Tarotist or Kabbalist?

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

I was asked a week and a half ago if I am a kabbalist who is interested in tarot, or a tarotist who uses kabbalah to open new perspectives on the tarot.

I had to think about that one. I converse fluently in the symbols of both tarot and kabbalah. But what I actually am is a Ceremonial Magician. You could have guessed a long time ago. What young child revels in intoning long prayers in dead languages, insists that religious services be spoken in archaic dialects, and scoffs when a choirgirl passes out from the smog of incense? Only a Ceremonial Magician in training.

One of the primary goals of the Ceremonial Magician is to gain the knowledge and conversation of her Holy Guardian Angel, or HGA as we say familiarly. The HGA is a fancy way of referring to your “higher self” or the part of you that most fully and truthfully expresses your purpose in this world. In order to connect with the HGA, tools such as kabbalah, tarot, astrology, alchemy, and so on are studied and applied.

If I had to provide a gloss for these tools, I would say that kabbalah teaches you to understand the Divine, astrology teaches you to understand yourself, alchemy teaches you to transform one into the other, and tarot is the language that we use to communicate these conscious intentions to our subconscious.

To me, kabbalah and tarot, alchemy and astrology, Reiki, writing, sewing, twisting wire, all are implements to, perhaps awkwardly, chisel away at ourselves, trying to find and release that eternal perfection, knowing that “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends/Rough-hew them how we will.”

Kabbalah is a symbolic system that describes the process of manifestation. The other tools in our toolbox: tarot, astrology, alchemy, tend to be used primarily in the realm of the mind or of the emotions. How many times have we laid out a tarot spread and without translating it into words at all, just experienced it—gut punch or caress—as an emotional affect? Some people think they’ve reached the pinnacle of reading when it becomes that easy for them. But what happens when we end our process there is we leave it all in Yesod, the astral level—we quit the yacht race as Dion Fortune would say—and we don’t use the tarot to actually make a change in ourselves. “I use the tarot to gain insight” almost all of us say. I’m challenging people to use the tarot to make real life changes in themselves, which takes it to a whole new level. How can you manifest your next reading? What can you do to take that insight or that emotion and give it shape and form in the real world?

By bringing our tarot practice into the material world, we are setting up a current, a channel for the Divine energy to find its way into our work. The channel we set today with simple acts of manifestation in the material world is like digging a canal that later will accept the flow from the Divine source into the storage reservoirs of our tarot work and our personal and spiritual growth. Once the canal has been dug, the water will flow of its own accord—but we need to take the initial step of breaking ground and setting the course.
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Joy Vernon is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader in Denver, Colorado. To schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.

© 2009 by Joy Vernon

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Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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