“Charging” the Reader and the Reading

In The Way of Tarot, Alejandro Jodorowsky floats the idea of “charging” the Major Arcana cards with personal significance instead of relying on the memorization of traditional keywords, in effect turning them into talismans imbued with the power of our own subjective vision. The implication is that conventional teaching methods based on the tarot literature encourage us to give that power away. He also mentions the practice of the reader literally becoming “possessed” by the symbols on the cards as a way to “live” their meaning in a visceral rather than intellectual way (a method of familiarization that Enrique Enriquez also espoused). The idea, for example, is to vividly imagine being the Magician, embodying his qualities, emulating his mannerisms and speaking in his voice as a way to practice this sense of immersion. He ultimately came to the conclusion that he should “charge” himself with the entire deck in the form of a mandala as the best way to comprehend the relationships and interactions between the cards. He felt that this exercise can impart great wisdom that can then be passed on to the subject of a reading.

These notions are not that far removed from Aleister Crowley’s advice that “the student must live with the cards, and they with him,” but he postulated them as distinctly autonomous “living beings” capable of dialogue and not as an assimilation of one entity by the other. Crowley’s suggestion struck me as akin to congenial room-mates sharing their innermost secrets. Jodorowsky, on the other hand, envisioned a kind of “Borg-like” symbiosis that would seamlessly meld the identity of the card with the reader’s subconscious self-awareness. Last night I had a singular dream that apparently arose from Jodo’s musings, although the unpleasant central figure of the dream was not something with which a prudent occultist would seek “knowledge and conversation.”

I was at the English manor of one of the Beatles (it must have been George although I never saw him). He was deeply engaged in trying to conjure up an alchemical compound to resurrect the ancient and mysterious Egyptian “God of the Yellow Hand,” who just happened to be entombed downhill from the main house and who, unbeknownst to George, was entirely malevolent. For narrative convenience we will call this imaginary deity GOTYH although, after the fashion of Jehovah with whom the Hieratic spirit considered himself to be in direct competition, it should probably be read right-to-left as “HYTOG” (which does roll off the tongue a little more glibly). So HYTOG it shall be.

Anyway, HYTOG was duly evoked as an enormous, flaming yellow hand. After allegedly deflowering a host of young virgins (although this nefarious pursuit was only rumored, not observed in “dream vision”), HYTOG decided that his next order of business would be to conquer the world in a huge yellow submarine. (I know, I know, humor me here.) HYTOG was quite the engineer. This behemoth would be propelled by sucking in water at the stem and expelling it forcefully from the stern; it would travel up and down via a horizontal, articulated flipper; and it would move side-to-side by virtue of a stream of high-pressure bubbles blown out of forward ports with bellows manned by a crew of human zombies that HYTOG was also busily creating. Victorian steam-punk science par excellence!

Although I only had a brief glimpse of it, this impressive vessel (which resembled a jaundiced version of Darth Vader’s starship) was soon placed at the ready, and HYTOG set about populating his giant limestone temple – which had miraculously appeared on the grounds – with a horde of tiny, flaming, star-shaped, yellow homunculi that flitted about nervously in a thoroughly aggravating manner. While this was going on, I was entertaining a couple of (the still-absent) George’s guests from India, one of whom was greatly interested in the books George had used in the experiment. When I awoke, they were just departing down the drive as HYTOG started up the hill to pay us a visit.

I can only assume that this dream was inspired by two things. Yesterday, in the lengthy passage mentioned above, I was reading about Jodorowsky’s surreal dream of merging bodily with a towering green manifestation of the Fool, and shortly after I encountered a Facebook post about the theremin (an electronic musical instrument), which brought me first to a memory of the Beach Boy’s “Good Vibrations,” and finally to a recollection of the late-’60s rock band Lothar and the Hand People, with their theremin named “Lothar” and their unhinged, pounding-and-wailing hippie anthem “Sex and Drugs and Rock & Roll” (which, interestingly, Google can’t find anywhere even though the band’s name was derived from the tribal adversaries of “the Phantom” in the old comic strip). I was never much of a fan of the Beatle’s song “Yellow Submarine” (although the cartoon video is charming), and I haven’t listened to it or watched the video lately so I certainly can’t say the dream was in its (dubious) honor.

So how do I tie this nonsensical episode into the rest of this essay? As a candidate for personal “charging,” the Star is anything but malevolent, and it isn’t my style anyway. I don’t envision myself as any kind of “Devil,” and the Sun doesn’t fit the paradigm either. The Hebrew letter for the Hermit means “hand” (apparently a euphemism for “phallus) but that’s a bit too contemplative for this aggressive scenario. The Thoth version of the Tower, with it’s flame-belching Mouth of Dis, might suffice but it’s definitely not something I want to bring to the reader’s table. Yellow just happens to be the color of the Magician in some systems of esoteric correspondence, but as an “action-and-event-based” tarot reader (aka “fortune-teller”) it’s not my role to analyze my sitters to that degree of specificity. The unruly and dangerous energy of HYTOG would seem to be worth harnessing for its dynamic potential, so I’m thinking that the cool-headed Temperance (which corresponds esoterically to the thoughtful, undemonstrative Fire sign Sagittarius) would be the best influence to invite into my reading ritual.

Interestingly, this is the one trump card that – in its Thoth version – I could never get my head around for practical (that is, divinatory) purposes due to its arcane alchemical trappings. It took me the better part of forty years to reach that point, so it’s obviously an archetype that I could benefit from addressing more assertively by taking it “on-board” in the way Jodorowsky contemplates. Perhaps this dream is urging me to revisit its alchemical dimensions as a way to “finesse” (my favorite personal keyword for this card) my reading practice into something more spiritually inspired. I could see placing it on the reading table as a kind of “talisman” to infuse the session with its harmonious energy. At the very least it would be a conversation-starter . . . and a stylized design might even make a good tattoo!

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