The Ways of Thoth

In this type of spread the focus is on acceptance of the shadow, the dark side of every thing, every matter, every person, every condition. As mentioned at the start of the book, this was of the highest importance for the Egyptians, since they built their basic thinking upon day and night, upon living and dying.

The Major Arcana consists of twenty-one cards plus the card of the Initiate, giving twenty-two depictions. If we should imagine that we are in a temple where we can see eleven pictures on the one side; and then on the other side a further eleven facing them, thus each picture has its counterpart. Consequently two pictures, facing each other, always belong together. And - depending on the starting point - one picture represents a statement on the light side, the other on the dark side. Depending on which picture you start with, the picture facing always represents the shadow, the dark side, the inner complement. The whole decoration of the temple would thus depict the cycle of pictures which the seekers approach. Picture by picture they are then studied or meditated on. It is always of importance to relate the picture pairs to each other. When the seeker concentrates on a picture, the picture then represents the light side, positive aspects, the picture at his back meanwhile expressing the dark, speaking of the hidden, that is unseen by the eyes which are directed towards the front. If the seeker turns around and looks at the picture opposite, then everything reverses; the dark has now become the light and the light has now transformed into the dark.

It is important to really get to know and remember the sequence of cards located opposite each other by noting the card names and numbers, thus allowing us to understand this cycle better. As the pairs become more familiar; you can recognize which stages of development particularly complement each other, which simply belong together.

Card Pairs
I The Magician O/XXII The Initiate
II The High Priestess XXI The Universe
III The Pharaoh Queen XX Resurrection
IV The Pharaoh King XIX The Sun
V The High Priest XVIII The Moon
VI The Two Ways XVII The Magic Star
VII The Chariot of Osiris XVI The Tower
VIII The Scales of Conscience XV Demon
IX The Hermit XIV The Two Urns
X Sphinx XIII The Threshold
XI Strength XII The Hanging One

 

This provides the following list of complementary cards:

Light Side Dark Side
The Magician (I) The Initiate (O/XXII)
The High Priestess (II) The Universe (XXI)
The Pharaoh Queen (III) Resurrection (XX)
The Pharaoh King (IV) The Sun (XIX)
The High Priest (V) The Moon (XVIII)
The Two Ways (VI) The Magic Star (XVII)
The Chariot of Osiris (VII) The Tower (XVI)
The Scales of Conscience (VIII) Demon (XV)
The Hermit (IX) The Two Urns (XIV)
Sphinx (X) The Threshold (XIII)
Strength (XI) The Hanging One (XII)
The Hanging One (XII) Strength (XI)
The Threshold (XIII) Sphinx (X)
The Two Urns (XIV) The Hermit (IX)
Demon XV The Scales of Conscience (VIII)
The Tower (XVI) The Chariot of Osiris (VII)
The Magic Star (XVII) The Two Ways (VI)
The Moon (XVIII) The High Priest (V)
The Sun (XIX) The Pharaoh King (IV)
Resurrection (XX) The Pharaoh Queen (III)
The Universe (XXI) The High Priestess (II)
The Initiate (0-XXII) The Magician (I)

 

Each light card now has its dark side, which, however, expresses nothing essentially negative. It is simply a matter of accepting the shadow side as a subconscious element that supports one, an intrinsic developmental power. The ‘Demon’ may thus well represent the light, conscious factors. Whoever draws this card, also simultaneously draws ‘The Scales of Conscience’. It is only cards representing light sides that are drawn. If this should be the Demon, it means that a powerful but as yet unfocused power or energy is involved, the application of which has to be weighed up precisely. Whoever draws ‘The Magic Star’ as being a light feature, has to consider that on the shadow side ‘Two Ways’ are open, or: the subconscious makes it clear that a decision needs to be made if The Magic Star is to truly shine in full glory.

Whoever draws ‘The Resurrection’, the revival of energies after (say) some sort of defeat, has to be aware that the shadow power warns of the need to master any everyday, earthly events and happenings which arise (The Pharaoh Queen). If ‘The Hermit’, say, is drawn as a light element stating that this person wishes to withdraw into himself, then the dark side is also involved; that means that happiness is not only to be found within oneself. The Hermit has to realize that the blessing of the creator also belongs to the deal. If we wish to withdraw, we should not simply shut ourselves off completely from our surroundings; we should realize that the Divine continues to guide and lead us, even if it is in an esoteric sense. For the ‘Ways of Thoth’ spread we need eight cards in total; when we lay this spread, card eight (using the arabic numerals for counting the sequence) is then ‘Thoth’s Advice’ to us. There is only one variation of the spread and it should if possible not be modified.

