Ritual Q. Tarot Divination

This form is especially applicable to Divination concerning the ordinary material events of daily life.

It is a mode of placing the cards based upon the scheme of the dominion of the Tarot Symbols. The more rigidly correct and in harmony with the scheme of the Universe is any form of Divination, so much the more is it likely to yield a correct and reliable answer to the enquirer. For then and then only is there a firm link, and bond of union, established between it and the Occult forces of Nature. The moment the correct correspondence of the Symbols employed ceases to be observed, the link between them and the inner Occult forces is strained, and in some cases broken. For this cause, therefore, is it that the same mode of Divination will sometimes yield a true and sometimes false answer, and at other times a partly true and partly false; because the correspondences are either not rigidly observed or else made use of by an ignorant and uninitiated person.

Therefore the Diviner should enter upon the Divination with a mind clear and unprejudiced, neither disturbed by anger, fear, nor love, and with a sound knowledge of the correspondences of the symbols which he employs. Also he should be able to employ his clairvoyant and intuitive faculties therein when necessary and should avoid as much as possible a warped or strained decision. Also it is not well to divine repeatedly concerning the same matter; and the Diviner should also recognise that even the material occult forces do not act as the instruments of a blind fatality, but rather in accordance with the will of the more spiritual powers which are behind them.

Also it may be well for the Diviner to put on his insignia, and make over the pack any invoking hexagram or pentagram, either with the hand alone, or with convenient magical instruments. And it may also be advisable in some instances to invoke an elemental force consonant with the matter, to aid in the divination. And let it not be forgotten that in working with the lesser magical implements all four should be at hand, even though only one be actually employed. For if this be not done, it will give undue force to the suit corresponding to the Element invoked, and instead of being an aid in the matter, it will be a hindrance to correct reading.


The mode of performing the Divination called "The Opening of the Key" is by five consecutive operations of laying out the cards, they having been previously well shuffled, and, in addition in the first and fourth cases, having been cut as well, and in a certain manner. These five operations answer respectively, the first to the Dominion of the Four Knaves under the presidency of the Four Aces; the Second to that of the Kings, Queens and Knights, referred to the Twelve Houses; the Third to that of the Twelve Keys attributed to the Signs; the Fourth to that of the smaller cards answering to the 36 Decanates; and the Fifth and last to the rule of the Sephiroth in the Celestial Heavens.

These are five distinct operations, consecutively executed from the mode of Operation called the "Opening of the Key," which, as has been before said, is especially applicable to the daily events of life. The first of these methods shows the opening of the matter as it then stands. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, its consecutive development, and the 5th its termination.

Before commencing the Divination, one of the sixteen court cards should be selected to represent the significator of the enquirer, and should answer as nearly to his description.

WANDS generally - very fair-haired and red-haired persons with fair complexion.

CUPS generally - moderately fair persons.

SWORDS generally - dark persons.

PENTACLES generally - very dark persons.

KINGS - Generally men.

QUEENS - Generally women.

KNIGHTS - Generally young men.

PAGES (KNAVES)* - generally young women.

Of these the Queens and Knights in reading the cards during the processes almost always represent persons connected with a matter under consideration. The Kings, if looking* against the direction of the reading, or if meeting it, represent the coming of a person or event, or phase of an event, but if looking with the direction of the reading represent the departure of a person or the going off or wane of some event.

The Pages (Knaves) if looking with the direction of the reading, represent general opinion in harmony with, and approving of the matter; but if looking against the direction of the reading the reverse.

If the Diviner be performing the Divination for a person at a distance and of whose general description he is ignorant, he can select the significator by cutting the pack, and taking one of the court cards of that suit, cut to represent him, of course earnestly thinking of the person at the time.

It is usually much better for the Enquirer to shuffle or cut the cards himself; but if the Diviner should have to do this himself, he must, while doing so, earnestly think of the person enquiring, or concerning whom the Divination is performed. In all cases of shuffling and cutting, the person doing so should think earnestly of the matter in hand. In cutting, if a false cut be made, that is to say if one or more cards should drop in the process, the cards should be at once reshuffled, and again cut clearly, otherwise it is probable that the answer will be unreliable. If the matter be important, he should wait twelve hours before reshuffling.

In the laying out of the Cards, if any are inverted, they must remain so and must not be turned round, as that would alter the direction in which they would be looking. A card has the same meaning and forces, whether right side up or inverted, so that no particular attention need be paid to the circumstances.

The order of the cards as laid down must also not be interfered with. In the reading of the cards when laid out, the Significator of the Enquirer is the starting point, and reading proceeds by counting over certain cards in the direction in which the face of the Court card chosen as Significator of the Enquirer is turned.

The mode of counting is as follows, recognising the card from which one starts as the No. 1.

From every Ace - Five cards (spirit and four elements).

Princess (Knave) - Seven cards (seven palaces of Malkuth).

King, Queen, Prince - Four cards, (letters of Tetragrammaton).

Smaller cards — Its own number (a Sephirah).

Key of Aleph Mem Shin - Three cards (number of the Mother letters).

Key of duplicated letters - Nine cards (number of planets and Caput and Cauda Draconis).

