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Magickally Charge Your Tarot Cards

by Tony Willis      

Another plea has reached me: “I’ve only recently taken up tarot and I haven’t handled my deck so often that it has picked up my ‘trace’. I mean, I don’t think it has. Still, I would like to be part of your project. Is there a way I can quickly impregnate my deck with my personal energy?”

mmTarot 78And another, on an allied theme: “Don’t look down on me, please. You see, I have tarot pack that I frequently use and I don’t want to give up using it. Okay, that indicates I’m not cut out to be a top-flight magician. But I have another pack and I would be willing to sacrifice that for the duration if there was some way I could energize it sufficiently. Is there, perhaps, a way of doing that?”

The answer to both correspondents is that there is a method of “charging” a tarot deck quickly and reliably. However, while it is quicker than constantly handling the card over a number of months, it is not instantaneous. It would take about a week, in which case, the deck would be “energized” in time for my correspondents to start the magickal operation next Friday, 10th April.

Select your deck and carry it with you by day as much as possible. A woman may mmTarot 50carry it in her handbag; a man can place it in the pouch of a hoodie. There are ways of keeping the deck with you during the day, just give the problem a little thought, something will occur to you. At night, sleep with the deck under your pillow. It helps in both instances if the cards are wrapped in a man’s handkerchief or a scarf or muffler, so long as the wrapper isn’t made of silk as that will insulate the pack from you. Stick to these instructions until next Friday and the deck will be sufficiently impregnated with your personal magnetism for you to be able to participate in a magickal working.

I hope the two people who wrote me follow my advice because the more there are involved in this endeavor the stronger the magick will be.

Tarot Magick for Our Times

by Tony Willis   

My previous posting seems to have been well received. However, I have had a number of emails from readers of the blog, all saying the same thing. “Although I have been reading with the tarot for six years, I have no training in practical esotericism and my visualization skills range from poor to non-existent. Nevertheless, it is my strongest desire to participate in some way in the movement to rebuild in a more balanced form the world that is left to us after the corona virus has been contained, one where our Mother Earth and all her children are treated with love and respect. Is there something I can do that will enable me to play my part in this enterprise?”

RWS-Tarot-Magician-01There is something that people who fall into this category can do, a simplified form of magick. As the image on the Magician card shows, true magick is the art of drawing down divine energy from above (the magician’s raised right arm), and having that energy pass though his physical body while adding two things to it – a portion of the magician’s own psychic energy and a portion of his will-power. The latter factor is used to give direction to the combined energies accumulated inside him, the divine energy drawn from above and his own personal energy.

Should the magician wish to consecrate a talisman intended to ensure that the manuscript submitted to a publishing house by a budding author will be read by an editor sympathetic to her style and content choice, the magician might, at this stage of his magickal operation, direct the energy he has built up inside him to the talisman laying on the altar before him. He wills the energy to pass into the talisman but also imagines it making that journey, from the tip of a finger he has pointed at the talisman into the object itself. For those who have no visualizing power, the physical action can aid this part of the process. Moreover, those who lack the talent to visualize very often possess a more heightened sense of feeling. They may feel the divine energy come into their body when asked to do so; they may feel it grow in strength within them; and they may feel it leave their body when they point to, or actually touch, the physical talisman, frequently to the extent that they are aware of being slightly depleted once the operation is over. This final action is called “earthing the power”. It is depicted in the image on the Magician card by the mage’s left hand with its finger pointing downwards, to the earth on which he stands.

Anyone who wishes to participate in the drive to overcome the virus and to create a more equitable and kindlier world in the aftermath of the pandemic can follow the instructions I am about to give. The only personal requirement needed is for you to have worked consistently with a particular tarot deck for a period of at least a year. That is because the procedure will make use of that portion of your own personal energy already stored in the cards of that deck due to your constant handling of it. If you undertake to perform this piece of tarot magick, you will not be able to use that tarot deck until the virus is under control, which may not happen until September. You may view this as a sacrifice, one you are reluctant to make. That is as it should be, for true magick demands sacrifice; sometimes it is a sacrifice of time, sometimes of energy; but there must always be a sacrifice on some level in order to “power the magick”. If you are not willing to sacrifice the use of your favorite tarot pack for six months, then you must face up to the fact that you do not have it in you to be a magician.

Those who decide that the sacrifice is worth making should take from the deck The Empress, Strength, the Ace of Cups, the 6 of Swords, and the 4 of Pentacles. These five cards represent the “five elements” of esoteric thought. The Empress, from the Major Arcana, stands for Spirit, or Æther as it is sometimes called. Trump 3 is a visual depiction of Nature, one has only to examine the symbolism of the card to recognize that. If you have read the comments to my previous post, you will have seen that one of our number, Ap, identifies Nature with the old Greek term Physis, from which we get our words ‘physical’ and even ‘physics’, which is nothing more than a study of the natural world. Astrologically, the Empress corresponds to the planet Venus. You will remember from my previous post that it was the powers of Venus that needed to be invoked in order to restore harmony to the world. That is why the Empress card has been chosen to play a part in this magickal operation.

3EmpressRiderWaite  8StrengthRiderWaite  cups ace

The Ace of Cups is, in this instance, the representative of Elemental Water. The Golden Dawn call it the Root of the Powers of Water. Among its qualities, Water has the power to cleanse, as when we wash our hands or do the laundry. It is also noted for “finding its own level”. Both these traits are going to be needed before we humans can even begin to think of creating a brave new world for ourselves and the planet in the wake of the corona virus. A cleansing must take place, but also the spiritual forces that brought the virus into being must not be hindered in having it figuratively reach its high-water mark. One cannot fight the whirlwind; one can only batten down the hatches and wait for it to blow itself out. It will be the same with the progress of the virus.

6ofswords      pentacles 4

Water is balanced by its opposite force, Fire. However, I have thought it best not to choose a Fire card for this operation. It would in any case be difficult to find one that suited our purpose. The 4 of Wands is too static, the 10 too oppressive. The energy conveyed by the 8 of Wands is too fleeting to be of much use to us; the 9 expresses the strength to withstand, but it is a defensive strength rather than an energy that seeks to cooperate with the divine forces pressing down on humanity from the Higher Planes. I have therefore chosen as the representative of Fire, a Trump that embodies not only the 9 of Wands’ strength to withstand difficulties but also the nobler sentiments of courage and determination directed to honorable ends. That card is Strength, from the Major Arcana.

To represent Air, I have selected the 6 of Swords with its meaning of finding a way through troubles and the safe navigation of anxieties and set-backs. Since Air stands also for the intellect, the 6 of Swords will also stimulate the intelligence of scientists in their attempts to discover a cure or vaccine for the virus, just as at the present time there are flu vaccines to protect the aged and vulnerable from the winter ravages of that disease. Lastly, I have chosen the 4 of Pentacles, symbol of elemental Earth, to represent the world as we wish to see it once the virus has been conquered and reduced to the same level as the flu. The man on the card represents humanity. He wears a crown and the meaning of this is that the seated man rules the earth like a good king, taking into account the needs of all creatures, the birds, the fishes, the insects, the horses, the elephants, the lions – all the inhabitants of this marvelous planet of ours. The higher aspect of the 4 of Pentacles is: dominion over the Earth, wisely administered.

