The tarot cards are commonly used for divination of the past, present and future. The cards are pulled randomly during divination, with the synchronicity of the moment determining the outcome through interpretation of the “random” results.
The tarot is also a tool unique tool for meditation on the many archetypes present within. Most every action and reaction mankind is possible of is present in the major and minor arcana. Contemplation of these archetypes reveals the inward movements of the self and soul. The placement of the cards for meditation can be done deliberately or they may be cast randomly to receive the messages of the divine.
Another application of the tarot cards is used with less frequency than the first two. The tarot can be used as a tool for working magic. What is magic? How is tarot used? How does it work? What can be expected? All of these questions will be answered in this paper.
The Way of Magic
The term “magic”, whatever the spelling, has been used in many practical and fanciful ways. It is seeped in ritual and mystery. The many ways that magic is described clouds the basic definition of the word:
Magic is the act and outcome of intent and focus.
With this definition one can both perform magic and say that magic happens. Act and outcome are easily understood. The crux of magic, what makes it really work or not work, is the intent and the focus applied.
As an exploration of intent and focus let’s work with an analogy of dropping a ball. The act is the releasing of the ball and the outcome is the ball falling downward. This sounds very simple. However, there are many variables. These include the initial velocity of the ball, the initial trajectory, the physical qualities of the ball, and the media that the ball is falling through. These can be broken down into even smaller designations. Assuming that air is the media that the ball is falling through, the temperature of the air and the wind speed can affect the ball dropping depending on the weight, initial speed, and composition of the ball. Gravity (or lack of it) will determine the speed and direction of the fall. So, in this analogy, we’ve seen the simple dropping of a ball become very complicated. This is the nature of intent and focus in the workings of magic.
While the precise working of magic is illustrated to be difficult to calculate, the general nature is very easy. Another statement can be suggested:
Every act and thought done with intent is magic.
With this statement I’ve created a reality that every purposely performed action, those actions done with intent and focus, is magic. The creation of the previous sentence was an action of magic because I considered my words and put them down. Some thing was created, and that sentence was the creation. The ripples from your reading the sentence and considering its meaning is also a magical result. This has broad ramifications. Most every thought and action becomes a form of magic, and magic is removed from the occult and fantastic as it is placed into everyday life.
Consider another analogy. A person calls your name and motions you to come to where they are. You do so. Is this magic? Yes. They performed magic on you. How is this different from summoning an earth elemental? Summoning an element is an action of calling them to where you are. Their name is called. When done properly they arrive. The keyword here is properly.
The Workings of Magic
We will continue the analogy of calling a person. If a person is not in a room with us, and we call their name, will they come? Perhaps not. If they are out of the range of our voice they will not hear us and cannot respond. What if we shout or use a megaphone? We would be heard across a larger area. What if they were in a different town? We could use a telephone and they could come. The use of the telephone requires we know their number and requires that they be available to receive the call. There is the possibility that the person is deaf and cannot hear us even if they are in the same room, or they may be capable of hearing and choose to ignore directions.
Considering the potential difficulties in calling a person to come to your side, what of the summoning of an elemental? First they must be a “real’ entity. They must be available, and we just have the means to communicate to them. Lastly, they must have the desire to come when the command to arrive is given.
What do the calling over of a friend and the summoning of an elemental have in common? The person creating the magic has:
Awareness of their surroundings – who/what is there and where
The knowledge of how to communicate
The understanding of how to combine the awareness and knowledge
A relationship with person/elemental that will facilitate a response
These four building blocks are just as necessary while operating a microwave, driving a car, operating a VCR, or drawing down the Moon. The harmonious or effective combination will make things happen. The improper combination will result in nothing happening, or worst, an unwelcome outcome.
Lets work with the analogy of the microwave. Putting a metal dish in a microwave, the incorrect awareness of the surroundings, can be very dangerous. The microwave must be programmed for the appropriate amount of time; this is the knowledge part. Lastly, the person working the microwave must bring together the awareness (proper dish, food) and knowledge (correct amount of time) to properly heat a dish. What about the relationship? If the person cooks beets and they don’t like beets, than their properly executed magical act still has an unwelcome outcome.
The Outcome of Magic
Magic, both mundane and esoteric, typically has an outcome. The exertion of energies without an outcome it is not possible. Every action has a reaction. It is not possible to work magic and not have a result. The reaction may not be readily visible in the same moment and place, but it is there. The outcomes of magic ripple through the physical, energetic, and spiritual planes. All of these are not visible to use. We have a hard enough time seeing what is really happening in the physical plane. The less visible planes of energy and spirit can hide a battleship to unseeing eyes.
The theory of karma comes into play here. If karma is the reaction of the universe to our actions, than every act of magic not only has a result, it also has a karmic reaction. What is karma? Karma comes from the root kri, "to do". The principal is based on the idea that actions determine your destiny. One becomes good by good action and bad by bad action. Each karma, or action, generates a vibration that continues to vibrate in the mind. These vibrations are subconscious impressions. Like attracts like. Love attracts loving acts; malice attracts malice. The attraction and reaction is non-judgmental, and does not involve the operation of morality or a single divine judgment.
So magic results in both the outcome desired (hopefully) with a dash of karma thrown in. The outcome is visible, and the karma is much less visible. An example of this is throwing a rock into a pond. You see the splash and the ripples on the surface. In murky water you don’t see what is happening under the water. Dynamite thrown into the water makes a big splash. Later the dead fish float to the surface, killed by the shock waves underwater. The initial splash is the outcome and the dead fish are the karma. The effects of karma may linger long after the outcome of the magic is felt. Indeed, the original act of magic may be long forgotten while the subtle workings of karma are still affecting us. An example of this is that fishing may be very poor for years to come after we dynamite the local fishing hole.
