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norseman
04-02-2011, 08:29 AM
Practitioners of Magic in the Tarot.
The origins of the tarot are obscure. There are claims that it came from Ancient Egypt which are difficult to substantiate. A more likely source is Medieval Italy. It developed from a gaming deck and was a most popular form of gambling – that version is still with us. Remove the major arcana from a tarot and you are left with a normal deck of cards.
However, in the major arcana, are several practitioners of magick and this is a comparison using two tarot decks.
The first is the Rider – Waite which dates from around 1909, painted by Pamela Colman Smith. In 1903, she joined the Order of the Golden Dawn and, in 1909 under the guidance of Arthur Edward Waite, she designed a series of 78 allegorical paintings described by Waite as a rectified tarot pack. They were published in the same year by William Rider & Son. Pamela Coleman died in 1951, penniless and obscure. This tarot is essentially Christian in imagery.
The other deck is the Sacred Circle Tarot created by two people.
The artist, Paul Mason, is a graphic designer and photographer, working in both paper-based and electronic media. At present he designs interactive multimedia for De Montfort University in the UK.
The author is Anna Franklin also UK born. In addition to working as a lecturer in fine art and media studies, she is a Priestess of the Native British Pagan Tradition and has written several books.
The Sacred Circle tarot is pagan using Celtic mythology as inspiration and is my preferred tarot.
The Cards – I will give descriptions, numbers and the tarot of origin.
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Magician [ 1 ] Rider-Waite [ RW ]
The Magician is the archetype of the active, masculine principle – the ultimate achiever. He symbolises the power to tap universal forces and use them for creative purposes. In the card, he is shown as a lightening rod – one arm extended into the Divine for inspiration, and the other pointing toward Earth to ground this potent energy. His abilities appear magickal at times because his will helps him achieve what seem to be miracles.
What makes him so powerful ? Unafraid to act. Self-belief and willing to put that belief on the line. Focused on what he intends to do and why. Does not hesitate because he understands his position exactly and focuses with single minded determination. As long as he remembers that he is a channel for divine power, he remains a perfect conduit for miracles.
High Priest [ 1 ] Sacred Circle [ SC ]
The high priest is a man of religion who interprets received and written knowledge and passes on his findings to his pupils. He represents the use of the intellect, the logical mind, the power of thought to shape existence. He is a philosopher who uses his mind to interpret the world around him, to think about his purpose and what it all means. To this end, he delves into books of philosophy, religion, science, and magick in an attempt to understand.
Psychologically and magically, this card relates to the discovery of the male side of Self, the animus. This must be integrated with the female aspects of the Self, the anima.
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The Hierophant [ 5 ] RW
Except in rare cases, humans grows and develops within a culture. We learn by living with others, we are pack animals. The Hierophant represents official learning, especially in groups. A Hierophant is someone who interprets secret knowledge. He is shown in a formal setting, wearing the vestments of his office, taking initiates into the group to their appointed roles. The Hierophant represents structured groups with rules and assigned roles. Such environments emphasise belief systems – facts, rules, procedures, and ritual. Members are rewarded for obedience and they develop a group identity. The card often represents learning with experts or knowledgeable teachers.
The Hierophant is often bound by tradition.

The Druid [ 5 ] SC
The Druids were the celtic priesthood and were accorded such a high status equivalent to the first rank of nobility. They not only officiated at magickal and religious ceremonies, but were healers, teachers, seers, and storytellers, as well as having judicial functions. Their teachers were passed on orally through learning verses, riddles, and stories. The training of Druids took many years passing through a hierarchy of grades. Much formality and stylised ritual.
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The Hermit [ 9 ] RW
The Hermit represents the desire for solitude in order to seek deeper realities within oneself in the spiritual core. He seeks answers within himself and opens himself to higher plains. The hermit represents seeking of all kinds, especially for deeper understanding or the truth of a situation. The hermit stands, also, for guidance in that we can seek help from wise teachers and, in turn, help others as we progress.

The Shaman [ 9 ] SC
Central to the Shaman’s path is a relationship with the land – in a real, not symbolic, manner. He observes and celebrates the wheel of the seasons and becomes part of their ebb and flow. He seeks to personally encounter and connect with the spirits of the land to gain their teachings and to honour them.
His quest is the transformation of himself by virtue of a constantly expanding state of consciousness, an awareness of the working of the natural world, a constant journey of discovery. He seeks not to walk the path, but to become the path.
He recognises that everything possesses spirit, a living force that vibrates to the pulse of the Earth. Knowing that this force is divine, all things that contain it are sacred. Through this power, he mediates between the world of spirits and the world of mankind.
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What do we learn from this ?
Both magician and High Priest tell us that the practice of magick is a practice needing will and discipline. It requires learning. It requires a strong Will and the knowledge that the mind can shape the physical world if driven by a powerful personality. The High Priest places stress on a wide sphere of learning, not just magick, it is an intellectual pursuit.
The Hierophant and the Druid have a different lesson to teach. Both lay stress on discipline. Magick, by its very nature, has the tendency to be “wild”. It operates at the edge of our bounded, rational, objective world and the “other” world – unbounded, irrational, subjective.
Practitioners of magick, in many cases, are seeking a manifestation of the Otherworld in our own world, so they must be bound by the rules of two worlds.

A further lesson would be the value of sometimes working with others to combine skills where the nature of the task lies outside of solo abilities. In that, there is a need of common frameworks. The danger comes when the framework becomes more important than the purpose and there is an additional problem of harmonising different Wills.
Finally from the Hermit and Shaman.

Several lessons here. The value of a clear mind through meditation to provide a clear channel to a higher plane.
The very important lesson that the practitioner is part of this world and must honour all life.
Put these two together and the lesson becomes thus :-
Firstly, you must have a good knowledge of yourself. Secondly, you must have a good knowledge of your world. And, finally, the lesson of humility. Your powers are “on loan” to you, they do not belong to you. It is incumbent on you to use them wisely.