064/068 Fri 06 Oct 1989 00:49:00
Subj: Divination (1of2)
Not long ago an on-line friend told me that he saw no reason to 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 I did not feel inclined to respond to this narrow 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 fortunetelling!)
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 insight or intuitive perception (these definitions from
According to the Brotherhood of Light there are four main uses for the
1) Science of Vibration
2) Divination by cards
3) Divination by number
4) Spiritual Science (the method of putting the rest together to develop a
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 Trumps...in 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 conjecture:
a) Ancient Egyptians
b) They always have existed but have been revived from time to time
c) Gift of Divine Origin
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
concepts. One definition I use for the Tarot is as follows:
A symbolic representation of Archetypal Forces and/or Beings 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 wisdom.
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-created 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
"...the cards of the Tarot are living individuals..."
"How is he to blend their life with his? The ideal 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
commonplace way is divination."
3) In Magick without Tears he says:
"...the Tarot 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
4. The Tarot is a philosophy as well, with an Ancient Message about the
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 way to 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 contemplate 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 must study and practice upon a musical 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 correspondence 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.
--- TBBS v2.1/NM
* Origin: Modem Magick.... Was that a middle pillar joke? (202/311)
065/068 Fri 06 Oct 1989 00:55:00
Subj: Divination (2of2)
Other methods which may suit:
c) I Ching
As humankind 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 women...one good one bad...with the man in between...now it is two
people with an Angel above them. New Tarot decks continue to be made as
our knowledge and understanding evolves.
A note on The Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley's Tarot deck, 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 cards come and go....there are more cards on the astral plane than we
have on the physical....between the cards, above and below the cards are
others...as with the Qabala.
When working with the Tarot if one is in a Magickal 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 of this knowledge, I respect the Tarot as a Living Thing/Force and
I do not bother it with profane questions. I treat it as a Magickal
Weapon and thus with care and respect. Fortunetelling, while not wrong,
is the profane use of the cards.
Contemplation of the cards is useful; without Divination, 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
2) Ritual (invocation and evocation)
4) Talisman use/focus
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 postulate the existence of intelligences, 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 diviner's mind.) We
assume that such intelligences are able to reply correctly - within
limits- to the questions asked."
2. "We postulate that it is possible to construct a compendium of
heiroglyphs 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 heiro glyphs will be understood by the
intelligences 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 intelligences whom we wish to consult are
willing, or may be compelled, to answer us truthfully."
He goes on to discuss divination as shown in some of the quotes below:
"In a system of divination each symbol stands for a definite idea."
"As regards the Holy Qabalah, based as it is on 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
"It is always essential for the diviner to obtain absolute magical control
over the intelligences of the system which he adopts."
"Experience is 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 of the Temple.
The faintest breath of personal preference will deflect the needle from
the pole of truth in the answer."
"One must prepare oneself by general purification 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 he manipulates the apparatus of divination 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 in divination is the invoking of the
"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."
"He must sink his personality in that of the intelligence hearing the
question propunded by a stranger to whom he is indifferent, but whom it is
his business to serve faithfully."
"He should exhaust the intellectual sources of information at his
disposal, and form from them his judgement. 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 is therefore to obtain a judgment of the figure,
independent of all intellectual or moral restraint. One must endeavour to
apprehend it as a thing absolute in itself."
"Divination is in one sense an art entirely separate from that of Magick;
yet it interpenetrates Magick at every point. The fundamental laws of
both are indentical. The right use of divination has already been
explained: but it must be added that proficiency therein, tremendous as
is its importance in furnishing the Magician with the information
necessary to his strategical 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 divination."
"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 of any kind is improper in matters 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 we may use Divination for those worthy questions which 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 complete
the necessary study and work which he suggests, we can become masters of
Crowley, A., The Book of Thoth (Egyptian Tarot), Weiser, 1974
Crowley, A., Magick, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1973
Crowley, A., Magick without Tears, Llewellyn Publications, 1973
Douglas, A., The Tarot, Penguin Books, 1973
Mathers, M., The Tarot, Weiser (no date given)
--- TBBS v2.1/NM
* Origin: Modem Magick.... Was that a middle pillar joke? (202/311)