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Book Review – Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot by Lon Milo DuQuette

March 1st, 2019

Book Review
Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot
New Edition
by Lon Milo DuQuette

I have in my hands the new edition of Lon Milo DuQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot published in 2017 by Weiser books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC (65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950), and I am excited and intimidated. Excited because I already own the 2003 edition of this valuable book (I purchased it early on in my Tarot career, right after I bought the Thoth Tarot alet, nd Crowley’s The Book of Thoth), and intimidated because compared to DuQuette (who, by the way, was intimidated by the idea of writing this book in the first place), I am a neophyte as far as the Thoth Tarot goes. Excitement wins out, so let’s dive in.

Like
many Tarot enthusiasts, I originally purchased my Thoth Tarot Deck,
and then decided that I must have Crowley’s version of a LWB
(“little white book,” the pamphlet included with many decks), his
287 page companion book to the deck titled The Book of Thoth. While
filled with amazing knowledge and lore regarding Crowley’s deck,
this book is not for beginners and I found that I could not read it
without having several reference books beside me. My next purchase
was DuQuette’s book and I have never regretted that purchase.
DuQuette is known as a “Crowley expert,” an authority on both the
man himself and the deck he fashioned. As DuQuette is also an O.T.O.
(Ordo Templi Orientis) member, he is able to present in plain
language the ideas and concepts that Crowley had in mind as he
created his deck.

Understanding
the Thoth Tarot has a soft cover with a matte finish color photo of
the image for the Princess of Disks created by Lady Freida Harris,
the artist of the Thoth Tarot Deck, on the front. This is the same
cover image as the 2003 edition, but with more intensity added to the
colors, a hint of what is to come. The book is 6 inches by 9 inches
and has 330 pages printed on white paper with an easily-readable
black type face that is a bit small but considering the astounding
amount of information to be found in the book, understandable and
worth the effort.

DuQuette
offers quite a bit of information about Crowley, the Tarot in
general, and the Thoth Tarot in particular, beginning with his
Preface to the second edition and continuing with chapters regarding
Aleister Crowley, Lady Harris, the artist who created the potent
images of the Thoth Tarot, and the images she created, and background
information that serves as the foundation for the Thoth Tarot, such
as Thelema, the Tree of Life, the Rose Cross, the Egyptian Pantheon,
the Ordo Templi Orientis, and shifts of consciousness, as well as
symbols, colors, sex magick, and the Holy Guardian Angel. Part II,
The Cards, does not come until page 79, and the actual information
regarding the individual cards begins with The Fool on page 96. In
this book DuQuette truly offers us deep and extensive background
information regarding the Thoth Tarot, and he shares many rabbit
holes that will lure us to learn more about the topics covered.

There
are 176 pages of information regarding the cards themselves. Each
Major Arcana card is described with an image of the Thoth card, a
description of the traditional image of the card, the name of the
card, the element, Hebrew letter, and the colors associated with the
card, several quotes, and two or more pages of descriptions. The
Minor Arcana cards are described with an image, a description of the
traditional image, the name, element, astrological information and
colors associated with the card, and at least one page of descriptive
text.

After
the card descriptions, DuQuette continues with chapters describing
the divination process and suggested divinatory meanings for the
cards. Chapter 21 contains a glossary of Thelemic terms and Tarot
terms, followed by footnotes. The inside back cover contains a
beautiful full-color image of the complete Hermetic Rose Cross,
described and defined by DuQuette within the book.

Understanding
Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot is a necessary book for even the
most casual Tarot enthusiast. Yes, it is like any other textbook: it
is no easy read but rather reaches deep and challenges us to become
familiar with terms and concepts that might not be a part of our
everyday life. But since we are drawn to the Tarot because it
broadens our minds and allows us to articulate ideas and visions, we
should open ourselves to the opportunity to learn presented by this
book, without hesitation.

There
are small additions to the original 2003 edition. DuQuette has added
an introduction that provides information regarding sex magick and
the cards, a description of the unicursal hexagram card that is
included with some Thoth decks, and DuQuette’s own
Roll-With-the-Flow spread.

In
my opinion, DuQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth
Tarot is the quintessential book on the Tarot in general, and the
Thoth Tarot in particular. This is truly a comprehensive read on the
Thoth Tarot and the esoteric knowledge connected to the deck. This
is a Tarot book you will return to again and again, for the more you
learn about the Thoth Tarot deck, the more you will get from
re-reading the chapters of this book.

Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot: New Edition on Amazon

***

About
the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

Book Review
Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot
New Edition
by Lon Milo DuQuette

I have in my hands the new edition of Lon Milo DuQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot published in 2017 by Weiser books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC (65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950), and I am excited and intimidated. Excited because I already own the 2003 edition of this valuable book (I purchased it early on in my Tarot career, right after I bought the Thoth Tarot alet, nd Crowley’s The Book of Thoth), and intimidated because compared to DuQuette (who, by the way, was intimidated by the idea of writing this book in the first place), I am a neophyte as far as the Thoth Tarot goes. Excitement wins out, so let’s dive in.

Like
many Tarot enthusiasts, I originally purchased my Thoth Tarot Deck,
and then decided that I must have Crowley’s version of a LWB
(“little white book,” the pamphlet included with many decks), his
287 page companion book to the deck titled The Book of Thoth. While
filled with amazing knowledge and lore regarding Crowley’s deck,
this book is not for beginners and I found that I could not read it
without having several reference books beside me. My next purchase
was DuQuette’s book and I have never regretted that purchase.
DuQuette is known as a “Crowley expert,” an authority on both the
man himself and the deck he fashioned. As DuQuette is also an O.T.O.
(Ordo Templi Orientis) member, he is able to present in plain
language the ideas and concepts that Crowley had in mind as he
created his deck.

Understanding
the Thoth Tarot has a soft cover with a matte finish color photo of
the image for the Princess of Disks created by Lady Freida Harris,
the artist of the Thoth Tarot Deck, on the front. This is the same
cover image as the 2003 edition, but with more intensity added to the
colors, a hint of what is to come. The book is 6 inches by 9 inches
and has 330 pages printed on white paper with an easily-readable
black type face that is a bit small but considering the astounding
amount of information to be found in the book, understandable and
worth the effort.

DuQuette
offers quite a bit of information about Crowley, the Tarot in
general, and the Thoth Tarot in particular, beginning with his
Preface to the second edition and continuing with chapters regarding
Aleister Crowley, Lady Harris, the artist who created the potent
images of the Thoth Tarot, and the images she created, and background
information that serves as the foundation for the Thoth Tarot, such
as Thelema, the Tree of Life, the Rose Cross, the Egyptian Pantheon,
the Ordo Templi Orientis, and shifts of consciousness, as well as
symbols, colors, sex magick, and the Holy Guardian Angel. Part II,
The Cards, does not come until page 79, and the actual information
regarding the individual cards begins with The Fool on page 96. In
this book DuQuette truly offers us deep and extensive background
information regarding the Thoth Tarot, and he shares many rabbit
holes that will lure us to learn more about the topics covered.

There
are 176 pages of information regarding the cards themselves. Each
Major Arcana card is described with an image of the Thoth card, a
description of the traditional image of the card, the name of the
card, the element, Hebrew letter, and the colors associated with the
card, several quotes, and two or more pages of descriptions. The
Minor Arcana cards are described with an image, a description of the
traditional image, the name, element, astrological information and
colors associated with the card, and at least one page of descriptive
text.

After
the card descriptions, DuQuette continues with chapters describing
the divination process and suggested divinatory meanings for the
cards. Chapter 21 contains a glossary of Thelemic terms and Tarot
terms, followed by footnotes. The inside back cover contains a
beautiful full-color image of the complete Hermetic Rose Cross,
described and defined by DuQuette within the book.

Understanding
Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot is a necessary book for even the
most casual Tarot enthusiast. Yes, it is like any other textbook: it
is no easy read but rather reaches deep and challenges us to become
familiar with terms and concepts that might not be a part of our
everyday life. But since we are drawn to the Tarot because it
broadens our minds and allows us to articulate ideas and visions, we
should open ourselves to the opportunity to learn presented by this
book, without hesitation.

There
are small additions to the original 2003 edition. DuQuette has added
an introduction that provides information regarding sex magick and
the cards, a description of the unicursal hexagram card that is
included with some Thoth decks, and DuQuette’s own
Roll-With-the-Flow spread.

