Magician or Pope?

The Pope

Many practitioners of initiatory ATR’s such as Ocha, Haiti’s  Rada Rite, and Candomble are often reminded that these are religions anchored  in community settings.  In other words they are not solitary practices. ATR’s are based on the family structure just as Christianity is.

Today, the religions which came to America with various tribes are TIED to Christian theology by traditions. Originally, it is said this was done as a cover, but now it is an embedded tradition which is clung to.  Religion doesn’t have updates.

The High Priest of a religious community is a shepherd of that flock. He may be a diviner, teacher or a counselor but he is also a representative of a priestly lineage and or a higher power.

The Pope or Hierophant card is shown with the symbols of the higher power (his scepter). He is an intermediary between heaven (his 3 tiered  crown) and the lower realms. The Pope is positioned between the visible and invisible worlds (the pillars). He passes on his knowledge and raises up those who will follow him. This is why he is shown with disciples or acolytes.

The Performer

The Tarot card which represents the solitary practitioner is the Magician.  This is obvious in the card. Here is an ordinary man. He has assumed a firm stance on the earth. His tools are simple. The table before him has on it common items. His hat shows he works with the seasons or cycles of Nature. There is no pomp or ceremonial bling in his working. He holds a simple wooden wand  and he looks away from it – off to the opposite direction of the Pope.

The Magician may also disguise what he does but this is done to make sure his message reaches the people. Entertainment is often a Magician’s ruse. They are tellers of tales, showmen, tricksters or even at times  charismatic runners of a confidence game. The Magician doesn’t give his work fancy titles. As the Kikongo saying goes: “Ndoki  can’t say what they are,” more than likely he or she will assume many different aliases on their journey.

Though the Magician seems to work solo he/she is not bereft of community. While the community of the Magician is not obvious, they are ever present. His or her relationship is with Spirits or Daemons. It is familial as well, it is just beyond 3D  and corporal forms.

In terms of inquiries about the ATR’s the Magician card would appear with individuals whose  practices are not as closely  linked to Christian principles such as Palo Mayombe, the Congo & Petro Rites of Haiti or  Brazilian  Quimbanda. So when looking for the cause and effect of certain phenomena  or what a person really is “into” or  using, keep the graphics of these two Major Arcana cards in mind.


Waiting on the Mailman

Waiting for the arrival of a new deck is a practice which develops one’s patience. Ha! I am in the process of doing some looking into a Tarot deck based on an indigenous American folkloric tradition, albeit a modern one. I ordered the 2017 Santa Muerte Tarot deck standard edition by Fabio Listrani. It will be my next blog review.

The card that first caught my attention is the one pictured at the left, Temperance. Just one look and  I was off searching for the other images of the deck. The minors have some scenes which adhere to the Rider-Waite format, while others show  images based on the theme of the deck.

Not being involved in the cult of Santa Muerte, the upcoming review will focus on how indigenous American cultural symbology  works in divination.


20-19 The Coming Year with Cooke’s “New Tarot”

It is the 21st century and John Starr Cooke’s  Aquarian Tarot was created for this time. It was an offering channeled through a makeshift Ouija Board using a silver dollar planchette via a group of star entities who happened to be around circa 1966 just as the heavens were starting to rearrange themselves.  This Tarot has been called the Reverse Tarot and nicknamed the Hippie Tarot by some, though The Motherpeace Tarot really is the true holder of that title.

The Aquarian Tarot was and is a famous  Tarot deck as was its artist John Starr Cooke the man behind the San Francisco Be-In and the Haight Ashbury hippie scene.

Many influences went into the deck some obvious others not. One major influence of Cooke on the Books or Trumps themselves is the art and culture of the Mexican landscape where Cooke lived off and on. His subconscious used symbology  from the Aztec-Mexica paradigm  to illustrate the instructions of the Spirits he and his circle channeled.







The Knower is the Old Judgement card, the date of the current millenium or 20. The Doer card is the Old Sun card which occupied the 19th position in the Old Order of the deck.  2019 will yield new knowledge about our Sun or rather we shall learn more about what the Sun is doing.

One can use the 20-19 trump pair as: an insight into “global warming;” an indicator of increased sunspots and/or solar instability; or a predictor of a new superweapon which destroys by fire.

John Starr Cooke was a mysterious man indeed!

The Devil You Know

“Better the Devil you know, than the devil you don’t…”


In the occult traditions the Black  Jackal Anubis  is messenger and psychopomp, a leader of souls into the Afterlife or the Underworld.  In terms of human traits the Dog  is the symbol of  loyalty and denotes a follower. The paramount follower in terms of occult anatomy is the human shadow. Neither of these concepts are themes of the Devil.

The Fox is a traditional lenormand symbol of the Devil primarily in  German card lore. Its color is usually red. It wears a mask. It is used in the Protestant biased  culture to represent that which is wrong or false.

However, one must set folklore to the side and look at the Greco-Roman influences on culture and religion also.  The Snake symbol was the totem of the  Pythia, the Elder female oracles in Greece who were descendants of the matriarchal lineages  of ancient African Python divination cults.  The Snake was a Holy Icon represented in spite of its linear shape  as feminine wisdom  in a female mystery system.

At the point in time when “femaleness” became intolerable to the Church of Rome,  the falseness of the Red Fox or the Old Devil was upgraded to cunning by the Patriarchs and the whispered wisdom of the old eared Serpent demoted to evil, along with the female gender as a whole.

The clergy  whether Catholic or Protestant prefers to promote the symbology of the  right facing domesticated Dog to represent the outward role of the male clergy  to the masses as that of a protective benign guide, while denying  the roots of the Dog  symbol as an update to the  Jackal-  a predatory scavenger!

The Fox’s shift from a symbol of falsehood or lies to a representative of quickness of mind and cunning by the Patriarchs was done because they admired and themselves used intelligence and trickery to gain,  hold, and control  power.

Thus, in the French and Belgium schools of Lenormand  where the Catholic Church’s influence held sway, the role of the Fox is modified and toned down while the Serpent becomes the predominant demonic indicator

In Germany, where a Protestant state of mind ruled, their Devil remained filed under the details of the Red Fox as the Serpent retained the maternal qualities and wisdom attributed to Mothers and other older and wiser women.

The Fox and Serpent cards are double cards in the traditional lenormand style deck. This means they have values associated with their directions, i.e. pairs made on the left side are inauspicious while pairings on the right side of the same card are auspicious or benign.

Note in the traditional Blue Owl deck example shown above both Fox and Serpent face left as does the female Querent card.  Facing left in cartomantic language is a way of denoting feminine energy and traits, which in a male dominant hierarchy are by their very nature- rebuked.

New students of the lenormand method at the beginning stages do not learn direction when reading the cards. They also in general do not take into account the doubleness of the signs.  The beginner who is self-taught from a variety of books will also tend to mix information from the various European cardlore  in their attempts to find core meanings for single cards. These factors may account for meanings which have bled into one another and blurred in both the Fox and the Serpent cards in terms of their linking to negativity, evil or the “Devil” and by extension their association with femaleness.

Along with the rediscovery of Lenormand in the States came artists who drew the lenormand symbols with no prior knowledge of the traditions the cards emerged from based solely on a superficial overview. This makes the choice of  a proper learning deck crucial for the serious student of Cartomancy.

Better the Devil you know….