Review: The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot – Bill & Judi Genaw and Chic & S. Tabatha Cicero

2011/02/11

The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot: The Synthesis of Eastern & Western Magick – Bill and Judi Genaw and Chic & S. Tabatha Cicero
Llewellyn. 2004. 418pp. 0738702013.

“The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot is unique among all published Tarot decks” (1) it “is not simply a Tarot deck with a book of card descriptions. This kit contains a complete system for magickal and spiritual growth. It includes card spreads, meditations, exercises, and rituals that are provided for three levels of spiritual attainment: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.” (2)

This may sound like a grandiose claim but the Ciceros and Genaws managed to win me over to this point of view. It is definitely a unique deck. Rather than the traditional 78 cards this deck has 89 cards, and unlike the traditional Major and Minor Arcana this deck is divided into four elemental suits of 22 cards each, one Spirit elemental card, and the cards are double-sided. Honestly the structure is so different I wonder why they felt the need to call it a tarot deck rather than a divination deck. This deck also comes with a book more than four hundred pages long, just a small sign about how detailed this deck is.

This deck is probably the most complex deck I’ve ever dealt with. One side of the deck is composed of “Western Tattvas” or alchemical symbols, the others side is an intricate synthesis of various symbols and parts of the Enochian Golden Dawn tradition. The Ciceros and Genaws consider the traditional Tattvas and Western Tattvas as both equally valid, but feel that the Western Tattvas are more appropriate and accessible to a Western magickian studying Western systems. So instead of the traditional Tattvas and colours, the deck uses the elemental triangles and colours from the Western Mystery Traditions. The Western Tattva cards are composed of single element/Tattvas, sub-elements, and tri-elemental combinations. The Enochian side of the cards are far more detailed and difficult to explain. They match the elemental attributes of the other side of the card, and are composed of elemental sides of the Enochian pyramids, Enochian angels attributed to the appropriate section of the tablet, astrological correspondence, an Egyptian God, Major Arcana parallel, Hebrew letters, and geomantric symbols. There is definitely a lot going on with these cards.

As mentioned in their introduction the cards serve more than just a divinatory function but actually compose part of a magickal tradition. The Enochian side of the cards can be used to compose the elemental tablets for use in Enochian magick, and the book contains enough of the Enochian theory and Keys to get someone going. An obvious and major part of this is, as the title of the deck says, skrying. This book contains some of the best training exercises for skrying I’ve ever encountered, and I was very pleased and surprised with that. The book leads the reader through increasingly complex exercises to train the magickian for skrying and astral projection. What surprised me was that as a divination deck, that all of the skrying was consciously chosen. If you want to understand something, go through the deck and find the most appropriate card according to the meaning in the book and skry through that card. I don’t see why one couldn’t (or shouldn’t) simply shuffle the cards and draw out the most appropriate card to skry, after all divining gives us access to reasoning beyond our self. The book contains some fairly standard magickal exercises, as well as some unusual ones, such as the creation of elemental “energy balls.”

The only thing I could really complain about is that since the structure is so different from a standard tarot deck, lacking intuitive images, and just so complicated, that the deck will be exceedingly complicated to learn. Beyond this issue I think the deck and book are quite marvellous. What these cards lack in stunning artwork they make up in sheer information. Not a deck for everyone, but anyone seriously studying Western Traditions and/or the Golden Dawn then this deck would make a great addition to your magickal repertoire.

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When The Shadow Calls – The Royal Family & The Poor

2011/02/04

Originally when I started this blog and was filled with idealism I thought that every Friday I’d post a magick-themed song. Though as I didn’t end up posting as often as I’d like I decided against that. I did good the last two weeks, so I figured I’d post another song I like.

This is “When the Shadow Calls” by The Royal Family & The Poor from the album Songs for the Children of Baphomet: A Musickal Tribute To The Life & Works Of Aleister Crowley. The album is really good, it has a lot of different sounds to it, when I decided to put up a song I had trouble narrowing it down. Some songs have a classical anthem theme to them, some are just soft drifting glossolalic hymns, some have more of an 80’s rock feel, and several that are just hard to place. As for being a tribute to Crowley, this song has an exert from The Bornless Ritual, another is adapted from the Invocation of Horus, one even has the Great Beast himself reciting his poem “The Pentagram,” others as specifically inspired by Crowley’s works, and some are more general about Thelema and the theme of Crowley’s magick. All in all the album has a neat sound and the idea of producing a musickal tribute to Crowley makes for an interesting themed CD.

(As a random aside, the song is alternately called “When the Shadow Calls” and “When the Shadow Falls” depending on where in the liner notes you look.)


Tarot Information As An Action Plan

2011/02/03

Knowledge may be power, but that’s a simplification of matters. There is a lot of knowledge that is useless to most people, and there is a lot of knowledge that is useless on its own. Knowing that the mayor slept with underage sex workers isn’t power unless you know how to use that knowledge. Basic geometry and carpentry can be useless on their own unless you know how to apply that knowledge to make tables, chairs, buildings and more. So while knowledge may be power it, it is more the application of knowledge that is power.

