Learning Cartomancy: the Threes

Resuming this series, we now encounter the Threes of the traditional playing card deck. As a forewarning, this piece will probably get a little esoteric as the primary message of the threes is mutability, change, and transformation. In esoteric circles, three is considered the “Mistress of Geometry” and represents the first solid of sacred mathematics. Similarly, as a near universal, mythologies across the world share sacred associations with three: the Holy Trinity of Christianity, the Three Fates of Hellenic and Scandinavian lore, the points of Awen of the Celtic tribes, the Trimurti of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu in Hinduism; and many others.

Threes are the combined realization of the Aces and Twos in solid form; as such the Threes bring up real transformation and existence of physical objects apart from the intellectual things of the Aces and the communicative things of the Twos, even when they are physical documents. The Threes can refer to the primal, nuclear family unit of mother, father, and child; a boundary or enclosure; past, present, and future; changes in physical living and working spaces; growth, and small crowds or company. In some situations, the Threes can indicate the start of foundations which will later be more fully actualized in the Fours, as well as the breaking down of old situations into their primordial elements.

The Three of Diamonds combines the transactions and exchanges of the Two of Diamonds and indicates the physical foundations of a venture, whether it be putting money on (or under!) the table, getting the a loan or small sum of money, or physically moving into a new shop or new job. It’s the foundation of a good venture and getting your foot in the door of an opportunity. Esoterically, the Three of Diamonds can be equated to nothing less than the fulfillment of the rubedo process in alchemy which represents defines the fourth and final major stage in the magnum opus of the alchemists. Symbols used in alchemical writing and art to represent this red stage can include blood, a phoenix, a rose, a crowned king, or a figure wearing red clothes.

From the Two of Hearts, the Three of Hearts represents the blossoming of love and inspiration to all things of beauty after being inspired to undertake a new opportunity such as the proposal for marriage or taking up a new aesthetic discipline. It can also represent a flower given to your loved one or going on a date and all the wonderful things that bring lovers closer together. In some instances it can represent a love triangle which when modified by a Spade or Club could be seen as undesirable or an unwanted complication, but when modified by a Diamond can be beneficial, especially for those who may desire a little more spice in their love lives. Esoterically, the Four of Diamonds represents the citrinitas process in alchemy. Here citrinitas stands for the dawning of the “solar light” inherent in one’s being, a realization of wholeness or, in the language of French mystical philosopher Louis-Claude de Saint Martin, the voie cardiaque – way of the heart toward reintegration.

Three of Clubs takes the letters or invitations offered from the Two of Clubs and finds the querent getting dressed up for the occasion, whether it be to a new place of work or social engagement. It can also mean accepting a small promotion, a raise or small bonus, or collaboration. Three of Clubs can also represent unexpected luck, a successful small gamble or winning game of chance, and general street savviness. The Three of Clubs, esoterically considered, represents the albedo stage of the magnum opus which represents a purification of perspectives and knowledge, wiping the mirrors of perception so that one no longer “sees through a glass, darkly”.

In the Three of Spades we find the mysteries of death and transformation. The Three in the Spade suits are heavy and final, the metaphorical nail in the coffin of a situation or final straw in an already negative situation – it is slow suffocation, and can represent depression, a worsening of a misunderstanding, and  confusion. It can also represent an opportunity to “quit the darkness and seek the light” as is commonly admonished in Masonic and esoteric lodge organizations. It can be equated to the nigredo stage of alchemy which represents putrefaction or decomposition. Far from being a negative, it is the first step in the pathway to the philosopher’s stone all alchemical ingredients had to be cleansed and cooked extensively to a uniform black matter. More pragmatically, it’s taking the shit that’s accumulated in and around your life and turning it into fertilizer for the future.

Going forward, as with the Aces and Twos, the Threes can be said to represent periods of time. Three hours, three days, three months, three years; the third hour of the day or night, Tuesdays, and so forth. The Three of Clubs specifically can be said to represent Spring, specifically the Vernal Equinox, as well as the month of March in general.

