Why I Can’t Fully Buy The Golden Dawn’s Astrology-Into-Tarot Mapping

These cards are part of this cool Astrology-themed Oracle deck I have called the Oracle of the Radiant Sun. Each card captures a single Planetary placement using the seven visible or “classical” Planets and the 12 Zodiac Signs. Since 12 x 7 = 84, the deck has a total of 84 cards, all chock-full of this great, old-time-y artwork.

The deck also perfectly illustrates one of the main and hugest reasons why I have serious issues with the way that the brilliant British mystical society known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn tried to map astrological symbols onto Tarot. I do firmly believe that the Golden Dawn members did genius-level work overall, and also that this kind of mapping might not even be truly workable – not if, like me, you want the results of any such efforts to exhibit perfect symmetry and efficiency and whatnot.

But just so you get my beef, take a look at how the GD tried to work in the same kinds of Planet-in-Sign placements that this Oracle deck portrays. The GD correspondences for these placements occur only in cards 2-10 of each of the four Suits in the Minor Arcana. Like, for instance, Venus-in-Scorpio is the 7 of Cups, Jupiter-in-Leo is the 6 of Wands, that kind of thing. But check the math: using 9 cards in each of the four Suits yields a total of only 36 placements being covered. In other words, only 36 of the possible 84 Planet-in-Sign placements make it into the GD’s assignments. The other 48 are left lying on the cutting room floor, which…what the hell?! Where do we look if we want a Tarot equivalent for, say, Moon-in-Aries? What about Mars-in-Virgo? If you swallow the GD attributions whole without really applying any critical thought to them, then you’re sort of agreeing to this built-in assumption that, for example, Jupiter-in-Pisces is a placement worthy of notice and discussion, but Saturn-in-Aries is not.

The GD also didn’t take any of the Outer Planets into account, which I won’t even start in on for the moment. But so yeah, as much as I hold the GD in sky-high esteem, I can’t get on board fully with their astrological Tarot correspondences, even as I still sometimes use them anyway…

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Life Lesson: On Mishegoss…

The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.” – Alfred Adler


This is a Yiddish word, and it’s derived from the Hebrew “meshugga” (= “senseless,” “crazy”). Mishegoss basically refers to a given human’s personal set of psychic luggage that they trundle about with them everywhere they go, said luggage containing all of their various and idiosyncratic foibles, viewpoints, programming, habits, and general weirdness. I have my mishegoss, you have yours, and you can safely and successfully wager staggering sums of money that so does anyone else currently strolling about across the skin of this planet.


Point: “People be crazy!”

And while this seems like a simple and obvious statement, it actually provides a seed for healthier living that can be cultivated into a veritable garden of compassion, centeredness, and positivity.

What do I mean by that…?

Imagine you’re driving from one side of your hometown to the other. Further imagine that you have a set appointment on that other side of town, and that you left your front door close enough in time to that appointment’s scheduled starting moment that you’re in some danger of arriving late, especially if anything should arise during your trek over that might slow you down.


This does not bode well as far as you arriving to your appointment on time…or maybe even today…

With that being the case – looming appointment deadline, mounting pressure to get there on time – how will you feel toward your fellow motorists?

It’s not their fault that you left late – if any “fault” can be pinned to anybody in this scenario like a tail being affixed to a donkey, then that hypothetical “anybody” is almost certainly you, and not them – but in the heat of your rush to reach Point B, do you cut them due slack? Or are you more inclined to cuss them out vigorously, zig and zag through traffic, tailgate, and maybe even play it a bit fast and loose with stop signs and changing signal lights?

And when you do verbally tear into your fellow humans on the road in situations like these, why are you okay with doing this? Would you respond to them in this fashion if you were having face-to-face encounters outside of your vehicles?

Now, to be fully transparent here, I’m as guilty of this sort of low-grade road rage as anyone. I often find it difficult to remember that the other cars on the road are not annoying, dull-witted, slow-moving beings in and of themselves, but are rather inanimate conveyances populated by living, breathing, feeling people much like me. And each and every one of these people has her or his own mishegoss to contend with every moment of every day.


She looks like a nice lady…but what would you think of her if she happened to be driving in front of you at a much slower pace than you’d like while you were already running late for something…?

It could be that the woman dragging her wheels so laboriously through the neighborhood on the “Do Not Pass” residential streets that stand between me and my destination isn’t driving so agonizingly slowly just to annoy the hell out of me and make me late for my appointment (for which I probably should have gotten out of the house 10 or 15 minutes sooner…). What if she’s driving so slowly because she just got some horrible news from her doctor about that odd growth she’d had removed and biopsied a few days before, and her mind is more on her mortality than on her motoring…?

