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How to Do Astral Journeying for Tarot Pathworking

For the winter solstice tarot blog hop, wrangler Jay Cassels gave us an interesting prompt of “traditions” combined with an image of an arched wooden door in an oak tree. The attached quote mentioned that Celtic tree lore associated the oak with a doorway to magical realms. In this post, I’ll teach you the secret of using magical doors for skrying on the Tree of Life. And I’ll share a tarot spread you can use to explore these psychic realms with your cards. Includes a downloadable spread sheet!

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Jay also asked us about our favorite topic from this year’s tarot blog hop. I loved so many of our topics that it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite. However, I did particularly enjoy writing my autumn equinox post, “How To Password Protect Your Bountiful Harvest.” I’m going to follow that format, offering a bullet point list of steps in a complex practice, then simplifying it down to an easy tarot spread.

What is Tarot Pathworking?

In my last post, I explored the concept of magical images and offered a fanciful script that you could follow to enter into the psychic space where the image will come alive and communicate with you. I specifically addressed the magical images of the ten sephiroth. Connecting with these magical images is a great introduction to the more extensive practice of tarot pathworking.

It’s a curious coincidence that Jay offered us the image of an arched door in a tree, because my scheduled meetup for December was on the topic of Tarot Pathworking on the Tree of Life. In this practice, you visualize an arched door, like the one in Jay’s image above, with a Major Arcana tarot card on it. Stepping through this door in your imagination leads you into the astral realm. The practice of deep, meditative visionary journeys is called “skrying in the spirit vision.” Tarot Pathworking on the Tree of Life is a structured approach to following a specific sequence of these astral journeys for spiritual development.

When we use these magical doors for skrying on the Tree of Life, we not only enter into the psychic realm to explore and learn from powerful archetypes, but we perform these astral journeys in a specific order to climb the qabalistic Tree of Life. It is the sequence of skrying practices that we mean when we say “Tarot Pathworking.” This series provides us with do-it-yourself spiritual practices that can balance, heal, and enlighten us. By slowly working from the bottom of the Tree, at the level of the everyday world around us, and climbing a balanced and ever ascending path, we reach progressively higher levels of consciousness.

The Basics of the Tarot Pathworking Process

The qabalistic Tree of Life with the ten sephiroth and 22 paths labeled.

In Tarot Pathworking, we climb the tree via the 22 paths. Each journey starts at one sephirah, follows the connecting path, and concludes at the next sephirah. We do this journey starting at the bottom of the tree and working up. So we start with circle number ten on the Tree, then follow path 32, and arrive at circle nine on the Tree. The next journey would start with circle ten, then follow path 31, arriving at circle 8. After that, to stay balanced, we would go from circle ten via path 29 to arrive at circle seven. By slowly climbing and working first center, then left and right, we can stay as balanced as possible.

Tarot Pathworking is much more than the astral journeys, although that is the topic of this post. Tarot Pathworking is a comprehensive curriculum that includes study and discursive meditation (thinking about things), in addition to the immersive astral journeys. Each step of the way it’s important to work from each of these perspectives.

The ten circles on the Tree, called sephiroth, or enumerations, are states of consciousness. The connecting path is how we move from one state of consciousness to another. Working the path also helps balance these states within us. For instance, one interpretation of the blue circle numbered 4 is Love. On the other side of the Tree, an interpretation of the red circle numbered 5 is Fear. If you are imbalanced between the psychological states of Love and Fear, then walking the 19th Path of Teth, the Strength card, can help bring balance into your life.

In the Tarot Pathworking system, we work the entire Tree, learning to understand, integrate, and balance these states of consciousness by walking the connecting paths, climbing perpetually higher toward Divine consciousness.

Magical Doors for Skrying on the Tree of Life

A wooden door in an arched stone doorway. The image of the World card is on a curtain tacked to the door. The Hebrew letter Tav is on the keystone in the arch over the door. This is the magical image of the Path of Tav. It is an example of the magical doors for skrying on the Tree of Life.

How to Perform A Tarot Pathworking Journey

There are essentially three steps to a pathworking journey. First you enter the journey by establishing the starting point, which is the sephirah at the lower end of the path we’re working. The next step is to enter the path itself via its magical image, which is the magical door for skrying on the Tree of Life. You might choose to work with a guide on the journey, someone who can offer assistance as well as teach you about the path. Your objective on the path is to encounter the archetypal energies of the tarot card, Hebrew letter, and astrological correspondence of the path. Work with them, learn from them, and experience them in a way that is helpful to you.

