Review: Gods and Titans – by Stacey Demarco (Oracle Cards)

I thought I would give it an attempt to review this deck of oracle cards called Gods and Titans. It is made by Stacey Demarco, who also has made a similar deck called Goddesses and Sirens, which I might review later on. I have the feeling that these two decks of oracle cards would work better together. Beyond Words Publishing is the publisher and the deck is illustrated by Jimmy Manton.

First of all, I have to say that I am not all that familiar with oracle cards. This is actually my first deck of oracle cards, and I don’t intend to use them for divination. I think regular tarot cards are more than sufficient for that use. I am not saying that it is not possible to do so, I definitely think it is possible, but it is just not my cup of tea. For me it makes more sense to draw a single oracle card and contemplate or meditate over it. That is what I got them for.

I have actually had some aversion to oracle cards. Mainly because many of them have too much of a feminine vibe. Gods and Titans is being marketed as a masculine oracle deck and it definitely seems like they have succeeded in making a deck that isn’t too soft around the edges. It is even mentioned in the booklet of the deck that this deck is meant to bring back “the Masculine Divine” to our modern spirituality. Good. It feels like a breath of fresh air. And that is why I felt that I could buy them and actually put them into use. As a male, it can be difficult to identify with regular oracle decks. I am curious about the Goddesses and Sirens deck now. From the box set I don’t have the impression that it is very feminine deck either, despite its title, but I will have a proper look at it in another review.

I don’t have any particular concerns about the card stock. I see that some people have complained, but there are no concerns here. Treat the cards with respect and there should be no problems. The cards are rather large compared to regular tarot cards and as I am not someone with extremely big hands, it feels a bit clunky to shuffle them, but that’s okay. The positives for having large images make up for that as that is better when you just want to focus on a few cards like I intend to do anyway.

The images of the Gods and Titans are generally nice, but there is a lot of yellow, red and orange colours here. It definitely feels masculine, but maybe slightly over the top. For example I don’t find it necessary with the orange/yellow background for the Dionysus card. He isn’t a war god. It’s not necessary to go full on He-Man mode to make it masculine. It is not an issue though, merely a small observation from my part.

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A nice touch is the booklet which includes a small introduction to the different Gods and Titans, but also a small invocation or prayer to each of the cards. Some are even with small ritual suggestions. That is not something for me to review though. How you look at that depends on your magical background, what tradition you work in etc.  As I understood it from the booklet Stacey Demarco is a practitioner of witchcraft herself, so maybe it gives a little bit of flavor of that, which I found interesting.

My main issue with the deck is the amount of different pantheons it takes its Gods and Titans from. Here you find a mix of a wide range of deities from western, eastern and even Mayan/Aztec culture. I find that rather overwhelming and I doubt that most people will have a relationship to all of these pantheons. I think most people, like me, will have one, two or maybe three favorite pantheons. There are Gods in here that I never even heard about before I opened the box. So it is very difficult for me to have an opinion about those Gods and what they are supposed to represent. Maybe it would have made more sense to include fewer pantheons, but have both male and female gods and goddesses included in the same deck and instead organize the decks by different pantheons. I might actually do that and add the two decks together and remove the cards I don’t feel any connection to. There is a very big chance that there are some cards in here that I will rarely work with, or even work with at all.

It doesn’t mean that Gods and Titans is a bad oracle deck though. It is definitely one of the few out there on the market today that probably will feel acceptable for men. And if you are looking for a decent set of oracle cards it might be worth picking up these. I think even women would appreciate that the deck feels rather differently than the rest of the oracle decks on the market today and it could be relevant for them if they are looking for something else than the ordinary “only positive vibes” oracle cards.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

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Gods and Titans by Stacey Demarco – oops, looks like someone else made it into the picture as well.

How the tarot has helped me in unexpected ways

I never really liked the term tarot master, because it gives you the idea that there is some kind of ladder involved that you can climb to improve your skills. It is true that you can improve your skills and knowledge of the tarot, but it is nearly impossible to measure it.  I suppose it is quite measureable to analyze your hit/miss right for divinations, but is that all that counts?

It is my belief, that the more skilled you become with the tarot, the more you realize that divination is only a small part of what you can do with it. Reading about it and continuing working with it will in itself be rewarding.

