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Insight Articles and Blogs

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The Major Arcana Traditions

Over the years,friends have asked me in the course of compiling important minutiae of a comprehensible Tarot history, "Isn't this a bit too encyclopedic for the average Tarot user to care about?" Read More »


The English School of Tarot

A number of histories have been written to clarify the people and events connected to the founding of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the most familiar of this century's Secret Societies and source of most of the Tarot decks sold today. Read More »


Kabbalah Influences

For the first three decades during which I was assimilating information about Tarot, I avoided the history of the Kabalah. Not only had it seemed too abstruse and foreign, but the teachings had apparently fragmented due to the many forced migrations imposed upon the Jews throughout their history. Read More »


Ready, Set ... Go!

I want you to think about something that you've always wanted to do. No, seriously! Picture something in your mind that's been a goal of yours. Got it? Good, because today is the day to do just that. Read More »


Doctrines of Catharism

Part II: Cathari Doctrine and Practice We have a great deal of information on Catharism because of the Inquisition--specifically set up after the Albigensian Crusade to stamp out the heresy. As always, one has to look at the testimony of accusers with a critical eye. Charges of immorality, for example, were not based on evidence but on the prevailing theory of heresy (Moore, 1975). Heresy was evil and unnatural and therefore was expected to show moral and physical symptoms. Leprosy was often taken as evidence of heresy. Read More »


Joachim of Fiore

Part V: Joachim of Fiore To understand the transformations that occurred in Catharism, we must pause to consider the strange mystic and prophet, Joachim of Fiore. Too "Catholic" for the occultist historian and too "heretical" for the orthodox, he appears more often in footnotes than in the text of history books. It has only been in recent decades that his incredible influence on the intellectual history of the Middle Ages and Renaissance has become the subject of scholarly research. Read More »


Christian Magic

2. Christian magic During the first few centuries of the common era, magic was identified with the paganism of the Greco-Roman world that gave rise to Christianity. These rival religions were competitors and paganism was seen as a threat. Efforts focused on suppressing the power and beliefs of paganism. Read More »


Numerology

7. Numerology "But thou hast arranged all things by measure and number and weight." Wisdom, XI, 20. The Art of Ramon Lull provides a convenient entry into the alphanumeric and image magic of the late Middle Ages. Blessed Ramon's devotion to letter combinations and strange diagrams seems very foreign to us and our culture. To judge whether such strange ideas might have influenced the Tarot designers, we must understand how the 15th century would have understood those concepts. We will begin with the association of numbers and letters. Read More »


Magic: a Dilemma for Christianity

3. Magic: a dilemma for Christianity While it is clear that paganism disappeared, it is equally clear that Magic did not vanish. As a result, the issue of magic always posed a dilemma for the Church. The dilemma could not be solved by crushing Magic because belief in supernatural powers was an integral part of the culture into which Christianity was born. Indeed, Magic was an integral part of Christianity itself. The old and new testaments are full of demons and angels, prophesies and miracles. Read More »


Defining Magic

4. Defining magic The Church condemned magic. But what exactly was magic? The Church's position reminds one of the judge who declared that he couldn't define pornography but he knew it when he saw it. If one wished to preserve the cult of saints who performed miracles while damning the magician for almost identical acts, then one had to be extremely cautious and precise in defining exactly what was condemned and what was accepted. The dilemma was faced by drawing a set of fine distinctions concerning what was miraculous and what was illicit magic. Read More »


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