I’m making an effort to complete the Holistic Tarot companion course video series. Here’s the ninth installment, on tarot history, or more specifically, theories of origin.
While there’s 33 pages of citations for the content of this video, I hope it’s clear that we’re still talking about speculation– hence theoriesof origins. I started this focused level of research back in 2014, even before Holistic Tarot was published, for a work of historical fantasy. Yes, a novel. That novel I’ve been struggling with, which I hope I can dedicate 2022 to.
Journey to the West is a Chinese epic from the 1500s. It’s about Tripitaka, a Buddhist monk from China’s ancient capital (think: somewhere in the central north of the modern-day country you’re familiar with) who is tasked by Kuan Yin to journey to India to receive Buddhist scriptures.
Kuan Yin frees the Monkey King, a trickster figure with magical abilities, from his incarceration, who was punished by the Buddha and imprisoned after he stole peaches of immortality from Heaven. In exchange for helping the monk on his quest, the Monkey King will not only be freed, but will achieve enlightenment.
White Dragon Horse, a banished dragon spirit transformed into a horse, serves as Tripitaka’s steed. At the end of the journey, the horse becomes a bodhisattva and is restored to his original white dragon form.
Pigsy, a philandering and gluttonous warrior general banished from Heaven’s army after he offended Chang’er, the moon goddess, is also tasked to accompany Tripitaka, as is Sandy, another former warrior general in Heaven exiled to the mortal realm due to anger management issues. It’s a quest story about a virtuous, principled monk and a band of misfits who fight or outsmart demons and survive supernaturally perilous terrain.
Tarot Card Meanings with Benebell is going to be an educational video series covering the 78 keys or cards of the tarot, showcasing the distinct attributions for four different deck systems: the TdM, the RWS, the Thoth, and my own deck, the SKT.
Here are my objectives for the course:
(1) Facilitate familiarity of the TdM, RWS, Thoth, and SKT so you become proficient at reading any and all of the four systems,
(2) Offer a card by card primer designed to help memory retention of the key meanings in a more visually engaging way than studying them out of a book, and
To strengthen your personal vitality and the reservoir of metaphysical powers you can command or control, through attunement to those inner and outer alchemical forces embedded into the archetypal tarot architecture.
We often hear about using tarot for shadow work. This course takes that concept a step further to address how tarot and shadow work can be utilized to cultivate dynamic personal power. The more personal power you wield, the greater likelihood of success you’ll enjoy in achieving your goals. To break vicious cycles that hold you down and to overcome that which haunts you, you need force. You can summon that force from within you and to navigate that inner landscape of yours in search of your powers, we use the tarot.
The course addresses how to source power from five specific inner reservoirs, corresponding with the architecture of tarot, which are as follows:
Expert or authoritative power, which we harness through Fire;
The power of charisma, or appeal, harnessed through Water;
The power of punishment to reinforce your personal sovereignty, harnessed through Air;
The power of reward, or building relations, harnessed through Earth; and
The power of change, or the power of esoteric knowledge, harnessed by attuning to Spirit.
The tarot will be used as an anchoring and centering tool for navigating the inner landscape in search of those five reservoirs of power. We can also better understand these five powers of social psychology through the Major Arcana and the four suits of the Minor Arcana.
We will cover both the psychological and the metaphysical facets of these powers and how you can activate them by navigating your shadow landscape with the tarot. Overcome lack mentality. the pain of failure, recurring underachievement, fear, inertia, and insecurity by activating these five powers that are just beyond the nether regions of your own mind and will.
Tarot, social psychology, chakra strengthening, self-reflection, personal ritual, spell-crafting, and basic East Asian Qi energy work will be covered. The course content delves unabashedly into faith-based material.
Some of you may know of the online video companion course to Holistic Tarot already. I put out the first few video lectures for the series this past week. The videos supplement the study guides and handouts, which supplement the book, Holistic Tarot. To check out the course outline and description, click on the above hyperlinked banner. This blog post is just to offer some of the behind-the-scenes commentary.
Offering a Beginner’s Tarot Course
I have been pressed ad nauseum about offering a beginner’s tarot course. While I haven’t felt called to start production of materials with that specific intent in mind, as in an online multi-media course that teaches you how to read a deck of cards, I wrote Holistic Tarot with that specific intent (i.e., to instruct on tarot at the beginner level) in mind. Then when the book launched back in 2015, I created a portfolio of syllabi, study guides, and handouts to help people navigate the 800+ pages. That was my “beginner’s tarot course.”