Key of single letters Twelve (number of signs).

The counting is continued till one alights on a card which has already been read.

Thus, in the following example, we will suppose that the significator is the Queen of Cups, and that she is looking to the left. We should read as follows: Queen of Cups—a fair woman; counting four, we come to Five of Pentacles, i.e. "Loss of money" and as it has on one side the Moon and on the other a card of Pentacles, it shows that it is through deception in business matters, we then count 5, the number of the card, from the 5 of Pentacles, which falls on the 6 of Cups "Success." But as this has on one side the Foolish Man, and on the other the Ace of Wands, this will not be great owing to unwise conduct. Then we count six from the 6 of Cups, still going in the same direction which brings us to the Queen of Cups, a card we have already read, so we finish there.

Opening of the Key, first figure


The significator being chosen, the enquirer shuffles the cards, thinking earnestly of the matter under consideration. He then places the cards in a single packet on the table before him, face downwards. This represents the Name YHVH, which is now to be separated into the component letters. He therefore is to cut the pack as nearly in the middle as his eye can direct, and to face the uppermost portion to the right of the lowermost; the former will represent YH and the latter VH (final). He again is to cut the right hand packet into two parts, as nearly in the centre as he can, and place the uppermost part to the right again. This will represent Y and the lower part the remaining H. He is now to cut the left hand packet to the left, its uppermost part will represent V and its lower part H (final). So that he will now have four packets nearly equal in size, answering from right to left to the name YHVH under the presidency of the Four Princesses (knaves) and through them to the four radical forces (Aces). These four packets are then turned face upwards without altering their relative position, and the meaning of their four bottom cards (which are now uppermost) thus shown may be read as an indication of the matter. Each packet is now examined to find where the Significator of the Enquirer is, being careful not to alter the order of the Cards. The packet containing the Significator is retained for reading, and the others are put aside and not used in this particular reading (operation). Carefully note to which of the Four letters the packet containing the significator of the Enquirer corresponds. If to Y and Wands, energy and strife. If to H and Cups, pleasure. If to V and Swords, sickness and trouble. If to H final and Pentacles, business and money. The packet containing the significator is now spread out face upwards in the form of a horseshoe (count in the way the Significator looks) and its meaning is read in the manner previously described.

First by counting to certain cards until one alights upon that which has been previously read; and then by pairing them together in succession from opposite ends of the horseshoe. (You do not miss the significator.)

Before commencing counting from the Significator, the Diviner should first notice what suit predominates in the number of cards. In this a majority of Wands would signify energy, quarrelling, opposition. Of Cups, pleasure and merriment. Of Swords, trouble and sadness, sometimes sickness and death. Of Pentacles, business, money, possession, etc. Also if in the cards laid out there should be either three or four cards of a sort, such as 3 Aces, 4 Fives, etc., their meaning should be noted according to the table hereafter given. A majority of the Trumps (Major Arcana) shows forces beyond one’s control.

Supposing that a young man asks the question "Shall I succeed in my present affairs?" His complexion is fair, and his hair light brown. The Diviner therefore takes the Knight of Cups for Significator. (Had he been an older man he would have selected the King of the same suit instead) and requests Enquirer to carefully shuffle the pack and place it face downwards on the table before him. He then instructs him to cut the pack as nearly in the centre as possible, and to place the uppermost half well to the right. Then to cut each of the packets as nearly in the centre as possible, putting each uppermost half to the right of and beside the lower half, thus yielding four packets of nearly equal dimensions.

Opening of the Key, second figure - dividing the deck to four parts answering to the four letters of the tetragrammaton

Here the 10 of Wands is strong, being in the place of Yod which governs Wands - Fire. The Six of Swords is moderately strong, being in the place of Heh which rules Cups - Water, which is not a hostile and contrary element to Air; the 4 of Pentacles is weak because it is in the place of Vau which rules the contrary element to Earth, viz. Air; and the Chariot, Cancer, a watery sign, is fairly strong, being in the place of Heh final, which rules Earth, a friendly element to Water.

The Diviner then reads these 4 Cards as a preliminary thus: "The Enquirer works very hard and gains but little money, yet matters are beginning to improve." This is based on the 10 of Wands showing cruelty, harshness, etc. 6 of Swords labour and work. 4 of Pentacles gain of money, and the Chariot success.

The Diviner then examines the Four Packets to find where the Significator is. It proves to be in the one of which the 6 of Swords is the bottom card. This is in the place answering to the letter Heh, which represents pleasure and rules Cups. This is so far a good omen, as it shows society and merriment. This pack of cards is retained for reading, the others are put aside as not bearing on the question.

Let us suppose that this packet consists of 20 cards, and that they are in the following order. The Diviner spreads them out in the form of a horseshoe:

Opening of the Key, third figure - spreading the cards in the form of a horseshoe

The suit of Cups is distinctly in the majority - pleasure, visiting friends, love-making, etc. There are 3 Knaves which indicates society of the young. From which the Diviner reads that the Enquirer is fond of young people and of flirting, etc. There being no other set of 3 or 4 cards of a sort, the Diviner proceeds to read by counting from the Significator, whose face is turned towards the 9 of Wands.