When combined with other cards, the Threes mutate or transform the meanings of the cards they’re in relation to. For example, if a Three of Hearts shows up between a Club or a Spade, it can indicate an office tryst or affair or nursing an old wound and making progress toward something better. If four Threes show up consecutively, it can be indicative of mystical fulfillment or experience, achieving an initiatory pinnacle or adept-hood, working perfectly in balance with the elements. When three Threes show up together, it can represent transformation for the better or for worse when the Three of Spades is present – effectively a dark night of the soul. Two Threes together can represent a fraternal organization, a church or temple, the start of a new phase of spiritual or educational process as well and healing.

The Threes are the paradox of being in action, taking the amorphous and making it real as well as transforming or transmuting the physical and material into something more complete to whole. As each Three in the four suits represents a process in the magnum opus, each card individually is itself a whole containing the three primes of Salt, Sulfur, and the resultant Mercury. Here we are also reminded that while we are physical beings in constant transformation, we are also whole unto ourselves and should take solid measures in all our work toward fulfillment to recognize that primal and original beauty we all have from birth as our fulfillment is each of our birthrights as we are brought into this world.

tumblr_inline_p0cubwLGa91vrfne0_1280

Advertisements

Useful Necromantic Tools: Indulgences, Sacramentals, and the Pardon Crucifix

To this point I’ve mostly posted about my interests in cartomancy and maybe a few posts alluding to my interests in a particular strand of American traditional witchcraft. While these are indeed an important part of my life, as a gentleman necromancer it would insincere of me to not post a few things now and then in my vocation interfacing with the dead and the living.

If I were forced to pigeonhole myself into a particular religious expression, I would unabashedly have to say that I’m catholic. Part of this is definitely due to the expression of Roman Catholicism I grew up with, however as the years have gone on it’s clearly apparent that I’ve deviated significantly from the teachings and dogmas of orthodox expressions of the faith. While I am to all outward appearances a Christian, this is ultimately nuanced by a dual observance in traditional witchcraft and belief in many numinous divine powers couched within the cultural milieu in which I live.

For the more orthodox, necromancy is a practice mentioned primarily in the Bible in order to forbid it or to reprove those who have recourse approach or engage it. As my definitions of necromancy are very broad, even “big tent”, I find room for it in my personal piety through the hallowed practice of praying for the dead, in particular those souls who may have found themselves lost between the realms of the living and the assumed eschatological destination: heaven, hell, or purgatory.

The custom of praying for the dead in historical apostolic Christianity is rooted in scripture (1 Maccabees 5:58, 2 Maccabees 12: 42-43, 46; Revelation 21:27, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15) as well as in the writings and teachings of countless theologians and the Fathers and Mothers of the Church. Over time many practices would eventually emerge for the living to pray for and with the dead. Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604) would often offer Masses on behalf of the souls in Purgatory and by the late medieval period a number of elaborate practices would emerge in devotion to the dead, in particular to those in purgatory and indulgences would eventually become attached to them in order to encourage the piety of the faithful.

The word indulgence originally meant kindness or favor. In Latin it meant the remission of a tax or debt. Under Roman law it was used to express release from captivity or punishment. In this instance, an indulgence is given to remit the temporal punishment of sin that has been forgiven. As defined by the Catholic Encyclopedia, an indulgence:

“[Is] the extra-sacramental remission of the temporal punishment due, in God’s justice, to sin that has been forgiven, which remission is granted by the Church in the exercise of the power of the keys, through the application of the superabundant merits of Christ and of the saints, and for some just and reasonable motive.”

One such sacramental that has become particularly dear to me is the Pardon Crucifix. The Pardon Crucifix was introduced at the Marian Congress of Rome in 1904, with the support of his Eminence Cardinal Coullié, Archbishop of Lyon. As seen in the image below, the historic and inscription of the royalty of Jesus, INRI or the titulus crucis, appears in inscription over the head of Christ on a (typically) foliate crucifix. On the obverse at the center, the Sacred Heart shines forth with two inscriptions: on the horizontal bar, “Father forgive them”; and on the vertical bar, “Behold this Heart which has thus loved men.” At the base of the cross is then, is the monogram of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

tumblr_inline_p0y2whjntV1vrfne0_1280

In 1905, Pope St. Pius X attached a particular indulgence to the Pardon Crucifix which was added to the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum or Handbook of Indulgences until revisions were made in later editions where it was removed though still remaining popular in personal devotion. At the time, Pope Pius X gave the following indulgences to this crucifix:

