LONDON. Occultists and art-lovers have been celebrating today at the discovery of a new set of Masonic Tracing Boards, which are alleged to have been painted by Lady Frieda Harris, better known as the illustrator of the Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck.
Harris was previously known to have created a set of tracing boards circa 1938 for the three degrees of Craft Masonry, which manage to combine Masonic symbolism with the same kind of projective synthetic geometry which she brought to the Great Beast’s tarot ideas. (Lady Frieda was herself a co-Mason). However it now transpires that she also created a further set of four prototype tracing boards, this time illustrating the degree known as “the Holy Royal Arch” (see above illustrations).
The discoverer of the Boards, a Miss Dolly Rapasif, said:
“The Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem is said to be the completion of the third degree or Master Mason’s degree in Craft Masonry. It’s a colourful tale of how the Lost Word was found in a subterranean chamber below the site of the second Temple in Jerusalem, which is a clear metaphor for searching to find one’s own inner Divinity.
“Assuming that Lady Frieda Harris was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason, it is highly likely that her attention would soon have been drawn to the Holy Royal Arch as well, and perhaps other additional degrees in Freemasonry, such as those of the Ancient & Accepted Rite.
“However the fact that no-one has ever heard of Frieda creating such tracing boards before means that it was a project which didn’t come to fruition.”
And how did Miss Rapasif actually find these previously unheard of tracing boards?
“Well, here’s the funny thing. We were out for a night out in the Plough in Museum Street, and I got lost trying to find the Ladies’ toilets, and there they were behind some plaster that was crumbling away! I’m surprised they weren’t found sooner, as that place is always full of drunken OTO members causing trouble.”
Recently I introduced myself to a group of magicians, saying “You may know me as Alex Sumner.” To which one of them responded by saying “I thought your name was Eric?” I do hope he wasn’t confusing me with other magicians named Eric, but the point is I am partly at fault for not having blogged much recently. I will explain:
Over the past few months I have been particularly concerned with re-visiting my Enochian magic practice. In addition I am now turning towards divination in general, and Tarot in particular. All the while I keep up with my post-Abramelin activities.
Professionally, the manuscript of my next book “Conjuring Demons for Profit and Pleasure” is with the publishers, so that is still going ahead. I’m actually finding that periodically re-reading my magical diaries from whilst performing the Abramelin operation refreshes and re-inspires me.
OK there are two things you have to realise. Firstly, the idea that you must be gifted your first tarot deck is actually a superstition put about by charlatans who don’t want it widely known that if anybody can learn the tarot, they would be out of a job! It is “gatekeeping” at its worst. Do not let anyone shame you into not buying a new tarot deck, you are free to do so if you want.
However: the second thing to realise is that there is another option which you haven’t yet considered, i.e. that of getting your first tarot deck back. If it has truly become yours then this is what I (if I were in your position) would be first considering. My personal inclination would be to go to my favourite spirit of the Goetia, Andromalius, who is exceptionally good at recovering stolen items, although if you have any feelings left for the person who stole your tarot deck, you would have to word your petition to the spirit very carefully.
(a2a) Yes: you are not alone, I myself and I guess every tarot reader has been where you are when they began. There is no shame in feeling that way. As to what to do about it, I would give the following advice based on my own experience.
Treat Tarot Reading like an Art. A concert pianist does not worry about how much money he will make playing the piano, he concentrates on playing the best he possibly can – i.e. perfecting his Art. Conversely, if he did think about where his money his coming from, that would distract him from the pure art of playing. Similarly, if you really want to get good at Tarot reading, be like the Artist aiming to be the best Tarot reader you can possibly be – don’t go into tarot reading thinking about trying to please others or making money from fortune-telling.
Learn to get rid of the Little White Book as soon as possible. The LWB does not and cannot provide for every eventuality, so you should aim to get to a point where you don’t have to rely on it at all. This is another way of saying – learn to memorise the meanings of the individual cards – however! This does not have to be more difficult than need be. For example, picking one or two keywords for each card. I also found it helped to imagine that the Minors in the form of a grid of 4 columns (suits) and 14 rows (Ace to 10 and the Court Cards), realising that all columns have a similar meaning; all rows have a similar meaning; therefore a rough & ready way to remember a Minor is to mentally cross reference the two.
I also found it helpful to compare each tarot card with its astrological associations, and to analyse and look for patterns.
Read widely. Especially the thoughts of other practicing tarot readers. Not just books, but blogs as well. There is always the possibility that someone with more experience has come up with an insight which helps you.
Practice, practice, practice. The Three Ps. You can and should practice on yourself to begin with, but eventually you can take the plunge and try to give readings for other people – I found doing so myself boosted my confidence.
