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This review is from: Tarot and the Magus: Opening the Key to Divination, Magick and the Holy Guardian Angel (Paperback)
Be careful reading this book, it might change your view on tarot more than you could imagine.
I have been working with the Thoth deck for about 18 years now. As I am interested in Magick, occultism etc. in general, I purchased many books over these years dealing with various issues. However, I was always kind of dissapointed when I looked for new publishings on tarot because every single book followed the same pattern:
1. Introduction to tarot in general
2. Divinatory meaning of each card seperatley
3. Divinatory techniques (never even mentioning the Opening of the Key Spread!)
An exception was Crowley's Book of Thoth which gives deeper insights but if you just started with tarot this is 'not an easy read'.
Paul Hughes-Barlow tries something completely different:
He starts his book by explaining the Opening of the Key Spread which is a Golden Dawn divinatory technique (and later you might discover that it is much more).
It is amazing, how the author shows the connections between tarot and kabbalah by introducing the links between certain cards.
His technique of pairing cards which at first sight do not have any connection gives deep insights into 'the story' of the reading. Same goes for the author's technique of counting the cards. To apply Paul Hughes-Barlow's techniques means to get 'the story' without having to learn at least 30 meanings of each card to be able to get a glimpse of what the h.. is going on.
For me reading 'The Tarot and The Magus' was like switching a button from 'off' to 'on'. Of course I knew (to a certain degree) what some symbols meant and of course I understood what a certain Major Card was attained to. What I did not know was how to interpret the cards in relation to each other.
And this is exactly one of the major issues Paul introduces us to: Reading out a single word is nice but being able to read a whole book in context is a lot better.
And what happens? Suddenly you are not confined any more to one 'meaning' of a card but you can read the whole story. You understand why certain cards go together via kabbalah and Gematria (certain Hebrew letters have numerical values so every word in Hebrew is a number).
But there is even more in The Tarot and The Magus.
For example, what struck me, was that even reading only a few paragraphs in this book led me to new paths which I had thought far away from me. To be more accurate:
I never thought of reading anything relating to shamanism. It seemed so far away from the issues I was interested in which was mostly ceremonial magick, egyptian mysteries, tarot and kabbalah. However, after reading the few pages in this book which give you some idea on shamanism I was astonished. Suddenly I saw links between osiris' death, shamanism and our own spiritual paths which at certain times includes being killed and raise like a phoenix from the ashes.
I can't get rid of the feeling that this book 'talks' in a way that is hard to explain. I have always believed that books have some vibrations/energies and often it is the gap between the lines that talks to you... Sounds strange? Well, words are insufficient to describe experience at some point. I strongly believe that some people will understand.
Besides, The Tarot and The Magus teaches you to deal with practical questions like charging for tarot spreads, how to read cards for a public audience, etc.
I think the best title for The Tarot and The Magus is not 'book on tarot' anyway, for there are some extras regarding sex magick, Goetic invocations and Liber 231. Therefore, I believe it should be called a 'Grimoire' which starts as an easy read but culminates in a short but very intensive way teaching magick that in my opinion is a mixture of Golden Dawn and of course Crowley but enriched with the author's own partly shamanistic path. I felt like there was something added to GD's stuff, like a second skin which we all posessed but seemed to have forgotten. I'm getting theatralic now... sorry.
At last, you can find highly effective meditations, an essence of Liber 231, pairing of the Major Cards and of the Hebrew alphabet. A short guide to self-initiation makes the work complete.
It is seldom that a book had a hold on me for such a long time. I simply love it. So, my recommendation is: read, read, read!!!!!