The perfect card for the Fall Equinox for me is the eighth card in Le Tarot de Marseilles or Justice. The scales and the sword evoke a feeling of leaves falling in the Northern Hemisphere and the descent into colder weather as shown by the ermine triangle in Lady Justice’s robe. In the Camoin-Jodorowsky Tarot, Justice is forward facing and wears no veil. She is an observer.
Most Tarot readers forget the different numerical order in the Marseille styled decks. The number 8 is the same figure as the leminscate when turned on its side. It reminds one of eternity or the eternal return. It is a looped ribbon. Most switch the words eternal and infinite but they are quite different in concept. What is infinite is stretched out endlessly, or without end. What is eternal is enduring as it is repeated over and over. It is phenomena which can be seen, evaluated and weighed on Justice’s scale. What is eternal has a beginning and an ending point which the sword reminds us of in the right hand of the central figure.
More modern minds might see an eternal return as a feedback loop, with a beginning midpoint, and ending; which then rewinds to start over again. “Turn and return”. The cycle of birth, death and rebirth may have emerged from Northern agro-cults as they observed the life of trees, crops and seasons.
My readers know by now that I separate divination from fortune telling. As a divination tool the Majors speak of phenomena, the Royals of psychological concepts and the Minors of energies. The Tarot is used for divination as it contains 3 parts which are analogous to those of the Great Arcanum of the Hermetic mystery system. In fact the words TARO and ROTA form part of the formula of the Great Arcanum according to Eliphas Levi in Transcendental Magic.
Tarot in an esoteric sense functions as a language of the Great Work. Language of course is symbolic and when combined with the imagery becomes a treasure map. The words cartomancy and cartography share the root cart from Greek χάρτης chartēs, “papyrus, sheet of paper, map;” which becomes in our modern English card.
The Tarot was introduced and produced in the time of the Moors in the cities of Cordoba and Toledo during Spain’s Golden Age. Cabala with a C refers to Horsemen, Knights or Crusaders those who traveled. In those times one traveled to learn any Occult Art.
The Tarot as used by the Travelers, i.e. chivalric orders of Adepts were landmarks on the territory of both exterior and interior maps, well before the influence of philosophy and religion which colors Hebrew Kabbalah became the more dominant theme. The language of the earlier Cabala is extant in the Coats of Arms used by the Royal Families of Europe who in Tarot parlance are the Court Cards.
Hence, Spanish Cabala is functionally a geometric or graphic approach much akin to a chess game while Jewish Kabbalah is more the mathematical perspective as evidenced by its Gematria. The African influence on Tarot according to Mouni Sadhu by way of Professor G.O.B. Mebes of Russia resides in its color coding.
Hence the three parts of the Great Arcanum are present in the very construction of the Marseilles deck in the graphic scenarios of the Majors; the bright coloring of the Honors or Royal Court and the numbering of the Pips or Minor Arcana.
Occult and esoteric correspondences or links are connected to Tarot cards as mnemonic devices which allow them to pass on pieces of occult knowledge according to the school or group one is associated with from one generation to another.
On the Hermetic Path of Tarot one has to learn of the elements. The elements are the components of the physical and the psychological aspects of the human being. How do we go about doing this? We have to enter the Court of the Tarot Deck and salute the Royal Arcana.
Each suit represents an element ( fire, water, air, earth) and each has a ruling hierarchy symbolized by the King, Queen, Knight and Page. In this ranking each element is represented, i.e. all Kings are Fire, each Queen is Water, Knights are air and the Pages Earth. For example the King of Wands is Fire of Fire while his Queen is Water of Fire. In the Suit of Disks The Knight is Air of Earth, while The Page of Swords is Earth of Air.
Each court card is a combination of suit element filtered through the rank of the Royal who presents it!
The so called personal attributes of the Royal Arcana are in truth coded energy patterns. We know the energies themselves have “natures”. Fire expands, Water contracts, Air moves and Earth supports. By their natures Fire and Water, Air and Earth are in opposition; while Earth and Water, Air and Fire are complementary. This helps us to read the energies of each Royal Arcana or Court Card and hence the effect it has in any grouping of cards.
The new reader of Tarot is often perplexed as to why the Court cards appear so frequently in readings. The answer is they do so to show the patterns of energy the Querent is working with. However, one has to step beyond the lore of coloring and the assignment of human personalities and their traits as persons around the client in fortune telling and move into the realm of divination in the Hermetic system, which views the Royal Arcana as being both internal and integral to the client.
The Royal Arcana is seen as a means to weigh psychological components. This is the hinge on which the entire process hangs- the alignment and balancing of the candidate’s internal energies.
It is fairly easy to read the symbols on the Major Arcana in terms of their placement on the card. There is above and below, left and right and center and there is also the corners of the cards which the eye uses to focus and confine the images inside a border or boundary.