In
my opinion, DuQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth
Tarot is the quintessential book on the Tarot in general, and the
Thoth Tarot in particular. This is truly a comprehensive read on the
Thoth Tarot and the esoteric knowledge connected to the deck. This
is a Tarot book you will return to again and again, for the more you
learn about the Thoth Tarot deck, the more you will get from
re-reading the chapters of this book.

Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot: New Edition on Amazon

***

About
the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

 

The Sibyls Oraculum: Oracle of the Black Doves of Africa is an Oracle deck created by cultural anthropologist Tayannah Lee McQuillar, with artwork by multimedia artist Katelan V. Foisy, and published by Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont. The Oracle comes in a nice sturdy cardboard container with glossy color images on the front and a bit of information about the Oracle on the back. Inside the box are the 44-card deck and the companion book.

The cards themselves are 3” x 5”; each card is printed in glossy color on both the front and the back. The images on the Oracle cards, appearing to be ancient mosaics, in glossy color are taken from beautiful full-color paintings created by Katelan V. Foisy, is filled with the powerful symbolism found within Libyan mosaics created in the first century BCE. The art on the back of the cards, also in color and glossy, is of a black dove, the namesake of the Oracle, and is color-coded in order to create four subsets for divination interpretation purposes.

The companion book is 6” x 9” and contains 147 pages printed on white paper with an easy-to-read black font, bound in glossy softcover with an image of the Oracle’s black dove on the front cover and four sample card images on the back cover. The companion book begins with a brief history of the African Sibyls, the forgotten source of the sibylline traditions that are the theme of this Oracle, and a brief tutorial on how to use the symbols in the Oracle, as well as a few ethical considerations to keep in mind.

Next is a substantial section describing the structure of the Oracle itself and the system McQuillar created for using the cards. There is a description of the four color-coded divination segments: Core Issue cards (black, representing the spiritual issues connected to the issue), Projection cards (copper, representing mental rationalizations and justifications regarding the issue), Blue Action cards (representing the internal state of mind affecting the issue), and Red Action cards (representing the external response affecting the issue). There is a description of the process suggested for using the Oracle (including examples of how to correctly phrase a question for the Oracle), as well as reading examples, journaling recommendations, and a detailed section on how to make use of the messages received in a reading.

The section on card meanings is information-filled 85 pages long and is divided into Core Issue, Projection, Blue Action and Red Action cards, with most of the card entries consisting of two pages. For each card entry there is a card image, the name of the card in Latin and English, an inscription, a description of the key symbols in the image of the card, religio-mythological associations describing the Deities corresponding to the images and meanings of each card, a detailed commentary, and a divinatory meaning, with the Core Issue cards also having questions for the seeker to consider. At the end of the book are brief bios of the author and artist, a suggested reading list, and a list of books focusing on related interests.

While the cards are both beautiful and powerfully effective, I feel that some of the images could be a bit clearer. I occasionally found myself holding a card under a bright light in order to attempt to see the image more clearly. Also the color differences, black, copper, blue and red, on the back of the cards do not immediately stand out, and I still have difficulty telling the red and copper cards apart.

Even those issues have not discouraged me from working daily with this beautiful Oracle. The companion book is a valuable and well-written resource filled with fascinating information about the African Sybils, the sibylline traditions, and the symbols used in the Oracle, as well as the individual cards and their messages. I have been using these cards to supplement my daily Tarot card throw, and I find that without fail they integrate seamlessly with my Tarot cards. A beginner would be able to use this Oracle with ease, and an experienced reader could use these cards to add depth and texture to a Tarot reading, or as a stand-alone divination tool. The card stock is somewhat flimsy, but not enough to discourage me from using the cards regularly.

In the Sibyls Oraculum, McQuillar has created a valuable tool for addressing the spiritual lessons underlying the experiences of living that pays homage to the long lineage of Sibyls and Oracles of the past, the present, and into the future.

The Sibyls Oraculum: Oracle of the Black Doves of Africa

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

Review of The Queen of the Moon Oracle Deck

Created by Stacey Demarco

 

 

The Queen of the Moon Oracle is an Oracle deck created by Stacey Demarco, an author and animal activist known as The Modern Witch and the creator of Natureluster, a group which educates people about and connects people to the powers of nature. The Oracle comes in a nice sturdy 4” x 5½” cardboard box with color images on the front and a bit of information about the Oracle on the back. Inside the box are the 44 6” x 9” cards of the deck and the companion guidebook. This hauntingly beautiful Oracle and guidebook were published by Rockpool Publishing, PO Box 252, Summer Hill NSW 2130.

