Space/Time Divination Experiments
This is an excerpt from Taylor’s upcoming book, Space/Time Magick II.
In Space/Time Magic, in my chapter on divination, I argued against using divination in magical practice every time a magician decided to do a ritual, because divination only reveals a few possibilities, while potentially limiting awareness of other possibilities. The other potential danger is that the very act of reading the future will change that actual future through the perception of it. In other words, divination can sometimes bring a very specific possibility into reality through the act of reading and that possibility may not be what the magician wants. The reason this happens is that the divination reading is imprinted into the subconscious of the magician1. So s/he acts on the reading and manifests it into reality, even if its not a favorable outcome. This is admittedly a pessimistic perception of divination. I do think that conscious awareness of the magician’s emotions and thoughts at the time of the reading can help hir avoid such problems in divination. Nonetheless, I often wonder if divination is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For that reason, my use of tarot and other divinatory tools has gone in several different directions. When I have used Tarot for divination readings, instead of using standard spreads, I use free-form spreads in my readings. One of the reasons I suspect divination readings can be problematic has to do with the actual spread. Different spreads have meanings associated with them. These meanings bias the reader with regard to the overall reading, because they set certain standards into the reading. My way of getting around this issue, both for myself and other people I do readings for, is to do free form spreads, which means the spread can and will change and isn’t regulated to a set number of cards. The placement of the cards in the spread is done intuitively with this approach, as opposed to using a rote formula for the spread. The benefit of the intuitive placement of the cards is that any meaning associated with the placement of the cards is solely derived from the reader. This filters out biases that traditional spreads would otherwise introduce into the reading.
The reason the cards aren’t limited to a specific number is to allow the intuitive possibilities that are present in the reading to gain better exposure than might occur with a limited number of cards. While this approach can be occasionally problematic (such as when I did a reading for someone, and due to the number of cards she pulled, the reading last for over an hour) I find that this approach tends to be more accurate both for myself and the people I do readings for. More detail is allowed into the reading, which opens up the perception of more possibilities. At the same time, the level of detail is also raised because the cards will modify each other and the meanings that are presented to the reader.
My other approach to divination involves using it for ritual and/or pathworking capabilities. To really learn the meaning of the cards, for instance, Knight has suggested that the reader treat each card like a door way and go into the card to interact with the archetypal force that the card represents2. So if a person wants to know the meaning of The Fool, the best way to find out is to actually do a meditative journey into the card to meet The Fool. I’ve found this technique to be useful to get to know the cards, but inspired as well by anime and the idea of summoning the spirit of card, I’ve also taken to using tarot for evocation purposes3. By evoking The Fool or another tarot card, I can interact with that force on this plane of reality. The evocation approach has been useful for opening up a number of possibilities for me. I’ve evoked The Chariot to help me travel more and get into events, while I’ve evoked The Wheel of Fortune to steer me toward better financial opportunities. As long as you have a well developed understanding of the cards, you can do fairly successful evocations of the archetypal spirits in the cards.
Yet another practical approach for tarot cards has been derived from Greer’s work. What I like about her approach is that it’s focused more on enchantment then divination. Instead of shuffling the cards and then pulling the top cards off, the practitioner pulls out cards that specifically represent the situation that needs to be addressed. Then cards are pulled that represent potential solutions. The goal is to put together a spread that creates a different conceptual approach to how the practitioner perceives the situation4. I’ve used this technique in several manners. I’ve used it as a mind mapping technique, where I map out a particular problem and the associated meanings that go with it. I then map out solutions and associated meanings with those and determine if there is any meshing of associations, which could create vectors of approach to solving a particular problem.
