Monday, July 25, 2011

Shining on the Cards

Before I turn to the next theme, I want to say a little more about the Magic of Shining, which is always a sparkling topic, even though we are now closer to Lammas (Aug. 1) than Midsummer (June 21), and we in this latitude of the north are beginning to notice the length of evening light receding.

At the last workshop session, I handed out glass runestones with the rune “Dagaz/Daeg,” i.e. the “Day” rune painted on them in gold, because it relates both to the theme of shining illumination, and runelorists associate it with Midsummer. (This rune figure is like an “x” with the two ends closed with vertical lines, its outline somewhat reminiscent of a stylized axe or a butterfly; some Native Americans used the same figure to denote butterflies in design motifs.) I briefly discussed how you can use that rune magically, when you want to flood some matter or issue with light, (opening things up to full daylight), and also how you can use the runestone itself to amplify positive images in a tarot card layout, (effectively turning it into a tarot spell) by placing the runestone on top of cards where the combined symbolism would be meaningful.

So, to elaborate on the technique: when you get a tarot spread whose good energies you want to stretch, or when you are doing a tarot spell by laying specific cards out to make a visual statement about things you want to manifest in your life, you can enhance your arrangement with things like flowers, crystals, and gemstones, and also with runestones.

On that July 3rd session, one of the questions we put to the cards was, “Where, in my life, can I activate the Magic of Shining?” We did this in combination with mixing the Botticelli and Mantegna decks, because they are embossed with gold and silver, and because the Mantegna features a special assortment of cards not included in the standard tarot. A little while afterward, I tried to reconstruct some of the readings, though because time had passed, my memory may not be a 100 percent. However, yesterday I pulled those cards again to experiment for this blog write-up, and one gentleman’s reading, if I recall correctly, consisted of the Botticelli 3 of Swords, Mantegna’s Grammatica (XXI, Grammar), and the Botticelli High Priestess. Grammatica is in the “Arts and Sciences” class, and the pamphlet that comes with the Mantegna deck explains it as “Memory. Writings remain like an indelible memory.” I would interpret it as meaning that he can extend himself magically be using “shining words,” and I believe he did afterwards mention an interest in composing poetry. Grammar also has to do with the underlying structure of language (as well as other systems), so that is something that can be probed, in line with the High Priestess’s role as one who explores the mysteries below surfaces and appearances. How the first card, the 3 of Swords applies to all that, may suggest creative ways to express human pain and conflict. In the Botticelli 3 of Swords, a beautiful lady holding a lily drags a man, (who is in a prayerful trance), forward by his hair. This may suggest entering a meditative state and then allowing the muse to pull you where she will.

After I lay these cards out, I set the Dagaz runestone on the book the High Priestess is holding. I got an interesting visual effect, because the late afternoon sun was blasting through my glass door at such an angle, and also because the frosted glass runestone is slightly lens-shaped, the intense sunlight caused it to glow, which further illuminated that part of the High Priestess card. This provides a good image for visualization: one can easily imagine the High Priestess opening her book as the light of knowledge shoots forth. Then I set the runestone on the golden vase which the figure of Grammatica carries, considering how one could imagine a consciousness-altering elixir shining through. Then I played around with Loica (XXII, Logic), which another one of our friends got as her focal card, featuring a lady holding a small veiled dragon. The Mantegna brochure’s advice for this card is “think over problems,” so the Dagaz rune placed over the dragon could assist a visualization of the dragon as a messenger whose veil parts as it breathes mentally illuminating light instead of flame. Another lady got Cosmico (XXXIII, labeled as “Vital Functions”) as her key to shining magic, and as this angelic figure holds up the orb of the cosmos, it was easy to set the round, glowing runestone on top of that. (By the way, the Renaissance magician Marsilio Ficino said that an image of the cosmos makes the most powerful talisman.)

I similarly experimented with the other cards that I could recall coming up on the 3rd, and looking over the Mantegna cards in general, the images lend themselves very well to this kind of enhancement. I was somewhat stumped, however, with what to do with card XXXXVII, “Saturno,” which another participant had drawn, because it shows the god Saturn swallowing one of his children. However, it makes for an interesting play on Saturn’s myth if you place the runestone on top of the naked child who is being hefted up to Saturn’s mouth. In the original story, Saturn swallowed his children because he feared one would dethrone him; however, when Jupiter/Zeus was born, the Goddess Rhea, tired of seeing her children devoured, substituted a stone wrapped in swaddling, which Saturn swallowed whole; Rhea then had Zeus reared in secret. So, placing the runestone there can alter the reading, being symbolic of consuming the light of knowledge. This is something you could do if a Saturnine disposition is causing melancholy, or if Saturn in your horoscope is giving you a hardship transit.

Similar principles of decorating card layouts with symbolic objects apply for other runes, magical sigils, gemstones, and small talismans. When I try to think of which tarot cards might be effectively paired with which magical symbols and objects—well I can’t even begin to think about it, it’s too much. The best way to approach this is to let your own readings and personal situations suggest the best enhancements.