Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book Review: 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card

If you want to use Tarot to do readings for your self or others, or just as a symbol system for personal improvement, 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Mary Greer is a good place to start. The book provides a program to use for studying the cards, and an effective method of doing readings.

The book gives a method for readings termed R.I.T.E.: Reading Interactively for Transformation and Empowerment. That's what I've always thought readings should be about. They're not about telling the future. They're about giving people tools for dealing with the future. A reading shouldn't leave the person thinking: "Oh, no! This bad thing's going to happen to me and there's nothing I can do about it." or "Yes! Good things are coming my way; everything is taken care of." It should leave the person thinking: "O.K., now I've seen some factors that can affect what's going to happen. I know what I have to work with, and I can make a plan for dealing with it."

The study program is as follows: pick a card from the deck and apply 21 different ways of looking at it. Repeat with another card, and so forth. Aspects such as symbols, metaphor, stories and others are included. By the time you get through all 21 ways, you'll know the card like the back of your hand. Apply it to all 78 cards, and you'll not only be an expert, you'll be able to write your own book.

I'm following the program with the Page of Pentacles. If you're interested in tarot, you may want to pick up the book, pick a card, and follow the program as well.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Make Some Wishes This New Moon

I just picked up a copy of New Moon Astrology by Jan Spiller. I haven't finished reading it, but I'm going to try the program outlined in the book, and I think you should too. It's very simple; all you have to do is make some wishes (up to ten) just after each new moon. After the new moon in Aries, make a collage of pictures describing things you would like to have happen in the following 12 months. Also, during the period of the Sun's transit through the 11th house of your birth chart, you get an additional 40 wishes. Does this sound a bit crazy? No? It sounds like I've totally lost it? Well, let me explain.

Astrology is essentially the study of cycles. You are already familiar with daily, monthly and yearly cycles. For example, you wouldn't plant tomatoes in the middle of winter, unless you had a greenhouse with artificial lighting. Astrological cycles work the same way, they're just not as readily apparent. The cycles we'll be dealing with are the lunar and solar cycles. The lunar cycle is the basis of the system in Ms. Spiller's book. It's a well-known principle that the best time to start new things is after a new moon. Farmers in the old days even used to plant seeds just after a new moon. The new moon in Aries is even better for this purpose because it's also the start of the yearly solar cycle. I'm still not really clear on the 11th house thing, but I'll post again later after I've figured it out.

If you want to try it, there are a few details you'll need. The wishes should be written down by hand, not typed on a computer. This is from Ms. Spiller. Wishes that involve changing yourself are preferable to wishes for things or wishes that would change others. The wishes should be written down during the first eight hours after the new moon, with one exception that you can find on Ms. Spiller's website.

I'm posting this now instead of finishing the book first because there's a new moon in Aries coming up this Thursday, March 26, 2009. This will be an excellent opportunity to try Ms. Spiller's suggestions. Please leave a comment if you do decide to try it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Next Steps on the Hermetic Path

So you've read a couple of books and want to know what to do next. The next thing is detailed study of the four major fields of hermetism: qabalah, astrology, tarot and alchemy. Studying these four fields together will help your progress as the four are interdependent. You'll see that for yourself as you progress. Ritual magic is optional at this stage, and ceremonial magic is right out.

If you're reading Kabbalah, Magic & the Great Work of Self Transformation: A Complete Course and like the program given, you should follow it, at least for now. The important thing is to not hurry; there's a lot of information, and it takes time for it to sink in.

For the rest of you, the first book I recommend you read at this point is Kabbalistic Handbook for the Practicing Magician. The book gives very good basic information about Qabalah, but more importantly, it will give you an effective study method. And study you will, if you choose this path. This book recommends studying A Garden of Pomegranates: Skrying on the Tree of Life and The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism as qabalah books to read first, and I agree with this recommendation.

A good place to start with tarot is Tarot Awareness -- Exploring the Spiritual Path, or Learning the Tarot: A Tarot Book for Beginners if you can't get a copy of Tarot Awareness. For astrology, start with Astrology for Yourself: How to Understand And Interpret Your Own Birth Chart or Astrology for the Light Side of the Brain. Finally, for alchemy, start with The Complete Idiot's Guide to Alchemy.

At this point you may also want to consider group work. There are many choices here, but I recommend B.O.T.A.

Just so you know what you've gotten yourself into, I was looking at a tarot book (I forget which one) and saw a statement comparing learning tarot to learning chess. There's only a few basic concepts, but years are needed for mastery. The other fields of hermetism have the same characteristic. But at least you'll have something to do for a while.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Next Steps on the Mystic Path

I'm sure most of you reading this have already read my post on getting started. If not, you may want to now, because I'm going to talk today about what to do next if you've chosen the mystic path. The hermetic path will be another post, because the reading materials will be different.

Now just to refresh your memory, the mystic path aims at an eventual direct experience of the underlying unity of all things. One of the things that prevents this experience is negativity. For most of us, it comes in the form of projection. The best antidote for this is A Course in Miracles. The book says that you can read it in any order, but I recommend you start with the text. Don't rush things; just read a couple of sections per sitting. This will allow time for the ideas in the book to sink in. When you're ready, start the workbook exercises. Don't try to do more than one exercise per day. You can peek at the teacher's manual if you want, but I don't think it will do you much good until you finish the text and workbook.

Some of you may have a different problem: fundamentalist materialism. Expanding your concept of the universe is key here, and the answer is Kabbalah. The Berg brothers, who run the Kabbalah Centre, have many good introductory books. You'll immediately notice parallels between their version of the creation story and materialist science's Big Bang theory.

The third obstacle to Unity Consciousness is repression, where the less desirable parts of our mind are pushed beneath the surface. How do you know if this applies to you? If you're sure that you think only positive thoughts about yourself and others, it applies. If this is the case, you can try the mystic path, but I recommend the hermetic path for you, as it has some things that will allow you to get out of your own way. Stay tuned for my next post.

You may also want to look into Eastern philosophy. The Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Perennial Classics) is good, but not for beginners. The The I Ching or Book of Changes is a bit more accessible, but far deeper than it seems. Everyday Zen: Love and Work (Plus) is a good starting point.

Stay tuned for the next steps on the hermetic path.