PATHS AND THRONES: INVOKING LIVING IMAGES


   Ever wonder why gods and genies and fairies and angels and demons never quite vanish from our collective consciousness, no matter how much civilized societies try to stamp them out? Do they inhabit some dream-like Other World that occasionally intrudes upon our sense of reality, or will they eventually be snuffed out when everyone finally listens to reason?
   I confess that I have had unexpected encounters with a few of these entities, which, needless to say, was more than a little disconcerting, and I have since also intentionally invoked them. I believe I have a rational explanation for their existence that also explains to a large extent the purpose of religion throughout the ages.
   These entities are natural, usually unseen, "subtle" intelligences and forces that tend to affect our “psychic senses.” (Some of them, I believe, are so powerful and intelligent that human beings are like amoebas in comparison.) They exist, in other words, beyond the range of the physical senses. Most people will not believe me, of course, until they actually have an encounter--I am therefore going to speak plainly so that I can at least be understood. In simple terms, these intelligent spiritual forces exist at other levels of vibration. Think of human beings as being like the blades of an electric fan when the power is off: The blades, in this state, appear solid. Spiritual beings, on the other hand, are like the blades when the fan is on. The blades spin so rapidly that you can see right through them. The conscious mind tends to filter out subtle spiritual vibrations, but the vibrations do affect the subconscious mind, hence the uneasiness that often accompanies an encounter. When a powerful subtle force affects the "soul senses," as I like the call them, the subconscious occasionally reveals information about the force to the conscious mind, sometimes as an image, a symbol, a voice, or just pure "knowing." The subconscious mind naturally anthropomorphosizes, and it often personifies these subtle forces symbolically as human beings or as humans with animal characteristics, so that the conscious mind can comprehend their qualities more easily. The subconscious mind, during an encounter, sometimes projects an image of a human-like being onto the screen of the conscious mind even if the force is not human and has no form at all.
   In other words, the subtle forces often seem to inhabit some dream-like Other World because their essential qualities are often revealed to the conscious mind through the symbolic picture-language of the subconscious. A person who attempts to connect with a subtle natural force treats the force as intelligent and willing to communicate through this dream language. The person falls into a trance-like state akin to dreaming in order to allow the appropriate symbolism to surface into consciousness. The mistake, which throughout history has sometimes had horrific consequences, is believing that the symbolic form that surfaces into consciousness is the entity itself when the symbol is only an imaginative representation of the subtle force.
   Throughout the ages, people sensitive to these subtle forces have fashioned forms that I call living images of gods and angels and demons for others to worship or fear. And throughout history, the forms of the gods and angels and demons have changed, but their essential qualities have remained the same; they have only been interpreted and represented differently to suit the needs of each culture. So, the energy of a subtle force stimulates the subconscious mind, which then presents a basic pattern, such as symbol or image, that represents the force to the conscious mind, and, just as importantly, the force through the symbolic image can channel its power into the heart and mind of the individual, linking the individual and subtle force together and expanding consciousness. This is the key to effective religious rituals. For true connection and reciprocation to occur, the symbol must embody the force and the force must "ensoul" the symbol. Sometimes the subtle force stimulates the subconscious mind, which then causes the symbol to surface into consciousness. Sometimes the individual or group calls forth the force and uses the symbol to open a channel. The energy then resonates back and forth between the spiritual force and the group or individual, gaining power.

Review the subtle forces of the zodiac.

   The human brain in fast-paced, competitive urban societies tends to remain in a mental state that limits the use of what is known in esoteric circles as the “subtle senses,” which are similar to the physical senses of sight, hearing, smell, and touch, except that they are stimulated by nonphysical or “subtle" forces and intelligences. The mind translates the nonphysical stimuli into inner visions and voices, unusual smells, and even the sensation of being touched, a sensation often compared to brushing spider webs. Electrical activity produced by the brain in various states can be measured using an electroencephalograph, or EEG, which displays activity as “brain waves." Currently there are five categories of human brain waves: beta, alpha, theta, gamma, and delta. Beta rhythm (also known as beta waves) refers to the frequency range of human brain activity between 14 and 28 Hz (14 to 28 transitions or cycles per second) and represents an intense state of alertness, concentration, logical thinking, and memory. Since beta mode is the required mental state of the workplace, it is generally valued as the most productive state of modern human consciousness in terms of survival and success. Other brain wave rhythms, alpha, theta, gamma, and delta, associated with, among other things, imagination, spiritual connection, and intuition, are accessed through deep relaxation, daydreaming, meditation, and immersion in the natural world. When not required to remain in beta mode by high stress jobs, people nowadays tend to slip into alpha and theta states under the influence of the mass media, which controls the flow of thoughts and emotions and tends to extinguish the potential for authentic spiritual experience.
      The key to spiritual connection is the little understood ability of the imagination to slip into transpersonal states in which the individual psyche links with subtle natural forces. The subconscious understands images and emotions instead of logical arguments; a person can reason all day with the subconscious mind and have no effect on it at all. Summon a strong emotion linked with a picture or symbolic image, and the subconscious understands. Moreover, the subconscious resists opening up in the beta brain-wave frequency, which, unfortunately, as I mentioned, tends to be the most valued mental state in modern times. When consciously attempting to connect with a subtle force, an individual must first place the mind in a receptive mode, sensitive to subtle impressions, such as alpha or theta frequencies. The mind attracts the subtle force through clear visualization of a symbolic representation, such as a Tarot archetype or a God or an Archangel. Then the mind calls forth an appropriate corresponding emotion; in other words, a person who is attracting a healing force rouses a feeling of compassion. Then, the person imagines a ray of appropriately colored light and energy descending upon the chosen symbolic form, the Tree of Life being the key that reveals the corresponding color for each type of force. Then the person either joins with the symbolic form that ensouls the cosmic force, taking on the God-form, or pulses energy between his or her aura and the symbolic form until the aura is filled with power. Science has never adequately explained consciousness, let alone revealed how or why the imagination can transcend the individual personality to connect with cosmic forces, but the mind capable of concentrating, visualizing, and shifting into conducive mental states can link with Real Presences of great subtle power. A skeptical mind, of course, kills the potential for connection before an attempt can even be made; a superstitious mind tends to become overwhelmed by fear.

