Mormon Mysticism and the Tarot

Bored in Vernal mysticism 125 Comments

Andrew’s previous post on the Book of Abraham got me thinking about Mormon mysticism and how it has been de-emphasized in the modern Church. In a way I hate to see the status of the Book of Abraham lowered among mainstream Church members because it is the last bastion of Joseph Smith’s mystical bent. Mysticism as it exists in the Church today is interesting. There is still a place where the Three Nephites, the planet Kolob, temple ties to Masonry, numerology and such are discussed, but these things are treated more as folklore and legend than essential components of our faith.

One of today’s most active proponents of Mormon mysticism is Kerry Shirts–known in the Bloggernacle as the “Backyard Professor.” Some of the scholarly work he has done in the way of mysticism has to do with the Tarot. His notes on Mormonism and the Tarot date back to 2003. Tarot cards interest me because I absolutely adore religious symbolism. Here we find a plethora of images which illuminate our faith journeys. Shirts explains that there is nothing Satanic in the investigation of this type of mysticism:

It is full of various meanings, etymologies, parallels, etc. I will look at the clothes on the Tarot cards, the hand gestures, the attitudes expressed on the faces of the people, the colors, the background, the foreground, the hidden words, numbers, etc. I will analyze the Biblical meanings, the Ancient Far and Near Eastern meanings, the American meanings, the Indian meanings, etc. I will use the scriptures of the world, the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, D&C, and PofGP, the Upanishads, Magic, Kabbalah, etc. I make no apology for roaming the world over using any and all cultural icons, symbols, meanings, and ideas, to extract and learn about the largest amount of information and insight into this magnificent group of symbols called the Tarot Cards.

Tarot cards have been adapted by many artists and schools of thought–such as the card from a Native American deck like the one on the left.  Recently Shirts and some of his cohorts have suggested a Mormon tarot. Imagine, for example, a “Fool” card picturing Adam in the beginning; just after receiving the breath of life. He is innocently and curiously playing throughout the garden of Eden. His pre-mortal memories are hidden in the bag upon his stick. He is about to step off the cliff and begin the Divine Descent–the Fall. Symbolically, the Fool does not have the connotation of a silly or stupid person, or one who lacks judgment.  Rather, the Fool “is the spirit in search of experience. He represents the mystical cleverness bereft of reason within us, the childlike ability to tune into the inner workings of the world. The sun shining behind him represents the divine nature of the Fool’s wisdom and exuberance.”  As does Adam, the Fool card typifies “every man” on an archetypal journey into the world.

Cards have been suggested incorporating Mormon symbolic figures such as the Nauvoo temple, the sacred grove, the First Vision, Joseph Smith, and Emma; as well as other scriptural themes. A Yahoo group is now working on further ideas for a Mormon tarot deck. (Mormon-Tarot) (The card on the right comes from this yahoo group site. Update: the flaming Nauvoo Temple Key was a proof of concept Tarot card which was created by Joe Steve Swick specifically for demonstration purposes and serves as a graphic for their Yahoo group. )  Although I can’t imagine what the uses of such a deck might be among Church members, I admit I find the idea of developing such a spiritual resource very intriguing.

Do you think mysticism still has a place in the Church today? Do you see mysticism as an aid to spirituality within Mormonism? Even if you can’t go so far as to collaborate on the development of a Mormon tarot deck, what types of mysticism do you think you would be able to accept and embrace?

Comments

comments

Comments 125

  1. #1 – I always thought that the major beef here was to do with the exchange of money for spiritual services.

    I have never thought about Mormon Tarot cards before, but I know from a witch that I met as a missionary that often they are spiritually very open people. I guess that this raises questions of the difference between means and ends in relation to spirituality. My experience of tarot cards is very limited so I am not sure what could be taken from them, but I would be open to other avenues of spirituality. We are allowed to accept truth from all quarters.

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    Mytha, good point. There is no denying that mysticism was very much a part of the early Church. What I am trying to explore in this post is what types of mysticism we are still open to in the modern Church. The majority of members today will most likely NOT accept tarot cards, but what mystical elements DO still hold their appeal?

  3. #1: Jon.

    I don’t know that it is “witchcraft”, unless the cards are somehow used to try to communicate with evil spirits, etc. Perhaps calling them LDS Tarot cards carries too many negative connotations for some people.

    I love the idea of symbols to help focus my thought processes and to represent concepts. I love the idea of an empty cross that many Christians use, to represent the fact that Christ is risen, and am actually sad that we don’t use it as well. I love the Buddhist auspicious symbols and the principles that they represent. It would be nice if our churches weren’t so bland. It would be nice if there were something like a cross or a star of David or something else that represented us, that someone could wear if they wanted, or whatever. It would be nice to have pictures, like those mentioned, that have deeper meanings. In a picture of a Buddha, for example, the position of the hands means something, holding a certain leaf or object means something, the colors mean something, etc. There is deeper meaning, that is understood by all members of that organization. I would love the idea of us having the same thing.

    Great post and great concept.

  4. As one of “Kerry’s cohorts,” let me just say that the essence of the Kabbalah is to directly, immediately, enter into a personal relationship and to know the absolute reality of God. Many different ideas, texts, pathways, exercises, and rituals are devoted to this idea. Chief among them – the Tarot. And if Mormon images help form a stronger, more immediate connection, then all the better. Come join the quest, Cheryl!

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    Thanks for weighing in, Reed! That was a beautiful description of what some of the mystic pathways are all about. I believe that the kabbalah is very compatible with Mormonism. And thank you for the invitation, as well. 🙂

  6. For me, Tarot (which I have very little experience or knowledge in) is interesting because it relates to Determinism. My world-view becomes a little microcosm in the cards.

    For instance, three of the readily apparent interpretations of Tarot are:

    1) The cards are truly shuffled at random. This would mean that the interpretation is in the person’s mind, really.
    2) The shuffling is a random process, but out of the chaos, some force orders the cards into patterns that reflect the person’s self. This is interesting, too, but doesn’t seem too likely to me.
    3) We can take a Newtonian interpretation. If we know the starting points, energies, and velocities of all the atoms in the Universe, we can project what cards will turn up every time they are shuffled into infinity. This is the MOST interesting interpretation for me for a number of reasons. First, let’s assume the Universe is deterministic, and the person actually interprets the Tarot cards as having meaning. This is a reflection of life, really. Determinism would mean that my attitudes, perceptions, likes, dislikes, and even appearance were ENCODED in the Big Bang event (and not before, if information is destroyed at the singularity, which I’m not sure we know yet, or even could know). Therefore, if the cards are shuffled and I find meaning in them, that means that the Universe has written a script for both me and the cards that we’re merely playing out. Very interesting!

    However, with Quantum Mechanics nowadays the Universe does have the appearance of not being Deterministic (either it is Deterministic and we lack the ability to tell, or it is not Deterministic, in which case, what’s controlling all of it, if anything?). So the question then becomes, are the cards truly shuffled at random? If they are truly random, then we must be exercising our minds by forcing them to perceive patterns in chaos.

    All in all, the cards are really a symbol for our lives. We perceive patterns in chaos. The real question is, is reality a result of our perception? Do we perceive other minds merely because we’re trained to pick out patterns? Likewise, do we see God because we’re trained to pick out patterns?

  7. Mormons still retain much of their mysticism, but it’s largely embodied in the temple ceremonies, and I can’t talk about that. But he who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

    Also, I’m not quite sure if this meets a strict definition of “mysticism,” but I’d argue that in a way, all ordinances are mystical in a sense because they involve saying the right “magic words” and putting their hands or arms in just the right “magic sign” and if they do it correctly, then that will trigger the blessings of heaven. Kinda like saying “Open Sesame!” or “Abracadabra!” And one of my personal challenges is trying to understand, as an Enlightenment product living in the 21st Century, why on Earth God would choose to condition the bestowal of his blessings and power on people saying the right magic words and making the right magic signs and doing the right magic ordinances.

  8. #9. You may misunderstand the idea of mysticism. The word “mysticism” conjures (pun intended) up visions of magicians and wizards or whatever, but in actuality means “the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight” (Wikipedia). Basically mysticism is going beyond religious organization and structure and communicating with God directly as an individual through various means.

    Therefore something like “magic words” would serve only to orient one’s mind towards Christ, in the same way that a painting of Christ would make you think, “Oh yeah, I remember that one time when Christ spoke to the woman at the well.” Ultimately our minds are drawn to communicate directly to Christ. Prayer, in its essence, is mysticism.

    So your personal challenge, really, is to figure out whether the “magic words” actually work for YOU or not… whether they give your mind something to focus on.

  9. What about the priesthood? I feel like it is the ultimate mystical power and the mystical (healing powers) have been downplayed recently. I may be wrong but it seems like in the last 10 years or so the church began to recommend we not give blessings to ‘heal’ people. It seems like we are supposed to focus more on the spiritual aspects of the blessing. To me, religion is a mystical experience and one of the things I’ve been looking for is that mystical experience that seems to be watered down by a very structured organization. I think members are afraid to see mystical experiences outside of Mormonism and so they are downplayed. We are able to talk about the urim and thumim, but don’t mention the seer stone too much and the fact we mention seer stones others had is only to remind us of Hiram Page. It’s okay for Joseph to have used such mystical things but we don’t need that today.
    What if you do find an alternative like Kabbalah that enhances your spirituality while taking nothing away from your Mormonism, could you share that with others at church? How would you be perceived? Am I completely off track here?

  10. Arthur (#10), is it your view that the LDS temple and LDS ordinances do not meet the Wikipedia definition of mysticism? Are not people pursuing communion with God through direct experience and insight through the temple, for example? Or during the Sacrament?

  11. I would say the first example you gave (LDS ordinances in the temple, etc.) do fit the definition of Mysticism. I was responding to your second paragraph, and saying that ALSO fits the definition of Mysticism. Sorry, I wasn’t very clear there.

    So I think you would find more benefit in viewing it as Mysticism and going with it than you would thinking of it as some kind of literal process maybe?

  12. Many mormon believe in the mystical powers of the garment. They believe it protects them from danger, both physical and metaphysical. I respect the garment and welcome (even hope for) any heavenly assistance in my life, including healing blessings, fasting for increased spirituality, meditation, etc.

    “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healings, interpretations of tongues, and so forth.”

    We sure are a mystical group, wouldn’t you say?

  13. 11- Jenkins, I do not think you are off track. I think the PH is a great power. JS didn’t hoard this power, he even ordained women.

