I thought with this post I would continue my exploration of the Dragonlance Tarot. Again this Tarot is not for sale, and was not meant to be a profitable venture. It was meant merely as a way for me to investigate the lessons gleaned from a world of good, evil, and neutrality; heroism, courage, and villainy.
This blog has never been about defining what Paganism is or what MagicK is, it’s always been about what I’m doing in terms of practice. To put it bluntly both MagicK and Paganism and all Religion for that matter are about doing not just about how smart your reading and research is. The two R’s certainly have a place in any practice and philosophical lifestyle, but when it comes down to it if you consider yourself a Magician, an Occultist, or a Pagan and you don’t DO anything, you’re not any of those things. MagicK is Yoga for your head, it stretches your perception, it changes your perspective and that only happens through DOing.
For many years I’ve been using the Tarot as a Mandala for MagicKal work, again by MagicK I mean merely the awakening of perception toward different modes of awareness. This work began with my reading of Donald Tyson’s Portable Magic and became quit quickly a launch point toward a more mystical look at the Tarot and how it is a road map of how the Western Occult tradition has been crafted. For those willing to see the Tarot in this way, both from an esoteric and exoteric standpoint, the Tarot adopts a staggering amount of symbolism that goes beyond the normal prescribed dictates of the ‘this card means that’ profanity. I mention also the term Mandala here as I perceive the formation of the Tarot circle akin to the Mandalas found in Tibetan Buddhism, a form that lends itself to powerful contemplation during it’s construction, in it’s finished state, and in it’s destruction.
With that brief introduction out of the way…I’m beginning what may be a year long working with the Tarot and this form of Mandalic MagicK (that’s a fancy term I just made up). This working entails the summoning or evoking of the 36 Elementals of the Tarot as symbolized and conceptualized through the Minor Arcana. This practice will have several beneficial repercussions:
- Disciplined MagicKal practice
- Deepening of Tarot knowledge
- Contemplation of Elemental Correspondences
- Strengthening of Meditative/Visualization skills
The one negative is that this practice does not sit with my Religious practice. This would be wholly a MagicKal practice and not so much a Religious one. Certainly it’s effects will not be static and only mental, they will bleed into the spiritual as well. As this Mandalic MagicK uses Golden Dawn symbolism and therefore stems (primarily) from Kabbalistic wisdom. I’ve convinced myself not to dwell on this too much and make every attempt to view the Tarot in the ways I’ve already described. It wasn’t only the Golden Dawn (and it’s Kabbalistic leanings) that saw things in Elemental standards, and this knowledge predates Jewish mysticism having begun first among the Babylonians as discussed in the Enuma Elish and later developed by the Greeks. So the elemental standard is old and therefore has merit outside of it’s later, and limited, Modern Occult – Golden Dawn – Kabbalah definitions. The division of the internal and outer worlds into Fours and with the Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water is very Pagan, as old as society itself, and essential to the human understanding of the world in which we live.
I don’t plan to document every aspect of my evocations here, but may update this blog on occasion with tidbits gathered from the work.
A few good online sources for this work:
I was thinking one day about the effects of story upon our lives. In today’s era it’s difficult to find good examples of heroism and honor, humility, and what power really is. As a young man I had some good people in my life that were examples of how people should act…but I was probing why I feel the way I do about deeper issues of faith, community, religion, education, and honor. Being over forty, I was even more curious about why things from my youth are still with me, why interests that I had and why stories I enjoyed way back when still live with me on a daily basis.
One of the ways by which I think about stories is through the lens of Tarot (Runes as well, but modern man is more easily definable via the Tarot). The Tarot path holds many lessons and the archetypes found within it arise from history and fiction, religion and humanism, esotericism and exotericism and therefore Tarot encapsulates the whole of modern western culture. Once one is familiar with the symbolism of the Tarot it can be placed like a transparent layer over any story or experience in order to pull out nuances of subtle wisdom.
This post is about me creating a Tarot deck from the Dragonlance series – Which I did, and which is a physical deck that I currently own and conduct readings with. It was born out of me wanting to personally define the importance of it’s characters in my life and why this fictional world (among others) continues to be one that I think about. It is a world of moral questions, of gods and dragons, knights and wizards…I’ll admit I don’t read much (or any) of it these days, but I believe that like any loved story in ones past it still influences me to this day.
