Shamanism and Tarot embodies conscious development inspired by Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris.
Shamans use techniques to get access to other worlds via a door, crack in the wall, or a cave etc. We use similar methods to enter the world of the 22 Major Tarot arcana. One method is to view the back of the card and project oneself through it.
In his book, Echoes from the Void (unfortunately OOP), by Neville Drury, he lists some possible methods of entrance. Drury uses the Thoth Deck as his platform, but he follows more common iconography of the Rider-Waite deck. For balance I have included comments about the Thoth Deck.
The wreath of wheat defines the outer limits of a tunnel or vortex through which the shaman will enter. Regard the maiden’s dance as symbolic of the interplay of the creative energies of creation.
Crowley’s description of the Universe hints at a greater complexity, as it has the sum-total of his doctrines. The Vesica Piscis frames the image, symbol of the birth canal. Within is an ellipse that has the Shemhamphorash, the 72-lettered name, and below it, the Periodic Table. The Universe is precisely aligned with the Daughter, the last letter of the Tetragrammaton, and thus with the Princess of Disks, and with the Fool . The dancing maiden ‘manipulates the radiant spiral force, the active and passive, each possessing its dual polarity’. The dancing partner is ‘Heru-Ra-Ha of Atu XIX’ (the Sun). Interestingly, there is nothing in the Sun to identify Heru-Ra-Ha, but in the Universe we see her embracing a snake connected to a beam of light from an eye (this is a reference to the Ayin and the Devil). “The Sun, Strength & Sight, Light; these are for the servants of the Star & the Snake.” (Liber AL). In the Enochian system, Crowley equates his vision within the 9th Aethyr ZIP as the Daughter of Babalon. The Universe is a fertilization of the egg in preparation for the coming of the New Aeon.
Rise up on the waves of sound, identifying with the vigour of rebirth which the trumpet proclaims.
Crowley, of course, completely redesigned The Aeon to conform with his vision of the New Aeon. He says: ‘The new card is the Stele of Revealing.’ The Dancing Maiden and the Snake of the Universe have become the double god Horus under his special name Heru-Ra-Ha, as Ra-hoor-khuit and Hoor-pa-kraat. ‘He is solar in nature’ removes any doubt that we are talking about the same God. The parents are Nuit and Hadith, so we have the Egyptian titles of the Mother, Father, Son and Daughter of the formula of the Tetragrammaton.
Enjoy the recovered sense of innocence with your young partner of the opposite sex. Be aware of the waves of sunlight reaching down, playing on the skin, yet drawing you into the energy vortex which is the Sun itself. Respect the domain beyond the wall for it is a sacred place.
Drury does not say why the domain beyond the wall is a sacred place! In the Universe, we see the union of opposites (Sperm and egg) in the womb of potentialities. The Aeon tells us not only the parents, but details of the Divine Twins. In the Sun Heru-Ra-Ha is Lord of the New Aeon, the time of ‘complete emancipation of the human race’. Beyond the wall, are the twin children, ‘eternally young, shameless and innocent’.
Reflect on the evolutionary processes that you see before you – the struggle of the lobster to evolve into a land-form shape, the metamorphosis of the wild, brutish dog into a more refined domestic creature, the place of man in the natural domain. Regard the silvery moon-pellets as a dew, a subtle essence which fertilizes and makes more complex the dominating energy of the sun.
The Moon is the polar opposite of the Sun: The Sun has one hill, while the Moon has many. The Sun is ‘the Lord of Light, Life, Liberty and Love’ while the Moon has ‘horror and fear… All prejudice, all superstition, dead tradition and ancestral loathing…’. While these cards are opposites, nevertheless the Moon is equated with Pisces.
Enjoy entering into the process of transmission of spirit and life-force from one vessel to the other. Re-live the process of subtle essence manifesting in an earthen context.
One can understand this card as uniting the polarities of the Sun and the Moon.
