GETTING TO KNOW YOUR DECK
Every time I use a new deck, I take the time to get acquainted with the energies that
characterize it.  There is an innumerable array of Tarot decks now available and yet
many, if not most, of them follow the classic format of the Waite Smith or the
Golden Dawn.  I am not here including the Marseilles tradition, of course, which
deserves a web site of its own and which I will be discussing at a later date.  The
Marseilles tradition, for me, has been always more mystical; many of the
correspondences and attributions  are very similar in both traditions, but some key
attributions are quite different and could confuse the neophyte.  Still, at the core, I
have found that it does not matter whether we use Marseilles or Golden Dawn or
RWS "clones" because Spirit "speaks" all languages; and Hermetism, Alchemy, Magic,
Shamanism, etc., are found anytime, anywhere we attempt to connect with the
numinous.

The first thing I do is to separate the deck between Majors and Minors and then
take the time to go from one card to the next, slowly and mindful of the intuitive
patterns that unfold through the images, their assigned numbers and titles.  Dr.
Paul Foster Case, in his seminal book
The Tarot notes that, "The Tarot is a book,
disguised as a pack of cards."  Dr. Case also calls it "a pictorial text-book of Ageless
Wisdom."  So, let's unpack this book slowly, starting with the twenty-two Majors
and see what we find as we seek its wisdom.

Take the first card, Key 0, the Fool, and put it aside for now.  Then divide the
twenty-one remaining Majors into three rows of seven cards each, making sure that
the three rows are all lined up nicely with each other.  This Tableau places The Fool
at the top of the three rows, and you are free to move it as you wish.

Your Tarot Tableau should look like this:
0
1    2    3    4    5    6    7
8    9   10  11  12  13  14
15  16  17  18  19  20   21
This alignment allows you to read both horizontally and vertically the many
correspondences that you will be finding first  on your own, without having read the
instructions book usually included with the deck.  Make your own associations.  What
are the emerging patterns and colors?  Each card represents a state of
consciousness, a mythical or archetypal energy.  Look at them carefully and identify
the ones that attract you the most, as well as the ones that, somehow, seem odd to
you.  Which card seems the least appealing to you?  Don't try now to figure out why;
this is just a way to get acquainted, to feel a more intimate connection with the
energies emanating from the deck.  Then, as you work with the cards for several days
or weeks, start asking yourself why you picked/bought/were given the deck at this
particular moment in your life; or, why the same cards keep coming up every day,
every time you consult the deck; or, what are the subconscious energies being
activated with this particular pack.

Look at the Tableau and try to find four or five basic, primordial  energies or
archetypes that you have needed or used or rejected recently.  Keep a journal; be
honest; be kind to yourself.  This is not an exercise to punish or criticize yourself in
any way; on the contrary,  it is meant to unveil or reveal the many ways that the
subconscious gains access to your everyday life and, often, unbeknownst to you,
creates an opposite reality to the one that you were hoping or expecting.

Because Numerology and Gematria are important in this tradition, look at some of the
harmonies and correspondences that this Tableau might bring to mind.  Look at
positions, vertically and horizontally; add the numbers, divide by two, then by three,
and so on.  Look at the "cross" layouts; then look at the way that each row or column
seems to bring a pattern or cadence to your consciousness; compare the three
horizontal rows to a three-part play and look at how each level seems to be
connected to the other.  Lose yourself in the search, in order to find yourself.  
Understanding the Court Cards
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