Wilhelm Hauschild-Lohengrincu01Santo Griaal-Rogelio Egusquiza 1893

The Waite-Smith Ace of Cups image is not unique. A winged figure surmounts a fountain from which streams water in the Visconti-Sforza card. In the Marseille deck two of the aces (Wands and Swords) have a hand emerging from a cloud—a standard medieval device to indicate creation, miracles and gifts from a Divine source. We also find similarities in the pictures above. The first one is from Wilhelm Hauschild’s Temple of the Holy Grail (1878) and the third one is Santo Griaal by Rogelio Egusquiza (acquired by the British Museum in 1901). By the way, if you are Pagan, like me, I encourage you to look at the Christian references as psychological metaphors. Read Part 1 here.

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To display His divine nature, the hand of God is often depicted emerging from a cloud which hides his body, veiling us from his power as no person could see Him and live. As it is the right hand, it is actively giving the viewer one of the four sacred treasures found in the myths of many cultures. In the Talmud the Cup of Blessing is held on five fingers of the right hand representing the five leaves that protect a rose from its thorns. This image signifies a divine gift in the form of a supernatural vision (the cloud) that is often the starting point for a spiritual quest.

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Waite has a lot to say about the dove, describing it as the invocation and descent of the Comforter or Holy Spirit to renew the virtue of the Grail and to consecrate the elements.

“In England during the Middle Ages . . . the Eucharist was reserved in a Columbarium, or Dove-House, being a vessel shaped like a dove. It recalls some archaic pictures of a Cup over which a dove broods and the descent of a dove on the Graal.” …
“There is the flight of the mystical dove from the casement to inmost Shrine, as if the bird went to renew the virtues of the Holy Graal.” …
“The Dove descends from Heaven carrying the Arch Natural Host to renew the virtues of the Stone [the form the Grail takes in some of the stories].” …
“O central point and sacred meeting-place of all the sacraments, there falls the Bread,  broken within the Wine-Cup, and from both issues one living Spirit of Life Divine.” …
“On Good Friday, by the descent of a dove from heaven, carrying a sacred Host . . . the crown of all earthly riches were renewed.”

The Holy Spirit represents the life-giving spirit of air, and it was present at the baptism by water of Jesus, the awakening into a new life:

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Mark 1:10-11.

Additionally, the Dove maintains its pagan association with Goddess Venus/Aphrodite and with Love (Waite includes the ancient pagan mysteries in the Secret Tradition). The Dove blesses with supernatural gifts, like the gift of tongues (pictured as Yods, see below), and so it can be associated with the ancient “language of the birds” or gift of divination and with miracles. Waite favors the idea of Grace: “it is grace which fills the heart; it is the Holy Spirit of God which makes holy the spirit of man.” Grace, equated with the Hebrew word Chesed, is a blessing that gives guidance and protects us from the dangers of earthly power and adversity.

So, the Dove can be seen as the descent of Spirit into flesh, of the supernatural into the natural, a theme repeated by the cross on the Host composed of the vertical axis of spirit and the horizontal of matter. (The cross, which represents Christ’s suffering and sacrifice on the cross, becomes a blessing.)

I should note that Waite was known to have a prodigious and exacting memory. He was extremely precise in his use of language, so when an odd phrase appears it is usually a sign that he is quoting a source to further elucidate his meaning. The internet has made it possible to find a good number of these allusions.

For instance, for Waite the Host is the panis quotidianus that has been changed into the panis vivus et vitalis”: that is the everyday bread is transformed into a living and vital bread.  This quote from Waite refers to a popular hymn by Thomas Aquinas (circa 1264) called the Lauda Sion Salvatorem. It speaks of the Eucharist and presents the transformation of bread and wine ending with a familiar maxim “as above, so below”:

Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden,
Signs, not things, are all we see. . . .

Living bread, thy life supply:
Strengthen us, or else we die,
Fill us with celestial grace. . . .

Thou, who feedest us below:
Source of all we have or know:
Grant that with Thy Saints above,
Sitting at the feast of love,
We may see Thee face to face.

Spiritual nourishment, the Host, is sent by the Holy Ghost; in many of the Grail stories it is found to heal all wounds.

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Cup, Grail and Fountain of Living Waters

This is the signature image of this card and is filled with meaning on so many levels. We will touch on only a few. As container, it is a major symbol of the receptive feminine and, in Christianity, the womb of the Virgin Mary, the seat of creation and manifestation of Love, esoterically seen as “the Bride”. It is a vessel in which things are “cooked,” making raw materials capable of providing rich nourishment and even, in alchemy, changing lead into gold. It is the cup of transformation containing the waters of life in which water is changed into wine and then into blood. It is the cauldron of Dagda in Celtic myth from which no company ever left unsatisfied. 

“The message of the Secret Tradition in the Christian Graal mystery is this: The Cup corresponds to spiritual life. It receives the graces from above and communicates them to that which is below. The equivalent happens in the supernatural Eucharist, the world of unmanifest adeptship, attained by sanctity [Grace].”

Both cup and water represent the soul.

The Practicus Ritual in Waite’s Fellowship of the Rosy Cross initiates one through an encounter with the Living Waters. First we are informed that Water symbolizes the emotions, desires, and psychic nature of earthly man. But this is not the Water one is to encounter in the ritual, “The Waters that are below desire after the Waters that are above. . . . May the peace of their Union be upon us; be we dissolved therein.”

“The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the Waters, and the Spirit of the Most High God shall move upon the Waters of the Soul. . . . The stilled waters of the soul receive the Spirit of God moving upon the face of its waters. . . . Open thy heart, O Brother of the Rosy Cross, and receive the Water of Life.” 

“Fountain of fountains, and of all fountains. Chalice of saving rain. Grace on the soul descending, as rain on the dry grass. Life-giving Rain of Doctrine. Mystical Fruit of the Doctrine. Dew of Divine Speech, falling in stillness on the heart, filling the soul with Knowledge. Enter into the heart and purify; come into the soul and consecrate.”

