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This spring I am again involved in Magical Tarot tours of the British Isles. But I want to speak here about communing with the land, which we will focus on even more on this year’s journeys to “Sacred Scotland” and “Merlin’s Britain.” These are things you can do in your own community as well as sacred sites—a city park can be as good as a meadow or forest. Even buildings have their energies and stories. Your intention may be to gain knowledge about nature, the land or the place: past, present or future. Or you may be on a quest for personal insight. I’ll mention just a few of my favorite methods that can be used separately or together.

FINDING A POWER SPOT

Go to your place of engagement. 

mini waterfalls

With or without shoes, move slowly, with your intention in mind, using your breath to enter a meditative state of open awareness. 

Open all your senses and try to determine a flow or confluence of energies. This energy focus may be found in trees and plants or landmarks or even sounds or air flow. Some people use kinesiology, a pendulum or dowsing rods to assist them.

One time I was walking by a forest stream with many little waterfalls and found myself going back and forth until I came to the exact spot where all the ambient sounds seemed to join together equally in perfect balance and harmony. O Ecstasy of the spirit!

Step Pyramid

A second example was following a nighttime ritual inside the Egyptian Step Pyramid at Saqqara. Standing in the outer temple complex I walked around until I found myself triangulating a position at the juncture of the energies of the pyramid and two other structures. Once I found it, I looked up and the full moon was, just at that moment, cresting the top of the pyramid, resting on its point. When this kind of magic happens I quietly express my gratitude and try to enter into oneness with the place.

dowsing

Dowsing for Pamela Colman Smith’s grave in Cornwall

YOUR TAROT GUIDE

Take the Major Arcana from your favorite Tarot deck to a place that intrigues you. You’ll probably want an intention in mind. For instance, you may ask to be guided to a power spot or to receive information about the place or its history, or to get insight regarding a personal concern. Get comfortable. Select a Major Arcana card as your guide either randomly or by conscious choice. If in doubt, select the Hermit.

Gaze at your card until you can recreate it in your mind’s eye while speaking your intention. Close your eyes and breathe in the place while asking your guide to come to you. What appears in your mind’s eye may or may not look like a figure on the card. If it doesn’t, then ask if it is your Tarot guide or sent by your guide. Once a figure is affirmed, ask for guidance regarding this place or the knowledge you seek. Be sure to thank and release this guide and return fully from the parallel astral world in which you met.

NATURE AS ORACLE

communing with stone

Communing with the central Boscowen-un Stone

Select a special rock, piece of plant or wood, or other object (I’ve done this with trash found on my walks!). If possible, hold or touch this “other” and speak aloud. Describe it as thoroughly and objectively as you can—no metaphors or symbols—but rather colors, shape, texture, smell, even taste—all the concrete and subtle details. Next, describe its energy affect and attitude. Is it distant or welcoming? Open and yielding or harsh and inflexible? Whimsical or practical? Or some combination of things? Ask if you can enter into it (the “it” is now a “thou”) and, if you receive an affirmation, then become this other being, stretching or compressing yourself into all it’s nooks and crannies. Let your human self ask this nature-being your question and let it speak what it has to convey. Express your gratitude and remain a few moments in that place of emptiness that follows purpose, for the greatest gifts often reside there.

 

communing with roots

Diving deep into the roots of Avebury

Check out this video by Martin Shaw. Although a promo for his new book it is really an inspiration for walking the hills with consciousness. https://youtu.be/d0T7UP1U1Ts. Thank you, Carrie Paris.

I invite you to join me, Linda Marson of GlobalSpiritualStudies and Jamie George of Glastonbury’s Gothic Image Books and Tours on our special journeys this coming May. Register now to get special rates, information and view fabulous videos in the links below.

us at stonehenge

Tarot Magic in Sacred Scotland – 14 May to 23 May, 2018
Tarot Magic in Merlin’s Britain – 23 May to 1 June, 2018
London Workshops with Mary Greer and Linda Marson – 12 & 13 May, 2018
Linda Marson’s Tarot Nav: GPS for Life, courses
Interview with tour leader extraordinaire, Jamie George

What happened to the Visconti Devil cards since they are missing from every 15th century Tarocchi deck?

Early Devil

As other cards are missing from these decks I never gave it much thought until Ria Dimitra, the author of the 2006 supernatural romance novel Visconti Devilsinvited me to read her book. Her novel is an enjoyable, easy read about a modern Tarot artist who is intrigued by the mystery—why did none of the original, fifteenth century Renaissance Devil cards survive? There are no Tarot readings in her book, but the early history of the cards is well portrayed with no glaring errors, which is a remarkable feat in its own right.