The Magickal Operation

The best day on which to perform the magickal operation is Friday, that being the weekday sacred to Venus. Sit comfortably at a table that has the five cards laid upon it. First take the Ace of Cups and place it directly in front of you face up. Lok at the image and say, “May the Waters of Life cleanse the world.” Set The Empress on top of the Ace, also face up, look at the image and say, “May Mother Nature be aided in her efforts to self-heal.” Next place the 6 of Swords on top of the Empress, again face upward, regard the picture and say, “As Air flows around obstacles, and soars above them, may a path be found that takes the world and all that is in it to a place of greater safety.” Lay the Strength card on top of the 6 of Swords, face up, and looking at the image, say, “May an inner strength arise to sustain us all, to give us fortitude in our time of trouble and a burning determination to create a better world when the time comes to rebuild the shattered societies that will then exist across the globe.” Finally, place the 4 of Pentacles face upwards upon Strength, and setting the palm of one hand over the stack of cards, say, “I hope and pray that, in the better days to come, humankind will respect the Earth and Mother Nature, and perform its duty as caretaker to the planet with love, responsibility and a respect for all life-forms with whom it shares this wonderful world.”

At this point, if you are able, imagine divine energy entering your body. Picture it as a pure white light flowing into your head from above, if you have any visualizing facility whatsoever. Or it may be that you experience an almost physical sensation of a tingling sort of vibration entering your body from all points of the compass and from above your head as well. Once this energy has entered your body, you need to transfer it to the stack of cards under your palm so as to add it the cache of your own personal energy already stored in the cards you have taken from your tarot pack. Do this by imagining, and willing, the energy in your body to cohere in the region of your heart and from there to flow down your arm, into your hand, and pass from you into the cards via the hollow in the palm of your hand.

When the energy has stopped flowing (its cessation is a very distinct sensation that will recognize instantly), take your hand away from the pile of cards. As energy has gone out of you, you should replenish it. Eat something, if only a crispbread, and have a hot drink. Then find a safe place to keep the cards in, bearing in mind that they may have to remain where you put them for as long as six months. Lay them in your safe place with the back of the Ace of Cups uppermost, that is to say, so that none of the pictures on the cards can be seen. While lying face down in the safe space you have found for them, the cards will be steadily emitting the energy they have been infused with, acting rather a like a storage battery.

The operation should be repeated every Friday until at least the time when the virus’s effects are on the wane. If you subscribe to a particular religion, you may begin the operation, and all subsidiary ones intended to top up the energy the cards are holding, by dedication the task you are about to perform to the primary deity you worship. For many of you this will be God, but for Catholics and any Angelologists among those reading the blog, it is possible to call first on the name of God (whichever name you customarily use) and then to call upon the blessing of the Angel Anael, this being the angel associated with the planet Venus and with Fridays.

If you choose to participate in this magickal operation, I wish you well with the undertaking. The more minds that are focused on a positive outcome, the stronger the magick becomes. May your efforts be blessed, and may you be blessed, too, by the One Divine Presence and by Mother Nature, for your service to them both.

Corona Virus in the Tarot

by Tony Willis    

Background to the question

Most of my friends are occultists, like me. They know that the astrological correlation of the corona virus is the multiple conjunctions presently taking place in the heavens between Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto. But the question I’ve been asked most often over the past two weeks has been, “Why is this happening? What is the root cause of the pandemic?” It is not a usual question for a tarot reader to be asked, and you, reader, may wonder if the tarot is capable of answering it. Fear not; it is. In fact, divination is ideally suited for dealing with questions of this sort.

Dion Fortune maintained that, in its highest aspect, divination is a method of revealing what spiritual forces are at play in any given situation. When our forebears were faced with plague, pestilence or famine, they believed that one or other of their gods had been offended and had sent the affliction to punish the tribe or the nation. If we think of the deities of old as personifications either of nature or of social mores – Poseidon/Neptune was the sea, Ceres/Demeter, a corn goddess, was the fertile earth, Juno/Hera stood for fidelity in marriage, Jupiter/Zeus was concerned with upholding the law of the land, and so on – this way of looking at a problem makes sense. In times of national disaster it was up to the priests and sages to discover which god had been offended and to propose a remedy, an offering that would mollify the disgruntled deity.

Dion Fortune’s approach to divination can be applied in the same fashion. Examples she gives in her published works include the correction of an over-abundance of Mars energy in one’s life (manifesting as disputes, squabbles, angry fallings out and/or minor accidents resulting in bloodshed) by an invocation of an opposing energy. The most likely candidate as a corrective to Mars is Jupiter because the Sephirah on the Tree of Life corresponding to Mars is the fifth sphere, Geburah, which, on the diagram of the Tree stands directly opposite the Sephirah associated with Jupiter, namely Chesed. To Dion Fortune, Geburah represents a country’s king leading his army into battle against invaders, while Chesed represents the same king seated in state, dispensing justice, as King Solomon is known to have done. An invocation of Jupiterian energy is an operation that transmutes the unwanted excess of Mars energy by first calming and then redirecting it along Jupiterian lines.

Posing the question

I framed my question to the tarot about the corona virus based on the foregoing factors. I asked: What is the underlying spiritual cause of the pandemic created by the rapid spread of the corona virus?

I used a full tarot deck intending to read any Major Arcana cards that appeared as having a primary influence on the matter. I was next looking for spot cards of the same number coming out in the reading, let us say two 10s or three 4s. From this one might deduce which sphere on the Tree of Life played a part in the crisis. On an equal footing with this information, I placed cards of the same suit, as this would broadly indicate the planetary influences holding sway – Venus for Cups, Jupiter for Pence (Pentacle), and so on. These planets also correspond to spheres on the Tree of Life and could give indication of which spiritual energies lay behind the pandemic.

This is the answer I received.

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Interpreting the cards

Abiding by the rules I had laid down for myself, the most important card in the reading is the only member of the Major Arcana to come out, The Fool. This card can be interpreted in one of two ways. Paul Foster Case, who had the same esoteric background as Dion Fortune, took The Fool to represent Superconsciousness. A Jungian psychologist might call this the Collective Unconscious, and a devoted person might call it God. In either case the card’s meaning is much the same. We may say either that the One Divine Power has sent the coronavirus, or that the pandemic has somehow been called forth into manifestation by the Collective Unconscious. In this instance, we should see the Collective Unconscious as the Anima Mundi, the World Soul. It is not merely the sum total of human thoughts but contains also the mental processes of animals, insects, fishes, birds and even of Mother Earth herself – or what Dion Fortune calls ‘the mind side of Nature.’

Before the Golden Dawn interpretations of the cards became predominant, an older view of The Fool was that, true to its name, the card represented folly, ill-considered action or action made with little or no thought of the consequences. Today’s tarot students working with the Tarot de Marseille sometimes adopt this meaning also. It certainly adds another dimension to this reading, for many folk around the world are well aware of the damage human beings have been doing to the planet. Furthermore, people are equally aware that the issue has been known to exist for thirty years or more and that governments all across the globe have acted too slowly to make serious in-roads into the problem of climate change. It is now recognized that, after only a few weeks of self-isolation in countries in Europe and North America and in China as a whole, the ozone layer is starting to show signs of repairing itself. This is because humans are no longer constantly flying around the world, aren’t travelling about their own countries by automobile. The polluted canals of Venice have purified themselves now that human beings have ceased using them as aqueous superhighways. The evidence is there for all to see: Humankind had become a polluter. It is also blindly obvious that, left to Herself and free of human interference, Nature will set about healing the planet.

