The first question anyone will ask you if you ever let it be known that you are interested in tarot cards is, "Can you tell my fortune?" If you admit that you actually own a deck, then of course the request becomes a demand. For what is the use of owning a deck of tarots if you don't know how to use it?
Therefore, before embarking on a study of the deeper and darker aspects of tarot cards, you will quite obviously need to know how to use them in the way that the average tarot enthusiast does: as fortune-telling devices.
The origin of fortune-telling by cards dates back many centuries. In the past it was taken very seriously by the illiterate diviner, for it was a method of finding out one's future by means of pictures and thus eliminated the need for being able to read and write. The more educated practitioner generally relied on more sophisticated methods of divination, such as astrology. He used the tarot as well, but in a slightly different way.
But how can rational persons in our day believe that a deck of playing cards could in any way accurately reveal the future or the solution to a knotty problem? If they do, and many highly intelligent people believe they do, then the key to the riddle of why the tarots should work probably lies within the mind of ma" himself rather than in the cards. Basically, the tarot cards are nothing more than mirrors in which, if you know consciously aware of, but which the deeper, unconscious part of your mind in some mysterious manner already knows.
We shall look into the "whys" of this process later; for the moment let us consider the "how."
Before you can begin reading tarot cards, you obviously must first obtain a deck if you don't already have one. Not only must the deck appeal to you, but the card designs must be striking enough to impress themselves upon your imagination sufficiently to transform them into effective deep mind mirrors. So when you begin looking for a tarot deck, give yourself a chance to select one of which you approve. Don't buy the first one you happen upon. You must end up buying one which satisfies you and only you. Ideally, one should design and make a deck oneself. With this in mind, many devoted tarot practitioners obtain the Paul Foster Case deck in black and white line drawing and paint them in themselves, like a child's coloring book. The principle behind this is one of identification. Your tarot deck must become part of you. However, if you don't feel up to making or inking in one for yourself, simply purchase one of the many decks available at bookstores..
In selecting one, let yourself be guided by your own instinct. If you have an eye for color,' the Rosicrucian Waite-Coleman Smith deck may catch your attention. Ancient Egyptian enthusiasts will relish the pack put out by Zain, while cabalists will perhaps be more drawn to the Wirth or Harris-Crowley deck. Traditionalists will probably want to stick with the Marseilles deck or one of the Italian packs. However, whichever you decide upon, make sure the choice is your own and not that of the shop salesman or merely "the only pack they had left." This is most important. If you really have no preference, then choose the one which seems to catch your eye most.
Once you have bought your deck—without bargaining over the price, if you want to be true to the oldest tradition of witchcraft—take it home, set it out in front of you and take a good look at it. You will notice that it is considerably thicker than the regular deck of cards. This is because it has twenty-five more cards in it. You will see that the individual cards are also larger in size. If you have bought an English, American or French deck, you will see that the picture cards (trumps and court cards) are full-length, rather than double-headed and reversible like regular playing cards. On the other hand, if you have bought an Italian deck, you may find that the double-headed reversible card has been introduced. In this case you will have to make a small mark on the card to show which end is its top and which its bottom. When you start divining with the cards, you will find this has a relevance, for the card may have a different interpretation when upside down.
As you examine your pack, you will notice that the cards fall into five distinct sets: first there are "Coins" or "Pentacles," disklike symbols sometimes containing five-pointed stars; then there are "Swords"; "Cups" or "Chalices," gobletlike symbols; and "Rods" or "Scepters," sometimes called "Wands." The court cards also carry these mysterious symbols. They are the king or master, the queen or lady, the valet or page (the knave or jack in a regular deck) and the knight. The knight is always a man seated on horseback. In early decks he was sometimes represented as half man, half beast, like the legendary centaur. But nowadays he is shown simply as an obvious knight (Figures 1-5). The court cards are directly descended from the idea of a feudal court ruled by its lord and lady who are attended by both the favorite page, who is master of arms, and their jousting champion. In this context the lesser cards of each suit are immediately comparable to the subjects of the lord and lady, in much the same way that the pawns of a chessboard "belong" to the king and queen of their own color. Indeed, the similarities between the figures of chcss and European playing cards are so striking that there have been various attempts to correlate the two systems—none has been particularly successful, however.
