Sacred Texts  Index  Previous  Next 

sacred-texts |  Web | Powered by Google

Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at


                                     Tarot Divination 
                Not long agoan on-line friend told methat he saw no reasonto use
          the  Tarot in divination; in fact, he felt that no one should use them
          for divination as this was a profane use of the cards. He preferred to
          use the cards solely for contemplation.
                At the time Idid not feel inclinedto respond to thisnarrow view,
          but after a night  of thinking about it, I  was prompted to write  the
          following in defense  of Tarot  Divination (and I  don't mean  fortune
              1) The art or  practice that seeks to  foresee or foretell  future
              events or  discover hidden  knowledge usually by  means of  augury
              (divination from omens) or by the aid of supernatural powers
                  2)Unusual insightor intuitiveperception (thesedefinitions from
                According to theBrotherhood of Light there are fourmain uses for
          the Tarot:
              1) Science of Vibration
              2) Divination by cards
              3) Divination by number
                  4) Spiritual Science (themethod of putting the resttogether to
          develop a philosophy)
             Is it wrong to USE the cards?
              1) Playing cards is fun! Without such use perhaps Tarot would long
              ago have  died as other  games have faded  from use. Chess  may be
              considered to be a child's game or a highly developed intellectual
              discipline. The same is true of using the Tarot card's.
              2) Have you  ever played Taroc? It is a very interesting game like
              bridge  using the  Major Arcana as profane  decks the
              court cards and majors may have two heads (to be read either up or
              down.) Some versions of the game have certain mystical aspects.
              3) In  studying the  history of the  Tarot you  will see that  the
              decks (except those belonging  to aristocrats who had hand-painted
              decks made for  them by  great artists)  used long  ago were  very
              primitive and  made from wood  cuts. We have  come far  from those
              crude  representations...but  the  ideas expressed  in  the  Tarot
              remain the same - they are still there in those early decks.
              4) Where  did the Tarot come from? We have only theory and conjec-
              a) Ancient Egyptians
                    b) They always have existed buthave been revived from timeto
              c) Gift of Divine Origin
              d) etc.


             It's validity and usefulness are what count
              a) it works when used
              b) it contains Universal symbology and archetypes found elsewhere
              c) it is numerically correct and  corresponds with ancient systems
              of wisdom (especially to the Qabala)
                10 = sephiroth (ace through 10 in the Minor Arcana)
                22 = paths (22 Major Arcana cards)
                4 = elements (four suits)
                  The Tarot is MUCH  MORE than mere pictures on  pasteboard. The
          pictures  on the Tarot cards  are physical symbols  for spiritual con-
          cepts. One definition I use for the Tarot is as follows:
                  Asymbolic representationof ArchetypalForces and/orBeings which
          have always  existed and have been  identified and passed on  to us by
          ancient initiates  and which provide  a focus for  us to use  in self-
          initiation,  spiritual  development,  and  the  perception  of  hidden
              A few notes regarding the above........
              1)  Jung says of Archetypes that they exist for us at birth...they
              emanate from the collective unconscious....they are NOT self-crea-
              ted or generated.
             2) Aleister Crowley says in his book the Book of Thoth:
           "Each card is, in a sense, a living being." "It is for the student to
             build these living stones into his living Temple."
             "...the cards of the Tarot are living individuals..."
                  "Howis he to blendtheir life with his? Theideal way is that of
          contemplation. But this  involves initiation of such  high degree that
          it  is impossible  to describe  the method  in this  place. Nor  is it
          attractive  or suitable  to most people.  The practical  everyday com-
          monplace way is divination."
            3) In Magick without Tears he says:
                  "...theTarot itself as a whole is an universal Pantacle...Each
          card,  especially this is true of the  Trumps, is a Talisman; ...It is
          evidently an Idea far too vast for any human mind to comprehend in its
          entirety. For it is 'the Wisdom whereby He (God) created the  worlds.'
              As regards these Lively Forces:
              1.  These  Forces  can  communicate  with  us...or  rather we  can
              interpret  their  currents  through  our   subconscious  intuitive
              minds....this is  one use of divination  (and contemplation). This
              is the level, as Jung says, at which we are all connected.
              2.  These Forces can  be directed  by us  Magickally if we  are so
              trained. First we must master divination; then direction.