The image is one of both the Baptismal font and the Eucharist. “A Eucharistic allegory concerns [the dissolution] of the body by Divine Substance communicated to the soul, putting an end to the enchantments and sorceries of the five senses” and to the suffering on the cross (mentioned earlier).

This leads us directly to the five streams coming out of the cup.

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Why five streams of water and not the four that Waite specifies in Pictorial Key to the Tarot? Furthermore, Bible readers all know that there are four streams that come out of Eden. This could be an error either on the part of Waite or Pamela Colman Smith. Or, it could veil a secret: These five streams might, after all, represent the five senses (see the quote immediately above), or the five ways of salvation and five gates of grace (from Masonic ritual), or the five wounds of Christ, the five points of the Pentagram, the five petals of the rose that rest on five leaves (the fingers), or the four elements plus aether—the quintessence. In terms of the symbolism, five yields far more relevance according to Waite himself:

“In the Longer Prose Perceval we have seen that there is an account of five changes in the Graal which took place at the altar, being five transfigurations, the last of which assumed the seeming of a chalice, but at the same time, instead of a chalice, was some undeclared mystery: so the general as well as the particular elements of the legend in its highest form offer a mystery the nature of which is recognised by the mystic through certain signs which it carries on its person; yet it is declared in part only and what remains, which is the greater part, is not more than suggested. It is that, I believe, which was seen by the maimed King when he looked into the Sacred Cup and beheld the secret of all things, the beginning even and the end. In this sense the five changes of the Graal are analogous to the five natures of man, as these in their turn correspond to the four aspects of the Cosmos and that which rules all things within and from without the Cosmos.”

I believe that despite their blue color, the five streams best represent blood, for as Marie-Louise von Franz tells us, “Grace was depicted as a fountain of Blood from the five holy wounds of Christ,” The Psychological Meaning of Redemption Motifs in Fairytales.

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb-GhentBut it is in Evelyn Underhill, Anglo-Catholic author of a well-known book on mysticism, who perhaps reveals the deepest mystery. Underhill was a student or acolyte of Waite, having joined his branch of the Golden Dawn in 1904 and achieving at least four initiations. She wrote for Waite’s Horlick’s Magazine and  published a novel in 1909 featuring the effects of the Holy Grail on a woman who came into its possession. In an article titled “The Fountain of Life” in the Burlington Magazine (1910) Underhill examined the fountains of water and of blood depicted on several religious works of art including the famous Ghent Altarpiece (right). She notes that baptism and penance which ‘renews the grace of baptism,’ are still spoken of by Catholic theologians as ‘effusions of the Precious Blood,’ i.e., of grace. She went on to describe:

“, , , a fountain which is filled by the Blood flowing from the Five Wounds. The Soul, or ‘Bride,’ holds out her heart, and the blood from the wounded side of Christ falls upon it, causing flowers to spring up from the place which has been touched by the vivifying stream. The Precious Blood then . . . stands not merely for an emblem of the Passion, Redemption, or the Eucharist, though it includes all these manifestations of Grace, but for the medium of communication of the Divine Life . . . since for ancient and mediaeval thought the spirit of life resided in the blood.”

Given that the Aces are also seen by Waite as the four Celtic treasures, I’d be remiss in not presenting this option from Celtic Myth and Religion by Sharon Paice MacLeod:

“In Cormac’s Adventures in the Land of Promise, Cormac has a vision of the sacred center of the Otherworld where he saw a shining fountain with five streams flowing out of it. He is told that it is the Fountain of Knowledge [others call it the Well of Wisdom], and the five streams are the five senses through which knowledge is obtained.”

Drops of Dew or YodsFullSizeRender (5)

These drops, in the shape of the Hebrew letter Yod are found on many of the Tarot cards, generally signifying divine Grace. Shaped like a flame a Yod is the divine spark of creation that is the foundation of all the other letters and is the first letter in the Tetragrammaton or four-letter name of God. There are 26 yods and Eoin Keith Boyle notes in the comments that this is the sum of the 4-lettered name of God, the Tetragrammaton, in Kabbalistic gematria. They are also the shape of the tongues of fire at Pentecost:

“They saw tongues like flames of a fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:3-4.

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The alchemist Thomas Vaughn, in a compendium by Waite, calls it the divine spark or star-fire that is sympathetically attracted to its origin in God. It is spirit fructifying the soul.

These drops can also be seen as alchemical dew. Thomas Vaughn again explains that divine dew penetrates and transforms all that is physical. Waite claims that for the Rosicrucians “dew is light, coagulated and rendered corporeal. . . . When digested in its own vessel it is the true menstruum of the Red Dragon, i.e., of gold, the true matter of the Philosophers.”

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[In the beginning]the Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:2.

It is the soul that desires union with the spirit, “The Waters that are below desire after the Waters that are above.”

This is also the generative water of renewal and rebirth. It also represents the emotions which here have become serene and calm, being fed by the waters of the Holy Spirit. In the parlance of Carl Jung it is the rich and fertile pool of the unconscious psyche—the soul. And Evelyn Underhill already explained that the blood from Christ’s wounds causes flowers to spring up—in this case water-lilies that grow only in sweet waters, reaching up from the mud toward the light. Regarding sweet waters, in Waite’s book of aphorisms, Steps to the Crown, we find: “The Cup of bitterness ceases to exist for him who has drunk from the chalice of immortality”.

 W or M ?

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Finally we come to the major controversy associated with this card—What is the significance of the letter on the cup? The fact is that we will never know, but we do have some very likely possibilities, and knowing Waite, all of them may have been what was intended, for Waite saw all symbols as multi-valenced. 

