I like good horror stories.
   My wife, however, believes that I am putting way too much negative energy into my mind.
   “They’re just stories,” I say.
   I like vampires, zombies, and werewolves. Apparently I share a common interest with the vast majority of Americans. You can’t turn on the TV without finding a show or a movie featuring one of our favorite monsters.
   Some of the most popular movies and shows nowadays, like World War Z and The Walking Dead, are about zombies. My son believes that zombies represent people with sociopathic tendencies. Zombies have an overwhelming hunger and a single-pointed focus regarding only one thing: the consumption of human flesh. Their brains don’t function, so they want to eat the brains of people who can still think, as if that will magically help them get back to normal.
   “Why do you think zombies are so popular?” my son asks. He’s the analytical type.
   “I don’t know,” I say.
   “Because so many people in this society have sociopathic tendencies,” he replies, “and, just like zombies, they feel a compulsion to ‘eat of the brains’ of people who don’t.”
   How he developed this cynicism, I can only guess. He deals with the corporate culture, so maybe he has a slightly skewed perspective. He insists that at least twenty percent of the population is on the “spectrum of sociopathy,” as he puts it.
   I used to believe, like Steven King, that we have to “feed the gators,” the monsters of the psyche, to keep them at bay way down in the deep, dark pools of the subconscious--so they don’t come up to bite us. Maybe I’m rationalizing. Maybe I don’t want to acknowledge that I’m inviting too much negative energy into my life. But, after all, my favorite monsters are just so damned entertaining.
   However, when I compare our favorite archetypal monsters with the archetypal figures in the Tarot, I start to wonder why the figures in the Tarot are not nearly as popular as the monsters--why, in fact, the Tarot is so often demonized.
   I recently started a series of short articles featuring one Tarot card each day (http://www.78gates.blogspot.com/). Suddenly the popularity of my blog plummeted. I was focusing on the Suit of Pentacles, which, I admit, is pretty tame, even, perhaps, slightly boring--on the surface at least.
   Last night as I was channel surfing, finding my favorite monsters everywhere, I realized that something was more than a little off. “Why do millions of people love to watch vampires drain the life force from human beings?” I wondered. “On the one hand, vampires are totally self-absorbed but on the other hand they can’t see or know themselves.”
   “Vampires resemble successful capitalists in a lot of ways,” my cynical son told me.    The figures in the Tarot number cards appear common, but they at least represent powerful cosmic forces that are extremely beneficial. “Imagine,” I thought to myself, “if people channeled the beneficial forces of the Tarot and the Tree of Life into their mind--instead of the dark, negative energies of our favorite monsters. Maybe there wouldn’t be so many sociopaths! Anyway, at the very least, people might become more fully human.”
   I decided to revisit the Eight, Nine, and Ten of Pentacles, discussed in “The 78 Spiritual Gates of the Tree of Life.” The masterful simplicity of the images could be mistaken for simple-mindedness, I realized. Then I revisited the Ten of Pentacles, which represents Mercury in Virgo and the four elements in Malkuth--the Kingdom, the material realm.
   Suddenly I realized that the Tarot card “The Magician” represents Mercury and the card known as “The Hermit” represents Virgo. In other words, two of the three Tarot cards that are traditionally known as “The Magi” are associated with the Ten of Pentacles. The third “wise man” in the Tarot is represented by the card “The Hierophant.”

Ten of Pentacles

   “I can have fun with this,” I thought. “What if I invoke The Sun, a card associated with the birth of the higher self--using ‘The Magi,’ the three wise men of the Tarot, as allies? The forces that the Magi represent could be their 'gifts.'" In the Qabalah, the Christ is a cosmic force, not a man, and represents balance through harmonizing love in the sphere of higher awareness--the Sun, Tipareth.

"Magi" Triad Surrounding "The Sun"

   Knowing that I can create different layouts to invoke subtle forces, I created a triad of the Magi surrounding the figure of the child in the card The Sun. “This force seems a lot more positive than the forces represented by vampires,” I thought to myself. “I could use either this layout or the Pentagram Spread. I am havin’ fun now,” I smiled. The Ten of Pentacles, I suddenly realized, suggests this “magical” power manifesting in ordinary life.

Nine of Pentacles

   Next, I looked at the Nine of Pentacles. The decan correspondence of the Nine is Venus in Virgo. The beauty and abundance of Venus combines with the meticulous, exacting nature of Virgo.

The Empress (Venus)

“Who wouldn’t want to create a world of abundance and beauty instead of the world of decay in the zombie stories?” I scratched my head. Then I also realized that when watching TV, people tend to slip into the alpha and theta brain wave frequencies, mental states that allow an openness to subtle forces, negative or positive....

Eight of Pentacles

   Finally, I looked again at the Eight of Pentacles, which represents the Sun in Virgo. I thought of werewolves, people turned into ruthless animals through the forces of the Moon. The virtue associated with the Moon is independence, but the vice is idleness--a lack of focus related to “lunacy.”
   “Now, who wouldn’t rather experience the complete single-pointed focus of the figure lost in his beautiful, socially relevant work in the Eight of Pentacles--over the lunacy and lack of focus of werewolves?”
   Then I remembered how as an educator for twenty years I have experienced in both adults and children a widespread and alarming inability to focus, which of course leads to an inability to learn and grow--and become independent.
   I just shook my head, wondering out loud, "Isn't it better to invoke the positive subtle forces of the Tree of Life and banish the negative ones than to spend so much time with stories about monsters?"
   I found myself agreeing with my wife: I am putting far too much negative energy into my mind. Why not actively invite positive energies into my mind instead? That, I realized, would certainly be more beneficial than passively inviting energies into my life that slowly turn me into a monster.

The Basics of the Pentagram Spread.
Invoking "Living Images."