There are no spot cards sharing the same number in the reading and so we cannot divine the nature of the sphere on the Tree of Life involved in the pandemic by that means. We have to turn instead to the suits, and see which predominate. There are two Sword cards present in the reading, and only one Wand and one Cup card. Swords, therefore, predominate slightly. You, reader, may be accustomed to thinking of the Swords suit as corresponding to the Element of Air. On one level it does. But when the suits are used to describe planets, Swords are assigned to Mars and Saturn. You can check that fact by consulting Dion Fortune’s The Mystical Qabalah, Dion Fortune being one of the foremost ceremonial magicians of her age.

In astrology, Mars and Saturn are known as the Infortunes; they are the Lesser and the Greater Malefics respectively. Mars is lord of disruption, Saturn is lord of depletion of energies leading to death. Their combined influences fit the facts of the corona virus pandemic very well. But if Mars and Saturn represent the spiritual cause of the pandemic, what is the antidote?

On the Tree of Life, the spheres ruled by Mars and Saturn are connected, one laying directly below the other, a band of energy running between them. The Saturn-force descends into the sphere of Mars, where it becomes infused with fire. An appropriate image for this combination would be a great conflagration (Mars) spreading across the face of the earth (Saturn). This image would figuratively describe the spread of the virus, too.

The Tree of Life depicts the development of One Energy as it passes through ten phases. Having descended from the sphere of Saturn to that of Mars, the One Energy can move – that is to say, evolve – in one of two directions. It can continue its direct descent and enter the sphere associated with the planet Mercury, laying below the sphere of Mars, or, by moving obliquely, it can pass through the central sphere, ruled by the Sun, and enter the sphere dedicated to the planet Venus. At this point, the ceremonial magician has to decide whether to invoke the powers of Mercury or those of Venus in order to counteract – or more accurately, to redirect – the destructive action of Saturn allied with Mars.

I incline to Venus for several reasons. Firstly, in myth, Venus has a connection with saturn3both Saturn and Mars. The latter was her lover, while the former represents her husband in astrological terms. The Greek counterparts of Venus and her husband, Vulcan, are Aphrodite and Hephaistos. There is no direct planetary correlation for Hephaistos but when we examine his description we find him not too dissimilar to Saturn. Hephaistos was not a physically attractive man, more tellingly he was lame. Medieval and Renaissance pictures of Saturn, too, depict him as lame as a way of indicating the planet’s slow, limping course around the zodiac. (The illustration shows him with a wooden leg!) Secondly, the final card in the spread is a Cup card, and the Cup suit falls under the presidency of Venus. In an Equal-Armed Cross spread, the final card is usually an over-arching comment on the matter inquired about. Therefore, Venus seems the appropriate deity to invoke in an effort to counteract the negative energies of Mars combined with Saturn stirred up by humankind’s collective foolish, self-absorbed behavior that has only grown in intensity since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

If you, reader, have had no instruction in Qabalah while possessing little knowledge of astrology, then you may think of Venus as the goddess of physical love and of beauty, beautifying and adornment. But esoterically and astrologically she is so much more than that. The traits already enumerated refer to the side of her nature expressed in the zodiac sign Libra, although Libra, having the symbol of the scales, at the same time refers to the law, on the one hand, and harmony, and the idea of the restoration of balance, on the other. The second zodiac sign that Venus rules is Taurus, an Earth sign, much concerned with the conservation of the earth’s resources. Taurus is the sign of the bull. Ancient peoples, if they had to slaughter a cow, used every part of the animal, nothing being allow to go to waste. The flesh was for eating, of course; the skin was turning into clothing or used to make shoes; the sinews had a use and the long hairs of the tail might be used as thread for sewing with. Even if, when the corona virus pandemic has been conquered, we are all vegetarians, the principle that nothing in nature should be wasted ought nevertheless to be upmost in our minds.

The more often that human beings employ the methods of Venus and make sure that nothing goes to waste, the quicker the planet will return to a state of harmony and the balance of natural law will come to reign again upon the Earth. Those with magickal training should invoke Venus, or any equivalent goddess from another pantheon. If you are used to working with the Norse tradition, the equivalent deities are Freya and her twin brother Frey. (Deities frequently have a female and a male manifestation.) In the Egyptian tradition, the goddess is Hathor, in the Celtic tradition Bridget. Even if you have no esoteric training, you can play your part by quietly meditating on the Venus principle as outlined above. A mere five minutes a day can make a difference, particularly if dozens of people are doing the same thing across the globe. If, doubting your own expertise, you would prefer to work under someone else’s direction, there is a project under way that you can apply to join in with. Contact Daniela at and ask to be included in the meditations she has organized for the neutralization of the present horrific circumstances.

Ethics & Divination: an Example

by Tony Willis     

Back in the long long ago of the mid-1900s when I was learning to use the tarot predictively, I had the ethics of divination drummed into me by my tutors. One rule was that the seer ought not to use divination to pry into other people’s private lives. If Duncan, who lives in my apartment block, seems to me the type of man who would be unfaithful to his wife, it is not for me to go delving into his present and future prospects simply to satisfy my own curiosity on the subject. But note the wording of the rule: “the seer ought not”. “It ought not be done” is not the same as “it cannot be done”, though it takes a practiced and astute reader to extract an accurate and unambiguous answer from the tarot under these conditions.

Another more general rule is that one shouldn’t make a reading concerning the prospects or current situation of someone who isn’t actually in the room with the reader. I have seen this rule presented as “It isn’t possible to do a reading for an individual who isn’t present.” I have learnt from experience that this isn’t the case. Nor is it impossible to make a reading about a third party. The history of divination contains several instances where a reading of that kind was performed.

In the original Arabian Nights narrative on which the story of Aladdin is based, the evil magician, having imprisoned Aladdin in the cave with the magick lamp, begins to have second thoughts. For one thing, his desire to own the lamp himself has not abated. If Aladdin has starved to death, the magician could safely send another foolish boy into the bowels of the earth to retrieve the lamp for him. To discover what state Aladdin is in the magician makes a divination, only to discover that Aladdin is alive and well, married to a princess and living in the lap of luxury somewhere. All of which, as we know, is true.

“That’s a fairytale,” you may say. “What about real people?” I’ll take a case from William Lilly’s Christian Astrology. Lilly was active as an astrologer in the seventeenth century, long before the internet or the telephone, the telegraph or even the pony express. England at that time didn’t have a mail service – snail mail, that is. Lilly was consulted by a woman who wanted an urgent message delivered to her son. The young man owned two properties, one south of London, one north east of the city. Where should she send the message? To answer that question, she must first know at which of his properties her son was presently residing. Lilly framed the question in the form, “Where will the young man be tomorrow?”, which is when the message would arrive. He got his answer, conveyed it to his client, and the woman went on her way, a satisfied customer.