See a chart of symbolic correspondences.

   Desire, combined with exaltation and a clear vision of the symbolic image, or "living image," will often "call" a force to devotees. Unfortunately, modern society tends to frown upon exaltation and "emotionalism," and our rationality and materialism have all but killed fantasy, daydreaming, and trance--mental states that open a channel to the powerful, subtle forces. That’s where this game comes in. Through the Tarot we can journey through a fantastic, archetypal landscape. Every card within the Tarot contains a living image that represents subtle spiritual force. Moreover, one of the most persistent archetypal stories is the hero’s journey, and the archetypes of the Tarot reflect this journey in uncanny ways. But before we get started on a journey into the landscape of the Tarot, I need to explain the idea of “living image” in more detail.
   Indulge, just for a moment, in a little fantasy. Imagine a bunny hopping around your room. The bunny is so sweet and innocent that you feel a surge of pure joy. Since you feel so good, you want to share the feeling, so you project the joy back to the bunny. Then something extraordinary happens: When you send the bunny your joy, it gives it back to you, and the more you give it, the more it gives back. Continue feeding it joy in your imagination, and it continues giving it back to you--until the whole room fills with light and happiness. You might experience a similar exchange of energy every day with an actual pet, but in this case with the bunny everything is happening in your imagination!
   A little silly? Perhaps, but by playing this simple fantasy game you have created an entity in your imagination, a skill that is the basis for a type of practical magick known as ritual invocation. The "Happiness Bunny" is what I call a living image, which is another name for "artificial elemental," a term used by practitioners of the magickal arts. I prefer the term living image because the bunny is alive in the imagination, and has another living quality: It's energy can affect other people.
   In order to understand this, you need to have an understanding of what is called the "astral plane." The collective unconscious, which I prefer to call the collective subconscious, is the astral or "star" plane where we are all connected through the imagination. Whatever is imagined intensely by an individual or a group takes on an objective existence of its own in this plane. Archetypes, which are either symbols or human personifications of forces, remain in the collective subconscious, and at moments of deep meditation, an individual can sometimes envision them, as I have done with many symbols. (Some archetypal symbols, it is believed, existed long before humanity ever came upon the scene, which implies that the collective subconscious of humanity is an aspect of universal consciousness.) Accessing these symbols in the collective subconscious in deep meditation is a form of telepathy, which is actually a common phenomenon.
   Many people do not realize the extent to which one person can influence another through mental telepathy. Most people, however, have at least experienced differences in mental atmospheres. For example, you might have stepped into a room and suddenly felt uneasy for no apparent reason. Some places inspire fear, while others exude tranquility. Some drown you with sadness while others flash with happiness. The rooms don't create these atomospheres--the people who hang out in them create the "vibes" with their thoughts and emotions. In our fantasy game, by feeding the Happiness Bunny, you create an atmosphere of joy for yourself and any other sensitive people who happen to enter your room.
   Imagine for a moment creating the living image of a person. You have probably already done something similar by playing dress up or trick-or-treating on Halloween. You might have created a "living image" for a costume party or a comic book convention or a renaissance faire or a war re-enactment by dressing up as a particular character or person you like or admire. You might have created an avatar of yourself that has adventures in cyberspace. The practice resembles how a shaman dresses up as a power animal or how a ceremonial magician dresses up to take on a God-form. The principle is the same, but the shaman and the magician use their costumes as props to help them create a living image so that they take on the desired characteristics in their imagination and eventually manifest them in daily life.
   Some of the most effective religious rituals are based on a similar principle. During the Eucharist, in order to invoke the Christ-presence, priests present powerful images and stories from the life of the man Jesus and use bread and wine to symbolize his flesh and blood. Whether or not the ritual is effective depends on how well the priest can create the "real presence" of Jesus and what he stands for in the imagination of the congregation. If he is effective, the entire congregation creates a living image of Jesus and becomes so tuned to the Christ-force that they create a group mind focused on a single ideal. In the process, of course, they also establish a mental atmosphere of harmonizing love.
   Something similar occurs spontaneously in the formation of a mob. Mobs, of course, tend to focus intense hatred or anger at one person or group, and the individuals within a mob get so caught up in one sponataneously visualized living image that they act in ways that they would never imagine doing on their own. A few people create a thought-form filled with intense feeling and single-pointed focus that sweeps through the crowd, rapidly forming a group mind concentrated on a specific action. In other words, a thought given clear form in the imagination combined with intense emotion can explode through the mental atmosphere, creating a powerful, collective force focused on one objective. That force, as though a separate, conscious entity, continues to stimulate the subconscious minds of the individuals as long as the idividuals feed it energy.
   An artificial elemental, or living image as I like to call it, is a thought-form charged with emotion or desire that is projected beyond the individual's normal sphere of sensation. A person can create such a form and step into it like he is stepping into a costume, and thereby take on the desired characteristics, or can orchestate a ritual to activate this type of living image for the purpose of exalting consciousness within himself or a group. In a dramatic way, the life and death of Jesus, for instance, on one level symbolically reveals the death of the lower personality and the resurrection of the self into higher consciousness. This engrossing drama activates a realization that on the spiritual level we are all connected, no matter our status in society. Focusing on an archetype of sacrificial, harmonizing love, individuals become swept up by an emotion linked to spiritual principle, forming a group mind tuned to the archetype of the higher self. As they visual the archetype and get swept up with emotion, a living image forms and a "magical" correspondence occurs, connecting the “real presence” in their imagination with the actual cosmic force.
   The effectiveness of the ritual does not depend on the quality of the wine or bread but on whether the priest stimulates the sympathetic imagination enough to create this powerful, subtle link. If during this type of ritual, an individual feels a sense of harmonizing love that continues to have a lasting, positive effect, then the ritual was effective. If, on the other hand, the priest succeeds only in receiving large contributions, then the ritual was an abysmal failure. The individual knows in his heart whether or not the living image has instilled a feeling of love and regeneration, a feeling that is not easily forgotten or reasoned away. However, if the person does not fully comprehend what has happened, the flash of higher awareness might instead leave confusion or even greater darkness. For me the living image of Jesus remains incredibly powerful, but Christianity as a religion leaves me shrugging my shoulders. For centuries people have relied on priests to maintain the connection with the subtle force, which has often resulted in the priesthood perpetuating authority through strict dogmatism and mystification. However, strong, intelligent individuals can invoke the cosmic forces just as effectively, without the help of a priest.
   The method of invocation is nothing new and certainly did not originate with Christianity. Religions all over the world, separated by vast distances in space and time, have invoked different cosmic forces in similar ways, the Christ-force being only one of them. Fortunately, someone long ago factored out the spiritual forces and fashioned the great composite symbol known as the Tree of Life so that people can understand and access the different subtle energies. Some people believe (and it's hard to disagree given the overall complexity of the symbol), that a Shining One gave it to humanity. The Tree of Life on one level reveals how the cosmos evolved from the finest spiritual energy to the grossest physical manifestations, revealing the different types of forces that human beings can know. On another level the Tree shows how the individual human being, or personal energy field, reflects the cosmos, or universal energy field.
   The Tarot, as a symbol system, corresponds with the Tree of Life in every conceivable way. Over the years, Tarot has been used primarily for divination, but--and this is the "kicker"--Tarot archetypes can be used as living images!

Tree of Life (with Number Cards and Court Cards)

Why the Tarot?


   Why Tarot archetypes? Quite simply because the vast majority of them are extremely positive, and even the negative ones contain hidden positive energies. If you invoke the energies into your life in an appropriate and effective way, you will create a shift in your point of view that will make you a source of positive energy in the world. What you give, you will get back, so if you radiate positive energy, you will get it back in return, like you did in your imagination with the "Happiness Bunny." The Queen of Wands is an obvious example of this law of attraction.

   This is the description provided in the game:

   For your ally, emotions transform the spiritual will, resulting in greater openness and generosity. Her dress suggests the brightness of the sun, her golden crown is sprouting leaves, and her scepter is a sunflower, revealing not only her love of light and beauty, but her ability to manifest them both. She herself embodies the Fire within nature that manifests as splendor and abundance. Of all the Queens, she is the only one with her legs apart, revealing that she is open to the life-force. She is warm and passionate, though sometimes--because of the intensity of her energy--dramatic and impulsive, but she sits solidly on her throne, channeling her impulses in a positive and productive way. Two lions, symbols of the element of Fire, stand rampant behind her, but she is also like the affectionate, self-contained and insouciant cat in the foreground, basking in the sunlight. She attracts, in an almost magical way, the joy that she radiates.