Figure 1 Figure 2
If you buy an Italian deck, you may have difficulty in distinguishing the Rods from the Swords at first. They are very similar. Just remember that the Swords generally curve in these decks, while the Rods are depicted as straight.
After checking off the four minor suits, you will see that twenty-two cards remain. These are the ail-important tarot "trumps," the so-called Major Arcana. Notice that they progress from number one to twenty-one, with a single card left over— the Fool, usually left unnumbered or simply labeled zero. Often the numerals on the trumps will be Roman—the Arabic zero of the Fool being the one exception.
Having satisfied yourself as to the contents of your tarot deck and that there are indeed seventy-eight cards in it, you must now familiarize yourself with the individual cards.
One of the easiest ways to do this is simply to play games with them, either regular card games or games of make-believe.
The latter is the method by which the occult practitioner gets to know and "activates" his deck, but if you don't feel yourself able to take such a radical step back into the world of childhood yet, the former is just as effective. Exploring the tarot is always more rewarding if you can get one or two of your friends interested in participating. To play tarot games this is more or less essential, although with a little ingenuity tarot games of solitaire can be devised using the trumps as a fifth suit.
The best way to get acquainted with your cards is by playing either the game of "triumphs" ("trumps") or the simpler game of Pelmanism, the rules for which will be found at the end of • *
Once you find you can distinguish the cards from one another, you may take your familiarization process a step farther. Begin associating the figures portrayed in your trump and court cards with people you know. In the case of the trumps, base
your classification of type upon the primary import of each card which you will find described later. For instance, you may associate the card Justice with a judge you know personally or may have faced; a lawyer or agent with the Juggler; a personal enemy of yours with the Devil; a wise counselor whose judgment you trust with the Pope. With Death you might associate a mortician; with the Empress a mother image; and with the figure standing in the Chariot someone serving in the police force or the armed services, and so on. The court cards should also be associated in this manner, but we shall list some of the types of person traditionally linked with each of them farther on.
To get the most out of your tarot deck, each one of the cards should mean something special to you. This should not begin and end with the traditional meaning ascribed to the card, but rather each should be an expression of some part of your own experience and have some special relevance for you. This is why one tarot diviner very often will not attempt to interpret the cards selected and laid out by another for a third party.
So, ideally, as a budding tarot reader who plans to take his art seriously, you should begin living with the cards, weaving their characters and the attitudes they portray into your every day life in much the same way that a child will do with his storybook characters. One of the best ways to do this is to compose stories or playlets around each tarot trump before falling asleep at night. After closing your eyes, using the little figure or picture on the card chosen for the evening as a starting point, deliberately let your imagination wander, as you would do normally before sinking into sleep but maintaining enough alertness to guide it gently back to-the central image again if once it gets too far off course. Persist in this, and you will find yourself beginning to become involved in a curious dialogue between the random images being sent up by your deep mind and the fixed point provided by the tarot picture. After a very short time you will find that the card is calling up certain associative images which will be your own personal reactions to it. Repeat this exercise on at least three successive occasions for each card, noting the recurring symbols that the image calls up. They will always be tr,aceable to past associations and memories, but by linking them naturally with a tarot trump, you will in effect be building up your own shorthand system for divining in the manner that natural-born psychics do. Never mind that the images and ideas that drift together seem totally fabricated and arbitrary. Tarot images are archetypes and perform in a characteristic, seemingly autonomous manner when left to their own devices, apparently picking the right associations out of the storehouse of the deep mind. Deep calleth unto deep; like associates with like. This is the manner in which archetypes work. It is these associated images which will become the meanings you attach to the tarot trumps when they turn up in a reading.