  1. Whoever carries on his person the Pardon Crucifix, may thereby gain an indulgence.
  2. For devoutly kissing the Crucifix, an indulgence is gained.
  3. Whoever says one of the following invocations before this crucifix may gain each time an indulgence: “Our Father who art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” “I beg the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray to the Lord our God for me.”
  4. Whoever, habitually devout to this Crucifix, will fulfill the necessary conditions of Confession and Holy Communion, may gain a Plenary Indulgence on the following feasts: On the feasts of the Five Wounds of our Lord, the Invention of the Holy Cross, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Immaculate Conception, and the Seven Sorrows (Dolors) of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  5. Whoever, at the moment of death, fortified with the Sacraments of the Church, or contrite of heart, in the supposition of being unable to receive them, will kiss this Crucifix and ask pardon of God for his sins, and pardon his neighbor, will gain a Plenary Indulgence.

As a tool of necromancy, the application of the Pardon Crucifix become clear in being a tool for interfacing with the souls of the dead in purgatory who, as we find in certain strains of traditional witchcraft, can become powerful allies in ones magical praxis. We find in Scot’s Discoverie (Book 15, chapter 17), praying for the dead is part and parcel with the operation An Experiment of the Dead. After praying for three days and abstaining from impurity, the magician is instructed to go to the grave of one who is newly buried – specifically one who has either committed suicide or died from self-destructive behaviors – or to one who is about to be hanged and exact from them an oath to be put into effect after their death.

Approaching the grave, the magician armed with a crystal and hazel wand approaches the grave, strikes the ground three times and conjures the spirit saying:

“Arise N. Arise N. I conjure thee Spirit N. by the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou do obey my words, and come unto me this night verily and truly, as thou believest to be saved at the day of Judgement. And I will swear to thee an Oath, by the peril of my soul, that if thou wilt come to me, and appear to me this night, and shew me true visions in this Crystal-stone… I will give thee an alms-deed, and pray for thee N. to my Lord God, whereby thou mayest be restored to thy Salvation at the Resurrection day, to be received as one of the Elect of God, to the everlasting glory. Amen.”

While at the time of the writing of the Discoverie the Church of England had formally declared the doctrine of Purgatory “ a non-essential doctrine” in light of the reformation, it is clear the belief that laity could pray on behalf of the dead and the dead for the living remained in popular consciousness and would be preserved in magical practice, even if in the imagination of those who would write about witchcraft.

Applied, the magician or witch could feasibly create a list of spirits they have in their employ and at certain times during the month or yearly pray for them while utilizing the indulgences attached to the Pardon Crucifix for the benefit of these souls in order to fulfill the obligations “by the peril of [your] soul” to the spirit as well as gaining the spiritual protections and assistance associated with the pious reverence of this powerful sacramental. Similarly, for those inclined toward ancestor veneration, this practice can become a powerful vector for calibrating workings with one’s personal deceased relatives and mighty dead.

Keeping Clean

One possible lens through which we can view spiritual pollution from a Western perspective is through the concept of miasma. While no shortage of digital ink has been spilled on this subject in recent years by contemporary magical practitioners and polytheists, miasma is best described as a state of ritual pollution incurred naturally through daily interactions of varying levels of severity. In Pollution and Purification in early Greek Religion, Parker describes miasma and “mia- words” as follows:

“The basic sense of the mia- words is that of defilement, the impairment of a thing’s form or integrity. Things that in English we term ‘dirty’ are a common source of such defilement, but there are defilements deriving from things that are not dirty in themselves, or not deriving from matter at all. Miainō can be used for the pollution of a reputation through unworthy deeds, or of truth through dishonesty; justice, law, and piety are in danger of defilement…  The verb miainö is more freely applied, but where the noun miasma or the adjective miaros (except in the sense of ‘revolting’) occur, they almost always refer to a condition that has some, and usually all, of the following characteristics: it makes the person affected ritually impure, and thus unfit to enter a temple: it is contagious: it is dangerous, and this danger is not of familiar secular origin.”

This is a lot to unpack and can seem pretty threatening to anyone precisely because it is. Miasma is pretty revolting and also has a function of separating ourselves from things that we are ‘supposed to’ desire, namely the presence of the gods. Where miasma is present, there is mortality, where there is mortality the gods and various powers are not.