   The cards, in other words, help you to "change your mind and change your life." Invoking the Queen of Wands, for instance, if done effectively, will help you to radiate and attract joy. The more you radiate, the more you'll attract. If, on the other hand, you enjoy being cynical and negative, you will continue to attract more negative energy. Who needs it?
   Years ago, I began meditating to relieve stress, and one afternoon, after meditating deeply for over an hour, I had a vision of a gray figure-eight floating on its side above my head. I could see the walls of my room clearly as well, so I thought for a moment that I had opened my eyes. I blinked and the figure-eight disappeared. I had no idea what the vision signified, so I soon forgot about it.
   A few days later at a bookstore, I had an unexpected and totally uncharacteristic desire to buy a pack of Tarot cards. Normally I would hang out exclusively in the Literature section of the bookstore, but that day I browsed the New Age section and found a book on the Tarot and an attractive pack, the Universal Waite Tarot deck. As the cashier was ringing up the items, he confided that he had been thinking about "getting back into" the Tarot himself. Not knowing quite how to respond, I paused, and then suddenly the word "syncronicity" popped out of my mouth. I confess that at the time I wasn't even sure what the word meant. The cashier smiled and handed me my purchase, and I then drove to another store on a different errand. Before I got out of the car, I flipped through the book and stopped at a page with a striking photo of a man named Carl Jung. I read the text below and discovered that Carl Jung had coined the term syncronicity to suggest how events in the external world can significantly mirror the symbolic world of the subconscious mind. I then opened the pack of Tarot cards. The second card I encountered, called “The Magician,” showed a man with a gray figure-eight floating on its side above his head. I flipped through the book to a description of "The Magician" and discovered that the gray figure-eight, called a lemniscate, is a symbol of eternity and in the card suggests the knowledge of the infinitude within.
   A wonderfully synchronistic introduction to those fantastic, uncanny cards! In my vision I had tapped into the archetypal dimension and had encountered a symbol that a few days later surfaced in "real" life, and I soon found out that the symbol system of the Tarot dovetails in every way with the great mystic symbol system known as the Tree of Life. Individuals can channel subtle forces through the archetypes of the Tree and the Tarot into the psyche so that the energy imbues the conscious mind and can eventually manifest in daily life. Through the symbols of the Tarot and the Tree of Life, for instance, I am often keenly aware of the infinitude within, which has an extremely positive effect on me and everyone connected to me. Before that I was pessismistic, cynical, and generally a real chore to be around.
   The cards have fascinated generations because the symbols represent archetypal forces behind the material realm. The Tree of Life reveals four different "worlds," or states of being: the spiritual, the archetypal, the astral, and the physical. The archetypes within the Tree and the Tarot can channel the spiritual forces from the other realms so that their power eventually manifests in the physical world.
   Let me illustrate with another personal experience. Not long after my vision of the lemniscate, I had a vision of a golden, equal-armed cross floating in a clear, deep blue sky with angels at each end. Each angel wore a robe of a different color but remained otherwise indistinct. Soon afterwards, I discovered that the equal-armed cross appears in several places on the Tree and in the Tarot and is an archetypal symbol that has surfaced in cultures all over the world throughout history.
   A person meditating on archetypal symbols can sometimes feel that he or she has slipped from the individual mind into the collective mind, from the personal to the transpersonal, as though channeled from a stream into the ocean. At those moments, the symbols take on a unique personal meaning that can ripple out in the individual’s life in significant ways in the days and months and years that follow. When an archetype surfaces in astral consciousness, its significance can flow out into the world of action--the physical plane. For instance, as happened with me, a person who envisions a golden equal-armed cross during meditation might find out later that gold symbolizes the incorruptibility of spirit, and then that the cross itself corresponds to the four elements of the wise in harmony with each other. The person might then discover that the cross is the basis for key rituals where the practitioner creates a three dimensional space to launch the mind into the fourth dimension of spirit. Then the individual, as I did, might actually begin practicing rituals as a way to progress in the Great Work of self-transformation. The meaning of a symbol from the archetypal world often takes weeks or months or even years to unfold, but one archetypal symbol can have a life-changing impact that can lead to a lifetime of adventure in the “forest of symbols.”
   In contrast to the "Happiness Bunny" and other potential "mundane" living images such as cuddly animals, cartoon fairies or TV characters, the archetypal living images of the Tarot channel subtle spiritual forces into consciousness. The forces then have the potential to manifest in the physical plane. You can make a living image out of almost anything resembling an animal or a human, of course, but this game encourages a type of fantasy that, in conjunction with the Tree of Life, opens doors in the astral light--doors to higher awareness. In other words, typical fantasies vanish like the will-o-the-wisp, but Tarot archetypes when used effectively as living images have a positive impact on the psyche. By invoking Tarot living images, not only are you accessing a deeper level of the mind, you are channeling cosmic spiritual forces into your consciousness that can provide you with a lasting sense of spiritual harmony, love, and abundance.
   This is the magic of self-transformation. Magic begins in the astral light, a subtle plane of initial formation that human beings affect through visualization, desire, and will-power. Allow me to indulge in personification for a moment: the astral light is like a genie in a bottle. The genie only leaves the bottle to respond to a wish if you can clearly envision what you want and desire it deeply. Most thoughts have little effect because they lack sustained desire, which means that our genie remains uninterested. Also, the genie gets confused or remains unaffected if you can't clearly picture what you want. If you combine powerful desire, clear visualization, and will power, which is a kind of knowing, the genie responds. You command the genie of the astral light by creating clearly visualized thought-forms filled with desire. In this game, your imagination and the Tarot archetypes are the links to the genie. The imagination concentrates the will, chooses the correspondences, and manipulates the subtle astral substance behind physical existence. The trick is using the imagination to awaken the genie and to stimulate it into action with clear visualization and focused desire.

