Tarot Symbolism: Enemy of The State

by Odyn PenDragon

The core idea of Atu VX “The Devil” is that of Enjoying Any Sensory Experience that you desire. By extension, that includes Any Sensual Experience that you desire. All other considerations are auxiliary. But, to me, the primary auxiliary consideration is rather the Abandonment of Morality: to actually ‘know’ that “morality” is an artificial construct. Here there is no such thing as a “wrong” activity. Even ‘murder’ is not a “wrong” act — just merely inconvenient for the recipient.

The greatest virtue of Atus XV and XVI is that of “Change Your Mind and Attitude”, or rather “Open Your Mind and Attitude”. Ignoring this prime directive at these stages does result in “failure”. (Thus Atu XV also tends to be interpreted in terms of “incoming occult knowledge” or other similar metaphors.)

In the Crowley-Harris version of this image is blatantly displayed a grand phallus plunging its ‘head’ into “a hole”. All that Crowley says of this “hole” is that it is “the rings of Nuit”. He does not further specify “what hole” it is. It is frankly any “hole” that the phallus (or, the phallus-wielder) desires: a vagina, a mouth, an anus, even a hole in a tree — so be it.

The best in “The Devil” is “how can I take the most advantage in all that is available”.

For those obsessed with “correct” or “incorrect” behavior, this portrait is of Wanton Abandon to Pleasure. Some people choose to freely and openly exhibit “their devil” without embarrassment. Others are embarrassed by “their devil” and ‘reveal’ it only within secluded confines, but still plague their mind with the “wrongness” of the act. The other set of secret practitioners fear the reactions of otherwise surrounding moralists, but themselves do not consider it “wrong”. There is a so-called ‘fourth class’ who wantonly display “their devil” with the added sensory delight of offending the surrounding moralists who think the act is “wrong”.

It is too bad that much of the discussions surrounding this idea tend to obsess around “sexual” considerations, given the rampant “sex-embarrassment” entrenched in not just any one human culture. I re-emphasize that this matter is about Sensory Experience, not just Sensual Experience. If someone enjoys being physically hurt, it does not automatically translate into a “sexual” experience. Yes, it is sensual, i.e. sensory. If someone enjoys watching someone else ‘puking their brains out’, finds it funny, there is nothing “wrong” with that — and there is nothing inherently “sexual” about the enjoyment either (but if it is, so be it).

Atu XV happens to focus on Abandonment of the artificial construct called “Morality”. (Abandonment of all other remaining artificial constructs rather occurs with Atu XVI — thus it is a much more devastating portrayal.) If one honestly examines the nature of “morality”, with its simplistic notions of “right” and “wrong” behavior, it is not difficult to see its intimate tie to sensory experience on all levels. It is by the ‘abandonment’ of this artificial construct that one gains a perspective on the nature of “moral” construction; then, at least, you become ‘the master’ of Your Moral Behavior, rather than being a slave to some “external absolute”. Herein lies my most profound objection to any “sane” discussion of “Evil” and ‘his’ companions with regard to this page (card). “Evil” has become one of those imagined absolutes that plagues the thought processes of those who want “external absolutes”. “Good” and “Evil”, “Right” and “Wrong” (which are merely emotional tags) have been turned, by many who desperately desire a sense of order, into comparative ‘deities’: absolutes unquestionable; violations of which are met with consternation. The reader who succumbs to any rant about “inappropriate behavior” when this page (card) appears in a reading, reveals themself as still enraptured with that spectre of “righteousness”. (And then there is no wonder, in this mind, why Atu XVI appears even more “mis-translated”.)

Atus XV and XVI are not the initiation of Breaking Limitations: that initiation occurred earlier in the Trump Series. These pages (cards) happen to focus on the Breaking of Sacredly-Held Limitations.

When this page (card) appears in a reading spread, along with whatever it may indicate for the querent (client) amidst the context of the spread, it should also serve as a reminder to the reader to carefully observe any “moral limitations” sacredly held by the reader, and to make an extra effort to not allow such to bias the reading. If I am doing a reading for a housing banker, and see indications that the client is about to foreclose on a bunch of delinquent mortgages, I have to resist the temptation to sabotage the reading that might help sabotage such an impending act — despite my “moral” objection to that act.