But really the most important piece of advice I would have to offer is
EMBRACE THE CONFUSION. It’s actually the challenge of trying to figure out the meaning of a difficult or seemingly out-of-place card which makes you a better tarot reader. It’s that flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants feeling which makes you realise the real secret of Tarot reading, which is that it’s not really about the cards, but about your own intuition. Ideally therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid of Confusion – you shouldn’t even resign yourself to accept it grudgingly – you should embrace it as an opportunity to grow and develop.
(a2a) It can be magical, and in the tradition which I practice, it is magical. By “magic” I am here referring to what is sometimes referred to as “magick” or the art and science of causing in change in conformity with Will, or in other words, the occult.
Tarot is magical at many different levels. For example: the actual act of interpreting the symbols of the cards stimulates the intuition of the reader, in which case Tarot becomes a key to unlocking the reader’s psychic powers. More generally there is at least one tradition of ceremonial magic which integrates tarot reading into the actual magical ceremony, so that one realises that the same techniques of clairvoyance and magical invocation for use in an occult ritual generally can unlock the full potential of tarot as a divinatory tool specifically.
Ultimately, because having a Tarot reading can be viewed as a quest to go out of the Darkness of ignorance into the Light of knowledge, one can draw parallels between it and the quest for spiritual illumination which is at the heart of true occultism.
(A2A) The answer to this has changed over the course of history.
In every Tarot deck inspired by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – including, most importantly, the Rider Waite Deck – Tarot Key 11 is “Justice.” However in every other deck, including every deck devised before the Golden Dawn, Tarot Key 11 is “Strength.”
Confusingly, the Crowley Thoth deck, which undoubtedly is GD-inspired in part, has its equivalent of “Strength,” i.e. “Lust” as number 11, and the counterpart of “Justice,” i.e. “Adjustment” as Key 8. This is not, as some believe, because Crowley was using his ipsissimus super-powers to change the order of these two trumps, he was simply keeping the numbering found in ancient tarot decks.
VIII Adjustment, in the Crowley Thoth Deck. Numbered 8, but nevertheless attributed to Lamed and Libra all the same.
The reason there is any confusion at all is that the GD came up with the idea that if Keys 8 and 11 were Strength and Justice respectively, they would correspond to Leo and Libra, and if you put the Fool at the head of the Tarot Trumps, the whole sequence would qabalistically map onto the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Hence the innovation was made by the GD in making Justice number 11: Crowley just changed the numbering back – although he did retain the astrological signification.
I like astrology, but I don’t think tarot cards are necessary. Why do people use tarot cards for astrology?
Alex Sumner’s answer:
(A2A) Astrologers do not necessarily use Tarot cards: Tarot readers might however use Astrology. For example, relating a Tarot card to an associated Astrological meaning might help a Tarot reader interpret a given tarot spread.
In the late 19th century, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn taught that because there are 22 major arcana in the Tarot, they can be allotted to the 12 signs of the Zodiac, 7 planets, and 3 of the Elements (Air, Water and Fire). The symbolism does actually make sense, e.g. “Justice” = Libra; “The Sun” = the Sun; “Death” = Scorpio (because Scorpio is equivalent to the 8th House, which is the House of Death); etc.
Furthermore, the Golden Dawn taught that the suits of the Minor Arcana correspond to the four astrological Triplicities; whilst there is a method of assigning the individual cards to the Zodiac which aids in clarifying their meaning.
The Six of Wands: Victory! This card, for example, is associated with the second decan of Leo and the planet Jupiter, in the Golden Dawn system.
I say Astrologers do not necessarily use Tarot cards, but of course they may choose to do so nevertheless. One of the things I like to do is to do a Horary Astrological figure at the same time as doing a Tarot reading, on the basis that a Horary chart drawn up for the Time, Date and Place of a reading ought to corroborate the Tarot cards, or perhaps the cards might supply the details of how to interpret specific features of the chart.
(A2A) This is almost too painful for me to answer, but I will attempt to do so anyway. Here goes…
Ask your own cards how you can take your tarot reading skills to the next level!
Real tarot readers do not rely on Quora to answer questions for them: they rely on their own Tarot cards because they already know they have the best question-answering system in their own possession. So, yes, if you really want to up your skills, you have to get into the mind-set that your Tarot cards are reliable and trustworthy, and you really do have the power to interpret them in an appropriate manner.
If you act as if you distrust your cards, your cards will distrust you. If, however, you learn to really love them, they will repay that love accordingly.
I have taken the liberty of down-voting every answer which began by saying they didn’t know at what level the OP was already. Duh! Are you tarot readers, or are you schmucks? (That’s a rhetorical question, by the way, I have already divined the answer to it).
‘Revival of the occult’: French youth turn to tarot, astrology during Covid-19
Young people in France are increasingly turning to tarot, astrology and other forms of esoterism, a trend that accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent poll.
Source: ‘Revival of the occult’: French youth turn to tarot, astrology during Covid-19
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Tagged as astrology, Charlotte Wilkins, COVID-19, France, Tarot