There are occasions, then, when the diviner may legitimately seek out information about a third party. Another rule of divination covers this point: If you cannot get at certain information in any other way, it is permissible to ask the tarot if it has anything to say on the matter. In Lilly’s book, there are instructions for discovering whether a rumor is true – very useful in his day, because England was than in the grip of civil war, and rumors that this city had fallen or that commander had been defeated in battle were rife.

A Friend in Need

Just recently I had reason to delve into the private affairs of someone I had never even met. What happened was this: A friend – I’ll call her Anita – got in touch with me because she was concerned about someone she had known for many years – I’ll call this second woman Vanessa. Anita is Scottish, Vanessa is a US citizen; they met three decades ago when they were both living in Spain. Anita came home and Vanessa did the same. They kept in touch, and Vanessa visited Anita in the UK; at one point they took a holiday together. But for two Christmases, and two birthdays, Vanessa hadn’t sent cards. Vanessa would now be in her eighties, and Anita was worried about her while also feeling that Vanessa might have passed over.

Anita has some training in the area of absent healing, so she understood about the power of the mind and knew it was possible to travel on the Astral to visit Vanessa if she was still alive. She wrote to me: “I’m not asking you to find out on my behalf, but what would be the best way do you think? Just meditate on her, or try an astral trip as taught by [one of her occult mentors]? I really feel I owe it to her to find out.” She explained, “I can often tell when someone has physically died or if ill, [is] about to die, but I’ve just been getting a blank.”

I emailed back, “Your experience in these matters is different from mine. It is also more extensive; I’ve contacted the dead about three times in my whole life – usually they contact me (again, something that’s happened only a handful of times). But I have had the experience of drawing a blank, just as you report concerning Vanessa. This was when my friend Regina died. She and I had been very close. We corresponded at least once a week. After her death, I felt no connection with her at all – no connection in that interior sense – I think you understand what I mean.

“Then I got an email, out of the blue, from her nephew in the US. He too had no ‘sense’ of her, and they had been close. Finding this decidedly odd, he wanted to know what I thought was going on. I told him I had the same feeling and that my expectation was that Regina would be contactable when she was ready to have contact. About a year, maybe 18 months later, I was aware of her – not of her presence exactly but of her essence shall we say.

“I’m telling you this because I have the impression that your being unable to sense anything about Vanessa may have the same cause. Which is to say, I believe she has passed on.

“To check my ‘intuition’, I laid the cards. The equal-armed cross spread. All the cards that appeared were from the minor arcana. Three of them were Wands, which stand for Health, Vigor and Vitality; and they were negative Wands cards at that.”

This is the resultant spread.

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I will explain the significance of these cards at the end of the article. I didn’t go deeper into the spread’s meaning in my email to Anita, as I wanted to move the conversation in another direction. I simply continued: –

“Then I asked “What can you tell me of Vanessa’s present situation?” using only the major arcana.

“The cards were: The Star, The Hanged Man, The Moon, Judgment, The Wheel of Fortune.

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“My interpretation is: Vanessa has made a new beginning (Star), the ‘cause’ of this is the ‘sacrifice’ of her physical body (Hanged Man). She is spending time somewhere appropriate on the Astral (Moon) and is in, or will soon be entering, the Halls of Judgment to have her just-passed life assessed (Judgement). Once that process is completed, she will reincarnate (Wheel).

“I could be wrong (it’s been known to happen), but that’s how I read these cards.”

Because Anita had studied Murry Hope’s book on Egyptian Magic <>, I added: –

“You can check my findings for yourself. (I’m all in favor of double checking.) You could meditate on Vanessa but at the same time invoke Osiris, Lord of the Hall of Judgement. He may allow you admittance to Amenti [the Egyptian Underworld] where you might be able to pick up her trail, or you may meet Thoth or Maat, who might tell you, telepathically, what is happening to Vanessa.

“This scenario assumes she has passed on. If she is still alive, that may be conveyed to you too. Osiris may turn you away from Amenti, for instance, instructing you to direct your attention elsewhere.

“I would be interested to know how you get on.”

Straight away, I got an email back. “I get a feeling, as you do, that she has passed on and it being the most likely, but then I also get an image of her in a hospital bed. But if this is/was true, it may no longer be true. In short, my psychic sense is all over the place. But It will consult no less than Murry for some hints as to applying to Osiris!

“I never thought of doing a Tarot spread – duh!”

A few days later, Anita sent a report of her attempt to discover what had happened to her friend. “I made my journey yesterday evening, which turned out to be fairly brief, which I was told was the way it was meant to be. I found myself at night, before a sort of cromlech, two standing stones with one across the top. Before anything happened, a sort of blank TV screen appeared and Vanessa’s head, right shoulder and right arm appeared with her right arm coming through, but she didn’t look at me or react as she normally would. This vision disappeared and Anubis was standing to my left. He led me through the entrance and down, underground, to a very large and spacious hall, sparsely decorated with little in it. It appeared to be made mostly of wood. There was a figure seated on a dais opposite. I was led by Anubis to an entrance to the right of the dais, and I saw a brightly lit room. Vanessa was crossing into it and she was wearing a sort of long nightgown with a high neck (of the sort older ladies wear). She didn’t look at me. I was asked what I wanted to say, and I said I only sent my love and wished her peace. I was then led out again to above ground.

“It was quite a rapid journey for some reason. The figure on the dais however wasn’t Osiris, who was nowhere to be seen – it was Thoth.

“The question in my head all along has been: has my friend Vanessa passed over? and I have the answer. For now, I think I have to be content with this. It could well be that more information will come when it’s ‘released’.

“I may try again at a later date, but I think I have to leave it for the time being.”

To this, I responded: “Concerning Vanessa: I think we have our answer.

“Anubis appeared to you. Of course he did! Why didn’t I think of telling you to petition Anubis, guide to the astral planes to lead you into Amenti?

“I think your stay was brief, as mine was when seeking information about K [another recently-dead associate], because our presence wasn’t required. While not actually an encumbrance, we are almost certainly ‘surplus to requirements.’

“>The figure on the dais however wasn’t Osiris, who was nowhere to be seen – it was Thoth.

That fits with what the tarot reading told us. It said Vanessa was at the point of Judgment – having her life history assessed. Thoth is the keeper of astral records and stands next to the balance in the Hall of Judgment when the deceased’s heart is weighed against the feather of Truth. Thoth records the result and sees to it that the judgment is enacted. He is in charge of the process Vanessa is going through at the moment.”

A final communication from Anita ties up what few loose ends remain. “Of course – Anubis would lead me to the underworld and Anubis is a tutelary deity I have recourse to on occasion. And you explain why I saw Thoth and not Osiris. So yes, I have my answer and that was exactly what I asked for.

“’Surplus to requirements’ describes it, and may explain the screen I saw – I was granted a brief looking on to see what has happening, but mostly I didn’t belong there and the proceedings were nothing to do with me. I think I’ll find out something more in due course or sense Vanessa’s presence, but this can neither be forced, petitioned for, or rushed. It will be released to me as it will”

The Full Deck Spread

What did I make of the Equal-armed Cross spread I first laid using the whole deck? My immediate impression was that the cards I had drawn didn’t bode well for Vanessa. The spread consists of a mixture of Wands and Pentacles cards. In this context, these suits have reference to vitality (Wands, Fire) and the body (Pentacles, Earth). All three Wand cards are unfortunate. The 9 of Wands, in first place, is reversed, which in the case of suspected ill-health suggests that recovery is in doubt. Moreover, in combination with two other Wands cards of malign aspect, the 9 hints at more than that, namely that recovery is not likely to occur.