IMG_2891MacGregor Mathers, in his 1888 book Tarot: A Short Treatise on Reading the Cards claims that an inverted M on the front of the Spanish Ace of Cups represented the waters of creation in Genesis and all that remains of an Egyptian motif of twin serpents (as per this 19th century deck reproduced in the Cagliostro Tarot by Modiano of Italy). The Golden Dawn paper on the Tarot, “Book T,” says, “The great Letter of the Supernal Mother is traced in the spray of the Fountain.”

First it is note-worthy that the letter is shaped exactly like Pamela Colman Smith’s MsAr01 and not like her WsWaPg.

The main contenders for W are:
Waite (see the monogram on the Ten of Pentacles)
Water (“the implicit is that the Sign of the Cups naturally refers to water” PKT.)
Womb
Wisdom (more specifically, Well of Wisdom)

The main contenders for M are:
Mystery (“For this is the chalice of my blood, of the new and eternal testament: the Mystery of Faith”).
Mem (or Maim, Hebrew for “water”)
Mary (or Mara, which also means “bitter sea”)
Mother (Matter. As Supernal Mother she is associated with Binah on the Tree of Life and the 2nd letter of the Tetragrammaton, He.)

Mercury (an alchemical maxim: “What wise men seek in Mercury is found”)

I believe that the letter is M and that it stands for Mystery, as viewed from above by the Holy Spirit. It is probably the word Waite uses most in his books where it is usually capitalized. To support this I have found almost this identical summary statement in several of Waite’s books:

“[In conclusion] the maxim which might and would be inscribed over the one Temple of the truly Catholic Religion when the faiths of this western world have been united in the higher consciousness–that is assuredly ‘Mysterium Fidei’–the mystery which endures for ever and for ever passes into experience.” HCHG, p. 469

We might also view the letters like this:

Waite – Mystery
Water – Mem
Womb – Mary/Mother
Wisdom – Mercury 

An Act of Imagination

I suggest one final way of getting at the deeper meaning of this card.

Imagine for a moment that you are the Chalice and, perhaps, the liquid in the chalice. Picture yourself reaching up for the host held in the beak of the dove. You might see yourself as a baby bird stretching up to be fed by a parent. Can you experience the yearning? Or you may be a font of water that wells up from a deep source. Feel the draw from above and your yearning toward the source of that draw. Become aware of the wounds gathered through your earthly experience. The water (or blood) within you could begin to spill over, rising up and falling out in a continuous stream. Can you let yourself go, surrender to the movement, and then to gravity so that you fall into the pool beneath? What happens when you spill into that pond? Where do you go? How do you reflect back what is above?

One final characteristic of Cups, which Waite mentions over and over again through his discussion of the suit, is fantasy—the ability to imagine super-sensible things and have experiences of what he calls the Arch-Natural world. While there are dangers in doing so (the Seven of Cups), it is in through mystical experience, first accessed through the door of the imagination, that we are ultimately able to commune with Spirit. I hope to speak more about this in a third post on a Jungian interpretation of this image.

See also: Part 1-Waite’s Eucharistic Ace of Cups.

The Waite-Smith Ace of Cups, despite its seeming simplicity, is a very complex card with deep allusions that are central to Waite’s “Secret Tradition”—his mystical philosophy. This post explores Waite’s own very conscious and specific intention for this card.

As an Ace in tarot readings it generally represents an opening of the heart, new love and relationships, the emergence of psychic abilities, dreams and imagination, spiritual nourishment and the gift of grace. It is the root of empathy.

In Pictorial Key to the Tarot, Waite explains that the Ace of Cups “is an intimation of that which may lie behind the Lesser Arcana.” In other words, it is key to the whole Minor Arcana. His declaration is not really surprising as 1909 saw not only the first publication of the tarot deck but also of Waite’s book The Hidden Church of the Holy Graal (HCHG), which in over 700 pages analyzed all that was known of the Grail and its myths. Most of the quotes below are from this book unless otherwise noted. As Waite’s sentences are quite obtuse and complex, I’ve simplified where necessary.

Waite completely ignores the Greater Arcana of the Tarot in HCHG but focuses a chapter on the Lesser Arcana suits. He saw them as a reflection of the four Grail Hallows and the four treasures of Celtic lore (an idea that Yeats later passed on to Jessie Weston; see From Ritual to Romance).

“The four Hallows are therefore the Cup, the Lance, the Sword and the Dish, Paten or Patella–these four, and the greatest of these is the Cup. As regards this Hallow-in-chief, of two things one: either the Graal Vessel contained the most sacred of all relics in Christendom, or it contained the Secret Mystery of the Eucharist.”

Waite wrote regarding these Lesser Hallows,

“The Lance renewed the Graal in some of the legends [comparing Galahad, Perceval, Lancelot, Joseph of Arimathea, Merlin, Glastonbury and so on] but the places of the Hallows are in certain symbolical worlds which are known to the Secret Tradition. The Dish, which, as I have said, signifies little in the romances, has, for the above reason, aspects of importance in the Tarot.” [I assume here that he equates the symbology of the Dish with the tarot suit of Pentacles/Disks.]

If we need further proof, Waite’s divinatory meanings for the Ace of Cups are: “House of the true heart, joy, content, abode, nourishment, abundance, fertility; Holy Table, felicity hereof.”

He uses the term ‘Holy Table’ once in HCHG regarding an early Grail myth, describing “the graces and favors of the Holy Table” upon which the Grail appears and feeds the faithful, bringing them joy and contentment. Waite also includes this phrase in his digest of the writings of Eliphas Lévi, The Mysteries of Magic, where Lévi explains that primitive Christians gathered around the Holy Table to communicate with God and behold his face.

Although often couched in the terminology of the Catholic Church, Waite did not believe in the efficacy of instituted religions nor their requirements for ordination:

“The Mystic Quest is the highest of all adventures. . . . It exhibits the priesthood which comes rather by inward grace than by apostolical succession.”