The way the images face and what direction they look towards is another layer of symmetry or pattern formation. As an example in the Chariot card all eyes are directed towards the left- both the eyes of the Driver above and the eyes of the horses below in the image. The Camoin-Jodorowsky deck shows a red center line which divides the card in half marking the space of firmament /stars and foundation/ soil and plant life- the celestial and terrestrial realms .
In the Devil card shown below the center of the card is marked by curved lines. Between the red curves is a face on the stomach of a Devil standing on a raised spherical platform. The world “above” the center is marked by wings and overt breasts while the world below shows male genitalia, eyed knees and two chained minions. The symmetry is present but the location is not the same as is shown on the Chariot card. There is white sky and water behind the figures and the minions do not stand on red soil but on black land.
In order to understand Major Arcana scenarios the reader has to juxtaposition sides, tops, bottoms and corners to ascertain the location in which energy is held. To see where energy is being directed one looks at the eyes of the dominate/larger or central figure on the card face.
Another element in evaluation of the Major Arcana is color and shading. In the Chariot and the Devil cards above we see the light blue skin tone is used to denote a non-human and an animal figure. In the Lovers the contrast of blue, red and yellow as bold colors adds “temperature”. The red color can show us what is hot or active; blue what is cool or inactive and the yellow what is neutral or not yet fully engaged, i.e. undecided.
The coloring and geometric placement of symbols dominates the Major Arcana just as the numeric code is the power element in the pips of the Minor Arcana.
The use of keywords for the Tarot Trumps does not allow a reader the agility required to flow into the narrative and tell the tale. Keywords like borders on cards isolate and short-circuit the energies released in a layout.
In order to use the Major Arcana, a reader must announce the Game as it is being played, to read the cards as maps of current plays and moves made by the teams /generations engaged with the world today. Time changes things and meanings…
When starting on the Royal Road of Tarot where exactly do we begin? Most look at the numbers on the Arcana and start with 1. As human beings in existence the place we begin is generally where we are. People are not balanced at the beginning of any new endeavor. The old name of the Magician was The Juggler. Juggling is a skill which has to be practiced in order to be developed. So the Magician is not a starting point but a process.
Other’s may look at the numberless Fool and believe this is the place to begin. The Fool of Tarot was unnumbered and ungendered. In time it was assigned a zero or cipher. It is nowhere and everywhere, shifting in space. The Fool is best associated with oddities, synchronic phenomena, warning signs and things which like it’s rank in the deck cannot be classified. One can think of The Fool as carrying all the X-files in his pouch, those things people see and blink at closing their eyes as their belief systems reject, deny or ignore the unfamiliar usually at their own peril! Again The Fool is not a firm or formed starting point in the physical realms.
Many will say why not start at the end/beginning or card 21 which is The World? The World card represents existence and all contained therein. However, this is a vast fluid plane, an entire playing field and not all of its levels are mapped out! The beginner can easily be overwhelmed at the outset by too many possibilities. Not to select a starting place is a choice as well, one which delays the start of training.
The proper place in my estimation to begin study of the Tarot Trumps as a tool to self development is to be found within the book of the 10th Major Arcana – The Wheel of Fortune. This is where mankind finds themselves moving in circles/space and cycles/time between their Beast of Instinct, Tyrannical Ego and Human Intelligence around a center point of Consciousness.
Time to investigate a little bit of Tarot philosophy. Tarot de Marseille was my beginning and still is my path. Though the way Tarot is used by Hermeticists and occultists differs from the way of diviners all can benefit from learning a bit of the mystical anatomy of the system.
First things first. The Tarot is constructed in two parts. The Major Arcana which consists of 21 Trumps (1-21 ) and the Minor Arcana which consists of the Unnumbered Trump or the Fool, the 40 Pips or numbered suit cards and the 16 Court Cards for a total of 56+1 or 57 cards. 57 + 21= 78
The two division terms Major and Minor often give people the wrong idea about Tarot. They believe the Major Arcana is higher in rank than the Minor. Actually the opposite is true but we begin where we are… In the metaphysical approach it is not a matter of higher or lower but of Visible ( Major Arcana) and Invisible (Minor Arcana) or the realms of Classical Physics and Quantum Mechanics if you will.
Philosophic Tarot is often referred to as a Thought Experiment or a Gedankenexperiment, a term used by German-born physicist Albert Einstein. The Tarot’s purpose is to aid the mind in working with the abstract- i.e. The Fool; the conceptual or the Pips and the workings of elemental forces as exemplified by the Court cards. Situations encountered by mankind while in physical incarnation are dealt with in the scenarios, their contents and context which comprise The Major Arcana.
In philosophic Tarot the Trumps or Arcana are often confused with the word Arcanum which means secret. Each Arcana has within it a core an Arcanum which is revealed by working with the images not as a divinatory tool but as a repository of teaching left by those who came before us which is transmitted not in words but reached by introspection.
It has been hot as Hades in Upstate New York. Been out and about and getting a lot done. Unfortunately, most of my work is not Cartomancy oriented… Give me a few weeks and a chill in the air and I’ll be back on schedule with a vengeance- I swear.
