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Originally Posted by Shade View Post
So one thing the book is making me realize is that I have never performed a lot of the older esoteric forms of reading like the First Operation or even the Opening of the Key. I had heard of them, but I just hadn't ever really given those practices a whirl.
Once you try the entire five operations of the Opening of the Key, you'll inevitably drop back to just the first one. The whole thing takes hours. I do the "four packs" part of it and a little of the counting and pairing as a preliminary to my main spread (usually the Celtic Cross). But I never "abandon the operation" if I don't get the expected outcome. I just assume that the results will show an additional perspective on the question.
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I can't say enough good things about this book. Even if you don't agree with everything Wen proposes and suggests, this is a book that gets you thinking.
I agree totally. I appreciate her step-by-step processes, too.
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Once you try the entire five operations of the Opening of the Key, you'll inevitably drop back to just the first one. The whole thing takes hours.
The only written examples of the technique by original members of the Golden Dawn (besides Mathers' examples in Book T) are of the first step - the dividing into four stacks and then reading only the stack that contains the Significator.

Once you know what you are doing, the entire process doesn't take long at all because of several factors:

Using Elemental Dignities the way they were designed by the GD means that many of the cards in each step are eliminated - not even read.

When you do read cards, use simple, direct meanings as per the GD keywords, in combination as pairs or triplets - much like reading card combinations in Lenormand.

The system is actually quite straightforward: divide the deck into stacks based on a set of the categories (or lens) through which we view human experience (4 elements, 7 planets, 10 sephiroth, 12 zodiac houses, 36 decans, etc.). Find your significator and spread only that stack (in most cases). Interpret the most powerful card-combinations in light of that category; ignore the superfluous cards. View the situation through the next category/lens.

It only seems complicated until you get the hang of it and if you try to apply every possible nuance to each card ala modern, symbolic Tarot techniques.
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I decided to go ahead and get this book since I poked around Benebell's blog and liked what she had to say. It's true that it's huge in hard copy, but I think cracked spines, etc. add character and I'm not bothered by that. I've noticed that cracking the spine when the book is still "fresh" often means that the pages won't fall out later. I don't mind a beat up book but I definitely get what people are saying about multiple volumes. I have 78 Degrees of Wisdom split up into two books, and that one's shorter even! I haven't really gotten into it yet but the first few pages are fantastic
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yay, I ordered it today from Bookdepository, quite expensive but since I sold a tarot deck I could well afford it.

And I remember in school when we got new hefty tomes in class how our teacher would show us how to carefully open them and crack the spine a little in at least 3 places and the book would actually last a lot longer then if you cracked the spine with it is older and dried up.
Just as staticfuzz mentions. So I am doing that!
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I've been reading the sample on my Kindle, and like a few others I'm torn as to which version to buy. I know I will actually read the Kindle version because it will be easy to handle. I'd never haul around the paperback, or want to hold it up awkwardly while lounging on the sofa. But I would like to have a physical edition to flip through and reference.

I really, really wish that Amazon had one of their deals going in which buying the physical copy gives a discount on the Kindle version. If they did that, I'd buy both.

ETA: I guess I was thinking of Kindle Matchbook, which now that I look seems to require the ebooks be priced at $2.99 or below. I can see why publishers or authors wouldn't always want to agree to that. I wish there were something in between, like a 30% - 50% discount off the Kindle price if you've bought the paper copy...
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Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
The only written examples of the technique by original members of the Golden Dawn (besides Mathers' examples in Book T) are of the first step - the dividing into four stacks and then reading only the stack that contains the Significator.

Once you know what you are doing, the entire process doesn't take long at all because of several factors:

Using Elemental Dignities the way they were designed by the GD means that many of the cards in each step are eliminated - not even read.

When you do read cards, use simple, direct meanings as per the GD keywords, in combination as pairs or triplets - much like reading card combinations in Lenormand.