The other method I use with this technique is where I apply evocation magic to the problem. I’ll put the problem card in the center and then put the solution cards in a circle around it. I’ll cast a circle with the solution cards, basically evoking the archetypal entity of each card as a guardian. I’ll then evoke the archetypal spirit of the problem card. When that spirit comes forth I’ll explain that I need it to turn into the solution for me. Instead of binding the spirit of the card, I’ll ask it to confer with the spirits of the solution cards and then provide me a solution to what it represents. I usually get an intuitive explanation and may find myself following courses of action on instinct. Every time I’ve used this approach, it’s worked. The problem situation has turned into a solution. A person might think that the spirit of the problem card would be tempted to mislead me, but that’s why the spirits of the solution cards work with it. They not only confer with it, but also make sure that the intuitions I receive are carefully filtered. In other words the entity of the problem card doesn’t mislead me. And in time it becomes a solution for me. This kind of method involves the concept of taking energy directed toward you and turning that energy into your own advantage.
Most recently, however, I’ve come across a technique that allows me to expand the ritual magic components of tarot and at the same time allows me to further refine the divinatory and enchantment aspects I’ve worked with before. In Portable Magic, Tyson provides a ritual magic technique based off Golden Dawn ceremonial magic, but intended to drastically simplify the ceremonial magic aspects, and overall he succeeds. I’ve taken his approach and modified it further for my own uses. For instance, I simplified the system, taking out the astrological and planetary correspondences, because while they can be useful, I found it overly complicated for what I wanted to do. As is, none of my workings using Tyson’s system suffered because of the alterations. If anything, it proved to me that a personalized system of magic is more effective than adopting someone else’s approach to magic.
I mainly used Tyson’s concept of the ritual of union. In my own writing I’ve discussed the technique of invoking yourself into other people, and his technique seemed like a useful variation of my own technique.5 In his case, he used the example of contacting the consciousness of a magician such as Mathers, explaining that, “It is possible to form links with those who have died, or at least with spiritual intelligences who have assumed their identities and personalities and assert themselves to be the souls of those who were once alive6.” To my mind, this explanation didn’t work. It was too linear. And this is where the space/time aspects comes in, because if we contact people across distances, we can also interact with them across time. Working with Mathers, for instance, wouldn’t involve working with his ghost, as his consciousness very well could be dispersed at this moment in time. Instead it would involve working with his consciousness when it was alive, even if the magician doing the working didn’t live in the same temporal frame of reference as Mathers did. As long as Mathers existed at some point in time, then he could be connected with across time. I decided to apply some experiments testing my idea. The experiments involved people in the present, a dead relative, and a some attempts to interact with people in the future.
Readers should refer to Tyson’s work to get the basic technique, though I’ll summarize it here. I used the Voyager Tarot deck in my workings, so some of the titles of the cards are different from the ones he uses in his book. I created an altar out of each ace card in the four suits of the minor arcana. I also picked out a card that represented me, from the child, man, woman, or sage cards of the minor arcana. In my case, I used the Woman of Crystals card, because of my work with the Earth for most of 2007 and because I felt that the imagery really resonated with me. In the case of each person I chose to contact, I let my intuition guide me toward the correct card, using what I sensed about each person as a guidance. In most cases, this was helped by knowing the people at least somewhat well in real life, but in two cases, I didn’t really know either person and was still able to pick cards that I felt resonated with them.
To set up the triangle of summoning I used The Fool, The Hanged Man, and The Time-Space trump cards. To set up the ritual circle, I used the cards that Tyson has recommended, with some changes, using the Art trump for Temperance and the Balance trump for Justice. Again I refer readers to his book, not only for the suggested layout, but also a full explanation of the technique and what the magician is supposed to do to make the ritual work. I mostly followed his instructions, though again I personalized what I did to some degree.
My first experiment was focused on just making a connection with each person and determining if the person felt my presence when I did the connection. I asked each person before I did this working, and so I had their permission, but they didn’t know when I’d try to connect with them. In each case, around the time of the ritual, the people I contacted did feel my presence. An intriguing side effect of this experiment was that most of them experienced some form of bleed over, when it came to some current situations occurring in my life and natural abilities I have. In one instance, the person felt moved to write about desire and attachment, something I’d been reading about a lot at the time. In the second case, the person became very empathic while the ritual occurred and for a short time after, before it faded away. My description of his shields were also accurate. In the third case, the person only felt my presence.