Tarot Symbolism: The Initial Vehicle

by Odyn PenDragon

I consider Atu VII to be the first “real lesson” in the Trump Series. Atus I-VI have been of the nature of preparation. (It can be argued that Atu VI, due to the complex nature of its depiction, is the first lesson. I would simply argue that it is the last, and most important, lesson in the preparation*.)

The metaphor of “The Chariot” has been a favorite amongst many traditions as a standard for describing the status of “an ordinary being”. Even Gurdjieff, who did not subscribe to the standard “occult” retinue, unhesitatingly used the “chariot” metaphor to describe “the beginning status” to his students. The metaphor is utterly simple. There is the Main Vehicle. Added to that is the Conductor and the Moving Force. The ‘reigns’ connecting the ‘conductor’ to the ‘moving force’ is the first auxiliary metaphor-extension.

(For those who play with the Crowley-Harris version of this image, there are no ‘reigns’ connecting ‘the driver’ to ‘the driving force’. But the ‘reigns’ are apparent if you view the surrounding rings radiant from the ‘held cup’, which is like “a steering wheel”. This “steering wheel” is very much equivalent to “a scrying medium” (cup-of-water, crystal-ball, etc.).)

This icon is very much The Somatic Vehicle. It is What We Begin With!

With Atus I-VI, the initiate has been ‘prepared’ with a diet of concepts that build from “relative nothing-ness” to “relative something-ness”.

Atu VII is that “slam” of “this is actually what you have to deal with, in the beginning”. You have this Bio-Form! It has some basic intrinsic properties. It is “the first consideration” in all of your consideration(s) of “How Am I Going to Navigate ‘This’ Universe?” It is rather ‘the question from very birth’. From the very beginning of stumblings, that ‘question’ is all-pervasive. This is ‘the lesson’ of this Trump: “how do I deal with this stumbling temple?”

The “lesson” takes on properties of cognizing a kind of “visceral” cognizance. “The Body” has a kind of ‘wisdom’ of its own. We use the metaphor of “feeling my way” through “all of this”. The basic english language has the one handicap of using the term “feel” in both a bio-sensory and an emotional way. It doesn’t help that this dual definition is equally valid. (Thus the association of this Trump with the Astrological Cancer.) That is why I have chosen to use the metaphor of “Visceral Navigation” with this Trump.
But Atu VII is much more than mere “visceral navigation”. It rather epitomizes the Entire Body Sense. To actually “feel” that ‘this body’ is ‘a vehicle’. To cognize that you are “navigating a vehicle” is of supreme importance!


* Atu VI has the awesome responsibility of transmitting the most primal lesson of “The Metaphor of The Student”, who must principally cognize Two Key Ingredients in One’s Composition, which the “Gnostics” labeled ‘The Eidolon’ and ‘The Daemon’. They are “the intimate lovers” co-existing in “one house”. The average description to this image is that “a marriage is occurring” — but “the awful secret” is that “there really was never a separation”, and that “the marriage” is kind of “after-the-fact”. The metaphor of “a marriage” is based on a delusion that there was ‘a separate status’ that ‘had to be married’. The “marriage ritual” is as a formality, in the sense that “the separate two” were never really “separate” — it only appeared as such. The “marriage” has “been arranged” from the very beginning.


Reversed Cards

By Odyn PenDragon

I had long ago abandoned using ‘reversed’ cards in my spreads because to me that distinction really meant nothing. When a card appears, it is by its relation to the other cards in the spread that helps ‘refine’ the otherwise ‘wide’ meaning intrinsic to any card, ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ and all inbetween. It is, to me, linear thinking to rely on the card’s relative orientation to decide its ‘benevolence’ or ‘malevolence’. The querent’s (client’s) actions-behaviors-reactions will determine that.

