The Cartomancer: Three Steps to Self-Enchantment

The Cartomancer: Three Steps to Self-Enchantment August 10, 2016

a tarot card, the Empress, on a table
Rosenwald Tarot, my own reproduction (Photo: Camelia Elias)

I was in the middle of writing this essay here, on how we know things, when a good friend, Blu Jay, the wife of fabulous talismanic jeweller, Aidan Watcher, reminded me of something that I often forget, namely that the knowing of things, especially the knowing of things on the plane that has less epistemology in it, is about being OK with not knowing how we do know.

As someone who has built an entire academic career on how we know things, what we must pay for this knowledge, and what we use it for, I can safely say that being OK with not knowing how we know is often a challenge for me.

But here is where I find that my work with the cards is fantastic, as I use the cards as a buffer precisely against the potential obsession with knowing.

When things become interesting is at the point when I enchant myself and others with a form of knowing that exceeds the standard going about it, which is a procedure based on identifying causal relations: You understand that something happens because this something else happens.

Going through life and seeking understanding of causal relations is not only trite, but rather tiresome in the long run. That ‘this happens because of the other thing’ presupposes giving a lot of attention to separations: ‘Me against the world, me against my lover, me against my self-image, me against my work, me against my health,’ and so on.

But knowing is more than knowing how causality works, and how it impacts on our lives. This ‘more’ is what I call self-enchantment. This ‘more’ is the bravery of honesty.

The questions to pose here are these ones:

How do we allow for other modes of knowing to be seated in us as ‘more’, to use a metaphor from Vodou spirituality?

How are we OK with not knowing that we do know what we know?

Three Steps

Here are few steps to consider:

Knowing – whether defined as ontological, epistemological, or metaphysical – can be seated in us as enchantment when we learn without words and when we let our unselfconsciousness lead the way.

This can be translated along these propositions:

1. Be susceptible to your environment.

. . . to the point that you can breathe it through your skin. In other words, be OK with being the psychic that you are.

This requires some work on detaching yourself from investing attention in worrying about the public opinion about you being a psychic – and now you’re probably going to object that since you’re reading this particular essay on Agora, you’re already in the camp of those who don’t give a flying fuck about the public opinion.

If this is the case, I congratulate you. But if you have the tiniest reservation, I invite you to consider where exactly your attention goes, and why. In other words, be susceptible to the workings of your mind too.

2. Be open to working with the present.

. . . even when you’re in the business of invoking ancestors, doing necromantic work, or divining from the ancient memory of your gut.

Know that Hekate won’t just pick her folk, simply because they happen to like spending time at the crossroads in the wilderness at midnight. For instance, you might like to know that I once engaged in all sorts of rituals to get Hekate to be my patron. She said no, every time. And I went, ‘WTF’, every time. Did she care about my being appalled at her rejection? She didn’t.

When you get the Tower card four times in row, you must heed attention. It’s not in the cards for us.

a tarot card, the Tower, next to a lit candle
Jean Noblet, Marseille Tarot, 1650, as reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Since I’m a card person to the bones and beyond my soul too, every time I do any magic, I check with the cards. I allow, however, for my susceptibility to be part of my coherence and rhythm, as described above.

This means that I’m quite gleeful about knowing things in advance, and before I get any cards on the table. But as it happens, and since I’m sick in the head with love of infinity, analysis, and visual text, what I actually do is just ask for confirmation.

For instance, I love teasing the cards, and ask them to confirm the presence of spirit at the crossroads. As it happens in my case, the ones who do show up are Legba and Lucifer.

a tarot card, the fool, next to a lit candle on a table
Jean Noblet, Marseille Tarot, 1650, as reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy (Photo: Camelia Elias)

When I ask the cards, and that in spite of my knowing it already – remember the susceptibility rule? – they confirm it every time without error: The Fool shows up in questions about Legba, and the Charioteer shows up every time Lucifer and I have some nice business to attend to. When I say every time, I mean just that: Every time.

the chariot, a tarot card, on a table next to a lit candle
Jean Noblet, Marseille Tarot, 1650, as reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Now you’re welcome to go, ‘whoa’, because this is some goddamn good magic. This is what I mean by real self-enchanting magic.

But know that if you do this, ask the cards for confirmations, you must pay a price for it. The cards don’t like that, as they see it as a sign of your not being serious. Think about it: The cards have a point. What do you need all that confirmation for, when you already got your signs at the crossroad or whatever?

As you don’t want to offend the gods of divination, you must think of ways of using the cards as spell work, or as a ritual instead, whenever you ask for such a trite thing as confirmation. Let’s face it, either we agree that you do know things, or you don’t. If you’re still here, read on.

3. Be ready to know the facts.

And here’s a surprise. The only fact you will ever know is the fact of you. Right here and right now. Know that every thought populating your head is fiction. You may enjoy enormously the realm of your imagination, but as thoughts come and go, they are just that, impermanent and transitory stories.

In my working with people in the Nonreading program and my Cards and Magic class (opening for a new run on August 24) – sorry for plugging this here, but I need the reference for my point – what I emphasize about self-enchantment is detachment and the recognition of what I call the ‘gift of fiction’.

Once you know that every goddamn thought in your head is fantasy and fiction – and that includes your love and hate, desire and fear – you’re free. As you can actually sense yourself breathing – the only fact you will ever know beyond doubt – you can do magic of the highest.

This magic is of the highest for the simple reason that it will be completely free of ‘personal’ involvement. The highest magic is always free, and that’s the art to attain.

Once you have this fact in your hand, or head, namely, that all is fiction, then you can go back to ‘knowing’ how you can be susceptible to your world in the best possible way, and also how you can make yourself available to connecting with spirit.

Now you want to know, if you’re still reading: ‘What is self-enchantment exactly?’ I have to ask you back: ‘Have you listened at all to what I’m saying?’

The cards know best.

But let us pose this question to the cards too, for they have a way of testing just how brave we are in the face of having to admit that we do know what we know.

Oh, how I love this. Look at these cards:

a spread of three tarot cards: the sun, the emperor, and the hermit
Jean Noblet, Marseille Tarot, 1650,  as reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy (Photo: Camelia Elias)

The Sun, The Empress, The Hermit

Self-enchantment is happiness that’s shared. It’s empowerment. It’s standing alone, inquiring into the nature of your mind and its illuminations.

Can you sense the marvelous void? Your infinity? I do.

More of this? Cards and Magic opens for registration for a second run on August 24. Learn to read the cards like the Devil.

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