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Exercise 13

Warning. Do not attempt any part of this exercise unless you have already worked through the preceding exercises.

Exercise 13

Mentally clear the space around you in the way you have been taught. Sit, get comfortable and close your eyes. Relax and allow your inner vision to embrace darkness. See the darkness shift until it has the form of a deep grey, undulating mist. See that mist gradually turn from dark to pale gray. See the mist thin and separate as you become aware of yourself seated on the chair, on the raft, on the lake, in the park, with your carry-all beside you. In imagination, rise from the chair, take up the carry-all, step to the edge of the raft and plunge feetfirst into the water.

After a rapid descent, your feet touch solid ground. It is daylight on a warm spring morning. You are on a path deep within a forest. The trees around you are a mixture of oak and ash; there are some plane trees scattered among them and there are one or two thorn trees in evidence also. Beside you, next to the path, is a tall standing stone roughly shaped like a finger pointing upwards. On this stone is carved an arrow and under it the word ‘Forward’. Beneath this is another arrow pointing in the opposite direction accompanied by the word ‘Back’. High up, near the top of the stone, is the symbol astrologers use to denote the Sun – a circle with a dot at its center.

The path itself, though definitely a path, appears to be rarely used. Grass grows on it and some small plants too are scattered here and there, the usual dandelions and daisies. The path winds between the large trees in the direction the standing stone declares to be ‘Forward’. In the other direction the path is straighter and wider and the grass there has been trampled by many feet. As you face ‘Forward’, you can tell by the way the shadows fall that the sun is to your right and behind you. Insects buzz, birds cheep. Keeping a firm grasp on your carry-all, you stride off, not knowing your destination, but willing to press on ‘Forward’ to see where the path will take you.

The path makes a gentle meander through the forest sometimes rising a little, sometimes descending a little. Occasionally birds flash by overhead. It is nest-building time and the sound of birdcall periodically fills the air as you continue on your way. In time you reach a place where two paths cross at right angles. A wooden signpost stands here. Its four arms have destinations carved into them. That to your right reads ‘Somewhere’; the arm to your left reads ‘Elsewhere’. The arm pointing back the way you came reads ‘Back’ and the arm indicating the way ahead reads ‘Forward’. You continue along the path you are on.

The leaves on the trees are greener now and more profuse, the grass either side of the path more verdant; small flowers are in bloom. It is as if you had walked from Spring into Summer. At one point you see a large dragonfly with iridescent wings hovering awhile three or four feet off the ground before flying away into the green unknown above your head.

Eventually, you enter a clearing where the path splits in two, curving round to encircle a wide, immensely tall tree, old and majestic. The tree is surrounded by a metal railing painted dark green. It is over six feet high and the railings at their top ends have sharp points. The railings are too close together for you to squeeze between them. There is, however, a gateway with a keyhole lock, slightly to one side of where you stand. You go up to the gate, set down your carry-all and take from it Hecate’s key. The key fits the lock and with a smooth turn of your wrist the gate opens. Return the key to the carry-all and pass through the gate taking care to shut it behind you.

Pausing just within the compound and looking up you are able to take in whole of the tree from its topmost branches to the impressive girth of its base where it enters the ground. As you admire the tree, you become aware of a beam of pure white light shining down on it from high above. This beam takes in the entire bole of the tree and you are aware that the light is nourishing the tree in much the same way that sunlight nourishes plants. Next you become aware of another beam of energy forcing its way upwards out of the earth. This ray is a deep shade of emerald green. Halfway up the tree the two currents of energy join and mingle. At the point of juncture the color of the combined beams of light changes to a pale but still vibrant green. Gradually the whole trunk of the tree is flooded with this pale and vibrant green light from which the tree appears to derive both strength and purpose.

A movement on the ground attracts your attention. Red, the fox, is sitting nearby, eying you curiously, his head on one side. He suggests you go up to the tree and put your arms around its trunk. Leaving your carry-all with the friendly fox, you do as he has advocated. You stand with your body against the body of the tree, laying one cheek upon the rough bark, and stretch out your arms with your palms flat on the tree’s trunk.

Once you are comfortable in this position, you begin to sense a beam of while light descending on you, too. If you give in to its influence you will find it calming, soothing and at the same time confidence-boosting. In a moment or two you become aware of the beam of deep green light shining up at you from out of the earth under your feet. If you give in to the influence of this second beam of light you will find it invigorating, enlivening and life-affirming. Little by little the two beams of light intermingle until your body is surrounded by a vital pale green radiance.

Without necessarily being able to see the image, you have the strong sense of standing within the path of an alternating current. It is as if some vast Being held one hand aloft bearing a cup and from that cup an active energy was being poured out to wash over you from head to toe. And at the same time, the vast Being held another cup down low, and from this a receptive energy shot up as if from a fountain drenching you, again, from head to toe. Where the two streams of energy met, at first a center of creativity formed, but very quickly this center grows and spreads until it surrounds your whole body, leaving your mind and spirit pregnant with possibility. You should be left feeling capable and prepared to deal with any eventuality that may occur.

Next it is as if the tree gently eased you from it. You stand, arms spread wide, your head to one side, a pace or so distant from the trunk of the tree with no conscious memory of how you came to be in that position. On the plus side, however, you probably feel revivified and buoyantly optimistic in the wake of your experience of standing within the force-field of the alternating current under the direction of the gigantic, semi-visible astral entity that held the two cups, one high up, the other low down, between which poles the current flowed; the same entity that seemed to you to be winged, long-haired, and possessed of a serene, self-contained dignity and an indomitable sense of purpose.

You drop your arms to your sides and return to Red. Taking up your carry-all, you go back to the gate, which is again locked. Unlock it using Hecate’s key and exit the sacred precinct. Red follows you out and sits waiting while you close the gate. The lock clicks; if you try the gate, you will find it has relocked itself. At the sound of the click, Red starts padding back up the path. You follow, quickly catching up with him. You are very hot for the day is warm and there is no breeze to offer some refreshing coolness. The sun shines high above casting dappled shadows on the path, the contrast of light and shade being very noticeable.

Red accompanies you as far as the crossroads. Here he bids you farewell and takes the path to the left, the one marked by the signpost as the way to ‘Somewhere’. You continue along the path that leads ‘Back’. The path bends gently and birds cry and warble as you walk. The heat has lessened, though the sun remains high in the sky. You sense activity in the forest around you and way up in the trees. You see a squirrel climbing upwards and on the other side of the path a bird perched on a branch with moss in its tiny pale-yellow beak, and you are reminded that it is the season of nest building.

You make good progress and are soon at the tall standing stone which looks like a crudely carved finger pointing heavenward and marked with the symbol for the sun. Reach out and lay the palm of your free hand flat on the stone. Then step back into the center of the path. You will find that you are lifted swiftly into the air and that as you rise the air becomes water. In only seconds you break the surface of the water and see that you are in the familiar lake, the raft no great distance from you. Swim over to the raft and climb aboard. Sit yourself in the chair and lodge your carry-all at your feet.

Close the eyes of your imagination and remain still a moment. Gradually, the sense that you are seated on a chair in a room in your own home returns to you. Detach your attention from the OtherWorld and focus it firmly on physical world instead. That state of mind achieved, stand up. Dissolve the protective atmosphere you created around yourself at the beginning of the exercise using the method taught in the article containing Exercise Ten. Take two or three steps around the room and stamp on the floor or clap your hands so as to reaffirm that your consciousness is fully anchored in the material world. Have a warm drink and/or have something to eat. Finally make a note of whatever events impressed you most as you put yourself through Exercise Thirteen.


The Fourteenth Principle

by Tony Willis    

The activity of Death, Trump 13, presents itself on all planes in terms of disintegration or decomposition. It is a card of endings, of things coming apart. Trump 14, Temperance, is a card of reintegration, of merging or binding together, of mixing or blending various components so as to create an apparently new energy or situation. Physics knows a way of inducing the gases hydrogen and oxygen to combine so as to produce a liquid, water. An occultist would view an experiment such as this as an example of activity on the physical plane mirroring the psychic energy operating through the fourteenth Trump.

14t tdm   14t tdmLike   mmTarot 14

Keywords assigned to Temperance by occultists of past times were Combination, Mixture, and Moderation. The picture on both the Marseille and the Waite-Smith tarots depicts a winged figure apparently transferring liquid from one vase to another. Temperance is one of Christianity’s cardinal virtues, but it was taken over by the Christians from the Greek philosophers and therefore as a concept it predates Christianity by several centuries. We find the virtue Temperance depicted in stained-glass windows or carved as decoration on the walls of churches and cathedrals in much the same form as we see it depicted in early tarots of the fifteenth-century as well as in later tarots such as the nineteenth-century Swiss 1JJ deck: a female figure pouring a liquid from one container into another.