It is the Solstice so time is standing still or the amount of daylight has reached a peak in the Northern hemisphere and will for three days bathe us in long rays before turning South and dimming day by day into Winter.
Time is a factor in lenormand method. This is not only about time lines and timing boards but readings in general. At first, as a newbie, I thought the time lag influence was just a process of letting the meanings of the cards sink into my thick head. Alas it was not!
The lenormand cards require: 1) being placed on the table, 2) the reader seeing the images 3) taking in a first impression of the layout; followed by a bit of a delay before 4) the final interpretation.
In other words instant reads do not “catch” or hook into the deck’s energies or enter into the deeper waters or layers of meaning held in a layout.
The “time lag” is actually when the energies of the cards selected settle. Of course, one is free to engage in speedier reading, but to do so would yield an immature harvest. Some time is needed to consider… No need to rush.
In today’s Cartomancy untutored users who self-identify as “Intuitives” are the majority. They abhor tradition, so the rules which the Gen Xer blurred and bled over from one system to another have been completely cast out by Millennials like the baby’s bathwater . Indeed, this is a double entendre for a Baby Boomer who started with Tarot in the early 60’s! I can attest from then well into the 70’s, the Celtic Cross was the main layout used by US Tarot readers. No linear reads. No directionality.
Kipperkarten like lenormand is read by directions. However, it takes direction out of the line to kick it up, down and across in a layout. The Kippers use a 3D approach in smaller layouts as well as in the größen Blatt, the German name for the full 36 card layout.
In the standard deck of playing cards the Face cards have always expressed friendliness and enmity by what and who they face. Their line of sight is deck specific and does vary these days in novelty and art card decks.
Wii have already mentioned in a previous post the major indicator of direction in lenormand which is:
The Significator/s or the Man and Woman card which represents the Querent.
There are four more levels of direction one can use to turn static layouts into active storyboard narratives.
The Child. It is the third human figure standing and traditionally is an indicator of direction.
The Double cards (see the previous post)
The Animals of the deck, i.e. The Rider’s Horse, The Dog, The Fox, The Bear, The Snake and The Stork all give directional cues.
The Face cards on the playing card inserts are a final layer of directionality. For example, The Queen’s line of sight can be used to define or fine tune the quality of relationship between female persons and the Querent. In the folklore of lenormand the Stork and the Serpent are said to be blood relations while the Ways and the Bouquet indicate acquaintance from a distance and close friendship respectively.
It helps to remember directionality as: who or what faces where. Such details are always deck in hand specific, hence the boons bestowed by using a traditional deck with playing card inserts (not emblem notations or codes) to learn structure (rank and ratings) and nuances (visual cues) by exercises and practice before dropping cards for others.
Just as pairing enables lenormand lines to be read by the beginner, learning to interpret double cards in the deck marks the entry to the intermediate level by introducing the student to directionality .
Clouds Card- The Major Double
“Bubble, Bubble toil and trouble…”. This phrase always pops into my head when the Clouds card appears. It is the major malefic in the near and far method of reading lenormand. I fondly remember, when first starting to handle the cards that The Clouds constantly fell in pairs and 3×3 layouts in a statistically impossible manner during practice sessions almost as if it were daring me to read the cards!
One cannot ignore the “Trouble” card as I dubbed it, no matter the layout choice. My first task though was to make the card’s code clear. Which was the dark side and which was the light? Neither the Dondorf Clouds/ aka French Cartomancy deck my first deck nor the Blue Owl my Master or working deck have images which are definitive on the card face of number six. I darkened with a permanent black marker the area in front of the King of Clubs in the Dondorf deck. By so choosing I had made my first commitment, even if it was not a “traditional” placement as I was to learn later. Thereafter, the King of Clubs politely “backed” off and my first direct acquaintance was made in the Lennie deck! It was also a definitive first step onto the main highway of lenormand method’s directionality.
As for the other Lennie Doubles, they are indeed a crew to be watched- very closely. The Double Cards are not as I believed when a newbie ranked 11th, 22nd, and 33rd. The negative rated cards indicate crisis points, traumatic events and opposition in the Querent’s life. They are the “reasons why” the reading is being done. When discussing the so-called “Double Cards” they include all of the 7 traditionally* negative rated cards:
Plus 2 mixed or neutral rated knowledge and wisdom cards:
Serpent head/tail and the Book pages/spine
Skipping over or shunning process and procedure in Cartomancy is to ignore history. The cards and the scenes on them have their roots in a cultural and folkloric narrative, which is where their context or meaning is anchored.
There is no need to rush headfirst, to stumble on substitutions or to fall on the sword point of arrogance posing as intuition. Cartomancy is a methodology, without knowledge of its procedures one will get either mediocre results or no results at all. If the results are lackluster most dabblers will return the cards to their tuckboxes and move on in their quest for water, digging yet another shallow hole in the vast New Age desert of the unreal. Those who double back to start fresh by respectfully investigating traditions, learning methods and engaging in a daily practice will in their season reap the rich harvest of deep meaning.