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The 5 of Wands tells us that a contest has taken place – the battle for Vanessa’s life possibly. The 10 of Wands is a card of failure. The Golden Dawn text concerning the card says specifically: “failure because the opposition is too strong to be overcome.” At this point in the reading, the cards of Health, Vitality, and Vigor give way to cards denoting the Physical Body. The 9 of Pentacles is reversed, and the Golden Dawn tarot papers give it the meaning, when ill-dignified, of theft. Under the circumstances, I took the card to indicate that Life, Vigor, the Vital Elan had been ‘stolen’ from Vanessa’s body. The final card is the 10 of Pentacles. Although it is upright, this card is not a particularly fortunate one in the Golden Dawn lexicon. Its interpretation is Completion of something on the material plane, but nothing beyond. Usually when we end one project, we start work on another. To the G.D., the card also emphasizes Old age and Lethargy.

The spread contains two Nines and two Tens. This in itself hints at something coming to an end. The numbers of the spot cards represent a sequence at the head of which stand the Aces, often indicating the beginning of something – the Ace of Cups, a new romance; the Ace of Wands, a new business opportunity, and so on. In similar fashion, the Tens represent endings, and if not that then a distinct change of emphasis.

At the same time, there are no major arcana cards in the reading, probably because Anita isn’t directly involved in Vanessa’s situation so she isn’t going to be hugely affected by the story the cards are unfolding. If she and Vanessa were sisters, one would expect at least one trump card to come out in the spread.

Taking all these omens into account, I felt it almost certain that Vanessa had succumbed to an illness, or simply to old age (10 Pentacles), and passed on. I was unwilling, however, to embrace that conclusion without attempting to back it up. It is a simple layout, consisting of a meer five cards. For confirmation, I could either make another reading, this time employing more cards, or do a divination using only the major arcana. I opted for the latter, with the result already recorded.

Interpreting the Minor Arcana

by Tony Willis      

In this article, I am going to deal with spreads containing only minor arcana spot cards. I’ve ransacked my records from the time when I was a member of Golden Dawn-type Temple, working exclusively with GD meanings for the cards for these examples. Figuring that most readers either use the GD meanings or those suggested by the images on the Waite-Smith cards, which more often than not are affiliated to the GD meanings, I’ve taken this option. However, readers of the blog who work with some other set of meanings should be able to benefit from the examples below by taking note of the way I link the significances of the various cards together as I move forward with my readings, this being a skill in itself.

All the readings in this article use the Equal-Armed Cross spread. To recap briefly on this method: The first card usually indicates in a general way what the question is about, or how the inquirer perceives their problem. The card in second place can give more information about the situation the inquirer finds themselves in. These two cards together regularly sum up the matter, as it appears to the inquirer, at the time of the reading.

The third card can reveal how others involved in the question feel about it, and/or how they are reacting to it. Position three is concerned with events the inquirer has little or no control over and therefore it can sometimes predict the next development in the unfolding of a scenario. I call it the “What happens next” position. The fourth position may offer advice to the inquirer or it might forecast another event, this time one that the inquirer may have a degree of control over, or not. This may sound confusing but one develops a feel for what the cards in placements three and four are trying to convey.

The final card mostly acts as a ‘result’ card, so that The Sun upright here signifies success of hopes. The fifth card may, however, give a summary of the process the inquirer is going through; so that Death appearing here, in a spread where the rest of the cards are fortunate in nature, suggests that, while the inquirer is moving forward with their life, there will be losses along the way; old friendships or business relationships may wither away. “Don’t be overly concerned about these developments,” the Death card says; “this kind of ‘gain balanced by a loss’ scenario is perfectly natural. Best to accept things as they are and focus on what you do have, and what can be made of your life in the new circumstances that have presented themselves to you.”

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In my first example, the question was posed by a forty-something man wanting to know about the viability of a business project he was planning on starting up. The card in the first position is the Ace of Wands. It relates to vigor or energy, specifically to energy put to work. This interpretation fits the tenor of the inquirer’s question rather neatly: He has a plan and is itching to put it into operation. Okay; that is how the inquirer feels, but what is actually going on? In second place lies the 7 of Cups, a symbol of illusion in the GD system. It represents error and deception, and we can read it in this instance as ‘error caused by deception’, a combination of its two keywords. Either the inquirer is deceiving himself or somebody is steering him in the wrong direction.

In third place we find the 5 of Pentacles, a most unfortunate card for financial matters. It can mean monetary loss or the loss of customers, and hence loss of business, depending on the nature of the question.

As one of the GD meanings for the 7 of Cups is ‘slight success’ and the card overall inclines to illusion or error, I suggested that, while the inquirer felt he had some reason to expect his business plan to be successful, whatever it was that had happened to make him so hopeful was a false indicator. The next turn of events, it seemed to me (and indicated by the 5 of Pentacles), would reveal the true lie of the land. I counselled him to wait a week before making a firm decision. A week would cover the next five days (5 of Pentacles). At the end of that time, I said, he would have a more complete picture and only then should he put his plan into action – or not, according to the way things worked out over the coming seven days.

I expected a negative event, not necessarily affecting the inquirer directly. After that, I explained, there might be a slight upturn, but it wouldn’t last. This was my interpretation of the 2 of Pentacles, named by the GD The Lord of Harmonious Change. It signals a change for the better, but a small one, to match its number, Two. The card is flanked, in the reading order, by negative Pentacle cards both of which outrank it numberwise – the 5 and 7 of Pentacles. These cards overwhelm the influence of the 2 figuratively speaking.

The 7 of Pentacles in position five doesn’t offer much cheer. It tells of much labor for little reward and only after a period of stasis, meaning, no easy money, no rapid financial growth. My advice was for the inquirer to hold fire until he had a wider view of the market to base his thinking on. If he wanted to go ahead with his plan anyway, it would yield some profit though not in the amount he anticipated and not for some considerable time. He agreed to wait for one week. When I next saw him, he told me he had found a basic flaw in his idea and was working on fixing it. This was back in the 1970s. Not long after this conversation with him, the bottom dropped out of the stock market. A year and half later, he had a revised plan and this time the tarot was in favor of him starting up a new division in his business to handle the new product. He and the business were thriving when I last had contact with him.

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The second example reading was for a middle-aged female with an elderly father whose health was failing. Care for the old man had devolved on the inquirer though she had a sister and a brother. She wanted to know what the future held not just for her but for the whole family, i.e., her father and her siblings too.

The card in first place is the 5 of Cups. Remember that the first position references the inquirer and no one else. The 5 of Cups suggests she is disgruntled by the way her siblings have left her to cope with the father’s deteriorating condition as one of its meanings, according to the GD, is ‘disappointment with the behavior of a friend or relative’. It can also forecast the loss of a loved one or relative, including, under certain circumstances, loss by death. With one eye on the card in second place (with which I shall deal in a moment), I had the sense that the inquirer’s father wasn’t going to be around for very much longer. It is possible for both these meanings – dissatisfaction with the way her siblings had treated her, and the impending loss of her father – to be represented by the same card, an eventuality the astute tarot reader should always be on the alert for.