Fortunately, while it has a very real emotional, psychological, moral, and sometimes even physical aspect to it, the presence of miasma frequently harmless and easily remediated through simple actions such as prayer, bathing, and making offerings. Just as conventional politeness in our culture frequently insists on bathing and dressing up before going on a date or interview in order to make a good impression, purification from miasma functionally makes us more approachable to the powers around us – and within.

In the writings and strain of witchcraft transmitted by the American mystic and seer Victor H. Anderson and his wife Cora, there exists a belief that the individual exists as a composite being of three independent souls that can be framed as a personal trinity. The α soul is the foundational soul from which the other complexes arise and is the interface through which our somatic memories are stored, emotions are processed, and the physical body is sustained. The β soul is the rational soul through which much of our cognitive functions are processed and physiological sensations are interpreted. The γ soul is the part of the complexes which is viewed as most whole and representative of our spiritual natures. Cora notes in Etheric Anatomy, “All three parts of the soul share in the consciousness of our individual selves, but each part can live independently if separated.”

Understanding these soul complexes is important as it relates to this essay because through the purification and alignment of the souls, the individual becomes capable of working miracles. How this is done in the constellation of traditions descending from the Andersons follows a few underlying principles relating to how these bodies interact. The α soul stores energy, the β soul interprets where this energy is directed, and the γ soul directs the energy between bodies. In order for the energy to be transmitted effectively, these soul complexes require purification, prayer, and offerings which is done primarily through a set of rites which borrow thematic names from indigenous Hawaiian religious concepts as interpreted by Victor as kala, and ho’oponopono[1].

Kala in Hawaiian refers to a constellation of related concepts such as ‘(to) loosen’, ‘untie’, ‘free’, ‘release’, ‘remove’, ‘unburden’, ‘absolve’, and interestingly ‘(to) practice counter-sorcery.’ Cora writes, “Keeping oneself kala is extremely important in every activity of life. The Hawaiian word kala is made of two roots: ka, the same as the Spanish la (the); and la, which means “light.” It means to keep oneself clean and bright and free from complexes within and without.” By comparison to the more traditional proscriptions in European magical practice, “making kala” is akin to the traditional rites of confession with the twist that the individual is absolving themselves through the intercession of their γ soul of the power which they may have personally lost, stolen, or had been denied through negative societal conditioning.

In Spiral Dance, Neopagan author and activist Starhawk describes a ritual of purification related to one form of this practice in the Anderson Faery tradition that has become the cornerstone of my personal practice:

“Fill a cup with water. (Use your ritual chalice, if you have one.) With your athame (or other implement), add three mounds of salt, and stir counterclockwise.  Sit with the cup in your lap. Let your fears, worries, doubts, hatreds, and disappointments surface in your mind. See them as a muddy stream, which flows out of you as you breathe and is dissolved by the salt water in the cup. Allow yourself time to feel deeply cleansed.  Now hold up the cup. Breathe deeply, and feel yourself drawing up power from the earth (as in the Tree of Life exercise). Let the power flow into the salt water, until you can visualize it glowing with light.  Sip the water. As you feel it on your tongue, know that you have taken in the power of cleansing, of healing. Fear and unhappiness have become transformed into the power of change.”

Through making kala, one makes the first steps toward ho’oponopono, or reconciliation. In Anderson Faery it is important to understand that for kala to be effective, the individual needs to be aligned with their souls in addition to having a sincere desire to be reconciled through their individual agency and willingness to acknowledge and love the fullness of one’s selves in their totality. When done in a fully aligned manner, these practices have been shown to have miraculous powers in their own right, Victor apocryphally having once purified a man of his addiction to heroin among other therapeutic effects.

Tying this into miasma we have a model for diagnosing, examining, and engaging our own integrity and relative purity in relation to ourselves and others. As incarnate beings miasma is unavoidable and affects us in deeply personal ways: somatically, cognitively, and spiritually. Through engaging in a regular holistic practice of purification of these parts of ourselves, we become more effective at wielding our own personal power as well as averting inimical power being directed at us.