The counting therefore proceeds in the direction of the arrow, thus: 4 from the King of Cups, 10 of Pentacles, 10 from this, 8 of Cups. 8 from this, Wheel of Fortune. 9 from this, Knave of Wands, 7 from this, 10 of Cups. 10 from this, 5 of Swords. 5 from this, Knight of Wands. 4 from this, Ace of Pentacles. 5 from this, 10 of Cups. And as this card has already been taken, this form of reading finishes here.

In this reading as hereafter explained, each card is modified by the card on either side of it. If it be an end card, such as the 6 of Swords, in this case it is modified not only by the card next to it, Ace of Pentacles, but also by the card at the opposite end, Knave of Wands.

If these cards are of a contrary element to the card itself, they very much weaken and neutralize its force, but if the contrary element is only in one card, and the other is of a connecting nature, it does not much matter. This is explained later among the tabulated rules. The King of Cups is between the 9 of Wands and the Wheel of Fortune, both of which cards are of a fiery nature, and therefore contrary to Cups which is Water, and therefore it shows that the Enquirer is rather lacking in perseverance and energy. 10 of Pentacles, "His business will begin to prosper," 8 of Cups, "but yet he will lose interest in it, owing to his love of pleasure and society" (shown by 8 of Cups having the suit on each side of it). Wheel of Fortune, "and through his fortune changing for the better." Knave of Wands (Knight of Wands on one side and 6 of Swords on the other), "He yet is anxious through falling in love with a graceful and sprightly girl with chestnut hair and fair complexion whom he has recently met: (shown by Knight of Wands turned contrary to the course of the reading). 10 of Cups, "His suit is at first favourably received." 5 of Swords, "but some slanderous reports and mischief making" (not altogether without foundation) "come to her knowledge." Ace of Pentacles, "though his increasing prosperity in business." 10 of Cups, "had lead her to regard him with favour."

The Diviner now pairs the cards from opposite ends of the horseshoe, as in the following example.

Knave of Wands - 6 of Swords "She is anxious about this.

Knight of Wands - Ace of Pentacles "And he begins to neglect his business which yet is fairly good.

3 of Cups - 2 of Pentacles "And instead throws aside his business for pleasures.

Knight of Cups - 5 of Cups "The consequence of this is that the engagement between them is broken off, shown by Knight being turned in opposite direction."

10 of Pentacles - 8 of Cups "Still his business does fairly well though he is losing interest in it.

5 of Swords - 10 of Cups "The matter is the subject of much gossip.

9 of Wands - Queen of Cups These two cards of contrary suits are therefore of little importance. "Among their acquaintances."

King of Cups - Knave of Cups "He moreover begins to pay attention to another girl of not quite so fair complexion.

Wheel of Fortune - King of Swords "Who however prefers a dark man, who is much admired by the fair sex" (shown by his being next to two Knaves and a Queen.)

6 of Wands - Knave of Pentacles "But he has already gained the affection of a girl with dark brown eyes and hair." (This description is obtained by mixing the effect of the Wands with Pentacles.)

This concludes the reading in the First Operation, which may be thus resumed:

"The enquirer is a fair young man who works very hard, and has hitherto gained but little money, yet matters are beginning to improve. He is fond of society, and of visiting friends. He is rather lacking in perseverance and energy. Notwithstanding this, his business and money transactions will begin to prosper. But yet he will lose interest in it owing to his love of pleasure and society, and though his fortune is changing for the better he has yet much anxiety through falling in love with a graceful and sprightly girl with chestnut hair and fair complexion whom he has recently met. His suit is at first favourably received, but some slanderous tales and mischief-making not altogether without foundation, come to her knowledge, though his increasing prosperity in business has led her to regard him with favour. She is made anxious by this, and he begins to neglect his business which yet is fairly good, and instead abandons it for pleasure and merry-making."

"The consequence of this is that the engagement is broken off. Still his business does fairly well though he has lost interest in it. The whole affair is the subject of much gossip among their mutual acquaintances. (One of the chief mischief-makers is a fair middleaged woman shown by the Queen of Cups.) He, however, soon begins to pay attention to another girl of not quite so fair a complexion. She, however, prefers a dark young man who is much admired generally by the fair sex, but he has already gained the affection of a young woman with dark brown hair and blue eyes."


The Enquirer again carefully shuffles the cards, and places the Pack on the table face downwards, but he is not to cut them. The Diviner now takes the Pack and deals it round card by card in 12 Packets face downwards in rotation as in the following diagram:

Opening of the Key, fourth figure - spreading the cards like the 12 astrological houses

(Deal and read in order of Houses against the direction of the Sun.) So that the first packet answering to the Ascendant will consist of the 1st, 13th, 25th, 3 7th, 49th, 6 1st, 73rd cards as shown, and so on.

This Operation is under the presidency of the Court Cards, whose dominion in the Celestial Heavens falls immediately between that of the 4 Knaves and that of the Keys answering to the 12 Signs of the Zodiac. It represents the 12 Astrological Houses of Heaven, as shown.