When I picked up my first tarot deck it was of course the divination that I found the most exciting. Let’s be honest, it is probably the most exciting work you can do in the short term. You get an instant answer to your question and you may get feedback from clients. In this day and age where we live with social media and are used to get constant confirmation of our ego by others, it feels very good to feel that rush from a successful divination and positive feedback from an inspired patron.

I don’t deny that is fun and a great feeling, but if someone would ask me what my most valuable experiences with the tarot would be, it would not be those divination sessions. It would probably be the knowledge that I know I can acquire if I am willing to commit to keep studying and using the tarot. For example, if I take the fool card and ask myself how can I apply the ideas from this card into my life?

My answer to that is that it reminds me that I can allow myself to approach situations in life with a childlike curiosity and allow myself to make some mistakes while learning something new. It does not mean that I should be careless and irresponsible, but most of the time making some mistakes doesn’t really matter that much. And in many cases you will also learn from them and improve your skill.

When I first started out with tarot, I did not realize that you can get valuable lessons or advice from the tarot just by contemplating. It can be done with any card in the deck and it gets even more interesting when you put together cards that belong together. The lessons you gain from that can take a long time to comprehend though. When I did that for “The other part of Venus” post I wrote, I had no idea that it would take me a year to even get a grasp on how to approach the next part of the post. And I am not even sure if I have understood enough yet to write out the second part quite yet.

For me at least that is one of the deeper and more profound experiences that I have had with tarot.

I have also attempted to use tarot in spirit communication and felt that it has been a good tool for me to have there. Particularly, because I am not a person who tend to have a lot of visions or hear voices. I suppose this is not quite an unexpected way, but I included it anyway.

I also believe that you don’t really need to be particularly spiritual to benefit from tarot. It’s basically a deck full of ideas and can help to map out a difficult situation and challenge you to try and see something from different angles. I can understand though that it will be difficult for someone who isn’t all that spiritual to use a tool that is heavily connected to spirituality. But it can be done.

If you haven’t tried to use tarot for something else than divination, just give it a chance. Maybe the results will surprise you.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

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A Living World – part 1

Once upon a time in my younger days I had to struggle myself through a book called “The Making of the Modern Mind” by John Herman Randall, JR. Or at least parts of it. I was nineteen years old at the time, and I was studying history of ideas. It’s an old book first published in 1926 and then edited and released again in 1940. It’s an excellent book, but perhaps not the easiest to read for a 19 year old with English as a second language. What I learned from reading it was how the worldview gradually changed to a mechanistic worldview where the world was treated like a dead object. It was during this period in the history of mankind that science as we know it today emerged. This led to a lot of technological breakthroughs and eventually the industrialization of the world. “God is dead” Nietzsche claimed. And many thought that eventually religion and spirituality would vanish. Today, we know that is not the case.

There is a thriving magic community alive today, and there are probably more books on the subject of spirtituality published now than ever before. In the magic scene old texts have been rediscovered and been put back together again by scholars then they are published so that they become available to anyone. People, read, discuss, argue and try to practice themselves.

When doing so, people are reading and reconnecting with a very different worldview than what is predominant today. They are discovering that there once was a very different world where it was not treated as a dead thing. In a historical perspective, modernity, which is roughly the past 500 years, is only a very brief moment in time. Science has given us many technological breakthroughs and greatly improved the standard of living for most people in the world, but the need for spirituality seems to be unchanged through all of it. Many people seem to think that spirituality and/or religion is contradictory to science, I personally, don’t think it is. Science is basically just a method of proving theories wrong (note that it is about falsifying and not confirming anything) based on experience. What science doesn’t offer is spirituality or a more complete understanding of the world. It is fragmented and often in disagreement with itself (which it has to be, or else science could not evolve further). There are some people who seem to think that science offers an explanation for everything and are even willing to use inadequate scientific models to construct their reality. I would refer to that as “Scientism”. Ironically though, that is exactly what science should avoid, so “Scientism” isn’t really a proper scientific view of the world.

What most people tend to get mixed up in the debate of religion/spirituality vs science are the criterias for what will be accepted as truth. A spiritual or religious understanding of the world is usually more fluid and less precise than what a scientific understanding of the world is. Therefore it doesn’t fit into the scientific model (and it never will). The problem though is that the scientific criterias are too strict. Religions and spiritual experiences are not something that can be shared and observed by multiple people at the same time and written down in a journal with precise language, which would be a requirement for it to ever be described properly in scientific terms. As I said, science is just a method and that method is not directly connected to our own human sensory experiences. We may have sensory experiences that would be very difficult to put down in scientific terms (or even in proper language). Dreams we have may be a good example where our senses can be distorted and when we wake up and remember the dream we rationalize it and try to make out what really happened in the dream, even though the experience itself felt hazy and distant. Only after we have processed it, it becomes a tangible memory.