The Tree with Major Arcana

   A lot has been said about the “astral plane" that has tended to mystify it. Quite simply you are in the “astral plane” every time you dream or imagine something. More importantly, whenever you use your imagination, you have the potential to affect the astral plane, or, in other words, to awaken the genie. Your desire, along with an image in your mind, affects the subtle astral “substance” underlying the physical plane and makes things happen in ways that sometimes appear magical. The key is that you are more likely to get your wish if you sustain a desire in your soul and know that it is going to happen. Notice, I said “in your soul,” not “in your head.” If you consciously lust after a result you are more likely to continue receiving the lack of what you desire because you are focusing on what you don’t have.
   This distinction is absolutely crucial and goes to the heart of what I mean by "willpower." I have a friend who recently told me that he always had a strong desire to be an artist. He sustained this powerful desire in his soul, and the universe (or, if you prefer, the genie) responded: No matter how poor he was, he always found that he had the materials and the technology that he needed. In fact, people would often simply give him what he required in ways that over time came to seem magical to him. Notice that my friend was very clear about his desire and never doubted himself when he was not successful. In other words, the genie kept responding both to his clear desire and to a deep “knowing” in his soul about his purpose. My friend didn’t think about it--he just knew it. If he had consciously worried about his career and doubted himself, the genie would have dismissed the desire due to both a lack of focus on the goal and a lack of clarity. This knowing in the soul is strongest form of willpower.
   There is more truth in the slogan, "If you can dream it, you can be it," than you might at first suppose. Translated into esoteric terms, it means that if you can effectively fashion something on the astral plane and fill it with energy, it will eventually manifest on the physical plane, as long as it does not violate the laws of nature. As I suggested before, your link to the astral plane is the subconscious mind, which understands images and is "convinced" by repetition. For instance, as a child, if you were told over and over either that you would fail or succeed, your subconscious would begin to believe it. If you are like me, you tell yourself every day both positive and negative things that your subconscious believes and then manifests in the external world as aspects of your personality.
   Positive affirmation works because eventually you convince the subconscious to believe what you are telling it. Combine affirmation with creative visualization and you have the necessary links to the astral plane. You will succeed in becoming what you want to be as long as you know without a doubt that you can be it, and as long as you take the necessary steps on the physical plane to make your dream a reality.
   For cynical or skeptical people, knowing something "without a doubt" is no easy task. Self doubt can become the greatest obstacle to success. I, for one, was one of the most cynical, skeptical people in the world before I began having visions during meditation of symbols and archetypes related to the Tree of Life. My pessimism had anchored me in poverty consciousness, illness, and depression, and my skepticism undermined my half-hearted attempts to make positive changes in attitude and circumstances. The Tarot archetypes continue to ripple out into my life and have helped me to become one of the most positive people on earth. I still lapse into cynicism, but my outlook has essentially changed, and best of all, I am essentially happy, no matter the circumstances, because I know the infinitude within.
   This game can help you make a positive shift in attitude through creative visualization, positive affirmation, and invocation, and through elimation of negative energy. Of course, this takes effort. Everything worthwhile takes effort. But you can also have fun in the process. There are several ways to learn the Tarot in this game--through divination and through games associated with the hero's journey.
   Paths and Thrones is intended to affect players at a deep level of the psyche. A Greek word meaning "soul" or "breath," psyche is the base of "psychology" and "psychism." In Greek myth, Psyche was a beautiful girl, a personification of the soul loved by Eros. From the Latin, psyche has come to mean "animating spirit." Psychology as a scientific discipline has developed into the study of the totality of consciousness, but it still essentially means "the science or study of the soul." Psychism is essentially the use of subtle senses, or "soul" senses, to access knowledge not perceptible to the five physical senses, through what is commonly known as clair-voyance, clair-audience, and clair-sentience. This game is intended to affect you positively on a psychological level, strengthening your mind and opening your subtle senses.
   Most people are psychic to some degree, far more so than many would like to admit. For instance, you have probably sensed someone was looking at you, a feeling verified by simply around. Or you might have sensed that someone was thinking of you, which was soon confirmed by a phone call or letter. You might have developed a lightning fast connection with another person or might have discovered that you and another person often inexplicably think of something at the same time. You might have sudden intuitions about people or situations. These are all common instances of psychism. Less common, perhaps, are unexpected images in the mind's eye or a wise voice in the mind's ear or sensations of being touched. You can become more sensitive to subtle influences simply by paying attention, without dismissing them. Real subtle forces contact you but you only know it if you are open to them. One obstacle to opening the subtle senses is the deluge of negative energy that overwhelms people in modern societies, but several effective purification techniques exist to help you let go of negativity and limiting beliefs.

Eliminating negative energy.

   Throughout history, cultures have created different pantheons of Gods and Archangels that represent the subtle forces. In other words, a God symbolically represents a force or power that exists in the spiritual dimension of the cosmos--and also inside you! One God might represent the force of expansion, another the force of restriction, another the power of thought, another the power of love. Jesus, for instance, is a Savior that finds his rightful place in the sixth sphere of the Tree of Life, known as Tiphareth, along with other sacrificial Gods. Each culture has similar Gods because the same forces have existed inside of people throughout history, only different forces have been emphasized in each culture based on its needs. One culture might emphasize the courage and energy and strength of Mars while another might emphasize the intellectual power of Mercury while another might emphasize the power of love and beauty represented by Venus. Unfortunately most people do not realize that each individual, without a priest interceding, can access the cosmic force symbolically represented by a God or Savior, and each person can establish a channel or correspondence with that energy because the energy also exists within each individual. Like attracts like: the goal is to elevate the mind and open a channel to the cosmic force. Using the figures in the Tarot, you can form living images in the imagination, creating a channel that allows the cosmic forces to pour into your soul.

Gods and Archangels on the Tree of Life.

   Invocation, using the Tarot and the Tree of Life, is a way to elevate and strengthen the psyche, not a conventional form of worship. An important goal of the “Yoga of the West," as the Qabalah is known, is to “build the Tree in the aura," that is, to internalize the symbols and archetypes that channel the cosmic energies. The Tree of Life of the modern Qabalah reveals the forces in an inclusive way through symbols of the planets, astrological signs, and elements. This helps to avoid dogma by eliminating an emphasis on any particular religion, but make no mistake--those same energies are represented (and too often distorted) in different ways by mainstream religions. Free of limiting beliefs, this game is essentially a method of building the Tree in the aura, and you do not need a guru or an adept or a secret society looking over your shoulder. You can do it completely by yourself or with a partner or with an informal group. In the process of forming spiritual allies through invocation, you will learn and internalize the major symbolic correspondences of the Tree of Life and open a channel to powerful (and positive) life-altering forces.