The companion guidebook is the same size as the cards (so everything fits neatly into the beautiful box) and contains 108 pages printed on white paper with an easy-to-read black font, bound in a sturdy glossy softcover with a beautiful card image of the Queen of the Moon on the front cover and a continuation of the starry skies behind the Queen on the back. The companion book begins with a preface written by Demarco, an introduction that offers brief information about the Moon and its phases and a description of some of the correspondences we associate with lunar energy. Next are instructions for using the Oracle including spreads and a simple dedication, and a description of the setup of the deck itself.

There are three categories of cards in the Queen of the Moon Oracle: 28 cards representing a full cycle from the Dark Moon and back to it; 12 cards, called Seasonal Lunar cards, based on the Lakota terms passed down through Native American generations; and 4 other lunar-related cards including 2 astronomical cards. The cards begin with Dark Moon (card 1) and New Moon (card 2), then move on through 6 Waxing Crescent cards, a First Quarter card, 6 Waxing Gibbous cards, a Full Moon card, 6 Waning Gibbous cards, a Last Quarter card, and 6 Waning Crescent cards. The Seasonal Lunar cards follow, offering descriptions of the energies of the Wolf Moon, the Snow Moon, the Flower Moon, and the Harvest Moon to name a few, followed by the Queen of the Moon, the Lunar God, the Blue Moon and the Super Moon. Each card section offers a color image of the card, a keyword, a description of the keyword meaning, an affirmation, a discussion of the individual card meaning and/or the theme of the Moon phase that encourages and supports a useful interpretation, and a suggested companion crystal or metal.

The images on the cards and in the guidebook are created by Kinga Britschgi, a Hungarian-born artist, digital artist, published author, and language teacher who lives in the US with her family. The cards themselves are 3½” x 5”; each card is printed on sturdy cardstock in vibrant glossy color on both the front and the back. The face of each card contains a number at the top, the name of the moon phase, and the keyword also found in the guidebook, along with the sumptuous images. The card art is gorgeous, with jewel-toned colors and images filled with powerful symbolism that instantly attracts me into each card and draws me to learn more about its energies. The art on the back of the cards shows the phases of the moon in a circle on a beautiful blue background. Because of the combination of the glossy finish that allows the cards to slide easily and the sturdy cardstock, even though they are a tiny bit wide for my hands these cards absolutely invite interaction. Shuffling the deck was easy and once the deck was spread before me, the images resonated deeply and powerfully.

The Queen of the Moon Oracle is a useful tool for tapping into the energies of the moon and the lunar cycle and determining how to integrate them into our lives and our goals. Shuffling the cards and drawing a card or a few cards each day, or throwing one of the spreads suggested in the guidebook, would create a spread that offers emotional, spiritual, and energetic messages that would be useful to any seeker. But there is another purpose for this beautiful Oracle: learning about the cycles of the moon and how they affect us. The deck contains a full lunar cycle of 28 days with suggested energies available on each day. Going through the first 28 cards of the Oracle in order and meditating daily on the corresponding card would bring a hugely useful understanding of our planet’s satellite, and would offer suggested focuses for the day, week, and lunar month going forward.

If you are drawn to the Moon, its meanings, its changing appearance in the sky, and the symbolism and effects on our lives that have been passed down through the generations from our ancestors, you will enjoy the Queen of the Moon Oracle.

Queen of the Moon Oracle: Guidance through Lunar and Seasonal Energies (Rockpool Oracle Cards) on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

Book Review

Tarot For Your Self, A Workbook for Personal Transformation (Second Edition)

by Mary K. Greer

To me, any Tarot book written by Mary K. Greer needs attention, and Tarot for Your Self, 2nd Edition: A Workbook for Personal Transformation is no exception. Tarot For Your Self is published by New Page Books, a division of The Career Press, Inc, Pompton Plains, NJ; it is a 7”by 10” paperback with a glossy color cover and contains 298 pages of nicely-sized typeface printed on white paper.

