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Portable Magic : Tarot Is the Only Tool You Need

Portable Magic : Tarot Is the Only Tool You Need
Donald Tyson
Llewellyn Publications, c2006.
230 p.
 ISBN:  0-7387-0980-8

(completed 11-19-07)

This wonderful book will teach you to think small, symbolically, and powerfully.  It reminds me of Fellowship of Isis ideas about essence being expressed simply and symbolically, with the greater shining through the smaller.  It will provide people who through choice or necessity have very small sacred spaces to recoqnize the power of what they have.

The topic is practical magic, with Tarot as its only tool.

Here are some words from the FOI liturgy for dedicating a shrine to Isis: 

“ ‘…make a shrine to Me in a temple: a room or in a comer of a room. So shall your outer observance be a sign that you accept My grace. Wherever a Devotee places My picture, My statue, two candles, incense and a cup of water, there shall I dwell. There shall Joy, Health and Abundance be the gifts of My eternal Love.’…If there is no room set aside for a shrine, it may be in the Devotee's bedroom or sitting-room. The hallowed objects may be kept in a chest. On the altar, which may be a table or shelf, let there be placed a picture or image of the Goddess. On either side let there be placed two candles. On the altar let there be placed a vessel of water, a scarab, amber, turquoise or a stone.” (Dea, p.13 )

“Portable Magic” describes the use of Tarot cards as instruments of ritual magic.  In this system, the cards can stand in for any thing…physical or metaphysical… that can be found in a temple or a circle.

The benefits of “Portable Magic” are simplicity, portability, and freedom.  The author tells how to remove conceptual barriers to direct contact with the forces associated with each card. As a representation of the universe, the Tarot provides access to the power of every instrument and force necessary for a magical or mystical rite.

The book includes a concise history of the evolution of the Tarot and its structure.  The system it describes has its roots in Golden Dawn philosophy, thus there is also a chapter about Golden Dawn history and background, with emphasis on Golden Dawn correspondences and their effect on the design, groupings, and structure of the tarot deck.  Historic and philosophical connections between Tarot, Freemasonry, and the Golden Dawn are explored.  The chapter on correspondences of the major arcana, for example, offers a detailed explication of Hebrew letters, and provides a list of planetary and elemental correspondences for the major arcana and the Hebrew letters.

Another chapter analyzes the spiritual forces and archetypal principles displayed in each card, their connection with classical and renaissance world views, and impact on the cosmology expressed by the major arcana.  This leads to an explanation of levels of energy or potency expressed in each trump, which will affect the way they express themselves in ritual, and how their interaction can affect outcomes.    They become tools for shaping and directing energy into desired channels.

The suits and elements are discussed at length.  If you have had trouble with the interpretation of the court cards, you will especially appreciate the chapters on correspondences of the suits, court cards, and significators.  A chart showing the zodiacal correspondences for these is included. 

The author says the number cards in the lesser arcane are linkd with the sephiroth of the qabalistic tree of life, and so there is a chapter clarifying the sephiroth and the heavenl;y spheres.  There is a wonderful chart of the tree of life showing the correspondences for each sephira. 

Another chapter discusses the tools of tarot magic.  This chapter compares the tools and instruments of ceremonial magic to their metaphysical or energetic expression through the tarot.  He says:  “Tarot magic uses a simplified set of symbolic tools that are created by the placement and relationship of the cards laid out in a ritual.”  Telling you how to do this is the crux of the books,   The author identifies each tool, and describes the cards used in its creation.  There are some unique and original insights in this chapter, that will greatly enhance your understanding of the tools and elements, broaden your conceptual horizons, and transform the way you think about the tools and their energies.  Each tool recives its on chapter, that includes mental exercises, physical card layouts, along with background and explication to help you fully comprehend it on a deep level.

Another chapter describes the general method of tarot ritual. , including an example of a full ritual layout.  Basic elements of a ritual are identified.  The chapter on planetary modifieders and number cards  contains the material necessary to personalize the ritual.  Another chapter focuses on explaining the concept of “realizers” and “modifiers,” and explains how to make use of it.

A summary chapter pulls it all together.  Following the summary, three sample rituals are provided as a means of illustrating the concepts.  Two additional chapters discuss charms and elementals.

The appendix contains a detailed list of the author’s own discoveries and conclusions  regarding correspondences.  There is also a glossary of terms used in the book, a list of works cited, and a index..

The author has put a lot of himself into this book, in terms of sharing his own personal experience, guidance, insight, research and theory.  This is a substantial book, not for the absolute beginner in tarot or magic, although if beginners apply themselves to the material, they will acquire some very worthwhile insights.  Everything here can be adapted for FOI use. The ideas in this book will greatly enrich your FOI practices.


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