              3.  The Tarot  is a  Magickal Weapon  In  the hands  of a  trained
              initiate the mere  placement of  one card between  two others  can
              alter  the  forces involved  and  affect  physical (and  ethereal)
              4. The  Tarot is  a philosophy  as well,  with an Ancient  Message
              about the Soul's journey.
              5. Yes, the Tarot is useful to study and contemplate....the colors
              and symbols  are specifically  designed and arranged  to stimulate
              things within us (forces, archetypes, subconscious).
              6.  The  Major Arcana  are especially  sacred  to us  because they
              represent the Paths, Steps,  Forces which are necessary for  us to
              rejoin the Godhead and attain enlightenment.
                  I maintain that the best wayto understand that the Tarot cards
          are  ALIVE and ACTIVE FORCES  is to USE/HANDLE/EXPERIENCE  them and so
          Divine (and perceive)  what they are all about. The  cards are a focus
          for our minds upon  forces which are ever-changing and  evolving (even
          as humankind is evolving).
                  We are fortunate that modern printing is  so good and that the
          Tarot decks and books which we have today are easily  available to us.
          This was  not always the  case for our  brothers and sisters  in times
          past. Today  one can afford  to smile  and say: "I  only need  to con-
          template  the cards to understand them." But  there is more to the use
          of  the cards in  Divination than many  have been taught;  for it is a
          mysterious process.
                  Just as one muststudy and practice upon amusical instrument to
          become a  virtuoso, so too  the Tarot  takes many years  of study  and
          practice to use  correctly. One  must be  well developed  spiritually,
          emotionally, and  intuitively, or (as  in music)  naturally gifted  to
          make full and accurate use of the cards in divination. In the hands of
          a gifted Diviner or Initiate the Tarot is a formidable  weapon. It can
          even talk and spell out sentences! Hence the Hebrew letters correspon-
          dence to the Major Arcana. However, since  we do not all learn in  the
          same ways....the Tarot may not be the DIVINATORY METHOD for everyone.-
          ..although everyone can learn from it and should study it.
              Other methods which may suit:
              a) Astrology
              b) Numerology
              c) I Ching
              d) Pendulum
              e) Runes
              f) etc.
                  Ashumankind evolves spiritually (and in other ways) so too the
          Tarot  evolves. Take  for  example the  reconstruction of  The Chariot
          (Arcanum VII) and The Devil (Arcanum XV) cards by Levi. He gave them a
          new  presentation based upon his advanced knowledge at the time. Also,
          note how  The Lovers (Arcanum VI)  has changed from earlier  decks. It
          still has the  same basic meaning,  but the  symbols have changed.  No
          longer  are there  two good  one  bad...with the  man  in
  it is two  people with an  Angel above them.  New Tarot
          decks continue to be made as our knowledge and understanding evolves.


                  A noteon The Book ofThoth, Aleister Crowley's Tarotdeck, is as
          seen by him from the Astral Plane. This is why it is so different from
          many  decks; why it is so striking;  and, why the energy felt has such
          strong effects upon many people.
                  Some cardscome and go....thereare morecards on theastral plane
          than we have on the physical....between the cards, above and below the
          cards are with the Quaballa.
                  When workingwith the Tarot ifone is in aMagickal State (Asana,
          etc.) and  reads the cards it is a  Magickal or Divine (hence the term
          divination)  operation. I take the  forces into myself  when using the
          cards thus they affect me and I them.
                  Because ofthis knowledge, I respect the Tarot as a Living Thi-
          ng/Force and I do  not bother it with profane questions. I treat it as
          a Magickal Weapon  and thus  with care and  respect. Fortune  telling,
          while not wrong, is the profane use of the cards.
                  Contemplationof thecards isuseful; withoutDivination, however,
          one could not experience the forces within them in the same way. Also,
          there are hidden uses for the Tarot. The Tarot is indeed a Teacher. It
          is also  a door, a  gateway, an  entryway into other  realms which  is
          partly how it was used  in Egyptian Initiation Rites. We may use it in
          some of the ways listed below:
              1) Scrying/meditation
              2) Ritual (invocation and evocation)
              3) Works/spells
              4) Talisman use/focus
              5) Divination
                  Some of the goals of initiates(after perfecting divination and
          the Tarot's philosophy) are 1) to read with a blank deck  and to use a
          spread with no set meanings, and 2) to develop one's own Astral Deck.
                  Magick (in Theory and  Practice), Crowley's famous book, calls
          Divination an important branch of Magick, and defines it thusly:
               1. "We postulatethe existence of intelligence's, either within or
              without the diviner, of which he is not immediately conscious. (It
              does not matter to the theory whether the communicating spirit so-
              called is an  objective entity or a concealed portion of the divi-
              ner's  mind.) We assume that such intelligence's are able to reply
              correctly - within limits- to  the questions asked."
               2. "We postulate that it is possible to construct a compendium of
              hieroglyphs sufficiently  elastic  in  meaning  to  include  every
              possible idea, and  that one or more of these  may always be taken
              to represent any  idea. We  assume that any  of these  hieroglyphs
              will  be understood  by the  intelligence's with  whom we  wish to
              communicate in  the same  sense  as it  is by  ourselves. We  have
              therefore a sort of language...."
               3. "We postulate that the intelligence's whom we wish to  consult
              are willing, or may be compelled, to answer us truthfully."