The system is actually quite straightforward: divide the deck into stacks based on a set of the categories (or lens) through which we view human experience (4 elements, 7 planets, 10 sephiroth, 12 zodiac houses, 36 decans, etc.). Find your significator and spread only that stack (in most cases). Interpret the most powerful card-combinations in light of that category; ignore the superfluous cards. View the situation through the next category/lens.

It only seems complicated until you get the hang of it and if you try to apply every possible nuance to each card ala modern, symbolic Tarot techniques.
At one time I used the first operation routinely, up through the part involving counting and pairing. It's the following operations as described in Liber T and Regardie's Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic using the entire deck (the astrological house layout, the astrological sign layout, the 36-decan layout, and the Tree of Life layout) that I only tried once. The process of simply dealing out all the cards several times is lengthy in itself. Seems like overkill just to answer a question. I'd much rather do a Lenormand Grand Tableau for this kind of life reading.
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Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
At one time I used the first operation routinely, up through the part involving counting and pairing. It's the following operations as described in Liber T and Regardie's Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic using the entire deck (the astrological house layout, the astrological sign layout, the 36-decan layout, and the Tree of Life layout) that I only tried once. The process of simply dealing out all the cards several times is lengthy in itself. Seems like overkill just to answer a question. I'd much rather do a Lenormand Grand Tableau for this kind of life reading.
I agree.
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After purchasing this book, I can't recommend it enough. Wen draws on so many different sources and presents varying approaches and interpretations without telling readers that they need to believe or subscribe to anything - she always emphasizes the importance of finding what works best for you / using your intuition.

The tone throughout is really matter-of-fact and, I find at least, extremely easy to follow. It makes a book of such great length easier to digest because she is such a helpful guide along the way.

Not just an intriguing and informative read from cover to cover, but a great book to have as a reference for any tarot reader.

xx
Errol
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I want to post some thoughts on this book as I have a bit of a different perspective than some of the previous posts in this thread.

Please note I've only read slightly more than half the book, so I can't comment on the complete work.

There are things I like a lot about the book. The author is an attorney and she writes in a calm and authoritative manner which I appreciate. I love that she has lots and lots of reading examples. She's passionate about sharing the details of her reading style. If you've had a reading with her and said to yourself, "I'd like to read just like she does," then this is the book for you.

She also has some good advice for self-readings, such as:
Quote:
Do not pull a card, make a hasty judgment that the card doesn’t apply, and try to draw another card in its place. These actions cause distraction, and such distraction will disrupt the space needed for a tarot reading to come together in your mind.
To be fair to Ms. Wen, her approach to tarot, which leans heavily for certain of its aspects on the Golden Dawn (but ignores much of the GD's approach in other respects), and which often involves complicated and elaborate procedures for laying out the cards, doesn't really resonate with me. Personally I like to dispense with the rigamarole and simply shuffle the cards and draw them off the top of the pile. Similarly, she puts great emphasis on one's reading environment -- sights, scents, sounds, accoutrements like crystals, etc., whereas I simply clear a space on my kitchen table or coffee table.

To me, elaborate rituals and fancy-sounding spread names come off as slightly pretentious. I get her point about putting oneself in a contemplative frame of mind, but I feel that good card reading also requires a light touch and a sense of humor.

One thing about this book that's inescapable is that she takes a stand against what she refers to as "fortune-telling and divination." Over and over again, she tells us that her approach is one that is rationalistic and psychologically-oriented, without any supernatural agency, and she distinguishes that approach from fortune-telling/divination.

However, as you read further in the book it becomes apparent that her rationalistic approach is not as rational as she wants to make it sound. She says things like:
Quote:
A tarot practitioner who is attuned to his or her tarot deck will integrate his or her energies into the cards so that the deck can draw out the appropriate spread that the practitioner can best interpret for the Seeker.
Quote:
The tarot is also a tool that calculates a most probable future based on the decisions we are making in the present and our current attitudes and outlook.
In her reading examples, it's apparent that she's not reading solely on a psychological basis and is in fact predicting events:
Quote:
You are reading for Lakshmi, who wants to know whether she will get a promotion at work.
Quote:
What crosses his signifier and Temperance is the Six of Wands, reversed, which suggests postponement. As the tarot practitioner, you note to yourself that marriage prospects do not look great for the immediate future. You should then start thinking about how best to phrase that information to Desmond to render the reading empowering.
That latter quote is especially telling -- she's making a prediction, then rephrasing it to sound empowering.

