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Principle #1

by Tony Willis    

One of the simplest and most effective ways of imagining the interaction of the visible and invisible worlds is to picture them divided into three zones set one above the other. In the West, these zones are at times described as the metaphysical world, the world of incarnation, and the world of matter; or they may be named: the world of Spirit, the world of human beings, and the world of Matter. In the Far East, they were more poetically called the realms of Heaven, Humankind, and Earth. According to this analogy, Heaven stands above the others, and Earth below, with the world of human beings situated in the middle. Implicit in this arrangement is the fact that a human being has the capacity, when properly prepared, to perform the function of mediator between Heaven and Earth. The diagram below lays out the positioning of the three zones together with the names they are given in Western and Eastern thought.

Western Occultism

Taoism

The metaphysical world of Spirit

Heaven

The world of incarnation – i.e. the human world

Mankind

The elemental world of Matter

Earth

Human beings have, as it were, a foot in both worlds. They possess physical bodies but also, not just a mind, but a particular type of consciousness distinct from all other forms of consciousness found on planet Earth; a consciousness capable of reaching up into the world of Spirit. This consciousness is by some designated the soul and by others the psyche (from the Greek word for soul).

The first numbered card of the Major Arcana (variously titled the Magician and the Juggler), emblemizes this state of affairs. The figure depicted on the card is a human being, representative of us all. On the Marseille Tarot version of the card, one of his hands is raised up, wielding the magick wand by means of which the Higher Powers are invoked. His other hand, holding a coin, symbolic of the world of matter, is sited lower down the card, below his waist. The one hand reaches up toward Heaven, the other is directed downward toward Earth. A similar arrangement is found on the Waite-Smith card.

1t tdm     RWS-Tarot-Magician-01

Unity in the Three Worlds

Whether we name the card Magician or Juggler, Trump 1 represents the principle of Unity. This principle can be summed up in the phrase ‘All is One’. However, these expressions are encapsulations of the principle not explanations of it. They are helpful mnemonics for anyone familiar with the principle but for the novice in these matters they are frequently meaningless, or worse still they lead beginners to project their own wrong-headed ideas onto established terminology.

The Magician card symbolizes Unity in each of the three worlds. In the world of Spirit, it denotes the Original Energy, the Self-Existing One. In the West, most religiously-inclined people name it God. The Greek philosophers of old called it the First Cause. Theosophist and astrologer Alan Leo describes it as “the Absolute, God unmanifested, the source of all”. (Esoteric Astrology, Alan Leo, p. xviii (Destiny Books, USA, 1983), p. 1.) In the world of Matter, it denotes the Cosmos, the whole physical plane containing our Earth, our solar system and all the other solar systems that comprise the material universe. The word ‘universe’ is used loosely today. Strictly speaking there can only be one universe, as the prefix ‘uni’ implies.

In the intermediate world of Soul, the Magician card denotes humankind, that singular creature who alone in all the world, so far as we are aware, is in possession of a consciousness capable of reaching up to the world of Spirit and at the same time down (or outward, if you prefer) into world of Matter, and to understand the latter in ways that other life-forms on planet Earth do not. As the psychologist C.G. Jung wrote: “the only equivalent of the universe within is the universe without; and just as I reach this world through the medium of the body, so I reach that world through the medium of the psyche.” Or, to put it another way: Knowing ourselves leads to understanding the world around us, and in turn, knowledge of the world leads to greater comprehension of the self. Exploration in both directions is required. To proceed in any other way leads to unbalanced progress, a truth of which Jung was well aware. It is a state of affairs to which the current situation on Earth amply attests, with, on the one hand, climate change threatening disaster for the human race, and on the other, corvid-19 decimating the population.

The world around us in both its visible and invisible manifestations is, by occultists, called the Macrocosm – the Great Cosmos. The individual human being they call the Microcosm. A human being is, they claim, a Cosmos in miniature. The microcosm is a mirror of the macrocosm, formed in its likeness. This is how occultists interpret the Biblical statement, “So God created man [Adam] in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them [humankind].”

