandon also worrying that someone would mistake his intentions. Basically, if this is accurate then it means he thought someone else might think he was an intruder and was trespassing for nefarious reasons. Which suggests the possibility that Brandon reached a point where there was a home, or multiple homes that were spread out.
The Two of Swords is a card that often depicts a person with their back to water. I don’t know if the cards are trying to clue me in on Brandon’s literal location or if they are depicting something he was going through. The Two of Swords is a card where the person depicted is in a situation where they feel they are only presented with difficult choices. It also denotes a sense of not being able to see what is happening (or being in denial) – which could apply figuratively and literally to Brandon. I feel like the imagery in the cards is being used to communicate information about what happened to him and where.
The Eight of Cups reversed is a reading can refer to someone that is choosing to remain in a bad situation. Intuitively, I am seeing Brandon as having chosen a location to wait in because he was tired, cold, and his visibility was extremely limited. He could have been afraid to keep going because he felt like his situation could get worse than it already was. And indeed that was a distinct possibility.
The Knight of Swords reversed is an odd card to suddenly come up toward the end and yet it did. It represents a person or energy that is scattered and devoid of logic. In extreme cases, it depicts behavior or thinking patterns that are aggressive and vicious at times. I don’t know Brandon enough to know if he was ever known to fall into such a mindset when feeling desperate and so I cannot figure out for sure whose energy the card is conveying. You wouldn’t want to run into someone like this under circumstances where they might become defensive or suspicious of your motives. That’s the feeling I get here. The energy does not feel like it is associated with Brandon at all which makes it more confusing.
I pulled the King of Swords reversed as a card associated with the Knight. This particular King card, reversed, does not depict positive energy at all. It’s worse than that associated with the Knight and it reflects a more mature energy/person in terms of age or mentality. Did something happen where Brandon encountered someone (two people even?), and an argument or disagreement ensued that ended badly? I just don’t understand why the reading is showing me this kind of energy right at the story’s apparent conclusion. If he died from the elements, or fell into a well or something like that, I wouldn’t expect to see court cards like this. I am stumped on this. The cards seem to be suggesting that at least two other people came in contact with him, and it was not under good circumstances.
I pulled the Sun as the final card. The Sun is telling me intuitively that someday it will become known where Brandon is located. The sun will shine a light on what happened. However, I don’t know if we will ever find out the whole story. If I were to search for Brandon’s location, I would look for homes that are near water. I remember reading there was a river or something along those lines in the area. Like I said before, I think he may have dropped his phone in the water which could account for him losing the ability to speak with his parents; however, I have no way to know this for certain. It could explain why one or more tracking dogs went into the river and then jumped out but the reading is not especially clear on these points.
I keep thinking back to the Two of Swords reversed and the image portrayed on that card – of a man with his back to water. A kind of weird aside to all of this is that I tried to do this reading with a different deck of cards. I used a deck that does not have much in the way of pictures or images. I wanted to use a deck that I hadn’t used for these readings yet, but I kept getting these visual pictures in my mind of the deck I ultimately used. I already had the other cards out and so I moved forward with trying to do the reading with those. I laid out the cards from the other deck and they made absolutely no sense. I kept picturing the deck that was in my mind before I started the reading, and I finally gave in and used the deck you see in the above picture. At first, I couldn’t figure out why it would even matter which deck I used. But when I saw the two of swords and the image portrayed on that particular card, it struck me that this deck had the potential to provide more information or clues in the way of visuals and symbolism than the other one did. Maybe that’s why I kept seeing it in my mind prior to the reading. In the future, I will be more mindful of these things since it does somehow seem to matter.
So it probably wouldn’t hurt for someone close to this case – with more information than I have -to take a look at the cards and see if anything stands out that I missed. I do feel there are clues there that I am missing or that someone with more knowledge about what happened (and the general area) else might pick up on.
The Sun’s presence at the end of this reading does communicate a conclusion where the truth will become known – or enough of the truth to finally get a better idea of what happened here. I wish that I could say the cards hint at Brandon having survived whatever happened, but I honestly don’t feel that is a likely scenario here.
I want to add something that the cards did not communicate directly, but that came to me many times throughout this reading. Brandon’s mom is coming across to me as someone with strong intuitions. If Brandon were to try to communicate with someone about what happened to him – beyond the grave even – I feel that he would go to her because she is being shown to me (I don’t know how else to even explain this) as someone receptive to those channels. I’m not saying she is psychic (she might be though!); I am just explaining that I see a connection between her and Brandon that was – and is – solid and spiritual in nature. She knows, without actually knowing, things that most people don’t about what happened. No, the family is not involved, and they did not do anything to cause Brandon harm. Everything they have said about trying to help him comes across as true when compared against this reading. They are devastated by what happened and want answers. I hope for their sake that those answers come but it could take a long time. The reading gave no timeframe on this.
I have no way to know what happened for certain. Please do not take any of the information described in the readings as fact until or unless details are proven. I would love to see a positive outcome here.
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