But there is a property from Astrology that can be projected onto this issue of reversed cards, while still retaining the intrinsic dynamic balance of “benevolence” and “malevolence” in its appearance in the spread. Even in an astrological reading, I see those who treat a Retrograde Planet is somehow “opposite” the meaning of the Direct Planet, because of its ‘apparent’ “backwards” motion. However, there is a property of Retrograde Planets that is not mere ‘appearance’: for the planets outside of the Earth’s Orbit (Mars and beyond), they appear retrograde when they are closest to the Earth itself. Thus it is suggested that Retrograde Planets should be treated as if they are “too close” and therefore there is a “lack of perspective” or “lack of objectivity”. Armed with this notion, it was not difficult for me to shift my ‘word mind’ into considering Retrograde Planets as being “Indirect” as compared to Direct Planets.

A “direct” factor can represent that which is “definite”, whereas an “indirect” factor can represent that which is “vague” and “indefinite”. (The cynic in me can easily draw a parallel of comparing a Scientist and a Politician.) At least with this ‘Direct or Indirect’ model, it is simply a matter of “perspective” or “perceptual capacity”, completely divorced from the “benevolence” or “malevolence” of the factor. The ‘good’ or ‘bad’ morality model has been removed.

Why not apply this same principle to Direct Cards and Reversed Cards in the reading spread? A Direct Card can represent a property that has a greater potential of being more easily apparent, easily noticeable. A Reversed or Indirect Card can represent a property that will require greater awareness by the querent (client) to notice its manifestation; it will be more ‘indefinite’, ‘vague’ and maybe even ‘tricky’.



Beltane TarotBlogHop: The Fire Tends to All

Previous Beltane blog: Before me

Please follow the link above to the wonderful blog of Matt Williams, as he too shares his thoughts on this Beltane TarotBlogHop.

“The fire tends to all” is the subject of this TarotBlogHop in which you can hop from one blog to the next, a bit like wildfire.

Like wildfire… That’s how fast a tarot reader’s reputation spreads amongst her community.

Armed only with a fiery passion for the cards and a creative approach that the element of fire promises, I gave up my private home-based tarot practice, taking the plunge to expose tarot in a very public environment to the ‘masses’ instead.

When I moved to regional Victoria two and a bit years ago I immediately fell in love with an old, unused historical building. The Cobb & Co Stables dates back to the 1870’s when the growing town needed a coach link to Melbourne. Located in a prime position in the main street of our town, I often used to peep through holes in the heavy locked wooden doors, trying to get a glimpse of what used to be the old stables inside. If I had half a million dollars to spare I would almost certainly have bought this old building to open it as an indoors undercover market instead, the building lends itself to exactly this.

It seems someone else shared my vision. About 6 weeks ago it was opened to the public as – believe it or not – an undercover market! It now proudly hosts weekend markets and over 20 permanent mini-shops, of which my new tarot parlour is one.

I have enjoyed unexpected success and support from the public since opening my salon which got me thinking about what happened and why this is proving to be so successful. Undoubtedly the location plays a large role but why, I wondered, is the public so generously supporting a tarot reader in what is considered to be a relatively conservative country town?

Being stables back in the day, none of the mini-shops have doors. With no doors to ‘hide behind’ and nothing to conceal what I do, I have completely exposed myself, coming across as the very ordinary girl-next-door that I am, who reads tarot. My tarot deck lies on my reading table, open, friendly, non-threatening and welcoming to all passer-by’s. There is no air of mystery surrounding me, what you see is what you get. Every day I hear words like “I’ve never had a reading done before, but I’ve always been rather curious.” which leads me to believe that people, once they see that there is nothing to fear, are willing to explore this unknown. I have concluded that it is not the reader with the biggest pentagram, or blackest robe, neither the one with hundreds of certificates on her walls or the largest collection of tarot decks who attracts the interest of the public. Well, certainly not in my case as I have none of the above. It is most likely my ‘ordinaryness’  that ordinary people, with ordinary issues can relate to. “She’s one of us, so she’s gotta be okay” you can almost hear them thinking.

