Tarot of the Holy Light

The Tarot of the Holy Light

Author: Christine Payne-Towler

Edited by: Michael Dowers

Artist: Michael Dowers

Noreah/Brownfield Press

2011

“The Tarot of the Holy Light” is an independently produced deck from Christine Payne-Towler and her partner, Michael Dowers. It is an absolutely incredible project, with an in-depth companion book ready to go to print. Where to start … this is a traditional deck. A traditional Continental-style deck, I hasten to add. Christine might smack me if I didn’t make that evident! It is, after all, the foundation for this project! The astro-alpha-numeric associations for this deck are not those of the Golden Dawn (which is the basis for most modern decks). It is also the first Continental-style deck of the 21st century.

The associations for the trumps from this deck are keyed to the astral values taught in the Masonic lodges of Europe, and brought into the public light by Ettteilla in a veiled manner, as Christine writes, that was consistent with his times. The full system was brought out in the book “Divinatory Tarot”, by Papus. Christine also notes that the Pips (numbered cards) and Court Cards are distributed in a classic astrological pattern. (Note: For ease of use, the signs, planets, and elements that rule them are marked on each card.)

The traditional names have been used for the Major Arcana, with the following exceptions: Magus (Magician), Priestess (High Priestess), High Priest (Hierophant), and Tower of Destruction (Tower). Justice is VIII, with Strength at XI. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Disks. The Court Cards are Queen, King, Knight, and Page.

The deck comes in a sturdy cardboard box with a lift-off top. The imagery on the box (by artist Patrick Dowers) shows a female figure standing in a window, framed by green curtains. She is wearing a long sleeved, high-necked white blouse, and a brown pinafore, with a cross at her neck. She is holding a red heart in front of her, in both hands, with beams of light emanating from it. Birds and flowers adorn the sides of the image. One gets a literal feeling of Holiness when looking at the box.

The deck is a traditional 78 card deck, with two extra cards: one with the details of the companion book, as well as Christine’s first book, “The Underground Stream”. The second extra card gives the details for the deck, and has a lovely flowered vine running up the left hand side, ala the Marseilles tradition.

The deck is accompanied by a twenty-four page LWB (Little White Book), entitled “Tarot of the Holy Light User’s Manual”. Do not ask me why I heard the Star War’s theme when I read the title, but I did! The LWB comes separate from the deck, but fits nicely in the box once it is opened. (The deck and LWB were printed separately.) The background for the deck is touched upon, and Christine has shared some suggestions, such as noting where the Tarot cards fall in the reader’s personal astrological chart.

She also recommends shuffling in a manner that guarantees reversed cards. I do not read with reversals, so I will set that suggestion aside. She also gives the position meanings for a twelve-card reading, but does not offer a reading template, leaving it up to the reader to create their own. She also makes another interesting suggestion – to take the cards from one reading and place them (in the same order) in several different spreads.

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The cards are presented text only, no scans. Upright and reversed meanings are given. In-depth information can be found in the companion book, which will be coming out in both soft cover and hard back copies.

The cards themselves are 3” by 5”, with what is termed a linen texture. I noticed this immediately, and had to ask Christine what that was. I described it to her as “looking like linen”, and was very surprised to hear that that was the term used to describe it! Held up to the light, fine linen-like lines can be seen. The texture itself makes the cards less slippery, and easier to handle. Kudos for making this choice!

Michael did just an astounding job with the artwork, which is collage art in very intense colors, referencing the art of the 1600’s. The card backs are done in black and white, with a little Sun glyph (with a smiling face) in each corner.  There is a white border, with the image itself showing what appears to be a quarter moon with a face at either end, with a sun in the middle, light radiating from it. At first glance the backs are reversible, but if you pay close attention, a good reader could tell if they were upright or reversed. The theme for the backs is that of a doorway into the cosmos, with the Sun representing the material world, and the Moon representing the celestial world.

The card faces show a white border, with the card information at the bottom of the card. For the Major Arcana, we see the card number, title, and astrological glyph. For the Court Cards we see the card title, suite, astrological sign and glyph. For the Pips we see the card number, suit, degree and sign, and the glyph for the astrological ruler.

One thing that Christine pointed out to me was that Michael placed her initials at the top of the card that represents her – the Queen of Swords! I had to get my magnifying glass out, but they are there! What a nice thought! Other cards of interest to me (well, they were all of interest to me, but these stand out) include the Hierophant, which shows a male figure, arms outstretched, sun touching one hand, moon touching the other, and the Hanged Man, who is hanging from an ouroboros, with a triangle of seven golden circles behind him, with an eye in the middle of each one.

The Ten of Disks is an incredibly active and colorful card, with a Tree of Life focus. Strength has to be my very favorite card – the female figure carries her own power, especially the power of voice, but the small lion in front of her is wearing a very ticked off look – probably due to the green leaf he is wearing on his head!

The Ten of Cups shows beautiful green leaves, a golden sun in the middle of the card (with an eye in the middle of the sun), with a beautifully colored esoteric above it. The Two of Swords shows two swords – upright on the left hand side of the card, reversed on the right hand side of the card. There is a sun at the hilt, and a moon at the point of each sword. There is a reversible esoteric graphic positioned betweent he swords.

The Two of Disks shows a circle of moons, with a red and a green whorl in the center of the card. The World shows a female figure, in a red gown, standing on a graphic of the earth. The Sun is in the upper left hand corner, with the moon in the lower right hand corner, and glyphs for the seven planets to the lower left of the earth.

The Fool shows the sun, moon, and a standing figure with what appears to be a mythical figure at his feet. The Wheel on the Wheel of Fortune is a beautiful red ouroboros, with the traditional glyphs in the four corners of the card.

I love this deck! It offers esoteric symbology in a systematic manner that is interesting, but not overbearing. It will open up thinking on astrological attributions, A good choice for esotericists, those interested in art, and those who work with the astro-alph-numero associations.

Deck can be purchased here: http://www.tarotuniversity.com/2011/09/tarot-of-the-holy-light-deck.html.

© September 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Interview With Christine Payne-Towler – Part IV

Interview With Christine Payne-Towler – Part IV

Welcome to Part IV of my interview with Christine Payne-Towler.

Christine came under my radar in the “way back when” days of Tarot-L, when the excitement was during the midnight hours, where the “names” slugged it out. Since then, Christine has published the seminal work “The Underground Stream”, designed the online Tarot reading program for www.Tarot.com, founded the Tarot University Online (www.tarotuniversity.net), and began publishing a monthly newsletter entitled Arkletters (www.tarotarkletters.com).

Christine’s focus is on promoting the understanding and study of Tarot from the point of view of its astro-alpha-numeric content, in particular its roots in the esotericism and magic of the Renaissance. She wants to make sure that the original impulse that birthed the Tarot is not lost to the twenty-first century. Her latest project is a Tarot deck and companion book (The Tarot of the Holy Light), being made in conjunction with her partner, Michael Dowers. This could be the very first truly new Continental Tarot deck to be published in the twenty-first century.