Or maybe she just got some great news back, stemming from the application she’d sent off to that Ivy League school that she thought she didn’t have a prayer of getting into at this late stage of her life, but which blew her mind by accepting her anyway, and so she’s just giddy with appreciation and a renewed sense of joy in life…and therefore, to her in this moment, racing through the quiet streets in school bus territory feels like a far away and unimportant concern?

Or maybe her particular brand of more permanent mishegoss is simply the reality that she’s one of those infuriating people who somehow always manages to leave her house with plenty of time to spare, and so she’s just taking some quiet pleasure in the simple act of driving, enjoying the journey as much as, or even more than, the eventual destination…?


Be aware of the mishegoss of others, but also remember to gaze into the mirror to identify and better understand your own while you’re at it…

The point is that any human you might meet has some kind of agenda. Some of this is due to the irresistible dictates imposed upon us all as biological organisms. Some will flow from our emotional responses to the events that life throws at us, some of which responses will be pretty intense. And some can be attributed to our longstanding, deeply entrenched personal holdings of mishegoss. This is true of anyone out there in the world…so if you can keep this truth more at the forefront of your mind, it will help you to be more forgiving, and to take most things much less personally than you might have done in the absence of this mindset. It may even allow you to go easier on yourself for having your own mishegoss.

A large percentage of the posts that I lodge here are aimed at helping people to become better Tarot readers, better astrologers, better overall metaphysicians of whatever stripe. And this post is very much in line with those aims. That is, it will help your metaphysical game immeasurably to do your work while trying to better understand just what is the nature of a specific person’s mishegoss, what might be driving them, what they might get out of the deal, and how you can help.  And this includes you, as well as your querents and clients.

Because remember, when it comes to mishegoss, we all have some. The only normal people – the ones who don’t seem straitjacketed by endless bolts of some variety of mishegoss – are the ones you don’t know very well.

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream..


“Death Posture” by Austin Osman Spare

I’ve been finding myself urging people more and more of late to keep track of their dreams. As I mentioned in a recent post, I believe that our dreams hold messages for us. Whether they originate from parts of our non-conscious minds or from sources that lie entirely outside of our own selves, either way, they don’t flow from out of our egos…and to my way of thinking, this makes them invaluable as wellsprings of information not available to us in our waking hours.

The only issue I’m having here, though, is the fact that I haven’t been practicing what I’ve been preaching. I haven’t really been recording and poring over my own dreams. This will not do…

So I decided that I’m going to start following through here, and leading by example. I commit to working diligently at remembering and recording my dreams, and when I have one of note, I’ll share it in this space, maybe along with any thoughts I have as to what it might mean. I also hereby invite any and all commentary from any of you who might be reading along on your end.

And with all that said…last night’s dream…

Let me start by stating for the record that I spent nine years of my life working as the Chief Financial Officer of a publicly traded biotech company. Being publicly traded in this country (that’s the U.S. of A.) means that your company is subject to the dictates of the Securities & Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).


Cover from a Form 10-Q filed by Apple, Inc. NOTE: I did not work for Apple, Inc.

Part of this state of affairs is the requirement that you issue very detailed documents each and every quarter so as to report your financial results of operations to the public. These reports have to pass through the tireless scrutiny of independent auditors, as well as that of your own corporate officers, directors, attorneys, and accountants. It’s pretty grueling stuff, and unless you possess a certain rare blend of 1) fanaticism for detail, and 2) spiritual masochism, it will wear you the hell out.

Like it did me. Toward the homestretch phases of any filing period, it wasn’t uncommon for me to dream about the reports I was working on, seeing text and columns of numbers swimming before my dream-self’s bleary eyes…

Thankfully, after I got out, those dreams stopped. Mostly. Except for the occasional mysterious throwback – like last night’s dream.

There I was: starting out with a new publicly traded company, high up in the corporate chain of command, but reporting to a definite boss. Do you watch (or read) Game of Thrones? My boss in this dream was Samwell Tarly. No, really.


I think Sam was dressed more or less like this in my dream, even at corporate HQ, although maybe without the bunny accessory…

And here’s the even odder part… In the dream, Sam had given me back a draft of the report that I’d produced for the upcoming quarterly filing, and he’d marked it up by hand with all of his proposed edits to be made before we could file the thing with the SEC. The front cover was especially riddled with fresh, hand-applied ink, and I was baffled at first as to what he might have been so concerned with changing in what I’d entered there myself. After all, the front cover was usually pretty much boiler-plate language that changed very little from one filing to the next, but for a couple of really small factoids (such as the filing date, and the number of shares of company stock outstanding this time around).