This is not a typical how-to-read-the-Tarot book. Tarot For Your Self does not only present card images, keywords and sample interpretations. Not that there are no correspondences or meanings offered at all (Appendix A has all that great Little White Book information, with upright and reversed meanings, an affirmation, and questions to be answered for each card), but rather the meat of Greer’s workbook offers great suggestions, explanations, and exercises focused on learning to integrate crystals, pendulums, visualizations, affirmations, numerology, astrology, self-exploration, rituals and meditations into our Tarot practices.

There is a chapter that offers new ways to get to know the cards of the Tarot, and new ways to use the cards for personal exploration. There is a chapter that focuses on getting to know and understand the personalities of the Court Cards. Another chapter takes familiar spreads and breaks them down so that a Tarot reader can make use of useful variations of even a simple three card spread. Greer even addresses yes-no and either-or questions in this chapter.

Throughout the book, along with the many charts and correspondence lists, meditations and visualizations, images and descriptions of a myriad of spreads to fit any circumstance imaginable, are valuable exercises that help a reader to see the cards in new ways and experience how the meanings of the cards can directly connect to and explain our own life experiences. Like any workbook, there is space within each of those exercises for us to record results and descriptions of experiences we may have while doing the exercises. At the end of each chapter is a list of suggested reading connected to the information provided in that chapter.

Besides the information about the individual cards in the Appendix, there is also a history of the Tarot and some theories regarding its origin, and a very useful correspondences chart.

What I like about Tarot For Your Self is that it offers many useful tools that allow us to use our Tarot cards for self-discovery and self-healing. There are exercises for dealing with depression, clarifying relationships, and clarifying money issues. There are meditations for relaxing and grounding. There are descriptions of rituals for purifying your cards, and descriptions of how to formulate a question and how to interpret reversed cards within a spread.

In Tarot For Your Self, Mary K. Greer has created a book that can help new readers to get a glimpse of how much information a Tarot card can offer, and that can help more seasoned readers to tap into the personalities of the cards in order to tell the story of a spread. Here is a workbook that does not require us to memorize keywords but rather encourages us to do the exercises and journal our own unique experiences in order to become personally acquainted with the cards of the Tarot. This is a classic that has stood the test of time, and has something to offer to new readers and longtime Tarot enthusiasts alike.

Tarot for Your Self, 2nd Edition: A Workbook for Personal Transformation

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

 

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

Four of Swords

(The Four of Swords card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

We haven’t spoken about the Fours of the Minor Arcana in a while. This month we will talk about the Four of Swords, and remind ourselves of what happens to the energies of a card when we move forward from the Three.

The Four of Swords is a Minor Arcana card, so as we know, the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 4, and the suit of Swords. These two ingredients alone could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation, and we have other things to consider, too. Let’s begin our examination of this card.

The traditional image of the Four of Swords is of a knight laying on a bed with his hands in prayer position. There is a stained glass window in the background depicting a sacred image, as well as three swords hanging on the wall; the fourth sword is on the side of the bed. The knight’s helm is down, so we can’t tell if he is sleeping or meditating or dead. Some versions of this image actually show a coffin with the reclining knight sculpted on the lid. Another version of the Four of Swords shows a man reclining on the ground with his back against a rock (a very grounded image) and his sword laying by his side; behind him is a large Mullein plant (representing focus and grounding) and three other swords. Still another version shows the four swords grounded (points inserted into the ground), with a person laying on the four hilts with his face pointing toward the blue sky with its fluffy white clouds. There is stillness to these images (as if the figure is deep within a meditation or out-of-body experience) and a sense of deliberate solitude, and the sacred.

The suit of Swords corresponds with the element of Air, the Spades of playing cards, the direction of East and the color of yellow; Swords cards usually tell of some focused intent to bring forth a manifestation, or a struggle and then an outcome. Swords cards are about purposeful and deliberate actions and the thoughts, intentions or beliefs behind them. Swords cards and the effects they describe are sourced from within us; they teach us that we create our own reality from our expectations. The Swords cards give hints as to our mental state, the beliefs we have, and actions we choose to take in response to effects around us. A Sword has two edges, a perfect metaphor for this suit, which can represent attacking or defending, logic or aggression. The Swords cards also represent an opportunity to feel more empowered; self-empowerment happens when we successfully deal with challenges, but self-empowerment can be dangerous if it is not balanced with a bit of humility.

The element of Air corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic. Air also represents the intelligence that clears away the fog of ignorance so we can clearly see and understand, and it supports communications and sounds of all kinds. Air allows both expression (out from within us) and hearing (in from outside of us) to happen. This information applies to all the Swords cards in the Minor Arcana, including our Nine of Swords.

