This Week at Gatewood: August 23–29, 2015

SDRandCo (36)

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in!

Before getting into our weekly wrap-up, I’d like to make a quick announcement. Freelance writer Robin Flanigan is working on an article for BP magazine, and would like to interview bipolar people over 50 years of age. Please email robin@thekineticpen.com to get in touch if you’re interested in this. Also, we’d appreciate it if you’d help spread the word for her, so feel free to pass the information along to other folks you know. If you want to check out some of her work, her website is The Kinetic Pen.

Here are our features for the week of August 23–29:

Monday:Peace Will Never Give Up,” art by Delawer-Omar

Tuesday:After the Races,” poetry by Erin Abernethy

Wednesday:Baseball in New York, 1950” artwork by Zengael

Thursday:The Psychology of Ritual” by D.V. Gray

Friday:In the Mystery,” photography by P.L. Miller with a quote from physicist Fred Alan Wolf

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

docBe sure to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as humor, literary opinions, animal pics and rescues, and all your behind-the-scenes Journal action.

pigeon1Did you know you can subscribe to Gatewood Journal and receive a monthly newsletter with all our features for the month? Like a weekly wrap-up, only monthly, so your e-mail box won’t get cluttered. Like a magazine, only digital, because we love trees.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of August 23–29, 2015. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!


Header photo via Morguefile.

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The Psychology of Ritual

stonehenge

by D.V. Gray

Magick and psychology are very closely linked. It is far more likely, however, to hear this observation made by those practicing magick than by those practicing psychology. Psychology in general – and particularly the field of clinical psychology – takes a dim view of magick, regarding it as superstitious nonsense. “Magickal thinking” is even listed among symptoms of various mental illnesses, defined as “superstition; obsession; attributing cause and effect where there is none.” But how do we define magick? According to Aleister Crowley, magick is simply “the art and science of causing change to occur in conformity with Will.” Is this not also the purpose of psychotherapy – to make changes within the individual within the scope of that person’s abilities and purpose in life? Perhaps it’s the “presumption” perceived in defining magick as a science which rankles those more inclined toward the traditional sciences. But if it is practiced well, magick is certainly capable of yielding consistent, replicable results as much as many forms of psychotherapy can.

The relationship between magick and psychology need not be an antagonistic one. One of the most effective uses of combining these two may be in the context of ritual.

There are those who practice magick who would say, of course, that psychology is somewhat like the “debunking squad.” Just when one thinks one has experienced contact with a guardian angel or some such being, along come the neuropsychologists to say that it’s all a brain wave pattern caused by something you ate before you fell asleep. In the twinkling of an eye your guardian angel is no more than a chemical interaction. Enlightenment is reduced to becoming aware that your synapses aren’t firing quite like they ought to.

But the relationship between magick and psychology need not be an antagonistic one. The fields of parapsychology and transpersonal psychology have made vast inroads into the study of consciousness and the “paranormal.” And either magick or psychology can be easily used to assist with the other. One of the most effective uses of combining these two may be in the context of ritual.

What is ritual? In one sense, a ritual is a ceremonial form of deciding to do something – make some change within yourself, acquire some external object, etc. – and creating the means to do so. In another sense a ritual is a habit. Perhaps both these meanings can shed some light on why rituals are used in magick. A ritual that is based in traditional magick – whether Wiccan, Thelemic or what-have-you – is a consensual ceremony. It may have been passed down for generations or only written up formally with the inception of that particular group’s work, but it has the forces of habit and history behind it. Everyone participating knows that this is the way it’s done, that it works this way, and that others have done this same ritual (with perhaps minor variations). It is as predictable as knowing that if you sit down to read the newspaper after dinner, you’ll probably fall asleep. However, it also has the power of being a ceremony – it is formal, in a sense; it is set apart from everyday activities. As such, it focuses the attention more effectively than, for instance, daydreaming about the object of your ritual while you watch television. Ritual galvanizes the energies and sets them to work upon the task at hand.