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    Jenkins #11–Great comment!! I completely missed the concept of the priesthood when developing this post. You are right that the mystical power coming through the priesthood HAS been downplayed, although I have not heard that the Church has discouraged healing blessings. I think this is especially evident in our interpretation of patriarchal blessings. In order to avoid being disappointed when the blessing does not come to pass as expected, we often put its fulfillment off until the millennium or the next life.

    Sharing alternate forms of spirituality is extremely suspect at Church and often results in ostracism and loss of legitimacy. Therefore I wonder just how common the use of “unapproved” methods of communion with God are–and if they are simply being privately utilized. Nylon mesh (great name!) has mentioned two forms of mystical communion with God that are still approved in the Church–up to a point. It’s interesting, don’t you think? It is OK to hear a voice or have a spiritual feeling in the temple, but if you start saying that you’ve seen an angel or a spirit, or the Lord himself, you are out of line.

  15. On the Kabbalah connection. The witch I mentioned before bought me a book on Kabbalah before I left the area and there are some interesting ideas there. Also I remember that Harold Bloom examines briefly the Kabbalah connection with Joseph Smith.

  16. Arthur (#8) – Well said!

    “For the sake of our individual spiritual evolution, we simply *must* progress beyond accepting everything we see… if we insist on believing in *appearances only*, we’re going to be in serious trouble. We’ll have to be hit over the head with a baseball bat, which occurs in … [Key 16] The Tower. The ‘bat’ happens to be the principles of the Cabala, which come as a great surprise to anyone who is locked into the general view of the world.” –Jason Lotterhand (Thursday Night Tarot, 246)

    Good post, Cheryl. (We miss you at O-Mo-Fo!)

  17. I virtually never post on blogs. But a few times I have been unable to resist the urge to do so. What I see above is the idea that once upon a time Mormons–that is, Latter-day Saints–were deeply into something called mysticism, but they have backed away from that sort of thing, unfortunately. And all kinds of things swim around in those ponds. And Nylon seems encouraged that because she thinks that “Mormons still retain much of the mysticism.” Bored, see above, speaks of something called “mystic pathways,” including presumably just about every strange, exotic thing found anywhere in any belief or practice. And someone wonders whether all this wild talk about this and that fits a “strict definition” of mysticism.

    The fact is that nothing posted above fits any definition of mysticism. What we have is the squishy use of a term. But there has been exactly no serious investigation of the origin or subsequent history of that term. The fact is that Latter-day Saint faith does not fit at all standard descriptions of mysticism, and what we think of as Seers and Prophets are not even understood as mystics. Instead, the use of the label mysticism came into the literature on Mormon things in an effort to find a term under which a presumably sophisticated counter explanation could be given for Joseph Smith prophetic truth claims. But bluntly, when historians and others have used the terms mystic and mysticism in describing Joseph Smith, they have done so in an effort to demonstrate either that he was a superstitious rustic who made up nonsense or that he was dissociative or simply a fraud. I have investigated both the literature on mysticism, read books by mystics, and also uncovered essentially all the literature in which Joseph Smith has been called a mystic.

    Now I can’t, of course, sort this all out on this blog. But I can recommend that all of you, and also my friend Kerry Shirts, pay close attention to the issues I have raised. First, read carefully an essay by Hugh Nibley entitled “Prophets and Mystics,” which is found in his The World and the Prophets, pp. 98-107 (in the most recent edition, and available on line at the Maxwell Institute webpage). Nibley knew something about who and what mystics were, and also how their ways are radically opposed to genuine Seers and Prophets. I also suggest a close look at my essay entitle “Knowing Brother Joseph Again,” which can be in the FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): xi-lxxii at especially xxv-xxiv (also available on line at the Maxwell Institute webpage). Ask yourself why Sam Harris, one of the intellectual ornaments of the New Atheism, is in thrall to mysticism. And also note that one does not do oneself or the Kingdom of God any favors by wallowing in words like mystic and mysticism when they either identify something profoundly unlike what is found in our own founding stories and experience, and are often quite amorphous and hence confused and confusing. Please get the feet back on solid ground–think seriously of being a genuine son or daughter of Jesus Christ, and not someone casting about in exotica. Don’t let every breeze give you a cold. Stick with faith, hope and love and what sets them apart. Remember that we all should be seeking to place an acceptable offering on the altar and thereby find favor in the sight of God. One cannot seriously maintain that God enjoys our wild, undisciplined speculation. Less is often more and better.

    Louis Midgley

  18. ___LCM___
    One cannot seriously maintain that God enjoys our wild, undisciplined speculation.
    ____

    No, of course not. But does He not expect disciplined pondering and meditation?

    “The things of God are of deep import, and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, ed. B. H. Roberts, 3:295.)

    And whatever medium leads one there is just further guidance on the path.

    And let’s not get hung up on what “mysticism” is or isn’t.

    Mysticism (from the Greek μυστικός – mystikos- ’seeing with the eyes closed, an initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries; μυστήρια – mysteria meaning “initiation”) is the pursuit of achieving communion, identity with, or conscious awareness of ultimate reality, the Other, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, or insight.

    Mysticism means achieving atonement with God through actions or thought.

    Bryce Haymond over at templestudy has the right idea.

    http://www.templestudy.com/2008/07/15/words-mysticism-orientation/

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    Louis, so glad this gave you the urge to post!
    I’m off to read Nibley’s Prophets and Mystics and your Knowing Brother Joseph Again (links provided for interested parties). But until then I just have to say that I am dismayed when any Church member or authority attempts to steer others away from a more thorough investigation of our religion under the warning of “speculation.” This “exotica” of which I have written need not scare us or keep us from concentrating on faith, hope, and love. For many who are interested in these subjects, their very study and yearning is their acceptable offering which they bring to the throne.

  20. #20 Reed Russell

    Maybe using Mormon Tarot cards would have a business application. I can see Starbucks finding a way to attract Mormons. Instead of selling them coffee they could have a Tarot Card Reading section in their stores.

  21. I believe what Lou calls wild and unbridled speculation is what I would call seeking great light and knowledge that Father promised. After all, what does one really know about what amuses God or not? And how come on a subject that the vast, and I mean ***vast*** majority of Mormons don’t have a clue about, do they merely and cheaply label wild and unbridled speculation in order to justify their continued ignoring the subject? Let me be as absolutely clear as humanly possible about the Tarot. I do not nor have I ever misused the Tarot as the New Age stupidity uses it as clairvoyance or witchcraft fortune telling. That is a pure adulteration of a magnificent world symbol. It has absolutely *nothing* in common with witchcraft. That is pure ignorance. Paul Foster Case, one of four geniune Tarot geniuses, has noted that the Tarot is misused as fortune telling and it’s an incorrect use. I do not use it for such, but for my personal benefit. The symbolism is magnificent, and I believe I can show that it is a pictorial, symbolic form of the Endowment itself. If learning the meanings of the symbols is wrong, why is it correct to continue speculating about the symbolisms of the Egyptian facsimiles in the Book of Abraham? It’s not wrong at all to meditate, and learn new connections between the human and the Divine. God communicates to *all* his children in their own capacities. So says the Book of Mormon, and I believe it. God is not so limited that there is only one way to dispel His truth to all cultures, peoples, and nations and worlds. I believe God is far greater and has far better capacity than that. If that makes me a heretic, I will wear the label with pride. Mormonism is not the only culture/religion/truth I study. Christianity is not the only culture/religion/truth I study. The symbols of only one people and in only one age is not the only symbolism I study. If that makes me an apostate, then someone better acquire a much more in depth and seriously informed intelligence than they possess. They also will do very well to leave judgment to God, since He enlightens all His children, and they definitely write it out, the Tarot included. It’s misuse by New Agey dorks no more makes it witchcraft and Satanic and evil than the misuse of cars to kill people and rob banks makes cars Satanic and evil. The misuse and mislabeling of the stars on the Salt Lake Temple does not cause Mormons to tear the temple down because all the sudden it is supposedly Satanic. Labeling the Tarot as anything other than it really is is foolish. Welcome to Card Number 0 in the Major Arcana – LOL!

  22. Regardless of one’s opinions concerning “witchcraft” or “fortune telling”, one could play actual games with Tarot cards. The Tarot family of card games is similar to games such as Spades and Sheepshead. According to recent playing card research, the Tarot was originally intended for playing card games and the divinatory uses began centuries after the appearance of the first Tarot decks. Although not well known in English speaking countries, Tarot card games are played today in countries such as France, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. I think it would be a good idea and something that would benefit our culture if more of us cultivated the practice of Tarot game playing.

  23. I never have been much interested in playing cards as such, but the symbolism of the cards is what fascinates me, as well as the history. The encyclopedias of Kaplan are absolutely fascinating! I suspect it is the artist in me that draws me to the symbolisms in the Gospel such as inthe BofAbr facsimiles and that Tarot Cards, the temples, etc. Symbolism has always piqued my interests, and especially the scriptures, hence my high interest in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek also. I thought it was incredibly interesting how the LDS scholar John W. Welch did a few articles on the number symbolism inthe scriptures. His analysis of the number ten was very well done, and quite intriguing. Had he used the Tarot he would have even deepened and extended the significance in utterly incredible ways.

  24. And, almost needless to say as well (sorry for dominating the discussion) that Sacred Geometry ties in quite well with the Tarot as does the Hebrew alphabet and its astonishing symbolisms and numerical correspondences. The Jewish rabbis are simply second to none at the gematria of it all. If one thinks all this is high and far off mysticism, unapproachable, and incomprehensible, all one has to do is look at the temples! ALL of it ties in truly well with these magnificent structures (both ancient and modern), as John Lundquist and now recently William Hamblin and David Rolf Seeley has shown in their new book on Solomon’s Temple (a MUST read!). We Mormons are every bit as tied up with the mystical ascent themes and Sacred Geometry as any religion on the planet. He…..it’s one of the intellectually stimulating themes that makes it fun to be a Mormon, the expansion of the mind as Brigham Young so properly taught. Simply playing cards doesn’t do this, but the study of the symbolism, and comparison with other disciplines is where it is at! After all, like Nephi, we also do liken all scripture unto ourselves for our profit and learning. The very nice things about Mormonism is the open canon, as well as realizing that God has spoken to all peoples in all directions, including the isles of the seas, and they have written itas well! (2 Nephi 29 for starters). It is an universal and cosmological Gospel, not a mere earth bound thing. Symbolisms point our minds to the eternities, the two most graphic, powerful, and interesting that I know of are precisely the facsimiles in the Book of Abraham and the Tarot.