The 6 of Pentacles, in second position, betokens material gain. This can be money but it can also refer to property. I wondered how the father had chosen to distribute his wealth and his property (he owned a house in London worth a great deal of money). Keeping this to myself for the moment, I told the inquirer that, sadly, it seemed that her father would soon be taken from her; but that she would be rewarded for the care she had given him in some way. Turning to the card in third place, I continued: After the effort and possibly the sacrifices you have made in looking after him, he will find some way of showing his appreciation. I based this prediction on the meanings of the 6 of swords. In the GD system, the card represents success as the result of labor or work and reward after anxiety or trouble.

I then made it plain that it seemed likely the father would favor the inquirer in his will. She then volunteered that he had changed his will a while back ensuring that the house went to her while sharing his modest fortune equally between his three children. This gave me the opening I needed to discuss the significance of the 8 of Swords, occupying position four. It looked as though her siblings weren’t going to be happy about the division of their father’s possessions. The card’s meaning is: To be restricted, held back; to find life arduous and a trial. Her brother and sister might contest the will, I explained. She interjected spontaneously, in some distress, “I don’t think they can. It’s all legal. Dada had it gone over by a top flight solicitor.” I informed her that they might try to overturn the will, and thus hold up her inheritance of the house (8 of Swords). Then, smiling, I tapped the 6 of Cups holding the final place, and said, “But they won’t succeed.” I could be confident of that because the 6 of Cups indicates the commencement of a new phase of happiness or success or enjoyment, or, in the case of this inquirer, hopefully all three!

This reading was made for a friend of a friend, I’ll call her Mrs A. A year later, Mrs A confided in me that the narrative I had set forth to my inquirer twelve months earlier had played out much as I had set it out. The father had passed on willing the house to my inquirer. The siblings objected, mainly the sister, but the will proved watertight and the challenge went nowhere, though it did delay matters slightly.

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My third example is a reading made for a man in his late thirties who had not long separated from his wife, with whom he had two children. He had hopes of a reconciliation but as one can see from the lay of the cards, particularly the number of Sword cards in the reading, that probably wasn’t going to happen.

The 4 of Cups in the first position speaks of an emotional, loving condition running out of steam. The GD give the card the meaning “success or pleasure reaching an end”; however, as we know what the man is inquiring about, we can rephrase this to encompass the marital relationship. As the GD also hold that the card denotes “a stationary period in happiness”, we may surmise that he has put this aspect of his life on hold while he waits for signs of a change of heart in his partner – although the other cards in the spread give no indication that this hoped-for change will ever come about.

The card in position two, the 3 of Swords, is a symbol of separation and/or divorce. We can conclude that the separation is playing on his mind. It is, in fact, what has brought this down-to-earth man to request a tarot reading, something he wouldn’t normally consider doing.

We must not let the 9 of Cups in third place draw us to the conclusion that all will be well in the marriage. While the 9 of Cups is known as the Wish Card, its situation in the reading, the cards preceding and following it, and the nature of the card in the Result position, have to be taken into account when interpreting it. In the GD system, the 9 of Cups in not primarily a love card as the 10 of Cups is. Compare the pictures on both cards in the Waite-Smith tarot. Where the 10 of Cups depicts a couple with their

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arms around each other’s waists, their home and children in the background, the 9 of Cups shows a jolly man, seated at ease, a cup of some cheering beverage in one hand. This is a figurative representation of the key-phrases the GD assign to the card: Material success, physical well-being. Not a word about love. Furthermore,in this spread, the 9 of Cups falls between the 3 and the Ace of Swords, weakening its capacity to manifest the inquirer’s wished-for goal of reconciliation.

The Ace of Swords bears several meanings for the GD one of which is “justice” or “a legal judgment”. The Ace occupies the fourth place in the reading, often, in the case of the Equal-Armed spread, the Result position. When thee card in position four acts as the Result card, then the card in position five will be a comment on the situation. As we shall see in a moment, that is the case here.

With the Ace of Swords in place four, it seems most likely that the inquirer’s wife will, in the not too distant future, be asking for a divorce. The man interrupted me at that point to say that he wanted to reason with his wife. He even suggested that, if she went for a divorce, he might sue for custody of the children. I told him that I didn’t see the former working and that I advised against the latter because that wouldn’t work either and would only cause bad blood between him and his wife. I said this with some confidence, knowing full well that the GD significance of the 5 of Swords (in position five) is “Defeat, a contest decided against the inquirer, Failure.” He went away disappointed and I didn’t see him again so I can’t say how matters turned out for him.

Commentary on Ms Montalban’s Article, Part 2

by Auntie Tarot     

To continue.

Ms Montalban now goes on to explain how anyone seriously interested in studying occultism can proceed in the direction of their goal. Her answer may surprise many readers; for we live in an age where the secrets of occultism are readily available to all in books penned by Manly P. Hall, Starhawk, John Michael Greer and numerous others. What is generally overlooked, however, is that these books contain information, raw data, and data means nothing in itself; it is the way in which the data is handled that is one of the great secrets of occultism. Ms M. was a firm believer in the truth of the proverb, “An ounce of experience is worth a pound of theory.” What she has to say encourages the reader to do something. This is her starting point: “Many ask me where to begin to study the occult. It is a difficult question to answer, since, in the beginning, one must start with oneself.” (Paragraph 7.)

For the majority of those who profess an interest in occultism, the idea that they should start by working on themselves is anathema. A great many ‘seekers’ are only looking for a way to change the world so that material conditions can be more agreeable to them; they want the world around them to change but aren’t looking to change themselves. However, for the sincere seeker, Ms M. has valuable tips to impart.

“All people interested in the occult wish to learn. Some have to grope around to find even a way to start,” she tells us in paragraph 4. For those groping their way in the dark, Ms M. has good news: it is possible to use the tarot as a guide. And so she continues: “This series of articles is designed to teach you how, through the Tarot, the Book of Wisdom itself, you can start on the path of knowledge.”

It is her assumption that the reader will have taken on board the advice imparted in her initial article and she goes on to build on that foundation.

“By having admitted you know nothing, but wish to learn, you have taken your first step along the path. You have thereby forsaken the path of the fool and are on your way to learning.” (Paragraph 5.) Then she starts to make demands of her reader:

“Now I am asking you to go a step further. To admit that things do not happen by chance, but are all part of a design. That design you cannot fully know, for in all our lives the pattern must be different. But the basic design for us all is the same. If we want to learn, the door to knowledge will open. The first step before the door swings wide, is that of self-knowledge.”

She doesn’t yet reveal what it is she will ask from the would-be student of occultism. She keeps that information in reserve while holding out a promise: “If we want to learn, the door to knowledge will open.” Followed by a broad hint as to what will be demanded of any student choosing to take this path. “The first step before the door swings wide, is that of self-knowledge.”