Ritual is a ceremonial form of deciding to do something. It has the forces of habit and history behind it, but it also has the power of being a ceremony, set apart from everyday activities.

This is one of the much misunderstood elements of magick. There seems to be a not uncommon idea that magick is mostly about ritual in the sense of gathering up all the necessary tools and articles, saying the right words in the right order as you make the right motions, and the next thing you know, you have a new job (or boyfriend or car, it doesn’t much matter) just as you wanted. I cannot count the number of requests I hear for “spells” or sigils or amulets or what-not. Magick is not fundamentally about following a recipe. Many of the items which were specified in those traditional rituals are there because of the time when they came into being; a witch in the 1700’s may have used mandrake root dug by the dark of the moon for a very specific reason which had nothing to do with any inherent powers of the root itself. It took far more effort in that time and place for a woman to slip out of her house at night unnoticed with a tool suitable for digging than it takes for most of us to drive out to the nearest herb shop or natural health center and purchase the same item. One must consider that the acquisition of the ingredients and tools specified very likely had as much importance as the actual items themselves, if not more. In a similar way, A.O. Spare as well as Crowley added energy to their own rituals by drawing upon the sexual elements – but what was taboo in Crowley’s England is commonplace now, and unlikely to produce the same effect for anyone except the very sheltered.

As far as tools go, there is much to be said for creating your own. Tradition may say that one needs a wand, a cup, a sword and a pantacle – but if you don’t truly understand the use of or need for a pantacle, then why on earth have one? Or any other tool, for that matter? The purpose of the tools is to assist you practically (as in using the cup to hold the wine or whatever liquid you may need), but they also serve to set you into a particular frame of mind, to focus your energies on the task at hand. If the staff you carved from a fallen tree branch gives you a stronger sense of your own power than the conductor’s wand you bought at the store, then by all means, use your staff! If, on the other hand, you firmly believe that the only tools which will work are the ones described specifically in minute detail in an old book of magick you found at a second-hand store, then you’d better get started on searching for those particular tools; if you are that convinced that no others will suit your purposes, then they probably won’t.

The success of a ritual depends more on elements of psychology than on one’s tools or strength of faith or desire.

So why do rituals work? If it isn’t the specific ingredients, and the way in which we go about getting them is far different from our ancestors’ methods, then what is left to our ritual that makes it work? The secret lies within the individual. It is a matter of expectation and belief. I do not mean belief in a deity or godform or anything such as that; nor do I mean that when a ritual “didn’t work” it is because someone “didn’t believe enough” – an idea akin to the Christian demand for “faith”. (And Christianity is a magickal religion too, as much as Wicca or any of the others.) What I mean has more to do with psychology – a concept called the “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Most people know the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy. The classic example is the student who worries so much about failing a test that he actually does fail the test, despite all his preparation. Or the person who is so terrified of public speaking that she gets laryngitis before her class presentation. However, they often work in “positive” ways as well – for example, look at the success of the concept of “positive thinking.” This is nothing more or less than putting the self-fulfilling prophecy to work for you – just like a magickal ritual. Rituals work on the same principle; we assume that they will, and so they do. If you are relatively new to the ritual and cannot rely on your personal experience to be sure it’s worth trying, there are still hundreds or thousands of others who have performed the same ritual with success; vicarious results are often as effective as personal ones in setting up expectations.

It is gratifying to feel that you got what you wanted simply because you wanted it badly enough. But wanting or wishing very hard for your ritual to work is generally not nearly as effective as simply expecting it to work.

