Tarot & Magic
A book on tarot to be experienced on all levels, rather than simply read. Kraig has used four tarot decks to illustrate the use of tarot in ritual and magic.
By Donald Kraig
Book - Published by Llewellyn
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Tarot & Magic is one of a series of "Special Topics In Tarot" being presented by Llewellyn Publishing. I can't say enough about this series - the books and topics are outstanding! And there is an added bonus - each book in this series has a forward written by the highly knowledgeable Mary K. Greer.
Donald Michael Kraig is highly skilled in both Tarot and Magic, and is one of those people that take their studies to the next level and work with them actively in their lives. No - I do not know Mr. Kraig personally, but his writing shines with a caring for people, and with a sense of respect for his subject.
Tarot & Magic is not a book to be taken lightly, nor a book to be simply "read". It is a book to be experienced - on all levels. The magic is in the experiencing. As Mr. Kraig points out throughout the book, we are all doing magic all of the time, each day of our lives. It is simply that we do not recognize it. The aim of Tarot & Magic is to "explain what is behind the techniques of working with the cards ...".
Mr. Kraig has chosen to use four Tarot decks to show how Tarot may be used in ritual and Magic: The Golden Dawn Magical Tarot (by Chic and Sandra Tabitha Cicero), is used for it' symbolism and because of the influence that it had on A. E. Waite and Aleister Crowley. In style, it reflects the Victorian era. The Universal Tarot (by Roberto De Angelis) is used for the manner in which the cards are depicted - it is a modernized version of the Rider-Waite deck. It also reflects the sentiment of its time - the idealizing of the Renaissance era. The Thoth Tarot (by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Freida Harris), is included also for its rich use of symbolism. In style, it reflects the new ideas coming in during and after the World War II era. The Shadow Tarot (by Linda Falorio) is used in the final chapter - Tarot And Magic - Continual Evolution. This is an out of print deck, majors only, that deals with "the darker side of the psyche". (Please note: the above descriptions are from the book, and reflect Mr. Kraig's thoughts.)
As for how the scans of the decks are used in this book - sometimes they are coordinated with the text, sometimes they are grouped together on a separate page. I vote for interspersing the card scans and the text - it flows much better for me.
I like the sequence of this book - it takes the "simple" subjects first, and then builds into the more complex ones. At all times the reader, and their level of knowledge (or lack of) is respected. I am of the school that isn't all that sure that "higher" knowledge belongs in a book. No - I don't think it needs to remain a secret, but I do think that personal instruction is the route to go. In fact, I go one step farther - let's hear it for the apprentice path! :)
In Chapter 1, The Tarot And Magic, Mr. Kraig goes into the symbolism inherent in Tarot, and gives a very credible explanation of what magic is and why it works. He also sets the groundwork for following chapters in his use of posing a set of questions at the end of the chapter. The questions are aimed at helping the reader to place the teachings of that chapter into practical use, rather than asking for a regurgitation of the material presented.
In Chapter 2, Tarot Spells, we learn the how and why of spellwork. There are points that I disagree with - such as the use of "day of the week" and "astrological sign" candles, but Mr. Kraig does make a point of saying, in essence, "Take what you will and build on it." He also does a nice job of explaining magical tools, including chart presentations in regards to the use of color, its metaphysical properties, astrological correspondences and correspondences to each day of the week. In a quiet manner he hands the practitioner a very powerful tool! In this chapter we also see the groundwork or "template", for spell work in the presentation of spells for love, career, traveling and healing.
In Chapter 3, Astral Projection, Pathworking And The Tarot, Mr. Kraig describes methods for accomplishing the actual projection, as well as doing pathwork on the astral plane with the use of the Tree of Life. While I take exception to the method Mr. Kraig uses for doing the actual projection, I was fascinated by the path work that he describes. What a marvelous manner in which to expand ones spiritual path! I was also very appreciative of the correspondences that Mr. Kraig presents, archangels associated with the Sephira, and the explanation of the four worlds.
In Chapter 4, Dancing The Tarot, Mr. Kraig references work done by Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips in Llewellyn Practical Guide To The Magick Of The Tarot. Their work goes far beyond the noting of postures in the Tarot deck, or even the intuitive work of mimicking the postures to enter the cards. Of great interest here is the use of the Tree Of Life, and of physical movement. There is quite a good explanation to go along with the notations on the Tree Of Life Chart, enabling any practitioner to determine on their own which paths to work with for which energies/issues.
In Chapter 5, Mr. Kraig brings up the work of talismans, amulets and ritual. He puts their use well within the range of any serious student.
In Chapter 6, The Tarot And Ceremonial Magic, we look at the difference between spell work and ceremonial magic. Here we also begin work with the minor arcana and the Tree Of Life, and delve into the use of the Lesser Banishing Ritual Of The Pentagram - an integral part of any magical (magickal to me) work.
In Chapter 7, The Tarot As Magic, we look at synchronicity and divination magic.
In Chapter 8, The Tarot And Sex Magic, we look at the raising of sexual energy, and why we would want to do that (other than for personal gratification). In lesser hands this could have been a very banal chapter, but Mr. Kraig has presented us with a well thought out, well written article, including a correspondence with the position of the figures in any given card and sexual positions.
In Chapter 9, Tarot And Magic - Continual Evolution, we delve into the Shadow Tarot (Linda Falorio and Fred Fowler), and working with shadow energies. (I am not going to go into the background of this deck, which Mr. Kraig has included, but it is fascinating reading.)
I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to work with the Tarot and the Tree Of Life, with or without using magic to do so. There are suggestions within these chapters for professional Tarot readers as to things that they can use as "value added" segments for their clients. I found that a strange, yet appropriate manner in which to view the work that Mr. Kraig presents here. There are many levels of learning to experience here - none will fail to teach!
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.