Magic has results both seen and unseen. The results will affect the person working the magic, the object the magic is directed toward, and all things around the magical working. Everything is connected whether the bond is seen or unseen. While the seen effects of magic are a concern, the unseen should be considered also. In the microwave analogy, it is nice to produce a dish we like (not beets!), but it is equally important not to use a microwave with faulty wiring, and thus burn down the building at some point in the future as the wiring is damaged by each use of the microwave. Because the wires are hidden behind the wall, we don’t know if the day of destruction will be immediate or sometime in the distant future.
Given the ramifications of our actions, do we choose not to perform magic? Is this possible? No. Unless we are a vegetable, we do perform acts of intent. Indeed, the act of becoming a vegetable so we will not perform magic would be an act of magic, and it would have rippling ramifications that would make mute our personal future nonaction.
The Ethics of Magic
Magic will be performed. What can we do? The answer is to perform our acts of magic in an ethical fashion. Volumes of books have been written about ethics, and each group has their own interpretation of what is proper ethics. I would suggest two approaches. The first would be to consider the Golden Rule : Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This rule appeals to the selfish ego side of our human natures. It puts in check many of the destructive tendencies of the ego. It is a simple rule, one that is driven more out of survival than compassion. The ego tells us to behave ethically from the fear of itself being hurt. This is not a bad thing. Indeed, it is one of the most basic survival tools we humans have.
The second approach is more compassionate and more difficult. It asks us to put aside our selfish egos and instead see things from a divine and spiritual point of view. This is simultaneously very difficult and very easy. We all have sparks of divine god in us. We are capable of knowing what the right action is. However, this voice may be very quiet compared to the ego. The right action may not be compatible with the correct action called for by the ego. This is applicable for what would be considered good and bad actions. It is compassionate to know when to be good and when to be bad. Sometimes, with divine oversight, we are asked to do things that are viewed as bad. How is the challenge of compassionate divine oversight accomplished? Listen to the divine spark through intuition. Put the ego aside and ask “what is the correct path?” The answer may surprise you.
A principle that is difficult for the ego to learn is when not to do “good”. Healing is an act of magic. Healing is not always appropriate. Sometimes people are suffering for a reason. A healing that is done at the wrong time will be harmful to the energetic or spiritual growth of the person even while their body recovers. The immediate outcome of a healed body is not important compared to the harm done by the arresting or restarting of a spiritual journey prompted by the suffering. Experienced healers learn to listen to their intuition or their guides on when to heal and when not to heal. The ego would say, “I would like to be healed if it were me.” The divine self says, “it is not time.”
Which is more important? Is it the need to survive or the need to act through a divine plan at the apparent detriment of survival? This is an age-old question, but as we are spiritual beings having a human experience instead of human beings having a spiritual experience, the answer is clear. When we are in harmony with the divine, survival is a harmonious part of the divine plan.
The use of magic clearly asks for much responsibility. Living is magic, and living asks for the same responsibility. One cannot say “this is mundane living and this is an act of magic.” The two are inseparable. Their togetherness gives us power. Every action and thought has tremendous potential of power behind it, and tremendous responsibility to the ethics of all things.
The Tools of Magic
The fluid execution of magic results from the combination of awareness, knowledge, understanding, and a relationship with the universe. These are all necessary for gaining the outcome we desire. These guide us in choosing the time, place, tools, and actions that we perform our magic in and through.
All things have a time and place. Actions are easier in a particular time and place. When we move ourselves far away from that time and place, things just don’t turn out that way. Most plants grow well with water, sunshine and good soil. This is a generalization. There are some plants that require, and indeed thrive, on very little water. Some plants need lots of sun and some need lots of shade. Plants have different soil requirements. Some plants need to be planted in the Spring and some need to be planted in the Fall. A gardener learns what each plant needs, and through the application of this knowledge, they grow healthy plants. The same is true with any act of magic. The person performing the magic must know:
This presents magic as being very mechanistic. This is not the case. There are variables of chaos and hands of incomprehensible divinity in all actions. A person cannot understand or anticipate all of the variables of the material, energetic and spiritual. Magic is instead only part mechanistic. The other part operates on faith. A good analogy is the throwing of a dart. While all variables can be taken into account and factored into the throwing action, at some point you must let go of the dart. Technique, faith, and a bit of fate come together as the dart moves toward the board. Perfection is not achieved by iron fisted control. It is achieved by careful preparation and then letting go with trust. Adjustments can be made in preparation and lessons may be learned from past experiences. The true master of magic, and indeed life, learns that the trick is not in doing something right, but in not doing it at all. The rightness will follow. In this Eastern word twist, the action is still performed, but it is done in that place where the divine is in control while ego merely observes. There is not a duality of incorrect and correct. Instead there is a transcendent place of what is through the reason that it is the only thing that can be.
Enter the Tarot
This is a paper about the tarot isn’t it? Let us see where it drops in. The tarot is a tool for focusing intent. The focus of intent results in magic. Each card has a vibration programmed by either the user or by some universal archetype. The vibration is a factor in both the direct outcome and the karmic repercussions. The mixing of cards and other tools such as candles, stones, oils, etc., create a mix of vibrations are sympathetic to the outcome of the magic. Positive energies produce positive results. Negative energies produce negative results. The results are weighed on a universal scale, with the quite hidden and subtle hand of Spirit determining the relative affects.
Magic, and the life from it derives, is very powerful. The visible effects may be manifest powerfully or with little force. The invisible effects are also there, and it could be said that the less visible the visible, the more powerful the invisible.
Work your tarot magic with ethical responsibility. Do so with understanding. May the divine powers bless your workings and may you receive the results you wish.