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
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 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 conjec-
a) Ancient Egyptians
b) They always have existed buthave been revived from timeto
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 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
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:
c) I Ching
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 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 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 others...as 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:
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 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
"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
"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
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)