 

Christine is a keynote speaker at the upcoming Association of Tarot Studies conference in France, where she will be presenting her latest research in a talk entitled “Alchemy, TheoSophia and Tarot”. She will also be introducing her new deck, with the companion book to appear shortly thereafter.

For more information on Christine, and to read the body of her work, go to http://noreah.typepad.com/about.html.

BC: This question is really for Michael. How did you become involved in this project, and how did the artwork evolve?

 

MD: From the very first days I met Christine she was talking about and showing me these images she had collected of alchemical engravings from the 1600s. These intrigued me right off the bat as I’ve always had an interest in old black and white engravings and what priceless collage material they could potentially be. As a student of art and art history these engravings reminded of the work that the great surrealist Max Ernst did and always wanted to try my own collages using this medium. One day Christine and I sat down and talked about what visual elements could be used to create a tarot card and I sat down using PhotoShop and whipped out the design for the Devil card. We were quite delighted with the results so I went on to another card, and then another, and before you know I was hooked and completely compelled to do the whole deck. 4 1/2 years later we had a tarot deck.

 

After all is said and done, this experience was extremely intuitive for me. As I went on creating each card I became more and more sensitive to the material. One by one the images were being created from a deeper place inside me. The last couple of years it seems the cards were created by an invisible hand that pointed in certain directions. Many times I felt like an empty vessel, as though someone was watching over me, guiding my hand and my thoughts to create a finished image.

 

CPT:Let this be stated for the record; I didn’t have to give Michael a lot of suggestions or dictate his every artistic decision — far from it!  I set him up with a few references that I know to be trustworthy, and I also gave him a few rules to follow in the course of framing his ideas. But he’s the one who burned the midnight oil, poring over my library of magical art to find the ideas he wanted to portray. More often than not, I was the last one to know what would be on the face of the card!

Michael’s background makes him a perfect appreciator of the flash-card method of idea delivery. I have reasonably good taste and I know what I like, but he actually understands how to take a flat image and give it depth, how to express motion, how to lead the eye and arrange the elements of a larger thought so a person could comprehend the nuances. There are images in this deck that make my heart skip a beat every time I see them!  And of course, he was standing in the footsteps of the esoteric master-artists of the Renaissance, who collectively changed our understanding of what can be conveyed through the sacred image.  This whole pack is largely an homage to their visionary creativity.

That being said, there are aspects of these cards that clearly betray Michael’s personal journey as an artist, and the unique aesthetic  he developed during his years as a book editor in the cartooning and graphic novel world. Certain things he tailored to my preferences, for example the incredibly lush  palette of colors which please me so much to gaze upon and fall into.  But at every level of these compositions, Michael’s visionary imagination is at work, making a unique magical world for users to enter and move around within. There’s a thousand hours in every card, some many more. Every pixel has been laboriously inspected and corralled to make these collages come together so smoothly. If admirers of this pack take the art of the Tarot of the Holy Light  as seriously as people have done with the Waite or Crowley packs, they will find layers of fascination and instruction hidden in these images.

BC:  What were the rules that Christine gave you, that you used to assemble the cards?

 CPT:

1) No human faces on the numbered Pips. They represent Natural Laws. We could have angels, animals, the “hand of God”, but not people.  Also, accent on the geometry of the numbers instead of plucking people’s emotional strings all the time. I wanted a quality of objectivity or detachment to prevail, at least in the Pips.

2) Something unique for the reader to fix on if a card is reversed compared to being upright.

3) Please minimize the horrible chrome orange or bloody red colors. I have an aversion to Tarot cards full of stress and carnage, which I discovered after I bought the Solleone Tarot and had to give it away because of all the blood!  I want my ‘holy blood’ to stay within the Grail Chalice, please! This also connections with the reason I dislike the Sola Busca Tarot as well — too much testosterone, thank you very much!

4) The Fool can stand at the front or the back of the sequence (he does both), but the Magus starts the Alphabet at #1.

 

BC: You and Michael very graciously allowed me to view a few of the cards from your upcoming deck. Where did you get the inspiration for the color scheme that you used?

 

CPT:  I wanted to look into the cards and see Great Nature, so that was one of the design criteria. We happen to live in a veritable paradise along the Columbia River in America’s Pacific Northwest, so watching the seasons change out our windows  provides daily inspiration. Our soundtrack is birdsong and farm animals, so we live in an ambiance that is reminiscent of the less-developed times and circumstances of the Reformation era.  And of course, Michael was collaging with ingredients derived from the landscapes that appeared in the Alchemical illustrations, which  provided a range of seasons, times, and animals.

 

BC: Let’s talk about the Hermit!  I love the Sun as the lamp, and the red robe the Hermit is wearing! How were these choices made, and  what is encircling the Hermit’s robe at his feet?

 

CPT: This card is a perfect example of Michael including more in the images than he was consciously aware of. The creature circling the Hermits feet is  the terrestrial Leviathin, the worm  or water-serpent of  material time.  There are actually two Leviathins, the terrestrial (female) one being associated with the Serpent of Genesis. Overhead is her mate, the Aeonic serpent called the “teli”,  marked out by the  constellation Draco. This constellation surrounds the ecliptic pole in the sky, having stars in all 12 signs of the Zodiac. The Hermit is in communication with both the spirit of time and the spirit of transcendence as a result of his yogic cultivation.

 

MD: It was my goal to try and go beyond the typical stereotypes of the tarot, to find new combinations of images to tell the stories of the cards. This whole pack is about the Light, so using a sun instead of a lamp helped me show the old man offering the world a new millennium of cosmic light. As to the red robe — he’s a yogi and has accumulated a lot of life force through his practice. Don’t mistake the white hair for a loss of vitality, far from it!

BC: The Ten of Disks follows the Tree of Life graphic. What is the reasoning behind this?

 

CPT:  I’ll have to leave the question of “reasoning” to Michael, as in my memory he didn’t show me this image until it was nearly complete. However, it looked perfectly natural to me, because 10 is Malkuth, complete manifestation of the Kabalistic Tree. Also the suit of Disks as a whole represents what the Kabbalists called “Asiyyah, the world of Action”, the place where all the ramifying consequences of movement in the upper sworlds are registered in time, space and matter. A phrase sticks in my mind from a childhood TV commercial — in the 10 of Disks, “you get what you paid for”.

 

MD: I was trying to look through the older forms and see what’s on the other side of them. Past versions weren’t discarded entirely — you’ll see echoes of older packs all through The Tarot of the Holy Light.  In Christine’s library I’ve seen the Tree extended to show it’s expanse over the 4 Worlds of the Kabbalists.  I was trying to take that idea one step further, and make every station of the Tree a world of its own. That included a search for symbols to express the character of the Planets. Finally there was the issue of spreading the rainbow across the descending Tree. That took me several nights of pondering!