When embarking on your little nocturnal fantasy trips, try to make use of all your imaginative senses to build your picture. Actually strive to feel the heat radiating from the solar orb depicted on the Sun, or the cold mist rising from the dew pond in the foreground of the Moon. Hear the crack of thunder and lightning playing about the turret of the Dark Tower. Really invest your imagination in the fantasy. This is where the secret of magical success lies, as any practicing witch or warlock will tell you. You may use the descriptions of the cards to be found later as guidelines to start your tarot story. Don't worry about remembering the details of the fantasy—if you happen to drift off to sleep in the middle of it, so much the better.
As you will have realized, there is no absolutely fixed meaning to any one card. Each reader will form his own interpretation based upon intuition to begin with, and later experience will enlarge upon it. This initial dream exploration process is nothing more than an incursion into the intuitive levels of your mind. You will in effect be metaphorically exploring some of the seven-eighths of the iceberg lying beneath the waterline of your consciousness. The tarot image is the one-eighth that remains above. When you begin to deal the cards for a reading, if the preliminary work of exploration and activation has been accomplished properly, the images will stir your deep mind, which in turn will start feeding up hints to you about the subject in question.
An occultist's view of the nature of reality presupposes the notion of planes or "layers" of significance and possible awareness. The higher or farther you get from the everyday here-and-now layer, the less meaning concepts such as "time and space" or "you and me" begin to have. Thus, at a certain point of ascent it is possible, according to this theory, to gain access to areas which in the here-and-now world are categorized as "someone else's memories" or "tomorrow's events," in the same way as you would your own or those recollections of yesterday. The famous speculation of John Donne that "no man is an island unto himself" from a psychic point of view is very true.
In addition to this psychic exploration of the cards, you as a beginner should also carry the cards with you as often as possible, either collectively or singly. The intent here is one of incorporating your "magnetism" in them. Far from being kept hidden and sacred, as in priestly traditions of cabalistic magic, the tarots should become an extension of you, as much a part of you as the fingers of your hand. Another verygood suggestion is to sleep with them by the bed, with the card you are presently working with tucked under your pillow.
You may find the pip cards of the Minor Arcana the most difficult to deal with initially. Whereas the symbols used in the trumps and to a lesser extent the court cards are fairly obvious, those cards from two to ten in the Minor Arcana really give no hint of their meaning, except perhaps to someone familiar with numerology or the cabala.
Though not so easy to characterize, each pip card does acquire a definite personality for the tarot reader over the years. Apropos of this I should point out that the pictorial designs for pip cards shown on the tarot deck designed in the 1900's by Pamela Coleman Smith are entirely the fabrication of her colleague, Arthur Edward Waite, owing little or nothing to tarot tradition. Historically, tarot suit cards just portray an array of emblems and nothing more. However, Waite's cards will work well enough so long as the tarot reader is prepared to subscribe to the Rosicrucian doctrines from which Waite drew his inspiration. The trumps in his deck remain unmolested for the most part, and that is the important point. For the Major Arcana trumps illustrate psychic evolution and deeper states of mind.
Because of this ambiguity in interpretation, the traditional meanings are sometimes written on the face of the revelant pip cards by the beginner to aid him in remembering which meaning he has selected. But whatever meaning you settle on will be entirely up . to you. There are several equally acceptable traditional interpretations to choose from. The one I shall now deal ' with may be the oldest. It is prevalent throughout Italy and some parts of France.
What do the cards all mean?
These are the primary meanings attached to each tarot card for the purposes of fortune-telling. Along with each definition there is an alternative interpretation to be used when the card turns up reversed in the layout. You will notice that it is frequently the opposite of its right-side-up meaning. Although this method of reading the cards is generally employed nowadays, it is a relatively modern innovation.
