by Beth Owl's Daughter
the many excellent Tarot books, decks, and other resources currently
available, I have found surprisingly few that approach the cards as
powerful ritual tools. Most popular books focus on setting up your
altar with various objects, tools. and candles, pulling the recommended
cards for this or that particular intention, reciting some chants, and
then doing visualizations and affirmations. A helpful start, but in my
own experience, the Tarot offers much more.
The Major Arcana
my experience, when working with the Tarot in terms of the Elements,
the Major Arcana relate to the direction of Center/Spirit. So, in
spellwork for an important spiritual goal or for a shift that may
require lengthy gestation and growth, working with the twenty-two trump
cards over a set period will create a powerful wave of change.
example, suppose I have decided to leave my current job, wishing to
find a more satisfying and prosperous alternative. I would set my
intention, and then I would perhaps decide on the length of time for
this shift to take place. Since I am working with the twenty-two cards
of the Majors, I might decide to work this spell over twenty-two lunar
cycles, or if I wanted quicker results, perhaps I would work
alternately with each New Moon and Full Moon.
with the Fool, I might spend the time of New Moon to Full Moon looking
for sacred Foolishness in my daily life; finding ways to lighten up;
challenging the routines and expectations of my self that fears to be a
Fool. I would search for places where a leap of faith might be a
powerful catalyst for growth, and I would cultivate an attitude of
following my bliss - like, for example, experimenting with exactly what
my bliss might be in the first place. Working with the boundless
potential of The Fool, I could look "outside the box" for what sort of
livelihood might excite me. I might imagine myself in completely
different careers, despite the fact that I have no experience or skill
in those lines of work. Only a Fool would do that, but it might just
open a door to something quite delightful. And besides, the Fool is
only the first step.
comes The Magician, whose nature is (among other things) to possess
skills, tools, and abilities that can manifest what he desires. During
waning Moon phase, I could work with the Magician to narrow down the
wild experimentation of the Fool to something a little more realistic.
Or I could take that time to edit my resume, transform my appearance,
and cultivate new skills that I might need for the new direction I wish
to manifest. The Magician is also a shaman, so I might do a vision
quest of some sort, or seek guidance from the allies and elementals I
card of the Majors offers some powerful energy for moving your
intention forward, and each can give you many lessons about your own
co- creative process. Be prepared for a very transformative event if
you decide to follow the Fool's Journey through the Major Arcana in
The Witch's Pyramid
Witch's Pyramid, sometimes called the Hermetic Quaternary, has been
called the springboard of magick. In The Spiral Dance, Starhawk
references these four principles in her descriptions of the Elements,
and I have found them useful in performing spellwork using the Tarot.
first principle is "To Know." This relates to the element of Air, East,
and therefore (in most Tarot systems) the Swords. To know means that it
is imperative that you have a clear intention in mind. The Swords cut
out the superfluous, determine boundaries, and bring the skills
necessary to weave the changes you desire, yet harm none. Swords work
with the power of the mind, words, poetry, and song. Magical work that
would be suited to the Swords might include writing, chanting and
second principle is "To Will." Knowing your intention, the challenge
here is to make it happen, to engage and move the energy. This relates
to South, Fire, and the Wands of the Tarot. Wands are the magical tool
for channeling energy, for directing your will. They represent your
desire, passion, your very life force. The Wands are where you connect
to your power. I have found that working with the Wands in a physically
active way is helpful. Get up! Move! Dance!
your body in imitation of the figures depicted. This can be repeated
and speeded up until it becomes a dance. In moving, you connect to your
physical energy. The Wands can arouse your bright spirit and light the
fires of creativity and power.
third principle is "To Dare." This energy is connected to the West, to
water, and the Cups of the Tarot. With daring, you face your fears, you
feel your feelings and you open to Mystery. The Tarot Cups are about
dreams, empathy, intuition, and healing. Like scrying in a dark chalice
of water, I have found that the Cups suit is particularly easy to
trance into. The images can be powerful for visualization and allow you
to surrender to your intuitive sense and the great Flow that moves us.
You also might use the Cups cards when doing dream work by meditating
on a chosen card before bedtime.
final principle, upon which the foundation rests, is "To Keep Silence."
When raising an energetic Cone of Power, after we release its energy,
we may wish to ground, letting any excess energy running through us
return to the earth. Similarly, this principle relates to the Earth
suit of the Tarot - the Pentacles (sometimes called Coins or Disks).
The Pentacles are the silence of midnight, the knowing in your bones,
the true North that points to your authenticity. They are also the
silent, fertile Earth, to which you return your energy, and from which
all abundance may grow. Pentacles are wonderful cards for spellwork
concerned with manifesting abundance, material needs, and the things
that nurture us, as well as that which we need to release and compost.
Work with the Pentacles suit when you do your green Witchcraft, and
herbal and gardening magic.
the symbolic language and imagery of the Tarot are powerful gateways to
wisdom and transformation. By combining and blending these principles
with the elemental energies of the Tarot suits, you can create
innumerable recipes for making deep, delicious magic. May you and your
beloveds be nurtured by your workings.
Owl's Daughter has worked with the Tarot as a tool for ritual, healing,
and self-discovery for over 33 years. She is a cocreator with the
Dragon's Cauldron (www.dragonscauldron.org), central North Carolina's Reclaiming group. Contact her at www.owlsdaughter.com