1 knapp hall     BOTA Mag

The Three Aspects of Unity

Esotericism considers every human being to be unique, like the universe, and God, the First Cause, is also One. This is the first aspect of the principle of Unity. The second is that each human being is a psychophysical unity. The terminology employed makes it clear that humans possess a physical dimension, a body, but also a psychic dimension, a soul. The third aspect of the principle of Unity is: All souls are part of the Universal Soul. Occultists of every country the world over have been investigating the links between the visible and invisible worlds, the worlds of Matter and Spirit, for more than three thousand years. They have come to certain conclusions that as a beginner one has to take on trust, just as a child accepts that, at the press of a button, their laptop springs into life without having the faintest idea of what electricity is or how wi-fi works. But the propositions of the occultists can be proved, subjectively at any rate. And the student of Occult Tarot is encouraged to seek out such proof themselves.

In the current age, anyone wishing to join a mystery school has only to apply for membership. Certain mystery schools advertise their presence and solicit applications; entry at the neophyte level is practically guaranteed. This was not the way of things back in the time of pharaonic Egypt. Candidates for instruction in the mysteries were carefully selected, their behavior observed for months, even years, before they were invited into the temple and given their first initiation. Then began a lengthy, arduous training that not everyone managed to complete. That is the stark truth behind the saying “many are called but few are chosen.”

Memorializing Unity

One of the first tasks set for those intent on making progress in a school of the instituted mysteries even today is that they perform an act of faith. This act is an outward and visible expression of the teaching that All is One. Some schools ask that the neophyte performs three daily salutations, one in the morning upon rising, the second at noon, and the third in the evening before sleep. These salutations link the individual carrying them out to the Original Energy through contemplation of Its symbol in the heavens, the Sun, nurturer of all life on Earth. It is only one way of forming this connection.

Another is the method we will follow. If you desire to set out on the road leading to the Doors of the Mysteries, I invite you to carry out this simple exercise once a day. Remember that in the great scheme of things All is One. At another level, you are a human being and all human beings are one, which is to say, you are part of a collective. The third manifestation of the principle of Unity is “all souls are part of the Universal Soul”. You, the seeker of truth, have a soul, and so does every human being on the planet. Those souls form a collective and that collective, in turn, resides within the Universal Soul. As the poet wrote: “No man is an island.” To which today we must add, for clarities sake, “and no woman either.”

On the face of it, the exercise is a simple one. For a few minutes every day, pause and send out love to the rest of humanity. There are to be no exceptions, the disagreeable neighbor is to be included alongside your favorite aunt or dearest friend. Do not think in particulars as that will interfere with the process. Think only of humanity and send out love from your heart. Let it flow out into the world resting where it may, giving succor to those who need it, whoever they may be, wherever they may be. Concentrate on emitting love and pay no heed to where that love goes or who it benefits. If, by day three, you find you are forgetting to do the exercise then your will-power is weak and you will need to work at strengthening it. This exercise, which you will be expected to keep up for the rest of your life, is an elementary test of will. All texts on the Occult Tarot agree that, esoterically, the Magician card represents the Will. Naturally, therefore, the first exercise the neophyte is set tests their will-power and also their will to persevere on the Path of Initiation. It is easy to say “I want to learn the secrets of occultism” but when it comes to putting the precepts into practice, many fall by the wayside.

An Agent of God

When a person becomes an adept, they act as an agent of God. That is the meaning of the three levels in relation to the first Trump. On the highest level stands God, the Original Energy; below is the material universe; in between is a human being. For a moment, let us give the human being a gender and say that, as on the card, this individual is male. The man has both feet planted firmly on the earth; his head, symbolically, is in the heavens. It is in his power to act as mediator between God and the Earth, to be God’s instrument on Earth. Sadly, when anyone gets the idea into their heads that they are God’s instrument a tendency develops whereby that person starts to speak in terms of “God agrees with me” rather than “I submit myself to the will of God.”

