The Behaviour of the Tarot

It being now established, at the conclusion of the Essay, that the cards of the Tarot are living individuals, it is proper to consider the relations which obtain between them and the student.

Consider the analogy of a debutante at her coming-out ball. She is introduced to seventy-eight grown people. Assuming her to be a particularly intelligent girl, with a very high social education, she may know all about the position and general characteristics of these people. This, however, will not imply real knowledge of any one of them; she will have no means of saying how any one will react to her. At most, she can know only a few facts from which deductions may be made. It is unlikely, for example, that the V.C. will hide in a cellar if somebody thinks that there is a burglar in the house. It is improbable that the Bishop will indulge in the more blatant types of blasphemy.

The position of the student of the Tarot is very similar. In this essay, and in these designs, is given an analysis of the general character of each card; but he cannot reach any true appreciation of them without observing their behaviour over a long period; he can only come to an understanding of the Tarot through experience. It will not be sufficient for him to intensify his studies of the cards as objective things; he must use them; he must live with them. They, too, must live with him. A card is not isolated from its fellows. The reactions of the cards, their interplay with each other, must be built into the very life of the student.

Then how is he to use them? How is he to blend their life with his? The ideal way is that of contemplation. But this involves initiation of such high degree that it is impossible to describe the method in this place. Nor is it either attractive or suitable to most people. The practical every-day commonplace way is divination.

The traditional technical method of divination by the Tarot here follows: It is taken from The Equinox, Vol I, No.8, and its publication is authorized by Frater O. M. Adeptus Exemptus.

  1. Choose a card to represent the Querent, using your knowledge or judgment of his character rather than dwelling on his physical characteristics.
  2. Take the cards in your left hand. In the right hand hold the wand over them, and say: I invoke thee, I A O, that thou wilt send H R U, the great Angel that is set over the operations of this Secret Wisdom, to lay his hand invisibly upon these consecrated cards of art, that thereby we may obtain true knowledge of hidden things, to the glory of thine ineffable Name. Amen.
  3. Hand the cards to Querent, and bid him think of the question attentively, and cut.
  4. Take the cards as cut and hold as for dealing.

This shows the situation of the Querent at the time when he consults you.

  1. The pack being in front of you, cut, and place the top half to the left.
  2. Cut each pack again to the left.
  3. These four stacks represent I H V H, from right to left.
  4. Find the Significator. If it be in the Yod pack, the question refers to work, business, etc.; if in the Heh pack, to love, marriage, or pleasure;, if in the Vau pack, to trouble, loss, scandal, quarrelling, etc.; if in the He' final pack, to money, goods, and such purely material matters.
  5. Tell the Querent what he has come for: if wrong, abandon the divination.
  6. If right, spread out the pack containing the Significator, face upwards.

    Count the cards from him, in the direction in which he faces.

    The counting should include the card from which you count.

    For Knights, Queens and Princes, count 4.

    For Princesses, count 7.

    For Aces, count 11

    For small cards, count according to the number.

    For trumps, count 3 for the elemental trumps; 9 for the planetary trumps; 12 for the Zodiacal trumps.

    Make a “story” of these cards. This story is that of the beginning of the affair.
  7. Pair the cards on either side of the Significator, then those outside them, and so on. Make another “story”, which should fill in the details omitted in the first.
  8. If this story is not quite accurate, do not be discouraged. Perhaps the Querent himself does not know everything. But the main lines ought to be laid down firmly, with correctness, or the divination should be abandoned.


  1. Shuffle, invoke suitably, and let Querent cut as before.
  2. Deal cards into twelve stacks, for the twelve astrological houses of heaven.
  3. Make up your mind in which stack you ought to find the Significator, e.g. in the seventh house if the question concerns marriage, and so on.
  4. Examine this chosen stack. If the Significator is not there, try some cognate house. On a second failure, abandon the divination.
  5. Read the stack, counting and pairing as before.


  1. Shuffle, etc., as before.
  2. Deal cards into twelve stacks for the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
  3. Divine the proper stacks and proceed as before.


  1. Shuffle, etc., as before.
  2. Find the Significator: set him upon the table; let the thirty- six cards following form a ring round him.
  3. Count and pair as before.

(Note that the Nature of each Decan is shown by the small card attributed to it, and by the symbols given in Liber DCCLXXVII, cols. 149-151.)


  1. Shuffle, etc., as before.
  2. Deal into ten packs in the form of the Tree of Life.
  3. Make up your mind where the Significator should be, as before; but failure does not here necessarily imply that the divination has gone astray.
  4. Count and pair as before.

(Note that one cannot tell at what part of the divination the present time occurs. Usually Op. I seems to indicate the past history of the question; but not always so. Experience will teach. Some times a new current of high help may show the moment of consultation.

I may add that in material matters this method is extremely valuable. I have been able to work out the most complex problems in minute detail. O. M.).“

It is quite impossible to obtain satisfactory results from this or any other system of divination unless the Art is perfectly required. It is the most sensitive, difficult and perilous branch of Magick. The necessary conditions, with a comprehensive comparative review of all important methods in use, are fully described and discussed in “Magick”, Chapter XVII.

The abuse of divination has been responsible, more than any other cause, for the discredit into which the whole subject of Magick had fallen when the Master Therion undertook the task of its rehabilitation. Those who neglect his warnings, and profane the Sanctuary of Transcendental Art, have no other than themselves to blame for the formidable and irremediable disasters which infallibly will destroy them. Prospero is Shakespeare's reply to Dr. Faustus.

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