The first three cards should be selected face-down. Of course they could also be selected face-up, but this causes the problem that many people who already know this tarot version or use it frequently already know the complementary card or the counterpart and thus know where their shadow sides lie.

Whoever does not know the pack and spread can select the cards face-up. After each card selected (face-up or face-down) the counsellor takes out the counterpart card and lays it alongside at an appropriate later point. The cards are then shuffled once more and the second card drawn, the counterpart being taken out by the advisor and so on.

 
The Spread:
Card 1
The Situation
Complementary Card for 1
X
Card 2
The Wish
Complementary Card for 2
X
Card 3
The Fear
Complementary Card for 3
X
Card 4
The Reality
Complementary Card for 4
Thoth's Advice

 

In practice this means that the first card chosen describes the personal Situation of the querent. The complementary card explains this further. The second card drawn or chosen describes the querent’s Wish which is then elucidated by the complementary card. The third card reflects the anxieties involved, the Fear, which is then illuminated by the complementary card once more. Card four will then show the overall context as the Reality, the complementary card to which is ‘Thoth’s advice’, which should now be followed for the near future.

Three cards are selected from the newly shuffled cards placed face-down on the table at random. It helps if querents are made aware that it is their shadow, their valuable and creative dark side, which selects the cards. The querent’s feeling for the cards is thus made more acute; and it is also good if the middle finger of the left hand is used to point at the cards because there is a certain serendipity, an ability to make unexpected and beneficial chance discoveries, in doing so.

The finger passes close over the cards, the querents perhaps sensing that one card sends out more warmth, another a cold feeling. It really does not matter here if such sensations are proven or not; it is exclusively a matter of the intense concentration of the querent. It is also of no importance whether the querent has previously explained her/his problem or not. The tarot counsellor should grasp the situation on the basis of the cards. Naturally a lot of practice and also experience are required here. Once card 1 has been selected, the one showing the Situation, it is also possible for the querent to speak about this until the querent becomes fully aware of the complementary or shadow card to it. (The card reader knows - after a period of familiarity - which shadow cards belong to which light cards.) The Situation in total, however, is first really discussed with the querent taking the light and the dark cards together, before moving on to the Wish. This in turn is documented with two cards and subsequently leads by the same process to recognizing the Fear. The wish and the fear are mostly closely connected, since every wish can generate a fear or anxiety.

Just a few more points regarding the light and dark sides are provided below. These statements are, however, by no means enough for the interpretation. (Click on any card for a larger size.)

   
Card Pair
Focus
i xxii
I - O/XXII
The Magician has to accept that a lack of knowledge, awareness or insight is present within him
ii xxi
II - XXI
The High Priestess is only striving towards the Universe, but does not yet possess it
iii xx
III - XX
The duties and obligations of the everyday world should not darken our view of what will follow in future
iv xix
IV - XIX
Whatever dominates or rules must never shut out or suppress the sun
v vxiii
 V - XVIII
The High Priest monitoring others has to set out on the Way as well
vi xvii
VI - XVII
Doubt must be overcome by love
vii xvi
VII - XVI
Victory may lead to destruction
viii xv
VIII - XV
Without weighing things up with one’s conscience the Demon will triumph by having its way
ix xiv
IX - XIV
The Hermit needs the blessing of the Divine
x xiii
X - XIII
No risk without daring to cross a new Threshold
xi xii
XI - XII
He who stands at the peak must be ready for reversing
xii xi
XII - XI
Reversing takes all one’s strength
xiii x
XIII - X
Crossing a new Threshold involves risk
xiv ix
XIV - IX
You only reach the Divine by looking into the self
xv viii
XV - VIII
Our Demons must be weighed by our conscience
xvi vii
XVI - VII
Destruction can lead to victory
xvii vi
XVII - VI
Love requires making decisions
vxiii v
XVIII - V
The new way needs an examination of the self
xix iv
XIX - IV
The power of the Sun desires mastering and placing under control
xx xx
XX - III
Resurrection leads to new obligations
xxi ii
XXI - II
The Universe must be protected by the High Priestess
xxii i
0 /XXII - I
Insight into one’s own lack of knowledge and insight wakens magic powers
Card 1
Complement
4. The Pharaoh King 19. The Sun
IV. Pharaoh King
-Light Side Situation
XIX. The Sun
-Shadow Situation
Card 2
Complement
13.The Threshold 10. Sphinx
XIII. The Threshold
-Light Side Wish
X. Sphinx
-Shadow Wish
Card 3
Complement
20. Resurrection 3. The Pharaoh Queen
XX. Resurrection
-Light Side Fear
III. The Pharaoh Queen
-Shadow Fear
Card 4
Complement
15. Demon 8. Scales of Conscience
XV. Demon -
Reality
VIII. The Scales of
Conscience -
Thoth's Advice
Example I