Arcane-Arcana-01-bateleur-magician      mmTarot 01

Occult training, properly carried out, drives out that kind of thinking. It is not consist just of the learning of data – of knowing, for instance, that Mercury represents communication and corresponds to the eighth sphere on the Tree of Life, etc., etc. That information is available in books where anyone can find it. What an occult training obtained in a bona fide mystery school gives the seeker is first wisdom and then understanding. As the Book of Proverbs puts it: “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.” Knowledge without wisdom and understanding is a potentially dangerous weapon. Authentic occult training works to develop both in the aspirant. In the initial stages of training the accent is not on the amassing of facts, it is on another type of knowledge entirely, knowledge of the self. One of the key maxims of esotericism is “Know thyself”. In exploring the self, one cannot but help accumulating wisdom and understanding. For you, as a newcomer to the Occult Tarot, the first step in that direction, if you choose to take it, is to subscribe to the simple exercise I have given above.

The Major Arcana and the Three Worlds

Something tarot readers are frequently unaware of when they first turn to the occult side of the tarot is its relation to the tripartite division of the Universe. As I started out by saying, for purposes of closer scrutiny, the Universe can be divided into three ‘worlds’: the metaphysical world, the human world and the elemental world. The Tarot Trumps can also be divided into three parts, but in their case, we are working upwards from the elemental world, assigned to the first septenary of Trumps, through the human world, assigned to the second septenary of Trumps, and finally reaching up to the metaphysical world to which the third septenary of Trumps are assigned. The Fool, as already explained, remains outside the ranks of the Trumps as it serves another purpose.

Lay out the cards in septenaries and you will see the truth of my statement. The first seven Trumps depict figures from the everyday world at the time the major arcana were created. There is an emperor and a pope, a man deciding which of two women to marry, another man, driving in his chariot. The second set of seven card show human traits in emblematic form: the desire for justice, an admiration of wisdom and moral strength, as well as the ability to make sacrifices for others in the face of fickle fortune and the certainty of death. The final seven cards, however, represent conditions even more elevated than death, including the stars, the moon and the sun, all part of the celestial world, high above the terrestrial one. Also among these cards we find the day of judgment, that fateful day upon which those found worthy will be drawn up into heaven and the presence of God.

Although students of the Occult Tarot rarely pass through the stages of initiation in the order indicated by the numbers on the Trump cards, I intend to approach them in that way because then the principles they represent unfold in a natural, logical manner. Having asserted a belief in the unity of the human race, the student of Occult Tarot may find that events lead them by strange coincidences to the Doors of Mysteries, there to be confronted by the guardian of the sacred teaching, the High Priestess.

Introduction to the Occult Tarot, Part II

by Tony Wiliis       

Studied from an occult perspective, the tarot’s Major Arcana are taken as representing a set of esoteric principles. The Fool card stands a little to one side of the arrangement. He represents humankind, and so in one of his aspects stands for the individual seeking initiation, or to put it another way, the raw material upon which the other twenty-one principles act. At the start of the process, the Fool indicates someone in ignorance of the occult laws that govern the invisible worlds in the same way that the laws of physics govern the material world. As the process of refining the soul reaches the stage of Judgment (symbolized by Trump 20), the Fool represents either the purified soul, capable of achieving adepthood, or the soul still marked with blemishes of materialism, in need of further cleansing. Once the principle symbolized by the World card is fully embraced, the Fool becomes an adept of the highest order. In terms of western religion, the person attaining this level of spiritual advancement is called a saint. In the east they may be called a bodhisattva, though other titles are employed also. In some Rosicrucian traditions, the term is Magus, or on occasion, more explicitly, the Magus of the Rose Cross.

The First Septenary

The Magician card represents the principle of Unity, that everything in existence issues from a single source. The High Priestess is the symbol of the Dyad, the principle that two equal and opposite forces are needed in order for manifestation to take place. These forces are the Yin and Yang of Taoism, with the Tao itself as the Unity out of which they arise. They are present in the physical world as the nyinYangorth and south poles of a magnet, as positive and negative electric currents, as the acids and alkalis of chemistry, and the cycles of day and night marking the passage of time. The Empress mediates the principle of multiplicity. The interaction between Yin and Yang brings into being the myriads of things contained in the created universe: the plants, the trees, the insects, the fish, the mammals, the water in the oceans, the clouds that float in the sky, the sun, moon, planets and stars.

