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]