Vocabulary.com defines the term oracular as “mysterious, enigmatic, prophetic and probably a little weird.” This beautifully sums up my preferred approach to Tarot. In my series on Oracular Tarot, I will explore the weirdly mysterious, enigmatic, and prophetic approach to reading the cards. The deeper I go into my practice as a tarot reader the more my experiences become mysterious, enigmatic, prophetic and in some cases more than a little weird. I noticed that many other Tarot readers seem to sidestep the oracular realms that Tarot can lead us into (or in some cases actively avoid them). They preferred to focus on Tarot as a psychological tool and stay within the parameters of the established meanings that the modern Tarot tradition presented them with. (This modern tradition is rooted in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’s Tarot system as mentioned in my last blog.)
I noticed that some of these people have oracular experiences with Tarot but often dismiss them as a random mystical (or mysterious) experience. However, a few of them seem to be aware that Tarot has the potential to create deeply mystical experiences that go beyond the occasional synchronicity. But I have rarely seen anyone deeply pursue the use of Tarot for mystic practice in recent years. I hear a lot about techniques like path-working or shadow work with Tarot (Pathworking is using a card image to journey into other realms. It is similar to techniques like Shamanic journeying, Jungian active imagination, or astral journeying.) I am personally extremely interested in looking closely at the tarot as a mystical tool.
Of these three oracular themes the mystical use of Tarot is probably the most talked about in the mainstream tarot community. But from my perspective these discussions are rather superficial. They discuss mystical use of Tarot more in passing and rarely with an emphasis on what a mystical experience of the tarot really means. In fact, I watched a few confused YouTubers publicly inquire as to what shadow work with tarot actually is. I think this is in part because the Golden Dawn approach to Tarot mysticism lies just beyond the reach of most of us due to its connection to the seemingly impenetrable teachings of the Kabbalah (which one of my Tarot heroes, Gordon White, refers to as “Kablahblah”). This esoteric Jewish teaching was only available to a select group of elite, mostly male, scholars throughout history (including the Golden Dawn themselves). Yet I would argue that just as we don’t need a priest to have a meaningful connection to God, we don’t need the Kabbalah to have a mystical experience with the tarot.
Tarot was accepted as a psychic tool used for prophetic messages and predictive readings since at least the 18th century or possibly earlier. But in the mainstream tarot community today the use of tarot as a psychic tool seems to be a peripheral focus. Most mainstream readers these days seem to be focused on the psycho-spiritual benefits of tarot, of which there are many. Most dismiss Tarot as a psychic tool or outright critique “fortune-telling” with tarot. This undoubtedly stems from Arthur Waite’s disapproval of the use tarot for fortune-telling in his book The Pictorial Key to The Tarot (1910) He said: “The true Tarot is symbolism; it speaks no other language and offers no other signs.” I’ve noticed a theme in the current tarot community of readers looking down their nose at psychic tarot reading while simultaneous doing it, or at least, a watered-down version of it.
But I’ve witnessed the beginnings of a reversal of this trend. My interest in pre-Golden Dawn style tarot reading stems from my personal desire to embrace tarot as a tool for psychic prediction. A deep exploration of the current popular and commonly accepted tarot reading ethics was an important part of my personal transformation from “tarot reader” to “psychic fortune-teller”. At first, I blindly accepted these ethics without thinking about where they came from or what they really meant to me. I think that every reader should deeply explore their personal relationship with popular ethical stances.
Finally, in my eyes, the concept of tarot as enigmatic relates to how we read the cards. I learned to be weary of any tarot reading method that relies heavily of meanings and rules. My experience taught me that keeping myself within the confines of any reading system made tarot reading easier, but it also made it less effective. Rules are made to be broken, as they say. I think this axiom critically applies to tarot reading. Tarot reading is an art and, as such, we need to paint outside the lines often. In my experience rigid adherence to a system, tradition or method can take a lot of the mystery out of reading. The enigmatic nature of oracular tarot lies in those moments where you look at the cards you pulled and are totally unsure of what the fuck they mean. This happens to the most skilled readers more often than they’d care to admit. To me this is a cue that you are being invited down the rabbit hole. It is a call to open your mind, connect with your psychic abilities and mostly importantly go beyond the meanings. Eventually, it gets very enigmatic when you realize that there truly are NO fixed meanings for the cards.
This series of blogs will explore the mystical, prophetic, and enigmatic world of what I am calling Oracular Tarot. I will look at where we can go when we choose to break from the Golden Dawn mold. When we enter this tarot frontier things can sometimes get weird… super weird. To me the weirdness is a sign that real divination is happening, I am truly tapped into the wisdom of other realms.
My first area of exploration in this series will be what Gordon White of Runesoup.com coined the “Ninth Gate Effect.” Which is the literal manifestation of the Hermetic principle “as above so below.” Golden Dawn are you listening? I highly recommend watching the 1999 movie “The Ninth Gate” starring Johnny Depp (they couldn’t have picked a better actor in my opinion).
If you would like to experience my oracular approach to Tarot book a reading today.
Enjoy and I will see you down the rabbit hole soon!