Tag Archives: Paul Foster Case

World Tarot Day

Today is World Tarot Day, and so I thought I (as a Tarot reader myself) would contribute by reviewing my own favourite Tarot decks.

Golden Dawn – Robert Wang

Golden Dawn Deck – artwork by Robert Wang

The Golden Dawn was my entry into occultism generally, and consequently the Tarot as well. Hence Robert Wang’s Golden Dawn Tarot was the first deck I ever bought: it was the one on which I learnt. The trumps struck me as the most impressive, although I confess I thought the art-work was a bit ordinary. Nevertheless this is still my default deck today, the one which I most use for doing readings. I have to admit though that if I were buying a Golden Dawn deck for the first time today, I would probably get Tabatha Cicero’s versioninstead, mainly because the art-work is livelier.


Crowley-Thoth deck. Designed by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris.

Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot deck is one of a number of decks which I keep at home mainly for the sake of comparison. One has to remember that for 19 years from 1969 until 1988, this was the closest thing to a Golden Dawn type deck that was publicly available. In many ways this would be an ideal deck, due to its bold artwork courtesy of Lady Frieda Harris and its wealth of symbolism which is all authentic … from a Thelemic point of view. Essentially Crowley took the GD symbolism, right down to the particular colours appropriate to each card – and augmented it with ideas derived from his own visionary work, e.g The Book of the Law and The Vision and The Voice. Hence, whilst it is mostly GD-ish, and undoubtedly superb for actual Thelemites, a GD purist would need to be wary of this. (Incidentally, a good book to read about this deck is Lon Milo Duquette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot).

Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot

Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot

This is not really a Tarot deck per se, more a Cartomancy deck. It is not based upon the traditional Tarot format at all: instead, each card represents a portion of the Enochian Watchtowers and the Tablet of Union. Meanwhile, the reverse of each card instead of having a uniform backing has elemental symbolism (corresponding to the Enochian associations on the obverse side) which can be used in skrying. The meanings of the individual cards take a bit of getting used to, although there is a logic to the general scheme which is based on GD teachings.

This has given me an idea – about how an Adept might incorporate this into ceremonial magick. When performing a divination with this deck, typically there will be one card which points to the solution of a given problem. Because each card represents a portion of the Enochian Watchtowers, the “solution-card” will therefore represent a particular Enochian angel – a being who can be evoked by constructing a magical ceremony with the appropriate symbolism.

Rider Waite

Rider Waite – designed by A E Waite, illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith

Given that the Rider Waite deck is the world’s most popular version, I suppose that I could hardly call myself a tarot connoisseur unless I actually had a copy. Undoubtedly Pamela Coleman-Smith’s artwork must be a big reason for its popularity – especially the fact that each of the Minor Arcana is individually illustrated.

The Mythic Tarot

The Mythic Tarot

I decided to get hold of this after seeing a fellow Tarot reader use this. What I find most appealing is that the creators of this deck have based the artwork on Greek mythology. Hence: the suit of Cups is the story of Cupid and Psyche; Wands is the story of Jason and the Argonauts; whilst the characters in the Major Arcana are identified as Greek gods and goddesses. This is a visually appealing deck because, like the Rider Waite one, all 78 cards are fully illustrated. Also it is refreshing to see a deck which goes with an original idea for a change which comes off successfully.

Builders of the Adytum

The BOTA deck.

Of all the Tarot decks which are available, the ones that particularly interest me are those created by Occultists – as opposed to the many which appear to be novelty decks, or created by people with only a superficial understanding of the subject. Hence my reason for being drawn to not only the Golden Dawn, but also the Crowley Thoth, Rider Waite, etc decks. I suppose it was thus inevitable that I would seek out the Builders of the Adytum, given that it was designed by not only an occultist but by an actual Tarot scholar, Paul Foster Case. The thing about the BOTA deck is that it comes uncoloured: the point being that as a student learns about the Tarot, they use their own knowledge of the esoteric associations of colour to colour it in themselves. Unfortunately I discovered that the BOTA deck is very hard to come by on Amazon – with one going for over £100.

So I cheated.

The unfortunate fact, I am ashamed to say, is that a full set of scans of the entire BOTA deck is available via bit-torrent and certain P2P clients. So whilst I have never purchased a BOTA deck, I am nevertheless using my Adobe Photoshop skills to illustrate it anyway. 😉

The Black Tarot

The Black Tarot – illustrated by Luis Royo

This is something of a curiosity which came into my possession, and of which I have not made use since acquiring it. The trumps feature a lot of lurid artwork – dragons, monsters, scantily-clad buxom women, etc – which only vaguely references traditional tarot imagery. Meanwhile the accompanying booklet puts a Vama-marga Tantric spin on interpretation of the cards.

I first acquired this when a dear friend of mine was getting rid of her spare tarot decks, so I just happened to pick this up. Ironically, the same friend later received a present – another copy of the Black Tarot. Hmm seems to me this must be more than coincidence – perhaps the universe is trying to tell her something???