 

BC: The Three of Cups is very graceful with the center heart, and the three golden cups. How did that come about?

 

CPT: This is a fragment of a larger engraving from  Jacob Boehme, found in Theosophische Wercke, published in Amsterdam, 1682. The title of the engraving is Christi Testamenta,  and its a meditation on Boehme’s cardinal theme of ‘turning wrath into Love’.  Michael lifted out the upper half of the image, where the Divine Heart assumes the cross of matter, emanating through the descending triangle of Light (the heavenly Sophia).  What you don’t see on the card is the lower half of the image, as the central shaft of the cross penetrates down through an upside-down heart inside an upward-ponted triangle of flames. At its base the shaft takes the form of the trunk and roots of a tree which sinks into the earth and buries itself in the globe of earthy condensation.  Meanwhile two branches  rise from the trunk to support the two winged, one-eyed vessels that catch the effulgence pouring out of the Divine Heart.  The downward-looking eye on the left represents the practical and unemotional Mother Pillar of the Kabbalah tree, whereas the upward-looking eye with the tear trickling out represents the repentant and devotional consciousness of the Father Pillar. Michael positioned the cups so that they would cradle the two eyes and the Dove.

This diagram is meant to illustrate how the judgmental Wrath of the Old Testament Jehova (the fire triangle rising from the earthy side) is  penetrated and healed by the descending Light of the Logos (Christ/Sophia, symbolized as the Dove). The Dove fearlessly enters the Wrath and stills it, quenching any drama held in the Pillars and bringing the opposites into harmony at last. The rising vine ripe with grapes is reminiscent of the self-fulfilling Sacrifice which must be accomplished anew in every heart. According to the Protestant Theosophers, when the Triangle of Light (Love) fully penetrates and absorbs the Triangle of Fire (Wrath), we will have “a new heaven and a new earth”, both personally and collectively.  We talk about these ideas more fully in the book for The Tarot of the Holy Light, as this theme is at the heart of the Spiritual Alchemy the Boehme taught and which spread through the Rosicrucian, Masonic and Martinist Lodges of Europe thereafter.

 

BC: What do you want people to know about the Continental Tarots, and why you are bringing this tradition back into the mainstream?

 

CPT: The Continental Tarots are the vessel that the first 500 years of Tarot mysticism was cultured in. We moderns are not unique in our projection of spiritual, psychological and emotional meanings onto the cards, far from it. As soon as the 78-card pack appeared in Europe, people began making correspondences to it and using it as a “philosophical machine”, in the tradition of the Llullian Wheels, astral charts, Geomantic oracles, and all the rest.

 

What is particularly striking about the Tarot of the Holy Light  is that it represents the spontaneous upwelling of authentic Christian gnosis that is devoted to the Divine Feminine (in the person envisioned as the Holy Spirit). In my opinion the Tarot as a whole is the testimony of the Religion of the World as practiced by the polymorphous-perverse Catholic and Protestant magi. These devoted scholars refused to let go of the Goddess whether She is envisioned as Anima, Mother of God, Sophia, Soror Mystica,  Divine Lady, Schekhihah, Matronit, or any other form or designation.  The Tarot of the Holy Light is just one attempt to vision forth this larger worldview. Hopefully, it will make the job easier for those who come after me to delve into the times and worldview with greater confidence.

To state this case systematically, I recently made a two-hour set of DVD’s with Linda Marson’s Global Spiritual Studies to talk about the emergence of the Goddess in the traditional Tarots. I wanted to research the body of ideas that produced icons like the Priestess, Empress, Strength, Temperance, the World and the Queens in the European psyche. The two lectures are:

a) the formative ground of western civilization before 1400 (the date of the first pack of cards with female figures found in Europe), and

b) the proliferation of magic imagery after 1400, showing the this older Goddess mysticism spilling into Tarot packs.

I didn’t spend a lot of time on the details of Boehme’s unique synthesis of Sophianic occult mysticism during those two presentations, since their goal is to address the larger context wherein Protestant Sophianics appeared. The whole remarkable story is shared in the book supporting The Tarot of the Holy Light.

 

BC: What final words do you have for our readers?

 

CPT:  There is one final thing I’d like folks to know. When I first discovered the Tarot, there were very few books around to explain it. There was so little on the art of divination that I used these instructions for years: “Ask a question while you are shuffling, throw out a few cards, and then make up a reason why these cards came up.”  Truthfully there’s actually more to work with on the faces of The Tarot of the Holy Light than there were in the first decks I learned from!

Therefore the cards and LWB that come with it are simple and don’t require that one purchase the book. One will see the standard numbers, suits and titles, plus Michael’s luminous and evocative illustrations. Each card is supplied with simple zodiacal references that explicate the  Cosmos of the pack (Zodiac, Planets and Elements) across the three populations — the Trumps, the Royals and the Pips.  This is a fine framework for a contemporary Tarot reader to work with in the divinatory style of our times. Also, people who have my first book The Underground Stream will have a head start to the deeper implications of these cards. Over time the user can incorporate the astrology,  plus bring their understanding of Number Theology, Kabbalah and Elemental Magic to bear.

Nevertheless, all of that can also be easily ignored, due to the fine iconic statements made through the images. Michael has done a masterful job  of conjuring a magical world full of energies, emotions, transformations and awakenings, which should offer the sensitive user plenty of fuel for their divinatory instincts. I’m not inclined to burden the world’s Tarot-card intuitives with a complicated constellation of esoteric considerations right out of the box! I hope people, find themselves attracted to the Tarot of the Holy Light for it’s beauty and usefulness in the context of a reading, because that’s the proof of the pack’s practical value right there.

Nevertheless, there is a deeper esoteric paradigm embedded in these cards, which allows the Tarot of the Holy Light to calculate and render remedies from the discipline of Spiritual Alchemy developed by Paracelsus and brought to a mystic peak by Jacob Boehme.  I have argued in other places that Tarot has been one of the tools that the Rosicrucians, Martinists and Masons have cultivated for centuries, long before Etteilla re-profiled it for the masses.  The research done for this pack of cards has brought this material up to the surface again, particularly while meditating on the art inspired by the writings of Jacob Boehme. This is a very big and deliciously esoteric subject, absolutely not suitable for treatment in a Little White Book! Therefore, the full discussion and explication of the theurgic astral-medicine paradigm that invisibly supports The Tarot of the Holy Light will be found in its accompanying book, which is soon to emerge.