The number 4 is about solidification, discipline, balance, authority figures, a foundation being created, calmness, caution, being steady or difficult to shake up. There are four points to a compass, so the number 4 can represent everything around us as it is right now. If we remember that the number 3 usually represents the creation of something new, or the making real of concepts or understandings presented by the number 2, then we can see that the number 4 brings depth or solidity to that creation. On the negative side, the number 4 can represent energies that are slow and plodding, too conservative, averse to change, or suspicious.

Within the Tarot, the Fours represent the concept of the cube, very stable and hard to tip over; here we have the pause that allows us to take a breath after activating the potential of the Ace through the partnership of the Two in order to manifest the creation of the Three. Briefly, we have the potential to experience potent ideas, thoughts and the ability to reason (the Ace of Swords), the power to focus inward and shut out distractions (the Two of Swords), and the perception of personal isolation and heartbreak that can be created by focusing solely on logic and analysis without including partnerships and interactions (the Three of Swords). The Four of Swords offers a “time out,” a period of healing before renewed efforts.

The astrological correspondence for the Four of Swords offers us a bit more depth of understanding; the Four of Swords represents the planet Jupiter when it is in the astrological sign of Libra.

In Roman mythology, Jupiter is the ruler, guardian and protector of the gods. Similarly, the planet Jupiter is in many ways the ruler of our solar system. Some astronomers believe that Jupiter with its massive gravity actually protects the rest of our solar system by attracting or deflecting comets and asteroids that might otherwise threaten Earth. Like passions and emotions, Jupiter is brightly colored and covered with large and intense storms; the planet is symbolized by a lightning bolt. Astrologically, Jupiter is associated with growth, expansion, prosperity, freedom, exploration, and good fortune. Jupiter is connected to long distance and foreign travel, higher education, religion, all humanitarian pursuits, and the law (and its role as a protector of society). Jupiter is also associated with gambling and merrymaking.

Libras are usually very focused on the people around them, and how they interact with those people. Libras are true team players, concerned with balance and cooperation, with fairness to everyone. Libras always put their minds to good use, considering and balancing carefully before choosing a course that brings the highest good to all. Because Libra is Cardinal Air, this sign initiates through new ideas, and by being a balancing force among people. Libra is about partnerships, and about a focus on other people rather than just on the self. Libras are most happy when they are paired up with another, and they are good at partnerships of all kinds. Balance is important to Libras, too, and they don’t like conflict. Libra corresponds with the planet Venus and with the element of Air. They use the intellect and their ability to communicate to form those partnerships and to maintain harmony.

When Jupiter is in Libra, matters focused on equality, liberty and balance are of importance. The energies associated with Jupiter, expansion, growth and good fortune, harmonize with the traits of the sign of Libra, partnerships and collaborations, and bring us balance, harmony and equality, a good foundation for building on and improving all kinds of relationships. Communication between groups and people will be positive and beneficial, and patience, compassion, empathy and an effort toward manifesting the highest good for all are possibilities for the future. This combination does not necessarily create passion, but cool, calm and collected is a good state of mind in which to be.

The Fours have a place on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; they are found in the sephira of Chesed in the middle of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. This sephira is seen as the place of both expansion and stability. Chesed represents Mercy and tells us that love cannot happen without understanding. Chesed also represents the concept of authority, which brings the danger of self-righteousness and at the same time offers us the opportunity to learn humility.

The Wild Unknown Four of Swords shows a lamb with a brightly-glowing third eye chakra, all curled up and serene beneath four Swords hanging point-down above him. This tender, untried youth is resting below four Swords hanging precariously above him, and yet he does not appear frightened. He is alert, so he knows those Swords are there even though he does not even spare them a glance, but he is not even prepared to run should they come loose. Perhaps his stillness is part of his protection. It is as if he is keeping those Swords up there with his serenity, his stillness, his awareness of what is going on around him, and his belief, his mental force . . . his Will!

The Thoth Tarot Four of Swords is called “Truce”; the original name for this card was “Lord of Rest from Strife.” Crowley states that Swords are weapons, and weapons are connected to the discipline of war, not of peace. Thus, while equilibrium and justice are a part of this card, the “truce” being represented in the Thoth Tarot Four of Swords is a peace enforced by the threat of violence, a mutual deterrence. That kind of peace is not usually lasting.