It becomes clear after a while that she sees fortune-telling/divination as a process of telling the querent that X will happen and there's nothing you can do about it, whereas the empowering and rational approach would be to say X will happen but you can change it if you want.

To me, any reading which makes an assumption about the future in any way is divination or fortune-telling. We can dress it in empowering clothes by adding the phrase "but you can change it if you want," but that doesn't change the fact that we're reading a future event in the cards.

There are tarot authors who offer psychologically-oriented reading methods which avoid predicting events. If you really want to avoid prediction, Llewellyn published a book several years ago (unfortunately I can't remember the title) which laid out a method whereby the reader doesn't interpret the cards at all but rather facilitates the querent to interpret their own cards.

Another approach is Gail Fairfield's Choice-Centered Tarot/Everyday Tarot, where she gives numerological meanings to numbers and suits (especially good for non-scenic-pip decks) which are very inwardly oriented, so any reading will necessarily focus on inner psychological states.

To my mind, Wen's approach is just as prediction and event oriented - in other words, divinatory - as anyone else's. This in itself doesn't bother me; I just wish she wouldn't spend so much time dancing around the issue and trying to make her approach sound more rationalistic than it actually is, as in the following passages:
Quote:
The tarot here isn’t really doing any fortune-telling; it’s logic-telling Laney what her mother has probably been nagging her about all along. While the tarot has an uncanny ability to pick up on the exact details relevant in a Seeker’s life, the trajectory of the reading isn’t predictive in a prophesy kind of way. It’s only predictive in a common sense kind of way. Yet Laney might be more receptive to the counsel coming from a tarot reading, than she would be if it came from her mother.
Quote:

The aids mentioned herein are not being used in any form of worship, nor are they being assigned extraordinary metaphysical significance. They are objects. My approach to tarot does not integrate magic, magick, or religion. The reasoning for using the aids is simple. Certain colors, certain scents, seeing certain objects make us happy. And happy is good. When a Seeker has a question about love, I like to have rose quartz nearby. For questions related to wealth and prosperity, I like to have jade. If jade is outside a practitioner’s budget, try aventurine. Jaspers are great grounding stones. They aid with stability.
Another thing I don't like is that she has a habit of inventing elements of her approach but not acknowledging that they're of her own invention. I don't think there's anything wrong with inventive approaches - in fact I admire her inventiveness. But why does she pretend she didn't make it up? For example, although she does mention inventing some of her spreads, for most of them she simply gives it a fancy name and then refers to it as "The ____ Spread" as if it's centuries old, a trait she shares with Eileen Connolly.

Similarly, there are some interpretive correlations where she diverts sharply from tradition, and then makes it sound as if there is some big controversy about it with many people on both sides, when in fact (to my knowledge, anyway) the only person advocating for the "other side" is herself:
Quote:
There is a sharp divide among practitioners as to whether The Magician is attributed to yang (active energy) or yin (recessive). The approach herein is to attribute The Magician with yin.
Is there really a sharp divide? I'm not on social media so maybe the sharp divide is there, if it is I apologize in advance to Ms. Wen, but I haven't heard of it, nor am I convinced by her argument that the Magician represents a yin energy.

While I appreciate Ms. Wen's industrious and serious effort in this book, it's not one of my favorites. For a more intellectually consistent approach to divination, I prefer the aforementioned Gail Fairfield's books (Everyday Tarot and Choice-Centered Relating and the Tarot). For an empowerment approach, I like Paul Quinn's Tarot for Life.
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