So why am I bringing all of this up? Primarily, because it helps sort out my own thoughts on the subject and I find it very interesting. What I think will happen long term though is that the “collective consciousness” if we can call it that is going to change. It will no longer be purely scientific or religious/spiritual, but it will merge together and exist side by side (today it is more like you have to choose between one or the other). 500 years are nothing when you look at how long this world has existed. In a historical perspective paradigms are often thesis and antithesis to eachother and eventually they merge together in a synthesis (check out the Phenomology of Spirit). This is also what I think eventually will happen with science and religion/spirituality. And by that I don’t mean that they necessarily will merge into the same thing, but rather that there will be a way that they can co-exist and people have learned that they offer different criterias for truth and that it is actually possible to shift between them.

Having that said there is no denying that there are religious and spiritual groups out there who blatantly ignore science and what it stands for. This post is absolutely not for defending these people. I am of the opinion that any kind of spirituality that doesn’t take science into consideration, doesn’t have the right to exist.

I also realize that what I have written this far is merely the introduction to the topic. I think it is necessary though to explain the background before I start exploring what I think is a living and dynamic spiritual world. I will have to continue this later…

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

 

Fullmoon

 

 

Dead or Alive

No, this is not meant to be a tribute to the Bon Jovi song. I quite like that song by the way, but it has also been the question for this blog for some time. I have not produced any new content in quite a while and that is what I wish to write about today.

Writing a blog has in my opinion several good side effects. It helps out to structure thoughts, experience ideas and in some ways it can also function as some sort of therapy. Usually I get the spirit over me and write when I feel passionate about something.

I am passionate about spirituality and philosophy, but when it comes to these things one has to understand that is something for the long term. I don’t think of or deal with these subjects all the time. In fact, sometimes it is better to do other stuff and then come back and revisit the ideas. After I started out with my post called “The Other Side of Venus – part 1” I realized that it was a very difficult exercise. Usually a spiritual realization on complex subjects don’t happen over night or during the course of a week. In fact, it took me several months with occasionally revisiting the subject before I could even begin to think of what part 2 will look like. Maybe I will feel more ready to write it soon.

Spiritual growth is for the long term and cannot be rushed, but to me it doesn’t mean that the blog is dead. I do think however, that I will make some changes, and expand my subjects a little bit beyond the tarot. For me the tarot is just a tool and if I was going to write about it all the time I would feel limited by it. It is a tool that I can use to teach me lessons in spirituality and obtain new spiritual insights, but it is not about the cards themselves. It is a representation of ideas, and a tool to help show the way, but they are, in my opinion, not the way itself.

There are so many people who are fixated on the tarot itself and put limitation on themselves to think that it is only a tool for divination. Sure, it can be definitely used that way, but I would argue that it is mainly a distraction from the true potential of the tarot. Let go of the divinatory meanings. It is not what tarot is about. Rather try and see each card as a story and when you put them together you are creating a story. In practice you are putting different symbolic ideas together. If you look at tarot in that way, it doesn’t really even mean much what kind of background you come from. You could call yourself religious or spiritual, and I think that even with an atheist background it is possible to gain insights from the tarot. Ironically, I think it would also lead to better divinatory results to see the tarot in this way.

So I have decided that I will write some posts that don’t deal with the tarot at all, but of philosophy and spirituality in general. After all the tarot, in my opinion, is mainly a tool to advance within these areas. It doesn’t mean that I will not also continue to write about tarot though.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

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Super full moon. There are either some lighting disturbances here or I just did not bother to clean my lens properly. It was hard to get a “clean” picture.

 

 

 

The other sides of Venus – part 1

In these posts I will have a look at the three cards from the Major Arcana connected to the sphere of Venus and examine them together. Those three cards are III – The Empress, V – The Hierophant and XI – Justice (alternatively VIII – Adjustment). Please note that these posts will be rather experimental.

What I want to achieve with this exercise is to show that there are other sides to Venus than what a lot of people realize. A lot of people only think of the Empress card and what is traditionally connected to that card when they think of Venus. That is obviously not wrong, but my opinion is there is a whole lot more to Venus than that.