And that word brings up another issue: that of expectation versus desire. It is gratifying, even therapeutic sometimes, to feel that you got what you wanted simply because you wanted it badly enough. (This seems to be the case especially with adolescents performing “love spells.”) It is also satisfying to the obsessive-compulsive individual to think that the reason for the success of their ritual was due to meticulous preparation and precision in carrying out the ceremony. But wanting or wishing very hard for your ritual to work is generally not nearly as effective as simply expecting it to work. Crowley likened this frame of mind to the same expectation you would feel if you asked your servant to bring a drink or accomplish some errand. Most of us, of course, don’t have servants, but a more applicable way of illustrating the point might be the frame of mind you enter when you have just given your order to a waiter at a restaurant. Unless you’ve become accustomed to abysmal service in restaurants, you assume that the waiter will bring you what you ordered, and that he will do so within a reasonable amount of time. As soon as you have given your order and he has left the table, then, the matter is out of your mind. You don’t continue to call out your order to him, or hope that he heard you, or sit there still contemplating how much you love chicken marsala. You have done all that was necessary, and now you can forget about it and talk with your dinner companion until the waiter reappears with your order.

If you assume that your ritual will accomplish what you wanted, then it will. Worrying over it or considering how it might go wrong will only create those possibilities on a larger scale. They are already potentialities, but giving attention to them gives them a life of their own, so to speak. And since it can be tricky to think very hard of what you want without also implying what you don’t want, that may well be one reason why it seems to work best to do the ritual and forget about it. Have you ever noticed that you can want something very badly but once you no longer want it, that is when you actually get it? Ritual is often like planting seeds; you can put them into the ground and water them but it will be of absolutely no use to keep going back and digging them up to see if they’ve grown yet. Nor will it help them grow faster if you pull on the shoots when they begin to peek through the soil. In the same way, a ritual works itself out when the time is right – no sooner, no later.

Think of this the next time someone tells you that magick is “all in your head.” And let us hope now that knowing how it happens will not keep you from being able to make it happen!

 

© Copyright 1999 by D.V. Gray. Republished 2013, 2015.

[This article previously appeared in SKOPOS Vol. II No. 3; it is presented here in an updated format by permission of the author.]


Photo via Pixabay.

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This Week at Gatewood: July 5 – 11, 2015

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by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in!

We’ve finally done it: added a subscription box to our site! Frankly, I’m a little intimidated by MailChimp, but I held my breath and poked around until I felt we had something usable, and our tests showed it to be in good working order. Our e-pigeons are standing by to bring you your newsletter!

Don’t worry – all the hard part is done on our end. Your part is easy. Just put your e-mail address in the box, click the button, and wait for your confirmation e-mail. Then click the button when your confirmation e-mail arrives. That’s all. (One note: I have noticed that subscriptions managed through MailChimp take a little while to send out the confirmation e-mail. It doesn’t instantly show up in your box. Our tests ranged from 5 to 15 minutes.)

What do you get when you subscribe? Well, currently the plan is to send out a monthly newsletter with all our features for the month. Like a weekly wrap-up, only monthly, because we don’t want to overload your e-mail box. Like a magazine, only digital, because we love trees.

Needless to say, we won’t share your information, and you won’t get a ton of useless stuff or spam from us. We have no relatives in Nigerian royalty, and no one here has the slightest idea what to do if your penis isn’t everything you’d want.

Here are our features for the week of July 5 – 11:

Monday:Corpus Libertas,” photography and digital artwork by K.C. Collins

Tuesday:Thievery,” poetry by Rowan McConnell

Wednesday:Seven Questions on Life & Death” an interview with D.V. Gray from Hunter MacKenzie

Friday:Monsters and Fear,” photography by P.L. Miller with a quote from Mike Carey

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Be sure to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as all sorts of humor, animal pics and rescues, and other tidbits of interest. If you have ideas for things you’d like to see included in the newsletter, or general suggestions, we’d love to hear from you. E-mail us or contact Doc on Twitter with your ideas.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of July 5 – 11, 2015. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!


Photo via MorgueFile.

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Seven Questions on Life & Death

universal questions

Artwork via Pixabay.

An Interview with D.V. Gray by Hunter MacKenzie

When I worked with the small group who wrote and produced the quarterly journal Skopos, we covered a variety of subjects within our issues, and received many philosophical questions which we discussed and debated at length. Sometimes we even answered them to one person or another’s satisfaction. D.V. Gray was one of our more knowledgeable writers, and in the opinion of many, possessed a keen insight into what we humorously called “the big questions.” Most of the time he was more fond of responding to our questions with even more questions, but on one occasion he agreed to an interview “for the record” and gave some of his thoughts on a few of these matters.

