Creeds and Beliefs in Tarot and beyond

"Since evolution became fashionable, the glorification of Man has taken a new form. We are told that evolution has been guided by one great Purpose: through the millions of years when there were only slime, or trilobites, throughout the ages of dinosaurs and giant ferns, of bees and wild flowers, God was preparing the Great Climax. At last, in the fullness of time, He produced Man, including such specimens as Nero and Caligula, Hitler and Mussolini, whose transcendent glory justified the long painful process. For my part, I find even eternal damnation less incredible, certainly less ridiculous, than this lame and impotent conclusion which we are asked to admire as the supreme effort of Omnipotence."
Bertrand Russell

I often experience that people in my surroundings have their difficulties in how someone can be a 'radical atheist' on one side and on the other go and 'believe' in the Kabbalah.

The fact, and in my eyes the most reasonable attitude, is that I don't subscribe to any creed or belief at all, but yet go and use what is doubtlessly wise and helpful. Those parts of the Kabbalah who are necessary for my understanding of the Tarot - the Tree of Life and the structure of the four worlds and the levels of the soul - bear an all-embracing, archetypical image of the human soul and spirit, with both terms used more in the psychological but any religious meaning.
The Kabbalah just happens to be the most beautiful and figurative description of these subjects I have found so far, and it is far easier (and nicer) to call Chiah 'Chiah' instead of fuzzing around with rather unimaginative, long-winding Jungian terms.

Apart from this, the Kabbalah is traditionally connected to the Tarot, no matter wether it was intended or just a coincidence that both were such thorough representations of the same natural structures. Kicking the Tetragrammaton out off it might be a crime in the eyes of traditional Kabbalists, yet it doesn't harm me or you or the subject of this site.

Religious Beliefs

"There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Almost inevitably some part of him is aware that they are myths and that he believes them only because they are comforting. But he dare not face this thought! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not rational, he becomes furious when they are disputed."
(Bertrand Russell)

Religious belief is mainly born due to one or all of three reasons: fear, bore and desire. In best of all cases, the believer gets the best out of his creed and improves through it, like for example the pious nun who spends all her life helping the ill and poor, in the worst of all cases the believer decides that his creed has to be the one and only and the whole thing ends up in persecution of and violence against others.

Christianity sure is the most common and popular example for this, at least in our Western hemisphere, but lost much of its glory ever after people detected that belief cannot remove mountains, no matter how often this was stated - but atomic bombs certainly can.

Then of course, with broadened sensibility, many people couldn't relate anymore to a religion that contradicts any free pride in dogging down the human being as a miserable sinner full of faults bound to duck down under some despotic tyranny that will reward us with endloss boredom on cloud nine when we're 'good' and eternal tormentment in hell when we dare to ask wether it was the Pithecanthropus Erectus or the Homo Pekiniensis who actually ate the apple.

Therefore, it was almost natural that 'new' creeds and beliefs were demanded to fill the desire for divine support and guidance. The most logical attempt was to look around what was there before the Christian dogmatism mutated and waltzed all over culture and civilisation, and what existed or exists beside. This effort resulted in the renaissance of many old religions, with the good effects that long forgotten values like maybe Celtic naturalism raised from the dust of time, while wisdoms represented by maybe the Kabbalah or Buddhism were detected by people who not happen to be Jews or Asians.

On the more amusing side, it mounted in bored housewifes wrapped in curtains hopping around Stonehenge at full moon, or in the most ridiculous parody of Christianity there is, Satanism, where the followers seriously turn every absurdity of Christianity into a reversed mirror image of itself, of course without catching the most delightful point that when watched through a mirror, they make perfect Christians on the mental level of the Middle Ages.


