Santa Muerte Tarot

 

The Santa Muerte Tarot finally arrived from Book Depository in the UK who as always has the best prices! This 2017 Lo Scarabeo deck was drawn by Fabio Listrani.

It came in the standard box which is quite sturdy. The cards are glossy  and the stock makes it easy to shuffle them. The colors are vibrant and the scenes are not quite RWS in format.

There is not a one on one correspondence to basic Tarot meanings. As a “concept” deck the subject matter “flavors” the brew so to speak. Therefore the action on the cardface is important not a rote response. The LWB gives a short blurb called Advice of the Dead for each card. It would help to look at each card as you read the notation  when working with the deck. It is not for those new to Tarot, no concept deck is.

The opening card for me using this deck is the  Knight of Pentacles which is not shown here. The Knights are mounted on dead steeds. The Knight of Pentacles is shown in a lime green  hue and has a full sack of burlap slung across his back which indicates he brings lots of information.

The first layout done with the deck was a Pentagram Spread to inquire about the deck itself. This is shown in the first photo.  The first card was the 10 of Wands which is a red butterfly.

Butterflies

The butterfly is the form taken by women warriors in the Toltec-Aztec culture. They are of course women who die in childbirth and in battle who transform in Spirit and do not enter into Mictlan or the Underworld.  The artist has drawn the butterfly wings of the 10’s in this deck as stylized sternums or breastbones,i.e.  the bones which protect the heart.  Male warriors return as hummingbirds. The concept of to “die in battle”  or “warfare” can be extended in modern times to those who die a violent death.

Colors

The colors and the directions are key factors in the  Aztec codes used to map the world. There is some variation from Olmec to Mayan to Toltec to Aztec to Mexica  but in this deck it appears that Red is the color of the West/Wands;  Yellow the color of the East/Sword;  Blue the color of the South/Cups. The traditional color of the North or Mictlan is white but since the Land of the Dead  is where the scenes take place Green/Pentacles becomes the Earth above, the land of the living which is engaged in a reciprocal relationship with the dead.

Bones

Bones are seeds in the Aztec Underworld. After the creation of the Fifth Sun the cosmovision of Mesoamerica says bones were required to repopulate the Earth with human beings. The bones taken from Mictlan were then fed the blood of the Gods in order to bring them and mankind back to fleshy life.

In light of this one can see why the phrase “Memento Vivere” or  remember to live appears over the Sugar Skull on the deck box.  Just as  trees, vegetation and  flowers  come from seeds so does mankind come from seeds of bone.

Candles

The High Priestess card connects to one’s dream life. As the scenario shows she  has a key to their understanding. In fact she may have a hand in creating them. Her open book has drawings in it like the Codices of the Aztecs not words. A codex is shown again closed  in the 6 of Wands also in my Pentagram Spread.

The High Priestess  is one of the few cards  in the deck with lit candles. The Magician, Hierophant have candles as does The Queen of Wands. The Hermit of course took his lit lamp with him into the grave.  The Five of Wands shows a lit match with an empty candle holder. All of these candle/light cards are part of a larger story of the absence or presence of light as awareness in the dream and death worlds.

So we see a slice of “activity” in the Land of the Dead, a land both North and below our feet. Do not place  westernized limits on when to use  this deck. It is not just for Halloween or the Days of the Dead. Everyday the two worlds of the Living and the Dead intersect  with each death and birth; with every sunrise and sunset.

Working with your Ancestors is not a requirement for this deck. The Dead are the dead. They are simply people who have passed on- not just your kin but every dead man and dead woman. They are not Spirits as the Spirit of a dead man having wings  flies away and cannot be confined in the Land of the Dead .

 

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 Turning of the Wheel

The tenth card of the Major Arcana is the Wheel of Fortune. The Wheel is sometimes identified with the Wheel of the Year.  In different cultures the concept of a New Year meant  different things and began at different times of the year.

In agricultural or rural areas after the Harvest was  in and the land cleared, the old growing season was over and a new season begun with Mother  Earth getting a well deserved nap under a soon to be snow covered blanket.

For some, the New Year began on November 1st, an old World Cross-Quarter Day.  From All Hallows Eve, through All Soul’s Day on November 2nd was seen as the transition to a clean slate, and all debts had to be settled by then.

The larders were full, the hunting season was underway with meats being skinned, butchered and hung. Sausages were being made as well as cheeses and mead.  The advent of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere was the time to begin the more creative and decorative arts-  spinning, weaving, sewing, tanning hides,  woodturning and carving.  It was a time to teach the babes and with early dark to listen to tales told  by Elders which went on for nights at a time like installments of a soap opera.

The Wheel of Fortune can represent samsara in a Buddhist world view. It is a symbol linked visually to the  face of a clock.   It shows time changing as it did last night from summer to standard time. The Wheel of Fortune  also shows the stages of  human life and of Mother Nature.  Round and round we go, to grow and prune,  to turn and  change, as Time blinks its  Sun and Moon eyes.

 

The Major Arcana and the Hermetic Path

 Many groups and lodges have used the Major Arcana to hold teachings and mark ranks. The Tarot reader on the corner who has not studied any esoteric philosophies nor participated in schools of ceremonial magic will not  know anything about this aspect of Tarot.

Crowley, Mathers, W.E. Butler and many other occultists have left records on the use of the Tarot in ritual but most of these papers do not spend time  speaking about divination but focus on symbolic applications and correspondences.

The Major Arcana  cards themselves can be seen as 22 scenarios or cliches which the student can “enter” via pathworking or journeying techniques according to their degree in order to  increase their knowledge of the astral plane.

The use of the Tarot in this way is but another application of  Hermetic practices in which the Tree of Life is center stage  and  the Tarot is used to denote  paths on the Tree.

 

The Reaper

 Most people see October as the beginning of the Season of the Witch, this is a modern trend in a time when Witches are a bit more tolerated than in the past. However, in Agro-cults this month is the Season of the Reaper. It is Harvest. The whole of Nature ( in places where there are four seasons ) is changing her clothes.

The Tarot card image on the left picks up some of the colors I see in mid- October in the beautiful Hudson Valley of  Upstate New York . The Hudson Valley was  home to the  Mahican/ Mohican and the Wappinger tribes. Fall was their time to hunt.

Traditionally,  the Death card in Marseilles Tarot carries no title but only the number 13 usually in the Roman form of XIII just as the Fool card is a cipher which shows no number only its title.

Many modern folk want to mitigate the meaning of Death. Death is death. His tool, the Scythe is the same instrument farmers use to clear their fields at Harvest, only Death clears the ranks of men. Ripeness of his fruit is not  determined by age, but Death is death.

It is a withering which announces Death’s approach which like “age” may not always be seen on the flesh but is more an unraveling. Death’s scythe can strike the hail and hearty as accident, the old and frail as evident, but Death is death.

Death is a permanent ending to a situation, person or thing. It cannot be revived. It is over and done once the Scythe has been swung. Death has to be accepted. It may take some time as one may cling as the last autumn leaves on the trees before first snow, but Death is death.

The concepts of what happens after Death is not the point of October harvest but is to be found in the pantry of November remembering.

Justice : Card for the Equinox

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.

The Roots of Tarot and the Great Arcanum

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.

 

The Court of the Royal Arcana

 

The Royal Arcana

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.

 

 

Regarding the Major Arcana

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…

Marseilles Starting Points

Camoin-Jodorowsky, Tarot de Marseilles

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.