                  He goes on to discuss divinationas shown in some of the quotes
                  "In a system of  divination each symbol stands for  a definite
                "As regards theHoly Quaballa, based as it ison pure number, (it)
          evidently  possesses  an infinite  number  of  symbols.  Its scope  is
          conterminous with existence itself; and it lacks nothing in precision,
          purity, or indeed  any other perfection. But it cannot be taught, each
          man must  select for himself the  materials for the main  structure of
          his system."
                "It is always essentialfor the diviner to obtainabsolute magical
          control over the intelligence's of the system which he adopts."
                "Experienceis the only teacher. One acquires what one may almost
          call a new sense. One feels in one's self whether one is right or not.
          The diviner must develop this sense."
                "In order to divine without error,one ought to be a Master ofthe
          Temple. The  faintest breath of  personal preference will  deflect the
          needle from the pole of truth in the answer."
                "One mustprepare oneself by generalpurification and consecration
          devised  with the object  of detaching oneself  from one's personality
          and increasing the sensitiveness of one's faculties."
                "The muscles with which hemanipulates the apparatus ofdivination
          must be entirely independent of any volition of his. He must lend them
          for the moment to the intelligence whom he is consulting."
                (note:one of the first steps indivination is the invoking of the
          Angel HRU)
                "He must have succeeded in destroying the tendency of the ego to
          interfere with the object of thought. He must be able to conceive of a
          thing out of all relation with anything else."
                "He  should allow the question entire freedom to make for itself
          its own proper links with the intelligence directing the answer."
                "Hemust sink his personality in that of the intelligence hearing
          the question propounded  by a stranger to whom he  is indifferent, but
          whom it is his business to serve faithfully."
                "He should exhaust the intellectual sources ofinformation at his
          disposal, and  form from them his  judgment. But having  done this, he
          should  detach his mind from what it  has just formulated, and proceed
          to concentrate  it on the figure as a whole,  almost as if it were the
          object of his meditation."
                "The concluding operation istherefore to obtain a judgmentof the
          figure,  independent of all intellectual  or moral restraint. One must
          endeavor to apprehend it as a thing absolute in itself."


                "Divination is in one sense an art entirely separatefrom that of
          Magick; yet it interpenetrates Magick at every point. The  fundamental
          laws of  both are identical. The  right use of  divination has already
          been explained: but it must be added that proficiency therein, tremen-
          dous as is its importance in furnishing the Magician with the informa-
          tion necessary to his strategic and tactical plans, in no wise enables
          him  to  accomplish the  impossible.  It is  not  within the  scope of
          divination to predict the  future with the certainty of  an astronomer
          in calculating the  return of a comet. There is  always much virtue in
             "One must not assume that the oracle is omniscient."
                "The Magician ought therefore to make  himself master of several
          methods of  divination; using one or  the other as the  purpose of the
          moment dictates.  He should make a point of organizing a staff of such
          spirits to suit various occasions. These should be 'familiar' spirits,
          in the strict sense; members of his family."
                "Divination ofany kind is improper inmatters directly concerning
          the Great Work  itself. In the Knowledge and Conversation  of his Holy
          Guardian Angel, the adept is possessed of all he can possibly need. To
          consult any other is to insult one's Angel."
                "Although the adept is in daily communication with his Angel, he
          ought to be  careful to consult  Him only on  questions proper to  the
          dignity of  the relation. One  should not  consult one's Angel  on too
          many details, or indeed on any matters which come within the office of
          one's  familiar  spirits. One  does  not go  to  the King  about petty
          personal trifles. The romance and rapture of the ineffable union which
          constitutes  Adeptship must  not be  profaned by  the introduction  of
          commonplace cares."
                Thus wemay use Divinationfor those worthy questionswhich we need
          answered but cannot find out in any other way...either through our own
          research or by the contacting of  one's Holy Guardian Angel. If we can
          attain  the necessary magickal states  discussed above and  if we com-
          plete the  necessary study and work  which he suggests, we  can become
          masters of Tarot Divination.


Next: Dangers of "Magical Thinking" in Magick (Nihasa)