Mutual Reception in the Tarot Minors

I sat down recently and tried to figure out if any cards in the tarot minors create a situation of mutual reception. If I didn’t miss anything, eight cards do so. That creates an interesting situation in which pairs of cards are linked by their planetary rulers and thus can be contemplated together, as though they’re linked in some way.

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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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Golden Dawn Influence on the Waite Smith Tarot

I’ve been talking about tarot a lot lately, in the past few months I mean, on the Hermetic House of Life server. It’s always nice to have other people to discuss stuff like this with. One of the themes that tends to come up is this perceived gulf between people who use stuff like astrological symbolism in tarot reading and those who don’t. And generally, I feel like the gulf isn’t really there. The Astro information is just information, like anything else, and if you don’t know it, you don’t use it, and that’s fine. And if you know enough to say that the 2 of Wands might mean the time around the Spring equinox and that’s it, great!

What I’m here to write about today, though, is the Waite-Smith tarot and astrology. It’s not necessary to know astrology to use the Waite-Smith deck, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that astrology was instrumental in the design of the deck. And that’s my thesis for today: to fully understand the WS deck you do need to know how it uses astrology, even if you don’t really end up using it for readings. However, let me be clear now: you can absolutely use the deck without knowing any of this stuff. But it’s in there.

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Let’s Read! A Blow by Blow of a Reading for Myself

Here’s a bit of an odd one. I had the idea recently to perform a reading for myself. That, on its own, is less common than it used to be. I pull two cards every day to get a picture of what the day is going to be like, and beyond that I tend not to do much else. Or I haven’t in a little while. And so, the idea to do a full-sized reading for myself made me also think that it might be interesting to write about. You might wonder why the two thoughts came together. But, if I’m going to do something like that, something that I don’t do very often, I should take advantage of it and demonstrate how it works. See, it’s not like I can just annotate the readings that I do for other people to use as teaching aids. Those are private.

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Teacher Archetypes in the Tarot Majors

I’m a teacher for my day job, so obviously the idea of what a teacher is, or what one does as a teacher, is often in my mind. And since tarot is also often on my mind, it stands to reason that I think sometimes of which cards represent teachers and teaching. In this post I intend to talk about the two majors that I see as the teachers, as well as the card I suspect people put in that grouping but which shouldn’t be.

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Tarot Case Study: Card Permutations 1

Here’s a kind of case study we can do every so often: I’m going to pull two cards and answer a variety of hypothetical questions with them. Keep in mind these aren’t advice readings, like my monthly Patreon forecast: they aren’t going to particularly apply to you, or to anybody. They’re pulled as exemplars, so I can demonstrate a variety of methods in something as close to a “real life scenario” as possible.

The Questions

Every time I do this “case study” exercise I’ll use the same questions, though I may add to them over time if I think of more, or if you suggest some! For now they are:

  • How can I improve my career prospects?
  • How can I meet a person who I can begin a healthy romantic relationship with?
  • What should I focus on in my spiritual life?
  • What’s something important in work environment that I haven’t noticed?
  • When should I move?

That covers a wide variety of topics, and are all things one might be asked by a querent.

The cards

We need a pair of cards at this point. Here they are:

The 4 of Swords and the Magician from the Sigil Arcanum tarot

The cards are from Sigil Arcanum by Taylor Bell, which you can find here if you’re interested.

  • 4 of Swords
    • Jupiter
      • Greater Benefic
      • Peace
      • Religion
      • Generosity
      • Lucky breaks
      • Day sect
    • Libra
      • Cardinal
      • Air
      • Justice (major card)
    • Chesed
  • Magician
    • Major card
    • Mercury
      • Clever
      • Communication
      • Words
      • Magic
      • Calculation
      • No sect
        • Matches what is around it in a chart
    • Four elements
      • Earth
      • Water
      • Air
      • Fire

These are just some of the correspondences the cards bring up. Let’s answer those questions!