I am refraining from posting images of the deck, simply because I wouldn’t want them to be copied, printed, and sold (I have included a snapshot from an online reading done for a client). But I thought I would share some thoughts on the cards I chose and what changes I made. Unlike my Star Wars Tarot which was constructed from already published playing card decks, the Dragonlance Tarot is a cobbled together deck from well known Dragonlance images. Creating a Tarot deck is an interesting task, it was a process of growth that forced me to examine these stories with a new eye. rather than just being entertained by these stories I was looking below the surface, probing the motivations of characters, wondering why the authors built the world the way they did, why it functions the way it does.
It is a complete set of Tarot, 78 cards. It uses only well known Dragonlance images and novel cover art, but for the Moon and Sun cards. The Minor Arcana, the pips, are not images, but like older decks are merely numbered.
The cards: Lances = Wands and the courts are represented by Heroes. Orbs = Cups and are represented by wizards and clerics; Swords = Swords and represented by knights; Pentacles = Discs and represented by Dragons.
Court Cards: Lances = King is Tanis, Queen is Laurana, Knight is Gilthas, Page is Gerard; Orbs = King is Dalamar, Queen = Crysania, Knight= Palin, Page= Elistan; Swords = King is Sturm, Queen is Kitiara, Knight is Steele, Page is Mina; Discs = King is Aurican, Queen is Malys, Knight is Skie, Page is Chaos dragon/draconian.
Major Arcana: 0 = Tas, 1= Raistlin, 2= Goldmoon, 3 = Heart/Silvara/Humas Tomb, 4= Huma, 5= Flint, 6=Caramon and Tika, 7= Citadel, 8= Kerianseray, 9=Porthios, 10= Stars of Krynn, 11= Cataclysm, 12= Kerrick, 13= soth, 14= Caramon, 15= Takhisis, 16= High Clerists tower, 17=Lost Citadel, 18=Tower of Moon/Takaluras, 19= Tower of the Sun/Qualinost, 20= Kingpriest, 21= Inn of the Last Home/Solace.
If you’ve read my Star Wars tarot posts you know that I go into some detail about why certain cards were used. Being that this deck is so unique I th0ught I’d do the same.
Highlights of the Major Arcana:
the Fool: Tasslehoff Burrfoot is the Fool. He exemplifies the idea of Wanderlust (as does the Fool), moving before thinking just for the sake of the experience and new adventure. He is also changed by his voyages and perhaps in the end the most wise of all the archetypes. Is the Fool the beginning of wisdom or the end result of life’s adventures?
the Magician: Raistlin. The Magician doesn’t necessarily have to be a good character but merely one who understands power and the elements by which power is attained/accomplished. Raistlin here is depicted in his study within the Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas, ready to delve deeper into the mysteries of existence and magic.
Strength: This is Kerianseray a Kagonesti elf (wild elf) and rebel. Her nickname is the Lioness. She is a servant when we first meet her in the series, behind the scenes she however is a warrior fighting for her people. Strength is the card that holds the wisdom of subtle power, a power that comes from gentleness rather than physical force, a strength of intellect that is like a yoke for physical prowess – brute force tempered with knowledge and patience.
the Hangman: This card depicts Kerrick, a dark elf (outcast) of Silvanesti. The image shows him floating on a bit of ice following his exile and on his way to Icewall. Along with the unsteady nature of the ice and water, Kerrick much like the Hangman is unsure of where he will start or end his journey.
Temperance: Caramon. Caramon is a man of heart and action. His greatest asset is compassion and the love he has for his friends and brother. Like the lessons of Temperance Caramon tries to balance many things in his life that sometimes cannot be reconciled. In the end he realizes that some things must be left behind in order to find happiness.
the Tower: Probably one of the heaviest scenes in all of Dragonlance. I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t read Dragons of Winter Nights. The tower here is the High Clerists Tower and it’s being tested by the armies of Takhisis. Sometimes destruction and obstacles make us stronger and force us to rebuild or reconfigure our lives.
the Moon: This is the Tower of the Moon found in Dargonesti (I believe), it is the residence of the Speaker of the Moon. These elves are water elves and their cities are undersea. The moon card has a deep relationship with water and its illusory nature.