Don’t get me wrong, I think everybody who enjoys this Tarot should also buy the book, hands down  That’s where you’ll find the full treatment of every card , which the regular user will benefit greatly from. Plus I unveil a little-known but incredibly influential Goddess-focused magical Christian theosophy that has come forward from the 1600’s. This rich complex of astral-alchemical archetypes has doubtless contributed to Tarot’s interior universe of meanings, at least within the Lodges of the 16- and 1700’s.  But, as they say, there’s more! (Smiley) Here’s a clue to tantalize your readers, Bonnie. There is a detail in the progression of the Pips from 1 to 10 that people who are astrologically and/or Kabalistically attuned will notice and wonder about. It will be invisible to many, but glaring to a certain group who will trip over it and wonder.  At the point a user of this Tarot stumbles upon this detail, when it starts to intrigue their mind and stir up questions, then it’s time to get the book if they haven’t already. That will be the point to investigate the Paracelcian Astral Remedies that are the secret powerhouse of this pack.

I want to thank both Christine and Michael for their time and effort in bringing us a better understanding of the Continental Tarot. I can’t wait to work with both the deck (which is gorgeous!) and the companion book!

Part I can be seen here – https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/interview-with-christine-payne-towler-part-i/

Part II can be seen here – https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/interview-with-christine-payne-towler-part-ii/

Part III can be seen here – https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/interview-with-christine-payne-towler-part-iii/

 

© September 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Interview With Christine Payne-Towler – Part III

Interview With Christine Payne-Towler – Part III

Welcome to Part III of my interview with Christine Payne-Towler.

 

Christine came under my radar in the “way back when” days of Tarot-L, when the excitement was during the midnight hours, where the “names” slugged it out. Since then, Christine has published the seminal work “The Underground Stream”, designed the online Tarot reading program for www.Tarot.com, founded the Tarot University Online (www.tarotuniversity.net), and began publishing a monthly newsletter entitled Arkletters (www.tarotarkletters.com).

 

Christine’s focus is on promoting the understanding and study of Tarot from the point of view of its astro-alpha-numeric content, in particular its roots in the esotericism and magic of the Renaissance. She wants to make sure that the original impulse that birthed the Tarot is not lost to the twenty-first century. Her latest project is a Tarot deck and companion book (The Tarot of the Holy Light), being made in conjunction with her partner, Michael Dowers. This could be the very first truly new Continental Tarot deck to be published in the twenty-first century.

 

Christine is a keynote speaker at the upcoming Association of Tarot Studies conference in France, where she will be presenting her latest research in a talk entitled “Alchemy, TheoSophia and Tarot”. She will also be introducing her new deck, with the companion book to appear shortly thereafter.

 

For more information on Christine, and to read the body of her work, go to http://noreah.typepad.com/about.html.

 

 

 

BC: In your article on Continental decks, you noted that one of the hallmarks of the Continental esoteric stream of decks is the inclusion of certain titles or phrases, which are quoted from the Fratres Lucas treatise on the Arcana. You also mention the Egyptian style of art in many of the Continental decks. Can this be considered a characteristic of Continental decks?

 

CPT:

 

All righty then, you asked for it! A short history of the subject will now ensue:

 

Yes, the way you can trace the influence of the Fratres Lucis manuscript through history is by listening for a certain manner of speaking, a certain patrician tone and style of framing the advice of the card. All of the packs that have been inspired by this lineage put the user on the hot seat, demanding an examination of conscience and suggesting that  one’s flaws are the source of one’s current difficulties. This is a very different attitude than the approach usually taken in the Tarot parlors of the era, where the emphasis was much more on prediction and forecasting rather than therapeutic or spiritual introspection. The idea of using Tarot for self-examination and personal growth was not in currency before Etteilla forced the issue by quoting the Fratres Lucis MS in his Trumps.

 

 

We know now that in Etteilla’s time a body of Trumps-teachings was already well-known in Europe, as a result of the circulation of a manuscript which, for lack of knowledge of its real title, is  referred to as the Fratres Lucis manuscript. According to Manly P. Halls’s Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians, this MS traveled among the Masons and Rosicrucians since at least the mid-1600’s. There’s more reporting on this subject in the article written by Dr. Lewis Keizer for The Underground Stream. Also among the ArkLetters one will find more information about the transmission of esoteric doctrines from the Middle Ages and Renaissance to the Tarot magi who are closer in time to ourselves. It seems that Etteilla was making a settled body of learning available beyond the Lodge context, which I have to think was a sanctioned activity, because his name and reputation have remained unsullied in the records of the Orders in France.

 

After Etteilla died, the works of his students carried the legacy forward. Julia Orsini and D’Odoucet wrote Little White Books for the various editions of Etteilla’s decks, and his Italian students reconnected his pack to the full esoteric canon that Etteilla taught in his private classes. I’m told that Etteilla’s extended group of works is still available in it’s original French, but it remains largely untranslated beyond the current re-release of Papus’ Divinatory Tarot.  If more of his works could be translated we should be able to see the degree to which his broader body of teachings were augmented with materials he obtained through his Martinist and Masonic connections.

 

 

In 1870 a book  called The History and Practice of Magic emerged in France, authored under the pen-name Paul Christian (the pseudonym of the person also known as Jean Baptiste or Christian Pitois, also Charles Moreau). Pitois’ History emerged before Levi started publishing on the subject of Tarot, representing the largest amount of print that had been devoted to the Tarot in public since Etteilla’s students fell silent. In this book Pitois summarized a lifetime’s work with Charles Nodier in the Paris Arsenal Library, cataloguing vast piles of manuscripts seized during the suppression of the monasteries in 1790. Written when Christian Pitois was 59, after many years of studying esoterica during a successful literary career in multiple genre, the History and Practice of Magic carried a lot of weight with his readers. His comments on Tarot became gospel for a whole century of Tarot esotericists right down to late 20th century magi like Tavaglione and Scapini. (The recent renewal of Oswald Wirth’s Tarot  — the Universal Wirth — is another sign of the continued life of this stream of Continental Tarots.

 

Christian/Pitois is the person most often associated with this testament to Tarot tradition, but Etteilla’s student Mme Lenormand pre-anticipated Christian’s writings on the subject by almost 30 years. In 1831 she published a book of 107 pages entitled Le petit homme rouge au château des Tuileries, which was a sort of memoir of her experiences as a psychic and reader in Napoleanic France. After she was gone, Pitois cleverly recycled the idea of using the cards of Tarot to drive a plot by penning a thriller entitled Red  Man of Tuileries, within which all 78 Tarot cards were described. This story became very popular, bringing a lot of new attention to the Tarot and to ‘Paul Christian’ as its exponent.  Pitois’ The Red Man was released in 1863, a few years before his encyclopedic History And Practice of Magic emerged.