Another offspring of the search for new beliefs or better said: for things worth being believed, is the attraction for occultism and mysticism, and with the human tendency to form herds, occult circles and orders were founded. In most cases, they jealously hide and hoard their knowledges - some for the reason that only few are held for enlightened enough to come into the enjoyment of the sacred wisdoms, others for the simple reason that a secret truth probably won't stay secret and true very long once every cynic is enabled to poke around in it and dig out the contradictions and incompabilities.

Amazing enough, the fascinating doors closed between you and the secret wisdom often get easily opened by an annual fee, which shows a blatant similarity to the ages when you could buy your place in heaven by paying some monk for half a dozen of extra masses or prayers to wash off all your sins. In this light, the term 'secret' reminds of the '18 yrs+ only' sticker that some rockgroup plastered on their harmless-boring 'The making of our last album-video' in order to improve its attraction to 12-year-olds.

Therefore, I would highly distrust everything that comes along with 'secret' wisdoms, rules, memberships, elections, fees, or simply the requirement that one has to undergo any tests to prove suitability.

Now it might be true that not everyone understands every truth, and that certain degrees must be absolved to reach certain levels. But - exactly the same applies to the Theory of Relativity. Yet you don't need to become a member in some circle in order to obtain the writings of Albert Einstein.


A while ago I stumbled upon a website that mentioned Raven's Tarot Site - that is mine - with the somewhat indignant remark that 'the webmaster' - that is me - 'categorically denies the existance of Magick'.

Now what is 'magick' anyway? Pretentiously spelled with a 'k' as Aleister Crowley did to differentiate it from, say, pulling rabbits from a hat?

Magick is in effect anything that is changed by an act of will - no matter how profane. If I turn my dirty dishes into clean dishes it is magick - notwithstanding the help of a magickal lotion applied to the element of water and a few meaningful movements of my hands.
Crowley himself defined a Magickal operation 'as any event in nature which is brought to pass by Will' and added: 'We must not exclude potato-growing or banking from our definition. Let us take a very simple example of a Magical Act: that of a man blowing his nose.' (Magick in Theory and Practice)

I declare hereby that I have never denied the existance of potato-growing or banking, and I would not even rule out the possibility of men being able to blow their noses.

What I do deny is the existance of anything 'paranormal' and 'supernatural'. It just boggles my mind how people dream up anything 'supernatural' id est something that 'cannot be explained by the laws of the natural world' when they do not even know more than maybe 50% of those laws. Given the current state of physics, the inabilty to conclusively combine general relativity and quantum mechanics and the everlasting quest for the Holy Grail in form of the much mystified Grand Unification Theory we cannot even be sure about the 50%.

'Magick is the Science of understanding oneself and one's conditions. It is the Art of applying that understanding in action.' (Magick in Theory and Practice)

Now there is a lot in your own self, your conditions and your surroundings that goes beyond cleaning dishes and growing potatoes and it is a very long way to explore the hidden realms. Nevertheless I will maintain that you first need logic and rationalism for any sort of expedition in those fields, to not get lost in some esoteric lala-land while hopelessly drowning in the floods of Briah or losing your mind on the dark side of the moon.

Meanwhile, I will go and try to find out if my red currants might grow bigger fruits if I dance around them chanting:
"Thou spiritual Sun!
Satan, Thou Eye, Thou Lust!
Cry aloud! Cry aloud!
Whirl the Wheel, O my Father, O Satan, O Sun!"

In the end, nothing is wrong with creeds or beliefs as long as you stay aware of your individuality, keep your freedom and are able to enlighten and improve your own self without getting dependent from any outside influence or structure. It does not matter which God or Goddess you have, or how many of those, or if you have anything like that at all, it is completely unimportant wether you believe in the divine, or in fate and coinscidence, or solely in the laws of physics.

The Tarot is valuable and suitable for any kind of person that has an inside, a consciousness and a subconsciousness. It is completely independent from any belief but the belief in your own self.

Two books that are of some interest to the subject and that you can read in the Raven's Bookshelf here on corax:
Charles MacKay: Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds
Andrew Dickson White: History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896)

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