The following is an excerpt from The Book of Maps, the companion guidebook to the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, a hand-illustrated black and white tarot deck crafted with practitioners of the mystic arts in mind. The pen and ink drawings were inspired by woodcut prints from the late Renaissance. Symbology called upon is based predominantly on medieval European alchemy, astrology (the Sacred Seven), Hermeticism, Zoroastrianism, Abrahamic angelology, Kabbalah, Catholicism/Christianity, Sufism, and Egyptian mythology.
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In the weeks leading up to the pre-order launch, I’ll be posting excerpts from The Book of Maps while continuing the deck creator’s progress notes.
Excerpt from The Book of Maps:
What is a Beneficent Spirit?
At numerous points throughout The Book of Maps, I’ve referred to the spirits that you interact with through the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot as beneficent, noting for comparison that malefic spirits, or spirits who do not support your highest good and best interests, are blocked from interacting with you through the cards. A psychic barrier has been crafted into place so that only that which seeks to do good, cause good to be done upon you, and to confer benefits can come through.
However, what do I mean exactly by a beneficent spirit? Key 15: The Demon, for example, might not look beneficent to most of us. Few of us think of Death (Key 13: The Reaper) as beneficent, though if we’re being realistic, we can at least acknowledge that death is neutral. We might not be sure about what’s going on in the Ten of Swords, but The Destroyer isn’t our first impression of a beneficent spirit.
I would still categorize these spirits, even The Haunt in the Nine of Swords, and yes, all of the spirits herein as beneficent. Beneficent doesn’t mean dressed in white, glistening with a pastel ombré, a golden halo, smiling, and the persona of gentility. That’s dressing, and it’s neither good nor evil. It’s just dressing.
In fact, we’ve all encountered corruption and nefarious intents dressed up in a way that gives a superficial impression of goodness. It’s only when you look through the surface and past the superficiality can you pick up on the ill intent underneath.
The beneficent spirits as depicted in Spirit Keeper’s Tarot and as they can manifest through the cards can at times appear wrathful, ominous, or grim, but they are still by their natures beneficent spirits. Why? Because they act in your best interest. They seek to uplift you, not tear you down. They want to see you in a place of abundance, fulfillment, and empowerment, not a place of weakness, deficiency, or damnation. They never want to see you under prolonged suffering. However, they may let you endure pain in the short term if it means that tribulation will build the strength and character you need to achieve greatness.
Fearlessness and tenacity are required traits to cultivate before achieving greatness and beneficent spirits help us to cultivate that fearlessness and tenacity. Those who smile sweetly, in the dressing of goodness, who absent-mindedly tell you everything will be okay and that you are perfect even while all that you hold dear is crumbling around you, or who deliver false promises of easily-attained happiness and prosperity are the sinister creatures I would keep at bay.
Happiness and prosperity never come at the behest of a few simple incantations, the pseudo-law of attraction, or your professed dedication to a charismatic spiritual leader. Even when we consider the most privileged and elite among us, who seem to have it all, having inherited happiness and prosperity (or that’s how it looks from our vantage point), they are no exception to the universal rule. It is so hard for us to fully understand that what we see is never the full story.
Gratuitous wealth obtained by crime and avarice incurs a debt that will be paid back in full, even if at the moment we envy that wealth, we don’t yet see the inevitable karmic consequences. When we see someone endowed with every blessing, either we are looking at a mirage and judging our reality against a mirage, or those blessings came after an untold toil of labor pains, industry, and unrelenting grit—work we could very well do ourselves and then enjoy the same blessings, but have instead given in to passivity and indolence, imprudently wondering why we cannot be gifted with what somebody else has earned. True happiness can only be had after enduring profound suffering. There is no happiness without the initiatory suffering.
Beneficent spirits do not abandon you in an illusory realm of virtual reality, so when that’s where you are, they try to shake you out of it by the means necessary to do so, which is why beneficent spirits do not shy away from being the bearer of bad news. Being the bearer of bad news doesn’t make them bad—that’s a concept that I’ve noticed requires a certain level of maturity to fully grasp.
The Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is not unique or specialized in its connectivity to the spirit realm. It only seeks to remove some of that obscuring veil from your awareness and give you full disclosure. In the genres of tarot decks, I guess I would say that Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is an esoteric or occult tarot deck, but one that strives hard to be user-friendly. Intention setting is also boundary setting, and so what Spirit Keeper has gone out of its way to do is set clear intentions, and thereby set clear boundaries. The filters of beneficence are not set through pretty colors, beauteous smiling angels that look like lingerie models, or monotone notes of love and light. That is still dancing on the surface, mired in superficiality and materialism. I sought to get to the nucleic seeds, a reverse engineering of creationism to return to source.