 

 

In both books, Christian/Pitois quoted  the text word for word from the Fratres Lucis MS, repeating the longstanding myth of Tarot’s origins in Egypt and explicating a set of Arcana purported to be the product of Alexandrian culture.   The typical admonitions for the betterment of the querant’s spiritual development are included,  expressed in terms of ‘three worlds’ and couched in stern warnings.  The querant or user is referred to as a “son of Earth”, and is expected to listen, conform his or her  mind to the Arcanum in question and obey. (No modern politically-correct psychological relativism here!) This text also corresponds the Trumps to the alphabet in the A=1 mode of all magical alphabets, both historic and mythical. It is crystal-clear that Etteilla (as updated by Papus) is quoting the same document as Christian/Pitois, upon comparing the Trump texts between The History and Practice of Magic and Divinatory Tarot. This would be true with the text of the Belline Tarot by Master Edward as well.

 

 

But let me make this distinction: All three lineages within the Continental Tarots start with A=1. That is the hallmark of the genre.  However, from there, they each have quirks that define them. The full story is all laid out in my astro-alpha-numeric graph at my website, but suffice it to say that each sibling in the family has a distinctive flavor as a result. The Hermetic (or more accurately, Alexandrian) model is what Etteilla, Blavatski, and the Falconnier Tarot were modeled on, following an AAN pattern that  is traditional to the Greek-speaking New Testament world. The Spanish family of packs follows the Gra version of the Sefer Yetzirah, demonstrating its Holy Land pedigree in its Old Testament feel. The French School follows Levi’s modification of the Alexandrian model, which was introduced in 1880 and represents a capitulation to the Gra influence without utterly surrendering the Alexandrian framework.

 

 

Once one is exposed to the distinct attitude and approach of this Fratres Lucis MS (whatever it’s original provenance), it becomes easy to see its reflections in many places during the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s:

-Tarot books/decks by Levi, Papus, Mouhi Sadhu, Oswald Wirth, Corrine Heline, and Anonymous (Valentine Tomberg). These are the figureheads of the “French School”, broadly speaking. (There are subtle variations between a few of them.)

-The two-volume set by Henriette and Homer Curtiss, whose correspondences are those of the Gra version of Sefer Yetzirah. These two are the primary exegetes of the so-called Spanish School

-The Tarot text appended to the 1901volume Practical Astrology by “Comt de Saint-Germain” (pseudonym of Edgar Valcourt-Vermont) is illustrated with the Egyptian-style Falconnier Tarot, the very pack used and taught from by Madame Blavatski while she lived in India.

-C. C. Zain was also quoting the Fratres Lucis MS when he wrote the course for the Brotherhood of Light.

-The section on Tarot within the volume entitled the Encyclopedia of Occult Sciences (ed. M. C. Poinsot, Tudor Pub. NY: 1939) gives a graph from Piobb’s Formulary of High Magic (1907) tabulating the Alphabet, Numbers, traditional meanings as from Papus, Trump titles from Pitois, and zodiac/planet correspondences as found in H & H Curtiss.

-the book from Weiser called Egyptian Mysteries; An Account of an Initiation (1988) purports to quote from this same manuscript.

-The contemporary Ibis Tarot by Josef Machynka condenses all of the oldest sources and within Falconnier correspondences.

-The Tarot of the Ages follows the Curtiss AAN correspondences, of the Spanish Continental variety.

 

The modern Tarot researcher Mark Filipas has an excellent presentation online that catalogues all of the ‘so-called Egyptian’ Tarots, see http://www.spiritone.com/~mfilipas/Masquerade/Reviews/historye.html.

 

I might also note that this is the body of “inner teachings” that Joscelyn Godwyn is alluding to in his amazing The Theosophical Enlightenment. When he talks about the Fratres Lucis, most often he’s referring to the modern revival of the ideal and the title, which bounced around the occult scene in the late 19th century. Although he’s largely discussing the more recent wave of this esoteric impulse, Godwin has done a stellar job of unearthing the links and tracing the lineages that retained this imprint and carried it forward from earlier times. (However, to be clear, the Theosophy in his title is much more related to Blavatski and her Society than the Protestant Theosophers I am reporting on via the Tarot of the Holy Light.)

 

Contemporary Tarot historians since the 1960’s have been disparaging towards the Etteilla packs and the ‘so-called Egyptian’ lineage, viewing it as a stub or failed branch of the family in light of the commercial success of the OGD packs. It is a pity that this entire historical stream has been so intensely marginalized in the English-speaking world, because these are the very packs that have carried the ancient astro-alpha-numeric mysteries out of the Renaissance and into our lives today. The Etteilla packs and the “so-called Egyptian” styled Tarots are all based on the older, deeper, more coherent pattern that was bequeathed us from an earlier and more honorable era. I hope we will become more respectful of our real Tarot history in the 21st century!

 

Part I can be seen here – https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/interview-with-christine-payne-towler-part-i/

 

Part II can be seen here – https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/interview-with-christine-payne-towler-part-ii/

 

© September 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Interview With Christine Payne-Towler – Part I

Interview With Christine Payne-Towler – Part I

Christine came under my radar in the “way back when” days of Tarot-L, when the excitement was during the midnight hours, where the “names” slugged it out. Since then, Christine has published the seminal work “The Underground Stream”, designed the online Tarot reading program for www.Tarot.com, founded the Tarot University Online (www.tarotuniversity.net), and began publishing a monthly newsletter entitled Arkletters (www.tarotarkletters.com).

Christine’s focus is on promoting the understanding and study of Tarot from the point of view of its astro-alpha-numeric content, in particular its roots in the esotericism and magic of the Renaissance. She wants to make sure that the original impulse that birthed the Tarot is not lost to the twenty-first century. Her latest project is a Tarot deck and companion book (The Tarot of the Holy Light), being made in conjunction with her partner, Michael Dowers. This could be the very first truly new Continental Tarot deck to be published in the twenty-first century.

 

Christine is a keynote speaker at the upcoming Association of Tarot Studies conference in France, where she will be presenting her latest research in a talk entitled “Alchemy, TheoSophia and Tarot”. She will also be introducing her new deck, with the companion book to appear shortly thereafter.

For more information on Christine, and to read the body of her work, go to http://noreah.typepad.com/about.html.

BC: Christine, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your new project. Before we get into the new deck and companion book, I would like to set the foundation by asking you to explain what astro-alpha-numeric content means in relation to the Tarot.

 

CPT: An important insight that is emerging in the new academic discipline of Western Esotericism is that the magical tradition in the West rests on alphabetic foundations. The alphabet is a system of sonic notations, meaning it is made up of a range of squiggles that refer to the sounds of speech. It’s not tied into to any given language at all, it just represents the collection of  sounds we make in our mouths that add up to speech. Since humans generally use a narrowly-boundaried range of sounds to speak to one another, the alphabet can travel from one civilization to another just like a virus, as it did in the ancient world.  The alphabet is magical to the n-th degree, because it serves as a “cabinet of mysteries” that collates learning from the whole world down to a tidy 22-section outline.