The Llewllyn Welsh Four of Swords shows a woman warrior, resting with her hair streaming under her head, her eyes closed, and her mouth slightly open, with her white dog asleep beside her. In the background are four Swords floating above her, holding up a curtain that shields her, and a tree with naked branches whose trunk appears to be echoing the position of Christ after death on the cross. The card represents a vigil, withdrawal and silence, asylum, finding sanctuary, and a deathlike phase in life which incubates future dreams.

The Legacy of the Divine Four of Swords shows a man asleep, floating above a bed of four Swords with points facing downward, representing an inward focus. Behind him is a round stained glass window through which light shines faintly as if from the moon; upon that window is the Greek symbol for Christ. A hawk flies above the sleeping form, dropping a red rose, representing life, and a white rose, representing death. The card represents the need for recuperation, inactivity, physical healing, and distance from the stresses and responsibilities of life.

Our first three Swords cards, the Ace, Two and Three of Swords, have caused an imbalance that often creates the perception of being harmed. The Four of Swords can represent a pause or truce or mutual deterrent, or a time of silence and isolation used to prepare for challenges to come. Often it is necessary to take a moment to absorb what has happened thus far within our current situation, and this card offers that valuable pause. The truce represented by the Four of Swords does not happen due to weakness, but rather through a conscious and deliberate choice and through a balance of power. After all, the truce is “supported” by Swords, the suit of the intellect. This moment spent in limbo is not a surrender, but rather it gives us the opportunity to heal and rejuvenate, so we can once again face the challenges of the day with renewed optimism and focus.

** We Feature the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk. You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

Book Review

The Transformative Witchcraft: The Greater Mysteries

by Jason Mankey

Repetition is a good thing, especially when the author infuses it with their own ideas and experiences. I believe that everything that we can do to make this information relatable to the broadest of audiences is a positive step towards bring greater awareness to the practice of Witchcraft and the work and dedication that is required to follow such a path. Such is the case in this new offering by author and editor of blog spot, Patheos Pagan, Jason Mankey- The Transformative Power of Witchcraft. Jason has authored several books on the craft, this one feeling more of a synthesis of the basics from start to finish.

The book is complete with history, ritual, creating sacred space, the work of self and more. There are three chapters devoted to the history of the craft and given that we are a spirituality based on the history, but crafted into a neopagan approach, having the solid foundation of what was, goes a long way into crafting what can be.

Chapters Four through Six focus on the “Cone of Power”, its creation, uses and theory behind its success. This information is presented in a thoughtful manner, offering options and adaptations, which I believe many newcomers to the path, are hesitant to interject on their own. Knowing how, when and where to direct energy is even more important now in the wake of global and domestic events and the working of witchcraft is a tool of change that, if wisely used can achieve amazing results.

I particularly enjoyed reading Chapters Seven through Ten, under Part Three’s Header of “Dedications, Initiations and Elevations”. For many, this topic alone is veiled in mystery and there are as many interpretations of what those semantics mean as paths of practice. Indeed, no one size fits all and as the author discusses, much depends on solitary, Tradition based, hereditary or other as to what these terms mean to the individual. Additionally, rituals are provided to be used as starting points or intact for the reader. I appreciate the detail that went into this section, particularly in preparing the seeker for the work required to be done, the preparation of self and the commitment that is undertaken when receiving any of these deeper connections to your path.

No book on witchcraft would be complete without attention to lunar working and Drawing Down the Moon as ritual and self-generator. Jason also covers the other types of Divine assumption, interaction and possession that may be encountered or experienced in the greater work. Chapter Thirteen provides all of the basics and information for the Ritual of Drawing Down the Moon.

The book concludes with discussion of The Great Rite and its ethical use in truth and physicality as well as metaphorical and representative approach. Each has its own specific reasons for selection, and in particular, when enacting The Great Rite as an offering of sex magick and potency, I believe it is important to know exactly why and where that option would be suitable and when it is used unethically as a means of control over the uninformed.

A glossary and bibliography is provided and the index makes it easy to zero in on specific topics.

This book is available for pre-order on Amazon with a publishing date of January 2019.

Transformative Witchcraft: The Greater Mysteries on Amazon

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About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

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