Magick

Practical magick.

Tarot and the myth of bad cards

By Psyche | May 8, 2013 | Leave a comment

My day job allows a certain amount of freedom when it comes to listening to music at work. Most people have headphones, and once upon a time the majority would have been listening to Pandora.com, but it’s been a while since they disallowed Canadian listening due to licensing constraints – a shame, because I found many new bands via their ingenuous Music Genome Project – music I then later bought, as with Napster in the days of yore. But I digress.

Sitting at my cubicle, work is where I listen to podcasts when my mp3 player starts to seem repetitive. Late December and early January I was on vacation, and so, behind. I recently caught up and finally listened to the latest Tarot Connection episodes.

In episode 67, host Leisa ReFalo and guest Roger Tobin tackled the subject of “difficult cards” from a variety angles, specific “difficult” cards for the client and for the reader; cards which might seem scary for a client unfamiliar with their meaning (Death, the Devil and the Tower are common examples), and cards which are challenging for the reader to interpret, either because they’re still unclear on the meaning, or even simply because they don’t often turn up during a reading (we all have cards like this). Continue reading


Tarot and Sharing Bad News

By Psyche | May 1, 2013 | 1 comment

Earlier we looked at the role of “accuracy” in tarot, particularly in comparison to fortune-telling. A key point to take away from this is that, in reading for a client or even for oneself, the main goal of any divinatory reading is to provide information that is useful to the querent.

Whether or not the future is set can become irrelevant when the cards clearly foretell disaster for the querent. When the cards spell doom, deciding how to relate that to the client can be tricky. Changeable or not, it’s rarely something a querent wants to hear, and depending on who the querent is it can be more detrimental to share this information than not.

Consider the following case, reported by Austin Osman Spare in a brief essay, “Mind to Mind and How” (reprinted by Fulgur in Two Tracts on Cartomancy):

I was telling a friend’s fortune, and could ‘see’ that he would die within a few months. Naturally, I did not tell him so, but what I did advise him was to at once put his affairs in order and that in a few months there would be a very great change in his affairs, of which not much could be said. Meantime, there was great happiness for him, though he was to guard against accident. He was happy for the few months that he lived.

This is a drastic case, and it matters little whether or not it is objectively “true” – it is instructive nonetheless; the cards don’t always describe “nice” things.

Naturally, had Spare plainly stated what he had “seen” it would have greatly alarmed and upset his client, and likely make him miserable or frightened for the time that remained. There are some problems tact can’t solve and which no amount of delicacy in describing what was seen is possible.

There were a few alternative options that Spare might have considered. He could have refused the reading – even after laying out the cards, perhaps claiming a headache or some more mystical malady that would have incapacitated him and prevented him from continuing the reading. Or he could have simply reshuffled the cards, saying the message wasn’t “clear,” rather than describe what was initially drawn.

However, for such a drastic reading, neither of these would have been particularly useful for his client. His may not put his affairs in order, instead he may have simply carried on as usual and not even considered living life with an eye for happiness had Spare not specifically recommending doing so.

Reading for another is quite a responsibility, and – more often than we’d like – the message the cards relay isn’t about a rosy new relationship just around the corner or sacks of money arriving in next week’s post. Sometimes it is about divorce, losing one’s job, discomfort – and, yes, even death.

The story Spare related represents a fair presentation of the reading with an eye to providing useful information, if not strictly an accurate depiction of what the cards described. It is in handling these difficult subjects that a reader really begins to understand the nature of hir responsibility to hir client.

First published on Plutonica.net 1 January 2008.


Uncertainty and Possession

By Cole Tucker | April 26, 2013 | Leave a comment

The element of Uncertainty has played a significant role in several aspects of my magical development.  Specifically regarding results magic, I’ve had great trouble with divination and possession.  Reaching an appropriate state for the interpretive act and releasing personal boundaries in the context of invocation require such a light touch with the symbolic gestalt, it causes me nothing but trouble.  With practice, I have progressed a great deal with the art of invocation – through the embrace of Uncertainty.

My first successes with invocation and atavistic resurgence occurred while experimenting with chemognosis.  These experiments led to varying levels of possession, which I adopted as my gold standard for invocation.  Yet, in other ritual contexts, I found I could not approach these states, leaving me with a problem.  Excitatory techniques of gnosis, particularly dance and spinning, would bring on a light possession but required a good deal of room and were not appropriate to certain godforms or qualities I wished to work with.  Dependence on them also left open-hand magic completely out of the question. Continue reading


The Element of Uncertainty

By Cole Tucker | April 19, 2013 | Leave a comment

Uncertainty has come to play a huge role in my life as of late. The whole process entered my awareness during the Plutonica book-club reading of Quantum Psychology. Together we explored many of the exercises that Robert Anton Wilson collected to help us think, “Maybe…” My meditations and personal work have revolved around the issue of uncertainty, as well as our personal and collective strategies for dealing with it, ever since.

Honestly, I feel uncertain whether I can communicate any of this effectively. The territory began with magic and t’ai chi, leading into my mystical practice. I came to consider the bridge between individual and history, the symbiotic relationship of humanity and the institutions we have created to mediate uncertainty, as a fundamental issue to address for my own growth. Each encounter seems less discrete the closer I listen, yet the overall theme appears in the negative space between them. Continue reading


Nietzsche on Art

By Psyche | April 17, 2013 | Leave a comment

I’ve been reading Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals, and a passage in the third essay, “What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals?” intrigued me:

…[I]t is certainly best to separate an artist from his work so completely that he cannot be taken as seriously as his work. He is after all merely the presupposition of his work, the womb, the soil, in certain cases the dung and manure, on which and out of which it grows – and consequently, in most cases, something that must be forgotten if the work is to be enjoyed.

Nietzsche is writing specifically about Wagner here, but the sentiment can be positioned to apply to any artist one finds objectionable whose work one might appreciate were their “character” not at odds with an expected ideal. It strikes me that this approach is often taken in regards to Crowley’s works in particular, especially for those who might otherwise be reluctant to dare engaging in the material. Continue reading


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