Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sexual Abuse in the Tarot

My last post was about the tarot revealing to me that a colleague has been screwed up by being sexually abused and my resolution therefore not to read his cards for him. This decision feels a bit lily-livered on consideration, and I have wound up thinking about how tarot would show sexual abuse and how to talk about it if it comes up in a reading, in a broader way.
The following are the cards which would suggest sexual abuse for me personally. As usual I am  not claiming that this list is in any way perfect, and of course most of the cards will be modified by others around them to indicate subtleties, and of course court cards in particular will indicate people involved.
II High Priestess: There's no getting away from it that the secrecy element of this card could be twisted into the secrecy involved in hiding abuse.
IX Hermit: This is another of those cards which has a distasteful undertone. Far from simply being the Golden Dawn's 'Magus of the Voice of Light, the Prophet of the Gods', a friend of mine refers to this as the 'wanker' card! The hermit is a card of isolation and thus can rebound on the target of abuse as meaning isolation with the abuser. There is literally nobody to turn to here at all, such a common experience in an abusive situation.
XV The Devil: This one rather speals for itself but I feel that more obviously it could refer to a Joseph Fritzel type of abuse, of literally being tied up in a cellar, for example. There are overtones of addiction in this card, which in sexual terms I suppose translates into an inability to keep away from sex, and specifically an inability to get away from a dangerous sexual expression. I would not see it as referring to 'Satanic ritual abuse', which I see as a common folk belief with no real existence in our culture. In a reading if the querent started talking about Satanic ritual abuse I would stop the reading and refer them to the police at once. No prosecution will ensue, because nobody has ever come up with the evidence that this actually happens.
XVIII The Moon: The friend who refers to the Hermit as  the wanker card calls this one the anus card! In an attempt to reclaim my reputation as being a reputable tarotist and this blog's reputation as a serious witchcraft blog, I would have to say that Waite refers to this trump as meaning that the mystery illuminated is our animal nature. There is an absence of 'higher' help here, and since it one of the weirder tarot cards, a sense that anything could happen, quite apart from the obvious sexual imagery of the moon and the towers.
3 of Cups: I have seen this considered as a card that refers to kinky sex, in the sense of a threesome, even though I don't get that impression from it myself. It could refer to a paedophile ring, I suppose, but I would think that that kind of thing would be better shown by the 10 of Pentacles.
6 of Cups: I am told that I have a personal bias towards reading this card in a 'reversed' way, which probably says more about me than you could wish to know! Actually I don't read with reversals unless I'm using an Eteilla deck, and prefer to see the upright and reversed meanings as shades of meaning within the card, but I definitely see this one as referring to childhood and specifically something horribly wrong with childhood. Tell me that it doesn't have to be that way and I will agree, but I will also caution against pretending that childhood is a happy time: for an awful lot of people it is awful.
7 of Cups: This one refers in a straightforward way to the threats and lies of the abuser. It should be approached with caution in a reading, because the survivor of the abuse will often have conflicted emotions towards the abuser, to the extent that people often report actually enjoying being sexually abused.
5 of Pentacles: The obvious reference is to the loneliness and isolation caused by abuse, the need to keep this secret which is actually damaging. The Morgan-Greer deck shows the female comforting the male who is injured and thus it may refer to a helper. It could of course mean an actual journey to get away from an abuse or a journey in the sense of lifting a stone on abuse and all the ensuing changes.
10 of Pentacles: Home, sweet home, and thus one of the most likely settings for sexual abuse possible. People are most likely to be abused, murdered, and so on, by somebody they know. The old-fashioned concept of stranger danger is largely illusory. This card could also refer to family in a wider setting in that I'm sure a lot of paedophiles will introduce the child to any number of 'aunties ' and 'uncles'.
9 of Swords: Again a very literal image of sitting up in bed dreading what is going to happen.
Of course in a reading it is not enough to see that something has happened. So I have asked my tarot deck what to say to the person who has a history of sexual abuse. The card that leapt out at me as I shuffled was XXI The World! I was using my Morgan-Greer deck, and I think there was a message for me personally, that when the tarot reveals something to the reader, it also gives us a task. It is the task of the reader to help the querent end their history or cycle of abuse, by whatever means necessary. This of course may mean ringing the police, it may mean engaging in psychotherapy, it may mean a ritual to end the process. I find it interesting that the advice from tarot here is actually fairly non-specific, which is what I was expecting, and so must be tailored to the individulal circumstances. Some people are just not ready even to unpack their history of abuse. Some people may have had abuse and genuinely not remember anything about that time of their life (if that is the case, for Goddess's sake don't start telling them what you see, because 'recovered' memories can be the most dangerous things out there).
In the case of what to say to the colleague who asked me to read his cards, I get the answer 4 of wands. Hmm... That's a don't tell him, then. Or rather, it's a message to talk to him about family so that I wander up to the subject but don't actually go there and see what happens.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Respecting Divination Tools

I can't find it offhand, but I'm sure I posted some time ago about playing a card game with a friend's tarot cards and having the strange experience of the game just going on and on. Of such things is created folklore of the sort where someone doesn’t treat an entity with enough respect and it bites them in the bum.
I find it very interesting the way experienced magical people talk about magic as if it is a thing in itself, and so treated as if it has a certain autonomy. I suppose this could be paralleled by the way you sometimes hear people talk about electricity as a bad master, and something to be treated with care. In just such a way the tarot is something to be treated with care, and also similarly to electricity it just keeps on giving.
The need to treat the tarot's gifts with respect was reinforced to me only this weekend when a colleague who knows I'm into any amount of weird shit, asked me to read his cards. I didn’t have any with me so when I told him so it happened to be true. But now I'm faced with the quandary that I'm never going to be able to read them at all because when I got home I drew some cards for him.
I have actually never seen it so clearly but a picture of childhood sexual abuse, which has left him fairly screwed up for life, appeared as clear as a bell.
Obviously this means that now I can never read his cards and am going to have to keep making excuses...

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Doreen Valiente: Witch

I am disproportionately pleased to announce that what I have done on my holiday is a) get my cistern fixed so it flushes then stops and b) finally finished reading this book by Philip Heselton.
I say finally because the book seems to have had the most remarkable effect. I have been trying to read it sitting in the park or on the canal bank, and it has been remarkable the number of men who have approached me and insisted I admire their erect penises while I have been reading. Old Doreen has always been one of my heroes and I imagine she would think it hilarious that this stopped me reading her biography.
And yet, she was such a different witch from me. It has been years since I have been inclined to join anything, and my every foray into the pagan community has been blighted by the fact that, frankly, they all annoy me. This probably indicates a lot about me, but I'm interested in how Doreen was repeatedly initiated, into different traditions. You will all know by now that my personal opinion is that the witch is not created by another's initiation and that the craft of the wise is not ancient.
Notwithstanding this, Doreen was so obviously a witch, and a great one. I say this because she lived intentionally and followed the leads of her own world, to explore the invisible mysteries. I particularly like the description of how she once cleared mice out of her flat by playing the recorder to them until they moved in up the road. I love that Gerald Gardners BOS was bound in snake skin, the old rogue. I love the tales of warring witches going back to the 1960s.
My one criticism is that I find this to be an overly denominational work. I didn't need to hear Heselton's opinion that if you're not initiated you shouldn't call yourself a witch, and it was not germane to the book. In fact Doreen's own published opinion was that you tell a witch by her works.
I finished the book on a train and felt a strong, mischievous desire to leave it on the train to be picked up by someone else. Could this have been the mysterious ghost of Doreen inspiring me to spread the magic on?