The filters implemented in Spirit Keeper are built upon a dedicated and devotional toil of what I’ve called in jest the Big Data of esoteric knowledge and traditions throughout human history, organized by a data-processing application in my mind that took not just a lifetime, but lifetimes, to craft. A part of me, whether it’s because of my religious beliefs, just self-aggrandizement, or genuine psychosis, or all three, believes that this tarot deck was lifetimes in the making. It didn’t just happen in 38 days. It is the Work I had left unfinished for far too many incarnations. It didn’t happen quickly; it happened finally.
A part of me, whether it’s because of my religious beliefs, just self-aggrandizement, or genuine psychosis, or all three, believes that this tarot deck was lifetimes in the making. It didn’t just happen in 38 days. It is the Work I had left unfinished for far too many incarnations. It didn’t happen quickly; it happened finally.
I cannot recall any time in my life when I wasn’t in full faith of a God’s existence and the presence of beneficent spirits all around me. What I questioned—and often—was which religious doctrine has this God’s character and the identities of these beneficents figured out, and who has the best explanation for their presence. The omnipotence of a divine Holy Spirit has always been the one constant in my life, the one thing I was sure of.
That this Holy Spirit comes by many names and many manifestations also served as constants. That nature-based religions, shamanism, and mysticism may have arrived at a closer understanding of God’s presence than the domineering religious institutions mired in bureaucracy soon formed as another one of my core beliefs. Even when I tried on atheism to see how it might look on me, I approached atheism as one more religion for the consideration and contemplation of God—could I arrive at truths about God by inspecting what God is not?
All my life I’ve felt a divine presence enveloping me, a luminescence that’s referred to in Chinese as Guāng (光). It’s a Light you cannot see, but can feel, that gives the sensation of being protected and watched over, akin to how blind people can still detect light—exposure to light, though the blind are not able to see it physically, triggers brain activity that indicate an awareness and subconscious perception of the light.
It’s that Guāng, that Light, which I associate with beneficent spirit presence. I now look to Zoroastrianism for reference in explaining what is a beneficent spirit. I am using the term synonymously with “angel,” which I acknowledge may be too loose and inaccurate an association for many.
In Zoroastrian angelology, facilitating connection between the spirit realm and the Holy One (Ahura Mazda) are beneficent immortals, or angels. There are the amesha spenta, or archangels, who might be likened to personifications of virtues.
For instance, the archangels relating to the four elements: Asha Vahista for Fire; Haurvatat for Water; either Vohu Mano for Air or staying in line with more Eastern expressions of the elements, Khshathra Vairya for Metal, equating to Air; and Ameretat for Earth. The archangel of Fire is the personification of truth and righteousness. The archangel for Water is the personification of perfection and health. The archangel for Air is the personification of the intelligent mind, and the archangel for Earth is the personification of immortality.
The fravashis, then, are guardian angels, and the arda fravashi are the Holy Guardian Angels. We are each born under the watch of a Holy Guardian Angel, a bornless one who accompanies us throughout life and lifetimes to ensure we walk the path of our highest good and, eventually, return or transcend back to the godhead. Holy Guardian Angels can navigate between the heavenly realms and the earthly realms. One of our ultimate goals as humans is to cultivate our energetic and psychic bodies in such a way that we embody the fravashis, our inner divine genius.
Then there are the yazatas, or the angels, who like the archangels, are personifications of virtues, concepts, and natural phenomena. Altogether, these are the beneficent spirits I refer to in Spirit Keeper’s Tarot. The spirits identified throughout the Minor Arcana are likened to the angels, personifications of their corresponding concepts expressed in each tarot card. Within the concept of the amesha spenta, I’ve subdivided the expression into the various courts and rankings among the Holy Guardians (or court cards), with four main archangels identified as the personifications of four main aspirations (the tarot Kings).
The tarot deck itself is crafted to be a powerful and sacred talisman—sacred because of the intentions you send into it—that can connect you to your personal Holy Guardian Angel. In Zoroastrian theology, the Holy One instructed Zoroaster to tell the people that they should invoke and call upon their Holy Guardian Angels for insight, guidance, support, protection, and help, so that they might better navigate the physical world.
Excerpt of chapter ends here.