The Ten of Cups – “Perfected Success.” © Alex Sumner 2015
A compilation of various answers I have given on Quora.com relating to the Tarot.
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).
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.
- Artistic inspiration
- As symbols of spiritual progression in your initiatic course in life.
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!
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
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.
Certification, and more importantly professional indemnity insurance, from the British Astrological & Psychic Society (or a similar body if overseas) is always a good start.