Her illustration aptly symbolizes the process she has in mind: “the soul (always depicted as a female figure) ascending the steps of learning, carrying a lighted candle to illuminate the way ahead. The steps depict a gradual ascent to knowledge, while the candle represents truth in all its forms.” (Paragraph 6.)


It is at this point that she sets forth what is required of anybody electing to tread the path leading to occult knowledge of the practical kind. The instructions come in two parts. Firstly: “Many ask me where to begin to study the occult. It is a difficult question to answer, since, in the beginning, one must start with oneself. If you feel that there are laws and mysteries behind life and creation that you do not understand but would like to know, you have lit your candle.” (Paragraph 7.) Ms M. was a great believer is “making a start”. It was her opinion that, unless one makes a start, one has no hope of reaching the finish, and an admirably sound opinion it is. She is about to make her first demand on the would-be student.

“The first step upwards comes with renouncing folly. One of the bridges to the Land of Folly is believing that everything in your life is pre-ordained. The student in occultism must relinquish that point of view, since occultism holds that, to a very great extent, you ordain things for yourself.” This is a basic tenet of her philosophy. She held that all the trials life throws at us are challenges to our ingenuity and perseverance, and that we grow in stature, mentally and morally, by rising to those challenges. When we have done everything in our power on the physical plane to overcome an obstacle, there is a natural tendency to tell one’s self that, on this occasion, the opposition has been too great, the Fates don’t want us to have our dream job, the house that seemed just right for our needs, or whatever our goal is at just that moment. Ms M. maintained that the occultist has yet one more avenue to pursue – magic. Having done all she can, the occultist is permitted to ask the Higher Powers, as Ms M called them, for their help in manifesting the required result. Her method has a kind of failsafe in place. She taught her personal students how to ask for help from the Higher Powers but she also taught a way of knowing whether one’s petition would be granted – for we are not entitled to everything we believe we should have in our lives. This was a magical practice she called “Angelic Letters”. More can be found out about it by reading The Sacred Magic of the Angels by David Goddard. Fascinating as the method is, this is not the place to go further into it.

The first thing Ms M. wants the would-be occult student to do is get a clear picture in their minds of what their desires and ambitions are. If marriage, children, a three-bedroomed house and work that satisfies at the same time as bringing in a decent wage are what they want, then the higher aspects of occultism will hold no appeal for them. (Paragraph 8.) This is not because they lack sufficient intelligence to appreciate the upper reaches of esoteric teaching but because they don’t have the drive, the inner impulse to investigate this area of knowledge. In urging readers to work out what they want from life, what they really, really want, Ms M.’s objective, I would guess, is to sift the wheat from the chaff – the wheat being those individuals with a genuine vocation for occultism and the chaff being those who have a only glancing interest in the occult and would have a greater interest in it only if they thought they could amass all the material objectives that appeal to them by magical means but who have no real interest in their spiritual evolution, or as we might say today, in the expansion of consciousness.

Furthermore, as Ms M. goes on to point out at the end of paragraph 8, “so many of the things we ardently desire would not advance us one step on the soul’s path (which is the path of knowledge) if we got them.” She then proceeds to throw light on the often quoted but rarely understood tenet “Do what thou wilt.” (Paragraph 9.) It does not mean “Do as you like”; it means “Work out what you want – as opposed to what you imagine you want – and set about achieving your goal.” The catch is that nothing can be achieved or attained without sacrifice of some kind and most people aren’t willing to make sacrifices, to put in the effort, to set aside the time. It is at this point that they have to admit to themselves that they didn’t want the desired thing as much as they thought they did. (Paragraph 10.) “That is the time,” according to Ms M. “to abandon it [the false goal] and to seek within ourselves to know what we do want.”

I won’t comment on paragraph 11, I’ll merely repeat it: “Ambitions and attainments are not forbidden to the magical student, provided that you have within you the powers and ability to work towards them. No good, for instance, wanting or even willing, to become a famous writer (or anything else) if you haven’t the necessary talent, plus originality. Writing is not a matter of copying and re-hashing what other people have done, but originating something for yourself that is quite different.” A statement so true I couldn’t possibly improve on it.

She goes on to address directly the reader who believes they have a vocation for magic: “Ask yourself first if you believe that, single-handedly, alone, and helped only be the occult powers, you feel you can achieve your aim; being, at the same time, prepared to leave aside all other things to attain this one objective.”

“It is a matter for most serious consideration,” she informs us. “Once you will yourself to attain a certain objective, you set in motion certain hidden powers, both within and outside yourself, that move you forward. In doing which you may find yourself gradually shorn of all that is familiar; of all that you have become accustomed to and even, in some cases, find yourself moved, by a series of what seem coincidences, in a certain direction.”

This may sound as though Ms M. is spinning a yarn but many I know who in my estimation genuinely hold the grade of adept would attest to having passed through this experience themselves. They would agree that they are very different people today than who they were before they took up occultism and are living very different lives to boot as a result.

Returning to the metaphors of the fool and the adept with which she opened her article, Ms M. expands on the difference between the two from an esoteric point of view. “The fool plays with ideas until the force generated by ideas plus desire (as against will) draws him into a vortex of change. The wise person never plays with any idea that can be dangerous, lest the same thing happens.” This is a crucial point. As Ms M. explains “‘Wanting fervently’ is just as powerful as ‘willing fervently’. Wanting is based on emotional feelings and not enough thought of the possible consequences,” before ending the paragraph on a high note: “But to know your true will, or purpose, is to create the vortex that will draw you towards your objective.”

Ms M. warns the newcomer to the path of magical attainment never to think they have any situation fully under their control. This is particularly true where the student is doing something they know to be wrong. Ms M. makes it clear that, in that case, it is not the practitioner in control, it is the force they have generated. The human mind loves to personify, and so this force that now has some measure of control over the would-be magician’s life is generally given humanoid form. From incidents where the magician has fallen under the influence of the force he has invoked come those stories that crop up every so often of pacts with the devil or of demonic imps plaguing the practitioner. The force is perceived clairvoyantly as satanic or devilish in form.

Whether apprehended clairvoyantly or not, the force, once it has the upper hand, is capable of bringing havocs to the affairs of the practitioner of magic, both in their esoteric life and their mundane life.

To be in control of a situation, you need to be in control of yourself, and as Ms M. explains, the only time you can be certain of being in control of yourself is “when you know what you want and admit that anything else you have can be taken from you so that you may achieve your true purpose.” (Paragraph 16.) Not many of us are willing to risk having everything taken from us, family, home, source of income. That is the fate of Job in the bible. His wife and children die and he becomes destitute. At the end of the story, his fortune is restored and he has a new wife and new children but to reach that point he has made a great sacrifice, one that few would willingly sign up for.

In her final paragraph, Ms M. lays on the line what a weighty decision it is to follow the path of high magic. For those with a true vocation and the courage to stay the course, however, there are rewards, and Ms M. has something to say about them too. “This is where grave thought is needed. Take a lot of time to make your decision. If it is to follow the magical path, be sure you will never want to go back. It will change you and your whole life in a strange, but better, way.” (Paragraph 17.)

