Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Tarot Never Stops Giving

As so often on this blog, which is simply aimed at education and edification and not at pictures of half-naked men, I am today going to reveal another of these great secrets of occultism. And without more ado, here is the Hound's finding on the subject:
Because the universe is a bit random, divination methods have to be as well.
If you want that in more technical language, it is probably the embodiment of the principle of 'as above, so below'. The cards show the events of the invisble and material worlds, and because the unexpected can always happen, the cards have some surprises up their sleeves. What I specifically mean here, is that it would be very wrong to say, for example, that you have got at *the* meaning of a tarot card. Any divination method worth its salt will be able to jump up and surprise you with something completely unexpected. And this variance is found in the different ways of understanding tarot cards, which are all ultimately ways of assigning experiences or events to a particular card. It is also a common experience that particular understanding will come or go as the student is ready.
I was reminded of this when working a night shift recently. It was a very quiet night and my two colleagues and myself sat and I showed them some tarot cards on my phone. They had never even seen the cards before, and the only thing I told them was that they work by the reader projecting onto the card their own inner world so that the person's psychology is revealed by how they see the actual images. I was very interested to find that from a literally standing start both of them were absolute naturals, and in fact just by seeing how two people without preconceptions would see tarot cards, I actually learned a lot about what they can show. Of course it helped that the two people were intelligent and open to the idea of just describing a picture and making connections.
This little experiment reinforces the conviction I have had forever that it isn't really possible to be dogmatic about how to read the cards. In fact anyone can read them - as long as the deck is a pictorial one. In fact I have always suspected that the snobbery about the Marseille tarot is a way of keeping it in the hands of a clique of 'experts'. The major way of understanding the tarot cards for the past century has been looking at them and seeing what they show.
It is also very apparent to me that because so many people have had a go at creating maps of the universe over the centuries, different ones will come into play for an individual at different times. One I have previously tried to learn and actually did understand at one point, is the attribution of the tarot cards to the qabalistic Tree of Life. This is of course a venerable magical way of understanding the universe. My personal difficulty with it as it relates to tarot is that I always think the Majors should be on the sephiroth and the Minors on the paths, rather than the other way round, which always seems to me to imply that the Minors influence the Majors. The other major arguments about the Tree and the tarot (such as whether or not tsaddi is the Star - if you want to know about this one you really will have to look elsewhere on the internet) suggest to me that the Golden Dawn attempted to marry the tree and the tarot and there are a few problems.
They succeeded better with astrological correspondences - this is of course my personal opinion, and I think the reason they succeeeded better was that they actually moved the tarot round to fit the astrological signs. I don't have a problem with that, myself, since the point I started this post with was that divination systems have to be mutable to cope with the chaotic nature of the universe. I never got on well with this system, and in fact always found astrology rather implausible until two things happened. Don't get me wrong, the sort of free-form witch I am absorbs knowledge by conduction rather than anything else so that I am unlikely ever to internalise a complicated magical system, but astrology's worth was suddenly revealed to me. I have a friend who is a much more studious witch than me, and she commented to me that I don't seem at all like an Aries to her, much more like a Taurus. I swear I hadn't already told her this, but the fact is that I should have been a Taurus: I was born a month early. I simply couldn't wait to get out of my mother, and I wasn't receiving enough nourishment or developing properly so I was born at a bouncing 3lb 2oz and am a month older than I should be. My friend had correctly divined that actually I was functioning as if I was a different star sign, the one I should have been born under!
The other thing which brought home to me that there may be something about is a sudden conjunction between the astrological understanding of the tarot and my own understanding of the cards. I found among my notes on tarot, the cards attributed by the Golden Dawn to Leo, which is my mother's sign. Regular readers will know that my relationship with my mother is at best ambivalent and at worst totally conflictual, so it comes as no surprise to me what her birth sign's cards are (pictured). I can see my mother in those pictures clear as anything, in fact they look like a family album!
The astrological attributions of the cards have therefore become my current understanding of choice. Of course I may return to the qabala at some point and being me, reserve the right to understand the cards as I damn well please. Personally I find the Inappropriate Tarot tumblr very very revealing indeed, and am currently reading a book called Tarot for Grownups. The journey of tarot literally never ends, but the reader can find himself on different pathways as he goes along.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Seeing and The Eye