  25. also note that one does not do oneself or the Kingdom of God any favors by wallowing in words like mystic and mysticism when they either identify something profoundly unlike what is found in our own founding stories and experience, and are often quite amorphous and hence confused and confusing. Please get the feet back on solid ground–think seriously of being a genuine son or daughter of Jesus Christ, and not someone casting about in exotica. Don’t let every breeze give you a cold. Stick with faith, hope and love and what sets them apart. Remember that we all should be seeking to place an acceptable offering on the altar and thereby find favor in the sight of God. One cannot seriously maintain that God enjoys our wild, undisciplined speculation.

    Oh boy. How profoundly insular. One man’s rubbish is another man’s gold, Louis. Perhaps you misjudged this blog to be pre-qualified with only the most orthodox readers, so as to feel comfortable bringing out the McKonkie-esque, Earth-scorching, implications that the spiritual pathways of all other people are unworthy of even a modicum of respect. How exactly would you know what sort of expression God enjoys? For many people, wild, undisciplined speculation is just the echo of a heart that desires for spirituality and goodness, from whence it may come. Could this not also be said of Joseph Smith?

    Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.” – C.S. Lewis, _The Weight of Glory_

  26. I thought the tower represented destruction of the Tower of Babel. An LDS symbol of the same would be destruction of the great and spacious building.

    In art class once, I did a large pastel interpretation of “The Sun” card.

    I’d like to see the Mormon tarot deck. I have a screen saver composed of tarot images.

  27. BiV, I’m personally not a big fan of mysticism and such. But I was at one time a fan of a kind of orthodox LDS source of mysticism known as the Book of Abraham. And so I find it fascinating that Andrew’s BoA lament and your mystical lament are paired-up in this way.

  28. I think the interpretation of dreams is one of the most common Mormon mystical practices. (Neuroscience explains random, chaotic nature of dreams as part the brain’s mechanism for organizing short- and long-term memories. Attributing supernatural meaning to them is very similar to tarot card reading.)

  29. I’ve found that meditation opens horizons and clarifies understanding. Sometimes the clarity it enables shows some of the cobbled-together-ed-ness of parts of my belief structure. Sometimes it reveals roots and depths to surface aspects I’d not imagined.

    It has, interestingly, allowed me to find truths in the BOA which no apologetic winding-path stories have been able to support. While I have no belief that the BOA is a translation of Abraham’s own writings or a prophetic translocation of his ideas, nor that the Book of Moses is a reworking of Moses’ actual words or experiences, I am quite confident that, as the BOA and Book of Moses tell us, there is profound truth to be found there:

    Man is nothing, which thing I had never before supposed. Moses 1:10)

    Trees have souls. (Moses 3:9)

    Contemplation of the heavens enables our sense of wonder and story-telling (Abr. 3)

    This life is a continuation of causes and effects of prior decisions before this life (Abr. 3:22, et seq.)

    God rewards those who throw off the superstitions and evil ways of their fathers, but fathers aren’t always as receptive of such behaviors — the story of Abraham mirrors the essential steps of the heroic journey each of us walks. (Abr. 1)

  30. “The misuse and mislabeling of the stars on the Salt Lake Temple does not cause Mormons to tear the temple down”

    As a child, temple architecture and ornamentation had a mystical quality to it, and that even persists to a degree now, although the newer temples have become homogenized. Seeing the Manti temple interior and its interpretations of endowment themes before the more standardized themes associated with the SLC temple was interesting. The symbols chosen to represent the world in its murals were strikingly different as was the absence of the opposing mirrors in the sealing rooms. In some temples, there are actually “relics”; objects of historical significance that have been framed for display. I suspect that one day these will be removed from display, sadly. I loved the symbolism of the “lion” sculptures set into the walls adjacent to the back entry of the Mesa temple. Even the frieze sculptures atop the Mesa temple have a mystic quality telling stories of gathering. I love the fables of how the SLC temple was built with unexplained conduits, channels, and basement doors that lead to nowhere that somehow were discovered when it was time to install electric wiring, elevators and subterranean tunnels. My parents had that book “Temples of the Most High” which had stories of the apparitions that were recorded, probably never meant for publishing, ie. the aboriginal male in tribal clothing that was seen in the Mesa temple. There were also fables of lights being seen by security workers in rooms of the temple without explanation. Another common mystical story is how the towering palm trees growing around the Mesa temple seem to bow towards the building. (Now that I know trees have spirits, this will add to my appreciation of this story).

  31. Thanks for bringing up this topic, Cheryl! Though you might find this strange coming from a hardened skeptic like me. 😉

    I’d like to echo The Backyard Prof’s comment that Mormons, and arguably the public, *generally* have no idea about Tarot cards beyond what others (equally clueless) tell them. Any survey of Christian mysticism will show that there’s has always been tension between orthodoxy/institutional authority and the direct mystical experience of god. The line between saintliness and heresy can be very vague, and it’s no surprise that churches try to co-opt the power of mystical experience by defining and constraining “acceptable” communication with the divine. The early church struggle with this as well–see the difference between personal revelation under the Church in Kirtland v. the Church in Nauvoo.

    I’ve always had a mystical bent, and those elements of Mormonism–the ones that allowed a relatively unmediated experience of God (giving priesthood blessings, meditating in the temple, interpretation of investigator’s dreams, and, of course, personal prayer–appealed deeply to me while I was a believer. I also loved the symbolism of the sacrament as well. Joseph Smith understood the power of symbols to induce states of connection to the divine and definitely experimented with a wide range of what both Mormons and even secular skeptics would dismiss today. In fact, there’s considerable overlap between the hermetic symbolism found in the Tarot, Masonry and Mormonism that is difficult to find elsewhere. If you haven’t read “The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology,” you might find it quite interesting.

  32. I have to second the recommendation of John L. Brooke’s The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844. Brooke shows how Mormonism has its theological origins in the extreme fringe of the radical Reformation with hermetic (alchemical, occult) elements. In other words, the book is about Mormonism prior to Joseph Smith. I think it deserves more attention.

  33. Oh I don’t think Brooke’s book is all that viable. It’s interesting reading, but Bill Hamblin’s review of its serious shortcomings is significant. I don’t think Brooke answered the issues all that well at all…….Hamblin’s review is very necessary to keep it on the level.

  34. During the period I was outside the church, I used the Tarot as a kind of centering tool – and also as a way of navigating my way through a love triangle I was perpetually in. I read somewhere that the number 1 reason people go to card readers and such is that they are involved in love triangles!! *smirk*

    I think that the sequences of the Tarot contain some powerful psychological truths. I think, also, that in spiritual things almost all our learning has to do with reading through symbols (even when the symbols are real things and beings) to, to misquote the famous saying, “the powerful realities beyond them.”

    I suppose I don’t see much harm in them – except that they are very likely going to distract from the far more important tools and processes we are given to come to know eternal things. I mean, doing those things that will bring the receipt of personal revelation through the Gift of the Holy Ghost,- whether that is by dreams and visions, or by any of the other myriad ways the Holy Ghost works with us – the “differences of administration”. I personally am a bit of a dreamer. I think that possibly the personality of a more management minded leader is more easily instructed in some other way. That perhaps has to do with a mistrust of symbolic or artistic representations. What of it? It is the same Spirit that only works when we have our eyes focused on Christ and keeping His commandments to the best of our ability and understanding. ~

  35. Who does the ‘Lord of Hosts’ favor in this matter?

    Jon Miranda #1 – who asks, in what appears to be a humble manner: “Doesn’t the Lord and His Church forbid witchcraft or anything like unto it?”

    or,

    Kerry Shirts #25 – with his long detailed statement.

    There is no such thing as a ‘white’ witch.

    If it is true, as Kerry Shirts quotes Paul Foster Case [one of the 4 geniuses of Tarot]: “That the Tarot is misused as fortune telling and it’s an incorrect use.” Then why have not the General Authorities of the LDS Church not developed manuals for Sunday School, Relief Society, and Priesthood quorums – detailing the correct usage of the Tarot cards as described by Kerry Shirts and Bored in Vernal?

    The answer to #1 is – Yes.

  36. sxark (42): I hear all of these links to Tarot and witchcraft. Can you share with us the definition witchcraft you’re using? How are Tarot cards linked to witchcraft, especially in the way that BiV discusses it?

  37. Reed Russell: re #43

    Doing a’good cause’ is one thing – playing with Tarot cards is another, with lots of risks involved. And it would be wise to have official Church guidance as to the proper usage of Tarot cards. Don’t you think so?

    John Remy: re #44

    Where does the ‘inspiration’ come from when playing the Tarot cards? What is the source?
    Shirts and Case allready state that Tarot cards can and are misused thru out the world.
    What is the source of the Urim and Thummin? [Mosiah 8:13] And if the U&T is misused, one can see too much and be destroyed.

    Kerry Shirts says in #25 that he studies alot of things. And that’s fine. But has he, or anyone else studied as to how the Egyptian Priests under Pharaoh were able to turn their staffs into snakes?

    Where is the common sense here? In these latter days, we have not yet seen the full powers of Satan manifest itself upon the world.

    As these powers continue to increase in manifistation, LDS members – need – more than ever solid counsel from the Church.
    And if Tarot cards be good, then we should have a proceedure manual, sanctioned by the LDS Church, as to ‘Proper Tarot Card Usage.’

  38. #46 – I’m in kind of an awkward position here because I don’t really have anything at stake in this discussion, but I’ll throw in my two cents worth. I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that members of the church, and everyone else, should feel free to explore all the knowledge and opportunity for spirituality that exists in the universe, and I think it’s wrong for the church, the brethren or Louis Midgley to tell another person that they’re out of line for learning more about such things. However, when it comes to dabbling in things with demonstrable power that are not connected to the gospel or endorsed by the church, ultimately I have to agree with sxark on this issue. I think there’s a line that’s being crossed when you from learning about something to experimenting with things that have a supernatural element that is clearly not rooted in faith in Jesus Christ. Granted, I don’t know anything about tarot cards, but from my ignorant perspective, how is that different from playing with a ouija board and summoning spirits, and then justifying it by saying you’re just trying to commune with deity in a different way? Would anyone argue there is no danger there? And I do think there is a considerable difference between dabbling in the supernatural with an eye toward trying to commune with god and doing things that are ROOTED in the gospel. Your personal motivations may be 100% pure, but if satan exists and has any control over any sphere of such powers, I don’t think your desires will insulate you. If god exists and the church is true, I think it makes more sense to adopt sxark’s position and to stay as far away from the edge as possible.