“The Mass of the Graal . . . is celebrated only in the Secret Church and that Church is within. When the priest enters the Sanctuary he returns into himself by contemplation and approaches the altar which is within. . . . The Lord Christ comes down and communicates to him in the heart.”

When “grace and power fills them, permeates and overflows in the recipient’s heart . . . the Mystic Marriage by a Eucharistic rite” can take place—a theme central to most of Waite’s books. At heart this is a sexual mystery of Spirit and Nature, a “polarization of elements,” through which “Divine Life assumed the veils of flesh and blood” and through which flesh returns to Spirit.

This is the essence of Waite’s Secret Tradition that he wrote about in more than a hundred books and articles. He called the communication (or communion) the Eucharist, which is epitomized by the mystery of the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

“The message of the Secret Tradition in the Christian Graal mystery is this: The Cup corresponds to spiritual life. It receives the graces from above and communicates them to that which is below. The equivalent happens in the supernatural Eucharist, the world of unmanifest adeptship, attained by sanctity [Grace].”

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” 1 Corinthians 10:16

Here he speaks more of the Eucharist, first as a higher kind of love, symbolized by the Grail, and then of the loss of “Mystery” to the world:

“The Eucharist is a mystery of the soul’s love. . . . The sense is that love is set free from the impetuosity and violence of passion and has become a constant and incorruptible flame.”

“The Holy Graal . . . is a mystery of the Eucharist in its essence. . . . It is an inward mystery [not found in the official Church]. It died, however, in the consciousness except of a few faithful witnesses, . . . [because when Christ] incarnated, a manifestation of the God within was intended but it did not take place because the world was not worthy, the Graal was said to be removed.”

As Waite saw it, our ability to directly commune with the Divine has been lost. All the official sanctuaries “are in widowhood and desolation,” even though they are “filled with meaning and intimations of meaning.” That is, they give intimations or hints of the mystical journey, which is not available in institutions as it can only be experienced within each individual. The four suits of the Lesser Arcana tell four stories of this loss.

“It must be admitted that the Lesser Chronicles are in some sense a failure; they seem to hold up only an imperfect and partial glass of vision. But they are full testimony to the secrecy of the whole experiment; they are also the most wonderful cycle by way of intimation. Their especial key-phrase is my oft-quoted exeunt in mysterium [“they exit into mystery”].”

“The sources all say the same things differently: “The Holy Sepulcher is empty; the Tomb of C.R.C. [Christian Rosy Cross] in the House of the Holy Spirit is sealed up; the Word of Masonry is lost; the Zelator of alchemy now looks in vain for a Master. The traditional book of the Graal . . . [is] lost, . . . [as is the book] which was eaten by St. John (i.e., The Book of Revelations).”

It is left to the Greater Arcana to chart the soul’s journey along the path of restitution. But that is a separate tale.

Waite claims he wrote The Hidden Church of the Holy Grail as a text-book of a Great Initiation in that there is a secret meaning hidden in these tales of loss.

“So came into being [the Graal stories]. Whether in the normal consciousness I know not or in the subconsciousness I know not . . . that dream of theirs was of the super-concealed sanctuary behind the known and visible altar.”

They point to something that can now only be experienced by the individual in the inner sanctuary of his or her own heart. “Their maxim is that God is within.”

“The history of the Holy Graal becomes the soul’s history, moving through a profound symbolism of inward being, wherein we follow as we can, but the vistas are prolonged for ever, and it well seems that there is neither a beginning to the story nor a descried ending.”

Part 2 explores Waite’s clearly intended and most likely meanings for the specific symbols in the Ace of Cups.

 

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Announcing two Tarot Tours this coming summer in the British Isles. Last year’s trip, Tarot Magic in Merlin’s Britain, sold out early. We are doing it again, with a Tarot trip to Sacred Scotland preceeding it, and a discount if you go on both. Don’t let these journeys pass you by! Sign up before the November 30th deadline. Above is a photo of our private full moon sunrise ceremony in the circle at Stonehenge.

Just two weeks ago I discovered that the hotel where we stayed while searching for Tarot artist Pamela Colman Smith’s burial place, was a hotel she actually stayed at as a young woman. It was in 1897, the year King Arthur’s Castle Hotel opened, with its magnificent roundtable at which we did readings, that Pamela met Henry Irving of the Lyceum Theatre fame. Subsequently she toured with the Lyceum Theatre and designed costumes and sets, getting her nickname, Pixie, from her foster mother, the actress Ellen Terry. Here is what is now called the Camelot Castle Hotel in Tintagel, with Merlin’s Cave in the far bottom right.

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I can’t begin to tell you all the amazing things we encountered on our journey: sacred wells in out of the way locations; stone circles, several of which we had to ourselves; the special fairy glen; a ritual on a hilltop labyrinth; Glastonbury Tor and Chalice Well where Dion Fortune made her home. IMG_2104One of the most magical moments was our using dowsing rods to find what we believed was Pixie Smith’s unmarked grave. Linda dropped her pendulum, hearing it fall. We searched for it in vain, only to have the bus driver when we returned ask who had dropped a pendulum on the bus. It was Linda’s. That night at the Camelot Castle Hotel we used the pendulum to ask Pixie questions about her life – and it was months later that I discovered from one of her letters that she had probably drunk her favorite “Opal Hush” drink in that same bar 120 years before.

The Tarot Magic in Sacred Scotland Tour is

14-23 May 2018

and will feature Tarot readings in sacred sites for gaining insight into your own spiritual journey…readings whose messages will continue to unfold for years to come. Experience:

  • Inverness and surrounding area – Prehistoric Clava Cairns and standing stones, Rosemarkie Fairy Glen, Loch Ness
  • Orkney – Skara Brae, Maes Howe, Stones of Stennes, Ring of Brodgar, archaeological dig on the Ness of Brodgar
  • Iona – Abbey, Nunnery, St Columba’s Chapel
  • Standing stones at Kilmartin.