The name of the virtue tells us that the female figure on the card is tempering something. The verb ‘to temper’ means ‘to neutralize or counterbalance something’. Its synonyms are moderate, modify, or tone down, alleviate. Most often it indicates one force neutralizing or counterbalancing another. As liquid is involved, what the image most readily conveyed to the ancient Greeks and early Christians was the adding of water to wine. This is not a practice followed today but in the distant past it was common to add water to strong wine in order to prevent the members of a drinking party, for instance, from getting drunk too quickly. Sometimes wine was tempered with water so that it could be given to children to drink.

The ancients also considered marriage a type of combination, where the joining together of the bride and groom would ideally be expected to result in the birth of a child. For that reason, in older books on divination we frequently find Trump 14 given the meaning of marriage. But predictively Temperance may also signify a marriage of minds; so that, depending on the question put to the cards, Trump 14 can signify not only a wedding but a business partnership or a deep friendship. Behind all these meanings lies the fact that Temperance is a card of co-operation. In a divination, Trump 14 upright forecasts good co-operation in some plan or project while in reverse it points to a lack of co-operation.

The card may also counsel the moderation or adaptation of the inquirer’s current plans. Other cards in the reading will explain why changes are necessary. It is a card of alteration, not of sweeping change; as already said, another of its keywords is Modification. One old book assigns to it the keyword Metamorphosis. This may seem an odd term to apply to Trump 14 as metamorphosis is the transformation of one thing into another. However, an alternative title sometimes given the card is The Alchemist, and the goal of alchemy is, supposedly, the transmutation of a base metal such as lead into gold. The process of turning lead into gold is a slow one; some accounts say that there are four stages to the work, others that there are seven. Either way, the message is that refinement progresses step by step rather than occurring overnight or ‘in a flash’.

14t westcott    14-temperance

Those occult tarots with Latin phrases printed on them generally speak of Harmonious Mixture and of Reversibility of Processes. The first is a reference to the happy combination of two opposite forces. These might be intellect and intuition working together in the psyche of a single individual or manifesting as different skills or ways of looking at a problem mediated by two members of a business partnership. Or the reference might be to the ‘male’ and ‘female’ forces (otherwise called dynamic and receptive forces) needed to produce some kind of offspring, whether an actual baby or a brain-child.

The second phrase, Reversibility of Processes, singles out Temperance as the Trump that stands at a vital turning point on the Path of Initiation. The purifications of the soul (Psyche) required before initiation into the Greater Mysteries can take place having been accomplished, the path turns back on itself, so to speak, and another round of cleansings and refinements of the inner nature commences. Only this time those challenges are addressed in reverse order; and the struggle to overcome them is more dangerous and will tax even harder the would-be magus’s inner strength.

The danger incurred by the seemingly simple act of applying oneself to the Path of Initiation cannot be exaggerated, although the truth of this statement is not easily understood by those who have not witnessed first-hand the results encountered by those who have undertaken to walk the Path beyond the state of inner development indicated by the Trump Temperance. The trials of the Path now become a series of moral tests. The energies the would-be magus needs to draw into themself while attempting to grapple with the great powers represented by the final eight Trumps of the Major Arcana can sometimes so overwhelm the psyche that the experience gives rise to a physical breakdown. After all, among these last eight Trumps are to be found The Devil, The Tower Struck by Lightning and The Day of Judgment.

Make no mistake, these moral tests are subtle. As one wise Occultist wrote:

“There comes a moment when it seems as if an abyss of knowledge stretches out before the student, and in outstretching his arms to clutch what he sees before him he frequently overbalances and falls into the pit. In extreme cases the end is insanity. In milder cases a slight mental trouble may easily result.”

In summing up the situation, he says:

“So it will be understood that a first-hand acquaintance with these powers is not at all desirable save to those who have so far perfected themselves as to be prepared to receive, very gradually, the enormous flow of power with which they come in contact.” Specifically, “Proceeding along the Path without the corresponding moral development is disastrous.”

The dangers are real and the tests are real, though they change as initiate ascends the ladder of advancement. Within a Mystery School status tends to be defined by Grade. The term is derived from a Latin word signifying a rung on a ladder. Thus the idea of ascent is conveyed, indicating that the Path of Initiation leads not only onwards but also upwards. Most people with an interest in the occult side of the tarot are familiar with the terminology that the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn apply to the initiation process (or they can easily find out about it by searching the internet) and so I will use that terminology to explain how the Path unfolds before and after the experience/stage denoted by the Temperance card is attained.

First, however, it is necessary to explain that the Magickal Order most often referred to as the Golden Dawn is, in fact, divided into two parts. The first of these is the Golden Dawn, the second is the Order of the Ruby Rose and the Golden Cross. The Golden Dawn practices five initiations. Of these, the most important is the first, giving ingress to the Grade of Neophyte. Even in common parlance, one will hear the phrase “initiate into”. A person with an uneducated palate might receive, from an experienced vintner, the invitation, “Let me initiate you into the mysteries of wine from the Bordeaux region of France.” In an occult context, non-Initiates, and sadly some Initiates, too, in my experience, do not understand what the various Grade initiations initiate a person into. In the Golden Dawn system, completion of the Grade of Neophyte initiates a person into the group-mind encompassing both the Order of the Golden Dawn and the Order of the Ruby Rose and Golden Cross.

The succeeding four initiations are Elemental in nature. They initiate candidates for advancement in turn into the mysteries of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. The intention of these initiations, taken as a group, is to effect a rebalancing of the Elements within the aura and psyche of the candidate. At the same time, teaching continues to be given to the prospective Adept. After each initiation, candidates for advancement are furnished with data that they are expected to commit to memory. Before they can take the next Grade, they are examined on their grasp of the data, how well they retain it in memory, and the degree to which they understand it.

Completion of all four Elemental Grades brings the candidate figuratively to the door giving access to the Order of the Ruby Rose and Golden Cross. This Grade is known as the Portal of the Vault of the Adepti, or Portal Grade for short. It is the Grade that initiates the candidate into the mysteries of the Akasha, known to Eliphas Levi as the Astral Light but referred to by the Golden Dawn as Spirit. It is also known as the Quintessence since it is the Fifth Element. Occultists believe that it exerts a controlling influence over the other Four Elements, for in their philosophy this so-termed ‘Spirit’ is the unseen world of causation.

The next Grade is that of Adeptus Minor. Although almost universally translated as ‘Minor Adept’, a better term might be ‘Lesser Adept’. It marks entry into what the Golden Dawn call ‘the Second Order’, that of the Rose of Ruby and the Cross of Gold. At this point in the student’s ascent of the ladder of the Grades, the methods of training alter considerably. Progress is no longer by means of the memorization of information but by the practical application of that information. In a sense, Lesser Adepts are returned to an earlier stage of their spiritual development equivalent to the first of the Elemental initiations. That is the Grade of Zelator and, therefore, on completion of this initiation ceremony, the student receives the title Zelator Adeptus Minor, Z.A.M. for short. This signals to anyone with an ounce of intelligence that there are four sub-divisions to the Grade of Adeptus Minor, one for each of the Elemental Grades.

This repetition of the Elemental stages, albeit on a higher arc, has one aim in view: to produce within the Adept’s psychological make up a balanced distribution of the Elements. For the work that is to come, a certain degree of balance is required. It is not the balance represented by the card Justice where, for instance, a particular sum of money may legally be the property of person A, with person B having no rights in law to any part of it. Moral judgments are more elastic: what is right for a twenty-year old may not be right for a ten-year old, for example. The necessity of attaining this Elemental balance has been expressed by one writer in these words: “The prospective magus must rise above the jurisdiction of the pairs of opposites, and himself become the Weigher of Things, balancing one against the other until he reaches the point of equilibrium, and thus rise above their power.” Aleister Crowley has expressed the same idea: “Balance every thought with its opposition, because the marriage of them is the destruction of illusion.” Whatever we may think of Crowley as a person, there is no doubt that he made a deep study of magick and had a thorough understanding of its theory and practice.