The Emperor embodies the principle of organization. Under the presidency of the Empress, the physical elements – Hydrogen, Oxygen, Carbon and all the rest – are created. The force symbolized by the Emperor organizes the elements, so that, for instance, a certain combination of Hydrogen and Oxygen produces water. In the process of creation, the Emperor represents the formation of the material universe. Once matter exists in this fashion, it is spiritualized, blessed one might say. This process comes under the governance of the principle mediated via the energy symbolized by Hierophant card. The next stage, represented by the Lovers, is the harmonization of all the various parts: on planet earth, night follows day, ebb is balanced by flow; in the human being, inspiration is followed by expiration. The Chariot represents a temporary state of rest, a condition where Spirit manages Matter and directs it into appropriate channels.

The Second Septenary

In the Tarot de Marseille and many early tarots the eighth Trump was Justice. The eighth principle is, correspondingly, that of balance and of the processes necessary for the maintenance of balance. The Hermit embodies the principles of Wisdom and Circumspection, otherwise known as Prudence. Eight principles precede that mediated by the Hermit and contemplation of these, rightly done, will make one wise. More than that, understanding that history repeats itself enables one to calculate future events, albeit in a rough and ready manner. Thus St Thomas Aquinas wrote that “to obtain knowledge of the future from knowledge of the present or past . . . pertains to prudence.”

You may discern a pattern in the above. It is a pattern of stasis followed by a period of anabolic (building up or burgeoning) activity and then a period of katabolic (destructive or waning) activity. Next comes period of balance usually associated with consolidating activity. Once the balance has been formalized, it in turn crystalizes into stasis after which the entire sequence begins all over again. The Wheel card represents the principle of revolution or cyclical movement, the principle that everything in creation passes through cycles.

The principle mediated by the Strength card is that of Endurance, indicating that throughout all the constant changes that the cycles are comprised of something endures. The Hanged Man exemplifies the principle of Sacrifice, the idea that nothing in life comes free. The card Death, represents the principle of Transformation. In older books on tarot, and in some more modern ones, the keyword Transformation is often associated with Trump 13, alongside other, more predictive keywords. On the physical plane the card usually signifies loss or endings. The Occult Tarot deals not with the physical realm but with the metaphysical, the invisible world that lies beyond the physical. In the metaphysical world nothing is ever lost, just as, on the physical plane, at the highest level, everything is energy which is forever transforming itself, taking on new forms. The concept is summed up in the laws of thermodynamics, one of which states: Work is heat and heat is work. The occultist maintains that death on one plane is birth on another, so that physical death can be treated as a liberation if approached in the right spirit.

For the occultist, Death and Temperance work together. The first indicates Transformation, the second Transmutation. It is on account of Temperance embodying the principle of Transmutation that some occultists have named the card the Alchemist. Energy, having been transformed from one condition to another, is then transmuted, purified through the action of the law of synthesis.

Arcane-Arcana-13-sans-nom-without-a-name                  Arcane-Arcana-14-temperance

The Third Septenary

Trump 14 marks the end of the second septenary of Trumps. After the angelic figure on the card has done its work, a new current in the evolution of the soul begins to flow. The arising of this new current is represented by the Devil and the principle of Opposition. Some occult schools call this the principle of Inertia, the sensation of coming to a full stop, because encountering it can feel like running into a brick wall. No one likes to have their desires opposed, whether by another person, an organization, or by Fate, the intrusion of ill luck into one’s activities. All these eventualities can be denoted by the Devil card in a divination. On the metaphysical levels, the effects are much the same but apply to one’s ethical or spiritual development. The Devil marks the return of a familiar condition, stasis, now in its most challenging form. The occultists and poet Dante presents his readers with a description of the devil eternally buried up to his middle down in the depths of hell so as to picture him as the epitome of stasis.

To accept stasis is to invoke decay, for if stasis does not give way to growth, only degeneration and deterioration can ensue. In that case, the result is the ruin of one’s hopes of making further spiritual progress. Where the opposite is the case, the seeker of enlightenment makes a supreme effort to come to terms with reality as it is and not as they have up to that point thought it to be. These are the actions of the Tower and the principle of the Overthrow of Settled Assumptions. Looking at reality afresh, the energy of the Star comes into play along with its principle of Recovery. It depicts a starting over, as like as not beginning again from the ashes of a raised life. The Star in the tarot is at times is equated with the morning star, heralding the dawn. At other times it is called the Star of the Magi, and under that name it announces the birth of the Messiah, who brings with him a new world era, a new dispensation. Either way the message is the same: the Sun of Glory is about to make is appearance.