Everywhere the alphabet has traveled across the millennia, we see it being used in the same a-b-c-d order. This order has been maintained so solidly because the list was also used numerically, as tokens for counting and calculating.  The alphabet comes to us with correspondences for both the now-familiar Hindu (AKA “Arabic”) numerals, and also for the system of Roman Numerals (which are also written in letters).   As a result, words made up of these “loaded” letters not only refer to things in the world, but also to numbers equations and ratios, which reveal the magical frequencies and energy-values associated with the thing being named.  To anybody who understands this fact, all the words making up the vocabulary of the Mysteries are revealed as “spells” — they evoke precise vibrational effects that alter the way matter arranges itself. Thus any spoken language is capable of functioning as precisely as mathematics does, if the user but knows how to spell.

Those letter-numbers were from the beginning identified with the Planets, Signs and Elements of the Hermetic Cosmos, as given in the western world’s premier astrological text from antiquity, the Sefer Yetzira. During their captivity in Babylon, the Hebrews assimilated the sexugesimal mathematics of the temple astronomers. From this they created their religious and shamanic alphabet-mysteries, used to train their menfolk in the priestly arts.  Since the letter-numbers were the ancient calculation medium to make astrological and navigational computations, they served as a kind of shorthand for “the contents of the sky”.  The Hebrews taught that they originally found the letters among the constellations, written in tongues of flame among the stars. This is likely a mythopoetic conceit, but it does effectively encapsulate the properties of the astro-alpha-numberic web of the alphabet.  And this is what I think (and what I think history will show) is the guiding outline of the Trumps of the Tarot.

Stay tuned for Part II –  the Continental Tarot defined.

© August 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Tetractys and the Suit of Pentacles

In a previous post (https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/the-tetractys-and-the-four-suits/) I introduced the Pythagorean concept of the Tetractys – a triangle consisting of the numbers one through ten (ten being the most significant number). In this post I am going to look at the concept of the Tetractys as applied to the Pips (numbered cards) in the Tarot. We are going to look at each suit separately, starting with Wands.

Following is a schematic of the Tetractys. A good visual aid would be to take out your deck of choice, and place the cards from the suit of Pentacles in this format:

1
3      2
6     5     4
10      9      8      7

Following the pattern of the numbers will create a facsimile of the lightning bolt path that we see on the Tree of Life. Something else that we need to remember is that the number ten (1+2+3+4) is considered by Pythagoreans to be a pure number. The Tetractys triangle itself represents creation … form coming into being. Each of the four suits represents another world coming into creation.

With the suit of Pentacles, we are looking at the Qabalistic world of Assiah, the Manifest world. The first row, number One, represents the Monad. The second row, numbers Two and Three, represent the Dyad, or essential principles. The third row, numbers Four, Five and Six, represent the Triad, or spiritual forces. The bottom row, the Tetrad, represents the material world.

The suit of Pentacles represents the world of Assiah (manifestation), and the element of Earth. Through Earth, and its connection with the physical world, we enter the world of manifestation. Here the Seeker manifests their literal physical health, as well as that “safe place” that consists of their home environment, along with financial stability. Here is where the Seeker experiences prosperity in a physical and material sense. The number One in the suit of Pentacles acts as the potential, or the seed, for the Seeker using their inherent skills and talents to manifest a supportive environment for themselves and those that are close to them.

Numbers Two and Three represent the Dyad, or opposing forces. For the suit of Pentacles, the number Two indicates a need for patience, as all the facts are not in, so a decision cannot yet be made. Time is on the Seeker’s side – they do not have to make an immediate decision. The number Three in the suit of Pentacles is considered the card of the Master Craftsman. It is the manifestation of great thought into the physical world.

In the suit of Pentacles, the number Four represents the need for deliberate thinking and action, the ability to assess risk, and the need for the Seeker to not allow the comforts that they have worked so hard for to lull them into a false sense of security.

The Five’s are always a little chaotic. The Five of Pentacles brings with it a sense of loss … loss that was brought to the Seeker through their own actions. The loss here can be on a spiritual, as well as a physical/material level. The Seeker needs to bring a balance to their outer physical/material world and their inner spiritual world.

The Six’s are all about the Seeker’s own personal truth, and their own personal version (and vision) of success. Six’s are celebration and victory. The Six of Pentacles represents balance, fairness, and equilibrium, especially in regard to finances. There is an indication that the Seeker is headed into a cycle that represents generosity and things of a positive nature.

The final row – numbers Seven through Ten – represents the material world, and the four elements (from right to left – Fire, Air, Water and Earth). The Seven of Pentacles shares it’s place with the element of Fire. The Seeker has a passion for nurturing the seeds that he/she has sown in their life. It is a time to pause, reflect, and evaluate.

The number Eight share’s its place with the element of Air. The nature of the number Eight is all about change, and keeping up with change. Change in the physical world, the world of formation, is brought about by the Seeker making best use of their skills and abilities. This is indeed a time of intense focus, and intense work. The Seeker needs to be clear on what they are trying to accomplish, as working just to be working sends the Seeker down a rabbit hole of their own making.

The number Nine shares its place with the element of Water. One cycle is coming to an end, and another is about to begin. There is a sense of security in the life of the Seeker because of their efforts, their hard work, and the result of that hard work.

The number Ten shares its place with the element of Earth. Ten’s talk about endings and new beginnings, but they also talk about putting all of the energy, focus and will power that you have into your project. The Ten of Pentacles represents a time of prosperity and happiness, of celebration and sharing with family/community.

Summary:

This is not meant to be the final word on the Tetractys and the Pips. It is actually a mere whisper, as seen through my eyes. Place your cards in the pyramid shape of the Tetractys. Move your hand over the lightning path, and see what feelings/knowing come to you. Treat the numbers as rows, instead of a straight line. See how they work together, instead of focusing on individual meanings.

It’s all good!

Here are a couple of links that will allow you to use the Tetractys as an actual Tarot spread: Aeclectic Tarot Forum (www.aeclectic.net/tarot), http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Tetractys/id/578326.

© August 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Tarot News For July

The first news that I have is the release of my new book – “Tarot, Birth Cards and You”, due out from Schiffer Books on August 11th. I am blogging on birth card pair a month, and have also created a little Animoto video for each pair. They can be seen on You Tube – my account there is crystalgate1.

On August 27th I will be doing a webinar with Mary Nale on my book, and how to best use it. When we have the time set, I will let you all know. On August 28th I will be doing an Internet radio show with Dax Carlisle, Mark Reed, and Mary Nale of the Tarot Guild. We will be discussing my book, what it represents and how it can be used as a tool of empowerment for our clients, as well as for ourselves. The time for this show is 10 am. On September I will be doing a webinar with Linda Marson of Global Spiritual Studies. I will be sharing the information on t his webinar as soon as it is posted.

Christine Payne Towler has two excellent webinars up on Linda Marson’s Global Spiritual Studies site – The first of a two part series, “The Cathedral of Tarot” is completed and may be purchased on the site. The second part of this series, “The Coming of the Goddess To Tarot” is scheduled for Tuesday, August 9th. Christine is an incredible presenter, and Linda is highly professional in everything that she does. Please don’t miss out on this incomparable work!