Feel the electric discharge in the air and try to identify with the ruined tower while imagining that at the same time it enlarges itself into a more strongly fortified dwelling, capable of withstanding the wrath of the lightning bolt. Regard your body as a tower which is built on sound foundations with no inner conflicts of intent. The tower itself is now raised anew with humility and respect for the energy sources which sustain the universe.
Encounter the Devil but reflect on his incongruous nature; he is an absurd idol of worship which makes all the more tragic the plight on other human beings chained to his command. Dwell upon the imagery of the Devil’s face and, realizing that it is a mask which conceals a greater inner reality beyond its outward pretences, pass through the hollow cavities of the eyes.
Allow your body hacked to pieces, identifying at the same time with the greater, spiritual personality released from bondage, and which will now flow with the tides of the spirit. Regard ‘death’, at this stage, as a process of refinement.
Regard the angel as a spiritual being who provides a profound sense of inner balance. He fuses the elements into a state of harmony and the stability, a requirement of entry into Tiphareth, the sphere of the Sun which lies just beyond the mountain peaks.
The Hanged Man
Imagine yourself drawing near to the beacon which is the hanged man’s head, and then merge with it so that you begin to show the light which he is transmitting from above. Reflect on the sacrifice which the subtle inner light has to make in penetrating, dense matter and inwardly thank the figure of the hanged man for acting as an intermediary between matter and spirit.
The Wheel of Fortune
The Wheel of Fortune is itself a mandala, a symbol of infinity. Concentrate on the centre-point, the focus of the eternal process of unfoldenment: and pass through it about it once again as a symbol of transformation.
Identify with the forces of intuition and patience inherent in controlling the animal instincts which are at the core of all human activity.
This card teaches us to trust the guiding inspiration of the inner self, the Holy Guardian Angel. Reflect on the anonymous quality of the sage’s appearance, the absence of outwardly expressed individuality. Identify the lantern as an image of the self and become more firmly resolute in the upward climb to the peak of creation, where individuality will become increasingly less important.
Following the process of refinement and self-transformation that we found in Death, allow yourself to be judged impartially by Justice and submit to her trials. Realize that it is in fact the loving side of the higher side of the higher self that sits in judgment and that only illusions and inconsistencies will be ruthlessly disbanded.
Assume the role of the warrior and imagine the mirror reflecting inwardly on yourself, in an act of rigid self-scrutiny. Enter into the sense of flux which is the process of life and death itself, and regard the warrior not so much as a wanton destroyer but as a scourge of non-constructive and conflicting elements which stand in the way of inner unity.
This card represents the fusing of sexual polarities in the self, a further transformation towards union beyond duality. Consequently the basic impact of this symbolism is recognizing and fusing lovingly with the complementary sexual polarity, embracing the other aspect of one’s masculine or feminine nature.
The Hierophant embodies spiritual authority but simultaneously bestows grace on those who have ears to hear. Again he represents the gradual fusion of solar and lunar principles.
The Emperor, although a merciful aspect of the Great Father archetype, approaches with respect. He should nevertheless be regarded as in some ways unfulfilled – his kingdom is barren without the Empress, and he owes as much to her as the Hanged Man, who similarly had his legs crossed in the sign of four, and reflected the Great Ocean. The shaman passes from the rocky, mountainous kingdom of the Emperor to the more welcome and abundant pastures of the Empress.
The Empress is the supreme representation of Nature, the great womb of all manifested forms, and to meet her is to return to the very source of created being. It is the process of life and fulfilment itself. The shaman surrenders himself to the source of his form.
The High Priestess
The shaman here enters sublime, virginal ground: the very essence of the Universe before its fall into form. This region is the first symbolic domain which will take him undifferentiated into the Void of Space.
The Magus is the male virgin who has not had contact with the female polarity to reproduce and bring about form. He is pure energy and like the High Priestess remains transcendental and essentially unknowable.
Within the shaman’s journey, this is the supreme path, where the magician dissolves his very being in the void of the last mystery.