Tag Archives: Alejandro Jodorowsky

World Tarot Day II

This is a follow up post to my original blog World Tarot Day, which was first proclaimed in 2003 and is celebrated on May 25th each year. Since I first wrote that blog post, more Tarot decks have come into my possession, so I thought I would write a completely new blog post reviewing them as well.

The Babylonian Tarot

The Babylonian Tarot, by Sandra Tabatha Cicero

This deck was created by Sandra Tabatha Cicero of the Golden Dawn-fame. I once attended a public talk in London where she explained the complete background of this deck. It turns out that Tabby is a bit of a nut for Babylonian mythology! Each minor represents an aspect of ancient Babylonian folklore or mythology in general, whilst each Major is an actual Babylonian deity or pair of deities, apart from the “Wheel of Fortune” and “Temperance.” The former is “The Tablet of Destiny,” an artefact first mentioned in the Enuma Elish, whilst the latter is the “Tree of Life” – the point being that the Babylonian version is more primordial than that mentioned in the Book of Genesis, upon which the Qabalistic Tree of Life is based.

Unusually, this is an 83 card deck. There is an extra Major called “Genesis” which is without number or attribution. Tabby explained that she had created this card because in her view the Babylonian concept of the creation of the Universe was not well represented in the conventional Major Arcana.

The four other extra cards are additional Court Cards named “Kerubs,” thus allowing the five elements (i.e. Spirit in addition to the other four) to be represented.

IMHO, Tabby is to be congratulated for having created a truly original deck. It is completely unlike the Golden Dawn deck, a version of which she also created. Also, it has the distinction of being a completely illustrated deck which is not just another Rider-Waite clone or variant. Meanwhile, going through the meanings of the cards is a lesson in Babylonian mythology in itself.

The Tarot of Marseilles

The Way of Tarot, by Alejandro Jodorowsky

The Tarot of Marseilles is a classic deck, the original design dating from 1760, although cognate decks can be found dating from 1650. Nowadays there are many reproductions of the original version available – some good (e.g. the Jodorowsky / Camoin version), and some which are quite frankly cheap knock-offs.

Incidentally, in his book The Way of  Tarot, Alejandro Jodorowksy appears to have been labouring all his life under the misapprehension that the Tarot of Marseilles is the oldest known version of the Tarot, this due to the fact that Max Ernst once told him so whilst warning him against the Rider-Waite deck. Unfortunately, Max Ernst told Jodo a crock of shit! The oldest two decks are in fact the Visconti and Sola-Buschi, both mid 15th century… the latter of which inspired the artwork in the Rider-Waite.

The Sensual Goddess Tarot Deck

The Sensual Goddess Tarot Deck

This deck is essentially a variation of the Rider Waite, but with the key difference that that artwork consists of digital photography of the eponymous “Sensual Goddess” acting out the scenes depicted on the cards. As it happens, this Sensual Goddess is a buxom glamour-model (actually the photographer’s wife), often (but not always) in a state of undress.

Fortunately, however, the deck stays on the right-side of artistic nudity. Indeed, the creators make a point of the fact that they have tried to keep it glamorous without being smutty.

Nevertheless, this deck will not please those of a prudish disposition. This makes me wonder: this deck may be great for doing readings for oneself, but one would have to exercise a great deal of discretion if one wanted to give readings for other people. Even if the nudity did not bother them, it might still distract them from the seriousness of the Tarot reading!

That aside, it’s clear from the LWB that the creators know their Tarot, and have done their research into the subject. In this regard, I would like to relate a story: on receiving the deck, went through each card with the LWB. As I did so, I picked up a psychic vibe from the cards: that the whole project to create the deck had been a *magical operation* undertaken by the photographer and his wife (i.e. the Sensual Goddess), and that here I was, effectively participating in it down the line, as it were. So one could say that I am writing this review because I am caught up in the spell. 🙂

Other

Universal Tarot

Maxwell Miller’s Universal Tarot

Maxwell Miller, the creator of this deck, has not done himself any favours by giving it the exact same name as a number of completely dissimilar decks, (so says the author of The Magus – :::shudder:::). That being said, however, I must say how much I really enjoy the artwork in this particular deck, which contains Astrological, Alchemical, Qabalistic, Sufi, Hindu symbolism and more. In other words, it is “Universal” because it draws on traditions from across the globe.

This is a 74 card deck instead of the traditional 78: instead of having King, Queen, Prince (Knight) and Princess (Page), the court cards are simply King, Queen and Knave. But the quality of the artwork is almost enough to tempt me to overlook this detail.

Tarot of the New Vision

Tarot of the New Vision

This is an amusing take on the Rider-Waite Deck. It attempts to imagine what Pamela Colman-Smith’s artwork would have looked like if the scenes had been observed from the reverse-angle, i.e. behind the characters depicted in the cards. This allows for a scope of creativity… which is only realised in some of the cards.

So for example, in “The Magician” we find out that there is a cheeky monkey hiding behind the eponymous main character, thus pointing out the tricksterish associations of the card. In the 4 of Chalices (i.e. Cups), we find out that the thoughtful looking man is actually Bellerophon, awaiting Pegasus to come to him, whilst the King of Chalices is revealed as Noah – i.e. because he was master of the deluge.

Unfortunately, though, a number of the cards are no more than depictions of original Colman-Smith version, from a different angle but adding nothing new in the way of symbolism. Also, because many of them are facing away from the viewer, one cannot see the character’s facial expressions. Taken to the extreme, in the 4 of Pentacles the main character, by having his back to the viewer, conceals all of the traditional symbolism associated with that card!