Judgmenet: The Kingpriest is depicted here. Judgement is not justice and it doesn’t mean a balanced or wise indivisual is dispensing it. Judgement merely tells us that it’s time to choose something- good, indifferent, or bad.
the World: This shows Solace, more specifically the Inn of the Last Home. The home, or at least the base for the heroes. Solace is the example by which right and justice are evaluated in Dragonlance. It’s a place of beauty and ‘home’, the place where the adventure begins, and what the heroes are fighting to maintain as the example of social order.
This deck being based off of Rider-Waite symbolism I thought some direct comparisons would be interesting:
The pic I used for the High Priestess depicting Goldmoon in this role is from the cover of Dragons of Autumn Twilight:
Goldmoon mirrors the original RW example very well. She is the holder of ancient wisdom and the medium between which the old worlds and the new communicate, the gateway through which the old gods return to a world that has forgotten them, the balance between opposites. Both cards depict the HP holding the important occult vessels, important artifacts of hidden lore. Some quotes from Waite’s The Pictorial Key to the Tarot illustrate how closely these versions relate to one another:
“The scroll in her hands is inscribed with the word Tora, signifying the Greater Law, the Secret Law and the second sense of the Word.”(1)…According to Kabalism, there is a Shekinah both above and below. In the superior world it is called Binah, the Supernal Understanding which reflects to the emanations that are beneath. In the lower world it is MaIkuth–that world being, for this purpose, understood as a blessed Kingdom that with which it is made blessed being the Indwelling Glory.”(2)
This passage directly discusses the power of the HP to unit heaven and earth which can be seen signified by the Blue Crystal Staff held by Goldmoon in the picture touching the earth and the sky. Further…
“Mystically speaking, the Shekinah is the Spiritual Bride of the just man, and when he reads the Law she gives the Divine meaning.”(3)
Elistan (portrayed as the Page of Orbs in the DL Tarot) who is healed by Goldmoon via the Staff and the power of the old gods, eventually is able to read the Discs of Mishakal which relate the laws of the old gods.
The previous example is exactly how a seeker after the mystery of the Tarot delves into symbolism. It begins with a concrete image and begins to flower into a mosaic of pieces that fit together in odd correspondences.
Perhaps I will post a second DL Tarot article that compares other cards shortly.
1,2,3.Arthur Edward Waite (2014-06-15). The Pictorial Key To The Tarot (Illustrated) (p. 39). . Kindle Edition.
Dragonlance Lexicon found at: http://dragonlancenexus.com/lexicon/index.php?title=Main_Page
One of the challenges facing the new Tarot student is coming to a personal understanding of what Tarot is or is not. Does it hold the answer for everything past and present, or is it just a collection of paper with pretty pictures? That’s a large spectrum to begin with, but I think the extremity of those positions is fairly honest in how both skeptics and enthusiasts see Tarot.
I’ve studied copious amounts of Tarot material, and the one thing I’ve taken away from it is this; Tarot, as modern readers and users know it, has very little in common with the card game (s) it was meant to be used for when it (or its very similar predecessor) was created in the 15th century. All the thousands of books on the Tarot are merely guides on how everyone else perceives Tarot, and if you’re using Tarot in any way as a spiritual/mystical/life informing-affirming tool you’re relying on a very kabbalistic/hermetic creation of the 19th century. Yes, you can read the Golden Dawn material and derive all the meanings that modern practitioners use (most without even knowing themselves where much of that symbolism derives from), you can read the how-to books, and those on Tarosophy…But if you honestly look at and question the Tarot what will be your personal stance on the cards?
My stance has mostly always been that Tarot is nothing special. I don’t charge my cards with crystals, I don’t assume they hold the keys to universal knowledge, and I don’t expect them to answer all the problems plaguing my sub-conscious. More than not I lean toward the Tarot being a bunch of paper with pretty pictures. Yet, I read Tarot and I work with Tarot nearly on a daily basis. Odd you say. Not really, I respond. Things in my opinion don’t hold power – people do.