Before that can happen, however, the spiritual seeker must come to terms with the Unconscious, symbolized in tarot by the Moon. C.G. Jung refers to the Unconscious as “cosmic night” and speaks of its “all-uniting depths”. He further states that: “our consciousness does not create itself – it wells up from unknown depths. In childhood it awakens gradually, and all through life it wakes each morning out of the depths of sleep from an unconscious condition.” Integration with the Unconscious is a momentous step. This Unconscious is not merely what Jungian psychologists call the personal unconscious but the greater collective unconscious also, for that is where the all-uniting depths of cosmic night are to be found.

18t tdm         19t tdm

Once integration with the Unconscious is attained, the spiritual seeker may proceed safely to the state of Higher Union represented by the tarot card the Sun. In psychological terms this is the union of the anima and animus, the alchemical marriage, the conjunctio oppositorum. In this Higher Union all the unreconciled dualities in the human psyche are brought together and integrated, the result being something that Jung termed individuation. The principle embodied within the Judgment card is that of Spiritual Awakening, sometimes termed Attraction to Divinity. At this stage of development, the soul is drawn to the Source of All in much the same way as iron filings are drawn to a magnet.

The last of the numbered Trumps, the World, represents the highest degree of initiation, a oneness with that Source of All Things. It describes a condition where the soul has been refined and scoured of all imperfection and, in the symbolism of alchemy, has, after many trials, been transmuted into pure gold. In some schools of the mysteries this card is named the Crown of the Magi. The idea behind this title is that the soul is crowned ruler of its own kingdom – the psychic world, from the Greek psyche, soul – and is awarded the exalted title Magus of the Rose Cross. The rose referred to is the Rose of Spirit and the cross is the Cross of Matter. The soul, or psyche, is the mediator between the two.

The Principles of the Fool

Not everyone passes through this circuit of the Trumps and achieves the Crown of the Magi at the first attempt. At the stage of development represented by the Judgment card, the soul is judged. Most religions prefigure this occurrence in their myths. The priesthood of pharaonic Egypt represented it as taking place in the Judgement Hall of Osiris, where the aspirant’s soul was weighed in a balance. The aspirant was only allowed to move on if the soul weighed no more and no less than the Feather of Truth. Christianity teaches of a final judgment that will take place “in the last days”. So far as anyone can tell, tarot symbolism was put together in Christian Europe around 1420. Consequently its imagery is drawn from that era, including common religious motifs of the day such as the Pope, the Devil and the Da22 IIy of Judgment. Aspirants failing the examination of the soul made in the Hall of Judgment were returned to the beginning of the cycle. They started out once more as the Magician and were set to review again the twenty-two occult principles that order the worlds, visible and invisible. This state of affairs was symbolized by the Fool, one of whose occult significances is “expiation”. Having strayed from the path, the aspirant must find their way back to it. They are returned to the beginning and required to walk the path again, this time without deviation. However, if the soul passes the test in the Hall of Judgment it receives its reward and is drawn into ceaseless cooperation in the furtherance of God’s Great Plan. This eventuality is also denoted by the Fool card, this time operating at the highest level possible.

Although it has been truly said that number implies order, aspirants for the Magi’s Crown do not necessarily encounter the twenty-two occult principles in the sequence in which they appear in the Major Arcana. The first (Trump 1, The Magician) and the last (Trump 21, The World) are frequently stable points but the other principles are encountered in the way that is appropriate to the temperament and character of the aspirant. This is markedly the case when the soul is treading the path to spiritual attainment for the second or third time. Some lessons will have been learnt, and learnt well, on the first traveling of the path, and the aspirant will glide by those principles or encounter them at some moment of need when memory of them will assist with the overcoming of some barrier to spiritual progress. At such points the aspirant brings those principles to mind, or, in the language of the mysteries, the aspirant “recapitulates” them, dragging them up out of the deep unconscious wherein lessons assimilated in previous incarnations are lodged.