Still I got pressed. Apparently that wasn’t what many of you folks had in mind when you think “beginner’s tarot course”?
Holistic Tarot gets criticized for allegedly being unkind in its treatment of practitioners of craft, in particular witchcraft. Folks have interpreted my book as proposing that the magic of divination ought to be stripped of tarot entirely and that I’m telling you to approach tarot from a staunchly atheistic point of view. I wonder why for so many, life choices must be so mutually exclusive. Why does my personal spirituality let alone religious beliefs need to be apparent in everything that I produce?
The book’s tone has never been shy or misleading about taking an academic approach to understanding tarot. That is hardly a concentrated attempt to strip magic from tarot, an allegation rendered even more absurd if you know anything about my personal background. Also, I wrote Holistic Tarot as a beginner’s tarot book with a specific target reader in mind.
My intention for the book is to get you to a level of technical mastery over tarot. Technical mastery. That means yes, in the beginning, magic is stripped of the tarot the same way when you first learn a musical instrument for the purpose of someday mastering it, you strip all artistry from the practice of that instrument.
During your first 10,000 hours of lessons for mastering violin, it’s about how you hold the bow, how to string your own instrument, how to straighten your own bridge, how to tune your instrument, how to hold a whole note with no vibrato, not allowing you to use any vibrato at all until you’ve mastered your bow work, then how to master the vibrato, perfecting the execution of various techniques, rote learning, stripping you of all personal creativity and compelling you to learn technique your teacher’s way, playing boring scales and etudes until your fingers are blistered and your neck is bruised. It’s hardly musical at all. You could argue that such an approach is stripping the musicality from music.
Is there any value to making a distinction between fortune telling and divination? How might Chinese perspectives compare to or inform Western perspectives? This free video (or audio) lecture will examine the etymological origins of the words for “fortune telling” and “divination” in the Chinese language, apply medieval esoteric Taoist texts to tarot reading, and propose a theoretical framework through which to read tarot, as either a fortune teller or a diviner, though the two are not mutually exclusive. We will then run a comparative analysis of that with Western perspectives and examine Western esoteric texts on the subject.
The video lecture is about 34 minutes in length. Click on the below to begin watching. Although it is in video form, you can also listen to it as an audio.
An expansion on the talk I presented at the Theosophical Society of the East Bay, this is a video (or audio) course that covers how a practitioner of craft might use tarot, from triggering intuitive creativity for self-empowerment, divination, and amplifying psychic ability to communion with celestial contacts, mediumship, and summonings. This is an intermediate course that presumes proficiency with tarot. Subject matter also runs into esoteric and mystical applications of the tarot, so the tone of the course might not be right for everyone.
Also, just so you are aware: the tenor and value propositions of this course goes in a diametrically different direction from Holistic Tarot.
I’m really excited about this course and I hope you are, too. If you are a practitioner of craft, whether it’s just dabbling, still finding your path, you identify as a witch, magician, diviner, medium, psychic, or shaman, I just know that this course will deepen and enhance whatever amazing mojo you’ve already got going on.
This course is not about teaching tarot. I do not teach you tarot. In fact, I pretty much assume throughout the lecture that you already know a lot about tarot. Rather, this course is about deepening and broadening your relationship with your tarot deck so that you can get more metaphysical mileage out of it.
What Holistic Tarot taught was only the first of the five pillars that are discussed in this course. This course will deconstruct the form and mechanics of using tarot for:
Intuitive Creativity to achieve self-empowerment;
Divination to connect to what Paul Foster Case called the Cause of Causes—the Universal Intelligent Life Energy;
Psychic Readings both to amplify your innate psychic ability and to use tarot as a training tool for strengthening your psychic ability;
Celestial Contacts to connect with deities, angels, ascended masters, devas, or the metaphysical force affecting physical conditions; and
Netherworld Contacts and using tarot for mediumship, ancestral connections, or connecting to entities of nether-worlds and other-worlds.
A workbook with exercises to help you learn and master the mechanics of such tarot operations will also be provided to supplement the video lecture.
Finally, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and the most frequently asked questions will be answered in a follow-up FAQ video that will be sent to you. There may be multiple FAQ videos delivered to you by e-mail from time to time thereafter, dependent on the inquiries that come in.
You will receive:
Online private access to a video lecture [length: 1 hour 15 minutes]
A PDF digital file of a 49-page workbook
Sub-folder files of supplemental reference material
Access to subsequent FAQ video(s) or e-mail(s) [TBD]