Review by Bonnie Cehovet
"Tarot Talismans" is a stunning work by the authors of the Golden Dawn Magical Tarot. In their introduction the authors refer to the Tarot as an "illustrated book of spiritual wisdom". They also refer to the many different uses of the Tarot, such as meditation, skrying, pathworking and ritual magic. It is made clear that the focus of this book is on those students that already have an advanced understanding of the Tarot. The work that is presented here has been adopted from the Golden Dawn teachings, with the thought of practitioners from other magical paths kept in mind. The aim of this work is to show the student how to make and use magical talismans for achieving their goals, using the Tarot as its base.
One of the first tenets mentioned concerns why the Tarot works for divination and magic. It is because "the universe is completely defined or patterned within the context of the seventy-eight cards of the deck". In this manner, the Tarot cards represents the powers and forces that make up the universe, and become a "living" magical system.
The Cicero's define talismans as objects that have been charged or consecrated with magical energies towards the end of achieving a specific purpose. They are considered lifeless objects before the magician brings them to life by charging them with specific energies that are generally astrological or Qabalistic in nature.
Amulets are defined as objects that protect those who carry them from harm. The Cicero's define the magical process of how talisman's work according to four "laws", or theories:
1. The Law of Willpower
2. The Law of Astral Light
3. The Law of Correspondences
4. The Law of Imagination (or Visualization)
The willpower of the magician also comes into play here, because, as the Cicero's state, every physical action has a magical reaction. Lack of will, or a negative attitude, can cause the magician to defeat his/her own magic.
Gods and angels are seen as our companions in working magical acts. The reason that the magician strives for spiritual growth an inner illumination is "so that his or her will is in a state of alignment with the higher will of the divine." One of the thoughts presented here is that because of the vibratory difference between the physical plane that we humans live on and the astral plane that angels live on to work together humans need to bring their vibrations up, and angels need to bring their vibrations down, during the time that the two work together.
Magical ethics are discussed, as well as how to choose a deck for use in talismanic magic. Five decks are used throughout this book: The Golden Dawn Magical Tarot by Sandra Tabatha Cicero; The Thoth Deck, by Aleister Crowley; The Universal Tarot by Roberto De Angelis; "The Tarot of Marseille", by Lo Scarabeo; and The Babylonian Tarot, by Sandra Tabatha Cicero. What is most interesting here is that the Cicero's show how the same card from different decks may be used for different talismanic purposes through the difference in imagery.
One of the examples given is the Six of Swords. The following uses are suggested for the different decks:
"Golden Dawn": to gain success after a period of conflict and struggle
"Thoth": to attain a state of perfect balance or achieve a scientific or technological
"Universal": to finally move on after a long time of mourning
"Marseille": since the pip cards in this deck are highly stylized and numerical, the Six of Swords in this deck may be used for any of the purposes listed in this paragraph
"Babylonian" (here the card is called the Six of Arrows): to heal after a long illness, or to become a healer
The preparations for doing this work are very much along the lines of magical pathworking, which may not appeal to everyone. Included are such things as the cleansing bath, the use of a banishing ritual to clear the space that the ritual will be performed in, performing the Qabalistic Cross, followed by the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). The set-up for the alter is shown, specifically for the Tarot consecration ritual. All of this is presented clearly, and with thought. Diagrams of the ritual work are shown, as well as the set-up for the alter. What I appreciated here was that the magical names used were also printed phonetically, so that they would be pronounced correctly. Aside from the issue of vibrations, I deeply appreciate being shown how to do something "correctly". (Sun/Moon Cappie here - that should explain that!)
The Tarot correspondences used in this book for magical work are derived from the Golden Dawn, and include elemental, astrological, and Qabalistic (Tree of Life) associations. The presentation here is quite in-depth, and includes discussions of the elements, the planets and astrological signs, the ten sephiroth, charting of the attributions of the Tarot Trumps (Major Arcana), and talismanic uses listed for each of the 78 cards for all five of the decks used in this book.
The primary manner in which Tarot talismans are worked with in this book is through ritual card spreads - specifically, through the four-card Triangle of Art spread, where the fourth card lies in the center of the triangle. Card number one is the significator, card number two represents the initial action, card number three represents progressive action, and card number four is the Tarot Talisman card. There is a schematic of the alter arrangement, as well as specific instructions, including hand positions, for the opening and closing ceremony for talisman consecration. Here the four laws come into play: I Will (assigned to Fire), I Choose (assigned to water), I Create (assigned to Air), and I See (assigned to Earth). There are several sample spreads given, for such purposes as gaining skill in magic, gaining a promotion, clairvoyance, and health and healing. The full ritual is given for each spread, along with scans of the cards. Also addressed is an amulet ritual spread - a spread for banishing, with versions for banishing an addiction or bad habit, and banishing an adversary's negative influence.
The next section deals with Gods and Angels, and Angelic associations for each of the cards. There is a comprehensive chart for the Major Arcana, as well as a text listing for each of the cards, with Elemental Attribution, Associated Godname, Archangel and Angel, with a discussion of the Associated Godname, Archangel and Angel. There are sections for graphics of the Archangels that are still blank (the review copy that I have is an uncorrected proof).
There is a discussion of how the Angels for the Minor Arcana were chosen, along with a comprehensive chart listing the Holy trigram, the Angel, the Title derived from the Psalm, the sign, the decan, whether the Angel is the Angel of Day or the Angel of Night, the Hebrew letters, the Angelci Choir, the Tarot card, and the card keyword. This is followed by text for each of the Minor Arcana that includes the Card Keyword, Decan, Sephiroth, Element Godname, Archangel, First Trigram, Second Trigram, and Angels. There is also a discussion of the Element Godname and Archangel.
For the Court Cards there is a table detailing the card name, Sub-element, Sephirah, Sephirah of Godname, Element Godname, Element Archangel, and Element Angel.
A great part of magical work depends on visualization. The Cicero's devote quite an interesting chapter to how to develop magical images of the Tarot Angels, based on their color correspondences (main color and complimentary, or "flash" color), symbols and purposes. There is a chart presented that lists the attribution, Hebrew letter, main color and complimentary color that would work well for reference purposes. Sample work-ups are given, along with how these Angels might be visualized. The graphics of the Angels in my copy are in black and white, but this is an uncorrected proof, so that may change in the final presentation.
"Tarot Talismans" is a very comprehensive book that acts as an excellent primer for those wishing to work with talismans, the Tarot, and ceremonial magic. Everything is written down in a format that is easy to understand, with graphics, tables, and the reasoning behind the choices made. This is an excellent addition for both a Tarot library and a ceremonial magician's library. One word of caution - if you do not wish to work with ceremonial magic, or if you are not going to be willing to put time and intent into your work, then do not get this book. It would be an act of disrespect.
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.