The Eight-Circuit Tarot Deck II: Medium and Message

The other day, I said to my anima, “Look — I need to talk to the guy who wants me to make this Tarot deck.”

She nodded. “All right,” she said. “Sit down, and let’s get started.”

interviewfrankmaceowenI’ve been able to talk directly to my anima during meditations for about a month now — ever since I realized what she was. She is always very helpful to talk to, not least because she is a medium. It’s rather odd that my anima is a medium, and I am not; but there you go. It may be that she is only communicating with other aspects of my subconscious — but even if so, that’s pretty handy.

It was from her that I first learned that someone, or something, wanted me to create a Tarot deck based on the eight-circuit model of consciousness, as I describe here. I have been working on it, and posted some of the results. But I’ve run into a problem: as I’ve learned more about Druidry, I’ve come to think that maybe I’m more of a “reconstructionist” druid than a “revivalist” druid.

Let me explain briefly. The original druids lived in Europe prior to the Roman Empire, and they left no written records. Everything we know about them comes from non-druids writing about them, so it tends to be distorted and incomplete. In the 18th century, partly as a reaction against burgeoning industrialism, a “druid revival” took place — a number of intellectuals in Europe began to call themselves druids and try to reconstruct druid beliefs and practice. Their knowledge was, of course, incomplete and distorted, and much of what they did was further colored by Christianity and the mystical tradition of Europe (astrology, alchemy, etc.). Further, some of the people at that time made stuff up and claimed that it was authentic druid lore. Nevertheless, they created a unique tradition that has a lot of beauty and power, and it stands on its own. This is “Revival” druidry.

In the 20th century, especially in America, a group of druids decided to go directly to modern scholarship for guidance in practicing their religion. These are the “Reconstructionist” druids, and a lot of their practice is informed by modern archaeology, historical linguistics, and comparative anthropology.

Ellen Evert Hopman is one of this latter group, and as I’ve gotten to know her better and continued my own reading and studies, I find myself gravitating more towards the reconstructionist mindset. I’ll write more about why later (I’m planning a big series of blog posts on “How to Choose your Religion”, and I’ll address it there).

But this leads to a big question: the Tarot is unquestionably part of the druid Revival tradition, with its ties to western astrology and alchemy. It’s not at all part of the druid Reconstructionist tradition. Most people think that the Tarot was developed around the Mediterranean Sea in the 1300’s, which is about one thousand years too late for the original druids. Even if you buy that the Tarot is ultimately derived from the ancient Egyptians, it’s hard to find evidence that the Egyptians and Celtic druids had anything to do with one another, except perhaps that the Greeks probably made up stuff about both of them.

So I asked my anima to speak with the individual who wants me to make the eight-circuit Tarot. “How does that square with reconstructionist druidry? What should I do?”

My anima took me to her room, where she likes to give readings. We sat on the soft white carpet, and she held my hands. Her fingers are unnervingly long. As she went into the trance, her eyes turned black and smouldered. Her voice became deep and harsh, as it always does when she channels this individual.

We talked for some time, but the gist was this: the message is what’s important, not the medium. The Tarot deck is a convenient organizational framework for a structure of interrelated concepts; but it’s not the only way of organizing or expressing that structure. I should use my own creativity, and let my own intuition guide me. The message — the interrelated concepts based on the eight-circuit model — could be communicated in any sufficiently rich medium.

So at this point I’m not sure how that will play out. But I know that reconstructionist druidry is incredibly rich — richer by far than revival druidry, and most other religions that I know of. This is because of its amazing depth and breadth of history and territory. Like an old language with a rich literature, filled with historical allusions and vivid metaphors, it contains generations of human experience. Any concepts expressed in such a medium cannot help but be enriched.

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