Editor’s Note: This post is mostly experimental and tongue-in-cheek
I hereby call into being a New Order, The Order of the Holy Tarot.
The sociologist of religion Milton Yinger defined religion as “a system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggles with the ultimate problems of human life.” (The Scientific Study of Religion, Yinger, 1970, p. 7)
On this definition, it stands to reason that the practice of using the Tarot can itself be a distinct religion.
Moreover, the use of the Tarot most definitely has a system of practices, namely, the practice of reading the Tarot, either for introspection, growth, divination, getting in touch with the spiritual realm, or a myriad of other purposes.
The Tarot also has a system of beliefs, namely, the vast, historical collective of beliefs surrounding its origins, symbolism, occult meaning, and methods of usage and interpretation (hermeneutics). While this system of beliefs is dynamic and relative to individual practitioners of Tarot, this is no different from other religions that focus on gnostic, or, direct experience at the expense of a fixed set of dogma. Thus, it does not imply schism in the Order if two people interpret the meaning of a Tarot card differently.
Finally, the Tarot as a system of beliefs and practices is in almost all cases concerned with “struggles with the ultimate problems of human life.” The is evidenced in the basic archetypal nature of the Fool’s Journey. In the Major Arcana we see fundamental archetypes such as religion, death, judgment, knowledge, wisdom, virtue, temptation, redemption, transformation, magick, astrology, and pretty much the entire spectrum of human existence.
While the Tarot is arguably based off the symbolism of other religions and systems of thought this is no different than how religions throughout history have always borrowed from each other. Furthermore, Tarot has developed a structure of symbolism unique to it as a system of belief and practice. The Tarot is a living, breathing, system of symbols that is available to us as a source of Wisdom.
I thus propose this New Order as an explicit recognition of what has already been practiced tacitly for many years. The Order of the Holy Tarot will at its beginning be constituted by Ten Tenets:
1. The Purpose of the Order of Holy Tarot is to educate others about the spiritual potential of Tarot practice.
2. The Tarot is a sacred symbolic structure.
3. The Tarot, if approached with open-mindedness, intentionality, and respect, can be used to experience Truth and Divinity.
4. The study, contemplation, and practice of reading the Tarot is intrinsically valuable and not just a useful tool.
5. The sacred meaning of the Tarot is unique to each Practitioner of Tarot.
6. The Tarot should always be used for the benefit of humanity, especially the marginalized and oppressed.
7. Do not force your beliefs on others. The Order is not evangelical.
8. We should strive our best to: act with virtue, treat people as Ends in themselves, and maximize the happiness of all creatures, and use our best judgement when these values contradict each other.
9. Membership in the Order does not require your utter devotion to the Tarot as your only spiritual practice – it is compatible with all paths so long as one recognizes its sacred potential.
10. The Tenets of the Order of the Holy Tarot are not fixed and must be interpreted in a way that leads to your own spiritual growth.
To consecrate the beginning of this New Order, which is open to everyone who comes from the perspective of humility and empathy, I will now shuffle my Tarot cards and see what the Tarot wishes to say about this Order.
I have drawn the Four of Swords.
With the four of swords in my Thoth Tarot, we have Jupiter in Libra in the Suite of Swords. Libra is balance, the process of harmonizing polarities in the universe, what Crowley calls a process of Adjustment (What RWS calls “Justice”). The Swords represent the Element Air, which is swift and mobile, with potentially great destructive, energetic power, just like our thoughts. But Jupiter brings good luck and expansion, taking that destructive energy and performing the operation of Adjustment to achieve expansion, and thus forming a Truce between the forceful elements of the Intellect. Instead of fighting against our Powers of Reason, we form a Truce with them and transform the raw potential of Cardinal Air into an orderly and stable reticulation.
Thus, we have good tidings from my Thoth Tarot, the Order of the Holy Spirit will find peace with the Intellect which fights us when we try to approach the Tarot from the perspective of sacred experience instead of the quotidian practicality of mere instrumental reason.
The Tarot can do more than just lay out a pattern of pretty cardboard pictures that may or may not reflect the vagueness and ambiguity of the future. The Order does not, of course, rule out that possibility, nor does it forbid such a usage of the Tarot. The Tarot is useful. It is practical. But it also allows us to tap into the spiritual wisdom contained within itself and beyond. It is happy to act as a conduit to another source of wisdom, but it is equally happy to just have a conversation with your Soul and give you the opportunity to interact with and experience Truth and Divinity.
And thus begins the Order of the Holy Tarot, a free Society to all Practitioners seeking to deepen their spiritual practice through the use and study of the Tarot.
As above, so below; as within, as without.