What is being referred to in both these quotations is the constant flow of energy in and around the world. In Far Eastern philosophy, this energy flow is represented ideologically as the gradual but ineluctable transformation of a pure Yin state into a pure Yang state, and back again. The dual factors, however we name them, are equal and opposite. One is not superior to the other. It is through the interaction of the dual factors that the Universe in its visible and invisible aspects comes into existence. On the microcosmic scale, there is constant circulation of psychic substance between our subtle vehicles (the etheric, astral, and mental bodies) and the condition of those subtle vehicles has a profound influence upon our well-being.

mmTarot 01       mmTarot 02

The Angel on the Temperance card is shown blending the two factors, the dual energies. However, it is taken as a given in occult circles that, once the liquid has been transferred from one vase to the other, the Angel will reverse the process and pour it back again. Thus, the dual factors are not only blended, as water and wine would be if they were mixed together, they are also being constantly circulated, their combined energy ceaselessly in motion, never still. It is from that point of view that Eliphas Levi, writing about Trump 14 from the perspective of the Occult Tarot, described it as representing “the seasons, the flux and flow of life – always different yet always the same”.

mmTarot 06       mmTarot 07

In the design of the card, Temperance, we are shown the creative fusion of dualities. Throughout the whole of tarot imagery, from the Magician with one hand pointing upward and the other pointing down, the High Priestess seated between twin pillars, and the Lovers card where the man stands in a state of indecision between two women, we encounter the Pairs of Opposites over and over again. But their synthesis as shown on Trump 14, valuable stage in the prospective Adept’s spiritual evolution though it is, is not the end of the matter. We shall meet the lesson of the need to synthesize the dual energies so as to release their creative potential again on a higher arc as our investigation into the process of spiritual unfoldment advances. In tarot terms, we meet it very soon in the form of the next card in the Major Arcana, Trump 15, the Devil, the design of which bears a strong resemblance to that of the Lovers from the Waite-Smith tarot, indicating that in Trump 15 the same energy associated with the Lovers is here encountered in an altered form on another level.

r-w-lovers                RWS_Tarot_15_Devil

The Predictive Tarot, Part Three

by Auntie Tarot     

Let us apply what we have learnt about predictive readings from Madeline Montalban’s article on the Fairy Crosses to the interpretation of tarot cards. I’m going to lay out nine cards, so as to mimic the nine Fairy Crosses, using the whole deck of seventy-eight cards. As the symbolism of the Waite-Smith pack is known to everyone in the tarot world, I’m going to use those cards to illustrate the spread. I’m also going to use the Golden Dawn meanings for the cards as the basis for my analysis. I’m doing this because these meanings are a matter of record: anyone can look them up (they are available on-line) and check what is written about them against my interpretations. The form of the spread itself is nothing more than a single line of nine cards, again reproducing the row of nine crosses used by the seer who read Miss Montalban’s future.

The question is fictitious: it’s one I’ve made up for the purpose of demonstrating the procedure. However, I approached it in the same spirit as I would an actual reading. I invented an inquirer – a man, 25 years of age, with chestnut hair, recently unemployed. I imagined he had taken a job that seemed to promise him advancement but that had ultimately proved to be a dead end, and when he protested, his boss had been unhelpful and unsympathetic, and soon after their clash of opinions, the boss made the young man redundant. Having got that picture clear in my mind, I shuffled the cards on behalf of this fictional client. The cards were then cut and restacked and the top nine cards dealt off. Those cards were

pentacles 7swords 7swords 3cups 4

waite_moon_largewands knightRWS_Tarot_10_Wheel_of_Fortune

wands acepentacles 3

The first two cards are the 7 of Pentacles and the 7 of Swords. In the Golden Dawn canon, the 7 of Pentacles represents deceived hopes and unfulfilled promises of success; the 7 of Swords stands for futile striving against opposition; and all of this fits the background I had invented for my imaginary inquirer. What the two cards, taken together, represent is recognizably an account of the young man’s recent past. That is the way Miss M.’s reading began, and over the years I’ve found that the first two or three cards in a spread of this type do tend to describe the problem at the forefront of the client’s mind or the conditions that gave rise to it.

The 3 of Swords can be interpreted in two ways: looking back towards the recent past and looking directly at how things stand for the young man in the present moment. It is a card of separation and quarreling. We might therefore say that the inquirer left his job (a kind of separation) having given his now ex-employer a piece of his mind (quarreling). But what lies ahead of him? The 4 of Cups speaks of “a stationary period which may or may not continue”. It is therefore possible that, being without prospects (4 Cups), there have been hot words spoken at home (3 Swords), with family life being disrupted to some extent by the lack of a monthly salary coming in. (The 3 of Swords also signifies disruption.)

The next pair of cards is The Moon and The Wheel of Fortune, both from the Major Arcana. In the Golden Dawn method, the Moon represents dissatisfaction and voluntary change. The Wheel is indicative of change, too. What kind of change it signifies is wholly dependent on what has gone before. In this case, the young man has been having a tough time of it where career matters are concerned. We might, then, interpret this pair of cards as: Dissatisfied with his current condition, the inquirer decides to make a change (Moon), to seek employment in another field, perhaps (since two cards denoting change fall together); and this change, whatever it is, will be fortunate for him (the Wheel standing for changes all round – in the nature of his work and in the rewards, both financial and in terms of job satisfaction, he derives from his work).

The physical description given for the Knight of Wands in the Golden Dawn instruction papers fits the image of the young man as I had envisioned him. Evidently this card represents the inquirer himself exactly as the white cross represented Miss M. in the reading she was given. The Knight of Wands lies between the Wheel of Fortune, indicative of a significant alteration in life, and the Ace of Wands, symbol of hard work in the G.D. canon. The Wheel always represents an overturning of whatever conditions precede it. For the unfortunate young man I’ve conjured up as a client, the past has been fraught, and is described vividly by the 7 and 3 of Swords falling together followed by the 4 of Cups (a phase of “nothing doing”). All these cards have been read in the context of the inquirer’s career and business prospects. Therefore the Wheel must be interpreted from the same perspective: the frustrating and unrewarding time he’s been having attempting to fulfil his material ambitions can give way to a far brighter future if he is willing to, first, grasp the opportunity life is about to hand him and, second, put his heart and soul into the job when he secures it. The opportunity is represented by the Wheel of Fortune and the hard work by the Ace of Wands.

The bright material future to which I alluded is represented by the 3 of Pentacles. The meanings assigned to it by the Golden Dawn are: Increase of material things, financial growth, commencement of something to be established later. We can think of these as three different aspects of the card. In some readings, one of these meanings will be more appropriate than the others. In this case, however, all three apply. The young man is likely to affect a career change (the Wheel), thus starting out on a line or work that will better suit his talents. If he sticks to this new career and works hard (Ace of Wands) he can make a name for himself (the ‘success to be established later’ or the 3 of Pentacles), though from the outset he is likely to experience the financial growth and increase of material things also offered by the 3 of Pentacles.

So much for getting the cards to answer an imagined question. Time to ask a genuine question concerning an actual person with a real life problem. Back on April 12, I took a chance and asked the cards about the future prospects of Russian President, Vladimir Putin. I say I took a chance posing this question because I have no personal connection to President Putin and therefore the Higher Powers might judge that I have no right to ask this question. At the time I laid out the cards, however, there was a great deal of talk about a third world war breaking out should the West do anything in support of Ukraine that President Putin interpreted as an act of aggression. That being the case, I felt I was involved in the question; for if there was a third world war, my grandchildren would inevitably be caught up in it, and my whole family affected by the consequences. On that basis, I went ahead and consulted the cards about Mr Putin’s future. The resultant spread was this.

K rods rider waite smithtarot-cups-05 See the source imageSee the source imagepentacles 4rw-World


The first card, the King of Wands, most likely stands for President Putin himself. At any rate, the Golden Dawn description associated with this card fits the mood he was in, by all accounts, at the time the cards were laid out. That description is of someone who is hasty in his actions, rather violent, intolerant, and prejudiced. These are the adverse qualities of the King of Wands. I have applied them to President Putin because the card lies next to a Cup card. In the G.D. system, Wands are assigned to the Element Fire and Cups to the opposing Element of Water. When a card of one Element falls between cards of the contrary Element, it is considered debilitated and its negative attributes accentuated. As the King of Wands opens the reading, it cannot have cards on either side of it, and we have to interpret it through the lens of the card lying next to it. That card being of the Cups suit, the Wand card must be regarded as suffering an affliction.

What ‘energies’ and ‘trends’ surrounded President Putin on the day I laid this spread? The 5 of Cups, following the King of Wands, indicates the end of a run of good luck. The G.D. instruction papers don’t actually give that exact interpretation for the 5 of Cups but we mustn’t adhere slavishly to the “book meanings” of the cards. The expression the instruction papers use is “the end of pleasure”. Since President Putin’s ‘pleasure’, as head of state, is the expansion of Russia, and seeing as how he has, up to now, been amazingly successful in clawing back areas of the old USSR into his governance, I feel justified in seeing the acquisition of those gains as part of a lucky streak. The appearance of the 5 of Cups can therefore signal an end to this run of good luck. Another meaning for the card is loss of friends or allies. While countries such as Belarus and China have continued to support Russia since the start of the war against Ukraine, others have stepped back. Even China, it is said, isn’t being as supportive as it could be, aware of the opprobrium heaped on Russia by so many of the nations of the free world.

The 2 of Pentacles must be interpreted in conjunction with the two cards either side of it. It is a card of change and ordinarily it signifies a pleasant change. But it falls between two cards with deeply unfortunate associations. We have already seen what the 5 of Cups portends; the 9 of Swords denotes (according to G.D. tradition) anxiety, despair, fear, depression, and similar states of mind. I shall have more to say about the 9 of Swords in a moment; for the present I shall content myself with interpreting the 2 of Pentacles as a change not to President Putin’s liking, on account of it being besieged by cards of negative import.