  39. Holden Caulfied:

    Let me put it this way: [psuedo] religeous philosophers may quible over what the LDS Church will do 1st. Accept Gay marriage in the Temple or Tarot Card usage. It’s only my personal opinion, but I would say – neither.

  40. This thread has totally piqued my interest in Mormon mysticism. I recalled searching not too long ago online about the usage of seer stones in the early Church and found a few interesting sources from Dialogue and otherwise (a lot of them are contained at http://seerstone.blogspot.com/ though this particular blogger seems less interested in the topic as of late). The usage of seer stones in the early Church seemed so prominent that it almost made me wonder why members of the Church stopped doing it. It seems that Joseph even said that every man is entitled to one. I’d recommend a little reading at that blog to read about it. It seems that seer stones were a major part of the spirituality of many members early in the Church.

  41. Ok, I know it’s cultural, but the word Tarot gives me an unnerving feeling. If you are going to create Mormon Tarot, is there an alternate word that could be used? After reading the post, I was curious about the etymology (is that how you say it?) of the word tarot. Apparently it is from the Italian word tarrochi which was no original meaning. Some have speculated it is taken from the name of a place in Italy, others that it was taken from an Arabic word. Taraq, or something like that, is an Arabic word for “way”.

    So if that is the true origin of the word, it is a method of determining “the way”. This takes me to Thomas’s question of the Master, “How can we know the way?” To which the Savior responded, “I am the way.” Just a thought.

    Also, coming from the anecdotal category of “things my mother told me”, I was once priviliged to hear an unsolicited opinion of my mother that she felt that small testimony meetings where individuals become overly emotional with delivery of personal spiritual experiences can become venues for a dark spirit to take over.

    I have wondered if what she opined was true and if so, why is that opportunity there for the dark spirit? Would the heightened expression of emotion make it easier for the adversary to usurp the flow of those emotions? I don’t know for sure.

    Maybe I would be strong enough to gaze upon Tarot illustrations and maintain only inspiration from the Holy Spirit, and then again maybe my a dark spirit would take over. For me, I am not curious enough to test the waters.

  42. 45 — No, I don’t. We are not to be commanded in all things, whether that’s things to do or things to not do. There are plenty of good things to do that you’re not going to find in a Church published manual telling you how to do them, and there are plenty of bad things you’re not going to see in a Church published manual telling you not to do. We are supposed to learn some judgment on our own.

    Will it rock your world that I’m not persuaded that that whole exchange happened literally as expressed in Exodos? I don’t have any idea whether or how staves were turned into snakes, and I don’t lose sleep over it. I also don’t lose sleep over any other speculative matters. I much more often feel bad for not doing my home teaching than I do over things like this.

    I don’t think God’s going to intervene in the shuffling of a deck of cards or the outcome of a roll of dice. I don’t believe for a second that there is any kind of power to be found in the pictures on cards which gives them power to determine the future. I don’t begin to know the process how stones can be used to bring knowledge of godly things to the mind of mortals, but I don’t see any reason that simply serving as focal points to clear the mind of clutter to help the hearing of a still small voice (or the visual equivalent) could work. I’m open to the idea of their being merit in these kinds of things as gifts of the spirit — I’m more of an Armor of God than Rev. Thrower — but I leave Armor behind in not believing that Satan needs to dabble in matters of candles and pentagrams to have power over men. He does just fine with plain old temptations to be uncharitable, lustful, selfish, and prideful without any hocus pocus involved.

  43. The book “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” by D. Michael Quinn contains, as I recall, a lot on Joseph’s use of various stones.

  44. Blain:

    I will side with the wisdom expressed in #46 [brjones] and #51 [Rigel]. If you want to go it alone, – go ahead. You have allready discounted parts of Exodus. How far will you go? Maybe Tarot Cards may assist you in what’s true and what’s not true in the Standard Works of the LDS Church. And I suppose it’s possible – to do a Tarot Card reading on the LDS Church , itself.

  45. There’s a long tradition among devout Mormons of taking literally D&C 89:19 (wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures). Looking for the Spanish Fork gold mine, passing along photocopies of the Book of Jasher, coming up with unique dietary restrictions, quoting sermons from various apostles that have never been officially published… that’s a great old tradition, and it’s not a very far stretch from dowsing for water and using seer stones to seeking inspiration from a tarot deck. Just depends on whether you think tarot cards are inspired by the devil. I tend to think they’re a way to open up one’s subconscious, right-brain awareness.

  46. no-man:

    Well,..I don’t think the inspiration behind Tarot Cards comes from Heaven. However, for those that think playing with Tarot Cards is a good thing, then I see no problem with Tarot Card experts approaching LDS Church Authorities to share the ‘good things’ found, as well as sharing advice with the General Authorities as to ‘the proper usage’ of such cards.
    Anything wrong with that?

  47. sxark, my experience with the folk tradition of seeking hidden treasures of knowledge is that those doing so are doing it without the blessing of any church authorities. The members I am most familiar with who seem to dabble in hidden treasures live outside the Wasatch Front (but in Utah/Idaho/Arizona Mormon culture) and consider themselves very orthodox. But they would never consider the need to present their beliefs to the General Authorities. That’s one of the key things about these hidden treasures–if they were made public, they’d no longer be hidden. And the mindset is that they are there to be found only by those who seek them.

    All that said, I don’t think Tarot cards are typical of this phenomenon. But there are some strong parallels.

  48. Mysticism is a razors edge in our faith. One the one hand we have a man who used seer stones to read sacred text, saw the Leahona and sword of Laban. One the other hand we have tarot, crystal gazing, aura reading etc. which is warned against to prevent from being drawn away from the Spirit. We followed a prophet that was a member of the Free Masons and had friends who were also members, yet we are encouraged not to join. And we would say that there’s a double standard, but not so. This is what I have learned. Now that the Holy Ghost is with gods people again those things that were used to inspire and guide people are now being pulled more fervently to Satan’s cause as they are no longer used by the righteous.
    We must remember that even Jesus was surrounded by mystics and shamans. The idea of priesthood being mystic in nature has some leverage as we believe that we have the power of god to act in his name (witch I strongly believe). So turning to some outside source such as cards and crystals becomes dangerous as we are instructed to rely on the Holy Spirit for instruction.
    So what do we do? Because we have no instructions by the prophets and seers to discern the difference between I would recommend sticking to what we know and asking the spirit about the rest after all it worked for Lehi and Moses and others.

  49. A significant problem remains that many LDS members get sucked into reading LDS History, concerning sear stones etc., written by non-believers, heritics, apostates, and atheists instead of studying LDS History from sanctioned sources of the Church. Even if the source is officially sanctioned, great care still needs to be taken. Let the Holy Spirit guide anyone in such an endeavor.

  50. 54 — So it did rock your world. Sorry. Perhaps some other time you can read the rest of what I said to put it back into context. Probably not — I don’t think it interests you much. FWIW, I’ve not discounted the parts of the Exodos that tell me what to do and not do.

    None of the rest of your comments respond to anything I said, so I’m done with that now.

  51. For the record, I don’t believe in anything supernatural associated with Tarot cards, which makes it hard for me to buy into any association with witchcraft so defined. To me the cards act as Rorschach tests, helping me to access sources of inspiration within my own mind and to conduct personal psychoanalysis. My own experience of them has been one of healing, creativity (important as a writer) and of peace (and for those who are concerned about the devil’s influence, Monson has said in a General Conference talk that peace is the one feeling that the devil cannot mimic). It is by no means my sole or even primary source of peace or inspiration (the list is endless, including meditation, nature, cathedrals, time with family and friends, reading good books). I’m not Mormon, but I don’t see how any Mormon who approached these cards in this way would be doing anything offensive by official Church standards (this is not quite the same as conservative Mormon *cultural* standards).

  52. Blain: re #61 & #52

    Being commanded, is one thing, – guidance [as suggested in #45], is another thing.
    Satan has been known to use any and all tools to advance His purpose. Therefore, you appear to dismiss/minimize those material things available for Satan’s use.
    I don’t think Satan is satisfied with using just the “plain old temptations”. If there is a way for Him to get His foot in the door – He will use it.

    I may have ‘over reacted’ when you asked: “Will it rock your world that I’m not persuaded that the whole exchange happened literally as expressed in Exodus?” – I was recently engaged with several opponents on the same subject in another blog, here in MM, concerning scriptual literacy etc.
    Although I admit there may be 100+ errors in the Bible. I still side with those Bible stories, – no matter how outlandish they may sound and will generally read, study, and ponder thru the lens of D&C 59: 21.

    I may have been sarcastic in #54 – but that was mainly for LDS members who support the use of Tarot Cards. And I still stand with #57 & #60.

    John Remy: re #64

    Where do ‘evil’ thoughts come from? Could some material thing or participation in some event [Tarot Card playing] trigger an ‘evil sender’ to throw ‘darts’ at you?
    I believe Pres. Monson is correct in the sense that Satan cannot mimic the type of ‘peace’ associated with Heaven.
    The LDS Book of Moses describes, in more detail, as to how Moses could tell the difference between the ‘Glory’ of God and the ‘Glory’ of Satan.

    And I am speaking ‘tongue ‘n cheek’ concerning getting the General Authorities of the Church involved with Tarot Card lessons etc., because most LDS members understand that the Leadership of the Church just, simply, would not become involved, not because it’s not important, but because of the ‘evil’ connotations involved with Tarot Cards.

  53. 65 — But you’re still missing the issue raised by your question. You ask if it wouldn’t be wise to have guidance on how to use tarot, but you’re asking the wrong people — we don’t write the manuals of the Church here. Not having that guidance provided by the curriculum committee really doesn’t speak to the validity of tarot, except to say that it’s clearly not an essential issue that it’s important to know about.

    You are correct to note that I dismiss any specific threat coming from the use of tarot. I don’t dismiss the notion that Satan might use tarot for those who become excessively interested in it, but that’s not really a reflection on tarot so much as it is a reflection on the problem of being overly involved with anything. The same problem can arise from any gospel hobby, even if the object of that gospel hobby is a good thing.

    I don’t know what the single quotes around “over reacted” is supposed to mean, since you don’t seem to be actually quoting anybody. You’re definitely not quoting me. This comment is more of a response to what I said that your previous comment addressed to me was.

