Magick

Practical magick.

8 swords and no hands

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Detail from 8 of Swords in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The 8 of Swords and I have a long history. It’s shown up in so many of my readings that for a long time I was surprised if it wasn’t there. But lately, as my life has changed (thankfully for the better!) I haven’t seen it as much, and in a way I’ve come to miss it, even though it always signified struggle and hardship for me. I’ve developed a close relationship with the 8 of Swords, and my own web of interpretations and associations, and now that the card stepping out of my life I feel compelled to share them.

The 8 of Swords, in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and in most of its other incarnations, depicts a woman, bound and blindfolded, standing in a field of swords which seem to cage her in. She wears a red dress and has dark hair — an interesting contrast to the archetypal blonde damsel in a white gown. Perhaps her life has been marked more by passion than purity. There are puddles of water near her feet (which make me think of a flood plain, perhaps adding an additional danger) and behind her is a mountain with a castle-like structure on it. Continue reading


How to cast a circle anytime, anywhere

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Earth and sky, photo by Jacinta Iluch ValeroCasting a circle is a fundamental magick practice, and it can serve two vital purposes.

Firstly, the circle contains and concentrates the energy generated prior to casting a spell. The circle does not generate energy itself; instead it functions like a dam that holds back the flow of water and forming a reservoir. As energy builds during the spell or ritual, the circle will likewise hold back the energy. This allows it to be released at the opportune moment, maximizing the effectiveness. Continue reading


Epistolary tarot: Love, letting go, and learning

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Letters, photo by Lenore EdmanDear Reader,

The practice of writing tarot letters has brought me joy and comfort as well as enriched my understanding of the arcana. In 2014, I came up with the idea of sending my friends and family individual tarot cards with handwritten letters for holidays, birthdays, and other special events.

First, I had to select a deck to break up and give away. I wanted to use a deck that I read with professionally and wasn’t the standard Rider-Waite-Smith (as some of my friends already own it), a deck that spoke to me and to strangers. One that was field-tested and familiar. After trying out Corrine Kenner’s Wizards Tarot at a couple festivals as well as in private readings, I bought a second pack of cards to mail with letters. Continue reading


Crafting a tarot wreath

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Star anise wreath, image by Hans

Whether designed to recognize a winter holiday, created as a gift or used as a reflective hobby, wreaths can take on many themes and incorporate a variety of materials such as fruits, twigs, leaves, paper, fabric or wire. They need only to hold to the shape of a ring, and sometimes loosely at best.

Tarot-themed wreaths are a craft that can enrich those who love to create, those who may be daunted by the system of traditionally 78 cards and archetypes known as tarot, or those who may wish to deepen their relationship with the cards. Continue reading


Limping towards heaven: Walking pathway 25, Samekh

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Emerald pathway, image by Guian Bolisay

The 25th pathway that connects the sphere of Yesod (foundation) to the sphere of perfect unity, Tiphareth, is known as Samekh, “the prop.” Samekh is the process by which the divine tests the aspirant, and comes in phases. The path is illustrated by the tarot trump XIV, Temperance, with its alchemical imagery of the joining of opposites, and the astrological sign Sagittarius.

The main symbol of Samekh is that of an arrow being shot straight into the air. Samekh hurtles out of the three lower pathways that connect Malkuth to the higher sephirah: Qoph, Shin, and Tau. The first letter of each of these paths creates the word QShTh, Qesteth, the Hebrew word of “bow.” Yesod, Hod, and Netzach could be seen as one’s personal life, and Samekh is the first path that seeks to transcend that, bursting into the cosmic light. As such, it is known as “the piercer of the sanctuary.” The word Qesteth also means a rainbow, a symbol of God’s covenant with humanity, and correlates with the rainbow bridge of mythology, tying it further still into the myth of centaurs, and Chiron in particular.

Path 25 is also related to the Great Work, the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Here’s where part of the discrepancy and the controversy that comes in around this particular pathway. Aleister Crowley must have thought this path was essential to the angelic conversation, as he named his treatise on Abramelin‘s magick “Liber Samekh,” while others think this integration should have already taken place, and that your HGA should act as a guide through the Chapel Perilous of Samekh. The controversy comes in the numbering, and the order by which the paths “should” be undertaken. There are three pathways that approach the central sphere of Tiphareth: Ayin, Nun, and Samekh, emanating from Hod, Netzach, and Yesod, respectively. Ayin and Nun are ruled over by the tarot trumps XV, The Devil, and XIII, Death, who act as guardians for Tiphareth, and must be accounted for to take advantage of the lessons learned there. By breaking with the accepted numeration and going straight up the centre, one avoids the imbalances and distortions of veering off to the side pillars. In magick, as in life, balance is the thing. Continue reading


Reading tarot professionally at parties and events

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Tarot, photo by Ricardo RosadoIt’s nearing the end of the year and I get a familiar message in my inbox, “Will you be joining me for New Year’s this year?” I reply with a yes, and mark the day on my calendar as booked. As much as it sounds like it, it is not a date. It’s actually a large party where I will be reading tarot professionally.

Tarot readers often attend parties and festivals in order to earn income from their craft. Although festivals tend to be large and well attended, private parties can be much smaller and more intimate. The type of parties I read at, however, are quite large, often with hundreds of people in attendance.

For this particular event, I am one of three readers hired. We will all be together in the room, and may read up to 150 people each over the course of one evening, depending how busy it is. If this sounds impossible, believe me, it isn’t — it’s just exhausting.

Large events can be very lucrative for readers. Organizers, who may be from corporations throwing holiday parties, private party planners, or neighbourhood committees, and so on, like to have unique performers at their events, and everyone is at least a little interested in divination. The key to handling these draining events is thoughtful planning. Continue reading


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