In the Orphic Hymns there is one hymn dedicated to Justice, which I think describes the relationship between some parts of Venus quite well. The tarot card Justice is linked to Venus through Libra. These are the last few lines of that hymn:

Hear, O goddess.

rightly shatter wicked men,

so that mortals who eat

of the fruits of the earth

and also all living creatures

nursed in the bosom

of Earth, the divine mother,

nursed in the bosom of sea-dwelling Zeus,

may follow a path

both balanced and noble.

First it speaks of the shattering of wicked men. This shattering does not happen for the sake of shattering wickedness alone. It has a very concrete function. It works this way to make way for that all living creatures can enjoy the fruits of the earth in peace. And that brings to me to one important aspect of the Justice card.

Aleister Crowley decided to rename the Justice card for his Thoth deck and in the Book of Thoth he makes some reasonable arguments for it. Justice as such, is a very human concept, and to be fair we humans don’t really do the best job of agreeing exactly what justice is. Therefore he renamed the card to “Adjustment” and argued that “nature isn’t just, but it adjust.” What is meant by that is quite simply that everything has a cause and an effect. Essentially this is a way to understand what karma is. You make a small push on something and it can set a chain of effects in motion. When you pour a bowl of water over a stone, the water adjusts and moves around the stone, because such are the laws of nature. And it is this mechanism of cause and effect that the Justice card really describes. Maybe it is putting a little bit too much into the Justice card to have it as a personified idea. At least, I think so. But it does fit in quite well with the hymn and the other qualities of Venus.

If you picture yourself a kingdom, your own if you like, the traditional role of Venus is associated with the production of all kinds (fertility, fruitfullness etc.) within the kingdom. The role of Justice in this case would be to ensure that any kind of production at all can take place. Mars would be protecting the kingdom towards any external threats, but Justice is also helping keeping the kingdom together internally. Not necessarily through formal laws, but through norms and even natural selection.

In Galatians 6 in the Bible there is a famous quote “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Also here there the idea of karma (in the sense of cause and effect) is linked to production. And, I really do not think it is random. Although, the Bible does of course not make any such links to Venus explicitly. Christianity made sure to remove any practices related to celebrating earth and fertility, which is one reason that many pagan traditions still lived on, but that is entirely another discussion.

Although Venus has been associated with friendship, love and so on, it also has a more raw and unforgiving side to it. Karma can at times be quite brutal. It isn’t something beautiful, but it is necessary to keep order. Without it, it would be difficult for all living creatures to enjoy the fruits of the earth as described in the hymn. It is also the mechanism behind evolution and the survival of the fittest. Mother Nature isn’t just (at least she doesn’t feel that way to humans), but she adjusts all the time. Also notice how the hymn ends with the words “balanced” and “noble”. Mother Nature always seek balance.

I will stop here for now, and I have yet to talk about the Hierophant which is linked to Venus through Taurus. Let me know your thoughts in the comments where you think this card fits into all of this. I have some ideas, which I will need to refine a little for the next post. It has been a challenging, but nice exercise this far…

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

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The Empress, the Hierophant and Adjustment from the Thoth deck.

Tarot cards and energy

It’s been a few days since my last update. My energy hasn’t been the best (illness) and the topics I have in my drafts aren’t the easiest posts to write. So I decided to go with this topic to get started again.

I do not come from a background where I claim everything related to tarot or the occult for that matter to be a product of psychology. But, I will disagree with everyone who claims that their deck of cards has energy. There are multiple reasons for this and number one is what is meant by “energy”? Which energy is it? Who does it belong to? I just don’t find it to be very specific.

The second reason is if the tarot is supposed to be made up of all kinds of different energies in the universe then how can that be one definable energy?  There are several inconsistencies here and many of them seem to be fairly popular. Of course not everyone thinks tarot works that way, but there are surprisingly many.

The third is that the tarot is made up of archetypes. None of these are complete or perfect here on the physical plane. So the cards in themselves cannot contain that energy. They are only representations of these ideas.

Those ideas you can argue can be called different types of “energies”, but they aren’t manifested in the cards and will not radiate with their energy. If that was the case you could have been doing tarot readings without even looking at the cards and then flip them over later to see if you got them right.

Having that said I still think it is important to treat the cards with care and respect. They are after all the tools we use to connect to the divine and open our channels for information, but my point here is, the cards are the tools, and you are the channel for the information they bring. It is you that make that special connection to the divine.