Without altering the relative order of the packets, or of the cards in the packets, the Diviner examines each in succession, till he finds the one which contains the Significator. This he retains for reading, noting carefully to which astrological house it corresponds and gathers up the other packets, and puts them aside, as they are not of any further use in this operation.

As before, the Diviner reads the packet containing the Significator, by spreading them out in the form of a horseshoe, first reading by counting the cards in order from the Significator in the direction in which the face of the figure on the card is turned, and next by pairing the cards together from the opposite ends of the horseshoe. It is hardly likely that in so small a packet there will be either 3 or 4 cards of a sort, but if there be, the Diviner takes note of the same, and also observes which suit predominates. I now continue the examples commenced in the previous operation. I must here observe that the example is purely of my own invention, and of course is not contained in the Book T, wherein only the mode of working is given. I have purposely taken a commonplace, trivial, and material question for elucidation.

We will suppose the Enquirer to have duly and carefully shuffled the Cards, thinking of his affairs, and that the Diviner has dealt them round into 12 packets as above shown. The packet containing the Significator is located in the Ascendant, and it contains the following cards in the order given.

Opening of the Key, fifth figure

This mode of reading shows that as the Significator is in the Ascendant it will principally relate to the Enquirer’s manner of living at this point.

The Significator is in this case right side up, whereas in the previous reading it was inverted and is looking towards the 9 of Swords, which direction therefore the reading proceeds, counting thus: 4 from King of Cups - Knave of Pentacles; 7 from this - Sun; 9 from this; - Knave of Pentacles; 7 from this - Sun; where the reading ends.

King of Cups - Knave of Pentacles

"The enquirer is unhappy" (looking to 9 of Swords) "and makes the acquaintance of the girl with the dark hair and blue eyes with whom the dark young man (his rival) is in love. (She is artistic and well-mannered; and hopes to carry out her wishes, i.e. to marry the dark man with whom the fair girl, to whom the Enquirer has transferred his affection, is now in love.) For she is beginning to be apprehensive regarding her success, and is jealous in consequence."

Pairing the cards from opposite ends of the horseshoe the Diviner proceeds:

King of Cups - 9 of Swords "The Enquirer is anxious, and his health begins to suffer.

8 of Pentacles - Sun "But hopes ultimately to succeed through skillful action in the matter.

4 of Swords - Knave of Pentacles "He therefore endeavours to make a friend of the dark girl."

Temperance "As he expects to realize his wishes by her means in the end." (This is shown by the card being single in the end.)


The Enquirer again carefully shuffles the cards, while thinking earnestly on her affairs. The pack is not cut. The Diviner deals out the cards into 12 Packets in precisely the same manner as in the Second Operation. Only instead of being referred to the 12 Astrological Houses, these 12 Packets are under the presidency of the 12 Keys of the Tarot attributed to the 12 Signs of the Zodiac. The first packet, Emperor - Aries, the 2nd, Hierophant - Taurus, the 3rd, Lovers - Gemini, and so on. As before the Diviner selects the packet which contains the Significator for reading, and rejects the rest. He notes also the meaning of the Trump answering to the Sign of the Zodiac, under which the Packet falls. He spreads the cards out in the form of a horseshoe, exactly as before.’ I now continue the example before commenced:


We will suppose that the Packet containing the King of Cups is that whose position answers to the Hierophant - Taurus and that it consists of the following cards, arranged as in the diagram.

The Hierophant and the majority of the cards in this packet being Keys alike show that the forces at present at work are ceasing to be under the control of the Enquirer. The reading proceeds according to the usual order of counting, as follows: King of Cups, 2 of Wands. Magician - Queen of Wands; Universe - Tower; 2 of Wands again.

Opening of the Key, sixth figure

It may be mentioned that supposing a packet to consist of six cards, and the Significator to be a Knave, or counting 7 from it, it would come back to the Knave again, this would show that the Enquirer would act according to his own ideas in this point of question, and would not let his line of action be influenced by the opinion of others. (The reading would then proceed by the pairing of the cards as usual:)

King of Cups - 2 of Wands "Though anxious concerning several matters, he (the Enquirer) is beginning to succeed better by this line of action."

Magician - Queen of Wands "Which seems to be quite the best. But the older woman (who previously made mischief and was represented by the Queen of Cups in the 1st Operation) who is artful and a gossip,"

Universe - Tower - 2 of Wands "Again injures the matter because she wishes to get an influence over the Enquirer herself."

Pairing the cards, the Diviner proceeds:

2 of Wands - Tower "Her influence cunningly exercised, brings about a complete disruption of the whole matter.

Universe - Magician "The entire matter becomes invested with trickery and glamour."

Queen of Wands - King of Cups "As she herself pays him a good deal of attention and sympathy,"

2 of Pentacles "Which furthers her plans by bringing about a friendship between them."


As before the Enquirer is instructed to shuffle the pack and place it on the table but not to cut it.

The Diviner takes the Pack, turns it face upwards, and goes through it, being careful not to disarrange the order of the cards, till he finds the Significator. At this point he cuts the Pack, that is to say, he takes the Significator and the cards which had been beneath it and places them on the top of the remainder, turning the whole face downwards again, ready for dealing out. (Be very careful here: S.A.)