My next experiment was to actually connect with each person, do a tarot reading of their present circumstances, and determine if the reading of the problem facing the person was accurate, while at the same time aligning that person with possibilities that were favorable for solving the situation. I used the Voyager deck for the summoning, and then used the Buckland Cards of Alchemy deck for the readings. In each case, they felt my presence once again. Also in each case, the readings I did were accurate and related to activities the person was engaged in at the time. In one case, the person was looking through her art portfolio and dealing with feelings of empowerment over it, but also feelings of conflict and fear, as a result of her school experiences. In another case, the reading for the person reflected the fact that he was in a business meeting and had to take charge to solve the situation. In both cases, they also noted that they felt charged up around the time of the reading, which I thought of as imparting those favorable possibilities into their reality. As a final challenge, one of my friends suggested I contact someone I didn’t know at all to see if the experiences and readings were accurate. I was only given the first name of the person. I told him I would do it two days later, but decided to do a double blinder and do the working the day before I told him I would do it. The reading for the person I didn’t know was also accurate. I not only was able to provide a general description of her experience, but I also was able to provide a very accurate of her personality. I knew once I tried these experiments that the connection with other consciousnesses worked in the present. The question that remained was if they would work in the past or future.
For the past, I decided to contact the consciousness of one of my ancestors, my grandfather who had died many years before I was born. I didn’t know a lot about him, so I figured it was a perfect test, because I could then confirm details received with people in my family who did know him. My goal wasn’t to contact his spirit, but to contact him when he was alive. I used a picture of him as part of my focus. The connection I received was more in terms of emotions than actual information, but the emotions were accurate to the time the picture was taken. I confirmed details via my relatives.
For the future, I did a similar reading like I had in the present. The difference was that I would connect with the person, but that the connection would be directed to the future of that person. My first connection was directed to one day later, in that person’s life. On that day she did feel my presence and the reading for her circumstances turned out to be very accurate, dealing with her ongoing attempts to communicate with people and with herself. In the second case, the connection was focused four days later. I wanted to determine if there was a difference in the connection or accuracy of the reading by length of time. The connection didn’t feel as strong, but the reading was still accurate for the person and what he was dealing with at the time.
I have further experiments planned, which will be used in a fuller version of this chapter. However, I did feel that, for all intents and purposes, the technique I adapted to my own standards has worked rather well. Each connection has been made successfully and in each case has been accurate. However, there is easily room for expansion in several different directions, including connecting with past and future versions of the self. The important aspect to note however is that tarot has more uses for it than just divination and that divination can combined with enchantment, as was the case where I not only read the circumstance, but then used the cards to introduce favorable possibilities to solve the problems. Tyson’s core technique has lots of adaptability to it and will certainly be a tool I continue to use for a long time to come.
- Renee, Janina. (1990). Tarot Spells. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications.
- Ellwood, Taylor. (2005). Space/Time Magic. Stafford: Immanion Press.
- Knight, Gareth. (1996). The Magical World of the Tarot: Fourfold Mirror of the Universe. York Beach: Samuel Weiser, Inc.
- Ellwood, Taylor. (2004). Pop Culture Magick. Stafford: Immanion Press.
- Greer, Mary K. (1988). Tarot Mirrors: Reflections of Personal Meaning. North Hollywood: New Castle Publishing Co., Inc.
- Tyson, Donald (2006). Portable Magic: Tarot Is the Only Tool You Need. Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications. p. 158
©2007 Taylor Ellwood. Edited by Sheta Kaey
Taylor Ellwood is the author of Space/Time Magic, Inner Alchemy: Energy Work and the Magic of the Body, and Pop Culture Magick, among other works. You can visit his blog at http://magicalexperiments.com/.