We start out with all the knowledge we will ever need, and then forget it as we become involved with various aspects of the reality we are creating. Then we spend eons trying to remember what it was we forgot, catching pieces here & there until eventually we’ve put it all back together.

1. Why are we here? What is the purpose of life — and death, for that matter?

Well, what does it mean to be conscious? To be aware. So the reason for consciousness — which is life as most know it — is to become aware. Of what? That’s where it varies from one person to another. It’s highly unlikely that any one person could become aware of “everything that is” at once. And so we take it in stages, and we call these lifetimes or we call them parallel realities or what-have-you.

But we are still absorbing, still becoming aware of things, even between these lifetimes. You learn when you sleep, for instance. It’s been shown that the physical brain can learn and record information while your body sleeps, so do you think that the mind which inhabits that brain is any less capable of learning and perceiving while another part of your consciousness is occupied with something else?

That is life — an infinite number of “layers of reality” which we are constantly creating and adding onto and at the same time absorbing information from. And death is just the transition that gets us from one place to the other — the thing that ties up the loose ends of what happens to the physical vehicle.

The physical vehicle is unwieldy when it comes to immediate, direct perception; it serves its purpose, but like any tool, it is designed for a very specific purpose, and when that purpose has been accomplished then a new tool is needed to carry out the next task. And so we discard that tool in order to move on and use another.

Now, there are those, of course, who can function inside that vehicle, recognizing it as the thing that it is, coming and going from it at will, utilizing other vehicles at the same time, even — perhaps we might liken it to “multi-tasking” – they work on more than one phase of their evolution at a time in this way. But by and large, people use the vehicle for the purpose it was designed, or at least their best guess at it, and then it is necessary to have another.

In general, I would describe one’s reason for being as… becoming aware of oneself, one’s capabilities and capacities, and by doing so, understanding the nature of reality as a whole. Religions tend to refer to it as “being saved” — and to me, that’s misleading, because if there is something one must be saved from, it is one’s own self, or something of one’s own making – and the only thing that could really save you from yourself is… well, yourself. Some philosophies refer to it as “becoming enlightened” but I’m not certain that’s really accurate either. It implies that we start out “in the dark,” and we don’t, not really — we start out with all the knowledge we will ever need, and then proceed to gradually forget it as we become more and more involved with various aspects of the reality we are creating. And then we spend eons trying to remember what it was we forgot, catching bits & pieces here & there until eventually we’ve put it all back together.

The oracle at Delphi is supposed to have said, “Know thyself.” I think this is as close as we can get to a basic understanding of why we’re here — of why we are.

2. Do you think that there is one religion which is more valid than another, or that one practice of magick or philosophy is better suited than another for acquiring self-knowledge?

It depends on the individual. One person might need a very strict and rigid structure within which to learn and comprehend one’s place in the universe. Another might chafe at such restrictions and be stifled, needing only the barest of hints to apprehend the deepest secrets of the universe.

All religions have some truth, and all have their share of lies. Not intentional ones, necessarily, but just… things that are set forth as fundamental truths which aren’t that at all, just an incidental observation arising from not seeing the whole picture, perhaps. And unfortunately, the psychology of many people who are drawn to such religions is not capable at that point in their own process of discerning that this is not necessarily “ultimate truth,” or even a piece of the “whole truth.”

And, for that matter, what is “truth” to anyone? It’s whatever is working at the time. No more, no less. I can say, “the sky is blue,” and it may be true from my perspective at that particular moment — but it is most certainly not going to be true at that same moment for someone living halfway across the world in a different time zone. It may not even be true for someone living ten minutes away from me, who may be getting a downpour of rain. And even if it is true for me right now, in a few hours it very likely won’t be anymore. So even though this is a very basic example, you can see how truth is a very relative thing, and it constantly changes even for the same individual.

3. Why does “magick” sometimes not work? For that matter, why does it just seem that sometimes nothing is working, that one is just “out of luck”?