The consequence of this Operation is that the Significator becomes the top card of the pack (bottom, really; face on table). The Diviner takes off the Significator, places it face upwards on the middle of the table and then the following 36 cards laid out in the form of a circle round it, face upwards, answering to the 36 Decanates of the Zodiac, and showing the further development of the Question. These are dealt round in the order and direction of dealing as the 12 packets in the two previous operations.

The reading proceeds by the same law of counting, but instead of counting from the Significator itself, it begins from the first card of the 36, and always goes in the direction of dealing. The suit which is in the majority and the circumstances of either 3 or 4 cards of a sort being found in the 36 Decanates are also noted. When the reading by counting is finished the cards are paired together; 1st and 36th; 2nd and 35th; 3rd and 34th; and so on, placed in order successively upon the Significator. I now continue the example before commenced.

We will suppose the Enquirer to have shuffled the pack, and that the Diviner takes it in his hands, and in turning it up finds the bottom card to be Temperance. On going through it he comes to the Significator, thus:

He therefore takes the cards from King of Cups to Temperance included and places them above (or behind, S.A.) the 5 of Pentacles, being careful not to disturb their relative order. This has really the effect of cutting the pack between the Queen of Wands and the King of Cups and of course when he again turns them face downwards for dealing, the King of Cups will necessarily be the top card and the Queen of Wands the bottom card; Temperance being immediately above the 5 of Pentacles, the former top card. The Diviner takes the top card, the Significator and places it face upwards in the centre, and then deals round in succession 36 cards, face upwards in the order shown in the above Diagram.

Opening of the Key, eighth figure - 36 cards arranged like the decans

Let us suppose them to be thus arranged. The reading always proceeds in the same direction as the dealing in this form of operation, commencing the counting from the 1st card dealt.

We here find 12 out of the 22 keys; 7 of Wands; 7 of Cups; 5 of Swords; 6 of Pentacles; total 37 including Significator. The preponderance of the Keys represent "Influences beyond the control of the Enquirer." There are four Kings - "Meetings with influential persons," and four Eights, "Much news and correspondence."

The counting proceeds as follows from the first card dealt. King of Cups - Six of Cups -5 of Pentacles - Hermit -4 of Cups - Fortitude -4 of Swords - 7 of Cups - Justice - 5 of Cups King of Swords - Emperor - 6 of Cups again.

King of Cups - 6 of Cups "The Enquirer’s love of pleasure-going,"

5 of Pentacles "Brings about loss of money and business,"

Hermit "And he is forced to be more prudent,"

4 of Cups "And not go into the society of others so much, which has already brought him anxiety (shown by 4 Cups between 2 Wands, contrary elements weakening effect on this card.)

Fortitude "He works more closely,"

4 of Swords "And begins to get better."

7 of Cups "Yet he has not sufficient energy in his nature to stick to work for long."

Justice "The retributive effect of this is,"

5 of Cups "That he loses his friends."

King of Wands "And his former rival who, though rather a vain man, is energetic and hard working."

Emperor - 6 of Cups "Replaces him in popularity and esteem."

Pairing them now the diviner proceeds:

King of Cups - Death - 6 of Cups "The enquirer loses pleasure in consequence."

4 of Swords - 7 of Cups "And becomes less energetic even then before, and more anxious for pleasure-going than ever."

Moon - Chariot "Yielding to the tempation of idleness and vanity by means of fraud.

8 of Swords - Ace of Pentacles "He embezzles the money of his employer, and sees prison staring him in the face.

8 of Cups - Temperance "The result of this is the loss of good name.

3 of Pentacles - 5 of Pentacles "And of his situation of trust.

10 of Wands - 2 of Cups "His former friends and admirers turn a cold shoulder to him.

Fool - Justice "And the result of this folly is that he is arrested and brought before a court of law.

7 of Wands - Hierophant "The decision is adverse.

Judgment - Hermit "And judgment very justly given against him.

Emperor - King of Wands "But his employer, though stern, is a kind hearted man,

2 of Swords - 9 of Swords "Offers to take him back and overlook the past.

Star - Fortitude "As he hopes this will have proved a lesson to him,

King of Swords - King of Pentacles "And points out to him that his former rival,

3 of Wands - 8 of Pentacles "Though perhaps vain, was yet a hard-working and good man of business.

4 of Cups - 10 of Swords "The Enquirer in consequence of this determines to completely give up his former mode of life which had brought him to the brink of ruin, and becomes a steady man.

8 of Wands - 6 of Wands "After this he suddenly receives a hasty message which gives him much pleasure,

3 of Cups - 9 of Pentacles "Stating that owing to the loss of a relative he is the inheritor of a legacy."

This concludes the Fourth Operation. It is always necessary for the Diviner to employ his intuition in reading, and sometimes he may have to clairvoyantly "go through" a card of doubtful signification. Thus in the reading just given it is only the circumstance of the Moon, Chariot, 8 of Swords, Ace of Pentacles being followed by other confirmative cards which justifies such an evil meaning of them.


The cards are to be again carefully shuffled by the Enquirer but not cut. The Diviner then takes the Pack, and deals it card by card in rotation into ten answering to the Tree of Life. This refers to the rule of the 10 Sephiroth in the Celestial Heavens.