More information: https://globalspiritualstudies.com/travel/sacred-scotland/

The Tarot Magic in Merlin’s Britain Tour immediately follows on

23 May – 1 June 2018

and takes us to:

  • Stonehenge
  • Avebury and West Kennet long barrow
  • Glastonbury and surrounding area – Chalice Well, the Tor, Glastonbury Abbey, Cadbury/Camelot
  • Tintagel and surrounding area – Tintagel Castle, Merlin’s Cave, St Nectan’s Glen
  • Boscastle – Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
  • South Cornwall – Boscowen-un stone circle, Merry Maidens stone circle, holy wells of Madron and Sancreed.

More information: https://globalspiritualstudies.com/travel/avalon-to-camelot/

Watch this video of our trip, created by Linda Marson, to catch just a little of the magic: 

 

PCS-fr Russian Ballet

Pamela Colman Smith was known for telling Jamaican folk tales about the spider-man trickster figure, Annancy, and also for her toy theatre performances. The toy theatre scene shown below is from her play, Henry Morganbased on a real life Welsh pirate who became lieutenant governor of Jamaica. The photo above of PCS telling a folk tale using her cutout figures was recently discovered by Dawn Robinson in Cornwall glued into a copy of The Russian Ballet.

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Toy theatres were nothing new, as from 1811 they had become a popular pasttime in pre-television, Victorian England (check out this toy theatre site). Below are two newsreels of the original Pollack’s Toy Theatre construction showing how Pamela herself would have made her theatres and especially how she would have used stencils to color her illustrations for “The Broad Sheet”, “The Green Sheaf” and other works.

Finally, join author Ronald Hutton (Triumph of the Moon, Pagan Britain and The Witches) on a tour of modern day Pollack’s Toy Museum and view the Toy Theatres seen in the old newsreels above (view about half way through Hutton’s video).

A photograph of a modern toy theatre using figures from Pixie’s Tarot deck can be found on Pinterest, but since I don’t have the original source for the photo I won’t show it until permission is given by the creator.

Check out this interview with me on The World Beyond Radio Show with Joe Weigant.  If my voice sounds a little rough it was 5:00 am as that was the only time we both could record the show.
Joe Weigant is a paranormal and parapsychology as well as reiki master who is an active police officert. Joe’s experience as a professional police investigator adds to the strength of his investigative findings and the facts that he reports to his clients.

Update: I’ve had more than 600 requests for my Tarot Scrivener template and many responses on how incredibly thorough and helpful it is. Thank you again to everyone who contributed to this blog and to those who have written to tell me how much they love the template. I’m truly happy to provide this service.

Wondering where and how to keep your Tarot journal notebook? I’m offering a free Scrivener template below, but we have such a range of options these days that it’s hard to decide which way to go. I’ve tried almost every journal possibility. Here are questions to ask yourself if you are trying to decide which way to go. I suggest writing down your responses:

  • Do you prefer the experience of pen on paper or the ease of typing?
  • Do you want a fixed record of your Tarot development or the flexible changeability of computer documents?
  • Do you want to be able to carry your journal with you everywhere or do you like setting down at a regular place and time to write in your journal?
  • Do you want your Tarot journal to be completely private or shared (at least in part)?
  • Do you want it to emphasize your own drawings and sketches or be a repository for scans, photos and web research?
  • Is it more about personal contemplation of the cards, recording spreads, or research?
  • Do you prefer working within a well-developed structure or free-form (writing whatever strikes you at the moment)?
  • Would cross-referencing links and tags be especially helpful?
  • Would you like your journal to eventually become the basis of your own book on the Tarot?

Here are the main choices for your journal. Some people maintain several, for instance, recording readings on paper but writing study notes on the computer.

  • A blank-book or spiral notebook. A permanent, developmental record of your progress and the ability to integrate personal artwork and sketches. These are mobile, but sometimes bulky, can be beautiful and let you write and draw with your favorite pens on creamy paper.
  • Computer files. Use your favorite word processor (or consider Scrivener,  Evernote or Notability). With integrated systems and wifi you can switch among desktop and mobile devices with ease: taking, modifying and reorganizing your notes anywhere. Use dictation if you prefer speaking. Integrate photos and links. You can even include audio or video recordings of readings.
  • Blogs. A blog is not just for public sharing. You can set it to private or so only chosen individuals can read it. It can be a great resource especially for reviewing your readings (most recent comes up first) and writing about specific topics. Categories and tags allow you to cross-reference the same cards or symbols appearing in different contexts. Publicly blogging your ideas gives you an incentive to develop them.
  • A 3-ring binder. For those who like hard-copy, you can use a computer, print out the pages and update individual pages as they change. You can add in handwritten notes & sketches on a variety of pieces of paper, even napkins.

What if you prefer a super-organized yet flexible system but aren’t sure where to begin or what to include? Or you dream of turning your Tarot studies and experiences into a book and would like help with how to do that?

Scrivener sample2

I recommend the #1 writer’s resource for computers: Scrivener (for Mac and Windows). If you already use Scrivener then I don’t have to tell you how valuable it is. It is described as a powerful content-generation tool for long, complex writing projects. It allows you to seamlessly view your notes as a corkboard, outline, individual files or a single document. Along with tags and templates these are only a few of the structuring tools. You can work on your computer, tablet and phone, and sync through Dropbox. When you are ready, compile only those files you wish, and print, export to Word, or format directly into one of many eBook and insta-print designs.

To top it off, I’ve created a “Tarot Journal Template” for Scrivener, based on 50 years keeping a variety of Tarot notebooks, converting them into Tarot books, and editing other people’s Tarot books. The full template is hyper-organized into separate card and topic files and has “prompts” (such as for exploring each card’s layered meanings). It can also be easily modified and reorganized to suit your own preferences and needs.

