This book is a detailed exposition of combining magic and sorcery with tarot cards. This isn't twinkly moon-magic stuff, but deeper and more philosophically demanding magical practices that require quite a lot of the practitioner in terms of study, dedication, and intelligent application over time. The language can be a bit flowery but it gets the job done. The material is well organized and arranged in a manner that fosters step-by-step development of a personal practice.
The introductory section describes different levels of practice, various theories and rules of magic, and the mind-set required to practice cartomantic sorcery. Sorcery involves calling force unseen agents of power, so there is a description of the importance of magic circles, the nature of contractual magic for specific ends, and anchoring one's power to the “bedrock of reality.” The Smith-Waite (aka Rider-Waite) Tarot is used as a foundation tool here, although the author allows for individual choice in the selection of a tarot deck for magical work.
The text includes sensible advice on these matters that emphasizes the magician's responsibility and cautions about incurring debts in the process of conducting magical enterprises.
Further chapters discuss ceremonial garb, tools, and accessories. Advice is given on consecration methods and using tools in spell work. The author doesn't subscribe to the elemental suit-tool paradigm, but a symbolically functional and magically utilitarian view of these objects. Multiple ideas are offered for suitable tools to suit the preference of the practitioner. Emerson explains how additional divinatory tools can be combined with tarot and gives suggestions for construction or acquisition of these.
The third chapter describes the four ordeals (tests) of the magical development process, as “in order to gain, one must first give.” This is followed with the Six Ways of Initiation. Each is associated with a card from the Major Arcana. The Twelve Artes of magic are discussed, offering ideas about what the magician can (and cannot) do, with Major Arcana associations. The three roads of the Fool's journey describe personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal layers of existence.
Chapter Four offers a collection of spells and rites for cartomantic sorcery. These are presented in poetic form with specific spread forms. Operations begin with simple spells with three or four cards and proceed to more detailed operations. Spread illustrations with arrows show how the cards are placed or moved to perform the spell. The book concludes with Appendices that contain information for further study, including instructions for the game of Triumph for three to six players. There is a short bibliography.
This is a fascinating book from the standpoint of merging tarot with magical or sorcerous practices, as it offers plenty of detailed information, instructions and advice. The format of the Kindle edition isn't particularly pleasing; however, the Table of Contents has links to chapter and section heads that make the material more easily accessible. Editing doesn't conform to Chicago Manual of Style conventions. The writing is generally good but could have used some polishing.
The book is recommended for people who wish to develop a full range of magical practices connected with the tarot.
~review by Elizabeth Hazel
Author: S. Rune Emerson
Megalithica Books (Immanion Press), 2016