Tarot is a repository of wisdom, yes. It is not wisdom in and of itself. Tarot bares (or can bare) in it’s images generations of knowledge, a heritage of what it means to live in a Western society. It conveys the psychological and sociological truths that we as modern individuals have been adapted to live within for hundreds of years at this point. The multi-layered fabric of the Tarot is woven from the threads of that which we all share, it’s a mirror reflecting the great ‘Dreaming’ of Western culture – the truths of work, relationships, life challenges, our emotional well being, religion, etc.
Crowley, in his popular book The Book of Thoth expounded that the Tarot is a representation of the Cosmos, that each card is also a being, and that the deck is literally the composition and culmination of the Wisdom of Thoth. I don’t think the Cosmos is written in the Tarot, I feel it’s wisdom is much more terrestrial and immediate to our lives – I don’t feel that each card is a unique entity but a mirror of our own existence – and Thoth had very little to do with the creation of a 15th century card game. And to be blunt true/historical Tarot should have nothing to do with Kabbalistic wisdom. Can it? Sure. The beauty of Tarot is that, again, it’s a reflection of what the Reader brings to it…I tend to be pretty rational (in my opinion) when using tools like Tarot. Some would say though that Tarot is a tool of the irrational..so there you go.
My tendency is toward seeing Tarot as a Reality Simulation device. It’s a technology that functions as a Simulation of events and life situations based in reality. Jean Baudrillard, a French sociologist is a great place to start with such thinking. He goes a bit further to say that perhaps most of our icons and the symbols of our society (which Tarot of course uses and probably IS) are mostly historical and even fictitious to the modern westerner, but I digress…There is a Tarot book by Emily Auger which discusses briefly these concepts, and even postulates that Tarot is a kind of Cyber Reality Simulation, which is an absolutely inspired way of looking at the Tarot. Cyber here means artificial or a Technology that has been manufactured or created, just as the Tarot is a technology; an artificial representation of reality. This concept really influenced my image of the Tarot and what it means to be a Reader – and the mental image of a Cyberpunk Astralnaut jacked into a fanned out Tarot spread while he co-mingles fiction, fact, and history into a hazy surreal blend of human potential is an awesome ideal.
Tarot, to end it all, is about what makes sense to you in your world. Just as the final Major is The World (or perhaps the Fool), it’s up to the journeyer to discover just what it will be. Use the books, use the websites, and the tutorials but remember that the mirror of the tarot is for you to understand and should not be used as just another technology meant to box you in.
A video follow-up to my other post, A Game of Tarot concerning the game Queens of Fate: A solitaire Tarot game.
This is by no means a How to Play tutorial. It’s merely meant to give you a look at the setup and a fast play through to get you started.
Rules for the game can be found here: QOF A Tarot Game
Here’s a good little solitaire game that will give you some time with Tarot. It’s called Queens of Fate. It’s a good metaphysical and Occult themed game that even though it’s mundane in aspect really carries alot of symbolism if your paying attention. I’ve been playing it for some time and even though the rules at first are strange, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.
So, if you have a bit of free time and want to give it a go, the rules can be found here: Queens of Fate
Perhaps I’ll do a Youtube video on it. It’s a pretty challenging game, and I like to use it as teaching aid. When a card comes up I’ll go over its meaning and depending on the time I have I’ll see how it interacts with whats already on the table. It’s also fun to see what cards ‘defeat’ others or work together to clear another from play.
This is me playing Queens of Fate with my Star Wars Tarot deck:
The main focus of the game takes place with the cards on the blue mat > I keep my Queens at the top, the next layer down are the Court cards, and the next the Minors that come into play. On the left of the mat the draw pile (Destiny) is on the bottom left, drawn cards go directly to the right (challenge area), and Fate cards above that. My two discarded piles are for Major Arcana which with this Tarot deck are the black boarder cards face up, and the one laying horizontal on the top left face down are the minors along with the court cards – basically anything not a Major Arcana. My play area differs a little from the rules, but I accomplish the same thing.
I’m not gonna go over the rules, because it takes a bit of practice to understand them fully. I may post a video shortly playing a few hands.
Overall this is a fun game to play that if you’re open enough can not only be entertaining but also enlightening.