Synchronistically, I had no sooner finished the book than I was perusing Andrea Vitali’s scholarly articles at LeTarot.it and read new evidence for the use, five centuries ago, of Tarot in witchcraft. I invite you to read what I wrote here about the 16th century Venetian witchcraft trials using the Devil card. Vitali’s article adds many interesting details (see first link at the end of this article).

It seems that when a lady wanted to satisfy a sinful lust or coerce an unresponsive gentleman, she knew it was inappropriate to appeal to Heaven and so she would make her appeal to the Devil, sometimes in the church itself. In a reversal of the regular prayers, the woman would place the Devil from the Tarot pack on a shelf “ass up,” with a lighted oil lamp having a wick from the bell cord of a church held upside down. Hands were to be clasp together behind the back making the “fig” gesture. With hair down, she would recite the “Our Father” for three consecutive nights. Sometimes blood and bones would be included and both hanged and ‘quartered’ men were called on.

convicted-heretic-before-the-inquisition-wearing-a-samarra-engraving-ew3n19

When caught, the punishments were relatively mild considering that these women could have been killed for their actions. Instead, their superstitious rites were seen more as a feminine weakness brought about through the sin of lust. One woman, Catena, was, among other indignities, publicly pilloried with a miter on her head (see the miter used as an indication of heresy in the picture on right). The miter was inscribed with a sign saying she was condemned as a witch (striga) for the magical use of herbs (herbera). This ironic use of the miter, usually worn by both bishops and pope, is reminiscent of the late 15th century Sermones de Ludo Cum Aliis (“Steele Manuscript”) in which La Papessa in the Tarot is described as “O miseri quod negat Christiana fides”: “O miserable ones, what [with respect to which] the Christian faith denies” (or, as several online translators offer, “O wretched that denies the Christian faith”).”

But, as to our opening question, there is no way we can know for sure what happened to the earliest Devil cards (if they even existed). However, it is interesting to speculate based on likely scenarios.

According to Vitali’s research it seems that Emilia “took a tarot card, and it was the devil, that she stole for the purpose.” It appears it may have been a requirement of this magic rite that the Devil card had to be stolen. Could this be why the Devil card and, perhaps a few of the other cards, are missing from all the earliest Tarot decks?

The use of images for invocation was common at this time, based on the belief that the image stood as a surrogate for the being depicted—that there was a direct physical connection between the image and its referent. Furthermore, early woodcut Tarot cards were produced in the same print shops as saints cards and may even, on occasion, have been substituted for each other. 

Girolamo Menghi in Flagellum daemonum (1577) recommended the physical and verbal abuse of images of the devil as an operative way of impacting evil spirits. Subsequent guides to exorcism followed Menghi’s lead, calling for the exorcist to draw or paint the devil’s portrait, along with his name, and then burn the paper. Such “exorcism by fire” evolved into the bonfires of vanities, especially at what was deemed the devil’s feast of Carnival. Fredrika H. Jacobs in Votive Panels and Popular Piety in Early Modern Italy further explains, “It was believed that the pain inflicted on the image was transferred to and experienced by the devil.”

Similarly, as we’ve seen from the court records in Venice, the devil could be invoked to grant wishes that were unworthy to be asked of the holy family or the saints. Invocations of entities through images by persons or in situations other than those ordained by the Church was regarded as superstition, witchcraft or heresy. 

Sola-Busca 3 of Sw

In the Visconti-Sforza (Pierpont-Morgan/Brera) deck only four cards are missing: The Devil, The Tower, Three of Swords and Knight of Coins. It’s easy to imagine a ritual invoking the Devil to punish the Knight of Coins with the desctructive Tower because of a betrayal or heartbreak depicted by the Three of Swords (see the Sola Busca deck on right).

What do you think?

 

For further details read:
“Tarot and Inquisitors: In the Serenissima and Trentino, between ‘witches’ and ‘Diabolical Priests'” by Andrea Vitali, translated from the Italian by Michael S. Howard.
“The Conjuration of the Tarrocco: A magic ritual in sixteenth-century Venice” by Andrea Vitali, translated from the Italian by Michael S. Howard.
“Tarot and Playing Cards in Witchcraft” by Mary K. Greer.
Votive Panels and Popular Piety in Early Modern Italy by Fredrika H. Jacobs.
Also read the following discussion of early evidence of divination with Tarot including ruminations on the subject by the translator Michael Howard:
“Il Torracchione Desolato: A card-reading sorceress in a poem of the XVIIth century” by Andrea Vitali, translated from the Italian by Michael S. Howard. 
 I highly recommend the numerous translations and articles by Michael S. Howard on historical Tarot. A directory to where they can be found is at: http://michaelshoward.blogspot.com. I am so grateful to him for all he has done to make Italian, French and out-of-print sources available to us all.

 

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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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