Feeling down? How ’bout a big hug?
In the tarot, the Death card means many things to many people. Barbara Moore has noticed a shift in her understanding of the card.
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
It’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
Tarot Beyond the Basics: Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Meanings Behind the Cards, by Anthony Louis
Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738739441, 383 pp. (incl. notes, appendices, and bibliography), 2014
Anthony Louis brings us an enriching and thorough examination of the modern tarot by first introducing us to its fascinating history. He begins in China, where the paper and cards was created, then to Egypt and the Mamluk slave soldiers who played games with a deck of 52 playing cards, much like today’s playing card decks. Then he travels into Spain where the court cards are changed to include Kings, horsemen and pages. In Italy is where the queens were added and the church became involved in their design.
Many readers of today have heard the rumours that the tarot is originated from the Egyptian pantheon, or that the 22 major arcana cards reference the 22 letters in the Hebrew kabbalah. Louis notes that this assumption appeared in an unsubstantiated paper that was published in Paris in 1781 by clergyman Antoine Court de Gebelin and the French occultist Comte de Mellet. The only reference that Louis could find about the tarot originating in Egypt was through the Mamluks and their love of playing cards. Continue reading