Turning now to the 9 of Swords itself, notice that it falls between two Pentacles cards. Again, the rule about opposing Elements applies. In the G.D. system, Pentacles are Earth and Swords Air. Like Fire and Water, Air and Earth are in conflict – Earth is as stable as the ground beneath your feet, whereas Air is forever on the move. Because of this Elemental antipathy, the 9 of Swords, an unfortunate card to begin with, has all its fateful portents accentuated. As we’ve seen, the G.D. meanings for the card are: Anxiety, despair, loss, want, fear, depression, stress. The way things have been going for President Putin recently (the changes denoted by the 2 of Pentacles) has left him greatly displeased. We don’t need a tarot spread to tell us that! What the cards are showing us is how deeply he feels the anxiety, depression and stress of his current situation; for the afflicted 9 of Swords rachets these mental states up to the Nth degree.

Before anyone who regards the invasion of Ukraine as an unprovoked, illegal war starts to cheer at President Putin’s chagrin, let us cast our eye over the next two cards in the spread. These are the 4 of Pentacles and The World from the Major Arcana. The former stands for skill in directing material resources. From the day I laid out the spread, Russian forces began leaving the area around Kyiv, retreating into their own territory. Word was that they would be re-deployed in the Donbass region in east Ukraine and around Mariupol, which President Putin had determined to take whatever the cost. This re-deployment of troops is probably the smartest thing the President could have done, seeing as the Russians were doing so badly in southern and western Ukraine. He needed a quick victory and he wasn’t going to get it by capturing a well-defended Kyiv. The solution was to capture a city like Mariupol. The movement of troops has taken time. The strategy is clever but its implementation was delayed. This delay is shown in the spread by the 4 of Pentacles laying between cards of opposing Elements: Swords are Air and the World, attributed to Saturn, is Earth. Thus we see the skill in directing material resources hampered by natural impediments, in this case the necessary logistics involved in transferring men and munitions from one part of a vast country like Ukraine to another.

Once troops are in place, President Putin will have the successes he craves in eastern Ukraine. This is what the World predicts. G.D. papers on how to read the tarot give the World the meaning “the matter itself”, in other words the thing that is most important to the inquirer, or in this instance the person we are inquiring about, at the time the reading is made. Its appearance in the spread underlines how vital a victory in the east is to the President. Although the instruction papers don’t say so, within the G.D., the World’s other meanings – attainment and completion – were applied to the card as well. While it pains me to say it, the cards predict that President Putin will attain his victory in Mariupol and other cities in and around the Donbass region. That the victory will be hard won is denoted by the World falling between an Earth card (4 Pentacles) and an Air one (Justice, corresponding to Libra, an Air sign). These contrary elements do not deny President Putin the victory but they do prevent it being the walkover he no doubt hoped it would be.

It could be that the fall of Mariupol, when it comes, will prove to be a pyrrhic victory. The signs are there in the reading. The World denotes not simply completion but the completion of a cycle, hinting that a new cycle is about to commence for President Putin. If it is, what will this new cycle hold for him? The World is followed by Justice and the Ace of Swords. These cards have one meaning in common, and when we find cards with the same or very similar implications lying together it is usually a sign that this meaning is being emphasized or pushed to the fore. One of Justice’s significances is retribution while the Ace of Swords, in the G.D. system, can represent punishment for wrongdoing. Having won his battles in the Donbass, President Putin may be forced to conceded that he has lost the war to conquer the whole of Ukraine. If that is so, President Putin will not present the situation to the world in those terms. Doubtless he will claim that in “freeing” the Donbass of “Nazi” rule he has achieved all he set out to do when he ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022. He will then have to sell this version of events to his fellow Russians and look to see if he can mend some of the many broken fences laying all around him on the international scene.

As discussed in the second part of this article, the Lovers is a card with two meanings. One is love, plain and simple; love in some form or other. The second meaning is choice. As this spread is not in any way, shape or form about the emotions and the affections, the card’s significance in this instance can only be choice. And so President Putin’s reading ends with him confronted with a choice; a major choice, since the Lovers is a card from the Major Arcana; a difficult choice, since the Lovers appears in the wake of the combined forces of Justice and the Ace of Swords playing upon his life. It seems that success in Ukraine, of whatever magnitude, great or small, will leave President Putin in a quandary. And there the reading leaves off.

If I had laid this spread for a client, I wouldn’t stop there; the cards give no indication as to what the best choice would be, and in my experience, clients don’t appreciate being left in limbo; they would rather hear something definite upon which they can ground their future plans. Treating Mr Putin as I would any other client, I drew another card. Before giving my interpretation of it, I should explain that what I had been told by my contacts on the Higher Planes was that President Putin would both win and lose the war in Ukraine. I had asked them a direct question and they had given me an oblique answer, in the manner of the predictions given by the witches to Macbeth. At the time the answer was given, I knew it was extremely unlikely that the whole of Ukraine would fall to Russian forces. Therefore, I took the answer to indicate that President Putin would gain some successes in Ukraine but would not attain his greatly desired goal of absorbing the entire region into Russian control.

swords05   See the source image

The extra card I drew from the deck was the 5 of Swords. The Golden Dawn associate it with defeat, but I knew that this didn’t mean “defeat for Putin, victory for Ukraine.” One of the other meanings given to the 5 of Swords must pertain. Actually, several of them could apply. Besides defeat the 5 of Swords can signify failure, dishonor, anxiety, and trouble caused by people speaking against one. It looks as though President Putin’s plan to conquer Ukraine will end in failure, and to some extent he will have lost standing in the eyes of other high-ranking political figures in his own country who will no longer see him as an invincible force. There will be mutterings against him, most probably behind closed doors, and this turn of events will naturally cause him some anxiety, for dictators know as well as monarchs do the truth of the saying “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” All of this is in accord with the meanings associated with the 5 of Swords.

But still an answer giving clear advice to the client has not been revealed by the cards. Seeking further enlightenment, I drew another. It was the 4 of Swords, and although it does not foreshadow a result I, in my heart of hearts, would have wanted to see, it is an answer that would satisfy the client. The G.D. treat the 4 of Swords as a symbol of recovery, and also indicative of a lessening of anxiety and the commencement of a period of reassessment. The latter meaning refers us back to the choice represented by the Lovers in the spread. If I were President Putin’s advisor, I would say that, while partial failure in the matter of Ukraine would lead to mischief-making behind the scenes on the part of some of his political affiliates, he can ride out this minor storm; it will pass and more favorable changes are on the horizon. (4 Swords: change for the better.) I would advise him to take his time reassessing his current position, wait for the storm clouds to pass, and only implement change (The Lovers) after a careful consideration of all the options available to him.

Thus, what the cards reveal is that President Putin’s future is not as bleak, in the wake of his failure to take control of Ukraine, as it might have been; that, in fact, he can come back from this partial defeat. That is good news for my ‘client’, Mr Putin. Whether it is good news or bad from the rest of the world remains to be seen.

The Predictive Tarot, Part Two

by Auntie Tarot   

After the necessary rigmarole of selecting the crosses by means of the magnet, the old lady set about “reading” the Fairy Crosses for Miss Montalban. To do this she employed a deceptively simple technique.

The order in which the crosses were to be interpreted was red, black, yellow, rainbow, orange, blue, purple, white, and green. As we have seen, each color has its own meaning which is modified or amplified by the color of the crosses next to it. On this basis, the old woman binds together the meanings of the first two crosses, the red and the black, to craft her first prediction: ". . . the red one . . . stands for quarrels and disputes you’ve been having. A man is concerned in them, because the red cross always represents a male influence, too. This quarrel will never be settled. It is of long standing, and will go on for a long time – that’s the meaning of the black cross that follows the red.”

Those two crosses disposed of, the old lady applies herself to the next two. Blending their influences, she states: "You realize this, my dear, for the yellow cross follows on, and this represents changes you are thinking of making. If you do make those changes, it will lead to the altering of your whole life, and the following of your true destiny. That’s what the rainbow cross, which comes next, always stands for.” The thing to notice here is that the seer leaves room for the inquirer’s free will. She does not say that Miss M. will institute the changes she has been contemplating, only that a whole new chapter of her life will open up to her if she does. That is an important point to remember, too, when working with the predictive tarot.

Having interpreted the meaning of the yellow cross in respect of the rainbow one that follows it, the old lady proceeds to interpret the rainbow cross in the light of its association with the orange one. Notice that there is a forward movement to the old lady’s method of interpretation. Most often she circumscribes the energy of one cross by combining it with the energy the one that comes after it. In this case, she tells Miss M. that, if she makes the change she’s been planning to make, “You’ll make a new life, and it will be lucky from the start, because the orange cross of success follows the rainbow, and that’s a lucky one indeed." The rainbow cross represents a complete reversal of the circumstances prevailing at the time the reading is given. In Miss M.’s reading, it is followed by the orange cross of success; however, if it had been followed by the black cross of obstacles and setbacks, failure might have been the outcome, or a hard fight would be required if ambitions were to be fulfilled. Black is the only color labelled ‘unfortunate’ by Miss M.

