Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Being a Better Candle (Tarot)

This post is part of the Tarot Blog Hop/Blog Round Robin for Candlemas 2012.

Therefore, some of you just got done reading Michael Banuelos' Modern Day Oracle blog.

The rest of you are wondering what a Tarot Blog Hop/Blog Round Robin is. Basically, it is a group of bloggers who agreed to blog loosely about the same topic today and link their posts in a circle. Today's topic is Being a Better Candle (Tarot).

Tommorrow is Imbolc. Or Inbolg. Or Oilmec. Or Brighid's Day. Or Candlemas. Or St. Bridget's Day (Jesus' nurse and foster mom). Or Groundhog's Day.

Or as I like to call it---Why do I have candle wax on my Tarot cards Day. And don't laugh---I actually do have candle wax on several of my Tarot decks. The reason for this is that I sometimes do Tarot readings in the full Golden Dawn ritual envirnoment. For those who are in the Blog Tour, the Golden Dawn was a teaching organization in its Outer Order (first five stages/Grades) and a working magical system in its Inner Order (RR et AC). The techniques of the Golden Dawn were borrowed from the French and English occultists of its day (1880s and 1890s), were further developed by its membership, and then passed down the line (Aleister Crowley, A. E. Waite, Pamela "Pixie" Colman Smith, Paul Foster Case). If you read the Tarot, odds are that you have been influenced by the Golden Dawn...often without knowing it.

Now, I personally believe that the Golden Dawn lore and RR et AC methods have made me a better Tarot reader. I don't use the methods all the time---in fact, it is impossible to use the methods all the time, especially if you ever do public readings---but the lore is always in the back of my mind.

The method that has helped me the most is hand-coloring my own Tarot deck. The lodge that I first joined required its members to create a few cards; for me, this exercise helped me create a better connection to the cards (I was a pretty lousy Tarot reader before that point). BOTA, Case's esoteric school, issues a outline version of the Tarot cards for its members to handcolor. Briefly, there was a Golden Dawn deck that one could do the same with (alas, I believe that it is out of print now). The current lodge I belong to requires the initiate to hand-color a deck in the Grade of Adept Minor (using either a bootleg of the GD deck, a BOTA deck, or another outline deck).

There are other methods in the Golden Dawn system that positively affect one's ability to read the Tarot cards; which method helps the most will vary from person to person. The Z operation (basically, you do a full ritual with the divination in the center of the process), godform assumption, pathworkings...I am probably forgetting something...the Grade initiations themselves, all of these things can help make a better Tarot reader. Of course, there is also the fact that one often (not always) ends up working with other people in the Order exchanging readings and information about the Tarot.

Originally, all these methods were kept under the lock and key of Hermetic secrecy. Today, most of the methods are general knowledge among advanced Tarot readers. (Ok, there are a few things still secret...but let's be honest, the information that has slipped into the public has spread far and wide.) Whether this is a good thing or not depends upon how much you desire to keep people ignorant. Personally, as someone who is worried about the state of the world, I think that we need all the information that we can get to safely navigate through the torrents of modern times. And if that information comes from people using the Tarot---so be it.

In my case, I try to be a better candle by doing the occasional Tarot reading and teaching the Golden Dawn and Inner Order methods to a small circle of people. Whether this actually makes me a better person, a harbringer of the Light, is anyone's guess. But one does what one can, and crosses their fingers, hoping for the best.

So what working method have you found most useful working with the Tarot? And do you believe that information about various methods should be shared? Or should they be kept secret?

(All comments are read, but I reserve the right to not publish the worst comments.)

Blessed be on this Why do I have candle wax on my Tarot cards Day.

For those who are reading the Tarot Blog Hop/Blog Round Robin, the next stop on the Tarot blog tour is October's blog, Readings by October, and she is hella funny.


Lisa Frideborg said...

I love that you teach in the Golden Dawn tradition! Keep shining!

Tarot By Arwen said...

Morgan, I liked this. In my collection are 22 BOTA majors that I keep wanting to color in. I do think I would learn how to go even deeper into the cards. Thanks for a great reminder!

Zanna Starr said...

I enjoyed this post! I love the writings of Paul Foster Case and have a strong interest in Crowley/Golden Dawn/etc. -- but haven't felt led to immerse myself. Thanks for such an informative, enlightening "hop stop" on the Tarot Blog Hop.

Frater VAL said...

For meditation, skrying, pathworkings, I utilize the Golden Dawn methods. My favorite of which, involves separating the pack into the 4 letters of the great name / 4 worlds and working through the pack that way.

When I'm doing a "reading" for myself or someone, I tend to use a more self-styled approach that involves a set of preliminary invocations followed by letting the cards do the talking. I'll pull as many or as few as needed and lay them in whatever symbolic spread is appropriate to the circumstance. Usually I find that any spread based on the Qabalah is most efficacious.

Concerning secrecy...
I think that secrecy should be changed to discretion. Obviously to explain secret methods to the profane would be a waste of everyone's time since they would gain no benefit and you would only lose the time you took to try to teach it. However, the genuine seekers NEED access to these teachings to allow the world to come into its most enlightened era. There are more 'individuals' now with some sort of spiritual understanding beyond that of dogmatic religious teachings than at any other point in modern history. I believe that is due largely to the publication of these old "secrets" from various sources, that modern students are now able to synthesize into a correlation of plausible theological philosophy.

Claire-Marie Le Normand said...

You've probably read it already, but I'll mention it here : I learned a lot about tarot and the golden dawn from Mary K. Greer's book "Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and Priestesses." Thanks for a great post.

Inner Whispers said...

I found this post really interesting. On the secrecy debate, I like Frater VAL's suggestion - discretion rather than secrecy. However, I was left with one question: what do you actually do to get candle wax on your tarot cards? :)