I was fascinated to see, then, that what Sam was doing wasn’t so much changing anything I’d drafted – rather, he was adding material on top of what I’d provided. Specifically, he had written in a whole ream of text drawn from a work on magic written by the late 20th Century British occultist, Austin Osman Spare. Essentially, Samwell Tarly was performing a complex sort of magic spell in conjunction with this SEC filing – if the report were to be filed with the text from Spare successfully inserted and left in, the spell would operate. I could tell in the dream that all of this was true, and that the question was never whether the spell might work. The spell absolutely would work – the question was whether any of the many, many parties reviewing the document prior to filing would see the text and insist upon its removal.

And of course one or more of them would see it – some of these people regularly noticed it if an extra space was inserted into a line between words, or caught it when a period was accidentally entered in place of a comma, that sort of thing. These were people who spotted minutiae. It would be no trick at all for them to see an extra page or two of weird, occult language popping up in the report where the standard front cover should be!

Except…in the dream, I then called up the prior quarter’s report, just to look at it – this was the one filed right before I’d begun working there – and Sam Tarly had somehow managed to get it lodged with the SEC and disseminated to the public with that same block of Spare’s occult verbiage sitting right there for all to see. Only I could tell that apparently no one had seen it. Samwell Tarly was beaming weird sorcery right through the filing process, and using the SEC as his unwitting magic wand…and getting away with it! And he was about to do it again, this time with me in the loop…

And that’s when I woke up.

And that was my weird dream last night. I’ve been banging my head against that one all day today. If only my job had actually been that interesting back in my CFO days…

Dreams…and Dreams in Tarot

I’m back in the saddle here after a week away on the opposite coast.  It was a truly great trip, but now that it’s done, I’m returning to our regularly scheduled posting and updating.  A dream I had in the early morning hours today seemed like a great starting point for launching that return…


How do you see them? Are they just bizarre bursts of randomness welling up from out of your subconscious mind while you sleep, no more meaningful than the psychic equivalent of belches? Some people do see them that way.

Me, I take them as messages. Maybe they come from inside our own minds, or maybe they even hail from external sources, but either way, they don’t have their origins in the ego, which makes me see a lot of value in them. In our waking hours, we’re trapped with our egos all the time, and what the ego wants isn’t always lined up well with what we – in a holistic sense – actually need. So, yeah: dreams.

Tarot can speak to our dream-lives. I see The Moon as being the primary indicator of dream-experience, but other cards can point in this direction, too. The High Priestess sits in the gray borderlands between the waking world and the land of dreams, and the watery Suit of Cups holds our dream-stuff, as well (I look especially at the Queen and the Ace here).

Last night, I dreamed that I was walking in some wetlands with someone, and I found an Eagle feather. Only it was big enough that I could have used it to paddle a canoe! Wish I’d seen the Eagle that had dropped it…

Interested in Tarot? You can book a READING with me, or I can teach you how to read for yourself, either through PRIVATE LESSONS or the TAROT TOOLKIT ONLINE COURSE:


TAROT TIP: Seek Card Concepts in the “Real” World

If you’re seeking additional ways by which you can firm up your grasp on Tarot card meanings beyond rote memorization, I often preach the value of looking for real world manifestations of card concepts.

Here’s an example… I went to a family member’s wedding yesterday, and the reception was held at this old building with all these cool artifacts from a bygone age…like this antique bank vault shown here. It immediately put me in mind of the 4 of Pentacles – the “miser card” – and the way this particular card speaks to the urges that drive our capitalist system. It’s no coincidence that over in the Thoth deck, Aleister Crowley attaches the word “Power” to his version of the card, because in our society, money is power.

This card asks us to consider our own views on what we think of as wealth, and how much we need to amass before we can feel like we safely have “enough.” CAN we have enough? Can we have too much? What’s in YOUR bank vault…?

I can teach you Tarot if you’re interested in learning. I offer PRIVATE LESSONS, or you can also purchase the 10-session TAROT TOOLKIT ONLINE COURSE:


TAROT TIP: Consider Kabbalah

Tree of Life diagram
Even though Tarot is a rich, deep system that’s absolutely chock-full of multilayered symbolism, this doesn’t stop Tarot fans from trying to map additional systems onto it in an effort to wring even more meaning from its sublime framework. You can find decks and books in which Tarot people have done their best to weave Astrology into Tarot, or Runes, or the I Ching. Some will even use elements from fields that don’t have any underlying structure as metaphysical systems at all – for instance, some resources will tell you that a certain type of crystal goes with each card, or a specific animal does, or a kind of plant.

And to be honest, as long as you don’t swallow any one person’s associations as “The Gospel,” and you apply some critical analysis of your own as to whether you actually see some real fitness and utility, then working with assignments like these can be extremely helpful in a brain-stretching sort of way.