 

image1(1)

 

[1] Among initiates there’s some strong debate concerning the usage of indigenous Hawaiian terminology as being appropriative. I preserve the terminology here as reflective of what Victor and Cora transmitted. One initiate, Troll Huldren, prefers to use the term ‘clannes’ from the Brythonic for the concept of ‘shining’. Others refer to the practice of “making kala” simply as the “water trick.”

Learning Cartomancy: the Twos

If the Aces are the foundation of the suits, then the Twos are the messages that arise explaining to us the exchanges that each suit can bring. One of the fundamental messages for the Twos is that of communication and complementary actions or engagements. While some in the past have tried to essentialize the Twos into binaries that are sometimes oppositional, I’ve found that instead of representing a metaphorical “thesis” and “antithesis”, the twos almost are the “synthesis” of their relative suits acting in harmony under the Aces in much the same way as two hydrogen molecules linked to one oxygen molecule create water.

The synergy of the Twos include ideas such as contracts and document exchange, communication, compliments, and things that come in twos. Communication here also doesn’t have to be limited to words or documents, but also means of mobility and travel: bicycles, carts, even double turn tables spinning at a large party providing entertainment. Of course, one of the other most obvious aspects of the Twos in traditional cartomancy is partnerships, inclusive of romantic partnerships depending on the nature of the query as well as placement in relation to other cards in a spread.

The Two of Diamonds takes the original meaning of the Ace of that Suit and puts it into a tangible exchange. Here the card frequently indicates a deed or document of transaction such as a check, written correspondence, or loan. It can also indicate proposals, especially creative ones in addition to the figurative “putting a ring on it” in proposing to a prospective fiancée. The Two of Diamonds also represents independence and freedom, a new start, and sometimes even new business ventures.

As with all things in the Heart suit, the Two of Hearts automatically has associations of romantic and emotional bonding, of love between two people. Two of Hearts is very much the butterflies in your stomach, the expectation or arrival of something new, children, and all your hopes and dreams. It can also represent love letters or in our digital age receiving that text from your love one as well as the metaphorical “dick pic” or “boob shot” that gets you all hot and bothered.

The Two of Clubs in many ways shares some of the overlap in business related matters as the Two of Diamonds but is definitely more “down to business”. It can represent a business partnership in action as well as social events and organization. It’s the card of dynamic exchanges in useful information such as hints about investments or stock market trading tips. It can also represent a diploma or certificate as well as social invitations especially fraternal organizations.

And we come to the Two of Spades and take a deep sigh because everything is about to get pretty bleak. The Two of Spades is the quintessential card of arguments, betrayal, duplicity, and general bad news. Contrasted with the Two of Hearts, the Two of Spades can represent divorce, typically a result of betrayal of trust. The Two of Spades can also represent back-stabbing and is frequently associated with sharp objects such as scissors or folding knives.

Much like the Aces, the Twos can also be used to indicate periods of time. Two hours, two days, two weeks, two months, two years, and so forth. It can also be indicative of the second day of the month. The Twos are also indicative of lunar cycles: Two of Diamonds being the waxing phase of the Moon, the Two of Hearts the full Moon, Two of Clubs indicating the waning Moon, and the Ace of Spades indicating the new or dark Moon. The Two of Spades can also indicate the second month of Winter, specifically January.

Combined with other cards, the Twos are typically reliable indicators of what direction a communication or relationship may be heading. For example, in a query about communication where a Two of Hearts shows up in connection with a Diamond or Club card, one can reliably conjecture a future love interest coming from a business or “old money” might be in the future. If four Twos show up together, family considerations or community engagement may be in the future. When three Twos show up, frenetic activity and involvement might be a concern as well as public events where many people show up for a particular cause. Two Twos typically represents partnerships and working at things together synergistically or working things out by hand.

The overall messages of the Twos is one of cooperation and partnerships and putting things together in new and creative ways, this can even be true in cases where sometimes a Two of Spades show up as it can bring messages of what needs to be put asunder in order for future progresses to be made. When a Two shows up, it is time to start thinking about messages, even subtle ones, that my come and bring greater meaning to your inquiry – even if that just means listening to your heart, your higher self, your pocket book, and even the past negative experiences.

tumblr_inline_p03p9cdaRX1vrfne0_1280

Learning Cartomancy: the Aces

One of the more recent divinatory systems in comparison to other divinatory methods, cartomancy with popular playing cards as we roughly have them today has its origins with the rise of the printing press in the fifteenth century. While I could spill more digital ink about the fascinating history of playing cards and tarot, today I hope to make an introduction to the cards and their meanings, starting first with an anecdote from the Soldier’s Almanac:

