Seeing the Signs

May 1st, 2016

The Enochian Tarot

Sometimes you are attracted to a divinatory system as if you were mandated by some celestial being. You know – as soon as you see that deck of cards or that pendulum or those beautifully polished runes – that those are meant for you. Sometimes it’s more a matter of fate – you pick up some divination method accidentally and come to use it on a daily basis. There are also the divination tools that you only use for special occasions – a crystal ball for Samhain, for example – or a special set of Tarot cards for a Full Moon ritual. Generally, you only have divination methods that resonate with you – Tarot or Oracle cards with images that speak to you or a pendulum with a crystal that vibrates perfectly or whatever. But sometimes – because of Yule gifts or Birthdays or other reasons – we sometimes have in our possession some divinatory method that doesn’t work with us at all. I have one like that. It’s the Enochian Tarot. If any of you reading this own this deck and like this deck, hey that’s fabulous, but I have to state right off that I have never been able to find a friendly feeling for this set of cards.

The first thing I look for in any divinatory set of cards – Tarot, Oracle or Lenormand – is beauty. It doesn’t matter if the cards are hand-drawn, painted, mixed media, or collage. They can be quite crude, like the Motherpeace Tarot, but still gorgeous in the design and choice of color. The Enochian Tarot is not beautiful. Many of the cards are downright ugly. Created by Gerald and Betty Schueler – who have written numerous books on Enochian Magic – the artwork is by Sally Ann Glassman. The cards are crudely drawn with what looks to be colored pencils or maybe pastels. The faces of the – Angels? Demons? – are grotesque, to say the least. However, there are some very nicely drawn cards:

tarotdeck1 tarotdeck2 tarotdeck3

The whole deck is like this. Some of it is really nice but most of it isn’t. To be honest, it’s only when people are pictured that they run into problems. Generally, the women are curvy and naked:

tarotdeck4

There are lots of cards like this, which is probably the only reason this deck had any success at all. The cards with men on them generally show them clothed or as demons.

Another problem with the Enochian Tarot is that it really isn’t a tarot at all. The Schuelers are attempting to take the Enochian Magic system and graft it onto both the Qabbalistic Keys and the elemental system of the Tarot but Enochian Magic has nothing to do with either. It is really easier to use the deck as an Oracle deck and not try to see the various Angels, Demons, and so on, as corresponding to the King of Swords or the Queen of Pentacles or whatever it is.

Enochian Magic is a system of magic discovered by John Dee, the court astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I. He and his associate, Edward Kelley, communicated with “angels” by scrying with a black obsidian mirror and a crystal ball over the course of several years. These angels taught Dee and Kelley the original language spoken by Adam and Eve, which the angels called the Enochian language – which doesn’t make any sense, since Enoch was the great-great-great-great-grandson of Adam (yes, that’s FOUR great’s). This language even had an alphabet, which was faithfully recorded by the two magicians, which they translated into English:

The Enochian alphabet

tarot

 

So what does this have to do with the Enochian Tarot? In the beginning of the Enochian Tarot book, there are a series of tables which set up how to use the deck. Each card is a combination of letters and each combination of letters is a mathematical equation. Most of it is simple numerology. Once I started really looking at the tables, it all made sense but it really seemed quite tedious and not very well written.

There’s a lot in the book. There’s descriptions and meanings for every card. There’s two appendixes and a section outlining a Two-Week Study Guide for Tarot, a Four-Week Advanced Study Guide, and a Master of Tarot course, “designed for the individual who wishes to practice the Enochian Tarot on a professional basis.” (268). That’s not me but the study guides are invaluable to anyone wishing to become a better reader of any kind of Tarot or Oracle card. There’s also a section of Tarot spreads – eight spreads in all, including the Celtic Cross and two spreads that were designed specifically for the Enochian Tarot.

I must say that for having sat on my shelf for ten years – after my initial reaction of “yuck!” – I now have a better appreciation of both the deck and the book – most especially the appendixes and the study guides. If you happen to come across The Enochian Tarot, check it out.

References

Schueler, Gerald & Betty. The Enochian Tarot: A New System of divination for the New Age. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1989.

Hill, Bryan. “Enochian: The Mysterious Lost Language of Angels”. http://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-ancient-writings/enochian-mysterious-lost-language-angels-003100

Ager, Simon. “Enochian Alphabet”. http://omniglot.com/writing/enochian.htm

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