Some people are also afraid to let others touch their cards. I am less sure about if that has any effect , because I have not had many touch mine and then done a reading for myself or someone else straight after,  but in my experience it has had no effect at all when a longer time has passed. Even if there is something to it, I would at best compare it to when you spray a little bit of perfume into a room with good ventilation.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

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Review: Tarot & Magic by Donald Michael Kraig

I pulled this book out of my collection of books. Sometimes you come across some strange and interesting titles and “Tarot & Magic” by Donald Michael Kraig is one of those curious titles. Often books on tarot are very focused on methods for tarot reading. This book however attempts to look at different ways to use the tarot deck.

First a few words about the author. Donald Michael Kraig was a tarot master and practicing occultist. He was the author of the popular “Modern Magick – Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts” which is a really good introduction to Golden Dawn-style classical magick. In that book he also ties together tarot practice and the kabbalah and gives some cool exercises you can do with tarot to try and gain a deeper understanding of the cards.

That is a really good book, which comes highly recommended. When I say highly recommended, it means that it is a good introduction. Not that I necessarily agree with everything that is written there, but it is a good starting point of doing your own studies and could help you to spark that interest.  Plus that if you have an interest in tarot it will be adressed there. Many books on the occult choose to ignore the tarot completely.

As that book is not exclusively about the tarot, he also wrote the book “Tarot & Magic” which is an attempt to put the tarot into a magickal context. My version is the first edition, second printing from 2003. Originally I think it was released back in 2002.

What I like about this book is that it is very different from most other books about the tarot. It does not focus on card meanings or tarot reading at all. This one is purely about tarot and how it more specifically relates to magical practice. It says that it is intended for those who already have some experience with the tarot and magic, but honestly, it is not all that complicated. Maybe it would be good to have a general idea about the tarot, but it is not so complex that any in-depth knowledge is required. A basic understanding of the cards should be more than sufficient and anything more than that can be developed through studying.

In total there are nine chapters covering nine very different topics. Unfortunately, that is also the issue I am having with this book. It is only 175 pages long and some chapters are more interesting than others. Those chapters that are interesting could have been more in-depth and when you read it, you will only feel that you have scratched the surface. I suspect that this was also the author’s own intention as there is a chapter dedicated to “Tarot and Magic – continual evolution” which encourage people to experiment on their own and develop their own methods.

And when I say that some chapters are more interesting than others, I also find that to be one of the problems with this book. There are a whole lot of very different ideas in here and you will not like them all. Normally, I would say, that is not an issue when reading a book as it usually stays on one topic. Tarot & Magic doesn’t. If you are interested in Ceremonial Magic, you are not interested in reading about Wiccan tarot spells. And a Wiccan is probably not interested in reading about kabbalistic pathworking or ceremonial magic spells. The book would probably benefit from a little bit more focus and go a little bit more in-depth on certain topics instead of trying to appeal to practioners of every kind.

The result is that I find 3 chapters really interesting, a couple chapters are okay and the rest are largely irrelevant. Chapter 4 called “Dancing the Tarot” was my anti-climax and nearly made me put the book down, but I am glad I didn’t. The book is only 175 pages long to begin with and with so much content that will not be relevant to you, there is not all that much you will find to be of any substance.

There’s also a bibliography for further reading, which is great, but it is not sorted after the chapters, so it can be a little bit difficult to understand which books are relevant for the topics you are interested in.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad book. After having read it I sit back with a feeling of wanting more. It will spark your curiosity, it will drive you to have a go at it. And I suspect that was also the main goal of the author writing the book. In the closing comments of the book he even writes “If you are a Tarot reader now, learn to use the Tarot for magic and share your techniques with your clients. Also share them with other Tarot readers. Start websites and magazines with ideas for doing Tarot magic. If they are modifications or additions to what I have presented here, fine. If they are new and different concepts, even better.”

My closing comment is that it is an affordable book with some interesting ideas. It is nowhere near as good as his book “Modern Magick”, but if you take it for what it is, and don’t expect it to give you a full intoduction into tarot magic, and can accept that it will only will present you with some ideas, that you will need to work on and develop yourself, then this can be a good book to pick up at an affordable price. I suspect  that after “Modern Magick” a lot of people would have expected something different, but Tarot & Magic isn’t a new “Modern Magick” on the subject of tarot magic. It is still a decent book on the subject though.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

 

TarotAndMagic

First Edition, second printing 2003 paperback edition