The Fortune-telling interpretations attached to the trumps or Major Arcana
The Fool—anarchy, freedom, existentialism, intoxication Reversed—madness, carelessness, stupidity, nihilism The Juggler, Magus or Magician—cleverness, skill, subtlety
Reversed—deceit, thievery, lies The Female Pope or High Priestess—The Jungian anima, the muse, the goddess, silence, intuition, virginity, the querent if female, the object of his affections if male Reversed—treachery, feminine hostility, enforced virginity, bitterness, the evil eye, the sorceress The Empress—fertility, mother, benefactress, kindliness, health
Reversed—dissipation, overindulgence The Emperor—benificence, father, benefactor, development, action
Reversed—paternalism, tyranny, authority The Pope, Hierophant or High Priest—the Jungian animus, the guardian angel or higher self, the god, spiritual counsel, wisdom, occult power, the querent if male, the object of her affections if female
Reversed—bad advice, male hostility, the false prophet, overindulgence
The Lovers—beauty, love, attraction, emotional trial resulting in success for the querent
Reversed—frustration in love, failure of the querent to succeed in trial The Chariot—war, courage, victory, vengeance Reversed—defeat, arguments
Fortitude—self-discipline, success, action, strength
Reversed—tyranny, obstinacy The Hermit or the Old Man—prudence, circumspection, delay, consideration, caution
Reversed—concealment, dissemblance, unnecessary caution, inertia
Wheel of Fortune—destiny, worldly luck, success
Reversed—ill fortune, failure Justice—cquality, equity, balance, control
Reversed—bigotry, bias, severity, legal complication The Hanged Maw—self-sacrifice, wisdom, intuition, divination, involvement, initiation
Reversed—release, futile gesture of sacrifice, selfishness Death—end, mortality, transformation
Reversed—death, inertia, change, putrifaction Temperance—combination, moderation, management, economy
Reversed—discord, disunion The Devil—unavoidable event—will turn out well
Reversed—unavoidable event—will turn out badly The To wer—catastrophic overthrow, usually in favor of the querent
Reversed—catastrophe to detriment of the querent; imprisonment The Star—hope, expectations, gifts, promises
Reversed—false hope, false promises The Moon—fluctuation, illusion, occult forces, intuition
Reversed—delusions, mistakes, inconstancy, vacillation The Sun—joy, rebirth, success
Reversed—the same to a lesser degree The Last Judgment or Angel—renewal, outcome, final change, result
Reversed—delay, postponement, unsatisfactory result, sentence
The World or Universe—ultimate success, public recognition, glory, honor, reward Reversed—permanence, establishment
The traditional meanings of the individual cards of the Minor Arcana*
(Things to do with work and creativity)
Ace—activity, beginning, wisdom, initiative, male libido
2—novelty, turmoil, restlessness
3—cooperation, collective enterprise, good start
4—standstill, family bond, demands of society, refuge
5—wealth and success
7—skillful exchange of ideas, good communication
8—stability, understanding, a rural matter
10—treachery, undermining influence, travel Page—bright youngster, informant, good news Knight—change of residence, departure, emigration Queen—astute woman, honesty, business transaction King—clever man, honesty, good advice
(Things to do with love, pleasure, sensitivity and fertility) Ace—passion, inspiration, pleasure, fertility, regeneration
4—satiety, surplus of enjoyment leading to boredom
5—inheritance, gift, something passed on
6—end of relationship, past memory, nostalgia
8—gentle attachment, casual association
9—total fulfillment, complete success
10—home life or homeland; cards adjacent indicate final outcome
•A reversed pip card generally reverses its upright meaning. If it is ominous to begin with (viz., 3 of Swords), reversal undoes its harm and may signify an end to the condition. However, a reversed court card is always hostile to the querent.
