Tag Archives: Tarot

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.


Magical correspondences and social values

By Brendan Myers | March 29, 2013 | Leave a comment

Forest boardwalk, photo by Adam CampbellA spiritual path is, among other things, a way of seeing the world. That is to say, a spiritual path is a way of understanding or interpreting our relationships with the many things, events, people, and places in the world.  In most cases, the path will be expressed or configured by a logic of correspondences. In accord with this logic, the appearance of a certain animal, or plant, or weather event, or whatever, signifies realities beyond itself. Similarly, every spiritual path will have meditations, rituals, techniques, practices, and so on, designed to help the practitioner recognise those signs and read the messages they convey.

The co-ordinates of the correspondences will vary in accord with language, culture, climate, geography, and other factors. They can grow ever more complicated and intricate, in order to accommodate an ever growing range of things and events in an ever-changing world. The associations of the four classical elements to cardinal directions, colours, ritual objects, seasons of the year, times of day, and so on, are well known examples. Yet the logic of correspondence can appear in things as simple as children’s rhymes. The game of counting crows: “One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl and four for a boy,” and so on, is also a logic of magical correspondences. Continue reading


Top 5 Foundational Books on Tarot

By Psyche | March 4, 2013 | 2 comments

There are some books that are required reading for the serious tarot enthusiast, and this list represents my top five foundational books on tarot – books that will provide a solid historical, symbolic and esoteric foundation for any student.

Transcendental Magic, by Eliphas Levi1. Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (available in English as Transcendental Magic), by Éliphas Lévi (Alphonse-Louis Constant)

First published in 1855 as Dogme et rituel de la haute magie, it became a foundational text for the French occult revival. It was translated into English by Arthur Edward Waite in 1896 as Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual and gained wider recognition among English-speaking occultists on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dogma et rituel became the first occult text to weave elemental, alchemical, astrological and planetary theory with kabbalah, the tarot and ceremonial magick, synthesizing the first wholly integrated system of magick. It served and continues to serve as the basis for much symbolism found in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis, and various contemporary mystery schools. While lacking in historical accuracy, and allowing for many liberties taken with its symbolic integrity, Dogma et rituel remains an important historical work for this reason. Continue reading


Tarot and Accuracy

By Psyche | December 8, 2008 | Leave a comment

A woman who reads playing cards recently acquired her first tarot deck, and made inquiries on a forum I participate in as to the difference in accuracy between the two, and the “difficulty”.

Frankly, such questions are frustrating as they are not terribly meaningful in and of themselves, but as someone who reads cards professionally myself (I’ve read tarot cards for more than ten years, and I read for various clients, at corporate events, private parties and fundraisers, as well as lecture on the subject), I can attest that they are common. It might help if we first separate fortune-telling from divination. Continue reading


Review: The Housewives Tarot, by Paul Kepple & Jude Buffum

By Psyche | March 17, 2007 | 1 comment

The Housewives tarot: A Domestic Divination Kit with Deck and Instruction Book, by Paul Kepple & Jude Buffum
Cards: Quirk Books, Quirk Books, 78 cards, 96 pp. booklet, 2004

The Housewives Tarot consists of 78 cards, 22 trumps or major arcana and 56 minor arcana. The cards come in a mock recipe box, complete with actual recipes on the tabs that separate the minor and major arcana, and instruction booklet. The cards are styled as pure fifties kitsch; charming and often irreverent with clever interpretations of traditional modern esoteric tarot symbolism. Continue reading


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