Tag Archives: ouija

Quora Compendium: Tarot

Picture of Alex Sumner's version of the Ten of Cups

The Ten of Cups – “Perfected Success.” © Alex Sumner 2015

A compilation of various answers I have given on Quora.com relating to the Tarot.

How does the Tarot relate to the Tree of Life?

From the late 18th century onwards, occultists retconned the story of the Tarot to make it appear to have an ancient Egyptian origin, or to be associated with the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, or both. The way this has been done, e.g. by the Golden Dawn, does make for an appealing set of correspondences from the point of view of a modern occultist, but a very traditional Kabbalist might equally say “They’re not related at all. The Tarot is foreign to the Kabbalah.”

That being said, however, the basic scheme is as follows:

  • The four worlds of the Kabbalah – Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah – correspond to the suits Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles;
  • The pip cards correspond to the ten sephiroth, i.e. Ace = Kether, 10 = Malkuth, etc;
  • In addition the court cards are assigned King to Chokmah, Queen to Binah, Prince (Knight) to Tiphereth, and Princess (Page) to Malkuth;
  • The twenty two trumps correspond to the twenty two paths linking the sephiroth.

The Golden Dawn system uses the Athanasius Kircher Tree of Life, and gives “The Fool” as Trump 0, Strength as trump 8, and Justice as 11 (in older versions of the Tarot, Strength was 11 and Justice was 8, whilst the Fool didn’t have a number but was poked between the last two trumps).

Are Tarot cards and Ouija boards dangerous? Why?

An Ouija Board is not dangerous as long as you give it as much respect as a Medium would give her own gift of Mediumship. Now the thing about Mediums is that a real Medium spends years training up, typically through a development circle at their local Spiritualist Church, which is a nurturing environment in which they learn how to communicate with spirits safely, appropriately, respectfully, and with due consideration to the spirit itself and to the person on whose behalf they are contacting it.

Unfortunately, most manufacturers of Ouija boards don’t have those kind of scruples. They actively market their Ouija boards on the basis that scaring yourself witless is all part of the “fun” of using one. So ironically, although an Ouija board would not be dangerous to someone who knows how to contact spirits properly, it would be to everyone to whom the Ouija board maker wants to buy one.

Tarot cards are different: they are not actually intended to contact spirits per se in the first place. Instead they are keys to unlock the tarot reader’s intuition. Their meanings don’t create predictions which are set in stone, but indicate trends which one can buck with the benefit of Free Will if one is resolute. The only danger with Tarot cards is with people of a very superstitious nature – the kind of people who don’t realise that “bad” cards are actually warning cards – and hence are actually good.

What are Tarot cards used for other than Tarot readings, if anything?

  • Artistic inspiration
  • Meditation
  • Clairvoyance
  • Spell-casting
  • As symbols of spiritual progression in your initiatic course in life.

I can’t afford to buy a proper Tarot deck. Can I make my own?

It is theoretically possible to make your own tarot deck: I myself have done so. However, get this: the cost of finding an online company and getting them to turn my designs into a finished deck was approximately $45 – but that didn’t include any value placed on all the hours I had spent painting the designs, scanning them and editing them with Photoshop, etc. (I suppose could have cheated and just used pre-existing designs which are floating around the internet as pirated copies, but it would still cost me money to print them out).

Bear in mind however, that, Amazon is currently selling copies of the Rider Waite Deck for only $12.30, so you must be really poor if you can’t afford even that!

Is the Thoth Tarot in the public domain?

Can I use the imagery without an explicit license? My understanding was that the age of the work matters – Wikipedia says it was all painted by 1943, and first published in 1969.

No. In the United States, copyright for a work published after 1923 but before 1978 will remain in the images until 95 years after the date of first publication, or 2064. See: Copyright Basics FAQ

In the United Kingdom and other countries, copyright lasts until 70 years after the creator’s death. The text for the Book of Thoth will therefore be in the public domain in Britain in 2017 (Crowley died in 1947); but the images will remain in copyright until 2032 (Lady Frieda Harris died in 1962). See: Page on dacs.org.uk

Does any one believe in Tarot card reading? How does it work?