OK, let’s tackle the subject of magick first. How do we define it? Crowley gave us a good enough working definition; he said it is the art & science of causing change to occur in conformity with will. So the answer is implied right there in the definition: if it didn’t work, it wasn’t your will. Now, you have to understand “will” as Crowley was referring to it, of course; it’s not just “well, I wanted it to happen and it didn’t.” You may very well think you want something to happen right now, but if it goes completely contrary to your nature, chances are quite high that it will not happen.

Take a concrete example. If you have outlined your present course based on the idea that you are going to learn from adversity, then doing some sort of magickal operation to make things go more smoothly for you at work is just plain not going to work. You may not remember that you chose adversity as your teacher for that lesson, and you may wander around in frustration for years, not understanding why “nothing seems to work” or nothing seems to “come easily” for you. But you’ve already set that course, you see, whether you have conscious knowledge of that or not right now, and so everything you do will bring you right back into that course until you do begin to learn from it.

4. What are your views on gender and sexuality? Does sexuality get in the way of or contribute to knowing oneself?

Gender is a thing of the physical world. I don’t think we start out as gendered beings, and I certainly don’t think we end up that way. But most societies enforce it because originally it was a necessity for maintaining the human population. Even today, when the earth is so overpopulated that such an idea is laughable, many people still follow this early instinct that gender division is a matter of life & death, that it’s absolutely necessary for survival, that the human race will somehow be diminished if we don’t have clear gender roles and functions.

In many, many cultures, those who are considered the “spiritual leaders” or the “enlightened ones” are rather androgynous in nature. And much of the time, when you find yourself in a “non-physical” sort of reality, gender is not an issue unless you make it one from clinging to your physical experiences. Think about your dreams, for a very basic example; how often do you pay attention to what gender you are? Gender is an artificially imposed duality, like the distinction between physical and spiritual, or between sacred and sexual. It has a function, but trying to hang onto it, to take “refuge” in one’s maleness or femaleness when there is no need works against you. You have to be willing to accept both genders within yourself and even get to a point where you don’t distinguish between them — where you don’t see things as being innately masculine or feminine traits or behaviors.

Now, if you can get to this level of thinking, where gender is not really a consideration, then the gender of one’s partner is really a moot point as well, isn’t it? So issues of homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality… all that just becomes so much categorization and anthropology.

Sexuality… well, I think that sort of follows the same logic as religion & philosophy: it’s very individual. Some people are going to progress very quickly by exploring themselves through relationships with other people, and sexual relationships tend to be very intensely revealing of things like this. Plus there are ways of engaging in sexual acts which can heighten one’s sensitivity and perceptions in general, and accelerate the learning process. I’m not talking about just screwing around; that, like anything else, has its function and its place, but it tends to reveal more about the individuals involved at the present stage rather than open up possibilities to go further ahead. One way shows you what you are, while the other way shows you what you could be.

5. Is an ascetic way of life better for pursuing one’s spiritual evolution? Why do some take vows of silence, abstinence, etc.?

Again, it’s very individual. I suspect that somewhere along the line, everyone probably engages in some period of asceticism of some sort. It might mean living a lifetime as a monk and taking vows of celibacy & poverty; it might mean undergoing a period of one’s life where food is scarce and resources are not readily available to provide oneself with the basic necessities of life — living in a war zone, for instance, or simply not ever making enough money to live any other way than hand-to-mouth.

We have to take into account, too, that what may be an ascetic life for one person is not the standard for another. Taking a vow of celibacy hardly has the same meaning for someone who has enjoyed a very full and satisfying sex life as it does for someone who cannot even bear the thought of other people having sex. Taking a vow of silence is meaningless if you have nothing to say anyway. The purpose of a vow is self-discipline and dedication, and we do not learn discipline from doing something we would already be doing anyway. If you have insomnia and cannot sleep past 4:00 a.m., then it is hardly “virtuous” for you to get up at dawn every day. So something which seems like a relatively insignificant act to one person may actually be a huge sacrifice for another, and vice versa.