From the manner of old lady’s next prediction we can draw a valuable lesson. "The next cross, being a blue one, can mean either one of two things. Either it’s a love affair that’s going to start, or the beginning of an important new friendship. But as the blue is followed by the purple cross, which either means money gain, or some person of power who helps you to get it, I reckon that preceding blue cross represents a new friendship. You can take it then that you’ll make a new and influential friend who will put you on the road to material success.” Here we are instructed on how to approach those tarot cards that have more than one predictive meaning assigned them. The Lovers, Trump 6, for instance has two meanings in the predictive tarot: A choice on the one hand and affairs of the heart on the other. To decide which interpretation to go with, the reader must look to the cards on either side of Trump 6. If followed by the 3 of Cups, an engagement or marriage is suggested; if laying between the 8 of Swords and the 7 of Cups, we see the inquirer in a restrictive situation (8 Swords) but with a number of alternatives available to them (7 Cups), and therefore the appropriate interpretation represented by The Lovers as part of this combination is that of choice.

swords 8  r-w-lovers  See the source image

Both Fairy Crosses, the blue and the purple, have two meanings. As the old lady explained to Miss M., not only does the blue cross indicate either friendship or a love affair, but the purple one denotes prosperity or the assistance of a person of influence. The diviner has to work out which of these interpretations to weave into the story of she is telling. Under other circumstances, the combination could have foretold marriage to a rich or powerful man. One has to be guided by common sense. The preceding five crosses have set out a particular narrative very clearly. Anyone who has read Miss M.’s biography (The Magus of St Giles) will know that she did not exactly see eye to eye with her father; that she left home and found employment in an era when it wasn’t usual for women to have a career; that a newspaper editor took her under his wing; and that she was able to support herself for the rest of her life as a writer. The first part of that story we have already had laid out for us; it is told unequivocally and in some detail by the red, black, yellow, rainbow and orange crosses with which her “reading” starts. The second part is covered by the two crosses we are currently examining, the blue and the purple. These predict her meeting with the editor who would do so much to foster her career.

Why did the old lady select those meanings for these crosses? One answer is that there is a “trend” to this reading. When making readings using a limited number of symbols, such as we find in this method of the Fairy Crosses, most often only one strand of the inquirer’s life is picked up. That is why Miss M. was counseled, at the beginning of the session, to “think hard about what she wanted to know”. The crosses would answer the question she had in mind and no other. This reading is a “career reading”; it does not concern itself with love or health. If the inquirer had questions of that sort she wanted answered, she would have to consult the crosses again while “thinking hard” about that particular aspect of her life. Given that the “trend” of Miss M.’s reading is that of career, the appropriate way of interpreting of the combination blue cross/purple cross becomes apparent.

Another example of one symbol’s meaning being influenced by the two others it lies between is found in what the old woman says next to Miss M. “With that white cross, representing you, sandwiched between the purple one and the green that follows, it looks to me as if you had some kind of mystic guidance in making your future plans, for the green cross always means that.” The white cross, it seems, has no other purpose than to indicate a woman, either a female inquirer or, for a man, some lady of his acquaintance. The purple cross stands for prosperity and the green one for either occult guidance or a reliable intuition or hunch. On either side of the white cross, they mean what the old lady says they do: Miss M (white cross) has been guided (green cross) to the path that will lead her to future prosperity (purple cross). If you are concerned about the order in which the crosses fall, the prediction could be re-worded: “The future prosperity of which I just spoke (purple cross) is something you (white cross) have been led to by a strong intuition or even occult guidance (green cross).”

The method of using the Fairy Crosses is simple and straightforward if you accept its basic rationale. We can take the relatively unsophisticated procedure applied by the old lady who read Miss M.’s fortune and employ it in conjunction with the tarot. By this means, it is possible for almost anyone to make predictive readings using seven or nine tarot cards selected in the usual manner. I will look more deeply into the predictive side of tarot in the third and final part of this article.

The Predictive Tarot, Part One

by Auntie Tarot    

Tony Willis has been taking care of the blog while I have been having time off. He’s made rather a good job of it. However, for the past month he has been working on protection for Ukraine. Working astrally, that is, or, applying the phrase he likes to use, he has been operating ‘in vision’. As Mr Willis is otherwise occupied, I am stepping into the breech. This gives me the opportunity to speak about an aspect of tarot dear to my heart but which I fear is greatly neglected at the present time.

I discovered the tarot in the nineteen-forties, and had great difficulty acquiring a tarot deck. Eventually I found one in an antique shop! How times have changed! The way tarot is approached today is also markedly different from the approach in which I was schooled. Half a century ago the accent was on prediction. While there was a psychological aspect to every reading, the amount psychology involved was minimal; in the main, it told the reader what type of personality her client had. At the present time, the pendulum has swung in the other direction: spreads are interpreted largely from the psychological point of view with, now and then, a predictive element creeping in.

So prevalent has the psychological approach become that it is possible that predictive reading of the cards will become a lost art. In recent years there has been sterling work done on re-presenting the predictive tarot to the general public (I mark out in particular Caitlín Matthews’ outstanding Untold Tarot (Red Feather, 2018)) and some older books on reading the tarot predictively remain in print. Even so, I thought I would add my own thoughts on the technique to the general pool of knowledge in the hope that they might strike a chord in some minds where no chord has been struck before in respect of this subject.

As an opening gambit, I’m going to step away from the tarot for moment and look at the predictive method in relation to another, simpler type of fortune-telling. The Fairy Crosses consist of only nine symbols; nine colored crosses each with its own distinctive significance, the way they combine dictating the content of the predictions. Madeline Montalban, who wrote a great deal on the tarot, some of whose articles I have posted on this blog, introduced the Fairy Crosses to a wider audience in the 1959 edition of the Prediction Annual. She explained what they are, how they are used and interpreted, and how to make them. It is the interpretive part of her article that I am going to concentrate on, but I’m posting it in full so that those who would like to make their own set of Crosses, and try out the method for themselves, can do so.

Forecasting by Fairy Crosses

by Madeline Montalban     

How often we hear people say: "I would love to be able to look into the future, but I’m just not psychic." When I hear this I always have to chip in and explain that there are many ways of predicting that don’t require any clairvoyant gifts at all. This always seems to surprise the hearers.

In last year’s Prediction Annual I wrote about rune-stones, one of the simplest means of divining the future, and described how they could be found. This year I am going to tell you about Fairy Crosses, which you can make for yourself.

Just how Fairy Crosses came by their name I don’t know, but I first encountered them when an old lady "told my fortune" with them (and very accurately too) using nothing more psychic than an ordinary magnet. This is how it was done.

The old lady took from a box nine metal crosses, not made in the crucifix shape, but in the form of X’s, like the kiss-sign. Each cross was of a different colour but all were of equal size. She handed me the box lid and told me to put all the crosses into it, shake it well, and then pick out the crosses one by one and lay them in a straight line before me on the table. While I was doing this I was to "Think hard about what I wanted to know".

Using that first lay-out of crosses as an example here is the order of colours as they were picked out and laid in a straight line from left to right on the table.

Yellow, red, black, rainbow, purple, orange, green, blue, and white. That done, I waited for the old lady to translate them but she said: "That’s only the beginning, my dear. Now, you take this magnet in your right hand, and move it very slowly along just below the line of crosses, but you must not touch any of them with it. Nor must you stop at any cross, for that would be picking it out and you must let the magnet do the choosing. See those queer little symbols on the magnet? That’s a mysterious word meaning ‘Tell me true’, or something like it. Very old is this way of telling fortunes and I have heard that the signs on that magnet are fairy words that were cut into a stone found on a fairy hillock, but it doesn’t do to believe all you hear. Still just keep moving that magnet slowly along the line of crosses – See now! The red one has jumped out of line and stuck to the magnet. Use that to begin a new line of crosses, and lay it down well away from the others, and go on."

As I moved the magnet slowly and evenly under the line of crosses starting the line again as I came to its end, one by one different coloured crosses leaped to the magnet, in apparent haphazard fashion. These in turn I placed by the side of the first cross picked out, and continued until the last cross had been picked up. Now I had a new line of crosses in an entirely different order.

The old lady began interpreting, reading the crosses from left to right in order as they lay.

"You’ve picked out red, black, yellow, rainbow, orange, blue, purple, white, and green in that order," she said "and that’s the order they will be interpreted in. Nothing hard about this.

"Starting with the red one, that stands for quarrels and disputes you’ve been having. A man is concerned in them, because the red cross always represents a male influence, too. This quarrel will never be settled. It is of long standing, and will go on for a long time – that’s the meaning of the black cross that follows the red.

"You realize this, my dear, for the yellow cross follows on, and this represents changes you are thinking of making. If you do make those changes, it will lead to the altering of your whole life, and the following of your true destiny. That’s what the rainbow cross, which comes next, always stands for.

"I believe that rainbow cross signifies a life being turned topsy-turvy, so that the old way of things can give way to the new. That will certainly happen in your case. You’ll make a new life, and it will be lucky from the start, because the orange cross of success follows the rainbow, and that’s a lucky one indeed."

By then my eyes were popping out of my head, but the old lady continued: "The next cross, being a blue one, can mean either one of two things. Either it’s a love affair that’s going to start, or the beginning of an important new friendship. But as the blue is followed by the purple cross, which either means money gain, or some person of power who helps you to get it, I reckon that preceding blue cross represents a new friendship.