    I have no problem with you taking all scripture exactly literally if you so choose. You may ever be correct to do so. I don’t know. I don’t see a particular value to taking everything literally — as far as I can tell, there’s nothing I should or shouldn’t do that’s made ambiguous by seeing such stories as entirely or primarily symbolic. If it is the case that pharaoh’s priests turned their staves into snakes and Moses turned his staff into a snake which ate those other snakes, what difference does it make in how you and I need to live our lives? The lesson of the scene was that God’s power was greater than the power of pharaoh and his priests, which I accept. And how does focusing on the symbolic meaning of these stories deny God’s hand in all things or obey not his commandments?

    I am quite certain that failing to take the symbolic meaning of a story is a greater failure than failing to recall some detail of the story.

    I am concerned about a testimony that is based in a false understanding of the past, particularly if it can be challenged by things which are true, regardless of the channel by which that truth comes.

  54. Well, well, well…

    I was very surprised to see this posting. I am not LDS, but have been thinking off and on of becoming a member of this faith (that’s a long story in itself). Lately I’ve gotten into the use of Tarot cards and from it I think I’ve become far more spiritual and wise… oddly so because that was not my original intent.

    I’ve read things about LDS history and I am amazed that many people of the faith have no knowledge of the peep-stone that Joseph used and if they did they are ashamed of it or really like to whitewash it, just as the person who wrote this post said, as folklore.

    I think the Church still uses mysticism, like your patriarchal blessings. Who in the world can know your lineage. I don’t think God is really focused on that subject. He might know, but that’s not the weightiest of thoughts and desires he may have in store for us. When I think patriarchal blessings I think astrology. Sometimes I hear of the generic ones that are being given out now and I think, it would just be sweeter if they had a real astrologer write the patriarchal blessings… at least it would be accurate.

    The Urim and Thummim is something that has been used in religious purposes since the time of Solomon, but one must admit not much is known about these items. Whether its something that was kept in a breastplate, etc. At the same time, there’s a lot of stuff modern day Christians would consider “evil” that was in the Bible that many Christians don’t know about or have overlooked themselves.

    Someone mentioned that LDS members (and you hear this with Christian faith too) are encouraged to not look outside the faith to find answers. I have no opposition to this. But on the same token, you have people who communicate with God and kill their kids because they think that was of God’s will. I think as long as your intentions with the cards are pure, just the same as if your intentions with your prayers are pure, these outside relics of religion can be a way to help you to communicate with the spirit. … the same way the High Priest of Solomon’s temple would use a Urim and Thummim.

    http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=52&letter=U

    But I can understand why LDS would want to stay away from their roots and not to bring it up as many outsiders would just use Tarot or other things like that as proof of the church being “tainted”.

  55. I’m the creator of both the Mormon+Mystic group and the Mormon-Tarot group. Several interesting issues have been raised here, and I’d like to address two of them — one pertaining to mysticism and its rather role in spiritual life, and the other on the biblical roots of Tarot as a meditative and contemplative tool (my view is most like John Remy’s in #64). Perhaps you’ll find this perspective interesting and different than what you might have thought.

    Let’s start with Tarot. In renaissance times, there was an opinion current that the mere act of gazing upon a great work of art had the ability to “set something right” inside of us — that among its other advantages, great art had a healing power. One need not understand the principles of construction that the artist used to for the salutary effects of art to help; one merely had to “look upon it,” to “meditate on it,” to receive benefit. This concept has its basis in the Bible, of course (see Num 21:8-9). Traditional esoteric Tarot is born at this time, and it partakes of this same philosophy — the Keys were initially expensive works of art, and meant to be gazed at, not simply played.

    Many speculate that Tarot was derived from what is called “The Game of Man,” connected with the “Mantegna Tarot,” circa 1450 thereabouts. This deck begins with a poor foolish beggar, and moves through 5 classes of 10 cards each, ending in the Primum Mobile. That is to say, it was a nice orderly summary or categorization the entire medieval world. While the current Modern Arcana or “Truimphs/Trumps” may have their origin in the Game of Man, there is something different here: the images are unsettling, and often have dual meanings. Each Key is intended to cause serious reflection or meditation. While certainly the endless permutations of keys suggest an early predictive / divinatory use of the Tarot, there is little doubt that the reflective qualities of Tarot were also highy valued. Each of the 22 Keys of the Trumps or Major Arcana suggested not only external events (macrocosm), but also interior landscapes (microcosm). In this way, it suggested that what we see around us is fundamentally connected to what lies within us.

    Similarly, each Tarot Key in an esoteric deck is connected with a Hebrew letter, which letter by itself embodies everything depicted in that card. Consider that Jewish Mystics meditate on these letters to better understand the nature of God, God’s creative act, and our relationship to the Divine. Christian mystics have used Tarot in a very similar way, and serious books have been written on the topic (http://www.amazon.com/Meditations-Tarot/dp/1585421618/).

    That some consider Tarot to be “evil” is in my opinion uninformed and silly superstition. However, I do not doubt that the “appearance of danger/evil” serves an important purpose when it comes to this matter, and I’ll say nothing more on that.

    I’d note, though, that some would similarly find seerstones, healing handkerchiefs, coffin canes, working with the rod, and numerous other early LDS practices to be “evil.” I’d pesonally not be so quick to condemn what might be superstitious, but what has no bad intent behind it. I have known many Mormons who practice bibliomancy: they open the scriptures to a random spot, and whatever they end up reading is considered the Spirit-guided answer to their question or concern. Sxark, I don’t suppose I’ll see a correlated manual on THAT practice, either. But is it evil? LOL.

    Using Tarot as a meditative device can have no ill effect. That others use it in ways unsuitable for Latter-day Saints doesn’t mean that I need set it aside, anymore than I’d set aside my rifle just because Dick Cheney shot his friend in the face. Cough. (On to Part II)

  56. And what about mysticism and its rather ubiquitous role in spiritual life? Any time one touches the transcendent aspect of Deity, that is a mystical experience. There is little gainsaying that Joseph Smith’s First Vision was a mystical experience,and that subsequent events can be describe in this same way. The mystic asserts that I can encounter the Divine directly; so too Joseph Smith. There are difficulties with definitions, of course: Ayn Rand for instance would dismiss all of religion as useless mysticism. Many Mormons plead for their OWN special definition, in which “mysticism” means “all in the imagination” or “unreal,” as opposed to “spirituality,” or “prophetic gifts,” which are “real,” as though mysticism has no objective reality, but that LDS spiritual experiences are privileged in some way to be “more real.”

    Professor Midgely decries mysticism as “exotic,” but to me, that seems to be all a matter of perspective. For some non-Christians, “exotic” might be stories of a man born of a virgin, who turns water into wine, multiplies loaves and fishes, walks on water, dies but three days later comes back bodily from the dead, but who appears and vanishes, walks through walls, and in the flies up into the heavens. As a matter of faith I might believe such stories, but I do not fool myself: there is nothing”simple” in this “simple message of the Gospel.” And for the non-Christian, this kind of thing is FAR more exotic than a deck of cards, or mystical practices intended to bring me to my own direct experience — and knowledge — of The Divine. Jesus himself speaks of this kind of mystical saving knowledge in Luke 11:52: “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge [epignosis]. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” By contrast to such men, I’m happy to know the techniques by which “the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence.” I am happy to be one of the “violent” who “take it by force” (Matt 11:12). Professor Midgely’s worries notwithstanding.

    My own belief is that Christianity begins as a stream of mystical Judaism. Shared Jewish and Christian mystical elements comprising what Leonora Leet calls the “Priestly Legacy” were “lost” relatively quickly following the destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD 70, although in both Christianity and Judaism, an attempt is made to maintain this confidential instruction outside of the context of the Holy Temple. The Jews were a bit more successful at maintaining this. By contrast, Christians knew that they had lost something, and during the renaissance, Christianity turned to mystical Judaism to attempt to re-infuse the Christian tradition with this lost “mystical center.” We now know that this “mystical center” involved number mysticism, geometric mysticism, sound mysticism, and color mysticism. Each of these elements are to be found in the New Testament, and together comprised a significant part of what others have called “the Apostolic Gnosis.”

    This isn’t “exotic” or “way out.” It isn’t a “figment of our imagination” existing “all in our heads.” Rather, it is a significant aspect of what needed to be restored to Christianity — an important aspect of the confidential Apostolic teaching which Nibley speaks of, as also Ariel Crowley, who took from Albert Pike with little or no attribution.

  57. Joe, I am so glad you took this opportunity to introduce yourself and tell us more about your thoughts on Tarot and mysticism. I especially liked what you had to say about the salutary effects of great art–I have certainly experienced this. I think that gazing upon symbolic works and thinking about how they apply to life can be extremely helpful in one’s spiritual journey. I hope you will keep us updated on the progress your group is making on a “Mormon tarot.”

  58. BiV – I love the post! Sorry I’m late to the party.

    In the book Running With Scissors, the author talks about doing “Bible dips” in which they open the Bible at random to find an answer to a situation they face in life. While it sounds a lot like using the Bible as a fortune cookie, I immediately thought – this is just like people in the church who look for a scripture that speaks to their current life situation. Likewise, the myths, symbols and concepts of Tarot and Shusta cards give a person an idea that might parallel what they are considering and help them to find direction as they ponder it. Or if you are reading a book, it is completely normal to imagine the similarities between characters and situations to the people and events in your own life.

    This type of illumination (through thematic parallels) is not Satanic, although I think any of these types of activities can be misused when handled superstitiously (yes, reading the scriptures can, too). It should never be a way to absolve a person of responsibility in choosing their actions or their course in life or their response to a situation. And it doesn’t provide cut & dried answers to anything, any more than a Magic 8 Ball does. It just provides a contrast or parallel to your own feelings and inclinations.

  59. Thomas Parkin states (#4): I suppose I don’t see much harm in [Tarot Keys] – except that they are very likely going to distract from the far more important tools and processes we are given to come to know eternal things. I mean, doing those things that will bring the receipt of personal revelation through the Gift of the Holy Ghost,- whether that is by dreams and visions, or by any of the other myriad ways the Holy Ghost works with us – the “differences of administration”.

    The question is what are you doing with the Tarot Keys? Using Tarot for cheap fortuntelling is on par with using a seer stone to hunt for buried treasure; sure you CAN, but why? (vbs)

    Zenvis (359): “We must remember that even Jesus was surrounded by mystics and shamans.” Jssus was a Kabbalist, Zenvis. His teaching method is still used by Kabbalists today. And was he a mystic? He certainly agrees with the mystical world view. For instance, where does Jesus say the Kingdom of God is? I’m just askin. LOL.