This of course brings us to the tarot. A good tarot reading is full of knowledge but the trouble is to most people the reading is useless, informative, but useless. This is a problem that affects magickians and reading recipients alike. A reading provides them with the information they ask for, but they have no idea how to apply this information.
This is another one of those things in magick that I feel should be so obvious that it doesn’t need to be said, and yet when I look around I see the same mistake being made repeatedly. I used to make this mistake all the time, I still do occasionally. When rereading my magickal diaries I’m struck by how often my readings were accurate, and moreso how often I failed to do anything about it. The problem, if we want to go so far as to call it such, is that tarot readings are by their nature abstract, and even when they’re specific, there is a level of abstraction. People don’t know how to take the abstract and make it practical. The tarot gives ideas and advice, not action.

The cards may let you know that to succeed at work you have to stop reacting to your boss and keep the work place peaceful. Good idea, but it isn’t an action. The problem with ideas and abstractions is they aren’t remembered for long and make very poor guides. We have to turn this abstraction into something doable and memorable.

One piece of advice I got from a friend and mentor years ago, which I’ve adapted, is making plans from a reading. I always make two plans with any reading; one that can and will be started in the first 48 hours after the reading, and another that can be implemented over the following week. The first 48 hours after a reading are crucial, really the first 24 but some people find 24 too stressful to work with. The longer you wait to act, the less likely you are to act; that’s the major problem. The second issue is if you believe that the future is mutable then within the first few days after a reading then things can change, so in order to make the most of your reading you have to implement it as soon as possible.

The goals, especially the 48 hour goal, do not have to be anything large, they don’t have to solve the problem, and rarely will, but the point is to create a concrete action to get you started working with the problem. Say you need to stop reacting to your boss, think quick and small. Print a sign to put on your monitor or keyboard reminding you that after you read an email from the boss that bothers you, do something else for ten minutes, and then respond. This just gives you a little cool down time. Boom -a simple way of starting to handle the issue, and something small that gets you thinking right away about how to use your reading. You’re more likely to think of other ways to handle the issue if you’ve already having something small set into motion. The key is to do something. Other times my actions have been as simple as just writing out a pro/con list regarding the issue cause it hasn’t been thought through, anything that gets me to begin working on the issue.

So many people get readings and fail to use the information, they think just knowing what will help or hinder them will be enough. They think that in the heat of the moment they’ll suddenly remember what they should or shouldn’t do. They don’t and things don’t improve and the next reading just says more of the same, if not worse. It surprises some of my clients when after the reading I work with them to make a plan of action, some are confused, some are appreciative, and some are almost indignant that I assume they don’t know what to do with the reading. Yet pretty much all of my return clients who have seen other tarot consultants mention how helpful my reading was, if only because I gave them an avenue to make the abstract ideas of a reading into a practical plan of action.

When I see people involved with tarot reading, especially magickians, who are constantly doing readings and adding more cards, all I can think is that for all the information they’re turning up, they aren’t bothering to learn how to use it. If you’re doing large readings, constantly adding more cards, and doing lots of tarot spreads chances are you’re not really in need of all of that information, you’re just failing to put the information you have into action. Knowledge is knowledge, applied knowledge is power.

The key to turning the knowledge of a tarot reading into power, isn’t assuming that you’ll remember it, or know how to use it when the time comes; instead it is about taking the time during the reading to create a real plan of action, devising something you can do in the next day or two that begins to work on the issues of the reading. Without the plan and details you’re left with an abstract. Turn a reading into a roadmap and you’re far more likely to get the outcome you want.

Of course another part of the equation is knowing how to ask good questions, but that’s a tale for another time.


Wednesday Webshares: Grant, Visualization, Manifestation, and Moon Glyphs

2011/02/02

Today Toronto is in the grip of Snowmageddon! Actually it isn’t, we were expecting a major snowstorm, we only got about 15cm overnight, but still much of the city is taking the day to hibernate, my university included. Not to sound stupid, but the term Snowmageddon, does that make sense? Does Mount Megiddo even get much snow?

The first news of the day is from LAShTal. Kenneth Grant passed away on the 15th of January, 2011 after a period of illness. He was a student and friend of both Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare. Author of over a dozen occult texts and various collections of poetry and novels he will be missed. Many occult bloggers are writing great tributes and biographies of him, so I’ll avoid the duplication of effort and leave it at that.

My next point of interest is a recent article on Rune Soup called The Limits of Visualisation: Why You Still Need Magic. It is an examination of the over-emphasis on positive thinking and visualization, à la The Secret. While Gordon makes a lot of magickal sense, he also managed to dig up some enlightening psychology studies about the problems of positive visualization that confirm several of my issues with the system.

Over on Head For the Red, Frater R.O. writes about Manifestation Magic in which he puts down a reasonable equation about using magick to actually get results. With him it’s about strategic planning, effort/work, and creating opportunities. After reading it I forwarded it right away to a friend who has been having troubles with a specific magickal goal and R.O. eloquently puts what I had been trying to explain.


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