A Little White Book for Life

[Extract from ‘A Little White Book for Life’, to be published 2018]

This book deals with ten fundamental states of experience and their relationship with each, illustrated by the Tarot. It provides a LWB [Little White Book] for life.

It aims to be a dense but concise guide to the archetypal patterns of tarot in everyday experience at all levels.

Each state exists in itself; as a pair and as a triad with other states. A map is provided at the conclusion of this book.

If we consider RESTING, FEELING and SELF [3 of the States], we might appreciate that moving between resting and feeling is a cyclic process.

We experience that transition as a revolution between no-feeling and feeling a specific emotion. Feelings arise and they fall. [WHEEL]. However, with FEELING TO SELF, it is more immediate and direct; to not feel the self is to be dead to the self [DEATH]. However, the feeling of Self is Life. The RESTING TO SELF [or SELF RESTING] is neither death nor revolution; it is merely being oneself [HERMIT].

This is the triangle called PILGRIMAGE.

Moving to Dreaming

The world is a manifestation of vision. All that is present now was once only imagined by a person. As we move from dream to dream, we create. We create memory [See Attention to the Past] and we create what will be [See Attention to the Future]. The machine of the future builds bricks out of clouds and mist. It builds a smoke house.

The furnace of Jerusalem is the forge in which we burn, turning our water and clay into stone. Those stones we fashion into towers; towers of language, towers that have no end in the heavens. We aspire to everything and anything that moves us beyond the present.

We must take out the nails which attach us (and by which we cling) to that which appears to be the case. We must rip ourselves from the cross as we move to dream, sacrificing all that might have been.


The Gates of Tarot

The Four Stages

[EXTRACT FROM The Gates of Tarot: Inner Workings with the Tarot, by Katz & Goodwin, forthcoming 2018]

The IGM is composed of four essential stages; the shoreline and the cave; the animal; the guide and the first archetype, which we recommend is the Sun. We will break these stages down with actual examples of their experience in order to guide you through the journey. In every example, once the Inner Guide [IG] is contacted, their suggestions should be followed (with common sense) above any written suggestion, as they are your primary guide in your own world.

The IG is based on a fundamental pattern and uses the most primitive of experiences to connect to our deepest roots; the shoreline from which we emerged, and the sea of the influential creation myths; the dark cave which is both shelter and holds the unknown – even the underworld; the animal world and its mysteries, fears and source of food; and the ‘other’, the stranger and the guide; and finally, the Sun (in our version), the source of light and energy to all that lives.

Let us begin at the shoreline, with our back to the sea and open in front of us, the cave entrance.

The Shoreline

The vast sea behind us, from which we evolved and which represents the unconscious, is a powerful symbol. We usually ask students to resist turning to look at the sea behind them, but rather sense whether it is far away or at their feet, whether it is calm or turbulent, quiet or tumultuous. We ask whether there is a scent of salt or sand, rock or other scents, and how the air feels. Setting up the working for later, we also ask the student to tell us the weather and position of the sun.

As the scene is built, you should gently consider how you are dressed; we ask, “What are you wearing on your feet”? This gives us the experience of feeling bare feet in warm sand, sandals on rock, or whatever comes first in your imagination. It also focuses us on our feet and ability to walk in this landscape.

Our feet and hands become powerful symbols in themselves, both in the IGM and dream, representing our will, direction, freedom and ability to act. Whether they are covered, and the manner in which they are used or directed, is an important consideration during interpretation of a working.

The Cave

As the first shelter, we return to the womb, to a rebirth, to a mystery of life and death, as we approach the cave. The shape, size, texture and temperature of the cave entrance all carry symbolism. In an IGM, particularly for the first few times, it is a useful opportunity to deepen your experience by activating all your senses to fully detail the cave entrance. Here is one example from a male student; in all transcripts we refer to the student as M[editator] and any partner or facilitator as F[acilitator].

We have abbreviated some of the responses throughout all the transcripts, and indicated some pauses, hesitancy, and broken or repeated speech to communicate the trance-like nature of language sometimes evident in a working, whilst editing some speech to ensure clarity to the reader. The voice of the facilitator is usually more gentle and supportive, encouraging and curious, than the interrogative short-hand of the transcripts.