A scientist had got intensively involved with paranormal studies after his retirement. Before that he had radically rejected such things for sixty years, but had come upon astrology because of a dream and due to the encounter with a woman who was very interested in the subject. He was then filled with the urge to get to know all sorts of occult trends. He studied them with an almost scientific meticulousness and was suddenly confronted with the question as to whether he should consider undergoing a reincarnation therapy.

His wife warned him about such a real adventure of the soul, particularly as there is no guarantee about the quality of the therapists and thus any person doing such a reincarnation experiment. That is when he asked a tarot counsellor.

The first card drawn was The Pharaoh King, describing the Situation The scientist understood this as a definite ‘yes’, but the counsellor expressed his opinion as follows: ‘this looks more like a ‘no’ to me since the card is in fact stating that you should exercise self-control, i.e. you ought not to carry out everything that you want to do; and the shadow seems basically to be saying that you should remain in your ‘light’ world.’ Everyone who undertakes a reincarnation work and does regression under hypnosis has to be clear about the fact: the experience is impossible to forget.

However, the next card drawn was meant to correspond to the true Wish - that is the soul’s wish. The man searched over the cards now much more slowly and more carefully.

The wish was clear. The Threshold revealed that the man had the powerful wish to step back in time from this world and into another world. But the dark shadow side clearly indicates that it would be difficult subsequently to find his way back to the light side.

The man thus received the warning when he chose the third card face-down which reflected his inner fears.

The Resurrection emerged as the Fear card. This indicates that the querent was really not quite sure as to whether a true regression would be successful, even if he should really long for it. The shadow was revealed in card III, The Pharaoh Queen. The man was asked what his wife would say to all of this. His reply: ‘I think she is afraid that it will become more difficult in our marriage. He had wanted to say ‘still more difficult’ but corrected it at the last moment.

Now it was a question of what the fourth card, Reality, would show. It turned out to be card XV, Demon, with its shadow card, The Scales of Conscience. He is obsessed by a really hazardous wish that is driving him on and has taken hold on him to some extent, a wish that should be well considered!! Thoth’s advice confirms this, for the Scales of Conscience does not say ‘no’ but rather warns that he should do a very intensive self-review.

It is well worth looking at the spread as a whole below.

 

Card 1

IV. The Pharaoh King

-Light Side Situation

3.Pbaraoh King   19. The Sun

Complement

XIX. The Sun

-Shadow Situation

Card 2

XIII. The Threshold

-Light Side Wish

13.The Threshold 10. Sphinx

Complement

X. Sphinx

-Shadow Wish

Card 3

XX. Resurrection

-Light Side Fear

20. Resurrection   3. The Pharaoh Queen

Complement

III. The Pharaoh Queen

-Shadow Fear

Card 4

XV. Demon

Reality

15. Demon   8. Scales of Conscience

Complement

VIII. Scales of Conscience

Thoth's Advice

         

Now one can ponder a bit more deeply on the overall picture and then it becomes evident that the wish for the Shadow quite strongly dominates the light side, the conscious thinking. The Shadow, however, definitely gives a warning and Thoth’s advice is quite clear.

This advice is always the only decisive factor, by the way. Even if everything up to then has indicated that the question would apparently have a positive answer, Thoth’s advice can turn everything around. This is naturally true for the reverse situation. If everything appears to be so-called negative, Thoth’s advice can guide everything into a positive direction.