This being done, the Diviner selects the packet containing the Significator for reading, noting carefully under which Sephirah it falls, and taking this as a general indication in the matter. This packet is then spread out in a horseshoe form, and read in the usual way, counting from the Significator and this time in the direction in which the face of the figure looks. The cards are finally paired together as in the previous Operation. This completes the Mode of Divination called "The Opening of the Key." I now give the conclusion of the example.

We will suppose that the cards have been shuffled and dealt in the following manner into 10 packets answering to the Sephiroth in the Tree of Life:

Opening of the Key, ninth figure - dividing the deck to ten parts answering to the ten sephiroth

The packet containing the Significator falls under Binah, containing the 3, 13, 23, 33,43, 53, 63, and 73rd cards dealt. This is an argument of sadness and trial. The cards are spread as follows:

Opening of the Key, ninth figure - dividing the deck to ten parts answering to the ten sephiroth

The counting proceeds as follows:

King of Cups - Star - Judgment - King of Cups again. Evil cards are in the majority, another argument of loss and trouble.

King of Cups - Star - Judgment "He has hopes of thus establishing his fortunes and that a favourable result will ensue for him."

The Diviner then pairs them thus:

King of Cups - 7 of Pentacles "He plunges therefore into speculation by which he loses heavily (indicated by 7 Pentacles near Hanged Man.)

Knave of Cups - Hanged Man "And his love affair comes to nothing."

Star - Judgment "All his expectations are disappointed,"

Knight of Pentacles - 8 of Swords "And his life for a time is arduous, petty, and uninteresting."

(The coming of trouble is here shown by the Knight of Pentacles looking against the direction of the reading. If it were turned the other way it would show that his troubles were quitting him and that matters would improve.) This completes the operation, and shows the general development and result of the question.


In shuffling, the mind of the Enquirer should be earnestly fixed on the matter concerning which he desires information. If any cards fall in the process, they should be taken up without being noticed and the shuffling resumed. The shuffling being concluded, and the pack placed upon the table, if any cards fall to the ground, or become turned in a different direction, the shuffling should be done again, in less important matters. In more important matters see previous instructions.

A cut should be clean and decided. If any cards fall from the hand in the performance, the operation of shuffling should be repeated before they are again cut. In dealing, care should be taken not to invert the cards, and their relative order should be strictly maintained. In examining a pack of cards, their relative order should be rigidly maintained, as without care in this respect, one may be easily pushed under or over another, which would of course have the effect of completely altering the counting in the Reading.


Wands generally Fair and red-haired person
Cups generally Moderately fair
Swords generally Moderately dark
Pentacles generally Very dark
Kings Men
Queens Women
Knights Young men
Princesses (Knaves) Young women

Therefore the Significators are to be thus selected. For example, a dark complexioned middle-aged man, King of Pentacles. A fair young woman, Princess (Knave) of Cups, etc.

In the actual reading of the cards, these descriptions can be modified by those which are on either side of them, thus: The Queen of Cups, which indicates a fair woman with golden brown hair, if between cards of the suits of Swords and Pentacles, would show a woman with rather dark brownhair and dark eyes. As before stated, the Knights and Queens almost invariably represent actual men and women connected with the subject in hand. But the Kings sometimes represent either the coming on or going off of a matter, arrival, or departure, according to the way in which they face. While the Knaves show opinions, thoughts, or ideas, either in harmony with or opposed to the subject.


A majority of Wands Energy, quarrelling, opposition
A majority of Cups Pleasure and merriment
A majority of Swords Trouble and sadness, sickness, or death
A majority of Pentacles Business, money, possessions, etc.
A majority of Keys Forces of considerable strength, but beyond the Enquirer’s control
A majority of Court Cards Society, meeting with many persons
A majority of Aces Strength often; aces are always strong cards
4 Aces Great power and Force
3 Aces Riches and Success
4 Kings Great swiftness and rapidity
3 Kings Unexpected meetings, generally shows news
4 Queens generally Authority and influence
3 Queens generally Powerful and influential friends
4 Knights Meetings with the great
3 Knights Rank and honour
4 Knaves New ideas and plans
3 Knaves Society of the young
4 Tens generally Anxiety and responsibility
3 Tens generally Buying, selling, commercial transactions
4 Nines generally Added responsibility
3 Nines generally Much correspondence
4 Eights generally Much news
3 Eights generally Much journeying
4 Sevens generally Disappointments
3 Sevens generally Treaties and compacts
4 Sixes generally Pleasure
3 Sixes generally Gain and Success
4 Fives generally Order, regularity
3 Fives generally Quarrels, fights
4 Fours generally Rest and Peace
3 Fours generally Industry
4 Threes generally Resolution and determination
3 Threes generally Deceit
4 Deuces generally Conference and conversations
3 Deuces generally Reorganization and restarting of a thing.

The Keys are not noticed as above, by threes and fours.