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Music In Theory and Practice – Part 1

Starting today I present a short series of blogs on the esoteric use of music in the Western Mystery Tradition.

As I understand it, there are four main methods of incorporating Music into the esoteric practices of the West. These are:

  1. The Chromatic scale method;
  2. The Harmonic method;
  3. The Modal method; and
  4. The Intuitive method.

Each of these embraces dogmatism and pragmatism to differing degrees. The Intuitive Method is the least dogmatic / most pragmatic, and typifies the approach of mainstream composers creating works for the general public, but is not necessarily best suited for a ritual unless it were specifically composed for such. On the other hand, the chromatic method is probably the most dogmatic and arbitrary – but, once learnt, it can be deployed the most quickly to create Qablalistically-correct ritual chants. However a chant thus created would sacrifice aesthetic charm for intellectual rigour, which is a polite way of saying Geekishness.

I intend to review each of the four methods: the Chromatic Method today, and the other three in blog posts in the days to come.

The Chromatic Scale Method

This method has been advocated by Paul Foster Case and Allan Bennett. The basic principle may be expressed thus:

There are 12 notes in the Chromatic Scale; they have a one-for-one correlation to the 12 colours of the Artist’s colour wheel.

The Chromatic Scale

As those who follow the GD teachings know, the letters of the Hebrew alphabet can all be related to the colour wheel, hence on this basis when can then relate them to the chromatic scale as well. This is done by arbitrariliy saying C = Red, C# = Red-orange, D = Orange, etc. A full list would be as follows:

Hebrew letters / Colours / Piano keys

Hebrew Letter Colour Note
Heh Pe Shin Red C
Vau Red-Orange C #
Zayin Resh Orange D
Cheth Amber D #
Teth Beth Aleph Yellow E
Yod Yellow-Green F
Lamed Daleth Green F #
Nun Green-Blue G
Samekh Gimel Mem Blue G #
Aayin Tau Indigo A
Tzaddi Kaph Violet A #
Qoph Vermilion B

Armed with this knowledge you can now grab any music instrument you have to hand, such as a guitar, recorder or a keyboard (if convenient), and start working out how Hebrew divine names would sound if sung to the notes proposed in the table above. Here are some I prepared earlier:

The Qabalistic Cross

The Qabalistic Cross (chord accompaniment optional).

Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

Divine and angelic names from the LBRP


If you are a musician and have stayed with this so far, you will probably have noticed that the use of this Chromatic method does not a pleasing melody make! More interesting, though is the fact the interval between one note and the note represented by its opposite on the colour-wheel is the infamous tri-tone, which historically is known as the Diabolus In Musica of “Devil’s Interval” (the fact that the melody of  “Black Sabbath” by the group of the same name is based on the tritone is not a coincidence!).

Finally I would just like to leave you with this video, in which a group of musicians have set the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram to music using just this method. Although it’s called “Rites of Luna,” from what I can make out in the excerpt shown the lady is just doing the regular Hexagram ritual.


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Refreshes the Parts that other astrologers can’t reach

NB: My recent research into Astrology has lead me to place a great deal of importance on the so-called “Arabian Parts”: i.e. Part of Fortune, Part of Spirit, etc. It appears that the whilst the rest of the horoscope talks about generalities, the “Parts” supply details about specific subjects. In my personal experience, the Parts can be the deciding factor as to why two people who are born on the same day in the same hospital half an hour apart (= a difference of 7.5º in the Ascendant) can have completely different personalities.

My working hypothesis is that anyone who has a natural talent for the occult, will find that their “Part of Spirit” will form one or more major aspects in a significant area of their chart. The precise details thereof will indicate their own particular spiritual path.

Crowley’s “Part of Spirit” was in his 6th House (Capricorn), and Square to both his Caput et Cauda Draconis. This would seem to imply that to him, expressing his spirituality was a routine matter for him; that it would be natural for him to see himself as a leader in this regard; but most importantly that he was driven by a compelling sense of both destiny and karma. His assumption of the role of Prophet of the New Aeon was his attempt to incorporate them into his spiritual life. Had he not done so,  they would have been powerful forces for causing him trouble all his life.

He also had the Moon in his 9th House, which would imply he would naturally have a talent for astral projection or psychism generally.

Paul Foster Case
Case on the other hand has a far more subtle astrological chart. His “Part of Spirit” was in his 9th House (Scorpio), in conjunction with Mars in its own sign. Hence it would be natural for him to turn to psychism and mysticism. He would have had great drive to do so, although it is also likely that he went further in his spiritual quest than he ever publicly revealed, even to his confidantes. Yet despite this tendency towards secrecy, he still felt that he should be communicating his thoughts for a living: hence his founding of an occult correspondence school, which he felt would be a vehicle for achieving more ambitious things (“Part of Fortune” conjunct Mercury in his 6th House).

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