Magic and the Tarot

Two of Pentacles

   Paths and Thrones relies on traditional principles of invocation, but invokes archetypes in Tarot cards instead of religious figures. As already mentioned, the Tarot dove-tails in every conceivable way with the Tree of Life, each card having a specific position on the Tree itself. Moreover, each Tarot card embodies an energy related to a planet, an astrological sign, an element, or a combination of the three. Astrology unfortunately has a bad reputation nowadays, but we can thank astrology at least for symbolizing the cosmic forces in a kind of neutral, nondogmatic way, free of mystification. The symbols represent real cosmic forces, and, for the purposes of this game, it is most helpful to think of these energies as corresponding to feelings within you. For instance, the Two of Pentacles shows a person who resembles a carnival fool juggling two pentacles inside of a green strip. Once you learn the symbolic associations, you can identify the basic feelings associated with the figure to create an emotional connection that makes the figure a living image that through simple invocation can become your ally.

ALLIES

   All of the figures in the cards are potentially positive allies, even the ones in horrible circumstances. All of them contain different energies of the cosmos that you can identify and activate inside yourself. For instance, the juggler in the Two of Pentacles resembles the Fool in the Major Arcana card, Trump 0. The Fool remains open even to the harshest experiences because he knows the infinitude within. The version of the Fool in the Two of Pentacles presents an eternal child who effectively balances dynamic life forces. He responds with innocence and resilience to all of the rhythms and vicissitudes of life, no matter how grim or tragic. The juggler in the Two of Pentacles is caught up in the perpetual dance of life and revels in the contrasts. These symbols of child-like resilience and innocence, of rhythm and harmony, and of the awareness of the eternal within can help you evoke the same feelings within yourself. You can find a description of each card containing the symbolic associations, and once you have a basic understanding of the card, your goal is to create an emotional connection with the character. Once you can summon the feelings, say, by identifying moments in your life when you experienced them, you project the feelings into the figure, which becomes animated in your imagination, just like you did with the "Happiness Bunny." Then you can imagine that the figure is projecting the feelings back to you until you create a strong, unbroken channel of pure, joyful innocence and resilience. Not only is it fun, but it can help you overcome chronic negative feelings of pessimism and helplessness. In other words, if ever you experience the negative feelings again, you can always go back to the figure in your imagination and without any sense of guilt or fear reopen the positive channel.

Learn how to invoke a living image.

   The Tree of Life reveals the cosmic energies that we channel into our personal sphere known as the aura or the personal energy field. The Tarot cards are doors that you can open so the energies pour into your soul. The Tarot represents all the energies of the Tree of Life, in other words, all of the energies of the cosmos that affect us as human beings. The Tarot archetypes are the symbolic connection to the subtle forces. The following games based on the archetypal hero's journey are included to help you learn the symbolic connections.

Paths and Thrones: a game for one or more players.
The Hero's Journey, a game for one player or group.
Divination with the Pentagram Spread.

MOVING BEYOND LIMITING BELIEFS

Eight of Swords

   Science has revealed an abyss of the infinitely small and an abyss of the infinitely large. With the five senses, humans can only perceive a small fraction of the known frequencies of energy in the universe. Is it really a leap of faith to believe that other diminsions exist beyond the physical realm? Why is it so hard to believe that beyond our perception and the perception of all scientific devices are subtle forces? Time and again spiritual forces intrude on our collective sense of reality, resulting in what we label as paranormal or extrasensory experiences. For the purposes of this game, at least, I'd like to invite you to move beyond limiting beliefs.
   The Eight of Swords powerfully depicts the effects of limiting beliefs on the psyche. A woman stands still on a shore, blindfolded and bound by loose strips of cloth. Eight sharp swords are positioned around her. Behind her a castle towers on a cliff, suggesting the intimidating power of authority. No one else is in sight. Her legs are not bound, however, and though the swords might be sharp, she is not actually imprisoned. Her blindfold looks like it might fall off any moment. The castle, which suggests an authority that demands obedience and keeps people down by conditioning them to believe in their own powerlessness and limitations, is way off in the distance.
   The card’s symbolic associations reveal other influences at work. Each number card is associated with a planet and ten degrees of the zodiac, known as a decan. Each card is also associated with a sphere on the Tree of Life. The Eights, for instance, are all associated with the eighth sphere on the Tree known as Hod, the sphere of Mercury, the God of the intellect. Each card also has an alternate title. The Eight of Swords is known as “Lord of Shortened Force.” In other words, thoughts are types of mental forms that limit or “shorten” the force of feelings, and one negative consequence of this mental ability can be a limitation by thoughts and beliefs. In other words, her own beliefs may have created her sense of imprisonment.
   The decan association is Jupiter in Gemini. Jupiter is the God of expansive, orderly, upbuilding force, and Gemini is an astrological sign that suggests the dual nature of the mortal and immortal within us.
   The woman stands on the shore without being able to see the ocean. She is in a state of restriction, limitation, and imprisonment that contains the potential for freedom, openness, and expansion. The cloths that bind and blind her resembles loose bandages about to fall off. She could easily walk away. No one is guarding her. Whatever “authority” put her in that position is off in the distance. The ocean, suggesting the subconscious and vast cosmic forces, is right beside her. It seems the influence of Jupiter could easily liberate her so that she has an abundant life and is aware of the infinitude both within and without her. This, unfortunately, is the kind of archetypal figure that we too often feed with the energies of the mind and heart--not the “Happiness Bunny" or The Fool! And it gives the same energy back to us, as we feed it, until we are truly imprisoned by our beliefs....

