The idea of using Tarot in magic(k) is not exactly new. The Aeclectic Tarot Forum has a whole constellation of discussions on this topic, and Kelly-Ann Maddox at the Four Queens did a video on it not too long ago. Here, I want to take a bit of a different tack and talk about how Tarot can be used to help schedule spellwork and ritual.
I personally don’t practice magick,* but I love the theory of it. Every now and then, when I have free time, I’ll wander around the internet and look at different ways of classifying magick, or different theories as to its practice. I’m a nerd at heart.
And one of the big ideas that floats around most magickal practices is the importance of timing. Some people work with the changing of the seasons. Many (and most Wiccans in particular) use the phases of the moon. Banishing spell? Best for a waning moon. Spell to attract a lover? Best for the new or waxing crescent. And so on.
Here in this post, I want to take a similar idea. Instead of using the seasons or the lunar phases, however, I want to talk about how a magickal practitioner can use Tarot.
In its more arcane forms, Tarot has a wealth of astrological correspondences, which can be used to make a magickal calendar of sorts. Twelve cards of the Major Arcana are connected to the signs of the Zodiac. Seven are connected to the planets of classical astrology.
All of that information can be used to pick the best time for a given spell.
Say, for example, that you want to perform a spell for self-confidence. There are various ways you might connect this image to the Tarot, various symbols from the Major Arcana that speak to the empowered person you want to become, but you decide that the card that best represents your goal is Key 8: Strength. Strength is linked to Leo, so if you want to incorporate the energy of Strength into your spell, you might want to consider casting it while the Sun is in Leo.**
And the same can be done with the seven planetary cards. They are connected to the planets, which are, in turn, connected to the seven days of the week. In case you’re not familiar with the correspondences, they look like this:
Luna: The High Priestess, Monday
Mercury: The Magician, Wednesday
Venus: The Empress, Friday
Sol: The Sun, Sunday***
Mars: The Tower, Tuesday
Jupiter: The Wheel of Fortune, Thursday
Saturn: The World, Saturday
So let’s say you wanted to cast a fertility spell, and wanted to do so under the auspices of the Empress. (In addition to whatever other symbolism you were working into your spell: deities, herbs, candles, and all that jazz.) Friday would be the day to do that, to draw in the energy of Venus–and by extension, of the Empress.
But wait! There’s more!
Because there are also 56 cards in the Minor Arcana beautifully suited to more specific forms of spellwork. The Major Arcana are great for big, life-altering spiritual themes, but a lot of people practicing magick want more concrete, practical results. And for that, the Minor Arcana are just perfect.
Love spell? Two of Cups. Want to succeed in a competition? Six of Wands. Struggling to learn a new task? Eight of Pentacles. And on, and on, and on. You get the idea. You’re clever.
Each card in the Minor Arcana is connected to both a sign of the Zodiac and a planet. And so suddenly, the peak time for a card’s energy becomes very, very specific. Instead of just a one-month Zodiacal span, or a generic “cast this spell on a Monday”, you can narrow the ideal time down to a specific date or dates. And if you have the patience to wait until that particular day comes along, the energy you work with could prove very powerful.
Take, for instance, the Two of Cups. If you’re looking for the ideal time to cast a love spell, you might consider that the Two of Cups is linked to the planet Venus and the first decan (i.e. the first ten days) of Cancer. So in order to cast a maximum-potency love spell, you would look for a Friday between June 21st and July 1st. (In 2016, there will be two such days: June 24th and July 1st. Mark your calendars, eligible witchy bachelors and bachelorettes!)
And the same idea applies elsewhere. If, for some reason, you wanted to curse someone to ill health (I’m not saying I advise it, but hey, everyone has their reasons), you might look at the Five of Pentacles. This card is connected to Mercury in the first decan of Taurus, so you could cast such a spell on a Tuesday between April 20th and April 30th. (In the upcoming year, the only such day is April 26th. Not that I’m saying you should go around cursing people.)
Now, obviously, all this complicated nonsense is not necessary for spellwork. Lots of people are perfectly happy with the way they time their spells, without using any of my overwrought Tarot techniques. But it’s just a thought about something additional that magickal practitioners could do to add a little punch and pizzazz to their workings. I am not by any means calling for a magickal revolution, for people to stop doing what they have been doing for decades and to start casting spells my way.
But I wanted to throw the idea out there. If you like it, feel free to try it, and let me know how it goes.
*For a whole host of reasons, not least of which is my severe annoyance with the addition of the letter K to the word.
**That is to say, between July 23rd and August 23rd.
***This correspondence is obvious. The others are, too, actually, but the connection isn’t as apparent to us for complicated philological reasons. Each of the days of the week is named after a Roman god (as, conveniently, are the seven planets). But because English is a Germanic language and the Anglo-Saxons were a Germanic people, the English days of the week are named after Germanic gods.
The Romans had a habit of invading a region and allowing the indigenous populations to keep their existing religion, but deciding that said indigenous populations actually already worshipped the Roman gods, and just did so under different names. So Rome drew a one-to-one correspondence between its gods and those of the Germanic religions. Our days are, theoretically, named after the Roman gods, but we’ve got the Germanic names.
For instance, Tuesday is named after the Norse god Tyr, whom the Romans connected to Mars because he was very manly and warlike and such. The connection isn’t terribly obvious to us anglophones because of the linguistic barrier, but it you look at other, more Latinate languages, the correspondence is clear. In French, for example, the word for Tuesday is “mardi”. And there, you can very clearly see that it was named after Mars, and so the planetary connection makes more sense.
Phew. Long footnote. My apologies.