“When I see an Ace, may it please your honor, it reminds me that there is only one God. And when I look upon a Two or a Three, the former puts me in mind of the Father and the Son, and the latter of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. A Four calls forth the remembrance of the four evangelists—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. A Five recalls the five wise virgins who were ordered to trim their lamps; there were ten, indeed, but five of them, your Honor may remember, were wise, and five were foolish. A Six denotes that it was in six days that God created the heavens and the earth. A Seven reminds that on the seventh day He rested from all that He had made. An Eight illuminates the recollection that there were eight righteous persons preserved from the deluge—Noah and his wife, with his three sons and their wives. A Nine recalls to my mind the nine lepers cleansed by our Savior; there were ten, but only one returned to offer his tribute of thanks. And a Ten signifies the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai on two tablets of stone.”

A handy, tongue in cheek mnemonic, I find that stories like this are a good way of understanding the narrative structure of how one may approach the cards, starting with the Aces which, in my opinion, are the foundation of where the cards begin.

In the standard French deck, an ace has a single suit symbol (a heart, diamond, spade, or club) located in the middle of the card, sometimes large and decorated, especially in the case of the Ace of Spades. Historically, the ace had a low value and this still holds in many popular European games, but as the ace is often the highest playing card, its meaning has since changed to mean ‘high-quality, excellence’. This holds true equally in divination where the Aces become the bedrock or underlying message of their respective suites.

The Ace of Diamonds, for example, takes the frenetic energy of that suit and stabilizes it into something ‘real’. While the other cards represent various facets of phenomena associated with money, possessions, rewards, intellectual pursuits, and dynamism; the Ace here indicates a tangible document such as a letter or check, diploma, or confirmation ticket as well as a real-life change typically for the better.

The Ace of Hearts, much like the Ace of Diamonds, takes the sensual, emotional, and relational nature of that suit and condenses it into a more material and less abstract form. Here the Ace of Hearts becomes a foundational start to a relationship and family structure, also indicating new arrivals such as a child or engagement. One might also ascribe to this card a very real ‘peaceful home’ type of energy as is sometimes discussed in American conjure.

With the Ace of Clubs, the energy shifts from that of everyday business and communication into more steady and coherent institutions. It can variously represent a club or organization gaining an official and recognized status and for this reason is very beneficial in readings for non-profit organization, a government or corporate office which would be beneficial if the surrounding query were about finding work or promotions, it can also represent a legal document and all things ‘written in stone’.

Traditionally the highest card in the deck of playing cards in English-speaking countries, the Ace of Spades is frequently the most ornately decorated card in a deck and, as far as cartomancy goes, probably the most emblematic card of getting a nice and fancy burial. In a radical shift from the other suits, the Spades are probably the most blunt and to the point about frustrations, change, and series of unfortunate events. If one were to make a cognate between playing cards and tarot, the Ace of Spades is pretty much the Death card on steroids.

Now, the Aces also have another important value in cartomancy, and that is being indicators of timing. In this method, any Ace that shows up can indicate an event taking place or having taken place on a Sunday. They can also indicate the seasons with the Ace of Diamonds being Autumn, Ace of Hearts indicating Summer, Ace of Clubs indicating Spring, and the Ace of Spades the icy doldrums of Winter. A novel method of reading that I’ve come up with for getting an idea of what’s going to happen in the following seasons is to take each of the Aces and set them aside and then shuffle my deck and make a five card spread beneath each Ace to see how things may unfold throughout the year. This, naturally, is not strictly traditional but I’ve found it useful and insightful.

Combined together or with other cards, the Aces bring a sense of gaiety or gravitas to a situation. Traditionally four Aces indicate a dramatic or drastic change, three indicating new changes and opportunities ahead omitting the Ace of Spades which, when present, can indicate a roadblock or sudden illness, and two Aces representing a surprise or shift. These, naturally, can be modifiers as well when other cards are present, for example an Ace of Spades in proximity to an Ace of Heart or other Heart card indicates emotional distress or heartbreak, while an Ace of Clubs next to a Heart or Diamond card can represent either a wedding certificate or joint bank accounts.