"You can take it then that you’ll make a new and influential friend who will put you on the road to material success. The white cross that comes next usually represents a lady but when the querent is a woman it stands for herself, like the red cross usually represents a man Querent. With that white cross, representing you, sandwiched between the purple one and the green that follows, it looks to me as if you had some kind of mystic guidance in making your future plans, for the green cross always means that.

"I would say that you have already decided to end this unbearable situation now prevailing, and that you have been guided in some strange way to do it."

"You are right," I admitted. "I’ve already made up my mind to go to another town and make a new life for myself. It was a big decision, for I must go alone, and I’m pleased your fairy crosses show such good prospects."

"You don t get away with it so easily," old lady smiled. "I want you to tell me what it was that guided you – for I know by the placing of the green cross that something did."

“I awoke suddenly one morning exactly six o’clock, a most unusual hour for me," I admitted. "I seemed to have been wakened by a loud, clear voice telling me that from now on, I had to strike out for myself, stand on my own feet, and begin a new life, leaving the old one completely behind. And that," I concluded, "is just what I decided to do. But where the voice came from is a mystery, for I was quite alone in the house at the time the folks being away on holiday.”

"Some might say it was angels, or spirits or even the tail-end of a dream but I reckon it was the fairies that talked to you," the old lady said. "Most folks don’t believe in ’em but I do, and their little crosses too." She was about to sweep them all up in the box when I asked her if I could study them for a while and write down their meanings.

So here are what the crosses mean, and given in the order I found most easy to memorize. Where there are alternative meanings remember that the crosses preceding or following the one under consideration can determine or modify what they are.


Success. (Fortunate.)


The Querent (if female) or a lady inquired about. (Neutral.)


Occult guidance, reliable intuition or hunch. (Fortunate.)


Long-standing obstacles or difficulties. Overcome if followed by purple or blue cross. (Unfortunate.)


Complete reversal of circumstances prevailing. If followed by "lucky" crosses –good new life. (Variable.)


A male Querent, or any man inquired about. Otherwise, quarrels and disputes, especially with unfortunate crosses lying on either side. (Variable.)


Money luck, or some person of power who helps the Querent. (Fortunate.)


Important new friendship or love affair. (Fortunate.)


Changes, journeys, removals, sometimes emigration. (Fortunate.)

Thus you will see that each cross has its own meaning and character, but the interpretation can be modified by the crosses lying immediately to left or right.

Now I shall describe how you can make your own set of Fairy Crosses, providing that you can handle metal shears and a soldering iron (I can’t, myself – they turn into lethal weapons in my hands, but I have seen it done successfully).

Before I begin, let me make one request. Please, if you are going to make your own Fairy Crosses, don’t write to me and ask where you can buy a magnet. Try the nearest hardware store or toy shop. (I swiped my own from an unwary nephew.) But I can tell you where to get Fairy Crosses, with magnet and instructions, all complete in a box, if you prefer a ready-made outfit, instead of embarking on “Do it Yourself” magic.

How To Make Your Own Fairy Crosses!

There are nine crosses, so you begin by cutting eighteen pieces of metal into equal strips of one inch in length by a quarter of an inch wide. This metal can be any kind that will be attracted to a magnet, so get your magnet first and try it out on the metal you intend to use. Magnets will attract any metal that contains iron.

Having cut your eighteen strips (use metal shears for this) you take two pieces and place them in the shape of an X. Where one metal strip crosses over the other, solder them together. If the metal is light enough, cold solder might do, but the hot type is always better. Or there is some ribbon solder that requires very little heat. When all the crosses are complete and firm, you paint them on one side in all the various colours described, but do let one side dry thoroughly before turning them over to paint the other side, and both sides must be painted to make the crosses of equal balance. Do not, of course, put on the paint so thickly as to form an insulation from the magnet.

If painting is not your idea of fun, the crosses can be covered with strips of thin ribbon (use striped or shot-silk for the rainbow cross) and the ribbon stitched into place with tiny stitches. Care is needed to ensure that the ribbon of the different coloured crosses is all of the same thickness. Make your sewing neat, for equal balance is of the greatest importance. Should one cross be covered by a thicker silk than another, the magnet would have less “pull” over that one, and the selection of crosses be hampered. Silk, nylon, artificial silk or even cotton are all suitable for covering the crosses, but choose the thinnest possible material, and remember that the thickness of any material used must be the same for all the crosses.

Then, following the method I have described of shaking the crosses up first in the lid of the box, pick them out one by one and lay out your first line, then run the magnet under the line from right to left, slowly, without touching the crosses, and let the magnet select the nine crosses, one by one, in its own order. It is the crosses in the order selected by the magnet that are to be read, using the interpretations I have given, and not the first line that you pick out of the box, remember. The idea of first picking out the nine crosses is that your personal magnetism gets into them through touching them. Then, for the actual “forecast line”, you use the magnet.


The mystic symbols on the magnet? Well, I have illustrated them, and you can paint them on it anywhere. I have also found out the meaning of the symbols, and they just mean “Fortune”.


In part two of this post, we will go through the predictive element in Miss M.’s article, picking up all the tips we can find there. In part three, I will apply what we have learnt to tarot reading from the predictive angle.

Exercise 12

by Tony Willis   

Warning. Do not attempt any part of this exercise unless you have already worked through the previous eleven exercises.

Mentally clear the space around you in the way you have been taught. Sit, get comfortable and close your eyes. Relax and allow your inner eye to embrace darkness. In a short while, the blackness will change, little by little, into a thick, dark mist that rolls and billows and changes color from coal black to grey. It grows paler and thins. As the grey mist lifts, you can see that you are seated on the raft in the center of the lake set in a vast park, your carry-all at your feet.

You are facing the Temple of Themis, with its white but weathered exterior. The raft floats near the center of the lake and from where you sit, you can see the Temple reflected on the lake’s surface as if in a mirror. The upside-down reflection seems cleaner than the actual Temple, while the trees around it give the appearance of bending and flowing like fronds of seaweed swayed by the motion of a restless tide. In the mirrored surface of the lake, the sky above the Temple reaches almost at your feet and in that otherworldly sky you can make out the silver orb of a moon close to being full.


The illustration is a depiction of Mercury, many of whose attributes Eleusis shares

Take up your carry-all, stand and go to the edge of the raft. Clutching your carry-all to your breast, jump, feet-first, into the water. You fall, down and down. In a while your feet touch solid ground, but the area around you is dimly lit, so gloomy that you can make out little of your surroundings. There is sand beneath your feet and the water is crystal-clear. Still, it is hard to see your way. As your eyes accustom to the half-light, you become aware of a presence, a young man, slim and unbearded, dressed in clothes of the Tudor era in England. He has on boots with wings attached to the heels; he wears hose, which are like the tights male ballet dancers wear; and a short-sleeved jacket held in place by a broad leather belt with a silver buckle; the belt is pulled in tight. He has on a hat like the one Robin Hood is shown wearing but this man’s hat has wings either side of it. One might mistake him for the Roman deity Mercury or his Greek counterpart Hermes, except that this man carries a lantern instead of a caduceus. He is Eleusis, son of Hermes and Daeira, daughter of Oceanus, and so able to operate effectively as a guide whether in air or in water.

Before consenting to go with him you should first test him. You can draw the sign of a banishing pentagram in front of him or you can draw an equal-armed cross and place a circle round its central point. If the figure you have met is not Eleusis it will disappear immediately. The chances of it being anyone other than Eleusis are small, however, and your true guide will either return your gesture or hold up a rose as a token of his bona fides. He stands as if waiting for something; for you are required to give proof that you know the sign that gives access to the path you are about to travel. To do this, take your cup from the carry-all, hold it where Eleusis can see it and tip it slightly. A trickle of water pours from it and Eleusis, seemingly satisfied by your action, turns and walks away. Put the cup back in the carry-all and follow him. He leads you towards the foot of a flight of stairs.

death in broad-brimmed hat       13t thoth

Catching up with him, you can make out a broad, stone stairway. It is very wide; an army could process down it. It appears to have no banisters though the ends of the steps are so far away you cannot be sure of this. Eleusis leads you up the stairs to a door at the top. The door is set in a plain, smooth, undecorated wall. Your guide knocks on the door and it opens to a pastoral scene. A path leads from the door, branching to right and left. Undulating green meadows with sheep wandering in them spread before you. A hedge separates the path from the grassland.

Eleusis puts out the candle in his lantern and turns to the left. He follows the path and you follow him. The path tends downwards and low hills rise on either side of it. You enter a broad valley that, some way ahead of you, tends to the right. This is where you and your guide must part company. On the other side of the valley you will be met by another guide but you must traverse the valley yourself, alone. Bidding Eleusis goodbye, you set off into the valley, following the broad curve of the path. As you proceed you notice that on both sides of the path there are scattered severed body parts, feet and hands. If you try to pick up a foot, it will run away from you; the hands will do the same, using their fingers like little legs. Further along there are more hands and feet but also heads. One head wears a crown. If you try to pick up one of the heads, it will roll aside and it will keep on rolling if you run after it. The sides of the valley now reach high above you and are very sheer. Instead of severed body parts, the valley floor in now littered with bones: arm bones, leg bones, spines with ribs attached, skulls, hands and feet, some of them missing fingers or toes. The bones don’t flee when you reach for them.