Commentary on 2nd Madeline Montalban Article, Part I

by Auntie Tarot      

Ms Montalban starts her second article with a recapitulation of what went before. In the preceding article she told us that anybody stepping onto the path to occult knowledge takes their first faltering steps as a fool. She opens the second article accordingly by reminding readers that “in this article we are still studying the various aspects of Trump Number 0, or 22, in the Tarot (for this card responds to both numbers)”.

A good deal has been written about the position to which The Fool card should be assigned. Some taromancers insist that it must bear the cypher zero; another line of thought maintains just as vigorously that it should be numbered 22. A third view is that it ought to remain unnumbered and yet another opinion switches its place with that of The World and numbers The Fool 21 and The World 22. From sixty years of experience in working with tarot numerology, I have to agree with Ms M. that The Fool can be numbered either 0 or 22, as it responds to both. Leaving it unnumbered simply links it with zero as anyone well-versed in Tarot numerology will attest.

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My conclusion treads only on the toes of those who believe that The Fool should be numbered 21. (See illustrations above.) Ms M. herself suggested that students view the trumps as forming a circle, of which The Fool could represent either the beginning or the end. In her view, The Fool card can indicate either the fool or the adept in magick depending on how you read its position in the circular arrangement of trumps, and she refers to this dual interpretation in paragraph 2 of her article.

As well as the reference to The Fool made in the previous article, at the same time Ms M. paid great attention to Trump 1, The Magician. She reminds her readers of that too in the opening sentence of her follow-up piece.

She next reminds us that the term “magic” does not necessarily mean “black magic”. Rather, so she tells us, “it is a word that embraces the whole idea of understanding the laws of the universe, how they correspond to ourselves, and to everything on all planes, from the material upwards”. It was her belief that, due to human beings failing to recognize the existence of these universal laws or, if they did acknowledge that these laws existed, then of employing them without a thorough understanding of their properties, the world had been brought to the sorry state in which she found it in 1965 when the article was written (paragraph 3). It is a statement as applicable today as it was 25 years ago, if not more so.

Ms M. follows this up with a statement of vital importance to all those wishing to understand as well as to utilize occult principles in the running of their lives. “The study of true occultism offers not only a means to conduct our lives properly; it also helps us to understand the whys and wherefores of where they go wrong.”

“The laws of occultism” is not a misnomer. The metaphysical planes – that is, those planes composed of finer matter – are subject to laws in the same way that the natural world is. Just because humankind does not as rule operate on these planes does not mean that they are lawless places, akin to the Wild West at the time of the Gold Rush. The metaphysical planes are subject to their own laws and contravening those laws is as dangerous an activity as the violation of physical laws tends to be in the material world.

For those who do not believe in the higher worlds, what I have just said will sound like hokum. Yet, anyone desirous of following the occult path must either believe in the higher worlds or temporarily suspend disbelief and act “as if” they existed. Only by adopting that approach can one gain access to them.

I am now going to digress and enter into an exposition of the Higher Worlds, or the Otherworld as this realm is sometimes known. As already explained, to the esotericist, the Other Worlds are governed by specific and immutable laws in the same manner that the Physical World is.

Initial Propositions Regarding the Otherworld

1. There are two worlds: the material world and an invisible one sometimes called the Otherworld.

The two worlds are separate and as a rule the inhabitants of the material world have no direct interaction with those of the Otherworld and vice versa.

2. While the two worlds are distinct and for the most part discrete, the material world is subject to influences transmitted to it from the Otherworld.

3. While the two worlds are distinct and for the most part discrete, the Otherworld is subject to influences playing upon it from the material world. However, in the general way of things, the Otherworld is affected by the material world to a lesser extent than that to which the material world is affected by the Otherworld.

4. While the two worlds are distinct and for the most part discrete, it is possible, under specific circumstances, to position oneself between them, to have a foot in each, so to speak.

This rule applies to the inhabitants of both worlds.

5. While the two worlds are distinct and for the most part discrete, it is possible, under specific circumstances, to pass from one to the other.

This rule applies to the inhabitants of both worlds, with certain provisos.

Inhabitants of neither world can maintain a presence in the other for any substantial length of time without either suffering deleterious effects or being drawn back into their own world again. If human beings tarry overlong in the Otherworld, they are likely to become permanent residents there; in other words, connection with the physical body will be broken and they will be reduced to pure spirit. If a denizen of the Otherworld seeks to dwell in the material world, it must ‘espouse a body’. That body may be that of a living being, whether human, animal or vegetable, or it may be a physical object, such as a table, a book or a statue. Without a body, however, the Otherworldly being cannot operate on the material plane for long.

6. It is possible for the inhabitants of the material world to learn how to situate themselves between the two worlds.

7. It is possible for the inhabitants of the material world to learn how to pass into the Otherworld and to return again to the world of Matter.

8. Just as human beings have mapped the Earth and the heavens, so is it possible for the Otherworld to be mapped.

Mapping the Otherworld

Mapping of the Otherworld has been accomplished by the same means as was used to map the Earth in, for instance, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It has been effected partly by exploration and partly by the observation of conditions prevailing far off, distant but nonetheless perceptible.

Maps of the Otherworld have been fashioned by psychic explorers of the past. Prior to the twenty-first century, most cultures possessed maps of this kind. That used by the ancient Egyptians is laid out in meticulous detail in their Book of the Dead. The Kahunas of Hawaii possess a map of the Otherworld as do Jewish mystics and the Theosophists. Other maps exist, too, but that point has, I think, been sufficiently made.

When compared, one with another, these maps, may not appear to align. The discrepancy is analogous to the differences observable when leafing through the pages of an atlas. One double-page spread will show the Earth mainly in shades of blue and green plus a few brown and ochre areas. This is a representation of the geography and topography of the planet. The various shades of blue indicate the depth of the oceans, the darker the blue the deeper the ocean; the greens denote the height of the land masses, with the ochre parts indicating the desert areas. Turn the page and the land masses are colored according to another system. This second map may depict the nations of the world, country by country. Another double-page spread shaded to represent population-distribution across the globe will have little in common with the two previous maps apart from the contours of the continents.

The best analogy to explain differences between the way the Otherworld has been mapped by diverse cultures around the world would be a topographical one. Imagine a map of the Earth upon which contours have been drawn so as to depict the land masses rising in increments of one hundred meters and colored accordingly, from palest green for the land at sea-level to dark olive denoting the highest point in a mountain range. Now imagine a map of the Earth upon which contours a thousand meters apart have been imposed and colored accordingly. This map will look somewhat different from the first even though nothing on the physical plane will have changed. The two maps are simply alternative ways of viewing the same subject matter, and both are legitimate.

And so it is with maps of the Otherworld. The Invisible Realm remains the same from map to map, only human perception of it has changed. Some cultures divide the Otherworld into Seven zones while others divide it into Nine zones, or Ten or Twelve. These are merely alternative ways of describing the Unseen, in the same way that imperial and metric measurements (feet and inches as against centimetres and meters) measure the same thing but come up with apparently conflicting results.

Anyone setting out on the path to occult knowledge needs to recognize the validity of the Otherworld and to have some basic understanding of the laws operating there.

This is, I think, a good place to pause so as to allow readers for whom the concept of the Otherworld comes as a revelation some breathing space in which to contemplate the foregoing exposition. I will continue with my commentary on Ms M.’s article shortly.