But don’t think that self-sacrifice and suffering automatically carry any “extra points toward enlightenment.” While some people may flourish spiritually or intellectually from sublimating one’s energies in such situations, it is not a guarantee of anything. There are no absolutes, and nothing is innately virtuous.

6. Is it always better to pursue knowledge? Are there instances where we are better off not knowing something?

Hmm… I like to think that I’d always rather know something than not know, even if it’s information I’m not comfortable with or don’t fully understand. And many people share this preference, or at least like to think they do. We do often grow by gradually adjusting to and assimilating ideas we initially find distasteful. So I do think we are usually closer to following our reason for being when we are at least open to knowledge of all sorts.

However, realistically… sometimes we have to trick ourselves. Sometimes there are areas of the psyche which become somewhat fossilized, unwilling and unable to absorb ideas that are necessary for us to understand. We get blocked. And so we perform a sort of “sleight of mind” — one part of our consciousness tricks another into opening up for this idea or that.

But that is keeping oneself in the dark for the purpose of shedding greater light. So overall I would have to say that yes, the open and whole-hearted pursuit of knowledge is generally the best route. You tend to learn faster that way than you do by merely waiting to be “spoon-fed” by the reality you’ve created.

7. Do teachers help or hinder progress?

Depends on the teacher — and depends on the individual being “taught.” You can be told something over and over in a thousand different ways and still not comprehend, no matter how wonderful the teacher and how eager the student. But then a “real-life” experience illustrates the point and it suddenly becomes clear. Would it have flashed into your consciousness with such clarity if you had not had the idea presented so thoroughly to you by someone? Who can say? But overall, I tend to believe that it is helpful to share information that way.

Occasionally it is possible to be “steered astray” by a well-meaning teacher who gives you information that is contrary to something you thought you knew. But keep in mind that no place we go is really “off our path” — it is only a detour we forgot to post a sign about. Perhaps you chose that teacher to give you faulty information because you needed to learn the “incorrect” way before you would understand the “right” way. Perhaps it was a matter of timing, no more, no less.

And of course the teacher learns too — we can’t forget that. When your paths intersect, it is not just one of your paths that is crossed; both individuals are affected by the contact. The repercussions are felt among each individual’s own circle of friends and contacts. And really, this is true of all human contact, isn’t it? Everything in reality… eventually affects everything else.

© Copyright 1999 by Hunter MacKenzie & D.V. Gray. Republished 2003, 2004, 2011, 2015.

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This Week at Gatewood: June 21-27, 2015

readerncatdrawing

Artwork via Pixabay.

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in! We’ve changed our background this week to something a bit lighter, and increased the font size a tiny bit more. Small changes, but I think it makes things a bit easier on the eyes – and that’s important to us, since the latest numbers indicate that many of our visitors stay here reading for an hour or more. Let us know what you think by emailing us at info(at)gatewoodjournal.org or tweeting to @docnicholas.

Here are our features for the week of June 21-28:

Monday:Seaver,” artwork by Zengael

Tuesday:The Photographs of Photographers,” poetry by F.X. MacKenzie

Wednesday:Intro & Preparatory Notes for The Tarot Compendium” from D.V. Gray, Hunter MacKenzie, and “Queen Z”

Friday:Letting Go,” photography by P.L. Miller with wise words from the Tao Te Ching

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Here’s a bit of humor from our Special Assistant Dr Nicholas:

IN A WORLD...

Be sure to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as book love, animal humor & rescues, and other items of interest.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of June 21-27. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!

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Intro & Preparatory Notes for The Tarot Compendium

tarot

Photo via Morguefile.

by D.V. Gray, Hunter MacKenzie, and “Queen Z”

Our Tarot Compendium now has its own page here:
http://www.gatewoodjournal.org/mind/hermetic-perspectives/the-tarot-compendium/

Below are some notes and recommendations for best utilizing the Compendium and the Tarot in general.