Like wildfire on the proverbial grapevine the word has quickly spread that affordable and accurate readings can be obtained from a professional tarot reader (accredited by the Tarot Guild of Australia) between shopping sprees or at lunch breaks in a non-threatening environment and approach. Here are a few things I’ve learnt since opening the salon:

  • Find the right setting
  • Dominate your niche market, come to an arrangement with management that you will be the only tarot reader in the market
  • Print lots of business cards, ask customers to refer you to their friends if they are confident in your abilities as a top tarot reader
  • Keep an appointment book available so that interested customers can book a time-slot for readings if you are in session when they visit
  • Seek complimentary services out amongst other shopkeepers, and come to a referrals agreement with them
  • Do not engage in gossip with other shopkeepers, focussing instead on building your business with a positive attitude
  • Offer a guarantee to your customers; mine goes something like this: “If your reading does not resonate with you on any level, you don’t pay for it.” This demonstrates a level of confidence in yourself as a reader
  • Approach each new day at your reading salon with an attitude of gratitude, exactly as you would the potential parking space that you just KNOW will be available for you in the busy city when you need to park your vehicle. Simply rest in the knowledge that spirit will send the right people to you and that you, in turn, will channel the messages that your potential customers are ready to receive

When we are authentically ourselves and offer our readings from a place of service rather than insecurity or uncertainty, the Universe will comply. What’s more, the public will champion our cause as word of our readings spread like wildfire.

Here’s wishing all readers more quality readings and referrals in your own practices.

Please continue hopping blog to blog by visiting the talented Arwen Lynch‘s blog next to see where ‘the fire tends to all’ takes her, on the following link:

Next Beltane blog: After me

Should you find a broken link, you can access the master list of blogs in this Beltane BlogHop here

Tarot Symbolism: The Broken Prison

By Odyn PenDragon

(this is not just ‘food’ for Thoth)

Atu XVI is commonly called “The Tower” or more fully “The Blasted Tower”. My own chosen alternate title would be “The Crumbling of The Prison Walls” or more simply “The Broken Prison”. The key idea is that An Established Stable Edifice becomes Utterly Destabilized! The stability of this established edifice is our own conviction in the certainty of our given sensory data. Things Are What They Are, according to our senses; and their apparent consistency encourages our conviction in that certainty. Wobbles of that certainty are what is usually called “delusion” or “illusion” — and never for a moment is that panorama of sensory-convinced consistent certainty ever considered the “actual illusion” or “actual delusion”. Such a consideration would be utterly unnerving for “ordinary living”.

But remember, all Tarot freaks, that Atu XVI is well advanced in the Trump Series. We have gotten well beyond “ordinary living”. The ‘later’ pages (cards) of the Trump Series deal with describing factors necessary-of-consideration for those who have “done work” on themselves. Atu XVI deals with the awful revelation of The Delusion of One’s Own Self-Crafted Prison Walls. The effect does come off like “a force on-high” “descending” and “devastating the solid edifice” “below”. (The ‘above/below’ metaphor is an antique left-over.) The full effect does not require your actual Sensory Perception to “become wobbly”. The devastation is in Your Conviction of ‘Its’ Certainty. In its essence it is A Drastic Change of Mind and Attitude, and the “revelation” is equivalent to “an onslaught”. For those Addicted to Certainty, it would feel like “a violation” and “a violence”. The “breaking” of these “prison walls” is in the otherwise ordinary underlying belief in their certainty. These “prison walls” can still maintain their ‘ordinary appearance’ during this mental conversion. What is “destroyed” or “disturbed” is the resident comfort of their certainty; and the awful cognizance that “what is called real” IS a “curtain” or “veil”. And this revelation does not even have to take on ‘metaphysic’ proportions: the simple comprehension that “the perceptual curtain” is composed of only a portion of the total potential signal-energy output of even every “physical” manifestation, is sufficient.

So, when this card appears in an “ordinary reading”, the reader should be compelled to break the news to the client that some “sacred cow of certainty” is at risk. The usual tactic appears to have been to merely give some ‘frightening trepidation’ about “a violation”, without indicating “the real victim” of “this violation” — a sacredly-held ‘certainty’. For those readers who have dared such, I applaud you.