Set down your carry-all and collect the bones together, piling them into a heap. With your mound of bones assembled, go to your carry-all and take out your wand. Direct the wand at the bones and ask that they be cleansed by the purifying fire of Spirit. In answer to your request, a jet of flame spurts out from the tip of the wand, causing the whole mass of bones to be engulfed in fire. When the flames subside all that is left is a pile of grey ash. A strong wind rushes down the valley, whirling the ashes high into the air carrying them away with it. In the remains of the ash there lies a card, face down. From the patterning on its back, you can tell that it is either a playing card or a tarot card. It is in fact one of the Major Arcana cards from the tarot deck.

13 knapp hall            death

Bend down and turn the card over, then ‘see’ or ‘sense’ which card it is. You may see it with your astral eyes or you may ‘feel’ what card it is using one of the other astral senses. Not everyone apprehends the Astral World clairvoyantly. Many people practice clairsentience and ‘feel’ what is going on during their astral journeys; they have a sense of what is going on around them and of whom they meet and interact with and they translate these sensations into verbal images. Although I speak of working ‘in vision’, you may ‘see’ or ‘feel’ or apprehend what is going on in the Otherworld in way unique to yourself. However you come by the information, let the knowledge of which tarot Trump is left after the fire has died away form in your mind. Once you know what Trump you are holding, lay it back down among what remains of the ashes. Another wind, running down the valley, sudden, strong and chill, snatches it up and whirls it away.

Clap your hands together to rid them of as much of the traces of ash that have adhered to your fingers as possible. Then retrieve your carry-all and continue to end of the valley. The path now slopes upwards, the steep sides are covered with grass dotted here and there with wild flowers, dandelions and daisies and the occasional buttercup. The valley’s steep sides become less steep and you begin to encounter the odd sheep grazing on the raised ground on either side of the path.

The valley opens on to broad, undulating plane. It is mainly pasture land where flocks of sheep freely roam or stand quietly munching the grass. There is a large lake a little way off, fringed on its further side by a ragged row of trees. You can make out a figure sitting by the lake with its back to you. To get to the lake, you leave the path and cross the grass. As you come near the water, the figure stands and turns. It is Red, the fox.

If you are not sure the figure is actually Red, test it by drawing the looped cross between it and yourself. The real Red will give the answering sign. Going closer, you see that the fox has on a scarlet collar from which hangs a silver medallion. You don’t remember the collar or the medallion from your previous meeting with him. Red seems proud of his new acquisition and shows it off to you. One side of the medallion is impressed with the representation of a scythe, the other with that of an old-fashioned hourglass.

13T wang            13t tdm

Red taps your robe with a forepaw and, looking down, you see that you are dusty with ashes from the fire. Touching your hair and face, you can feel specks of ash stuck to them. Set down your carry-all, Red will look after it. Walk into the lake, submerge yourself completely in it. Float underwater for a moment before coming up again. When you break the surface, the vast plane has gone and Red with it. You are in the lake in the park, the Temple of Themis to one side of you. Your raft is bobbing gently on the water, your carry-all is beside your chair. Hoist yourself from the water and seat yourself on the chair. Pick up the carry-all and check its contents.

They are all there but so also is the Tarot card you picked from out of the remains of the ashes after the bones had been burned. Leave your things in the carry-all and set it beside you. Sit upright in the chair and close your eyes. Little by little, become aware of yourself, your physical body, seated in a room in your own home, eyes closed. Return your mind to a state of everyday consciousness before standing up and taking a few steps around the room. Put yourself through the usual earthing procedures, the practice of which ought to be second nature to you by now. End by stamping once on the floor or by clapping your hands sharply together. Drink something warm or have a bite to eat. Finally, make a note of whatever events have impressed you most during the course of Exercise Twelve.

When you feel ready, on another day, preferably, create sacred space around you. Separate the Major Arcana from the rest of the cards in your tarot pack. Make sure all the Trumps are the right way up. Shuffle them well while thinking of your spiritual path and what it may hold for you in the near future. When satisfied that the cards are thoroughly shuffled, cut and reassemble the deck, and lay the cards out face up in three rows of seven cards each. Keep the left-over card in reserve.

Find the Trump you picked from the ashes in the course of Exercise Twelve. I am going to call it Trump X. Next, locate Death, Trump 13. If Trump X lies ahead of Death, the implication is that your initiation into the Greater Mysteries is still to come; the nearer to Death Trump X lies, the sooner the initiation will be. If Trump X lies behind Death, you have already received initiation into the Greater Mysteries either in this life or a previous one. Should Trump X be the twenty-second card, the one held in reserve, you are put on notice that a major initiation lies before you if you desire to take it. You do not have to accept this initiation; it is entirely your choice. But if you do consent to undergo it, it will test you on every level, the physical, mental and spiritual.

I am not talking about the initiations offered by esoteric groups and organizations such as the Freemasons. I am talking about initiations that take place in the course of daily life. They assume the form of moral dilemmas, workplace choices, decisions concerning friends or family members. These are actual trials that take place in the real world. They test our resolve, our faith, and our humanity. On a small scale, they happen every day. For those taking the Path to Occult Knowledge, they occur periodically, spread out, usually with years intervening between one of these “initiations of the world” and the next. They are painful and test us to our limits but only so that we can become aware of what our limits actually are.

mmTarot 17      mmTarot 09

Should Death be the reserved card then Exercise Twelve has not been carried out correctly and you need to repeat it. On going through the exercise a second time, students usually find that the card taken from the ashes is different from the one they ‘saw’ or ‘felt’ when they first did it. In that case, the first Trump represents the ego’s desire, the second the desire of the Higher Self. One woman, who, at her first attempt, ‘felt’ the card in the ashes was The Star, hoped that she was in her final incarnation, and expected that when it was over, she would be released from the Wheel of Birth and Rebirth. On repeating the exercise, somewhat to her chagrin, the card plucked from the ashes turned out to be The Hermit, its message being, “You are on the Path to self-knowledge but nowhere near the end of your search; many other initiatory experiences lie ahead of you.”

Ah, yes: the card you retrieve from the ashes has a meaning, too. Let us say that this card is Temperance, Trump 14. That would indicate that you are psychologically at a stage of reassembling some part of your psyche. Temperance stands for the powers of combination and fusion, of putting things together and sealing them in place. It is a process that can only occur after a splitting up, followed by the dissemination of individual component parts for the purpose of cleansing them has taken place. When Temperance is the card found among the ashes, the indication is that the person has been through a reassessment of their values, on a large or small scale; that ideas which have previously proved to be a hindrance to progress have been blasted out of the person’s life by an irresistible wind of change blowing over them; and that the person is, at the time of the reading, reassembling the pieces that remain, cleansed of the grime and grit that once had coated them. The result will be a more effective, if somewhat chastened, human being, although the process of reconstruction may well have its own challenges. You can attempt to interpret the card you have drawn out of the ashes in the course of Exercise Twelve, but to do so successfully you will need a deep understanding of the alchemical potencies of the Major Arcana cards.

14 trad       14T wang

The Thirteenth Principle

by Tony Willis     

The thing to note about the Hanged Man is that, although he is strung up by his ankle, he is neither dead nor dying. Had he been hanged by his neck the illustration would show him dead. But a person hanged by the foot doesn’t die. The Tarot de Marseille depicts the man with his eyes open as does the so-called Charles VI deck. All occult tarots I have examined show him open-eyed. The Oswald Wirth and Knapp-Hall decks do so as does the Waite-Smith deck, and so do the B.O.T.A. deck and the illustration of Trump 12 in Mouni Sadhu’s book on tarot. In addition, the Hanged Man’s eyes are open on the card in the Egyptianized version of the tarot found in the book Practical Astrology.

Arcane-Arcana-12-pendu-hanged-man    12T knapp hall

T12 rider waite smith           h-man

Papus employs the terms “Trial” and “Ordeal” in relation to Trump 12. Other authors say it represents trials and vicissitudes or they assign it the meanings of “Sacrifice, suffering and anxiety”, as Frank Lind did in the 1950s. These interpretations of the card fit the symbolism of a living man, eyes open, enduring the indignity of immobilization, hung by one ankle, a punishment or a test, from which he will, hopefully, be released at some time in the not-too-distant future. The next Trump in the series does represent death and we might ask ourselves what this juxtaposition signifies.

mouni-12    See the source image

In what circumstances does a trial or series of ordeals precede death? Many of those new to the Path of Occult Development will not be equipped to answer that question. To reach an informed conclusion, one must first understand that the death we are attempting to examine is metaphorical not actual. It is not widely recognized by those who stand outside the doors of the Temple of Higher Knowledge that all major initiations entail a symbolic death and resurrection. Nor is it well understood that the major initiations are preceded by a series of tests, sometimes presented as lesser initiations. This is the pattern of events we see unfolding in the Degree system of Freemasonry, where the major initiation is known as the Third Degree. Even though the death lying at the heart of this initiation is entirely symbolic, it is presented so violently that the expression “to be given the third degree”, used to describe a physical or verbal pummeling, is derived from it.