Concise Summary of a Tarot Pathworking Journey

Entering the Journey

The first step is entering the journey. Prepare and enter a meditative state using a breathing exercise or other favorite technique. Next, establish the sephirah. You can do this by using one or more of the following ways:

  • Visualize yourself in an orb of colored light or mist, using the color of the sephirah
  • Visualize the temple of the Sephirah, decorating it in the appropriate color and symbols. The archangel of the sephirah watches over the temple and assists you. For some people, this archangel might become a guide.
  • In your imagination, build the sephirah’s magical image and see it come to life. Ask the character to help you on the path. They might walk the path with you as a guide.

Next, you’ll locate the door to the path. You’ll see an arched doorway with the tarot card on the door and Hebrew letter in the keystone above the door. See the color of the path around the card. Open the door and step through. You can leave the door open. At this point you’re in a tunnel made of the element of the path. Experience it as fully as possible.

The Journey

The second section is the journey itself. You come out in a landscape unique to the path. Look around and familiarize yourself with the territory. If you would like assistance, you can ask for a guide who can help you. There are three steps to the main part of the journey. You’ll come in contact with the archetypal energies of the tarot card, Hebrew letter, and astrological correspondence of the path, in that order. Explore these however you like. Also, if you are working with a guide, ask them any questions you have. Learn from their wisdom. Let them guide you into understanding this mystical environment and the archetypes present.

Ending the Journey

You’ll continue traveling until you arrive at the next sephirah. You might see it simply as the color of the sephirah. Or, you might see a door with the color of the sephirah marked with the glyph of the planet and/or other symbols of the sephirah. Then again, you might simply come to the end of your journey. Tell your guide(s) or the characters you’ve met here that you must leave. Head back toward the tunnel, retracing your steps as you go. Go back down the tunnel to the open door. Exit back into the sephirah. Close the door. You can always return if you like.

Once you’re back in the sephirah you started at, shift back from the astral plane to awareness of your physical body and the environment your body is in. Perform several rounds of fourfold breath to return to normal consciousness. Close the practice by placing your hands in prayer position. Silently offer thanks for being able to do your practice today.

The Essence of the Tarot Pathworking Journey

 These bullet points establish the essence of the tarot pathworking journey. Use these landmarks as journaling prompts or pull a card for each one.

  1. Establish the sephirah.
  2. Go through the door to the path you want to walk.
  3. Experience the element of the path.
  4. Arrive at a landscape unique to the path.
  5. Ask for a guide who can help you.
  6. Connect with the tarot card of the path.
  7. Connect with the letter of the path.
  8. Connect with the astrological symbol of the path.
  9. Continue traveling until you arrive at the next sephirah.
  10. Retrace your steps to return. Exit back into the sephirah where you started and close the door.

Tarot Pathworking Tarot Spread

Click the image to open a pdf you can download and save.

Take the Card of the Path out of the deck and place it where you can meditate on it. Leave it where you can see it while you do the rest of the spread. Pull a card for each of the following positions.

  1. What this door opens for me: The benefit I get from working this path
  2. What can I learn from the starting sephirah?
  3. The Card of the Path can teach me this.
  4. The Letter of the Path can teach me this.
  5. The Astrology of the Path can teach me this.
  6. What can I learn from the ending sephirah?

Video Tutorial On Tarot Pathworking on the Tree of Life

If you’re excited to begin using the magical doors for skrying on the Tree of Life, please check out this 60-minute tutorial. It covers all the basics so you can begin your own series of pathworking meditations. Visit YouTube to find the links and handouts that go with it, including several more tarot spreads to better acquaint yourself with the paths you’ll be working.

Complete the Wheel

Hop on to see what our other bloggers have written about traditions!

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Joy Vernon
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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2 Comments

  1. Words as always Joy fail to express just how amazing your writing and knowledge base actually is, every blog post feels like it is the tip of this massive library of arcane knowledge.

    Thank you for closing out this wheel of the year, and I am looking forward to discovering what the next one will bring.

  2. I have to agree with Jay, every time I read one of your posts I can sense the great depths of what more there is to know and the body of knowledge you’re sharing from, Joy. I’m so intrigued by the tree of life. Thank you for sharing this doorway toward some understanding of it!

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