Scrivener example1

List frequently used keywords & correspondences in the Corkboard for instant access.

I’m making this template available for FREE, but if you like and use it, I hope you’ll consider donating any amount to my blog (see the PayPal donate button near the top left of my page). To receive this template, you’ll need to email me:

Click here and type: Tarot Journal Template” into the message box, then send.*
I’ll email you a .zip folder that includes instructions for importing the Tarot Journal into Scrivener.

*I’ve received a disappointing number of requests with emails that don’t work. Please double-check your email address before sending.

Scrivener is very reasonably priced for a computer application prized by published novelists, script writers and academics. While you can begin using the template immediately, you’ll want to check out all the bells-and-whistles that make Scrivener so fabulous. The program has a fairly stiff learning curve but there are many youtube videos and instruction websites that will inspire and assist you. 

I welcome suggestions and recommendations in the comments. 

Linda Marson: Internationally renowned Tarot author and teacher, Mary K. Greer, whose interest in the deck has led her down the path of teaching Lenormand, is a firm believer in the value of the traditional method. She’ll be teaching classes in Lenormand and the Tarot Court in Brighton UK, June 17 & 18, 2017. Click here for information.

Here I talk with Mary about the difference between a traditional and intuitive approach to reading the cards. First up, a reminder of where the cards originated.

Mary K. Greer:  The Petit Lenormand is a deck of 36 fortune-telling cards featuring simple images like a dog, house, and anchor. It first appeared in the 1790s in Germany, and was redesigned in 1845, soon after the death of the French fortune-teller, Mlle. Lenormand. The German publisher simply co-opted her famous name for promotional purposes as was common with occult and fortune-telling works. Although Mlle. Lenormand used a variety of card decks, she never created her own nor did she pass on her reading methods. Used primarily in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Eastern Europe and France and known in the United States in the 19th century, Lenormand cards didn’t achieve the wide-spread popularity in English that Tarot did until very recently.

Linda: What is traditional Lenormand?

Mary:  The Lenormand deck originally came with a single sheet of instructions containing specific card meanings and a single spread using all the cards. Translated into half-a-dozen languages, this sheet was included with every deck until quite recently. The pictures are emblems with specific meanings, rather than symbols with infinite ones. Thus, the meanings and method are clear, well-known and still used today. These meanings focus on general areas of danger and difficulties and of pleasure and success in one’s mundane life with no metaphysical content. They best address questions about what has, is, or will happen, like the plot of a story. Among other things, they can also help with describing people and finding lost objects through identifying particular clues to look for.

Tarot, by contrast, was originally a card game. Divinatory meanings, techniques and occult symbology were added nearly 350 years after its creation. There are significant variations according to different authors. Each symbol on a Tarot card can have an infinite number of references held together by a broad, allegorical theme. Tarot is used as much or more for spiritual guidance and personal development as it is for fortune-telling.

Linda: I’ve heard a lot about so-called traditional Lenormand versus intuitive Lenormand. What’s this all about?

MaryAt heart is the idea that one can either read the cards by following a rigid system or by using the cards as a trigger to one’s own intuitive impressions or psychic messages. Psychic messages come from an external, non-physical source. Pure psychic (extra-sensory) information doesn’t need an external tool, except, perhaps as a focus, so one isn’t really “reading Lenormand.”  Traditional and intuitive approaches aren’t mutually exclusive. The best traditional readers are intuitive!

Intuition, which is based on an instantaneous leap or perception of a meaning or pattern based on the sensory evidence and experience, benefits from knowledge about the tradition, which limits possibilities and lends precision and concreteness to an answer. Personal assumptions, bias and opinions can easily be taken for intuition, so a cross-check mechanism is beneficial. Intuition works best when it perceives patterns in the data laid before one; prior knowledge helps you see relevant meaning in those patterns. Like learning a foreign language, at some point you forget the rules and individual words and find yourself speaking fluidly.

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Cards from a Russian deck: the Lilac Twilight Lenormand.

Most traditional readers are very intuitive. Once you know the meaning and methods of the cards you can see at a glance what the cards are saying, plus you can double-check your insight by briefly reviewing the roots and, in larger readings, checking other cards related to the question to see if there are counter-indications. Furthermore, other traditional readers are likely to draw the same conclusions—you speak the same “language.” I saw this happen when a friend and I were looking at her Grand Tableau at a conference. Over two days we asked several different Lenormand readers (who had learned independently of each other) what they saw, only to have them report almost identical observations.

I’ve followed hundreds of personal readings in on-line study groups and found that the majority of interpretations reported as accurate were by traditional readers. Whereas those who confessed they were just saying what they “felt” were rarely spot on. Additionally, these “intuitive-only” readers often answered predictive questions (“Will I pass the exam?) with advice rather than a prediction, a teaching rather than a description. For instance, instead of seeing indicators of whether the querent would pass the exam or not, the intuitive reader might say, “I feel you’re over-stressed and not getting enough sleep. Have some camomile tea tonight and know that you’ve done everything necessary to get the result you really want.” It’s nice advice, but it doesn’t answer the question, and may have little or nothing to do with the traditional meaning of the cards.

The traditional method of reading Lenormand is to read all 36 cards in a layout known as the Grand Tableau. Modern traditionalists often use shorter layouts that are segments of the Grand Tableau, allowing one to focus on a very specific question, using a specific syntax for clarity. Cards modify other cards according to explicit rules. Intuitive-only readers tend to go with their “impression” of whatever strikes them most strongly. Or they may favor Tarot-like spreads where each card is interpreted separately in terms of its position meaning. There’s a tendency to see the good in negative cards and to seek a positive outcome or perspective. Traditional Lenormand, on the other hand, can sometimes be quite harsh, telling one definitively what he or she didn’t want to hear.

Linda: Can you give me an example of a traditional interpretation?

