The Tarot And Magick

Reading Tarot Cards Revealed

Reading Tarot Cards Revealed

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Magick is the scince and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the Will. In other words, it is Science, Pure and Applied. This thesis has been worked out at great length by Dr. Sir J. G. Frazer. But in common parlance the word Magic has been used to niean the kind of science which ordinary people do not understand. It is in this restricted sense, for the most part, that the word will be used ill this essay.


The business of Science is to explore Nature. It's first questions are, What is this? How did it come to be? What are its relations with any other object? The knowledge acquired may then be used in Applied Science, which asks: How can we best employ such-and-such a thing or idea for the purpose that, to us, seems fit? An example may make this clear.

The Greeks of old were aware that by rubbing amber (which they called Electron) upon silk, the amber acquired the power of attractmg to itself light objects such as small pieces of paper. But there they stopped. Their science was hoodwinked by theological ~ and philosophical theories of the a priori type. It was well over 2,000 years before this phenomenon was correlated with other electrical phenomena. The idea of Measurement was hardly known to anyone but mathematicians like Archimedes, and astronomers. The founda'tions of Science, as it is understood to-day, were hardly laid at all 200 years ago. There was an immense amount of knowledge; but it was nearly all qualitative. The classification of phenomena depended chieflv upon poetic analogies. The doctrines of "correspondences" and signatures" were based upon fanciful resemblances. Cornelius Agrippa wrote of the "antipathy" between a Dolphin and a Whirlpool If a meretrix sat under an olive tree, it would bear no more fruit. If anything looked like something else, it partook in some mysterious way of its qualities.

This sounds to-day to many people mere superstitious ignorance and nonsense; but it is not altogether so. The old system of classification was sometimes good and sometimes bad, as far as it went. But in no case did it go very far. The natural ingenuity of their natural philosophers did compensate very largely for the weakness of their theory; and it did ultimately lead them (especially through Alchemy, where they were forced by the nature of the work to add real to their ideal observation) to introduce the idea of Measure. Modern Science, intoxicated by the practical success which attended this innovation, has simply shut the door on anything that cannot be measured. The Old Guard refuses to discuss it. But the loss is immense. Obsession with strictly physical qualities has blocked out all real human values.

The science of the Tarot is entirely based upon this older system. The calculatious involved are very precise; but they never lose sight p.42

of the Incommensurable and the Imponderable.

The theory of Animism was always present in the minds of the mediaeval masters. Any natural object possessed not only its material characteristics, but was a manifestation of a more or less tangible idea on which it depended. The Pool was a pool, true; but also there was a nymph whose home it was. In her turn, she was dependent on a superior kind of nymph, who was much less closely attached to any given pool, but more to pools in general; and so on, up to the supreme Lady of Water, who exercised a general supervision over her whole dominion. She, of course, was subject to the General Ruler of all the Four Elements. It was exactly the same idea as in the case of the police constable, who has his sergeant, inspector, superintendent, commissioner, always getting more cloudy and remote until you reach the shadowy Home Secretary, who is, himself, the servant of a completely intangible and incalculable phantom called The Will of the People.

We may doubt how far the personification of these entities was conceived as real by the ancients; but the theory was that while anyone with a pair of eyes could see the pool, he could not see the nymph except by some accident. But they thought that a superior type of person, by dint of searching, study and experiment, might acquire this general power. A person still more advanced in this science could get into real connection with the superior, because subtler, forms of Life. He could perhaps cause them to manifest themselves to him in material shape.

A good deal of this rests upon the Platonic ideology, which maintained that any material object was an impure and imperfect copy of some ideal perfection. So men who wished to advance in spiritual science and philosophy strove always to formulate for themselves the pure idea. They tried to proceed from the Particular to the General; and this principle has been of the greatest service to ordinary science. The mathematics of 6+5=11, and 12+3=15, was all in bits. Advance only came when they wrote down their equations in general terms. X2Y2= (X +Y) (X-Y) covers all possible cases of subtracting the square of one number from the square of another. So the Meaningless and Abstract, when understood, has far more meaning than the Intelligible and Concrete.


These considerations apply to the cards taken from the Tarot. What is the meaning of the Five of Wands? This card is subject to the Lord of Fire, because it is a Wand, and to the Sephira Geburah because it is a Five. It is also subject to the sign Leo, and to the planet Saturn, because this planet and sign determine the nature of the card. This is no more than saying that a Dry Martini has got some juniper in it, and some alcohol, and some white wine and herbs, and a bit of lemon peel, and some ice. It is a harmonious composition of various elements; once mixed, it forms a single compound from which it would be very difficult to separate the ingredients; yet each element is necessary to the composition.

The Five of Wands is therefore a personality; the nature of this is summed up in the Tarot by calling it "Strife". This means that, if used passively in divination, one says, when it turns up, "There is going to be a fight". If used actively, it means that the proper course of conduct is to contend. But there is a further point about this card. It is governed from the angelic world by two Beings, one during the hours of Light, the other during the hours of Darkness. Therefore, in order to use the properties of this card, one way is to get into communication with the Intelligence concerned, and to induce him to execute his function. There are thus seventy-two "Angels" set over the thirty-six small cards; these are derived from the "Great Name of God" of seventy-two letters, called Shemhamphorasch.

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Tarot Card Readings and Your Destiny

Tarot Card Readings and Your Destiny

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