    Sxark: “Doesn’t the Lord and His Church forbid witchcraft or anything like unto it?” The word “witch” occurs in Exodus 22:8 and Deut 18:11, and is derived from the Hebrew word kashaph (SH 3784; also nachash SH 5172), which is to whisper or mutter (as in an incantation). It seems to me that this practice is akin to the jingles used in marketing advertising to get you to buy stuff — i.e., what we today might call “the art of persuasion / influence” in the business world. Some kinds of music might fall in this category as well. Rammstein, anyone? LOL. Another practice associated with witchcraft in the Bible is having a “familiar spirit,” such as is the case with the “Witch” of En-dor (1 Sam 28:7). Again, this has to do with a certain quality of voice, but also with necromantic practices (i.e., consulting with the dead). Frankly, LDS templegoers who talk about conversing with their deceased ancestors –or even Joseph Smith’s discussions with Moroni– seem far more “like” necromancy than Tarot ever did.

    Another term associated with “witchcraft” is “qesem,” commonly termed “divination” but having particular connotation of divination using practices “of the Gentiles,” rather than approved methods of divination (which outwardly might look remarkably like those Gentile practices). Again, many practices we find in the early LDS Church look like qesem. Unless you are visiting Ms Cleo, I don’t think Tarot as an oracle has much in common with this.

    Rather, Tarot is commonly used to open the mind to or aspects of your situation or possible courses of action that you might otherwise not have considered. It also suggests that one examine his or her own interior life, and consider what is true about human beings and human experience. This is a lot less like telling the future than it is psychology, and in fact there are psychologists who use Tarot for its reflective quality (see for instance Woudhuysen’s “Tarot Therapy” or Arthur Rosengarten’s “Tarot and Psychology).

    At best, Tarot can be used as a tool for stimulating the imagination, for learning about ourselves, for freeing a person from spiritual or emotional bondage, or even as a means of drawing nearer to the the Divine. At worst, it can be used as a means of perpetuating silly superstition, of fortuntelling, or even as a device for spiritually dominating or conrolling another. My point is that Tarot in and of itself is value-neutral. What human beings choose to DO with Tarot is of course NOT value neutral.

  60. Arthur (#8): “All in all, the cards are really a symbol for our lives. We perceive patterns in chaos. The real question is, is reality a result of our perception? Do we perceive other minds merely because we’re trained to pick out patterns? Likewise, do we see God because we’re trained to pick out patterns?”

    Nice,yes. We are definitely pattern-recognition machines, and even if there is no pattern, we will create one from the available materials around us. There is no doubt that Tarot utilizes this quality in humans. The secret is that the benefit of working with Tarot is less about particular “outcomes,” than the process of “marrying” things in a given context that otherwise might seem disparate or unrelated. It is the quality of mind this creates that Tarot work is really all about. This is also true of gematria: the working with numbers and concepts is itself the point of the exercise, more than any particular set of correspondences. It is this quality of mind which opens us to the “mezla” or “Heavenly Influences,” which are after all continuously pouring down from the Upper Worlds. This is what it’s really all about, but don’t tell anyone.:-)

  61. sxark:
    Let the Holy Spirit guide anyone in such an endeavor.

    Kerry:
    I do. Great point. Especially with non-standard sources. I also am quite aware that I am being guided in learning a lot of things that are not necessarily “approved by the brethren.” But then math isn’t nor sacred geometry either, but they are not evil, as Joe has pointed out so properly. I really like Nibley’s quote of Brigham Young – “away with stereotyped Mormons.” Then he looked up at the BYU audience and said “Good-Bye all.” And they roared with laughter, precisely because they got the point. My study of exotic subjects, quite frankly opens my mind to more revelation and connections of ideas on my road to greater light and knowldege, unconventional though the subjects be. After all, is there really one who would proclaim that God is conventional?

  62. Kerry:

    Are you walking a tightrope across the great divide of life? If these tools of truth or wisdom are good enough for you, are they not, then, good enough for all? If they are good enough for all, then they should be good enough for the General Authorities of the LDS Church.
    However, The General Authorities won’t touch them. And If the General Authorities won’t touch them, then why should any LDS member touch them? Unless they wish to walk the tightrope across the great divide of life.

  63. 78 — Where can you show that no GA will touch the tarot? There are not a few of them, and none of them spend all that much time in public view, so how can you be certain that any of them might not be making use of tarot?

    If they are good enough for one, they might well be good enough for any, but not necessarily all. Your reasoning doesn’t work out. You aren’t manufacturing official prohibitions against the use of tarot. You remain welcome to never see or touch tarot, but you are not in a position to tell anybody authoritatively that they should or should not do so. You might want to make peace with the principle of “live and let live,” because you really can’t do anything else.

  64. I’m fairly sure Mormon Doctrine considered Tarot Cards Satanic, but then again, so were all the Popes and Cardinals (and the whore they were said work for). So, if MoDoc is the source on the prohibition of Tarot Cards, I would proffer that it was done in ignorance of what they really are.

    I certainly would agree that if they are used as implements of superstition they are not only of no value, but can be harmful, but what surprised me when I was first exposed to them is that they are not “instructive” at all – just themes that recur through life. They had more in common with psychology and archetypes than anything else. They are not anti-religion. But when they purport to be mystical, that’s when the hackles of religion get raised. They are a threat because they are viewed as an alternative to “legitimate” forms of guidance like prayer and the authority of the church. If they are viewed as another form of meditation (like reading scriptures or having a discussion with another person) rather than being imbued with magical powers, there’s nothing dangerous in them.

  65. Oh I dunno Hawkgrrl, more light and knowledge can be a ***very*** dangerous thing to the dark. Those who sit comfortable where they are are the worse offenders against further light and knowledge as the church leaders of Jesus’ day more than prove. I mean hey, if they killed God himself….. and they knew….they *KNEW* they had THE truth. Why look to an upstart and quack for truth when they already had it? The best thing to do is kill the innovator. It is an interesting situation when light and truth come from sources outside of Mormonism, to see reactions from us Mormons. It is almost as if it is offensive. Offensive to us that God pays attention to all his children instead of just us chosen special ones. History shows that this is always the situation, but history also shows that God doesn’t care much for our prejudices and biases, He will lead the show on as He sees fit. My suspicion is that God’s truth is so much more braodly spread out upon the earth in the manner his children can conceive of based on their cultures than we will ever know. And why not? Once again, Nephi’s visions were notfor everyone. He said God would speak (he never says how though, dreams? visions? direct visits? all and many more ways?) to *all* his children absolutely all over the globe, north, east, west, and south, and even on the isles of the seas (s Ne. 29). It is rather a pleasant surprise to find out God is working with all, no matter what their knowledge, no matter what their abilities. To the deaf, God’s Spirit can and does whisper. To the blind, God’s Spirit can cause them to see. To the illiterate, God shows His Gospel with pictures, etc., etc. So far as I have read in the scriptures, there is never just one and only way God reveals His truths. It comes in all sorts of guises and packages, and yes, it can and does catch a lot of folks off guard as well. That is why Sxark is entirely correct. One must let the Holy Spirit be our guide in all things we learn and gain and understand.

  66. Kerry Shirts: re #81

    I hope you did not missunderstand my advice concerning the Holy Spirit being our guide in all things. For in #60 I was refering to the Holy Spirit being our guide regarding ‘sources’ officially sanctioned by the LDS Church. Which does not include Tarot Cards.

  67. I understood truly, and agree. Brigham Young sanctioned truth in any area it is found whether on the isles of the sea, the heavens above us, in mathematics, chemistry, biology, art, philosophy, or in hell. ALL truth belongs to Mormonism and this is the great gathering and restoration of all truth. There will be things revealed now that have never been revealed from the foundations of the earth. Where ever it comes I try and find it, enjoy learning about it, and enlarging my life with it. The scriptures say be anxiously engaged in a good cause. Finding truth and sharing it is a very good cause, so far as I can tell. I am grateful for the light and knowledge that is given to all men and for them sharing it for our benefits. Truth is found in all corners of the world that the church does not sanction, probably because it does not know about it… yet. But we are learning, which is always a positive thing.

  68. In #82 sxark said: “in #60 I was refering to the Holy Spirit being our guide regarding ’sources’ officially sanctioned by the LDS Church. Which does not include Tarot Cards.”

    I do not suppose the Church is in the business of providing “official sanction” over areas that are quite properly matters of personal choice. For instance, I don’t wait for the official sanction of the Church before choosing to wear shoes of a certain brand (or wear shoes at all), or before choosing what breakfast cereal I eat (or whether to eat cereal at all). I don’t ask for a Church manual on what sexual positions have official Church sanction, or for such sanction of what art I might wish to see (and frankly, I find some “Church-sanctioned” art to be tacky). However narrow the minds of some members of the Church, I’ve usually been quite delighted to find that the Church is much broader in its views than one might expect. It does make efforts to be inclusive, and understands (in a corporate sense) that intellectual and spiritual diversity can be a healthy thing.

    There is no issue, it seems to me, about whether Tarot itself is evil. I have several decks which are gorgeous works of art; I don’t suppose beautiful art is evil. So, the question is what one DOES with such decks. Kerry has already said that he has never used Tarot as a fortunetelling tool; neither have I. I have used it as a meditative device, and I’ve consulted it to help me work through difficulties (in which a particular Key simply provides a perspective: ‘have you considered [meaning of key] in your current situation?”). And, I’ve also used them as a creative thinking tool, are a method of generating stories, characters for creative writing. I have also considered carefully the “doctrine of the Tarot” if you can say there is such a thing. None of this is evil, or interferes with one’s beliefs as a Latter-day Saint.

    Latter-day Saints in particular should be immune from the idea that Tarot Keys are “satanic,” as they already know that objects hold no intrinsic magic, good or evil. It is ever the case that the “power is in the Priesthood,” and not inherent in some object. The truth is that seerstones, or healing handkerchiefs are mere contrivances to increase our faith. One can say something similar about Tarot. The truth is, Sxark, is that YOU ALREADY KNOW all about Tarot and Kabbalah. You are just not aware of what it is you know — and merely LOOKING at the Tarot Keys with the right intention (desire) and anticipation (attention) can help draw that out of you. I can understand why some might think that this reflective quality in Tarot is magical; Tarot is like looking in the mirror, and some folks think mirrors are magic, too. 🙂 So, I suppose Tarot could be satanic, if I’m the one looking at them, and I’m the devil. LOL.