MaryI’ll go one better and compare three approaches. I’ve posited the querent as a man who wants to know “Should I hire this particular applicant for a job opening?” Three cards were drawn at random:

8-Coffin – 15-Bear – 28-Man

From Madam Morrow's Fortune Telling Cards (New York: McLaughlin Bros., 1886).
Madam Morrow’s Fortune Telling Cards (New York: McLaughlin Bros., 1886).

Original Tradition Reading

The Man card always refers to a male querent. (If the querent is female, Man is her significant other). The first card on the left is the subject. Coffin means illness, financial loss, endings. The nearer Coffin is to the person (Man) the more serious the situation is (here it is very near!). Bear means good fortune but cautions against envious persons. Being right next to a strongly negative card of loss (Coffin+Bear), Bear says the querent should be cautious of an envious person who has recently experienced great loss. We look at the cards both as a sequence, in terms of what modifies what, and also as three pairs:

  • Coffin+Bear: sickness; envy and jealousy. The applicant may have experienced his own loss: of a former job, money or health. 
  • Bear+Man: the querent’s good fortune creates envy in another (Bear is modified by a negative card). 
  • Coffin+Man: a recent loss on the part of the querent. Coffin could indicate a simple “no, don’t hire the person” but might also point to the fact that the loss of one employee has necessitated the hiring of another.

Answer: “No; you are cautioned against hiring this person.”

Modern Tradition Reading

Modern referents have been added to the traditional ones in order to fill in the gaps and make the cards a little more concrete. But, while some variations occur, the core meanings should always show through.

Man is still the querent. Cards to the left of Coffin show what is lost (money, health, etc.), while cards to the right may indicate a new beginning. (Modern thinking has added the meaning of box or container to Coffin but that’s not applicable here.) Bear has accrued meanings of strength, power, authority and stored money (invested or saved), while keeping the warnings about envy and jealousy. He appears “hungry following a loss.” Additionally Bear can indicate one or both parents or grandparents (among other authority figures). Given a different question these cards might point to the loss of a parent; it’s worth checking. The subject is still Coffin; the next card modifies the subject, like an adjective, indicating financial loss or loss of strength. The Man (querent) needs to be careful as this new applicant is not a good risk. At worst, he might embezzle money from the firm or try to overpower the querent (be “overbearing”).

Answer: “No; this applicant could cause problems for you and the company.”

From the Piatnik Lenormand Cartomancy Deck
From the Piatnik Lenormand Cartomancy Deck

We can see that the modern traditionalist has a little more latitude for interpretation and the possibility of richer details of which an intuitive person can make much. Someone who really knows their core meanings can easily check the story they’ve intuited against the original meanings for verification.

Intuition-only Reading

This could go so many different ways, yea or nay depending on the story being told, so here’s just one possibility.

Answer: “Since the company lost an employee (Coffin), you now have an opening for someone new (Coffin is in the past). Bears are strong, powerful and this applicant has appeared at just the right time to fill the opening. Bears can be very protective and take care of their young. He’s authoritative and, since Bear means money, he will bring lots of money into the firm. He’s a good investment for you. It’s like you’re closing the door on the past and someone strong is coming in. See, your losses are over. We see him (Man) at the end arriving at the office for his first day at work.”

This person knows some meanings for the cards but not all of them; it’s kind of hit-or-miss, but once a story element is discerned it tends to be elaborated upon; subsequent elements are fit into that original scenario, like the wicked step-sisters trying on Cinderella’s shoe. Emphasis is on the cards by themselves in past, present or future positions, rather than modifying each other. At times the card’s art is scanned for symbolic possibilities. The tendency is to “over-answer” the question and try to convince with too many details.

A traditional short reading requires a quick survey of card keywords, integrating them into fresh concepts according to a syntax or structure, to determine a succinct, specific, concrete answer to the question. In addition to a full Grand Tableau, Lenormand works well as an adjunct to Tarot where a quick Lenormand layout can clarify things that came up in the Tarot reading.

Linda: How does one become a traditional reader?

Mary There are both websites and online study groups at Facebook (search on Lenormand) and several recent books in English (check Amazon for books and decks). Or, best yet, take my introductory course in Brighton UK on June 17!  

Finally: practice, practice, practice.

Agatha Christie’s detective, Miss Marple, said she solved crimes by recognizing the characteristics of people she knew well from her own small village.

Come to my June 18 class on the Court Cards to hone your skills (details at the end of this post).

What if each of the Court Cards was a suspect in an Agatha Christie murder mystery? Why don’t we call it, Murder at the Tarot Symposium! Sixteen is a lot of suspects, so let’s whittle down the possibilities. That’s easy because it’s one of the Court Cards who’s been killed. I shuffle my deck and the first card off the top is the Queen of Cups reversed. Sorry, Isabella Donati. It seems you fell down a steep flight of stairs (3 of Pentacles is the next card), right in front of two of the Court Cards, the Queen of Wands and Knight of Swords who were standing at the bottom of the stairs. They saw a hidden figure stick out a booted foot forcing the lovely Ms. Donati to fall. That leaves thirteen suspects.

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Four teenagers, the Pages, who were newbies at this symposium, were at that moment being admonished by the Queen of Swords for bad-mouthing one of the presenters (9 of Swords). So that’s five more who are out, leaving eight.

The King of Cups reversed was in the bar – drunk as usual, telling his maudlin story to a High Priestess. Meanwhile, the Knight of Cups tried to extricate himself (8 of Swords reversed) from a lecture on the “true” history of Tarot by the argumentative, know-it-all King of Pentacles (5 of Wands). 

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That leaves five.

The King of Wands is followed by the Ace of Cups. He’s a passionate man who carried a torch for the beautiful and dreamy Queen of Cups, although she hardly deigned to take her eyes off her tarot deck to look at him. Hadn’t he offered to get Ms. Donati a cup of water?