Sometime during the course of last weekend I had a go at poking my own eye out in my sleep. I know, it sounds more ridiculous the more I say it, but there is no other explanation for the way I woke up with what turned out to be a nail-shaped dent on my eye, which had already formed scar tissue which blurred my vision. The doctor's removal of the scar tissue was the work of moments but the necessity to stay at home putting endless drops in it and wait for it to get better, was another matter.
I'm not good at waiting for things which can't be rushed. For Goddess' sake, I'm putting the drops in, why can't it get better now?
There is another aspect of having a wound (one which isn't really anyone's fault) - it requires its recipient to sit with the fact that sometimes these things just happen, something always difficult for someone as willful as me.
Some wounds of course are spoils of war. I personally keep souvenirs of several wars which gave me wounds. You may feel that this is the wrong attitude to take, but those people shouldn't have gone a-warring.
Visual wounds, of course, have particular associations. With criminals for a start, since you never see a pirate portrayed without an eye patch. Magically, of course, there is no such thing as being blinded, since we put so much effort into seeing in other ways. Also forced inactivity and sensory changes forces you to see in other ways.
But the main thing this opportunity has given me is the need not to be dramatic about it. It's getting better and if it doesn't completely recover I'll go back.
Plus when I rang work I chanced to get one of my colleagues who is a c#nt - I took great pleasure in going into stomach-churnung detail which plainly revolted her :-D

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Spirit of Place: 1960s Birmingham in Flower of Gloster

A picture-heavy post this time (I'm not having Inexplicable Device saying my posts are too long to read, cheek). I bought this 1967 children's TV series as a present to myself to celebrate my new job, and I just love the contemporary depiction of Birmingham. I just hope John Grindrod is reading this!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

My Lent Book

As you know for some years I have distorted the Christians' practice of having a 'Lent Book ' to read. In line with the way I gave up the practise of the Catholic faith one Lent, I usually make sure it is one which will nourish my development of self and Will, or at least one which will appeal to one of my interests.
This year it is a book I have been nibbling at for some time already, My Father's Guru by Jeffrey Masson (the picture illustrates him with the said guru). The guru in question was a chap called Paul Brunton - I hadn't heard of him until the book's title caught my eye in a charity shop.
It tells the story of how his parents' relationship with the guru strongly influenced Masson's upbringing. In fact one of the crits on the cover describes it as the most peculiar upbringing imaginable. While I don't think that is necessarily true, for me the book is a strong portrait of how parents' more bizarre interests can fuck up the kids. Of course I can say that secure in the knowledge that I am never going to have children, so will never have to deal with the problem of telling them that their dad is a witch and while we know that's fine, the world outside may not be keen.
Masson's portrait of Brunton is not without its critics, as you would expect:
'Many well-respected people -- whom one simply can't pass off as easily duped -- hold a view of Paul Brunton so markedly at variance with the one created by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson in "My Father's Guru" (review, Feb. 7) as to cast significant doubt on the objectivity of Mr. Masson's memories and the conjectures based upon them.
'Library Journal, for example, described Brunton's posthumously published "Notebooks" as "vigorous, clear-minded and independent . . . a synthesis of Eastern mysticism and Western rationality." A review in Choice said that "his work can stand beside that of such East-West 'bridges' as Merton, Huxley, Suzuki, Watts and Radhakrishnan." The San Francisco Chronicle observed that "the meticulousness of [ Brunton's ] reading and interviewing, as well as his personal, inward application of that knowledge, reveals a genius for balance."' (
I don't really have an opinion on Brunton's character or philosophy, which seems to be the standard adaptation of Eastern ideas by a Westerner, but frankly I'm not impressed by that list of the Great and the Good who are bridges. I was so pleased when a deacon visited the monastery where I was a novice in my misspent youth and said of Merton, 'Imagine having that prick in the monastery'. And of course I'm never impressed by the Great and the Good or by gurus for that matter.
It has even come to my attention that there are even people who read this blog in the hope of learning something about witchcraft from me!
I like Masson. His only other book I have read is the one against psychotherapy, in which I thought he made the mistake of referring to abuses of psychotherapy to bolster his argument that the whole of psychotherapy is an abuse, while in fact very few psychotherapists use cattle prods. I think the guru book will always be open to criticism because it is the recollections of a teenage boy. Nonetheless the musings of a grown man on the nature of spiritualiry and sexuality and so on, are present. This book is a reflection rather than a biography. Masson is vegan and his more recent books are all about animals. If such is his Will, then so be it.
My reading of this book has come at the time of the downfall of two monastic turds I knew in my youth. One has been sent down for child abuse and perjury - I and others genuinely had no idea which probably indicates the great danger of the man. The other has not been caught breaking the law but is a shit of the first order, and this is now finally out in the media. These events and reading this book have reinforced for me how dangerous putting people on a pedestal can be and how turds seek protection in respectability.
That said I have a feeling that one of my present colleagues is a paedophile. I have no evidence, I just Know in the way witches do. I conferred with my Goddess mother who had exactly the same sensation, and I am really impressed with how extremely ill he has been looking since then. As it happens, the witches are the ones who make the difference in the world and I would hope that turds in our ranks are firmly prevented from harming.