  69. Karen (#70): “I think a mormon tarot is a great idea n I would love to help.” Sign her up!

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mormon-tarot/

    Please note the disclaimer: “Expect an open discussion of various tarot decks, including their symbols and meanings. PLEASE NOTE: if you think Tarot pictures were created by Lucifer to blind the minds of men from the truth of the Gospel, then this forum is not for you.”

    🙂

    ~J

  70. sxark said (#60): “A significant problem remains that many LDS members get sucked into reading LDS History, concerning sear stones etc., written by non-believers, heritics, apostates, and atheists instead of studying LDS History from sanctioned sources of the Church. Even if the source is officially sanctioned, great care still needs to be taken.”

    Hmmm. Personally, I prefer grounding myself in firsthand sources wherever I can, and then reading whatever I wish, whether for or against, critical or apologetic. I’m an adult, and have pretty good critical thinking skills. I don’t know that non-believers, heretics, apostates, or atheists OR believers, apologists, or defenders are going to subvert my God-given critical faculties (one invaluable piece of which is the Hemingway Brand Crap Detector).

    I’m not really into the “sanctioned groupthink” thing, sorry.

    Kindest,
    Joe Swick
    Heretic

  71. Joe Swick:

    Please see #78. I guess some people like to walk on longer and thinner tightropes than others. Go for it! – But I, and no General Authority of the LDS Church will go for it.

  72. sxark: “Are you walking a tightrope across the great divide of life? I guess some people like to walk on longer and thinner tightropes than others.”
    —–

    You make this sound like a bad thing. Do you prefer some other way across the great divide of life and death?

    sxark: “If these tools of truth or wisdom are good enough for you, are they not, then, good enough for all?
    —-

    The great diversity found human beings and their various institutions answers you. Not all things are good for all men, who come into this world under a variety of circumstances and conditions, and with a vast array of cultural frames. What is suitable for one person may or may not be suitable for another.

    sxark: “If [these tools of truth or wisdom] are good enough for all, then they should be good enough for the General Authorities of the LDS Church.”
    —–

    Yeah, and if King James English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me! LOL.

    sxark: “However, The General Authorities won’t touch them. And If the General Authorities won’t touch them, then why should any LDS member touch them?”
    —–

    The irony of this argument was that I first heard it from an LDS friend who said it in regards to my personal study of the Nag Hammadi texts. I have since heard it when I studied Nichiren Buddhism, when I read the Quran, when I worked with Gematria, when I studied the Jewish Mystical Tradition. Whether or not a GA has ever done a thing is being used to make a moral judgment. I’d be careful with that.

    In fact, I suspect that any GA who has ever painted as a hobby understands the fundamental meditative nature of the process of creating this kind of art. Using art (whether song, or sculpture, or painting or the printed word) to convey spiritual messages is not at all at odds with the Gospel. Esoteric Tarot is first and foremost meditative art, meant to stimulate the mind, and draw out what is already in us. Of course, YOMMV. If you are having this kind of discussion about Tarot, then it’s apparently not for you. That’s fine, but I’d prefer not to be anathemized because I have studied this subject, and because I’ve decided for myself that it isn’t “evil” like some folks say.

    sxark: Unless they wish to walk the tightrope across the great divide of life.
    —-

    Saddle up the unicycle, Hector: I’m headin’ across! LOL.

  73. For in #60 I was refering to the Holy Spirit being our guide regarding ’sources’ officially sanctioned by the LDS Church.
    —-

    So, do you really believe that LDS General Authorities only rely on sources officially sanctioned by the LDS Church when THEY study history or theology? Really? Do you suppose they sometimes have historians research issues for them, and that those researches can and often do involve sources which if truth were told, are not officially sanctioned by the LDS Church?

    Kindest,
    ~J

  74. Joe Swick:

    The General Authorities may do alot of things but Tarot Card playing is not one of those things. Just send an e-mail to any one of them and ask them. Don’t worry, any one of them would be glad to give you an answer. – But why do all that – when you know, in your heart, what their answer will be?

    However, if you have a more enlightened viewpoint on Tarot Card usage, I’m sure anyone of them would be interested in your perception. After all, you may be on to something and you wouldn’t want to keep it a secret from the General Authrities – would you? It would be a wonderfull gift to the LDS community – but not for all – just for some [as you say]

  75. ___LM (#19)___
    I virtually never post on blogs. But a few times I have been unable to resist the urge to do so. What I see above is the idea that once upon a time Mormons–that is, Latter-day Saints–were deeply into something called mysticism, but they have backed away from that sort of thing, unfortunately. And all kinds of things swim around in those ponds. And Nylon seems encouraged that because she thinks that “Mormons still retain much of the mysticism.” Bored, see above, speaks of something called “mystic pathways,” including presumably just about every strange, exotic thing found anywhere in any belief or practice. And someone wonders whether all this wild talk about this and that fits a “strict definition” of mysticism.

    The fact is that nothing posted above fits any definition of mysticism. What we have is the squishy use of a term.
    —–

    Well. For those who wish to “unsquishify” the term a bit, I recommend Evelyn Underhill’s slim volume, entitled “Practical Mysticism.” While it cannot stand on it’s own, I rather favor her definition of mysticism:

    “Mysticism is the art of union with Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or lesser degree, or who aims at and believes in such attainment” (Underhill 23).

    R. A. Gilbert likes Underhill’s definition, as well, prefacing it with: “Mysticism is an immediate, intuitive, experiental knowledge of God,” and then appending: “It follows that the knowledge gained from the mystical experience is direct — a direct knowledge of God. Nor is it fancy or speculation; it is true knowlege, albeit knowledge of something quite distinct from the empirical world, and it is important: ‘Mysticism,’ wrote Geoffrey Parrinder (Mysticism in the World’s Religions, 1976, p. 6) ‘is not a plug for gaps as yet unfilled by science, but, on the contrary, its conviction of the mystical unity at the heart of things may alone provide that order and continuity upon which all other studies depend'” (Gilbert, The Elements of Mysticsm, 5).

    I think that this is a fair starting-place. One can profitably compare this with Joseph Smith’s First Vision, and see why one might describe that as a mystical experience.

  76. sxark: “The General Authorities may do alot of things but Tarot Card playing is not one of those things.”
    —–

    Well, here we have something in common. I don’t play with Tarot Cards, either. But again, whether they do or don’t is really not relevant. As I said: “Whether or not a GA has ever done a thing is being used to make a moral judgment. I’d be careful with that.” And frankly, I don’t know what you suppose folks are doing with Tarot that is so scandalous.

    I’ve created a Tarot Key for the Tower. Aside from the Number, Letter, Sound, Color and Planetary attributions, the image is C C A Christiansen’s depiction of the burning of the Nauvoo Temple. You may not know this, but earlier depictions of this Tarot card were called “The Blasted Tower.” Further, it represents the awakening of the human organism — which in LDS Tradition is identified with “the Temple of God.” The idea of the human body ablaze with fire has deep spiritual significance.

    Now, precisely what in this do you find so satanic? Is it the Hebrew letter? The color? The number? The sound? The planetary attribution? Enquiring minds want to know how CCA Christiansen’s picture becomes evil when presented this way. Look closely, and see if by your expert examination you can find anything intrinsically evil in this card.

    Frankly, a unique Mormon Tarot has never been done before. I rather think this is one of the things that make it worth doing.

    sxark: “Just send an e-mail to any one of them and ask them. Don’t worry, any one of them would be glad to give you an answer. – But why do all that – when you know, in your heart, what their answer will be?”
    —–

    I don’t believe that a single GA has ever set foot on the moon. Should I e-mail them and ask them, I’m pretty sure what the answer will be. That none of them have done such a thing — and that Joseph Fielding Smith thought that no man would ever do so– doesn’t mean Buzz Aldrin was morally culpable for walking on the moon. Yet in the case of Tarot art / meditation, you are asking whether or not a GA has ever done a thing” to imply a negative moral judgment should the answer be no. Again, I’d be careful with that.

    sxark: “However, if you have a more enlightened viewpoint on Tarot Card usage, I’m sure anyone of them would be interested in your perception.”
    —-

    More enlightened? If as you say none of them have so much as looked at or investigated the meditative use of Tarot, then my opinion is definitely better informed by my own experience. 🙂

    sxark: “After all, you may be on to something and you wouldn’t want to keep it a secret from the General Authrities – would you?
    —-

    LOL. What a snarky poster you are. LOL. “I may be onto something,” eh? LOL. I’m not anyone’s guru, and frankly I’ve no desire to lecture some GA about what they ought or ought not to be teaching or using. On an individual basis, I personally think we all get precisely what we need, precisely when we need it. That doesn’t require any kind of evangelization by me.

    Furthermore, whatever my personal appreciation of Tarot (or the Nag Hammadi library, or the Book of Enoch, or the Rubaiyat, or Rumi, or the Quran, or the Lotus Sutra, etc), and whatever my personal opinion of the spiritual value of the same, I don’t suppose I have ever been unclear about what is or is not the doctrine of the Church.

    Mormon Tarot is primarily a creative project — an art form in which to capture what a small group finds to be the distilled essence of Mormonism. When we think of what it means to be a Mormon, what images are most evocative and most representative of that experience? What doctrines, hopes or aspirations are concealed in these images? Mormon Tarot is an exploration of these ideas, using an already-established artistic and spiritual framework.

    Not interested? That’s fine, of course.

    sxark: “It would be a wonderfull gift to the LDS community – but not for all – just for some [as you say]”
    —–

    At this point, I’m most interested in this as a small spiritual exercise; if the result is valuable for a wider community, then that’s fantastic. However, plainly it isn’t for folk like yourself, who find it a bit of a spiritual danger. You yourself are exhibit A that Tarot (even a Mormon Tarot) ain’t for everybody. 🙂

    Cheers,
    ~J

  77. ___LM___
    But bluntly, when historians and others have used the terms mystic and mysticism in describing Joseph Smith, they have done so in an effort to demonstrate either that he was a superstitious rustic who made up nonsense or that he was dissociative or simply a fraud.
    —–

    I appreciate what you are saying here, but just because an argument is being misused or abused by LDS critics, doesn’t mean that the essential claim is untrue. Frankly, I fail to see how if Joseph Smith’s experience can be defined as “mystical,” that this somehow argues that he was superstitious, a rustic, a “maker-upper of nonsense,” was dissociative, or that he was a fraud. I don’t see that any of these assertions are based upon any fair definition of “mysticism,” which as I said before (quoting R.A. Gilbert) notes that “the knowledge gained from the mystical experience is direct — A DIRECT KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. Nor is it fancy or speculation; IT IS TRUE KNOWLEDGE.”