But the one system that seems to lend itself the most naturally to being spliced into a new fusion with Tarot is the field of Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah, and in particular, the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life.

Fotothek_df_tg_0006103_Theosophie_^_Alchemie_^_Judentum_^_KabbalaSidenote: as with many words and phrases that have found their ways into the English-speaking world from languages that use completely different alphabets, you’ll find multiple spellings for “Kabbalah.” I use this spelling because it was the first one I learned, but you’ll also see things like Qabalah and Cabala, plus other subtle variants of all of these. No one spelling is “The Right One,” and they’re all more or less the same as each other in terms of their basic meanings, although they do each seem to be picking up their own somewhat varying connotations in modern metaphysics as the years go by. Still, it’s probably best not to get too hung up on this point, and definitely don’t let anyone make you feel dunderheaded because they’ve decided to dump on your chosen spelling!

But anyway, the point is that Kabbalah and Tarot do seem to dovetail pretty readily. Simple numbers play a huge factor in this.

The Tree of Life – Kabbalah’s magic mega-glyph that represents all reality – has 10 spheres (called “Sephiroth,” or if singular, each one is a “Sephira”) and 22 pathways that interconnect these spheres.

And then hey, look: Tarot has 10 numbered cards in each Suit of the Minor Arcana, and 22 Major cards! There’s one type of numbered Tarot card to go with each Tree of Life Sephira, with nothing left over and nothing unused, and the same goes for correspondences among Major Tarot cards and Tree of Life pathways! It’s neat, it’s efficient, and nothing feels forced.

In contrast, accepted mapping of Astrology onto Tarot struggles in that Astrology has an ill-fitting number of primary symbols to work with here: a variable number of Planets (depending on your astrological preferences), 12 Zodiac Signs, 12 Houses, and dozens of possible Planet-in-Sign placements. There’s no neat and obvious method for assigning these to the Tarot cards without getting a bit clunky, and also leaving many astrological symbols on the cutting room floor.

Similarly, the earliest Runic alphabet has 24 symbols. How do you map that onto the 22-card Major Arcana? The 56-card Minor Arcana? The full 78-card deck? No easy answers.

The same holds true for the I-Ching, with its 64 hexagrams. You could shoot for a one-to-one mapping of symbols of the 64 hexagrams onto the 78 cards, but you’d then have 14 cards with no hexagrams assigned to them. Do 14 cards therefore go hexagram-less? Or do you let 14 hexagrams be allocated to two cards each? And in either case, how do you choose which symbols get left out or counted double? The math doesn’t lend itself well to these types of mapping exercises in any of these cases.

But not only does the Tree of Life sidestep these logistical tar-pits, but it also adds an attractive new layer of interpretive possibility, in that each Hebrew letter – of which there are a convenient 22! – carries its own occult meaning. Take a look:


Tarot Card

Hebrew Letter


Tree of Life Path #


The Fool

א Aleph




The Magician





The High Priestess





The Empress

ד Daled




The Emperor

ה Heh




The Hierophant

ו Vau




The Lovers

ז Zayin




The Chariot










The Hermit





The Wheel of Fortune










The Hanged Man






נ Nun






Tent-peg, Prop



The Devil





The Tower





The Star





The Moon


Back of head



The Sun

ר Resh









The World


Cross, Mark


The Tower_thothIn fact, once you’re aware of these meanings, you can play spot-the-Kabbalah-reference with your decks. Many deck creators take pains to include visual representations of these Hebrew letter meanings in their Tarot cards. For example, in the famous Thoth deck, Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris clearly knew that the Tower card is associated with the Hebrew letter Peh, and Peh means “mouth.” Take a look at the card image – it will take you little more than a millisecond or two to locate the giant, gaping, flame-spewing mouth in the visuals.

And once you get familiar with these meanings, you can add them to your Tarot card interpretations when you perform readings. Consider how The Hierophant is associated with the concept of a nail. The former is a symbol of structure, and the latter is a device used to build things. But then, a nail left lying around can also be a threat to the integrity of one’s feet, as nails can puncture and penetrate, and if rusty, they can even infect. This little added slice of nail-meaning can then reflect back onto The Hierophant: if the teachings of this card’s central character are used carefully, then much like nails, they can help us to create immense structures that greatly benefit humanity…but if employed recklessly, they can cause grievous injury by stabbing us in our most tender and vulnerable spots…

So if you’re on the prowl for new add-ons that you can incorporate into your Tarot practice, you could do far worse than exploring Kabbalah and the Tree of Life…

Learn Tarot with me! I offer PRIVATE LESSONS, and you can also score your own copy of the TAROT TOOLKIT ONLINE COURSE, a 10-session series of classes with its own 120-page PDF Workbook: