Wednesday Webshare: Online Tarot, Buddhism, and Corpses


If you do divination online, or are considering it, Donyae Coles on Spiral Nature talks about the pros and cons. I agree with most of them. If I were to add anything, it’s that online readings are sometimes harder to make boundaries for. In person when a client leaves my space, it’s over essentially. Online the client can email me weeks or months later to ask more questions about the reading (not get a new reading, but ask so many questions it takes up more time than the initial reading). Even though face-to-face clients could contact me again for such things, they never do, they always book a full session.

Though there are concerns about whether or not a tarot reader is fraudulent or not, and Fiona gives a good voice to the concerns, and problems with them. She brings up something I struggle with; within the dice mo system I practice it’s not uncommon for the result to give some ritual that is to be performed. Usually I explain to the client how to do a simplified non-Buddhist version of such a ritual. Sometimes they can’t, or don’t want to, and I feel weird saying “Yeah, the divination says you need this tantric ritual performed, if you don’t know anyone who can do it, I can.”

Have a beautiful, and non-traditional rendition of the Seven Line Prayer of Guru Rinpoche.

Speaking of non-traditional things in Buddhism. For the first time Buddhist Nuns in the Vajrayana tradition are becoming Geshes. (Which is a higher degree essentially a doctorate/phd) This is a big step for the tradition. I can only say so much as a Western feminist, but there have been historical power imbalances in the tradition that this will help address. (Also, ignore the fact the article calls Kundun a living god.)

As my primary practice is chöd I have to be very familiar with the process of decay and the details of the body. I know this isn’t the only tradition that benefits from understanding different ways the body is broken down after death (hell, it’s not even the only tradition I’m a part of that requires that), so here is a video of some flesh eating beetles stripping down a snake corpse. Beautiful and fascinating.

We all know Christianity was figuratively built on paganism, but also literally. A 2000 year old pagan basilica under Rome has just been opened to the public. I would love to spend time there, it’s been undisturbed for much of its history, I wonder what the walls would say…and as a sorcerer that’s not necessarily a figure of speech.

Whether you’re new to the game, or old crown when it comes to magick, there are common mistakes we all can make, or have made. Here is a list of seven of the biggest. (I’ve made four of them, and am still dealing with one of them)

Sorry for the shorter share list than usual, it’s not lack of interesting posts, but a very busy month has led me to reading less online.

Review: The Legend of Tarot


The Legend of Tarot – Alexandra and Noa Page

If you need more evidence that Hylia loves you, I have another Legend of Zelda tarot deck, The Legend of Tarot deck. (See here for my review of another Zelda tarot, and the Triforce Spread)

The Legend of Tarot combines the Legend of Zelda with the tarot into its own interesting form. The suits are shifted to fit the world of Hyrule; Swords are Swords, but Wands are Sticks, Cups are Bottles, and Coins are Rupees.

lotdeathThe images on the cards derive from across the series, pulling characters from each era and timeline it seems, with an emphasis on Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. The cards are not directly inspired by the Smith-Waite tarot, but draw more on the interpretation of the creators relating to the meanings of the card. For instance in this deck Death is not a figure of Death, with corpses below and a weapon in hand, instead it is Sheik, standing in the night playing the Goddess Harp, transforming into the Princess Zelda, playing into the interpretation of Death as transformation. The creators also opted to switch the elements of Air and Fire, so Swords are Fire and Wands are Air, and the meanings and images on the cards have been shifted to match this change.

I’ve yet to decide if these changes work against the deck or support it, as is often a concern with a deck that breaks out of the Smith-Waite model.

lotbackThe artwork is very well done, though not a style specific to the games, it is not so alien as to not work with the imagery either. Each card is framed the same way, with two Triforces in the upper corners, and two overlapping circles, one highlighting the suit or trump’s number, the other embracing the image of the card. While I don’t know what purpose this serves, if any, it is a pleasing artistic touch. The backs of the cards are symmetrical, always happy to see that, with a simple, yet beautiful image of the Triforce and the Ocarina, gilded with a gold foil. Another intriguing artistic element of the deck is the coloured borders of every card, I cannot figure out what the logic of this is, in the sense that I don’t know the pattern used to decide what colour is on each card, if in fact there was a pattern. The suits tend to have a loose colour scheme, but that it is. The bottles, for instance, is shades of blues, greens, and purples, and there is no pattern I can see within the suits. I find it works though, the colours are reminiscent of the meanings in an intuitive way, so they help reinforce the moods of the cards.

This deck comes with a small book, just a bit bigger than the cards themselves, and just over 100 pages. It explains each card, starting with a key statement almost a second title, and then a paragraph on the image and what it means. As the deck isn’t based on the Smith-Waite, it is very helpful to see how the meanings and cards connect, but the book will also be of great us to anyone unfamiliar (or less familiar) with the tarot.

All in all this is a gorgeous deck. I still have a bit of trouble linking some cards to traditional meanings, but taken as their own thing, they work wonderfully. The colours are rich and elegant, the art is beautiful, and it’s Zelda and Tarot.

Wednesday Webshare: Resurrection, Happiness, Biases, and Witch Wars


After a retreat, and a wild ride of training with Rinpoche, I’ve reopened my etsy store including options with the tarot, which also include my Triforce spread which I discussed when I reviewed a Legend of Zelda tarot deck a while back.

Magic needs a curious mind. Such a brilliant and simple true statement. There is a problem, in general, but especially in magick, when we stop questioning, and stop being curious. Yet, it’s hard to teach and instill curiousity. What recourse is there?

Cultural appropriation is a touchy and tricky subject. Some people do it without question, some of us really think about it a lot. Even being ordained I worry where that line might be. Not because there is a clear line, and a right or wrong, but more than anything, because there are consequences to appropriation, and we’ll have to pay some day.

Our culture devalues the unseen and spiritual, and slowly a materialistic scientific perspective is winning…but magick is making a comeback, people see there is more to the world.

On the other side here is a beautiful piece on the idea that magick is threatened, and someone’s experience of being drawn back in by the Guardian of Magick. Not only is the experience compelling, something about the writing really draws me.

It’s come up before here that I’m something of a gender queer creature, so it’s nice to see a (small) list of various deities from various cultures who blend and cross the dichotomy of gender

An illustration of why Majora’s Mask is one of my favourite Zelda games, it appeals to my magickal experiences (And if you can’t believe I’m posting about Zelda again, wait until next week.)

I repeatedly say that being a competent sorcerer involves being content with your life. So here are four things that help make you a happier person, according to neuroscience

Part of being happier is non-attachment, and that includes to the notion of a concrete self. Well neuroscience is hinting at the fact that Buddhist ideas of a lack of inherent self might be true

I also talk about how sorcerers need to be cautious of letting their mind run away with them, question reality and your perception. Here are 20 cognitive biases that shape the way we view the world. These are exactly the types of traps our mind gets us with while we’re unaware.

I’ve said this before with (no) apologies to modern (neo)Wicca, but it used to be a subversive faith. Now in order to make itself palatable to the public, both to non-practitioners and new practitioners, it has lost its edge

This is old (both the link and the subject), but listen to recordings of part of the Epic of Gilgamesh in as close of an approximation of ancient Sumerian as we can construct.

io9 gives a list of 10 historical people who were sorcerers.

I’ve noticed this on my own, but this is the first time I’ve seen an article on it, but do you realize how many porn stars are into magick? It’s a surprising amount.

So a certain warlock, who should remain nameless, is taken to court for harassing a 75 year old witch

On the plus side the witch won Also, notice how similar the articles are in their descriptions of Salem and the people involved? I looked for articles that sounded different, but they all seem to be lifted from an original source. Nothing magickal there, just annoyed with journalistic laziness.


Divination Querent Etiquette and Advice


After having an…interesting client for my mo dice divination service recently, I decided to make a list of things to keep in mind to be a good client when receiving divination. Some of these are etiquette and out of respect to the diviner, some of them are to make the reading more useful for you.

One Oracle


The image sums it up, if you go to someone to get a reading on something, that’s it, don’t shop around until you get an answer you want. If you believe in divination, and the skill of the diviner, it isn’t their fault something crappy is in the reading, and if you avoid it, go to others until you hear what you want, then you won’t get anything out of it. You see enough people and eventually someone will tell you the future you want, it’s useless to go that route. The only exception I would say to this, is if you’re planning a major life change, and you decide before getting your first reading that you’ll see three people (or whatever), because then you’re going in knowing it’s part of a bigger picture, if you decide during/after the divination session you want more opinions, it’s because you didn’t like what you heard. Sadly reality doesn’t care if you like it, so you’re better of dealing with it. I can, and have, declined clients who mention that they’ve already seen another diviner, unless they’ve given me a good reason on why they didn’t trust the other reading or why another is warranted.

Know your question

Vague and broad questions can be useful for a very loose overview. “Tell me about my love life” “How do my finances look?” But for the most part your ability to get a good answer out of divination is having a clear sense of your question. A lot of good diviners (and I’d like to put myself in that group, at least for this category) will spend time discussing your question, and help you figure out what it is that you’re actually looking for. Not all can or will, but even if they will, you’re better off having a clear sense of what you want to ask. Think of it like any other question, how do you feel when you meet someone at a party and they say “So, tell me about you.” What do you say, that’s way too broad. “What’s your favourite Disney movie?” There is a question you can answer and actually engage. “What is the Sun?” That’s a really big question, what do you want to know? “How does the Sun build complex elements?” Again, better. Unfortunately not all diviners will help you work out good questions, but even if they will you should have a sense of what you’re looking to find out.

Question, don’t counter

Every once and while a diviner will say something that doesn’t line up, either in reality or your perspective. It’s an interpretive art, so maybe something was translated wrong. If you want a useful reading question that interpretation to understand it, don’t counter it as being wrong. If I say something about stress with your mother, and you have a great non-stressful relationship, don’t attack that mistake, ask if it could be someone else? Could it be someone you mother, could it be a nurturing woman in your life. Instead of shutting down because something is wrong, see if there is a reason they’re off, could it just be an interpretive mistake? Within reason. Always be critical of what other people tell you, especially diviners you don’t know, but there is critical and then there is contradictory.

They’re the expert, for this moment

67277_783691371698814_6161527652290308364_n[1]You know your life, they know their tools and their reading. Nothing is more “dangerous” to a divination than having a client who somewhat understands the system. Each tarot card has dozens of ways it could be read in any circumstance, the thing is the diviner is the one tied into the reading. What you were taught a card meant, is often far less relevant than how the diviner is reading it at that moment. I know this could seem to contradict the point above, but this is about challenging them based on your understanding of the system. If they say the Four of Disks means something you’ve never heard before, go with it, they’re in the flow of the reading, it’s their deck, and their methods. If I might add my personal insult, the mo dice divination I use requires me to have received specific initiations, performed hundreds of thousands of mantras, and be practiced in a specific set of rituals. Yet occasionally when I do a reading someone who has read a book on the system will question my interpretation based on their text.

Listen, don’t reinterpret

We’ve all seen it I’m sure, the divination says one thing, and no matter what the reader says, the client twists it around. You can be as straightforward as possible, and yet they’ll reply as if you said something totally different. “Yeah, the cards say this relationship is a horrible idea and no good will come of it.” “So you’re saying we have to make sure we’re communicating our emotions?” “No, I’m saying the relationship is doomed.” “So it will take some work. Gotcha.” Do not get me wrong, as the one receiving the reading it is your job to make it apply to your life, but that is not the same as wildly reinterpreting it to say what you want. If you think it could mean something else, like I said above, you can question, politely and from a curious position, but that’s not jumping right from the Tower to “Happily ever after.”

One question/theme at a time

10690170_776730519061566_6145678097628078960_n[1]This goes back to know what you’re asking. It also depends on the type of reading you’re getting. I’ve had someone buy a dice divination session with me, which is quite clearly one question, and then proceeded to give me a list of fifteen different and vastly unrelated questions. They obviously didn’t know what they really wanted to know, and it took a lot of extra time on my behalf just to get to the point. (They’re lucky, in person my divination sessions are charged on an hourly rate) Also, for getting practical and useable results you’re better off focusing on a narrow set of things. So if you have 20 minutes with a tarot reader, don’t ask about love life, your job, your family, and your investments. Pick a theme, maybe two, and investigate them.

Talk with the reader

It might be interesting to really test a reader, see how psychic they are, just sit down in front of them and have them give it a go. Interesting, yes, but not the most useful. If I’m spending most of my time and energy trying to pick up details from the aethers, I can’t use that time and energy to help give you useful answers. Not only that, but you’re a complex person, your life is large, and sometimes there is stuff going on you’re not aware of. So you’re having trouble at work, and you ask me to be all psychic and tell you what’s wrong in your life, I tell you your mother is dying, you laugh cause she hasn’t mentioned anything wrong. So you don’t hear what you wanted to hear about, and might reject what I do tell you. If you tell me you have something wrong at work, then we can look at that. As my tarot teacher used to say to me “You don’t go to the doctor and say ‘I’m sick, guess what’s wrong with me.’ You tell them some symptoms.” If you want a useful reading, talk with the reader, give us feedback, let us know what you think is wrong, what you want to know about, and we can look at that. Otherwise we’re looking at your entire life, and trying to pull out relevant information to satiate your curiousity.

Use the information to make a plan

This is probably one of the most important pieces for someone receiving a reading, and if you ever get a live reading with me, it’s probably a big chunk of the session. Think for a moment, how many tarot readings and what not have you received? Now how many of them gave you relevant information? Now, how often did you actually make good use of that information? The thing is most of us, myself included, get the information and think “Oh that’s interesting” or “I expected that” or “Good to know” and leave it at that. Then events play out more or less the way they were going to anyways. Make a plan on how to use the information, and make it fast, or you’ll never use it. I usually get my clients to come up with one concrete action they can take within 24 hours. It doesn’t have to be major, but it has to be concrete, they can’t just say they’ll think about what to do with the information, no, they have to write it out. If it’s about something you can’t act on right away, then your action can be to make a to-do list for when you can act, set a calendar reminder on your phone, and start work when you can. Then along with the action in the next day I usually have them set out a concrete action for the next week, or month, depending on the scale of the reading. The important thing is to do something that sets into motion working with the reading, otherwise you just take the information and it is in one ear and out the other.

These are just a few of my thoughts on how to be a good querent and make the most of your readings. What other ideas do people have, both are readers, and those receiving the divination?

Tarot Review: The Transparent Tarot, by Emily Carding


transtarotTransparent Tarot – Emily Carding
Schiffer, 2008, 9780764330032, 280pp., 78 cards.

There are plenty of tarot decks out there; many are derivative and boring, some are interesting, but only briefly, few are really engaging, and rarely are they unique. I would say the Transparent Tarot is unique.

If you missed hearing about the deck when it came out six years ago, it is exactly what it sounds like: a transparent tarot deck. Each card is printed on a durable transparent plastic card. I can say they’re durable as I got the deck when it first came out and still use it, and my cards are fine. The image of every card has been distilled down to its simplest essence. So while the Smith-Waite tarot has images so detailed that you could spend hours noting the littlest aspects of the cards, the Transparent Tarot cuts it down to what Emily thinks is the most essential meaning of the card.

4 of Swords

4 of Swords

swords04[1]For instance the 4 of Swords (drawn randomly from my deck) is transformed from the intricate image of the Knight in a specific posture in the tomb with a stained glass window (that tells its own separate story) and everything to a simple outline of a person laying down with a sword at their side and three above them.

(See the difference? That’s typical of the reduction that Emily has done in her art)



The art is minimalist, both in what is included and how it is illustrated. The images are in a style of pointillism, which allows the images of the cards to combine much easier than they would if the images were solid lines and colours. While the Minors are fairly standard the Majors were completely redone. Instead of reducing a complex image to its essential core Emily took the archetypal quality of the Majors and created something new. For instance the Emperor becomes a city skyline, and the Magician is now a red and a white dragon wrapping around each other in a manner reminiscent of a caduceus. I will freely admit not all of the reinventions resonate with me and my understanding of the cards, but they do work well.



So why transparent cards? What good are they? The deck works just fine as a regular tarot deck, but where it shines is the fact that cards can be placed on each other to give you more information. In doing a three card spread you could put down two cards in each spot, and read them as a single image because they blend together. This drastically changes the possibilities your reading has.

You can just combine cards to get new images and meanings, or you can make it more complex. For instance the significator card is something I rarely find useful. Here is the reading, and here is you off in the corner. With this deck you can deal out a significator and “walk” it through the reading. You place the significator over the Past card, interpret it, then put it on the Present card, interpret it, then the Future, and whatever else is in the reading. This is also really interesting for readings involving groups. You could do a spread about a partnership of some sort, and move their respective significator cards over the reading, to see how the same events will be different for them.

Any way of understanding or framing the world in a schema can become part of the way you read with the deck. When doing a reading you can deal two cards for each spot, the bottom is the internal aspect of the answer, the top is the external. Read them together as a single image, and then separate the cards to understand the individual facet. You can do Body, Mind, Spirit. My favourite though is to deal down four cards in each position (using a very simple spread due to the amount of cards involved) representing Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah, the Qabalistic Worlds. In this method Atziluth is on the bottom, and Assiah is the top card. This allows me to look at a situation and see how it is manifesting in my life (reading them all together), seeing what is just physical/mundane (Assiah, this world) and follow it up the ladder of creation to see how it is being influenced, or influencing the higher realms, and where the issues (if any) are originating. While definitely not something I’d do every reading, when I really feel something is important, or I’m stuck somewhere it’s a great perspective to take.

My tarot mentor would combine the Transparent Tarot with other decks. He’d do a reading with one deck, and then place transparent cards over the rest, or walk a single one through as the signficator.

Here the three cards are combined. A dead knight from whom two dragons rise to encircle a city, interesting and evocative image.

Here the three cards are combined. A dead knight from which two dragons rise to encircle a city, interesting and evocative image.

You can overlap the cards “cleanly” so the edges line up, or you could be more freeform, because if a card is directly on top of another, or half off, or rotated slightly, all of these will change the resulting image.

The deck comes with a book that is nearly 300 pages long, which for a tarot deck is impressive. The card explanations have a description of the traditional image, why Emily picked the image she did, and for the Majors she even gives an example of three cards put together and how they could be read.

There are two issues with the deck that I must address. The cards are thicker and wider than average tarot cards, and they’re plastic not card stock, this makes them difficult to shuffle. Also since they’re clear plastic they get dirty easily and pick stuff up, so make sure to keep them wrapped up, and more so than other decks make sure you’re reading on a clean surface or you’ll really need to wipe the cards off when you’re done.

I have over 25 tarot decks (I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough!) and the Transparent Tarot is probably one of the three or four decks I use regularly. It was a hit when it came out, and then it faded away, and I think some people saw it just as a novelty (as arguably any speciality deck is) but I feel it’s a deck that can be as creative or insightful as the reader is willing to make it.

The Sphinx Gate Tarot Spread: Book Edition



nesO[1]ver on Conjure Gnosis Balthazar recently posted a tarot spread based on The Sphinx Gate from The Neverending Story. I highly recommend you check it out.

Considering how important The Neverending Story is to my occult cosmology I can’t believe I had not thought of a tarot spread based on it, though I have worked out all the Majors as characters and events. (Seriously, I have 28 pages of notes on how it’s actually a mystical/occult text, I reread it ever year, and have an AURYN pocketwatch, based on the movie design, because that’s the only thing better about the movie.) Anyways Balthazar did a great job, with one fatal flaw…he used the dreaded movie!

I know I know, everyone born in the late 70s and 80s loves the movie, and as a standalone movie it’s pretty damn good…but if you read the book you realize how horrible the movie is. The movie only tells half the story, and worse still it tells the setting, it paints the picture for the real story which takes place after Bastian renames The Childlike Empress, after the movie ends. I’m digressing. Anyways, I like what Balthazar did, and the inclusion of Gmork and Falkor cards is a great idea, but I’m a book purest in this regard, and the Gates are different in the book than the movie, the movie removed one of them even, so I thought I would alter his spread to be in line with the book. Inspired by his work, I shifted the meaning of some of the cards, and added in the No-Key Gate, the hardest gate to pass through.







nesE[1]verything Atreyu did was for his a quest to stop the Nothingness, which leads him to the Southern Oracle. This spread is for when we’re on our own quests, when we have goals to reach. My few experiments have shown it is more insightful for quests regarding our inner self, than external world, but that could just have been me with my readings.

So think of your quest, and deal down the cards, 1-5, and then F and G. The F card is Falkor and the G card is Gmork, they’re extra cards and only one may be used in the spread.

Card 1: The Great Riddle Gate: What do I have to answer before proceeding on my quest?

The Great Riddle Gate is very abstract, that’s why the simplified it in the movie. The sphinxes stare at each other, sending out riddles, all the riddles of the universe. Anyone caught in the stare of the sphinxes is frozen to the spot, unable to move until they have solved every riddle in the universe. Obviously no one ever does, so they perish. Only if the sphinxes close their eyes can you pass.

So the first card asks “What do I have to answer before proceeding on my quest?” The sphinxes aren’t giving you all the riddles, but if they’re going to close your eyes you have to know the answer to this one. These often seems to be about motivation or preparation. Question why do you want this quest, are you ready for it?

Card 2: The Magic Mirror Gate: Who am I really?

“When you stand before it, you see yourself. But not as you would in an ordinary mirror. You don’t see your outward appearance; what you see is your real innermost nature. If you want to go through, you have to – in a manner of speaking – go into yourself…I’ve known travelers who considered themselves absolutely blameless to yelp with horror and run away at the sight of the monster grinning out of the mirror at them…What some saw was not so frightening, but it still cost everyone one of them an inner struggle.”

Who are you, really? The result is somewhat quest dependant too, so what is this quest showing you about your true self, what aspect is it highlighting. Is it something that terrifies you, makes you uncomfortable, surprises, disappoints, or delights you?

If this card is very negative, this is when you flip over the Falkor card. I will quote Balthazar directly here

“Falkor is Atreyu’s luck dragon and always believes in Atreyu because he knows his true potential – as such he represents what the Greeks called the Agatha Daimon (the good guardian angel). The Falkor card in the spread represents your ideal self, your highest potential – what you CAN become. This card should ALWAYS be interpreted its most empowering light. If the truth revealed by either gate is disheartening allow the Falkor card to balance your vision of yourself, so you can integrate the knowledge of your total being and thus grow stronger in your quest.”


(I would also point out that his assessment as Falkor as the Agathd Daimon is spot on. “From now on you’ll succeed in everything you attempt. Because I’m a luck dragon.” He is Atreyu, and Bastian’s Supernatural Assistant however you want to parse that. All the more telling because Atreyu meets his suspended over an Abyss, and has to get past Ygramul, the Many, who is quite clearly Choronzon.)

nesI[1]f on the other hand Card 2, the True Self is very positive, it is time to flip over Gmork.


“Gmork is the agent of the Nothing bent on destroying Fantasia (your dreams). The Gmork card shows you where you could potentially stumble in your quest, your weaknesses or your blind spot. It represents what the Greeks called the Caco, or Evil, Daimon – this is the shadow self. The parts which are hidden, denied or toxic. By bringing any positive revelation given by the gates into balance with the message of the Gmork card you can achieve greater balance and personal power.”


Gmork, as an agent of the Nothing, spreads hopelessness with him, but is in understanding his nature that Atreyu actually regains his hope. Read the Gmork card as negatively, that which interferes inside of you, what you overlook, what takes away your will, your hope, but understand that you need to recognize that to overcome it.

Falkor reminds us what is great about us when we feel lost and worthless. Gmork reminds us what is still unbalanced, misdirected, and negative inside of us.

Card 3: The No-Key Gate: What do you have to give up to complete the quest?

“The No-Key Gate is closed. Simple closed. And that’s that! There’s no handle and no doorknob and no keyhole. Nothing. My theory is that this single, hermetically closed door is made of Fantastican selenium. You may know that there is now way of destroying, bending, or dissolving Fantastican selenium. It’s absolutely indestructible. Fantastican selenium reacts to our will. It’s our will that makes it unyielding. But if someone succeeds in forgetting all purpose, in wanting nothing at all- to him the gate will open of its own accord.”

In order to pass through the No-Key Gate Atreyu had to forget everything, who he was, why he was on a quest, and even that he wanted to pass through the gate. It was only through his connection with Bastian that he was able to make that final journey. What do you have to give up to complete the quest? What is holding you back? It might be something negative, but it could even be something that seems positive, but doesn’t fit this situation. Atreyu remembered everything when he passed through the gate, so whatever you give up can be something reclaimed, but what has to be put aside for you to finish the quest?

Cards 4 and 5: The Southern Oracle: The secret to completing your quest, and the actions to take.

Here you meet Uyulala, the Voice of Silence, the Southern Oracle. The Oracle provides you with an answer, and it comes in two parts. The first is the fourth card, what is the secret to completing your quest, what do you have to do? The fifth card the concrete action to do now. The fifth card can also manifest as the next step in a smaller quest to finish to finish this greater one. Don’t be surprised though, no quest was ever completed just by knowing the path, the hard part is to walk it.

(For those comparing spreads I put Falkor and Gmork in different positions. I put Falkor beneath or before the Great Riddle Gate, because Atreyu encounters him before the gate in the web of Ygramul and it’s their interaction that gets him to the gates. Gmork on the other hand is found in the Spook City, which occurs after, so I thought I’d put them linearly.)

Also, if you’ve never read the book do yourself a favour and pick up a copy. It is on my list of books all occultists should read.

High Priestess Sadhana: Self Generation


This is a sadhana I was requested to write for my lama. A sadhana is a Buddhist ritual, over-simplified but true. Depending on the type of sadhana there is a set formula they follow, like any ritual tradition, and the methodology and cosmology behind them isn’t exclusively Buddhist. My lama believes that the Western Mystery Traditions are like yoga for Westerns, and that the tarot contains all the archetypes you need for spiritual realization. So what he wanted to do was to combine Tarot imagery with Buddhist sadhana structure, to use Buddhist technology with images and archetypes that are more familiar and acceptable/accessible to the average person in the Western world. So I wrote him this.

This is a basic self-generation sadhana, which in Western lingo would basically be an invocation. Normally you’d be given an empowerment by a lama, some explanation, and some training to do a ritual in a Buddhist context. In the empowerment the lama would “implant” the energy or Seed of the being into you, so that you can then call on them. Alas, most lamas don’t have High Priestess empowerments so it’s not an option. So this script serves as a visualization for generating and embodying the nature and force of the High Priestess, it might lack the “punch” of a proper sadhana due to the lack of initiation involved, but if you work with it you can build that connection on your own without the empowerment. (And from there offer it to others, which actually was discussed at one point)

One of the hardest parts in creating this was coming up with syllables for Creation, and the mantra. In Buddhist ritual every time you create something major in the visualization there is a syllable that accompanies it, from a PAM appears a lotus, from a RAM a sun disk. We didn’t want to lift those syllables, and they wouldn’t work (what tarot card has a sun disk or skull cup?) and they don’t come with mantras. They do come with their own Seed Syllable though, the Hebrew letter. So what we decided on was breaking down the letter, into all the letters needed to spell it, and rearrange them to make the syllables. (Gimel is Gimel Mem Lamed, so the syllables and mantras are different combinations of G, M, and L in this case) It’s not perfect, and I want to rework it, but it works for now. Also some of the descriptions and wording is very Buddhist, it’s hard to shake the tone, but I think it is still clear without a background in Buddhism what is meant and intended. You should know what a Gimel looks like as you’ll visualize a few of them.

My lama prefers the BOTA deck, so the image was taken from it, it’s almost the exact same as the Smith-Rider-Waite tarot. The point of this is to clear your mind, draw the High Priestess into you, abide in her mindstate, take into yourself her gifts, and with experience wield the power of her archetype when embodying it. Oddly enough my lama prefers the BOTA deck and has all the books about it, but isn’t a member of the BOTA. I on the other hand was a member, but don’t have all the books, so we balanced out. The meaning of the High Priestess is also drawn from Case’s understanding of her.


bota-tarot-key-2[1]Begin by performing some basic mindfulness meditation to clear, slow, and focus your thoughts and ready yourself for the visualization. See everything in the room melt into light and fade away.

From empty space a Gimel appears, deep blue in colour, it radiates outwards becoming a tranquil ocean.
From the sound GAM appears a yellow square resting motionless on the surface of the ocean. From the sound MAL a grey cube arises in the centre of the square. And from a GAL appears two pillars on either side, one white and one black each topped with a lotus sculpture. Between them drapes a curtain decorated with pomegranate fruits and leaves.

Above the cube rests your consciousness in the form of a Gimel, deep blue in colour. From it light shines out, carrying with it a calming wisdom to all sentient beings. The light is drawn in again, and the Gimel, you, become the High Priestess sitting on the cube. Behind you stretches the curtain, to your left is the white pillar, and to the right is the black pillar and you rest between them as a point of balance. You wear an inner robe of pure white, over which appears a deep blue cloak resting on your shoulders and flowing down past your feet, transforming into water, connecting you to the ocean. You are the ocean, and the ocean is you, you are but a ripple on the surface. In your right hand rests a rolled up scroll marked with the word TORA, the Law, and your left hand rests peacefully in your lap. A white veil hangs from the sides of your head, which is topped by a silver crown in the shape of two horns with a sphere resting between them.

On the centre of your chest appears an equal-armed cross, glowing with the radiant white light of a full moon, and at its center appears another blue Gimel. Around the Gimel see three blue spheres of light representing the syllables of her mantra LAM LAG MAG. Repeat her mantra and let it bring about a state of equipoise and stabilize the image. LAM LAG MAG.

These lights shine out of the Gimel activating the cross, which then bathes the ocean in the cold white of a full moon. The light dispels confusion, forgetfulness, and ignorance, leaving the surface of the ocean perfectly calm and clear to the depths. In turn the ocean reflects the light out into the Cosmos clearing away the confusion, forgetfulness, and ignorance of all sentient beings, illuminating them and guiding them back to their personal wisdom, to the store house of knowledge in their unconsciousness.

The light is drawn in again, dissolving the ocean as it goes. The ocean dissolves into the yellow square. The curtain behind you dissolves into the pillars, which in turn dissolve into yellow square. The square dissolves up into the cube upon which you sit, which in turn dissolves into the water flowing from your robes. The scroll and the crown melt into light and pour into you, your entire being glows with their light and then melts into the moon white cross on your chest. The cross dissolves into the blue Gimel at its heart which glows with the light of the ocean and the moon. Finally the Gimel dissolves into Nothingness.

Rest in meditation until your thoughts naturally emerge.

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