This is the third blog on paths to awarness.
Thousands of assorted tarot decks are available, ranging from the James Bond deck to the Mickey Mouse. By now there is probably a Barbie Doll deck as well. Some are extravagantly illustrated and others austere. You need to pick a deck that speaks to you. Once you have chosen your deck, throw away the guide tht comes with it. All tarot guides attempt to put into words thoughts that are beyond words.
Our own favorite deck, the one Gavin grew up on, is the classic Rider Waite deck, one of the oldest. That one was illustrated in 1920 by Pamela Colman-Smith. She was a well-traveled American living in England; and both she and Arthur Waite were long-time members of the Order of the Golden Dawn. In predictive work he often uses the Grand Etteilla Gypsies deck as it has a different take on the major arcana.
The cards have some Egyptian overtones because at that time Egyptian magic was all the rage. Echoes of Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt still lingered after crossing the Channel from occult circles in fin-de-siecle Paris. Howard Carter and King Tut’s newly discovered tomb were headline news as well. The symbology is elemental and simple. It depicts things you already know which should hold no fear in your mind.
In using the cards to explore spiritual enlightenment, only the 22 cards of the major arcana are used. Two layouts are popular. The one we will use follows the Sephiroth. More on this in a moment, but for now we will look at the simplest layout of all.
A. The simplest layout
In this method, The Fool ( 0 ) is placed at the “bottom”. On your right side a column of cards is placed starting with The Fool nearest you, going directly away from you, through ( 9 ) to form a column one card in width.
The Wheel of Fortune ( 10 ), considered to be a crossover card, is placed in the center position between that column and the one consisting of cards ( 11 ) through ( 21 ). The remaining cards progress upward from ( 11 ) to ( 21 ) in a stack or column on your left, parallel to the stack formed by ( 0 ) through ( 9 ). The final card at the top of the left-hand column is The World
( 21 ), where everything is known, including the four fates. In this layout, then, you start with the Fool who knows nothing and is stepping off a cliff into the unknown.
B. Now to turn to the simplified Sephirothic layout. For this you need a diagram of the Tree of Lights, the Sephiroth. Several Trees have been developed, ranging from the traditional to the modern. We like the simplified rectified diagram we show on Page 70 of our book “The Solitary Wiccan’s Bible”. Remember: you need a diagram in which the paths are numbered from 0 to 22. The major differences between the various Trees is in the number of paths and lights, and the depiction of the female on the right or the left. We will use the version that has five paths leading from the lowest light upward. Each path is represented by its own card. We will spend a few minutes considering the five cards representing those paths.
You can either ascend the Tree or descend it. Most pagan/Wiccans will ascend because they believe that everything we are starts at Mother Earth and our incarnation allows us to ascend. Abrahamic religions tend to start from the top, leaving everything behind, and ending up as earth.
Remember that the following words are only illustrative. What carries the most weight is your own understanding of the meaning of the cards.
1. The World ( 21 ) – Here you think of it as leaving the world behind. The egg shape of the central pattern is taken to mean rebirth. The elemental essences will support you in your quest.
2. The second path open to you, very close to the World, is Judgment ( 20 ). This is a judgment on your own life. You must recognize when it is time to make changes in your life style, though change can be frightening. The blast of the trumpet awakens you from your present situation of non-growth. It awakens you from the box you are trapped in.
3. The central path of the five, represented by the Devil ( 15 ), is gender-neutral. Here you must give yourself over to a higher power, even if at first that power appears negative. You must cast off restrictions, misguidance, and the package of guilt / shame / fear of the abrahamic religions.
4. The fourth path shown to you is Temperance ( 14 ). It is one of controlled and temperate progression. You stand in water, and water is being passed from cup to cup; in other words you still need to be connected with the earth as you ascend through the paths to Enlightenment. This path calls for steady, careful, self-controlled progression, and for the reconciliation of the apparent opposites in your life.
5. The fifth path is represented by the Moon ( 18 ). Occultists often interpret this as representing the most dangerous of the paths. The card shows the pathway leading away between towers and
over a distant mountain. You do not know where it leads; you know only that you cannot come back, that there is no return, because the scorpion will sting you.
Here you have to decide whether the energies pulling you onward can overcome your primitive left-brain activities. To choose, spend two days meditating on each card in turn, 15 minutes a day. In meditation keep the card before you. When the mind wanders, pull it back to the card.
It is best to start at new moon. On day 12 through day 14, try to meditate on all five cards at once as they lie before you in a fan pattern. On day 15, under the full moon, make your first decision.
Then you will proceed, meditating to the next Light on the Tree and its onward paths. Usually there will be many new paths opening to you. One of them will take you across the whole Tree. There will be many opportunities to change direction. Each time such a change occurs, lay out the cards showing possible directions and meditate on them. Finally after perhaps three months of continual card meditation you will be ready to try understanding the Fool ( 0 ). You will attempt to get completely out of your body, and the Fool will be your guide. He is stepping off a cliff in full knowledge of his danger. The little dog warns him, yet he is sure. New life springs from his left hand; and though he still carries some baggage, he is leaving this world to experience the Ultimate and to gain the knowlege that we all seek: the reason for our being.