Question 1: Who or what caused the death of Kendrick Johnson?
6 of Wands (reversed) – 5 of Wands (reversed) – The World (reversed)
2 of Cups – 4 of Wands (reversed) – 6 of Cups
The Tower – The Hanged Man (reversed) – The Moon
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.
Kendrick Johnson was 17 years old when he was found deceased inside of a rolled-up gym mat at his school in Valdosta, Georgia. He was on the basketball team at Lowndes High School. Investigators reportedly concluded that his death was an accident and that he had gotten stuck inside of the mat while trying to retrieve a shoe that was beneath it. The reason given was that the mat was included among others and would have been heavy or difficult to move. The mats were located in one of the school’s gymnasiums and it has been said that students sometimes sat on top of them while hanging out there.
Kendrick’s body was found the day after he is said to have died, though his exact time of death is not known for sure due in part to the way the investigation (or lack of it?) was handled. His cause of death was initially given as positional asphyxia because he was facing head down inside of the mat when he was found. The mat had been rolled up and placed upright against one of the walls in a corner area. A second and third autopsy determined his death was caused by blunt force trauma.
Surveillance inside the school showed Kendrick entering the gym, but do not show him exiting. A problem with the footage is that it did not appear to clearly record the section of the gym with the mats. Other people appeared to be in the gym at the time he entered, including some that were playing basketball. Kendrick’s family has long held the position that their son was murdered.
I want to begin by saying this is one of the clearest readings I have done on any of the cases I have read for thus far. The meaning of the cards jumped out at me and presented itself strongly.
The Six of Wands reversed puts Kendrick in a position where his skills and talents were not receiving the recognition they likely deserved. It was not that no one recognized they existed; they did. When this card is upright, it depicts someone receiving praise and recognition for their accomplishments. In the reversed position – in the context of this reading – it shows someone who should have been getting it but wasn’t.
The Five of Wands shows Kendrick as wanting to avoid the conflict that was surrounding his performance as a player, as well as other aspects of his life (which I will get into shortly). He wasn’t doing anything to try to stoke the fire so to speak. In his heart and mind, he preferred peace and harmony.
The World reversed is a card that shows emptiness and a lack of closure. It also emphasizes the first card that touched on Kendrick’s lack of praise or recognition. Whether he shared these thoughts or not, he was bothered by all of this, and it left him feeling as though something was missing in his life. He wanted to fix the situation but I’m getting the impression he was at a loss as to how. Realistically, these forces were beyond his immediate control – meaning he was not the cause of the problem and he was not in a position to fix it. The problem was with others around him.
The second row begins with the Two of Cups. I can already see something that was contributing to whatever conflict Kendrick was experiencing, and to the way events culminated. There was a person he felt connected to in a way that he hadn’t really experienced before. The feelings were mutual and the two people had a deep sense of respect for one another. There was genuine love and caring in this relationship. Typically this is a card depicting a close partnership or a romantic type of connection.
It seems there was an obstacle blocking the above relationship though. I hesitate to call it a relationship around the time of Kendrick’s death because it feels like a situation where the two still cared for one another, but something or someone was standing between them. I don’t know if there was a family member who disproved or a jealous ex on either end, but there was something that stood in the way of this relationship. It caused instability and left Kendrick feeling like he wasn’t – or couldn’t – get the support he needed from it. The cards read like it was an ex or significant other of one of these two people (Kendrick or the other person depicted here).
Kendrick was in a mindset where he thought about this relationship often. Not in an obsessive or unreasonable way mind you. He just found it comforting to think about it and he had hopes that it might somehow all work out. He also generally seemed to be going through a time of nostalgia, where he was remembering happy memories and enjoying the support of his family. The card is communicating that he felt comfortable in his home environment, or with his family. He liked things that were familiar to him and the people he cared about were extremely important to him. He had a maturity beyond his years in this way. He was loved by his family, and I have no doubt he knew this.
The third row begins with the Tower. Kendrick experienced a sudden and shocking event. Intuitively, I am seeing this as the moment he was attacked. I feel confident saying he was attacked because none of his reading suggests an accident and the cards have already shown me the motives. This was an ambush. For some reason, this reading is really clear and there is this sense that the truth wants and needs to be known. It’s hard to explain but it’s palpable for lack of a better word. The messages communicated are intense and vivid to me.
As soon as I put this next card down, it occurred to me that it was ironic to the point of almost seeming incredible. The card is the Hanged Man reversed. There are times when a card means exactly what it says, and this is one of them. The meaning behind the card varies considerably, depending on what else is happening in a reading. Here it shows me someone who felt like he was putting a lot of effort and energy into aspects of his life, only to find himself in the position of being attacked. I am not even sure he knew, at the moment this all happened, why the person or people came after him. It doesn’t feel like he had enough time to really process it then. It’s placement next to the Tower tells me that the event that occurred was not an accident.
The reading concluded with the Moon in its upright position. This situation is surrounded by lies and secrets. There are people that know what happened, but they are not sharing this information in a way that it is being heard. Granted, I think some people may have tried to share pieces of information, but they likely found it hard to find someone in a position of authority who would take them seriously. If they were taken seriously, the person that heard them out probably ran up against obstacles that prevented them from doing anything about it as well. This is not going to be a case that will be easy to untangle. It is complex and the secrets now run deep with this one – since there were likely people brought into all of this after the fact, who either tried to help someone (or more than one person) avoid having to take responsibility. This is not to say that the truth can’t and won’t be revealed. But it won’t happen easily or without persistent and relentless effort.
As I said before, this reading came across clearly to me. It was communicated so well that it felt like someone or something – or the universe for that matter – wants the truth known. All of these cases are especially sad, but this one hit me hard because the emotions and events were portrayed in ways that were unmistakable.
As a reminder, 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.