   Compare the figure in the Eight of Swords to the Queen of Cups. This is the description provided in the game:

   Your ally gazes intently at her cup, which looks like both a church and a strange sea creature, the angels on either side of the cup resembling lobster claws. Her foot touches the water, which seems to flow up her dress into her cape and back down onto the colorful rocks at the foot of her throne. She is receptive to the vast cosmic energies symbolized by the sea, and because of her sympathetic, intelligent connection she receives the gift of vision. Her cup resembles the spiritual forces that she channels, suggesting that true spiritual power is often wild and astonishing, even bewildering, manifesting in unpredictable, disconcerting ways. Spiritual art throughout the ages has tended to rely on conventional forms--your ally's imagination provides a sympathetic connection that embodies the inner and outer forces in bold, original form. Though on land, enthroned in the conscious mind, her ability to connect emotionally enables her to invoke the cosmic spiritual forces and manifest them in a fresh, startling way. The cherubic mermaids on her throne suggest her playful, childlike openness--she allows herself like a child to be embraced by the powerful, subtle forces. Your ally is a magician and an artist of both heart and imagination. Both qualities are needed if creative work of any kind is to have a significant impact.

   A good way to move beyond the limiting beliefs shown in the Eight of Swords would be to invoke the Queen of Cups. But the Tarot provides many ways to overcome limiting beliefs--you are only limited by your imagination. You could, for instance, also banish the figure in the Eight of Cups and then invoke Jupiter using the Fours (The cards associated with the fourth sphere, Chesed, the sphere of Jupiter), in a Pentagram Spread.

A simple explanation of banishing and invoking with the Pentagram Spread.
A example of invoking the Queen of Cups with the Pentagram Spread.
A detailed explanation of banishing and invoking with the Pentagram Spread.

   In this game, no authority dictates your choice. You can play the game by yourself or with a group, creating a powerful group mind for invocation. You can “build the Tree” from the bottom up or focus on related paths through the Tree. You can focus of different phases of a given element by invoking the figures in the Court Cards in each suit. There are many ways to play the game--Your path is entirely your own.

ADVERSARIES

   We experience a spectrum of energies in the physical and subtle realms every day. Think of these energies as existing on a pole, with extremes at both ends. Obvious examples include hot and cold, light and dark, love and hate. These opposites are known as “polarities." Often, people attach moral values to them. Love is better than hate, courage better than cowardice, truth better than deceit, and it is not uncommon to see these polarities labeled as either virtues or vices. On the Tree of Life balance is the key. Almost every sphere on the Tree contains a force related to a planet. The virtue, or ideal balanced force of Mars, in the fifth sphere, for instance, includes courage and strength. The negative pole, or unbalanced aspect of the force, includes cruelty and destruction.
   Like a genie, a god, or a demon, an Adversary on the Tree of Life is a personified, unbalanced force that represents the negative pole. In other words, just as positive forces can be given form, or “personified" as the people or angels or gods that you find in the Tarot and the Tree of Life, the negative, or unbalanced forces can be personified as well. The expansive, up building force of Jupiter, for instance, can become unbalanced and nasty. The negative, unbalanced force is called “The Breakers into Pieces" because the force at the negative pole breaks things down instead of building things up.
   The Tree of Life is a system of checks and balances, so if a lack of harmony caused by too much energy exists in one sphere, then a focus on the opposite sphere should bring the energy back into balance. The Planets represent energies that exist in the cosmos, and more importantly, inside of you as well. Planetary energy is one key to the game since most of the spheres on the Tree manifest the energies represented by the planets in one way or another. For instance, the Two of Pentacles represents both the dynamic, stimulating energy of the second sphere, Chokmah, and the expansive, up-building planetary energy of Jupiter (in Capricorn). A lack of balanced energy causes the “Breakers into Pieces"--in other words, Jupiter’s personified, unbalanced force--to manifest. Focusing on a Tarot card with the energy of Mars, in the sphere opposite Jupiter, should help to bring the energy within you back into balance if you effectively invoke the positive forces of Mars. Mercury balances Venus, Mars balances Jupiter, the Sun balances the Moon, and vice versa. Saturn, who is the father of the planets and symbolically the source of planetary energy, can also be used to balance or restrict energy as well, but it’s always better to focus on the energy of the opposite sphere first if a lack of balance occurs.

Protect yourself with the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

   This game requires common sense, self-awareness, and mental stability. Inviting too much energy of any given sort will lead to a lack of balance, which can have disastrous consequences for an individual, a family, a community, or even a whole society. For instance, if you already have a lot of Martian energy, yet you insist on inviting even more of the energy of Mars into your psyche, you will get “burned”--you will be inviting “The Burners” into your life. You will, in other words, tend to become destructive and cruel, which nobody around you will appreciate--I guarantee it. No one will mind too much if you burn your own fingers, but if you burn down the houses of other people, you are bound to suffer severe karmic consequences. Invoking the energy of the opposite sphere known as Chesed, which is the sphere of Jupiter, should help to bring you back into balance. When you invoke one type of energy you should always plan to invoke energy from the opposite sphere a few days later. You need to take a good long look at what you need and what you don’t need in order to benefit from this game, but as in all other aspects of life, your karma is your own....
   Some of the most respected Tarot practitioners have based their interpretation of the cards on the appearance of the characters, not on the astrological and elemental associations, which is a mistake, in my opinion, that has led to many fascinating but misleading interpretations. Often a Tarot reader will interpret a card during a divination based on an intuition about the querent, which is fine for divination, but for invocation a knowledge of the primary energies symbolized by the card is crucial. For instance, the figure in the Four of Pentacles may on the surface appear miserly and controlling, but the symbolic associations, the Sun in Capricorn and Jupiter in Chesed, suggest otherwise. The pentacles are not blocking the energies of the crown and heart, they are revealing them. Based on the symbolic association, the figure is grounding the powerful energies of the Sun, using the life-force, like Jupiter, to build and expand, establish harmony, maintain law and order, and protect the community.