M: I am standing on a beach, facing the cave and I see that it is a stone arch with a door- I don’t know what the door is made of – wood, or steel?
F: The door is steel? How far away are you?
M: Only about two feet away. I am standing on shingle, yellow, mainly round pebbles. The lintels of the door – there are lots of faces, carved into the stone work, supported by the side of the door.
F: Do you recognise the faces?
M: They merge into each other as I look at them – they have slightly exaggerated features, some very – I don’t know – sort of fat, overly fat, some very thin.
F: Is there any indication of the cultural style or time of these faces?
M: Possibly ancient – Greek.
F: Is the arch of the doorway stone? Does it have a frame, or colour?
M: It is black, smooth, slightly oily- I don’t like to touch it, and smell tar. It smells bitter, the faces are fluid, sticky to my fingers if I try and touch it.
F: Describe the scenery.
M: The sea is far out; flat- sea. No one is watching, but I am in a cove. The land to my left juts out into the sea quite a bit; quite a long way away – flat open – no trees. I recognise the beach, started out before here when I first attempted an Inner Guide Meditation but could get no further.
F: Is the cave in the side of mountain? Appearance, colour?
M: It is a kind of stone. In the cliff, shale – flaky – orange like sun-stone, about up to my right layered where worn away. I see now that written on the arched door are the words “Old Man Know Thy Self”.
F: Is there a handle on the door?
M: There is a heavy metal ring handle.
F: Open the door and look inside, can you see inside the cave?
M: Ah … I thought the door would push in, don’t know why, but it pulls out – smoothly.
F: Step into the entrance, step up?
M: There is a small tunnel and it is lit by wicks in oil basins – stuck into wall – shoulder high. Turn slightly to right, dome is like a chamber.
F: What is the smell?
M: Musty and quite old; smells like wick or old rope. Floor is very smooth, I can see a little crawl way to the left. I know that I must go that way now.
F: Cave or tunnel?
M: Cave – standing in little tunnel (not crawl away to the left). Back of cave, quite a large ledge, seat or to lie upon – distinctly feel by myself here, no one inside or in vicinity. Feels metal. Like an airlock – very. Doesn’t have that quality totally though, it is not lifeless (interesting).
F: What do you feel you should do?
M: Look inside it, go through crawl-way. Very short. I can see it is probably about six-feet long – see end of it, no side – perfectly smooth and circular, like a …? Not sure. Nothing inside. Can see at the end that it opens out, into what, I am not sure – got to crawl down to look at it.

Once the meditator is through the cave, often exiting through the left of the rear of the cave rather than the right, they will emerge into a landscape such as a field, a mountainside, a wood, etc., or sometimes an internal space such as a house, a room, a temple, or any other building.

[The book features transcripts and experiences selected from hundreds of participants in Inner Guide Workshops and Experiences conducted by Marcus in Europe and the UK across the late 1980’s-1990’s]

Secrets of the Thoth Tarot

EXTRACT FROM SECRETS OF THE THOTH TAROT, by Marcus Katz [Publication Date 2018]

The Creation of the Thoth Tarot

Originally the idea was to dash off a pack of cards from (a) the elaborate “Equinox” descriptions (b) mediaeval packs, as The Equinox did not describe the 22 Trumps. We thought that a day apiece would be enough for the 40 small cards; two days apiece for the 16 court cards and 11 weeks for the 22 Trumps. This was thought to be an outside estimate–say 6 months in all, allowing for holidays & interruptions.[i]

It was not until there was an eventual falling out between Crowley and Harris that we read his vehement vindications for the creation of the Thoth Tarot. Whilst they certainly argued over the finances and recognition for the deck, Crowley was adamant that “I will not allow the cards to be issued so that they can be used only for gambling or fortune-telling”.[ii]

In preparation for some possible legal case with regard to his opposition to Harris showing her work at the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours, in London, 4th August 1942, Crowley composed a fictious letter to himself from the “Society of Hidden Masters”. Under their name, he states that he had …

…agreed to devote your whole knowledge to the work of designing an entirely original pack of cards, incorporating the results of your 39 years of constant study of the subject with your profound – if at times unacceptably unorthodox – knowledge of comparative religion, mathematical physics, philosophy and Magick. Also that you should compose a Treatise explaining the subject in full. It appears from a notice in the Exhibition that there is a proposal to publish the cards as a pack without this book. To do so would limit their use to fortune-telling, a form of fraud against which you have constantly set your face your whole life long.