 

Although there are some general meanings which tend to hold true for divination with the Tarot, it is highly individualized and needs a great deal of work, study, observation and interpretation on the part of the reader. The more experience you gain, the more accurate your insights will be. The meanings suggested here are intended to give some basis from which to start – not to be a comprehensive or dogmatic list of rules. It is to be expected that as one gains experience in reading the cards, one will expand upon the suggested interpretations, developing a deeper and more individual sense of meaning from each card.

Some suggest that reading more than two or three times a week is excessive, but we have not found this to necessarily be the case. For matters in which you wish to assess probabilities, it is essential that you learn what sort of time frame the cards tend to form for you. To this end, reading once a day (or every other day) at approximately the same time each day may prove useful. Once the habit has been established, insight and understanding becomes far more fluent than it tends to be in a situation where the cards are read haphazardly or only on occasions where the querist feels in desperate need of “answers.”

As far as layout, several have become common in general usage, and it cannot really be said that one is inherently better than another. The Celtic Cross tends to give just about the right amount of information, in our opinion, and makes establishing the time frame of events relatively simple. (Note: we do not use the method described in the booklet accompanying the Waite deck, where the querist chooses a “significator” card. If that method resonates with you and works for you, however, then by all means use it.) Other layouts may provide a more “condensed” view if information is needed quickly or if a narrower focus is desirable, while some layouts on the opposite extreme tend to yield a great deal of information based on the relationships of the cards to one another in the layout. It is not necessary to be familiar with all layouts to be proficient; it is more important to master a layout that gives you the right amount of information – then if you find it necessary to expand or narrow it, you may wish to explore other layouts.

Regarding reversals (upside-down cards) – there are various opinions on whether this should be incorporated or not, but we feel that the cards yield much more detail and intricacy in the interpretation if reversals are allowed.

Regarding gender – many sources contend that the “court cards” (Page, Knight, Queen and King) will always represent persons of certain genders (i.e., Queens will always represent an older woman, Knights will stand for a young man, etc.). This depends mainly on one’s own orientation and beliefs about the matter. We tend to get more accurate insights from the cards when the court cards are not assigned one gender – but again, this is a matter for individual interpretation, and your own experience is the best guide to how you should interpret these for yourself.

It is recommended that you keep your cards in a safe place, out of general view, and that you not let others handle them indiscriminately. The more “bonded” they become to you, the more accurate the insights will be for your life. With a new deck, it is not a bad idea to sleep with them under your pillow for some nights at first (although this may be more psychological than anything else).

It is advisable to bear in mind that events are probabilities and are not “set in stone.” The very act of looking ahead to gauge the possibilities available to you changes the range of those probabilities and the likelihood of what will happen. Therefore, it is a good idea to phrase your questions in a way such as, “What is likely to be the result if I…?” or “I would like insight into…” rather than expecting the cards to display a specific outline of future events. It is not uncommon for the process of reading to function as a tool to extend awareness and clarify what you already know but aren’t aware that you know.

Divination by the Tarot is a practice based largely on interpretation. While the cards themselves may have designated rudimentary meanings, what you get from your reading is necessarily highly personal and subjective. The better you know yourself and the further reaches of your own mind, the more accurate your readings are likely to be.

© Copyright 1993 by D.V. Gray, Queen Z & Hunter MacKenzie. Updated and republished 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2015

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This Week at Gatewood: Weekend Wrap-Up for March 8-14

antique camera newspaper

Photo via MorgueFile.

by K.C. Collins

Here’s your Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of March 8-14, 2015:

Monday:Lucky Fellows – Fungi Experts” by H. Koppdelaney

Tuesday:The Polar Bear Prince” by Geoff Hauser

Wednesday:Liber Tzaddi: Initiation, Balance, and the Eternal Companion” by D.V. Gray

Thursday:Three Things Thursday 2015/03/12” by Doc Nicholas

Friday:Walk the Path” by P.L. Miller

As always, we invite you to follow @docnicholas on Twitter to be updated on our daily posts. That’s it for the Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of March 8-14. Have a great week!

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