Deuce Influence over another. Dominion.
Three Pride and arrogance. Power sometimes.
Four Settlement. Arrangement completed.
Five Quarrelling. Fighting.
Six Gain and success.
Seven Opposition; sometimes courage therewith.
Eight A hasty communication, letter or message. Swiftness.
Nine Strength. Power. Health. Energy.
Ten Cruelty and malice towards others. Overbearing strength. Revenge. Injustice.
Deuce Marriage, love, pleasure. Warm friendship
Three Plenty. Hospitality, eating, drinking. Pleasure, dancing, new clothes and merriment.
Four Receiving pleasures or kindness from others, yet some discomfort therewith.
Five Disappointment in love. Marriage broken off, etc. Unkindness from friends. (Whether deserved or not is shown by the cards with it, or counting from or to it.) Loss of friendship.
Six Wish, happiness, success, enjoyment.
Seven Lying, deceit, promises unfulfilled, illusion, deception. Error, slight success, but not enough energy to retain it.
Eight Success abandoned, decline of interest in a thing. Ennui.
Nine Complete success. Pleasure and happiness. Wishes fulfilled.
Ten Matters definitely arranged and settled in accordance with one’s wishes. Complete good fortune.
Deuce Quarrel made up, and arranged. Peace restored, yet some tension in relations.
Three Unhappiness, sorrow, tears.
Four Convalescence, recovery from sickness, change for the better.
Five Defeat, loss, malice. Slander, evil-speaking.
Six Labour, work; journey, probably by water. (Shown by cards near by.)
Seven In character untrustworthy, vacillation. Journey probably by land. (Shown by cards near, etc.)
Eight Narrow or restricted. Petty. A prison.
Nine Illness. Suffering. Malice. Cruelty. Pain
Ten Ruin Death. Failure. Disaster.
Deuce Pleasant change. Visit to friends, etc
Three Business, paid employment. Commercial transactions.
Four Gain of money and influence. A present.
Five Loss of profession. Loss of money. Monetary anxiety.
Six Success in material things; prosperity in business.
Seven Unprofitable speculations, employments; also honorary work undertaken for the love of it, and without desire of reward.
Eight Skill, prudence, also artfulness, and cunning. (Depends on cards with it.)
Nine Inheritance. Much increase of money.
Ten Riches and Wealth.


  1. Fool. Idea, thought, spirituality, that which endeavours to rise above the material. (That is, if the subject which is enquired about be spiritual.) But if the Divination be regarding a material event of ordinary life, this card is not good, and shows folly, stupidity, eccentricity, and even mania, unless with very good cards indeed. It is too ideal and unstable to be generally good in material things.
  2. Magician or Juggler. Skill, wisdom, adaptation. Craft, cunning, etc., always depending on its dignity. Sometimes occult Wisdom.
  3. High Priestess. Change, alteration, Increase and Decrease. Fluctuation (whether for good or evil is again shown by cards connected with it.) Compare with Death and Moon.
  4. Empress. Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, also luxury and sometimes dissipation, but only if with very evil cards.
  5. Emperor. War, conquest, victory, strife, ambition.
  6. Hierophant. Divine Wisdom. Manifestation. Explanation. Teaching. Differing from though resembling in some respects, the meaning of The Magician, The Hermit, and The Lovers. Occult Wisdom.
  7. The Lovers. Inspiration (passive and in some cases mediumistic, thus differing from that of the Hierophant and Magician and Hermit.) Motive, power, and action, arising from Inspiration and Impulse.
  8. The Chariot. Triumph. Victory. Health. Success though sometimes not stable and enduring.
  9. Fortitude or Strength. (In former times and in other decks 8 Justice and 11 Fortitude were transposed.) Courage, Strength, Fortitude. Power not arrested as in the act of Judgment, but passing on to further action, sometimes obstinacy, etc. Compare with 11 - Justice.
  10. The Hermit. Wisdom sought for and obtained from above. Divine Inspiration (but active as opposed to that of the Lovers). In the mystical titles, this with the Hierophant and the Magician are the 3 Magi.
  11. Wheel of Fortune. Good fortune and happiness (within bounds), but sometimes also a species of intoxication with success, if the cards near it bear this out.
  12. Justice. Eternal Justice and Balance. Strength and Force, but arrested as in the act of Judgment. Compare with 8 - Fortitude. Also in combination with other cards, legal proceedings, a court of law, a trial at law, etc.
  13. Hanged Man or Drowned Man. Enforced sacrifice. Punishment, Loss. Fatal and not voluntary. Suffering generally.
  14. Death. Time. Ages. Transformation. Change involuntary as opposed to The Moon. Sometimes death and destruction, but rarely the latter, and the former only if it is borne out by the cards with it. Compare also with High Priestess.
  15. Temperance. Combination of Forces. Realisation. Action (material). Effect either for good or evil.
  16. Devil. Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession, especially if associated with the Lovers.
  17. Tower. Ambition, fighting, war, courage. Compare with Emperor. In certain combinations, destruction, danger, fall, ruin.
  18. Star. Hope, faith, unexpected help. But sometimes also dreaminess, deceived hope, etc.
  19. Moon Dissatisfaction, voluntary change (as opposed to Death). Error, lying, falsity, deception. (The whole according to whether the card is well or ill-dignified, and on which it much depends.)
  20. Sun Glory, Gain, Riches. Sometimes also arrogance. Display, Vanity, but only when with very evil cards.
  21. Judgment. Final decision. Judgment. Sentence. Determination of a matter without appeal on its plane.
  22. Universe. The matter itself. Synthesis. World. Kingdom. Usually denotes the actual subject of the question, and therefore depends entirely on the accompanying cards.