Knight—lover, rival, seducer, a proposition or message Queen—sensitive or creative woman, wife, mother King—sensitive or creative man, bencfactor, husband, father
(Things to do with stress or authority)
Ace—authority and stress
4—solitude, retreat often caused by health or finance
5—loss, affliction, bereavement, defeat
6—struggle, turmoil, travel
9—unmarried or unattached person, unseen complications or adversaries
Page—a spy or rival, deceit Knight—a fighter, struggle, strife Queen—woman in authority, a widow, dour, sad King—man in authority, judge or critic, severe
(Things to do with finance, economics, stability or burden) Ace—prosperity, abundance
2—monetary obstacles, need for financial dexterity
3—status, earned esteem, honor
4—material benefits, acquisitiveness
5—"head ruled by heart," business loss through emotions
6—largesse, handout, gift, allowance
7—ardent pursuit of wealth, greed
9—economic rewards, prudent success
10—stable home, family life, the house
Page—crass young materialist, dull person, avarice Knight—useful person, hard worker, perseverance Queen—wealthy woman, mother, security King—wealthy man, father, slow deliberation, stability
Once you feel you have familiarized yourself with your deck of tarots, do a trial reading. You'll need a guinea pig. Ask a friend to volunteer. Find out beforehand if he has a troublesome problem, but make sure he doesn't tell you what it is, Tell him to think about it while he is drawing the cards which form the basis for his reading. Don't worry about making a fool of yourself when you start the reading. You are bound to make as many errors as hits at first, but you will soon start to get the right feeling when the cards begin "speaking" to you and triggering your intuitions correctly. This can be a very exciting moment. Your concentration will become very intense and your perception acute.
In the final analysis, it is not so much the pattern of the layout which counts but the frame of mind of the reader. Therefore, it is desirable for the reader to achieve a feeling of detached, introspective calm, a "wise passivity," as it has been called. To do this he will have to dampen down the activity of his conscious mind. The cards as they are turned up must be allowed to flow into a story. The reader will find that this will be the point at which his previously experienced fantasy associations will begin to crop up again. However, he will also find that :ne juxtaposition of several cards, as opposed to their single separate use, will begin to produce new aspects and new associations hitherto unexplored. Likewise, another's presence during the reading will also tend to bend the narrative in a certain direction.
In order to make a quick entry into this light state of dissociation, many tarot readers practice an initial small series of deep, rhythmic breathing exercises. If properly done, these will help your body to relax and the rhythm itself will relax the mind. Take a deep, slow breath, mentally counting to four as you do—deep enough to expand your chest, but not so deep as to cause discomfort. Hold it for another count of four, and then expel it slowly to a further steady count of four. As you reach the end of the exhalation, gently but deliberately push your stomach out. This forced abdominal expansion ensures the gradual relaxation of the area of your nervous system known as the solar plexus. Hold this state for yet another count of four and repeat the exercise. This rhythmic breathing can be kept up for a minute or two; the sign of success is that feeling of withdrawal similar to the one experienced before falling asleep: a sort of alert state of relaxation.
You "may also find that a warm drink of tea or coffee helps greatly. Many cartomancers tend to find that most alcohol dampens the intuitive processes. Brandy, however, seems to be an exception, though its stimulus is short lived. However, again this is a matter of personal experience. Not everyone reacts the same way. ' v^
Now most, if not all, tarot readers accompany this process of "centering down" with an introductory ritual of some sort, ranging from simply choosing a "significator" or even just cutting the cards to a lengthy cabalistic invocation like "the Opening of the Key," borrowed from the Order of the Golden Dawn, whose teachings and origins we shall touch on later:
Thee I invoke, IAO, that thou will send HRU, the Great Angel that is set over the operations of this Secret Wisdom, to lay his hand invisibly upon these consecrated cards of art, that thereby we may obtain true knowledge of hidden things, to the glory of thine ineffable Name. Amen.