Available for purchase as online audio’s, or in DVD format are Evelynne Joffe’s webinar on the Devil, Linda Marson’s webinar on Storytelling, Mary Greer’s webinar on An Analysis of the Role of Cartomancers through Western Art, and Rachel Pollack’s webinar on Major Arcana Only Readings.  Coming up from Linda Marson in the near future is a webinar from Mary Greer on her revision of “Tarot Constellations”, entitled “Who Are You In the Tarot?: Discover Your Birth and Year Cards, and Uncover Your Destiny”.

We have the incredible ATS conference coming up in Ste Suzanne, Mayenne, France, in association with Roxanne Flornoy. Presenters include Jean-Michel David, Christine Payne-Towler, Robert Mealing, Marcus Katz, Joep van Loon, Yoav Ben-Dov, Russell Sturgess, Fern Mercier, Enrique Enriquez, Dan Pelletier, Major Tom Schick, Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov, Mafalda Serrano, and Lyn Olds. Christine will be launching “Tarot of the Holy Light”, a deck/companion book project done in conjunction with her partner, Michael Dowers. Major news here, as this deck follows the Continental Tarot template!

Last, but not least, is a little book that I just read, thanks to one of Buddy’s wonderful sales on Discount New Age Books . It is a lovely little book entitled “Hand of Fate”, by Dotti Enderle. Very gentle reading, meant for young girls. A nice entry into the world of psychic intuition. This book is part of a series (The Fortune Teller’s Club) – one that I highly recommend, if they are as good as this one is! Great “little” presents, or a nice “just because” gift.

Wishing you all a wonderful summer!

(c) August 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Tetractys and the Suit of Swords

In a previous post (https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/the-tetractys-and-the-four-suits/) I introduced the Pythagorean concept of the Tetractys – a triangle consisting of the numbers one through ten (ten being the most significant number). In this post I am going to look at the concept of the Tetractys as applied to the Pips (numbered cards) in the Tarot. We are going to look at each suit separately, starting with Wands.

Following is a schematic of the Tetractys. A good visual aid would be to take out your deck of choice, and place the cards from the suit of Swords in this format:

1
3      2
6      5      4
10      9      8      7

Following the pattern of the numbers will create a facsimile of the lightning bolt path that we see on the Tree of Life. Something else that we need to remember is that the number ten (1+2+3+4) is considered by Pythagoreans to be a pure number. The Tetractys triangle itself represents creation … form coming into being. Each of the four suits represents another world coming into creation.

With the suit of Swords, we are looking at the Qabalisticworld of  Yetzirah, the formative world. The first row, number One, represents the Monad. The second row, numbers Two and Three, represent the Dyad, or essential principles. The third row, numbers Four, Five and Six, represent the Triad, or spiritual forces. The bottom row, the Tetrad, represents the material world.

The suit of Swords represents the world of Yetzirah (formation), and the element of Air. Through Air, and its connection with intellect, the mental realm, and logical thinking, we enter the world of formation. Here the formation is specifically that of beliefs and values, expressed in our personal lives, and through our actions in the larger realm of society. Number One, the pure energy of Swords, and of formation, also represents the Seeker’s mental/intellectual life, and their ability to see things clearly and express themselves well.

Numbers Two and Three represent the Dyad, or opposing forces. For the suit of Swords, we are looking at the number Two as representing conflicting ideas that need to be brought into harmony. This duality needs to be seen before any action can be taken. The number Three in the suit of Swords indicates a breakup, or dissolution of some type of relationship. Looking at the point of conflict that precipitated the break-up will ease the process.

In the suit of Swords, the number Four represents the need for a time out away from worldly concerns. This is a time of contemplation, with a focus on roots, values and goals.

The Five’s are always a little chaotic. The Five of Swords is associated with the process of cleaning up after a battle. Modern battles are fought with words and actions, but seldom with active elements such as guns or knives. The process of cleaning up t he largely mental/emotional damage left after this type of battle has to do with looking back and determining where things went wrong. What could have been done differently, and how can a battle of this type be avoided in the future.

The Six’s are all about your own personal truth, and your own personal version (and vision) of success. Six’s are celebration and victory, with the Six of Swords carries a sense of objectivity and insight to it.

The final row – numbers Seven through Ten – represents the material world, and the four elements (from right to left – Fire, Air, Water and Earth). The Seven of Swords shares it’s place with the element of Fire. The nature of this Seven is that of mental preparedness, of being able to visualise success and goals reached. This is a stime of studying, of working smarter, not harder.

The number Eight share’s its place with the element of Air. The nature of the number Eight is all about change, and keeping up with change. In respect to the Tetractys, this change is evidenced in the world of Air (the mental realm). The Eight of Swords represents our experiences, and what we learn from them.

The number Nine shares its place with the element of Water. One cycle is coming to an end – in the case of Swords, we are looking at the consequences of our actions. It is a time of grief and sorrow, and facing our worst nightmares.

The number Ten shares its place with the element of Earth. Ten’s talk about endings and new beginnings, but they also talk about putting all of the energy, focus and will power that you have into your project.  The Ten of Swords represents an ending, where there is no turning back. We come to this time when we have exhausted all of our alternatives. It is time to find another path, as this one has brought us to burnout.

Summary:

This is not meant to be the final word on the Tetractys and the Pips. It is actually a mere whisper, as seen through my eyes. Place your cards in the pyramid shape of the Tetractys. Move your hand over the lightning path, and see what feelings/knowing come to you. Treat the numbers as rows, instead of a straight line. See how they work together, instead of focusing on individual meanings.

It’s all good!

Here are a couple of links that will allow you to use the Tetractys as an actual Tarot spread: Aeclectic Tarot Forum,http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Tetractys/id/578326.

Next week we are on to the final suit in this series – Pentacles! See you all there!

© July 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Tetractys and the Suit of Wands

In a previous post (https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/the-tetractys-and-the-four-suits/) I introduced the Pythagorean concept of the Tetractys – a triangle consisting of the numbers one through ten (ten being the most significant number). In this post I am going to look at the concept of the Tetractys as applied to the Pips (numbered cards) in the Tarot. We are going to look at each suit separately, starting with Wands.

Following is a schematic of the Tetractys. A good visual aid would be to take out your deck of choice, and place the cards from the suit of Wands in this format:

1
3      2
6      5      4
10      9      8      7

Following the pattern of the numbers will create a facsimile of the lightening bolt path that we see on the Tree of Life. Something else that we need to remember is that the number ten (1+2+3+4) is considered by Pythagoreans to be a pure number, The Tetractys triangle itself represents creation … form coming into being. Each of the four suits represents another world coming into creation.