The Tarot reader’s intuition does the reading: the cards themselves are keys which unlock that intuition. The Tarot spread challenges the reader to confront symbols that he or she would not normally consider – thus forcing the reader to think outside the box, and leading to insights of a psychic and even spiritual nature.

How do you become a paid astrologer or tarot reader?

Certification, and more importantly professional indemnity insurance, from the British Astrological & Psychic Society (or a similar body if overseas) is always a good start.

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Ouija board, Ouija board, can you help me?

Ouija board, Ouija board, can you help me?


I first wrote this in February 2011. Since then a number of things have prompted me to expand upon my original article, not least of which is a film entitled Ouija coming out for Hallowe’en. Anyway, my basic thoughts are these:

I am suspicious of Ouija boards, not because they are too occult and hence evil, but because they are not occult enough!

I shall explain. The way that Ouija boards are marketed is so egregious it ought to make a serious occultist cringe. Whenever I see an Ouija board, I cannot help but think of what real Mediums go through to be in a position to communicate with the departed. The traditional method of becoming a Medium has always been to join a “development circle” – membership of which being usually only open to members of a Spiritualist Church – thus ensuring that one is in sympathy with the aims of the circle from the outset. The Development Circle forms a sympathetic environment in which a trainee medium can learn how to practice their art in a safe, sensible and respectful manner – respectful to oneself, to the bereaved, and to the spirit being contacted – and all the while being supported by those of like-mind. Going through a development circle like this might take a couple of years at the very least.

Ouija boards, however, are marketed like “Hey! You and your friends can chat with the dead at your party tonight!!!” No mention of training, but a lot of helpful advice like “Why not make the atmosphere spooky by dimming the lights and lighting some candles? Woooo!”

Ironically, it is theoretically possible to turn an Ouija board into a serious method of spirit communication, if only its users used the same sort of care that a trained Medium would use. It so happens that the techniques of the Medium also have their analogue with those of the Ceremonial Magician – which I describe below. For example, the Pentagram ritual is equivalent to the forming of the circle, and the use of prayer to prepare the Seance. Moreover the Guardian Angel in the process serves the same purpose as Medium’s “Spirit Guide.” The Pentagram Ritual has the effect of banishing all unwanted influences; whilst the Guardian Angel will ensure that only the desired spirit is contacted, and that it speaks the truth whilst doing so.

Anywho: here’s my original article:

Ouija Boards

During the week, I came across a post at patheos.com by some Christian fundamentalist about how evil ouija boards were, and that they were leading children into the occult etc.

NB: As always when trying to claim the moral high ground in cases like this, the writer inevitably invoked a “think about the children” mentality.

I therefore decided to lend my assistance – by explaining how an ouija board may be used safely with minimal risk to the user. A sort of how to contact spirits and have fun doing so, if you were.

Then within the past day or so I find that the site underwent maintenance, after which all the comments (including mine) conveniently ahem I mean mysteriously disappeared! Luckily I had saved what I wrote, so I present it here for your delectation.

An Ouija board can be made safe with the following simple 3 step procedure:

  1. Firstly: perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.
  2. Before attempting to contact any other spirit, invoke a “Guardian Angel” to come down and watch over the board. Ask the Guardian Angel to ensure that only the spirits you desire contact you through the board, and that they speak the truth when they do so. Assuming the Guardian Angel says yes, proceed to …
  3. Contact the desired spirit – get it to acknowledge the Guardian Angel, and provide some proof that it is who it says it is.

Any spirit communication that happens and at least one of these rules hasn’t been observed can and indeed should be discarded. Too much caution cannot be exercised – not necessarily because it is dangerous, but because believing any old rubbish that a passing entity happens to send over detracts from the value of receiving genuine messages.

Also, one should be particularly aware when trying to contact departed loved ones, and they start talking about stuff they would not have known whilst alive. This is highly suspicious. As it is said: “Just because someone is dead, doesn’t make them any more intelligent.”


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