Next we will examine the principles mediated by the tarot Trumps in greater detail.

Introduction to the Occult Tarot

by Tony Willis      

During this period of social distancing and self-isolation, opportunities to make face to face tarot readings are much reduced. It is a time, too, when many students of tarot are questioning their purpose in life as well as their individual usefulness to the evolutionary process of the planet. “Why is the pandemic happening?” and “What lessons are we humans supposed to learn from the turmoil and dissention my nation is going through at the moment?” are questions I hear regularly. Whilst I can’t answer those questions, I can point tarot students at a path that may lead them to an answer. That path is the Occult Tarot.

On Correspondences

The Occult Tarot has been around for as long as the predictive tarot has. In some older books, one sometimes finds occult significances for the Major Arcana mixed in with the predictive and psychological meanings of the cards. For tarotists who have never explored the field of Occult Tarot, it can be a puzzling place. Bemusement often begins when the student embarks on an investigation of what are called the “Correspondences” associated with the tarot Trumps. These are astrological attributions given to the Major Arcana cards by occultists. There are several schools of thought on the matter, with one occult school tending to contradict the teachings of all the others. At this point in their researches into the Occult Tarot, some students throw up their hands in irritation and simply walk away from the subject. There is an explanation for these apparent discrepancies, however, one covered in part by remarks made by Dion Fortune concerning the attribution of the deities of particular pantheons to the spheres of the Tree of Life.

In Dion Fortune’s opinion, a hard and fast attribution of these deities to the different spheres is impractical. This, she informs us, is because aspects of, for instance, the Egyptian goddess Isis are to be found in the spheres of Binah, Netzach, Yesod, and Malkuth. Likewise, aspects of the god Osiris, husband to Isis, are to be found in the spheres Chokmah, Chesed and Tiphareth. The British occultist Murry Hope has said the same thing. Unlike Dion Fortune, Ms Hope was not a Qabalist, and so her terminology was not the same as D.F.’s, but her conclusions were identical. Both women, high adepts in their own traditions, set out the guideline to making attributions, which was articulated by D.F. thus: “We must look for the principle behind the multiform manifestation, and realize that it assumes different forms at different levels.”

To the newcomer to the Occult Tarot this may sound like a high-flown phrase, clever word-play that leaves the novice wondering how the pronouncement works out in practice. To understand the process better, let us look at attributions given to just one of the Major Arcana.

When the French occultist Oswald Wirth gives it as his opinion that the card Temperance corresponds astrologically to the zodiac sign Aquarius, it is because he recognizes a correlation between the Trump and the sign. Since Aquarius is the sign of the Water Barer, usually depicted as a kneeling man dispensing water from a large ewer, and the image on the tarot card is that of a figure carefully decanting water from one vase into another, it is obvious where Wirth got his inspiration for the attribution from.

Arcane-Arcana-14-temperance            Arcane-Arcana-14-temperance

When Papus, author of The Tarot of the Bohemians, assigns Scorpio to Trump 14, it is because he detects a resonance between the two factors, the sign Scorpio and the card Temperance. The key to Papus’s thinking can be found upon perusal of Paul Foster Case’s B.O.T.A. version of the Trump. Symbolically the B.O.T.A. card is an alchemical interpretation of the concept of temperance – which in this instance does not indicate a total abstinence from alcohol. The eagle found on the B.O.T.A. card represents water, while the lion represents fire. Therefore one interpretation of the symbolism is of fire being plunged into water and of water being poured onto fire. In neither case does the water evaporate or the fire become extinguished. The elements blend, forming a third distinct quality – although that outcome is not depicted on the B.O.T.A. card. Aleister Crowley’s version of Trump 14 is a variant of Case’s. In the imagery of both cards we see the Scorpionic concepts of transmutation and transition vividly illustrated.

bota 14T_t          14T thoth

Then again, when an organization such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn ascribes Sagittarius to Temperance, it is because the Order’s founders recognized a parallel between the sign of the Archer and Trump 14. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, a highly fortunate planet. The card Temperance is universally accepted as signaling a beneficent result. In the B.O.T.A. version of the card, a rainbow arches above the central figure. This rainbow, at times referred to as the bow of promise, is identified by the G.D. with the archer’s bow, and this accounts for its appearance at the top of the B.O.T.A. card. In the Cicero Golden Dawn Tarot pack, the rainbow has been painted onto an actual bow, with an arrow set in it ready to be fired upwards. In this case, also, the reference is to the G.D.’s association of Sagittarius, the bowman, with tarot Trump 14.