Why do we then draw the previous cards? That was a question repeatedly asked in seminars. The answer is that in doing so there is a process of intimate self-questioning involved. Otherwise we could just express a wish and draw a card. But this way of treating the matter will hardly lead us and any querents onto the right path. That is why this spread includes eight cards. The eight is incidentally the number of the lemniscate, the highest number in the sense of significance, the very number of Isis.

As the Major Egyptian Guiding Star is intended to show the way ahead for a longer time period, it is a good thing to do some meditating about this final card. It would also be a good thing for a querent to place Thoth’s card, i.e. the advice card, somewhere in his/her home so that he or she can catch sight of it from time to time.

Card 1
Complement
3.The Pharaoh Queen 20. Resurrection
III. The Pharaoh Queen
-Light Side Situation
XX. Resurrection
-Shadow Situation
Card 2
Complement
12.The Hanging One 11. Strength
XII. The Hanging One
-Light Side Wish
XI. Strength
-Shadow Wish
Card 3
Complement
5. The High Priest 18. The Moon
V. The High Priest
-Light Side Fear
XVIII. The Moon
-Shadow Fear
Card 4
Complement
0-22. The Initiate 1. The Magician
O-XXII. The Initiate
-Reality
I. The Magician
-Thoth's Advice
Let us turn to one more example:

A young man came for a consultation; he made an intelligent but rather helpless impression. He tended - according to what he said - to be rather adventurous, wanted to travel out into the world, to India and Egypt. However, his parents saw him alone as the administrator, guardian and shaper of their inheritance, a rather large company. In fact the whole matter had already been decided, since the young man had never able to overcome his upbringing. So he submitted to his parents.

But there must have been some permanent revolutionary dwelling in his soul since something in him kept rebelling. That is how it came to the tarot reading. As the Situation he chose the Pharaoh Queen from the face-up cards.

The situation showed the domination, the submission to the system, to the practical administrative tasks. But in the dark-side there is a permanent slumbering wish to escape from this, to resurrect as if newly transformed in order to be able to start something fresh.

The Wish card was selected:

The wish to turn everything on its head is strongly anchored in his consciousness and in the dark-side strength is added to that consciousness. He can tame the lion, that means in this case the parental authority. But what is he afraid of?

Answer: he is afraid of the trials to be faced, does not want to be the prodigal son who has to return, does not wish to do more that he can cope with. And in the dark-side this also doubtless means that the new adventurous life in other parts of the world would perhaps only attract him for a short time. Now the fourth card was to decide.

In reality this young man is inwardly a seeker, a blind person with a risk of slipping over the edge. Thoth’s advice then goes in the direction of the querent first having to develop his magic powers, learning to handle them, and standing only at the very beginning of a possible new way! The person concerned was not very enthusiastic about that, but also not discouraged. He put pressure on his parents until they gave him three months vacation so that he could have a look at his India, his Egypt.

From Cairo the young man wrote that he had joined an archaeological group in Thebes and that he would need a longer period to establish clarity about his future way. This hit the parents like a shock, but what could they do? After two years they accepted the decision of their eldest son and transferred everything to his younger brother, having first disinherited the eldest son of everything but an obligatory share.

For further meditation we have the whole picture below:

 

 

Card 1

III. The Pharaoh Queen

-Light Side Situation

3.Pbaraoh Queen   20. Resurrection

Complement

XX. Resurrection

-Shadow Situation

Card 2

XII. The Hanging One

-Light Side Wish

12.The Hanging One   11. Strength

Complement

XI. Strength

-Shadow Wish

Card 3

V. The High Priest

-Light Side Fear

5. The High Priest   18. The Moon

Complement

XVIII. The Moon

-Shadow Fear

Card 4

O-XXII. The Initiate

Reality

0-22. The Initiate   1. The Magician

Complement

I. The Magician

Thoth's Advice

         

Whoever feels his way into this eight-card spread will recognize that all the cards have been selected in a sequence that makes sense in itself. The mother rules the situation; the young man wishes to be reborn and begin completely anew, his soul trusting that he has the strength to do so. But he stands before the testing of his conscience, whether he is ready to set off on his own quite personal and arduous path through life.

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