Possible negative consequences of invocation.

Background for the Basic Level

   The Tarot corresponds in every imaginable way with the mystical "glyph," or composite symbol, known as the Tree of Life, which reveals both the energies of manifestation in the cosmos and in the individual. The Tree of Life reveals ten states of reality as spheres, with the top sphere, the Crown, representing the "highest" spiritual energies in manifestation, and the bottom sphere, the Kingdom, representing the densest physical manifestations, all emanating from one Source. These spheres, known in Hebrew as “sephiroth” (“sephira” singular), are considered objective states of being and are treated as the first ten “paths” of the Tree of Life. Twenty-two other paths (eleven through thirty-two), treated commonly as "subjective" states, connect the spheres.

Read about the Tree of Life.

   One version of the Tree of Life shows "The Path of Lightning” zigzagging through the ten spheres from top to bottom, revealing how the cosmos evolved as the states of being emanated from each other. In another version, The “Path of the Serpent” reveals the spiritual path of the individual back up the Tree of Life to the Source. Nechushtan, the healing serpent of Moses, coils up the Tree to the top, revealing the journey to enlightenment--paths thirty-two through eleven.
   Since the Tree of Life as a symbol is constantly evolving to include new symbolic associations, it is only appropriate that the Tarot also evolves to open up new avenues of spiritual development. Over the centuries people have linked the Tarot with the Tree of Life in various ways. The twenty-two trumps of the Tarot’s Major Arcana, for instance, have come to represent paths eleven through thirty-two on the Tree, and the number cards of the Minor Arcana, with ten cards in each suit, have become linked with the sephiroth, the Aces in each suit associated with the top sphere, the Twos in each suit with the second sphere, and so on, down to the Tens in the tenth sphere. Also, the suits--Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles--have come to represent different levels of reality within each sphere of the Tree: the “elements of the wise,” Fire, Water, Air, and Earth, or the spiritual plane, the mental plane, the astral plane, and the physical plane, respectively. Practitioners have also associated the Major Arcana paths with the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which has opened up other spiritual meanings.
   Perhaps most significantly, the Major and Minor Arcana paths are also associated with astrological signs, which makes the Tree of Life an inclusive symbol that allows the incorporation of the pantheons of Gods and Angels from diverse religious traditions. As an inclusive symbol, the Tree of Life can be used to classify and understand the elements of all spiritual traditions. Consequently, the game transcends its entertainment value, revealing the profound spiritual principles linked to the Tree of Life.

The Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram.

   For instance, the Major Arcana card “The Magician” is associated with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet “Beth,” which means “house.” The card is also associated with the planet Mercury, creating an association chain that links diverse times, cultures, and traditions. “Beth,” the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, is the first letter of the Old Testament, suggesting that a Source exists behind manifestation--before the Word was spoken and the “house was built,” so to speak. Mercury, the messenger of the Gods, is the Roman version of the Greek Hermes and the Egyptian Thoth, and Thoth is a powerful God of magic considered to be the Logos, the heart and tongue of the Sun-God Ra. “The Magician” on one level therefore personifies the Logos who continues the original act of creation throughout the cosmos every moment, and on another level represents the human being who heroically participates in the same act of creation within his or her own sphere.
   As the original creators of the Tarot must have realized, interesting people in a game with spiritual symbols and archetypes can inspire spiritual development on a path that avoids dogmatism and persecution. You are invited to begin your own heroic journey....

Ace of Wands.

Two of Wands.

Three of Wands.

Four of Wands.

Five of Wands.

Six of Wands.

Seven of Wands.

Eight of Wands.

Nine of Wands.

Ten of Wands.

Page of Wands.

Knight of Wands.

Queen of Wands.

King of Wands.

Ace of Cups.

Two of Cups.

Three of Cups.

Four of Cups.

Five of Cups.

Six of Cups.

Seven of Cups.

Eight of Cups.

Nine of Cups.

Ten of Cups.

Page of Cups.

Knight of Cups.

Queen of Cups.

King of Cups.

Ace of Swords.

Two of Swords.

Three of Swords.

Four of Swords.

Five of Swords.

Six of Swords.

Seven of Swords.

Eight of Swords.

Nine of Swords.

Ten of Swords.

Page of Swords.

Knight of Swords.

Queen of Swords.

King of Swords.

Ace of Pentacles.

Two of Pentacles.

Three of Pentacles.

Four of Pentacles.

Five of Pentacless.

Six of Pentacles.

Seven of Pentacles.

Eight of Pentacles.

Nine of Pentacles.

Ten of Pentacles.

Page of Pentacles.

Knight of Pentacles.

Queen of Pentacles.

King of Pentacles.

The Connecting Paths: The Major Arcana Cards.