The Archeon Tarot

The Archeon Tarot

I mention this because of the striking art-work (much use of Photoshop, methinks). Whilst visually this is an appealing deck (always an important consideration if you are doing Tarot readings for clients), in some cards it lacks some of the traditional symbolism.


Taromancer, the tarot-themed novel by Alex Sumner, is out now in both print and Kindle editions.

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Money Making Magick!

MoneyI have a great Money-making secret, which just about no other magician is willing to admit either in public – or to themselves. Want to know what it is? I’ve written it in plain language down towards the bottom of this very article. So read on and you’ll eventually get to it. Anyway: it’s that time of year again – just after the beginning of the financial year, and just before tax-freedom day, when the spiritual forces of the universe draw the minds of various magicians to talking about money. (See, e.g. here and here). Specifically – can one use magick to make money? And: should one use magick to make money?

As regards the former: I have already mentioned some of my experiments in this regard, in a piece I wrote several years ago for the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, entitled “Money Spe££s – An Audit.” The gist of the article is basically that the first time I cast a really successful money spell was also the first time I made a conscious effort to improve my skills as a magician. Hence, if the story has a moral, it is that one should concentrate on self-improvement first, and thaumaturgic ability arises as a side-effect.

In the ten years that have passed since I wrote that, I have given further consideration to the whole notion of using magick to make money. It so happened that I was having a good-natured discussion with fellow members of the Illuminati in a pub about whether it was possible to use our combined magickal skills to collectively win the Lottery. Or more to the point, the other people at the table were having a discussion, whilst I was trying to eat my dinner.

The discussion was getting quite heated between one person who insisted that we try it, and just about all the rest who were saying “No, it’s not possible,” etc. I finally finished off my food. “I have made a study of people who have cast successful money spells,” I said.

The Lottery-enthusiast was arguing so enthusiastically that it was several seconds before someone realised that I had said something interesting. “Go on, Alex! What is the result of your study?” they said.

“Well,” I said, as everyone became silent, “I’ve collected examples of people who have successfully used magic to make money. They include:

  • Professional people, getting an idea how to find themselves a new job;
  • Having been invited to interview, using magick to boost their confidence and help them say and do the right thing at the interview;
  • Businessmen seeking inspiration for how to bring new customers to their business;
  • Inventors, ‘dreaming up’ a new invention;
  • Songwriters coming up with the idea for a new hit song;
  • Novelists coming up with the plot for a new story.

“In short: none of these people invoked Money itself, they invoked a Money-making opportunity. The point being that when the said Money-making opportunity appeared seemingly miraculously in their lives, they converted it into actual money in a conventional manner, to wit: hard work. This, incidentally, is why there are so many ‘arty’ people in the Occult or people with artistic flair  – painters, writers, musicians, self-employed professionals, and so forth – because magick is all about drawing upon ones inner creativity.

“The one thing I have never heard of is people using magick to win the lottery. Therefore, if we were to use our magick skills to think up a money-making scheme, I’m certain that we would actually succeed! Whether we would be able to put the scheme into practice, however, would be another matter entirely. So my best advice would be to concentrate on the opportunity first, and forget the Lottery altogether.”

“But playing the Lottery is a money-making opportunity!” the gambling addict cried. At this point the argument erupted again. I immediately got the impression that no further good would come from trying to press my point, so I just let them get on with it.

Sigmund Freud

“Sometimes a bowel movement is just a bowel movement.”

Now the question of “Should one try to use magick to make money?” is a more delicate subject. My personal opinion is that, subject to the caveats I outline above, if you get the opportunity (heh!) then go for it. However the real problem about attempting to use magick to make money – and this is the big secret to which I alluded at the top of this article – is that when you do so you are confronting all the neuroses in your psyche relating to the Anal Stage of your psychosexual development.

I shit ye not! To coin a phrase. (See what I did there? )

Seriously: Sigmund Freud once claimed that when we dream of gold, we are actually unconsciously thinking of our own feces. This may sound revolting, but think about it. How many times have you thought of money as somehow “dirty?” How many times have you come across other people who think that way? How many times have either you or someone else referred to the process of getting a job and working for a living as “it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it?” The “dirt” you associate with money is the “dirty” feeling you unconsciously associate with the recent contents of your lower intestine.

Thus, as a magician you have to face the fact that your revulsion or acceptance of using magic to make money is basically an extension of your anxieties about childhood toilet training. If you invent reasons in your own mind why it is a bad thing, then you are anally-fixated! If you shamelessly attempt to make money to the exclusion of everything else, then you ought to be sending your mother flowers and chocolates for all the extra washing of your underwear she had to do when you were younger.

Before you say – that’s just Freud, he’s been discredited – I was reading Jodorowsky the other day, and he had found that by taking the gold = feces metaphor seriously he had found success for people who came to him complaining of financial difficulties. A healthy attitude to money is as important as a healthy digestive system. If we aspire to hoard money but not spend it, then we are constipated. If we throw money away needlessly, we have diarrhoea. If however aspire to keep money circulating in regular movements, not by saving but by spending it wisely, then it can become the manure which fertilises our growth as individuals.

So, magicians – stop worrying about money, and get your shit together! 😉


For those who feel the need to get rid of all the crap from your life, I, Alex Sumner, volunteer to take all the shit that you may be pleased to hand out! Simply donate to the Alex Sumner Appreciation Fund the link to which is located in the navigation bar (on the right if you’re looking at this on your computer). I promise not to be offended by the scatological implications of your actions! 🙂

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Psychomagic, by Alejandro Jodorowsky: a review (vlog)


In which I review Psychomagic: The Transformative Power of Shamanic Psychotherapy by Alejandro Jodorowsky – and include an account of an uncanny encounter of my own with Psychomagic.

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May 26, 2013 · 5:02 pm