Master the General Reading (Revisiting Paul Foster Case’s First Operation)

Skill Level: General (All)

Once upon a time, general readings–where the tarot reader doesn’t get the luxury of knowing a querent’s question ahead of time–was a norm.

Today, modern readers struggle with general readings.

Let’s go back to the late 40s and receive some instructions from Paul Foster Case on how we might be able to master the general reading. We’ll be delving in to The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages published in 1947. What we’ll be working through today, the Opening of the Four Worlds and part of the First Operation of the Opening of the Key reading method, was also featured in one of his earlier works from 1933, The Oracle of the Tarot: A Course on Tarot Divination.

Those of you who’ve gotten tarot readings from me before will recognize this reading method. I start every single reading I do, whether it’s a general or a specific question reading, with a preliminary divination derived from this First Operation, or the Opening of the Four Worlds.

Online Independent Study Course

I offer an online independent study course on the Opening of the Key,

Learning the Opening of the Key: An Online Course ($20)

The Opening of the Key is a five-operation inter-disciplinary divinatory procedure rooted in the adept traditions of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Today, given the publicly available records of the procedure, it can be used by tarot practitioners from all backgrounds.

However, this course isn’t about learning the OOTK (though you will). It is about deepening your understanding of divination.

Through a series of eleven video lectures, a 50-page OOTK workbook, and a wealth of study guides, handouts, templates, and quick reference sheets, you will not only master the OOTK procedurally, but also learn basic astrology, numerology, and the Kabbalah.

Continue reading “Master the General Reading (Revisiting Paul Foster Case’s First Operation)”

The First Operation: Adapting a Traditional Method in the “Opening of the Key” to Contemporary Tarot Applications

The First Operation is the first step to an extensive divination method called the “Opening of the Key,” a method associated with the Golden Dawn approach to tarot reading. Paul Foster Case’s book, Oracle of the Tarot (1933) provides a great instructional on the First Operation. A PDF of the book can be downloaded HEREFor a recent publication on “Opening of the Key,” read “The Golden Dawn Opening of the Key Method” by Marcus Katz of Tarot Professionals, linked HERE.

Now I’ve extracted the First Operation method from the Opening of the Key to use contemporaneously with modern approaches to tarot reading.

Selecting the Signifier

There are many ways of selecting a signifier card, also known as the significator. A classic “old school” Golden Dawn approach is to use The Magician for a male and The High Priestess for a female. However, I was taught to use court cards. The following is my court card approach to selecting the signifier:

Astrol. Signs, Sun Sign Dates


Court Card Signifier
Aries, MAR 21 – APR 19


PAGE for young female
Leo, JUL 23 – AUG 22 KNIGHT for young male
Sagittarius, NOV 22 – DEC 21 QUEEN for adult female
KING for adult male
Cancer, JUN 21 – JUL 22


PAGE for young female
Scorpio, OCT 23 – NOV 21 KNIGHT for young male
Pisces, FEB 19 – MAR 20 QUEEN for adult female
KING for adult male
Libra, SEPT 23 – OCT 22


PAGE for young female
Aquarius, JAN 20 – FEB 18 KNIGHT for young male
Gemini, MAY 21 – JUN 20 QUEEN for adult female
KING for adult male
Capricorn, DEC 22 – JAN 19


PAGE for young female
Taurus, APR 20 – MAY 20 KNIGHT for young male
Virgo, AUG 23 – SEPT 22 QUEEN for adult female
KING for adult male

Continue reading “The First Operation: Adapting a Traditional Method in the “Opening of the Key” to Contemporary Tarot Applications”