About the Author
Donald Michael Kraig graduated from UCLA with a degree in philosophy. He has also studied public speaking and music (traditional and experimental) on the university level. After a decade of personal study and practice, he began ten years of teaching courses in the Southern California area on such topics as Kabalah, Tarot, Magic, Tantra, and Psychic Development. He has been a member of many spiritual and magical groups and is an initiated Tantric.
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one THE TAROT AND MAGIC This book is especially intended for people who already have some experience with the Tarot and magic. However, if you don't have such experience, this chapter will fill you in on the basics of what you need to know. If you have never worked with the Tarot before, or never practiced real magic, start with this chapter. Read it several times. Think about any concepts in this chapter that are new to you. I suggest that you read this chapter even if you already have experience with either the Tarot or magic, or with both. That way you will understand the terms and concepts in the same way they are presented in this book, and you will grasp the information presented later even better. Of course, since you already know some or all of this material, you may not have to study it as thoroughly as someone who has no experience. Whether you are new to either magic or the Tarot or have lengthy experience with both, when you understand and can work with this chapter, you will be ready to use the Tarot for magic! 1 The Tarot and Symbolism Although the approximate date of the Tarot's first appearance in Europe (early fifteenth-century Italy) is known, its sources and development before that time are highly debatable. After all, something as complex as the Tarot does not simply appear without predecessors. Some scholars look to India as the source of the cards, while others suggest China and even more romantic places such as Egypt and Atlantis. There are many good books on the history of the Tarot, so there is no need to repeat that information here. Look in the bibliography for books with information on the origins and history of the cards. Even the source of the name Tarot is a guess. If you change the letters of the word around, you could get the Hebrew word Tora, which means "Law." Ator is a version of the name of the Egyptian goddess Hathor. Going back to Hebrew, Troa means a "gate." Orat is Latin for "it speaks" and Hebrew for "Thou art light." Other writers have suggested that the name might come from a river in northern Italy named the Taro. Whatever their origins, we do know for sure that the cards first appeared in Europe during the early fifteenth century. Since that time they have gone through numerous evolutionary changes. There have been two major evolutions, which have lead to the current selection of what I call the "standard" Tarot decks. The first evolution was a standardized number of cards split into two parts. One part is the Minor Arcana. This is composed of fifty-six cards separated into four suits, each running from Ace to ten plus four face cards. This corresponds to a deck of modern playing cards, which is identical to the Minor Arcana except for the names of the suits and the fact that it has only three face cards per suit. The second part is the Major Arcana, which has twenty-two cards illustrating certain conceptual ideas. The only card of the Major Arcana that may have made its way into modern decks of playing cards is "The Fool," which relates to the Joker. Traditionally, the numbered Minor Arcana cards did not have images giving their meanings. The second evolution took place in 1910 when the Rider publishing company produced a deck drawn by Pamela 2 The Tarot and Magic Coleman ("Pixie") Smith (18781951), under the guidance of famed occultist A. E.Waite (18471942). This deck, known as the Rider-Waite deck, featured illustrations on all the cards.Waite also published a book to go along with it, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, making this an easyto- use deck with a concurrent instruction manual. Another first. Waite referred to this as a "rectified" deck in that he took the spirituality and mysticism he knew and united it with the designs of the Tarot cards. Since that time, hundreds of decks have appeared. The majority of them have been variations of the Rider-Waite deck. Inevitably, it is reasonable to ask, "Why did this deck catch on? Was it only because it was easier to use and had a book explaining it?" I don't think so. Rather, the images created by Smith and Waite, many of which are new versions of older images, somehow affect us. Smith's art is rather plain, but there is great beauty in it. It strikes a chord. It means something. The images mean something different than just the simple pictures on the cards. They are symbolic. Virtually every part of every image has a meaning.What is the color of the sky? That has a meaning. Is a character looking up or down? That, too, has a meaning.What is the symbol floating above that person's head? It has an important meaning. In a very real sense, the Tarot can be seen as a complete course in spirituality. The Tarot can be an incredibly powerful resource to guide you on your spiritual path. Its value is immense. One famous nineteenth-century occultist, Eliphas Levi, suggested that if a person was left for years on a desert island with nothing but the Tarot, and that person knew ...(Continues)