14 trad

All these correspondences are valid to some degree. It isn’t a question of one set of attributions being ‘right’. As with the divinatory significances assigned the cards, it is of little moment which set of attributions the student chooses to adopt in their investigation of the Occult Tarot. The most important thing by far is to stick with the chosen system until it is mastered and not to chop and change between one method and another. No good will come of accepting that Trump 14 corresponds to Sagittarius (as per the Golden Dawn system of attributions) while at the same time accepting that The Chariot corresponds to Gemini (in line with the Papus attributions).

I chose to name the sign Gemini in my previous comment because it is the opposite sign in the zodiac to Sagittarius. The energies of opposing signs are also polar opposites. For that reason, a ceremonial magician might seek to counteract an over-plus of Sagittarian energy by applying, as a corrective, a Geminian force to the situation. Where Temperance is accepted as mediating a Sagittarian vibration, The Lovers will represent the appropriate Geminian antidote. The Chariot, the Papus equivalent to Gemini, will not restrict an out-of-control Sagittarian force in any magick performed by someone following the Golden Dawn path. The group mind of the Golden Dawn accepts The Lovers card as having the same vibratory rate as Gemini; it associates Cancer with Trump 7, The Chariot. Therefore, bringing Chariot energy to bear on the matter is more likely to inflame the situation since Cancer energies foster those of Jupiter, ruler of Sagittarius. To the beginner this may seem an abstruse point, but at the higher levels of ceremonial magick disastrous results can be obtained by the uninformed intermixing of systems.

An early question to be answered, then, becomes: Which system ought I to follow? There are a number of esoteric schools of thought to which one might turn to in search of enlightenment on this point, but, thankfully, a good many of them can be discounted right away. Wicca, for instance, does not have its own esoteric tarot tradition. The wiccan forms of tarot reading I’ve had sight of have been borrowed from elsewhere. Early convert to the modern manifestation of Wicca in Britain, Arnold Crowther, produced an insightful set of divinatory meanings for the Major Arcana. It was published by his widow Patricia Crowther. I commend it to my readers. Mr Crowther’s meanings are excellent, although they are purely exoteric – that is to say they are fortune-telling meanings, not ones pertaining to High Magick. In consequence, one doesn’t have to be a wiccan or a witch to find them practical as well as intellectually satisfying.

The four main sets of esoteric attributions in use today are those of Oswald Wirth, Papus, the Golden Dawn, and C.C. Zain’s Church of Light correspondences. There have been others put forward over the years but few have stood the test of time. Most tarotists adopt the G.D. correlations. These are readily available (because almost every author in the English-speaking world covering tarot divination has written about them) and in addition they fit the images found on the Waite-Smith cards. These meanings are often taken up by beginners purely because they are presented to them in virtually every book produced on the tarot from the middle of the twentieth century onwards.

A newcomer to the Occult Tarot may understandably be led to adopt the correspondences associated with their favorite tarot pack. Those who are happiest working with the Waite-Smith deck or one of its many clones, from the Aquarian Tarot (artist David Palladini), published early on in the explosion of interest in the cards that occurred in the 1970s, through to the Sharman-Caselli Tarot Deck (2005) and beyond, would manage well enough working with the Golden Dawn correspondences.

On the other hand, anyone who works most often with a deck that declares itself to be of G.D. origin – whether it be the Cicero cards or those designed by Robert Wang – should obviously stick with the Golden Dawn correspondence that inform the design of those decks. By the same token, anybody with a deep devotion to the Church of Light cards should enter the realm of Occult Tarot with that group’s attributions etched upon their memory. The packs designed by or for the French masters of tarot tend not to be so popular in the anglophone world but they are available. They don’t have the appeal for the twenty-first-century mind that the Waite-Smith pack and some of the modern tarots have. This is largely because of their unorthodox Trump order. The Fool is often placed between Judgment and The World, and sometimes it is numbered 21, in which case The World is numbered 22. It is, however, worth looking these packs over before making a final decision as to which system to follow. You never know, one of those decks that you have never examined closely before may just ‘speak’ to you or impact on your psyche with such force that an undeniable bond is formed between yourself and it.