The ordeals that lead up to initiation into the Third Degree are not so well publicized. They do exist, however, and an indication of what they involve can be picked up by studying Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. In the course of the unfolding of the plot of the opera, the hero, Tamino, passes through three tests. The first is trial by silence, where he is forbidden to speak no matter what happens to him. This is followed by ordeals of fire and water. On successfully passing these tests, Tamino and his sweetheart Pamina are at last permitted to enter the Temple of Ordeal, presented in the opera as falling under the authority of the Egyptian deities Isis and Osiris.

Let us start unravelling this tangled skein by beginning with the part played by Osiris and Isis in the scenario. One facet of the Western Esoteric Tradition is called Rosicrucianism. Within this movement, the Greater Mysteries are at times spoken of as falling under the dominion of Osiris with the Lesser Mysteries being the provenance of his consort, Isis. In this metaphor Isis personifies Nature, the natural world as understood by physicists, except that personification suggests that Nature has a Mind, a notion put into words by Dion Fortune, who uses the expression “the mind-side of Nature”. Osiris is Lord of the OtherWorld, the strata of consciousness generally depicted lying above the level of normal consciousness that human beings spend the majority of their time operating on. The importance given to the OtherWorld by occultists depends upon the teaching that whatever exists on the physical plane has its origins on the next higher plane above it, where it exists as an Idea. Beyond the OtherWorld there is, so it is posited, a purely spiritual world. According to occult and mystical teaching, this spiritual world is the soul’s ultimate destination. But in order for any individual human soul to return to this purely spiritual world that person must raise their consciousness first so as to have it apprehend and then to encompass the OtherWorld. Only when that feat has been achieved can the person attempt to raise their consciousness once again and elevate it further into the spiritual world.

In Religion, Science, & Magic: in concert and in conflict, p. 210, we learn that the aim of the mysteries was union, enosis in Greek. Initially this was union with a higher being, a tutelary deity. Those who proceeded further into the mysteries rose higher up the planes and united with the energies of a force often called the Absolute, or the All, by occultists and mystics.

In order to attain the first goal, apprehension of the OtherWorld, the pilgrim seeking direct contact with the spiritual world must achieve some level of mastery over the natural world, the material world in which we all function on a daily basis. For occultists, this mastery is sought through strengthening the link between body and mind. This link is paralleled with the physical aspect of Nature (Physis) and its “Mind”, Dion Fortune’s “mind-side of Nature”. One of the key injunctions given to aspiring adepts is “know yourself”. One facet of this task consists of getting to know one’s shortcomings with the aim of strengthening one’s psychological weaknesses. When “the self” has been worked upon sufficiently, its new, and hopefully improved, condition is tested.

The self’s flaws are identified under the four headings of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. These are wide-ranging categories but broadly speaking negative Earth-energy manifests as undue severity, a gloomy outlook on life, miserliness, parsimony and love of wealth for its own sake. Negative Air characteristics are pseudo-intellectuality, cunning, cruelty and vacillation. Fire-energy manifests negatively as destructiveness, an authoritarian attitude, cowardliness and disloyalty. The negative face of Elemental Water is one of misused sexuality, the manipulation of others, self-pity and false psychism.

The tests are labelled according to the Elements in the same way. This is made clear in The Magic Flute, where the hero is subjected to ordeals of Fire and Water.

Having passed these tests, the seeker must endure an even greater trial, one which, if successfully overcome, will fit them for entry into the Greater Mysteries. This ordeal is presented as a symbolic death. Traditionally the candidate for advancement to the Greater Mysteries passes through an acted-out death. In fact, the initiation, correctly administered, correctly received, is a dismemberment of the aspirant’s psyche followed by its reintegration, with all its elements better aligned.

Egyptian mythology recounts that Osiris was murdered and his body cut into thirteen pieces and distributed throughout Egypt. His wife Isis searched for the pieces, then reassembled and reanimated them, effectively raising her husband from the dead. Thisdeath myth relates to the significance the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn give to Trump 13. The Order papers say that the card Death is “the sign of transmutation and disintegration”. Dion Fortune, an initiate of the Golden Dawn, associates it with “generation through putrefaction” as do other occultists. The Death card designed for Paul Foster Case’s organization, B.O.T.A., has in its upper lefthand corner a seed, as Case tells us in The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of  the Ages. This is a reference to the Biblical quote from John 12:24. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” The seed, the grain of wheat, goes into the earth where is “disintegrates” and “putrefies” before rising above ground level as a shoot which in the fullness of time bears an ear of wheat, that ear full of “much grain”.

As adepts throughout the ages have told us: “There is no growth without a previous death, or, as the alchemists liked to put it, there can be no generation without putrefaction.” Or even: “There can be no passage from one state of being to another without dying.” This brings us to another quote from the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 15:31, St Paul remarks: “I die daily”. St Paul is not speaking of physical death, obviously. It is a metaphorical death he is referring to. Frank Lind (How to Understand the Tarot) explains the symbolism of Trump 13 thus: “What is depicted here is the death of the old self, the sloughing of all fleshly desires. Man has at this stage come to the realization that all material manifestations are Maya (Illusion); he sees himself, in the physical sense, as a mere skeleton of his real Self, which has its true abode in a higher realm. There can be no spiritual advancement for him until he has discarded the limitations and encumbrances of the flesh, metaphorically speaking, and risen from the grave of his old earthly attachments. He must be born again, of the Spirit.” Another adept assures us that “with enough repeated practice of constantly dying and being reborn in the present moment without entering again into the habits, identifications and cycles of the mind, we experience a strong and profound inner transformation.”

This statement is reflected in one of the Latin phrases attached by occultists to Trump 13: transmutatio virum. It is translated as “the transformation of Man”, where ‘Man’, in the language of the time, meant all humanity. What is this “strong and profound inner transformation”? Since it is an experience, it cannot be properly explained to anyone who has not themselves undergone that experience. There are, however, indications of what the experience entails. M., in The Dayspring of Youth makes this statement: “People often wonder why occultists of all ages are told to renounce everything. This has been misunderstood. What they renounce is their personal will.” The emphasis on “will” hints at a link between Trump 13 and Trump 1, since the tarot’s Magician is regularly associated with will power. It should be noted in this respect that the word virum, used to signify man in the Latin phrase given to the Death card, is an echo of the vir attached to the Magician card and having the same meaning, ‘Man’, but signifying ‘human kind’ as whole. You can see this vir at the bottom of the card below.


This paralleling of Trump 13, Death, with Trump 1, The Magician, highlights the former card as heralding a new beginning. As the first numbered Trump signals the start of the entire series of numbers, so does the Death card mark the commencement of a new way of life for the soul proceeding along the Path that leads to self-knowledge. Those who pass this milestone begin again inasmuch as they get to see the world through new eyes. This means a reassessment of values, for what was once of vital importance is now seen as being of secondary or even tertiary significance. This “Seeing through new eyes” is also referred to as “birth into other conditions”. It marks a noticeable change of attitude and it can take place at any age. For St Francis of Assisi the realization came in his early twenties. Gautama, the Buddha, was likewise a young man when he had his inner awakening, but both these men were advanced souls. Usually, the rest of us do not reach this stage of inner development until we are much older, though we can be helped to it by being brought onto the Road of Initiation.

In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, we read, “I am Yesterday, and I am To-day; and I have the power to be born a second time.” Initiation into the Third Degree of Freemasonry and similar initiations performed in the Mystery Schools are spoken of, figuratively, as “a second birth”. The central figure in Initiations into the Greater Mysteries dies and is reborn or resurrected; the model laying in back of this narrative in the Western Mysteries is generally the Egyptian god Osiris. According to E. A. Wallis Budge, in The Gods of the Egyptians, Volume 2, Osiris experienced “destruction and regeneration”. Once he had been regenerated, it was noted that “his limbs had been reconstructed and he had become immortal”, that “his body never decayed like the bodies of ordinary men” and never diminished even in death.

See the source image

It is not the physical body that is referred to in these statements concerning Osiris. When interrogating the symbolism of Trump 13, one needs to bear in mind that, to the occultist, immortality is not the perpetuation of the body; it is an innate realization of the perpetuity of the Spirit. The first stage of this process, through which everyone must pass before initiation into the Greater Mysteries can be attained, is the deconstruction of the Psyche. It is a stage in which the Psyche is first broken down into its component parts and then reassembled to form a new and reconstituted whole. In tarot terms, Death, Trump 13, represents the “transmutation and disintegration” aspect of this process. Reintegration and revivification fall under the authority of Temperance, Trump 14. The reassembled Psyche is “brought back to life” and its transformation completed by the energies working through the 14th Trump, energies frequently spoken of as being alchemical in their operation.