Learning the Opening of the Key (Online Course)

$20 USD

Originally offered at the Tarot Readers Academy in 2016 for the Tarot Summer School

Course Description:

We will be citing and reconciling publicly available texts on the Opening of the Key (OOTK) divinatory technique from Paul Foster Case, Macgregor Mathers, and Aleister Crowley and supplementing those texts with commentary from contemporary masters such as Chic and Tabatha Cicero and Paul Hughes-Barlow to learn the mechanics and the metaphysical implications of the OOTK. Much like how the Celtic Cross spread has become a golden standard, we will learn how to integrate the OOTK into personal practice. Along with deconstructing the five operations of the OOTK, we will learn about elemental dignities, Kabbalistic basics, traditional card counting, Western astrology basics, and what all of these studies combined with tarot divination can teach us about the cornerstone principle in Western occultism–“as above, so below.”

This course will be taught through concise video installments, instructing on the OOTK one operation at a time. I’ll also offer my explanation for why each operation is part and parcel to the OOTK and how astrology, numerology, elemental dignities, and the Kabbalah come together to provide us a transcendental path toward connecting to a divine principle.

An easy-to-follow workbook in plain English will be provided, which you will be expected to work through while taking the course. Supplemental study guides will be provided to teach elemental dignities, Kabbalistic basics, reference charts for card counting, guides on the twelve houses and twelve signs in astrology, references for the ten sephiroth of the Tree of Life, and a Sepher Yetzirah trumps correspondence table to help explain card counting.

Even if after the course you opt never to use the OOTK in its traditional form, the various techniques and metaphysical principles you will learn in this course will deepen your understanding of tarot, of divination in general, and of Western occultism.

My OOTK course is not just about learning the OOTK. This course is an invaluable lecture with supplemental texts on how to process and think through esoteric practices and studies. This course is about how to calibrate your own mental state and vibrational frequency to ready yourself for communion with higher consciousness (or Divinity). The lessons I strive to teach in this course transcend a tarot technique tutorial. I hope to share with you how to be a more powerful metaphysician.


An intermediate level proficiency with tarot is a prerequisite for the course. This is not for tarot beginners.

However, it is okay if you are not familiar with Western astrology or the Kabbalah/Qabalah. All the references you need for the basics in the various esoteric studies will be taught through this course. You do not need to come in to this class with a background in astrology or the Kabbalah.

Course Outline:

  1. Introduction to the Opening of the Key
  2. First Operation: The Four Worlds
  3. Second Operation: The Twelve Houses
  4. Third Operation: The Twelve Signs
  5. Fourth Operation: The Thirty-Six Decans
  6. Fifth Operation: The Tree of Life
  7. Concluding Remarks

Recommended Supplies:

I say “recommended” here only because there is no feasible way for me to force it. However, I strongly recommend that you print out a copy of the OOTK workbook, at the very least, to help you navigate the OOTK exercises and video lectures. If you have a 1-inch 3-ring binder, then I recommend that you print out all relevant course materials provided, use 5-tab binder dividers to section off your binder as recommended, and compile the course materials so you have your very own OOTK textbook.

Oh. Do I need to mention that you need a tarot deck?

I also recommend that you set aside an entire day for going through this course, the course materials, and practicing the OOTK alongside the video lectures. Even though actual run-time of videos is 105 minutes, this course is likely to occupy an entire day.

Important Notes:

Given the subject matter of the course, there will be religious references, specifically to Abrahamic faiths. While such references are always in an academic tone, the way the content is framed is definitely not secular (or even exoteric).

Lectures and oral instruction consists of 10 videos, total run time 105 minutes.

Video #1: Introduction

How To Order


I’m going to give step by step instructions on how to order the course and get access to download all the materials for yourself.

  1. Send the tuition cost noted above via PayPal to the e-mail address abelldelivers@gmail.com. Yes, it’s going to say “James Zhang from Castro Valley.” That’s the Hubby. Also, this is the preferred method of payment. (~or~)
  2. Pay with your credit card by following this link: https://www.paypal.me/benebell(~or~)
  3. Only if (1) and (2) are impracticable for you, pay by ordering me an Amazon Gift Card, sent to abelldelivers@gmail.com. Direct link to Amazon gift card orders here.
  4. When you send payment, please include:
    1. Your name or a name identifier for me to reference you by, (~and~)
    2. Your e-mail address, so I know where to send your ordered course materials to.