This is an obviously Rosicrucian formula drawing on Gnostic sources such as the Great Name of Power, IAO. Here it is used to call upon the services of the angel HRU, probably "Heru," an old variant of the name of the Egyptian falcon-headed god Horus. In this instance, HRU represents the higher levels of being of the person consulting the cards, or the "querent." In Jungian terms one might refer to this as the "self," the inmost, transcendent portion of a person's being. However, complex prayers are not essential. Whatever your inclination, whether a committed occultist or merely someone interested in reading tarot cards, your next step is simply to choose the significator. The significator is the card which is initially decided upon by the reader to represent the inner mind of the person who is consulting the cards. When specific details such as financial events are required, thus placing the divination more in the area of mundane fortune-telling than anything else, the significator is taken from among the court cards of the Minor Arcana, which represent the outer personality rather than the inner self. This is where your early practice of mentally linking the court cards with "types" comes in handy. Some readers allow the querent to select for himself which court card will represent him. I have always felt that the choice should be in the hands of the reader, as it is in him that the chief responsibility for penetrating the unseen lies.
On the other hand, when the matter inquired about requires an in-depth, all-embracing study, then the significator should be a card representing the deep self of the inquirer. This card will be drawn from the Major Arcana, thus leaving twenty-one major cards remaining at liberty.
For a man the traditional card to choose as significator is the Pope (sometimes called the Hierophant or High Priest in modern decks); for a woman, the Female Pope (High Priestess). As we shall see later, the Pope is an old Christianized version of the sky god Jupiter, the All Father. Papa, the Italian word for pope, simply means "father." Another even earlier name for this great god is Jano, and according to ancient tradition the guardian angel or higher self of a man in Latin countries was known as his "Jano" or "Genio." Similarly, the Female Pope represents Pope Joan, a legendary medieval woman who miraculously became pope. "Joan" is the anglicized version of the name Jana or Juno, the celestial goddess and consort of the All Father. The guardian spirit said to be set over the destiny of a woman was referred to as her "Juno."
In small tarot deals, the significator is generally put in a central position, with the other cards taking up their places around it, like satellites around a central sun. In larger deals, especially those requiring the entire complement of seventy-eight cards, the significator remains within the pack and is sought out as the marking point for the beginning of the divination.
Having selected your significator, your next task will be to address yourself to the problem of adequately mixing the cards. If you are performing the divination for yourself, you alone will be responsible for shuffling the deck. If you are reading the cards for someone else, both of you should take part in mixing them. Your object here is to introduce as much chance and randomization into the cards as possible. Theoretically, the ideal system is one which combines the maximum of mechanical rituals, such as rhythmical dealing and counting out, with the maximum of randomization through shuffling. You must fully permeate the cards with both your own and the querent's magnetism by this initial ritual, at the same time allowing "the gods" the fullest opportunity to intervene and arrange the cards to their dictates. One of the systems which accomplishes this best is probably the "forty-two," a method used by Italian witches that I shall discuss later. However, many practiced readers quite effectively dispense with all but the most perfunctory shuffle. ' , |
After the cards have been selected, they will be laid out in a pattern known as a spread or layout. There are a great many of these to choose from and some are better than others. Which method suits you best can be found out only by a process of trial and error, depending on how well you are able to cope with the cards themselves. The more suggestive the cards are for you, the more complex method you can use. However, if you are new to tarot I would strongly advise you to begin with one of the simpler layouts. Then if you find it fails to answer enough of your queries, move on to a more complex one. But don't start with the complicated ones. They will only confuse you and cause you to give up in despair.
It is best to memorize the various layouts so that you can perform them without even thinking of where the cards should go. Don't worry about cards dropping or being misdealt, although your querent probably will assume that any "mistake" made will change his reading for the worse. Your main concern at this point should be to maintain the correct dreamy state of mind and to not consciously place known cards in known positions. Let the cards fall or spill as they will, but carry on regardless. Your attitude must be one of "the gods are guiding my hands." Some diviners even use the upset cards as a basis for a subsequent reading. You would be surprised how casual and simple a divination by a tarot master can appear to the uninitiated. The famous nineteenth-century cartomancer Marie-Anne Adelaide Lenormand, much in demand at the French court owing to the uncanny accuracy of her predictions, was said simply to have cut the cards to produce a reading for clients.
