Eruption at the End of Things: the Tower Sequence in the Tarot

I was thinking about how the Lovers card is an expression of Gemini and brushing my teeth when this sequence dropped into my head, almost fully formed.

These three cards — The Devil, The Tower, and The Star — are in order, and what’s more remarkable about them is that they are two Saturn cards bookended around a Mars card. And with that, an entire sequence, a narrative, forms around the three cards that is worth investigating to increase our facility with reading with and meditating on these cards.

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Stage and Ground: Scenic Tarot and the “Open Reading”

Open reading is a concept that, as best as I know, comes from the Marseille tradition. There’s much more to it than this, but you can think of it this way: looking at the way the cards are oriented on the table, do they look forward or backwards? Where are the obstructions? Taking in general patterns visually is how I might try to define it.

Now, the thing is, a lot of figures in Waite Smith decks are in scenes, which is to say, their facing can’t be taken on its own. They face certain directions to convey certain information already, and so while you could call attention to many figures facing backwards, some of them may or may not fit in with the overall "open reading." This essay is an attempt to test out certain possibilities for using the Waite Smith’s famous scenic composition to recreate a kind of "open" reading through distance.

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The World is a Forest, Not a High Rise

This essay is on ontology, and anyone who’s spent five minutes talking with me knows that I don’t really care for that much. I find it, at best, irrelevant, and at worst actively pernicious, backing people into corners that they must then act from. Trying to figure out where something comes from, if it’s a constant, is much less useful than figuring out how to interact with it and how we tend to think of it.

However, this post is, as I said, just that. It’s not that I don’t have ideas about the spiritual ontology of the world, I just don’t prioritize them so much. This is more common than you might think: anthropologists have recorded some indigenous groups saying that they do technically have a creator god somewhere, but they’re not usually prayed to — to the point that many won’t know the god’s name. Now, please, keep in mind that’s some studies of some groups, not a blanket statement about all indigneous peoples. I’m just pointing it out to demonstrate that while I may be a crazy person, I’m not that crazy.

Basically, the problem for me with many contemporary religious, magical, and Hermetic conceptions of the source of all things, the capital g God. The Big Boss, is that, well, it’s a god, a Big Boss. This isn’t exactly rare. In fact, it’s fairly common. So when I say to you that I don’t find it satisfying, I’m not exactly criticizing anyone who does. This essay probably won’t change anybody’s mind. But all magicians should practice thinking with multiple world views when they get the chance, right?

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