The King of Swords, described by the 6 of Pentacles, was dispensing his definitive opinions to the vast unwashed masses via a podcast, so he’s out, isn’t he, or was the podcast pre-recorded? He didn’t like that students preferred Ms. Donati’s intuitive skills to the logic of his teachings.

The Knight of Pentacles reversed is a tee-totaler (4 of Cups reversed), supposedly off meditating in the retreat room. But I think a gift he’d brought Ms. Donati had been rebuffed.

The Queen of Pentacles reversed was doing voice exercises (Judgment) before her presentation on coming out of the closet as a tarot reader. Hadn’t she called out the blond-haired Ms. Donati in the past for being too blatantly revealing?

Last of the 16 and represented by the final two cards in my shuffled deck, the Knight of Wands, although young and impulsive, had considered Ms. Donati to be his special mentor (Hierophant). He had recently run off when he found her tutoring others. 

Who do you think murdered Ms. Donati, the Queen of Cups? And why?

I’ll be teaching workshops in Brighton, UK on 17-18 June, 2017, including a Court Cards class and a Lenormand class. If you are in England at that time, you won’t want to miss these experiential sessions where we seriously learn as well as have fun! I hope to see you there. Sign up now at GlobalSpiritualStudies.com

wilhelm-hauschild-miracle-of-the-grail
What, you might ask, does the Cornwall of Merlin’s Britain have to do with the Tarot? And why am I leading a tour there? To join this unique tour, sign up by January 31, 2017 at Global Spiritual Studies.

Pamela Colman Smith, artist of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck died in Bude Cornwall, just north of Merlin’s Tintagel, in 1951. Smith owed a considerable sum of money so that all her possessions, including her artwork, was sold at auction to pay the bills. Prior to living in Bude she lived at the far end of Cornwall in a place called The Lizard, where she ran a vacation home for Catholic priests. Waite, Smith, Merlin and even King Arthur all share a major part of Britain’s magical past, with their stories converging in Cornwall and Glastonbury, which we will explore on this tour.

Colman Smith001 copy

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H. J. Ford

We will visit Tintagel Castle, the birthplace of Arthur that came about through Merlin’s magic, and the supposed burial place of Merlin. We even hope to find the lost burial place of Smith herself.

‘Marvellous Merlin is wasted away
With a wicked woman:–woe might she be!
For she hath closed him in a crag
On Cornwall coast.’

The Death of Merlin by Ernest Rhys (1898)

The Minor Arcana of the Tarot by Pixie (her small stature and dark coloring led her to declare herself of fairy blood) is in a style quite different from that of the Major Arcana. A look at the late 19th and early 20th century Arthurian and Grail artists depicted in the University of Rochester’s Camelot Project, demonstrate that the Minor Arcana is of this artistic tradition. Could there be a reason for this? I believe so, as stated by Waite himself when he wrote that the Ace of Cups (the Grail) “is an intimation of that which may lie behind the Lesser Arcana.” Waite also named the Knight of Swords Galahad. This should not be surprising as the same year the deck was published also saw publication of Waite’s book, The Hidden Church of the Holy Grail. This work features a chapter titled, “The Hallows of the Graal Mystery: Rediscovered in the Talismans of the Tarot,” specifically on the Minor Arcana of the Tarot (each suit is one of the four Grail “Hallows”) with no mention of the Majors! On the tour I will reveal how Waite envisioned the Minor Arcana as rough outlines for a quaternity of ritual pageants depicting a great Spiritual Loss, while the Major Arcana represent the path of Mystical Attainment that’s at the heart of the story of Glastonbury and Cornwall. Come join me, Linda Marson of Global Spiritual Studies, and tour guide and author extraordinare, Jamie George, of Glastonbury’s Gothic Image Bookshop and publishing house, on a tour you’ll never forget.

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Florence Harrison

 

“What does he (or she) think (or feel) about me?” In the whole field of card divination this is one of the most asked questions online and one of my least favorite. In my experience people are a hotbed of conflicting thoughts and feelings that change from moment to moment and circumstance to circumstance. To say nothing of one’s head and heart giving us different messages! You think of your sweetie with longing as you anticipate going out with him that evening, then he calls to say he’ll be watching a game with his buddies instead. Suddenly you think he’s a scumbag and plan how you won’t be available when he wants some. Meanwhile, you’re facing an evening at home alone. Or, “he hasn’t called in a week—not since . . .” Or, “I want to ask her out, but am unsure if she sees me as anything other than an annoying co-worker.”

An old booklet from the 1890s might have just the spread for you. Taken from the Livre du Destin or Book of Destiny card deck printed by Grimaud in Paris, this simple layout may be exactly what you need. Furthermore, it may have been an inspiration for the core of the original Celtic Cross spread. I’ve included some clarifying remarks in brackets.

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Livre du Destin (Chartier-Marteau & Boudin/Grimaud), 1890.

“How To Read Somebody’s Thoughts”

“After shuffling and cutting the cards, ask the person to choose any five of them, and lay them down as follows:

“The first is laid across the blank one, which represents the person whose thoughts you are reading.” [Choose a Significator for that person. Next, fan the shuffled deck, and have the querent choose a card which you lay across the Significator.] “This shows what his heart is feeling.”

“A second one is laid at the top, and shows his thoughts.”

[These first two cards—following the Significator—depict what is consciously going on in the person’s heart and head.]

“Another is placed at the bottom, and represents what he tramples under foot.” [This is “beneath him”—the more unconscious feelings or thoughts that he (or she) is squelching or ignoring.]

“On the left is what he is fond of and on the right what he cares nothing for.” [That is, what he likes and dislikes in the querent.]

Try this with your favorite divination deck and let us know, in the comments, how it works for you.

 

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Mary K. Greer has made tarot her life work. Check here for reports of goings-on in the world of tarot and cartomancy, articles on the history and practice of tarot, and materials on other cartomancy decks. Sorry, I no longer write reviews. Contact me HERE.

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