With the suit of Wands, we are looking at the Qabalistic world of Yetzirah, or formation. The first row, number One, represents the Monad. The second row, numbers Two and Three, represent the Dyad, or essential principles. The third row, numbers Four, Five and Six, represent the Triad, or spiritual forces. The bottom row, the Tetrad, represents the material world.

The suit of Wands aptly represents the world of Yetzirah (formation), and the element of Fire. Through Fire, and passion, we create form. Number One, the pure energy of Wands, and form, also represents will and desire. In creating this world, we are giving form to qualities such as boldness, ambition, competitiveness and ambition. It is here that we develop will, and are motivated to take action.

Numbers Two and Three represent the Dyad, or opposing forces. For the suit of Wands, we are looking at the number Two representing a situation that is deadlocked due to opposing energies that are involved, and the number Three, as representing an inner balance. As Two moves into Three, the situation in Two has been resolved, and balance restored. The number Three gifts us with the energy we need to take calculated risks and move forward with our ideas. Christine Payne-Towler, in her article on Wands – http://noreah.typepad.com/tarot_arkletters/2005/06/suit_of_wands_m.html – notes that sometimes in more esoteric decks a winged wand with two snakes twined around it appears. This is a caduceus, which is Mercury’s wand, and an ancient symbol of a healer or shaman.

Numbers Four, Five and Six represent a Triad, or spiritual forces. Four is a foundation number – it carries the energy of working with others to manifest a dream into physical reality. The stronger a four manifests, the more solid the literal foundation is for whatever is being built. Wands is a highly creative suit, indicating that the Four of Wands will set a foundation built on creativity and passion.

The Five’s are always a little chaotic. The Five of Wands takes the foundation of the number Four and let’s the ambition found there run rampant. Ambition … and the competitive spirit! The balance here is between personal success, and not taking away from someone else. The ideal here is to fit fair, to not make a mess in the sandbox of life. Ego finds its place in humility here.

The Six’s are all about your own personal truth, and your own personal version (and vision) of success. Six’s are celebration and victory. Remember that we do not ever succeed on our own – our victory celebration needs to include those that helped us get there.

The final row – numbers Seven through Ten, represent the material world, and the four elements (from right to left – Fire, Air, Water and Earth). The Seven of Wands shares it’s place with the element of Fire. The nature of this Seven is that the passion, will and determination of the individual places them at the head of the pack. The elemental nature of Fire adds strength and impetus to this.

The number Eight share’s its place wit the element of Air. The nature of the number Eight is all about change, and keeping up with change. In respect to the Tetractys, this change is evidenced in the world of Air (the mental realm). It is through the process of logic that the individual learns to accept change and work with it in the creative, competitive world of Wands.

The number Nine shares its place with the element of Water. One cycle is coming to an end – in the case of Wands, a high energy, very active, creative cycle. Time to take a break, time to sit back and listen to our intuition. Bring your projects together, and release that which will hold you back.

The number Ten shares its place with the element of Earth. Ten’s talk about endings and new beginnings, but they also talk about putting all of the energy, focus and will power that you have into your project. I think of this card as “Burden of Responsibility”. It is a burden, as the activity is taking place on the physical plane. The passin of the Wands is presented full force in this card.

Summary:

This is not meant to be the final word on the Tetractys and the Pips. It is actually a mere whisper, as seen through my eyes. Place your cards in the pyramid shape of the Tetractys. Move your hand over the lightening path, and see what feelings/knowing come to you. Treat the numbers as rows, instead of a straight line. See how they work together, instead of focusing on individual meanings.

It’s all good!

Here are a couple of links that will allow you to use the Tetractys as an actual Tarot spread: Aeclectic Tarot Forum, http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Tetractys/id/578326.

Next week we are on to the suit of Cups! See you all there!

© July 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Christine Payne-Towler Book Recommendations Part 3

I am still happily cruising through Christine’s book recommendations, and drooling a bit! Horrendously long wish list now … and growing! Here are a few books to think about:

Christopher I. Lehrich, “The Occult Mind: Magic In Theory and Practice”. Positing magic as a mode of theory that definitely thumbs its nose at common conceptions of reason and truth.

David Williams, “Financial Astrology”. Certainly a key reference book for these changing times!

Elizabeth M. Butler. “Ritual Magic” (Magic In History Series). A classic, first published in 1949, this book addresses our ability to control the spirit world through ritual.

Gyorgy E. Szonyi. “John Dee’s Occultism: Magical Exaltation Through Powerful Signs (SUNY Series in Western Esoteric Traditions). A highly regarded work on John Dee and his thoughts on exaltation.

Note: All of Christine’s book recommendations can be seen here: http://noreah.typepad.com/library/.

https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/book-recommendations-from-christine-payne-towler-part-1/
https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/christine-payne-towler-book-recommendations-part-2/

(c) May 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Christine Payne-Towler – Book Recommendations Part 2

I am happily ensconced on Christine Payne Towler’s site, http://www.tarotarkletters.com/arkletter_essays_and_articles/index.html. I could stay there for hours, looking at her book and deck recommendations, reading (and many times rereading) articles, essays and Arkletters. Today I want to bring Christine’s own book into the spotlight, as well as two other highly valuable reference books. I love building a personal library, and it helps to get recommendations from someone of Christine’s caliber.

The first book that caught my eye was Carl Jung’s “Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle”. This is an extract from Volume 8, a parapsychological study of the meaningful coincidence of events, extrasensory perception, and similar phenomenon. While not directly related to Tarot, it certainly has an application in how the Tarot is perceived by the reader as well as the Seeker. Not bad reading if you want to take Tarot to a deeper level.

The next book that caught my eye was Caitlin Matthews’ “Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom: The Divine Feminine From Black Goddess To World Soul”. Here the journey moves from pre-Christian spirituality to present day, seeking out the presence of the Goddess, the divine feminine power of wisdom. Throughout history, the Goddess and Goddess wisdom has been shunted aside – buried, if you will. In current times, focus is returning to the divine feminine in all of us.As readers, we use the Tarot as a tool of empowerment in readings, ritual, visualization and journey work. It is there to help us access our feminine wisdom and put it to work in our lives.

The third book, and one that I highly recommend, is Christine Payne-Towler’s “The Underground Stream: Esoteric Tarot Revealed”. This book makes you think, an I am quite enamored of it. Even if you don’t agree with everything Christine has to say, it makes you think about why things are the way they are in the Tarot world, and the world of esotericism. She discusses ancient knowledge, evolving magical traditions, weaving them together to illuminate the blind spots that hold us back from understanding the origins of the Tarot. She combines ancient astrology, Hebrew Kaballah, Alexandrian Hermeticism, Renaissance Magism and a history of the European Secret Societies to show the esoteric structure at the foundation of Tarot. Blatant self-promotion – my review can be seen here – http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/books/underground-stream/.

© April 2011 Bonnie Cehovet