How can I improve my career prospects?

Have you been fighting something or someone at work lately? Center yourself and breathe. Take a break – don’t stop working, but stop fighting. When you see an opportunity to give in, take it, so long as it does not weaken your position too much. Use that new time and freed-up energy to do something clever. Find someone to communicate with that you don’t usually loop in and see how you can learn a new skill or manipulate an existing structure to figure things out. The magician is the calm center of the universe, and the 4 of Swords supports this. Look out for opportunities you weren’t expecting. This isn’t about brute forcing it or showing yourself off. It’s about taking advantage of a something new or new-to-you that comes because you stop fighting a battle you can’t win at this time.

How can I meet a person who I can begin a healthy romantic relationship with?

Talk to your prospective partners and dates in calm situations, not rowdy messes. Don’t go to a bar or even a restaurant. Go to a café and spend a few hours actually getting to know each other. Think about what you actually want from a relationship. Get all the hopes and dreams out of your mind, breathe, focus on mindfulness, and then imagine what it is you need and what it would look like to have a relationship that gave you what you need. Be honest. If you’re sort of clingy, accept that you need a person who likes hugs. If you are standoffish, accept that you need somebody who can do their own thing for hours at a time. Go through this carefully. Make a list! When that’s done, go on a date and, very peacefully and happily, find out if this person can do those things. Go on a bunch of dates! Don’t brandish the list at people, but keep it in mind and slowly, gently discover the person, not the image. This process sucks, because everyone thinks they have to portray an image when they’re dating. Take your time.

What should I focus on in my spiritual life?

Meditation. Do imaginal workings in the middle of meditating. Read Jung’s Red Book, or at least a portion of it, and do what he did. Close your eyes, get peaceful, and imagine a door. Then open that door without any expectations. Find out what’s behind it. Examine the scene and the objects or people from all angles. Ask questions. Expect answers, but don’t expect specific answers. Repeat as necessary.

What’s something important in work environment that I haven’t noticed?

You’re probably not networking during down time, and someone else is. Take advantage of lulls in the workday, or in the seasonal calendar, to talk to everyone about any old thing. Learn what makes them tick. Don’t plan to blackmail anybody, or even hold it over their heads formally. But when you know a person, you know the names and the calls for them, and can ask them for help more easily. The process works in reverse, too, so be generous with your time without causing yourself stress. Stop anything that starts to stress you out though. But pay attention to the grapevine while also avoiding getting engaged in malicious gossip. If you never encounter anybody in all the gossip that everyone rags on, it’s you they’re ragging on when they talk to other people. Fix that.

When should I move?

Not right away. Take a breather. Start a calendar and get fussy with it. When does the sale go through? Add a month to that. When are all your deadlines? When does the current landlord want you out? How much would it cost to stay in a hotel for a week? Can you crash on a friend’s couch? Does that friend know you might need to? Get specific, get annoying, and only after that’s all done can you think about actually moving. Possibly September or October, most likely October. If you’re into astrology, look for when Mercury transits into Libra and try to move just before that, right when they’re near the cusp.

And we’re done

You’ll notice I haven’t gone into details about why each reading is the way it is. You can presumably see the obvious patterns, such as the 4 of Swords being associated with meditation and “breathing space.” Take the list above and think through the readings that followed. I want this to be a kind of guided exercise. You know the beginning and end points, so you can think through how to get from one to the other.

Next time, we’ll answer the same questions using the Magician and a randomly drawn card. In this way, we can work through how what the cards say changes when they’re paired up with different cards.

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Tarot Workshop Announcement

Hello! I’m posting on not-a-Monday to let you know that I will be teaching an online tarot workshop soon! It will be focused on pathworking, a visualization method for exploring tarot cards related to the Kabbalistic associations. The class itself will be part discussion and part guided meditation session. Most of the details are still to be determined, but I will post with a date, cost, and platform soon. I hope to see you there!