A card is strong or weak, well-dignified or ill-dignified, according to the cards which are next to it on either side. Cards of the same suit on either side strengthen it greatly either for good or evil, according to their nature. Cards of the suits answering to its contrary element, on either side, weaken it greatly for good or evil. Air and Earth are contraries as also are Fire and Water. Air is friendly with Water and Fire, and Fire with Air and Earth.

If a card of the suit of Wands falls between a Cup and a Sword, the Sword modifies and connects the Wand with the Cup, so that it is not weakened by its vicinity, but is modified by the influence of both cards; therefore fairly strong. But if a card pass between two which are naturally contrary, it is not affected by either much, as a Wand between a Sword and a Pentacle which latter, being Air and Earth, are contrary and therefore weaken each other.

Here the question being of the Wand, this card is not to be noticed as forming a link between the Sword and Pentacle.


9 SW. 10 SW. 5 SW. Very strong and potent in action. Very evil.
10 W. 10 SW. 2 W. Not quite so strong. Ruin checked and perhaps overcome.
6 C. 10 SW. 10 C. Rather good than otherwise. It is bounty overcoming loss, like a piquant sauce which adds to pleasure.
9 P. 10 SW. 10 C. Very weak, evil, slight loss in material things, but more anxiety than actual loss.
5 SW. 2 W. 9 SW. Moderately strong. Rashness which brings evil in its train. Evil.
9P.2 W.6P. Fairly strong. Good. Considerable gain and victory.
10 C. 2 W. 6 C. Weak, evil. Victory which is perverted by debauchery and evil living. But other cards may mitigate the judgment.
9 SW. 10 C. 5 SW. Medium strong. Evil. Sorrow arising from pleasure and through one’s own pleasures.
9 P. 10 C. 6 P. Perfect success and happiness.
10 W. 10 C. 5 Sw. Rather evil. Pleasure that when obtained is not worth the trouble one has had in obtaining it.
10 SW. 6 C. 9 P. Fairly strong and good. The Sw. and P. being opposite elements counteract each other. Therefore is it as if they were not there.
10 SW. 6 C. 10 w. Fairly good. Some trouble, but trouble which is overcome. If 6 C. were a bad card the evil would carry the day.
9 sw. Death. 3 SW. Death accompanied by much pain and misery.
9 w. 9 SW. High Priestess. Recovery from sickness.
6 w. Q w. King of Pentacles. An active woman, courageous and reliable with dark chestnut hair, and open fearless expression.
7 C. King Cups. 5 Sw. A rather fair man but very deceitful and malicious.


On pairing the cards each is to be taken as of equal force with the other. If of opposite elements they mutually weaken each other. If at the end of the pairing of the cards in a packet, one card remains over, it signifies the partial result of that particular part of the Divination only. If an evil card and the other good, it would modify the good.

If it be the Significator of the Enquirer, or of another person, it would show that matters would much depend on the line of action taken by the person represented. The reason of this importance of the single card is, that it is alone and not modified. If two cards are at the end instead of a single one, they are not of so much importance.


In describing any person from a Significator in the actual reading, the Diviner should endeavour, by Clairvoyance and using the card in question as a symbol, to see the person implied using the rules to aid, and restrict, his vision. In describing an event from the cards in the reading, he should employ his intuition in the same manner. Personal descriptions are modified by the cards next to them; e. g., the Knave of Wands represents usually a very fair girl, but if between cards of the suit of Pentacles, she might be even quite dark, though the Wands would still give a certain brightness to hair, eyes, and complexion.


In all cases of counting from the card last touched, the card itself is 1, that next it is 2, and so on.

From every Ace count 5.

From every Knave count 7.

From every other Court card 4 is counted.

From every small card the number of its pips.

From every Key answering to an Element (Aleph, Mem, Shin) 3 is counted.

From every Key answering to a Sign 12 is counted.

From every Key answering to a Planet 9 is counted.

  1. The text uses the traditional court cards titles, rather than the order deck's titles, though the pages / knives represent young women, as if they are titled princesses. My understanding is this is due to most, if not all, adepts at the time used a commercially sold deck.
  2. I don't know of any authoritative source saying which way the court cards should be facing. As later in the text it says "we will suppose that the significator is the Queen of Cups, and that she is looking to the left", it seems to me the author saw this point as an accidental detail.
    The court cards reproduced by Darcy Kunz in The Golden Dawn Court Cards as Drawn by W. W. Westcott face (from the viewer's perspective) as following:
    Knight Queen Prince Princess
    Swords Left Left Right Left
    Wands Right Right Right Right
    Cups Right Left Right Left
    Pentacles Right Left Left Left
    Looking at the deck published by Mary K. Greer, AFAIK the Whare Ra's, my impression is all the court cards face to the left.

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