This is the second part of my Star Wars Tarot post, the first part can be found here: Episode1
Episode 1 showed some of the Major Arcana and discussed a few of the specific cards and how they relate to the traditional Rider-Waite deck. This post will be similar, but will highlight the Minor Arcana.
So the main reason why I chose the deck I did for the creation of the Star Wars Minor Arcana is because of two things; the Pictures are great and every card image is unique, second each card along with an image has an individual quote from the films. Tarot is about symbolism and the images are very important, not just for the reader but also the querent – If there’s one thing that’s important to Tarot it’s the images and what they represent. Now, being that I’m creating a deck here from cards that have been massed produced without the intention of holding any symbolism other than for mundane play not all the cards excel at presenting the ideas found in the Tarot…but surprisingly most do, and hit the mark dead on.
When I use normal playing cards as a Tarot stand-in my system of correspondence is this: Wands=Clubs, Pentacles=Diamonds, Cups=Hearts, and Swords=Spades. This makes sense to me, but I have seen other correspondences around and in books, but this works well and with the Star Wars deck it works to near perfection. As long as you understand the correspondences you have assigned to the deck prior to readings you’ll be fine, I’m not one to get to caught up with how things “should be”, my main goal is that things work.
Here’s an example of some of the cards
7 of Cups/Hearts
9 of Swords/Spades
Ace of Swords/Spades
Ace of Wands/Clubs
10 of Pentacles/Diamonds
Queen of Pentacles/Diamonds
Highlights from the Minor Arcana:
The Six of Cups: Generally this is a card showing Hopes rejuvenated, recreated, or returning. Leia being saved here by Luke is representative of that hope. This is the first meeting of the two siblings and the card details well the turning point in the first film and in the Saga – A new beginning.
The Seven of Cups: This card has to do with wishful thinking and/or illusions that come from within and effect our lives. Obi-wan and Anakin are meeting for the first time in the card image and it’s fairly easy to embed the traditional meaning onto this card. Both Anakin and Obi-Wan can be seen here as harboring thoughts and feelings about the other that are illusory…both immediately as in the scene presented and down the road as their relationship evolves.
Nine of Wands: I won’t get into this card to much. Resolve – plain and simple
Ace of Wands: Vadar here with the super statement that had fans quaking. Motivation and actions of Determination are what this card is about. Both themes are readily seen here. Vadars motivation is apparent, and he is Determined to push his will onto the Galaxy and onto his son.
King of Swords: Force of Will. It’s important to know that Swords as a suit represents mental aspects of the self. Here Palpatine in full Sith transformation mode represents the complete ruler of his will, no longer hiding, no longer a shadow of the man he was…he is fully truthful to himself and others and therefore an honest being. Good or bad do not factor in here…the King of Swords is beyond such things.
Ace of Swords: Luke in Episode 1, about to work his magic. Swords, again is about mentality. The Ace of any suit holds the purified intention and meaning of the whole suit. This card is about the Clarity of Intent. To me the Ace also signifies intellectual clarity…and Luke, recognizing the power of the Force, here for the first time, is shown clearly understanding the Force as real and intellectually accepting the peace and calm that comes from that knowledge.
The Ten of Pentacles: This card is about wise investment, having the insight to look to the future and understand the need for prudent management of the present leading to beneficial consequences. Here Luke confronts Vadar in Episode 6 with all the wisdom he has been granted by his teachers…easy to see the meaning here.
Queen of Pentacles: For me the Queen of Pents is about earthly intuition. This intuition relates to money, physical life, and material based wisdom. Amidala is a ruler and knows the burden of understanding, body and soul, the needs of her kingdom and people. She must make intuitive choices that come from within based on her compassion for her planet – choices that are made quickly.
This deck is used and quite frequently. On thing with this deck is that it has no Knights being that playing card decks don’t have Knights. Not a big deal in my opinion, but others may have a problem with this. The power of decks like these that hold common social imagery readily recognizable by most in our modern culture is that the querent brings to the table her/his own ideas of the scenes and characters displayed. Not only are my interpretations in play, but also the person getting the reading. I enjoy this aspect of reading, it’s a two way street and a conversation instead of merely me as the reader interpreting cards.
If you would like a reading with these cards give me a buzz at risinginsight at gmail.com