While other cards can be said to be versatile, the Aces to me are the most straightforward of the cards in any spread and offer the cleanest and quickest insight into the heart of any reading. As the foundation from which all the other cards are born, the Aces can be said to be the elemental building blocks of any reading and the best foundation to start when learning traditional cartomancy.

ace-business-card-game-278965

The Gentleman Necromancer

On one level, I suppose it would be easy enough to start telling you about myself using the Dickensian format from Oliver Twist telling you about where I was born, the circumstances surrounding my birth, my childhood, education, and how I’ve become who I am along with all the adventures and misadventures along the way, but that might be a little too tedious for anyone to be really interested in my work to read about and much better suited to whomever has the unfortunate duty of becoming my biographer upon my passing.

What I can tell you however is I was born in the Puyallup River Valley to the children and grandchildren of homesteaders from Europe who settled here on the unceded territory of multiple indigenous Salish tribes. I could also tell you the nostalgic beauty of having memories of living in area at a place and time of transition that gave me a connection to my ancestors and experience the swift changes of progress so-called tearing apart communities and leveling rich farmland into high-density residential properties. I also grew up raising cattle, playing in the barns and cabins built by my maternal grandparents, and attending to the acres of raspberries and other crops we raised alongside Native American and Latinx day laborers.

I went to the same school as my parents and my brothers before me. Many of my teachers were either former classmates of my parents and also had the pleasure and dismay of teaching my older brothers – depending on who’s telling the story at the time and how many beers have passed since we gathered around the bonfire blazing high with the limbs of corn and bramble branches with a healthy dose of gasoline thrown on top for show. This might not be of any interest to you, but it matters to me because this was magic and that’s where my story begins.

After the fires died and my parents went to bed, I would stay by the burning embers of the fire and watch shadows play off the windows of the barns as coyotes emerged from the wetlands where the river used to flow before it was levied in order to provide more farmland. In the dying firelight I could see sparks dance like miniature people rising toward the stars and descend into a labyrinth of red, black, and gray. Then, as the stars shone brighter, I would see bodies wrap themselves in mist and congregate behind the rows and rows of raspberries in the fields surrounding my home.

I don’t pretend to know how I came to magic, but I knew in my bones that it was real – it was in the change of seasons, the agricultural cycles, raising cattle from calf to steer, chicken from egg to hen, and all the stories of how my mother divined the names of me and my siblings’ by birth order with the aid of a Ouija board and pendulum. It was being taught by a large Native American woman how her people greeted the day and made offerings to the day. It was also in books that I stole from Barnes & Nobles that promised ancient wisdom and symbols to effect change on the face of reality.

SO, why should this blog interest you?

Well, if you’ve found this blog it’s highly likely that you’re probably a magician of some stripe or one of my friends who’ve been pestering me to get back to writing in a more focused manner.

If you’re the former, I hope that in sharing my observations and engaging in dialogue we might be able to inform our practices and respectfully critique our experiences in a courteous manner that is mutually beneficial to us as individuals as well as to the benefit of the level of discourse in the greater community.

If you’re a friend of mine whose been pestering me to get back to writing in a more focused manner, I apologize in advance for anything I write that might disappoint your estimation of my abilities, magical and mental prowess and penchant for shenanigans.

If it so happens you’re both, I think you’ll enjoy my writing and musings and occasional snarky comments on Ye Arte of Social Magic. In all seriousness, though, whether you’re a practicing magician or merely interested in it from an academic perspective (or secretly writing slash fic about me and need fodder to build a more believable character – in which case please share!) I imagine there will be something to delight and intrigue.

For the most part my occult interests here will be in the exploration of necromancy as informed by my experiences in Spiritism, occultism as a broad category inclusive of both traditional witchcraft and early modern ceremonial magic, and cartomancy. Intersecting all of these will be musings, observations, and reflections on how these things contribute to my own self-work and the rare but sometimes necessary two cents I feel called to comment on in the world of internet occultism. But for the most part what you’ll be reading are the musings of a very Cascadian, would-be wise one following the paths of the magicians and graveyard wanderers who came before me and hopefully leading those who will come after down an interesting path.

23032611_127616848001722_4522756449238123273_n