All of this gives a clue as to why I question the now-classic attribution of this page (card) to only the astrological planet Mars. The much more preferable attribution would be directly that of the astrological planet Pluto. Pluto may be commonly given the metaphors of “death & resurrection”, but the seed idea is that of “transformation” — and, especially read “TransFormation”. The “death & resurrection” metaphors are attempts to give markers-of-definitiveness to a process that rather actually reeks of “in-between-ness”. And it is not unwarranted to say that when the Sense of Certainty has “been violated” or becomes rather abrogate, a feeling of “in-between-ness” ensues. In the Trump Series, Atu XVI represents when the Construct of Certainty has been Torn Asunder, but as yet no “alternative” has been offered (that is the ‘later’ Trumps).

(There are those who also associate the astrological planet Uranus to this page (card), which I cannot wholly disagree yet for one key exception, that I tend to view Uranus as much more ‘purely’ of ‘mental’ orientation — the archetype of “Change Your Mind” in-and-of-itself.)

To me, the astrological planet Mars is much more appropriately associated with Atu IV “The Emperor”. The now-classic astrological attribution to Atu IV is the zodiacal sign Aries; which in my outlook is also valid. Mars is in its core a rather “defiant” stance of “Selective Independence”. There is an insistence on “Me, Myself, and I” (the three ‘truly’ best friends). But this “defiant” stance of Mars is not a matter of ‘pushing away others’; it is simply the extreme perspective of Insisting on Self. Both Mars and Atu IV are merely the notion of “in the wholistic context of Nature, What Is My Place?” Atu IV is the “awful” revelation of a cognizant entity, co-involved in the collective concourse of Nature, to dare to ask such an heretical question as “how do I fit into all this?” Atu IV is distinguished from Mars due to ‘the animal factor’ (of which ‘the human factor’ at this stage is a sub-set).

The core idea of Mars as “Selective Independence” becomes rather abrogate with Atu XVI. “Selective Independence” requires a Sense of Certainty in that notion of “Independent Existence”; a ‘Sense of Certainty’ in that ‘Sense of Separation’ from the surrounding ‘Co-existing Context of Nature’. Atu IV is the most primal act of “I Am I”. With Atu XVI, the sense of “I Am I” is not violated. What is violated at Atu XVI is any certainty of “what is this that Surrounds ‘I’?” What is violated at Atu XVI is “how do I define what Separates ‘I’ from the rest of the surrounding?”

As those who are consistent with “wholistic cognition” do cognize, eventually that “sense of separation” evaporates. But not yet here at Atu XVI.



[added May 15]

There is another factor, concurrent but only appears to be a ‘separate’ consideration.
The devastation of “The Blasted Tower” is very much connected to the Separation of Identification with One’s Temple-Shell. The “Be Here Now” of Atu XIX is the completion of this indicated separation; Atu XVI is the so-called ‘real beginning’ of this separation. To use metaphors from cinematic stories, Atu XVI is The Initial Unplugging from The Matrix, and The Separation from The Avatar. You cease to attach your Sense of Identity with the Vessel, the Machine, the Vehicle that You Are Piloting or Driving. Then, the statements such as “IT Moves” and “IT Feels” and “IT Thinks” become actual, and not merely novel notions. All external descriptions of this attitude pale in comparison to actually experiencing this attitude.

There is yet another concurrent factor, even ‘weirder’ than the above.
There is a genuine sense of how All The Surrounding Construct is A Collection of Information. The “Tower” Crumbles not because chunks of material mutually separate and dissociate from each other — the bodily form remains intact. It is “the reality” of those ‘building blocks’ and of ‘the overall structure’ that is utterly thrown into question, the Sense of Their Stability. To have the vision of how All This is “Congealed Information” is more devastating to The Old Sensibility than can be imagined for ‘ordinary living’. You do not question the movements and happenings of “reality”; but while you observe yourself and your surroundings, your “view” of it has been drastically altered. And it is a “view” that cannot be shared with others, unlike when two people can point to a rock and agree on ‘its’ existence — even if you happen to be with another who also has shifted “view”. I that case, at best, the two “view”-shifted individuals can mutually chuckle over the “it’s just information” humor.