Crowley gave two motives for his work to create a tarot deck, also in the fictious letter to himself from the “Society of Hidden Masters”:

  1. That it should serve as a Magical Atlas of and Guide to the Universe, for this “New Aeon of Horus”, that is, for the next 2,000 years.

  2. That its undeniable beauty and majesty should be an intelligible vindication of the whole of your [my] life’s work …

Crowley was drawing on a huge range of influences and experiences in the design of the deck. He stated that he was working to illustrate the doctrines of “Payne Knight, Hargrave Jennings, Arthur Eddington, J.G. Frazer, Bertrand Russell, J.W.N. Sullivan, Eliphaz Levi” and others, whilst also drawing upon his experiences described in “The Vision and the Voice” and “The Paris Working”. These latter two series of visionary experiences are quoted at some length in the Book of Thoth and their further study is essential for any reader seeking the spiritual sources of the deck.

His work with Harris was documented through their correspondence, providing us an unparalleled glimpse into their partnership – unlike that of Waite and Smith, of which we have no known record other than a few lines in a letter and in Waite’s own autobiography, Shadows of Light and Thought.

Crowley describes the working arrangement thus, in his writing to himself under the guise of the Secret Masters:

For the next four years approximately, Lady Harris prepared water-colours of the cards. She did this from your [Crowley’s] rough sketches and descriptions under your continual direction, subject to your constant and repeated corrections. In some cases you made her redraw and re-paint a card which you found unsatisfactory as many as five or six times.[iii]

Their letters are available online and reveal references to everyday domestic life for the both, and certainly a lot of financial concern. They also show how strong Harris was in rebutting Crowley’s more elaborate requests for cash beyond the “stipend” about which they later argued.

Here is an extract from one undated letter, written by Harris, apparently in response to a financial scheme proposed by Crowley:

This is not my affair, but please do not try to get me to help. You prevent me from doing what I would like to do &, that is work on the Tarot Book with you, as I absolutely refuse to be entangled by your efforts to boost an absurdity. What a pity. I fear even now the work will be unfruitful. The House of God appears to me as vortex not a mouth, or is it yours which can’t be filled by mortal effort try as you may.[iv]

It is of interest that Harris is already using the tarot symbolism to model her experience and express it to Crowley.

Her work was meticulous on the cards and they both worked on revisions of many cards. Harris was using books by Crowley such as 777 and Magick – again, unlike Pamela Colman Smith who we believe may have only been working on one set of “Book T” notes given to her by A. E. Waite.

Harris writes one night:

I think I had better have some new notes on Justice. There are the Dove, Raven, Lamed, Sword, balances, anything extra, headdress of Isis?

She goes on to say in another fragment:

I say, what about the Fool’s colours – Air won’t do. You are [?partly right] with your vacuum. I have marked out in my colour scheme – Bright Pale Yellow Sky Blue Blue Emerald green, Emerald flecked gold but surely I can use the purple dark blue, pale blue green, yellow, orange, red of the rainbow.

At the top of the chart are 10 colour sequences which we don’t seem to have used much. We did combine them in the 1st plain card of wands & then what with the governing planet & zodiacal sign we stopped. Anyhow I can’t paint brilliance, white brilliance, can you?

This last comment demonstrates much of her acerbic wit which can be found scattered throughout the letters; she was almost certainly the perfect foil for Crowley.

For Crowley, one of the challenges was “the great difficulty of this whole work is to make a completely harmonious pack”, in terms of both symbolism and style.[v]

[i] Undated letter to Aleister Crowley by Frieda Harris.

[ii] Undated Memorandum by Aleister Crowley

[iii] Undated letter by the “Society of Hidden Masters” [Crowley] to himself.

[iv] Undated letter to Aleister Crowley by Frieda Harris.

[v] Letter to Frieda Harris from Crowley, 19th December, 1939.