A final option worth given serious consideration to is the Tarot of Marseilles. The designs may seem quaint and even old-fashioned compared to the decks being published today but some find it immensely liberating to work with. The lack of images on the spot cards frees one from pictorial representation and throws one back on number symbolism: the Fours of any suit, for instance, being interpreted as aspects of what we might call ‘the archetypal concept of ‘fourness’, however the practitioner choses to interpret that term. As with most decks from continental Europe, the Trump Justice is numbered 8 and the Strength card is numbered 11. If you definitely cannot get your head around this ordering of the Major Arcana then the Tarot de Marseille is not for you. But before dismissing it out of hand, pause and remind yourself that this was the original numbering, successfully employed by tarot experts and occultists of note from Court de Gébelin to Eliphas Levi and Papus.

Following years of neglect in the English-speaking world, the Tarot of Marseilles is currently gaining more support. Anyone used to relying on the illustrations borne by the spot cards for inspiration concerning meaning and interpretation is likely to be put off at first by the paucity of clues in that direction appearing on the Tarot de Marseille spots. Working with the Marseilles tarot demands another way of viewing the cards, one possessing its own rationale. But the method functions remarkably well if the student is prepared to embrace it. Moreover, it was the way of approaching the spots for two centuries, from the time that Court de Gébelin brought the tarot to the attention of occultists up until the publication of the Waite-Smith cards, the first fully-illustrated Occult Tarot, a span, as said, of approximately two centuries. During that period our tarotist forebears worked exclusively with this system and achieved perfectly acceptable results through it. Don’t dismiss it before trying it out.

It is likely that some of my readers will have been shocked to find me saying that essentially it doesn’t matter which tarot pack one adopts when setting out to study the Occult Tarot. I understand that reaction only too well. It was my reaction when the same instruction was given me at the outset of my attempts to investigate tarot from an esoteric perspective. However, I bit the bullet and did as I was bidden, and I can tell you that the advice proved to be sound. I started by familiarizing myself with one Tarot deck, and my thinking branched out from there in what always seemed to me a very natural process. No one tarot pack bears all the esoteric data on its cards. The occult tarotist is doomed forever to work with a deck that is to a greater of lesser degree deficient in that regard. What is missing from the physical cards occult tarotists have to supply themselves, from memory.

This means that the student of Occult Tarot is involved in mental effort, in memorizing information, and in the retrieval and application of data to individual cards as circumstances demand. That may be why so few tarot readers today set out on a serious study of the Occult Tarot. Committing information to memory tends to be regarded as an unnecessary waste of time by many who have been taught to draw what they need to make a tarot reading from the details of the illustration on whichever card they have under review. Those inured to this way of working can find the demand to commit information to memory taxing, frustrating, and boring. It is easier to terminate one’s studies than submit to the discipline required to master the technique. But for those who persevere, there are untold benefits to be gained.

You may take your time choosing a deck because we will start our investigation into the Occult Tarot by examining the Major Arcana, and, apart from post-modern packs such as the Steampunk Tarot and the like, the symbolism of the Trump cards does not alter greatly from deck to deck. The Tarot de Marseille Empress, for example, is undoubtedly a close cousin of the Gabriel Gouilinat, Oswald Wirth and Knapp-Hall Empresses laid out below. (M. Gouilinat’s designs grace the pages of Papus’s The Divinatory Tarot.)

3t tdm               Arcane-Arcana-03-imperatrice-empress

Arcane-Arcana-03-imperatrice-empress       3 knapp hall

In the next article, we will take up a closer study of the tarot Trumps, inspecting them from an esoteric perspective.

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.

mmTarot 30

mmTarot 54mmTarot 47mmTarot 35

mmTarot 22

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 danielabrunner@neuvel.com 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.