While on the subject of shuffling the deck, it would be as well to-return briefly to the topic of "reversed" cards. According to many present-day diviners, a "reversed" upside-down card may connote the worst side of the image's character, analogous to a "retrograde" planet in astrology. The reading of a separate meaning for a reversed card consequently doubles the available single interpretations of the tarots—theoretically, instead of 78 variables, you would be dealing with 156. This notion of reversal only came into tarot interpretation with the advent of the cabalist school in France, along with its theosophical speculations of Diabolus est Deus Inversus ("the Devil is the mirror image of god"). According to medieval traditions the cards meant the same whether reversed or dealt the right way up.* From a practical point of view, the complexity involved in shuffling the cards to ensure definite reversals, the subsequent deal (Do you flip the cards over when you deal them? Should they be counted as reversed according to the position of the querent or the diviner? How do you tell whether the pip cards are reversed or not?) can become very complicated for a beginner.
•See Le Ingeniose Sorte, Venicc, Marcolino, 1550«,
If you feel that the more modern method of interpreting reversed cards negatively won't floor you, then go ahead and use it. Most people do. The cards must speak to you personally, and your own intuition must be the last arbiter as to which method you adopt. Cartomantic rules are only rule-of-thumb guidelines which have been evolved over the years.
A good way of accomplishing such card reversals simply is to make a random "pool" of the deck face downward on the table after the initial shuffle and cut. The cards should be stirred around by the querent and then single cards drawn one by one and handed to the reader with one end or the other pointing toward him. On receiving the card, the reader should take care in turning it face up to preserve its orientation exactly, reversed or right way up, before positioning it on the layout.
According to the traditional meanings attributed to the cards, we saw that not all reversals are bad. A reversed bad card may undo its harm! It becomes a "negated negative." But one last word of caution: Whether you choose to regard reversals as bad omens or not, remember the cards are not, and never will be, mechanical counters which will dial you out an answer to your problems like a computer. They are simply stimuli to start your own powers of ESP and intuition flowing.
Once the cards have been well shuffled to the satisfaction of the reader and querent alike, the traditional termination of the process is performed by means of a triple cut made with the querent's left hand. The cards should be divided into two heaps, a larger and a smaller, and the larger of the heaps divided again into two heaps, roughly equal in size. The three heaps are then restacked, again with the left hand, in any order the querent wishes. We are now ready for the layout.
Basically there are two types of tarot layouts: those which follow a preset pattern and those which don't. The first 1 shall categorize as divining "with a framework/' the second as "without a framework."
Working with a preset framework is by far the easiest method for a beginner, although as you grow more adept you may be inclined to discard such devices and work solely intuitively, using the entire deck and waiting for the appropriate cards to pop out at you from the array—to seize your attention of their own accord during a reading. But this really is advanced work, and there is nothing ignominious in relying on a framework, however practiced a diviner you may be.
The framework or pattern that the cards are dealt out in may best be compared to the mandalas of Indian mysticism. Parts of the pattern will refer to different things like past, future, hopes and fears. Serious tarot readers will often employ a special tabletop or cloth to deal the cards on. These are occasionally painted or embroidered with a design composed of a combination of the various frameworks they intend to use. If a cloth is used, black silk is frequently chosen, traditionally regarded as a good insulator from magical vibrations and thus providing a protected area into which the cards can be dealt—an idea having much in common with that of the sorcerer's magical circle. The designs of these cloths vary from person to person. A diviner may well employ one embroidered with a hexagram (a six-pointed Star of David) a circular, twelve-house horoscope chart, a large equal-armed cross symbolizing the potent tetragram, or simply a triangle circumscribed by a circle. Cards dealt on the latter are sometimes referred to as being dealt "in trinity." When not in use, the cards themselves are often wrapped in the silk cloth to protect them from contaminating vibrations.
Apart from merely cutting the pack at random, the simplest layout is a gypsy method involving three cards: the significator —already selected—and two others which the querent draws at random from the deck (without looking at them beforehand, of • course). (See Figure 6.) The first of these traditionally repre-
sents the querent himself; the second, a situation or person he is about to encounter.
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