That’s it!

But if any of that sounds confusing or you just don’t know, no worries. Email me at abelldelivers@gmail.com to let me know you want to place an order. We’ll take it from there together.

Once I receive your payment as the purchase order, your course materials will be delivered to the e-mail address you specified within 2 business days.

If you don’t receive the course materials in the e-mail inbox specified within the two business days, then something went wrong. Doh! Please email me at the below address asap.


DELIVERY NOTE: So far I’ve been good about getting the course materials to you in less than 48 hours from when I receive the PayPal payment, so if that time has gone by and you haven’t received anything from me, first check your Spam folder. Second, check to see the e-mail address associated with your PayPal account. I may have sent it to that account if no e-mail was provided in the notes section of the transfer. If still nothing, then something went wrong somewhere, so contact me at the above e-mail addy ASAP so we can get things squared away.

Book Review of the Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions

Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions Book 01

It’s no secret that I’m one of Christine Payne-Towler’s biggest fans and the Tarot of the Holy Light (THL) is my personal reading deck. While I may not reach for the THL for readings I do for others (though those who’ve gotten readings from me know that from time to time, I do), it’s almost always the first deck I reach for when reading for myself. So naturally, I eagerly awaited both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the companion texts that go along with the THL.

I reviewed the THL deck here (first edition of it) and Volume I of the companion text, Tarot of the Holy Light: A Continental Esoteric Tarot here. This will be my review and overview of Volume II, Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions, pictured above alongside the newest version of the THL deck, which I also have. Wherever you all seem to think my smartness is, multiply that by one thousand and that’s Christine Payne-Towler.

Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions Book 03

Foundations begins by explaining why the THL focus is on Jacob Boehme, a seventeenth century occultist. Boehme’s works are said to have heavily influenced later Rosicrucians, Freemasons, and Martinists, and then the early esoteric tarot deck by Etteilla. While Volume I was a study of each individual card from the THL, Volume II takes us back to the source theoretical principles behind the THL. What was the purpose behind conception of the THL deck? What are the foundational gnostic premises that the deck is built upon? In fact, what are the foundational gnostic premises that all esoteric tarot decks to come are built upon? These are the questions Volume II explore.

Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions Book 04

Volume II provides interdisciplinary instruction on various esoteric theoretical models from Western mystery traditions and ultimately synthesizes it with the continental tarot deck. This is the kind of book you sit at a desk to read, because you have pen and paper ready for notetaking.

Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions Book 05

Since I am not well-learned in Western mystery traditions or the Kabbalah, this was slow reading for me, but wholly enjoyable slow reading. I loved how Payne-Towler compels me to explore the Kabbalah further. Alchemy and esoteric astrology are also explored in detail and depth.

Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions Book 06

If you work with the THL deck, then you must have this book. If you don’t work with the THL deck but possess an active interest in Western esotericism, then get this book with or without the deck, because there’s so much in here that will enrich your own metaphysical studies.

Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions Book 07

Payne-Towler does enter with a distinct religious point of view and I don’t think the THL books are intended to be strict, objective scholarly research. There’s a great deal of scholarly research in here, but pulled in such a way to support a very clear religious thesis. For me, I don’t mind that at all, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.

Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions Book 08

Anyone with occult leanings who want to study the Western mystery traditions should have a copy of this book in their personal library. This is just one of those incredible, rich texts that I cherish having access to.

Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions is 260 pages of Western theosophic exploration keyed to the incredible THL tarot deck, though it’s not an operation manual the way Volume I was. Here, Volume II is a treatise that explores the roots, foundation, and backstory of the mystery traditions that the deck and, beyond the THL deck, esoteric tarot in general is founded upon. Foundations will deepen your pool of knowledge. In many ways, this book is about teaching you how to think, and how to process information found on a tarot deck through the filters of Western occult history.

Foundations of the Esoteric Traditions Book 02 Book and Deck

Volume I and Volume II are both self-published and can be ordered at Christine Payne-Towler’s site, Tarot University. Also be sure to check out the new version of the THL deck. I have both. To be honest I prefer the earlier version, but the new version is more functional. It’s easier to shuffle, easier to transport around with you, and all around more practical as a user-friendly deck. The earlier deck is more of a collector’s item and for someone with my size hands, forces slow shuffle and meditation. With the new deck, I can shuffle faster. Anyway, go check out Tarot University.