  78. Joe Swick:

    It doesn’t matter if the Tarot Cards have beautiful renditions of Dumbo or Mickey Mouse. It’s the elaborate usage according to Tarot Card rules which may ‘spark’ a thought or concept, of which, the source of – is questionable.

    You may say that Tarot Card usage only illuminates what is allready in someone’s mind – however, that ‘spark’ may have a different and far more dangerous source.

    I don’t believe the LDS Church has any use for Tarot Cards and the Leaders would simply advise members to just stay away from them.

  79. Sxark — Okay, you keep trying to speak for General Authorities and the Church, and I don’t know you from Adam-God’s off aunt. On what basis do you presume to speak for General Authorities and how they do or don’t see anything they haven’t spoken of through an official channel? If you can cite a source that backs up your claims about how GAs see tarot, then please do so. If not, then please speak for the only person you appear to be authorized to speak for — yourself.

  80. And to the notion that discussion of mysticism in early 19th Century America by historians is done to paint Joseph Smith in a bad light, that is complete nonsense. Butler’s “Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People” discusses the history of mysticism and belief in folk magic happening in Christian Europe beginning well before the 19th Century — it was fading in the early 19th Century, but was wide-spread at the time of Joseph Smith.

    Historians are not universally or even predominately known for seeing Joseph Smith as a hick or a fraud. They tend to find him fascinating and quite interesting, even if they aren’t going to simply accept him as a prophet, seer and revelator chosen by God or take his revelations at face value.

  81. I might also add, (MANY, MANY thanks to Joe Swick for alerting me to this phenomenal source!) that the book “Meditations on the Tarot, A Journey into Christian Hermeticism” published anonymously, though it is thought it was Valentin Tomberg who wrote it, is one of the most outstanding spiritual books ever written on the Tarot, and Sxark’s hints that the Tarot has the source of the Devil is completely unfounded and mere speculation. For any who wish to pretend the source is from the dark side for studying Tarot, and that it might damage one’s testimony (rolling eyes), I put this forth as exhibit No. 1 against the silly proposition. Until one *KNOWS* what the Tarot really does, and is all about (bad news for New Agers, they missed the mark, so why go to them for a definition and use of Tarot?) one simply dismisses it with a loss of tremendously interesting, wonderfully uplifting information that our world desperately needs. It *IS* (using Brother Brigham’s own definition) part and parcel of the Divine Restoration. It is part of all the truth Brigham was looking for. I refuse to let anti-Mormons define what Mormonism is for me. I also refuse to let New Agers, and the impressions they leave about the Tarot determine what the Tarot is all about.

    The utterly enormous mass of information that Stuart Kaplan has gathered on the Tarot in his 4 volume (so far) Encyclopedia of Tarot is very helpful in inderstanding more about it as well. It is anything but gewgaw speculation and Satanic influence. That is as silly as saying guns are satanic because they are used to kill people. It is entirely the indivduals mindset that determines what spirit one has who studies anything. That is why to an anti-Mormon the Book of Mormon is simply Satanic, while to we LDS who love and revere it, is is surely scripture from God. The misuse of Tarot in our age has nothing to do with its original intent, or purposes, and it does not have the only say so about what it is for. For those interested in further elucidations of the incredibly beautiful themes the Tarot elaborates on, I can do no better than encourage you to get Paul Foster Case, “The Tarot.” While not as in depth as Tomberg’s magnum opus, it is a scintilllating look into a deep spiritual reality that expands what one already possesses. You are just going to have to read Case to get that. His expressions and insights are not found anywhere else, which truly helps one appreciate expressions in the scriptures even more. Robert Wang’s “The Qabalistic Tarot: A Textbook of Mystical Philosophy,” Marcus Aurelius Press, 2004 revised edition, is also seriously powerful for seeing the utterly inept approach of the New Agers misuse of the Tarot. If one does not feel it needful, then one need not bother with it. That’s the wonderful thing about the Gospel’s restoration. I can literally testify that my studies of the Tarot *has* improved my appreciation and knowledge of the scriptures, the Gospel, and the unique doctrines that our beloved prophets teach. All areas of the Gospel are all the more interesting seeing it through an approach to the Tarot. Again, not the New Age use either. There really is a difference. While not the final word (they are, after all, symbols!), they are a word, and a delightful word at that.

  82. Joe Swick said:
    Frankly, I fail to see how if Joseph Smith’s experience can be defined as “mystical,” that this somehow argues that he was superstitious, a rustic, a “maker-upper of nonsense,” was dissociative, or that he was a fraud. I don’t see that any of these assertions are based upon any fair definition of “mysticism,” which as I said before (quoting R.A. Gilbert) notes that “the knowledge gained from the mystical experience is direct — A DIRECT KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. Nor is it fancy or speculation; IT IS TRUE KNOWLEDGE.”

    Kerry notes:
    And quite frankly, this ties perfectly into Joseph’s teaching that if one were to be able to peer into heaven for a mere 5 minutes….just 5 minutes, it would literally outdate everything ever written on the subject. Direct Knolwedge is, after all, what it is all about. Direct Knowledge for oneself, not through any other intermediary. Intermediaries are important, don’t mistake what I mean here, but direct knowledge is vastly to be preferred. That is why Brigham Young said what feared him the absolute most when thesaints got to the Salt Lake Valley is that they would simply follow blindly everything the church leaders told them. He absolutely insisted strenuously that they NOT go to sleep, but gain their own testimonies, knowledge, experiences, and be strong and stalwart for their own selves. i.e., gain their own light and direct knowledge. Intermediaries can only help one along so far, and then one has to get it for onself or forever remain in ignorance. We need the church, enjoy the church, love the brethren’s teachings, but…..we simply HAVE to stand on our own light and knowledge or we fail in the quest. That is the theme of the Medieval “Search for the Holy Grail.” Each and every single knight of Arthur’s Round Table saw that vision, but when they went after it, if one knight simply followed another one he got lost, ***even if the other was on the RIGHT path!*** If they simply thought well King Arthur is, after all, king! We can just follow him! They would fail. One HAD to find it using their own light, or they failed. A powerful lesson.

  83. re #95 Blain:

    You are correct. I’m only speaking for myself. It’s just that after ‘Googleing’ Tarot Cards – that it was so obvious that no General Authority of the LDS Church would even think of playing with any kind of Tarot Cards that I took it upon me, myself, and I, to proclaim that premise to the world.

    I apologize for such boldness.

  84. 99 — Okay. Thanks. What is obvious to us isn’t always so — even when it is, remember that Sherlock Holmes said “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

    If we’re just disagreeing, that’s fine. Agreeing is never important.

  85. sxark: “It doesn’t matter if the Tarot Cards have beautiful renditions of Dumbo or Mickey Mouse. It’s the elaborate usage according to Tarot Card rules which may ’spark’ a thought or concept, of which, the source of – is questionable.
    —-

    1) Elaborate rules? What are you talking about? Apparently, my earlier remarks pefectly sailed over your head. There, I clearly stated that while the rules of CONSTRUCTING great are may be complicated, that one BENEFITS from that great art, by SIMPLY LOOKING AT IT, and perhaps thinking a bit about it. The “elaborate usage” you discuss has to do with maybe looking at more than one Key at a time, or perhaps visualizing the Key in your mind, and manipulating its various parts. This isn’t “elaborate” or particularly complicated, but doing it well might take some practice.

    2) As for sparking a thought or a concept, the source of which is questionable: I’ve known not a few Latter-day Saints who’ve had their share of dumb ideas spring into their heads from reading the Bible, or have had perfectly indefensible concepts suggested to them by “correlated” and “approved” Church manuals. In each and every case, we are required to use a bit of spiritual discrimination, and apply the square of common sense to what we are thinking. Being “spiritual” does not absolve us from this responsibility — no matter WHAT the source of our thinking. That, by the way is a fundamental “teaching” of Tarot: “inspiration” (Key 5, The Heirophant) is still subject to and in fact is in part a product of the operation of the rational mind (Key 4, the Emperor). Tarot is full of this kind of questionable stuff.

    sxark: “You may say that Tarot Card usage only illuminates what is allready in someone’s mind – however, that ’spark’ may have a different and far more dangerous source.”
    —-

    Meditation on Tarot definitely illuminates what lies in your mind and heart. My own experience suggests that there is plenty of wickedness to be found there, even if we never mentioned the Devil at all. Tarot has encouraged me to face what I find in myself. I should say, though, that Tarot does mention the Devil Key 15). My own meditation on the Key suggests to me that the Devil finds his most willing home in the shuttered and dark minds of narrow and dogmatic sectarians. It has suggested to me, at least, that the greatest danger is not from the thoughts of the Devil creeping into our heads. Rather, the greatest danger is from not critically examining EVERYTHING with think, whether the source is generally trusted or not.

    Frankly, I can think of psychology texts that positively introduce concepts which are at odds with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, the very purpose of those books is to introduce into your thinking the unique ideas of sources external to you. Some of those great thinkers of psychology were of questionable morals and shady judgment, and yet we generally trust that a Latter-day Saint of reasonable competence can navigate through those ideas, without a General Authority telling him or her to stay away from those Psychology texts, because they aren’t Church sanctioned. Frankly, that would be ludicrous.

    I similarly find it ludicrous to suggest that an individual should avoid tarot keys, which really challenge me to think creatively, test my ideas critically, and to own my own thoughts and behaviors.

    sxark: “I don’t believe the LDS Church has any use for Tarot Cards and the Leaders would simply advise members to just stay away from them.”
    —–

    Maybe we are talking at cross-purposes. I the first place, I don’t believe that you are a spokesperson for the Church, and can tell me what the Church as a corporate body does and doesn’t have a use for. Secondly, I never claimed to be a spokesperson for the Church, and therefore I don’t believe I ever suggested that the LDS Church “has any use” for Tarot; that’s beyond my concern, frankly. Rather, I am inclined to believe that some Latter-day Saints might find the art and underlying philosophy of a Mormon Tarot to be personally interesting. As for advice to members: I’m generally of the opinion that individuals are pretty sharp on their own, and when held responsible for their own thoughts and behaviors (rather than unduly relying on dictation from external sources of authority), they do very well. I try to never lose sight of the fact that I chose to join the Church, and that the same inner compass that led me there, didn’t suddenly stop working when I became a Mormon. 🙂 Not to say that leaders of the Church aren’t inspired, or so forth. But ultimately I’m the one who chooses how to apply what I hear, and ultimately, I’m the one who pays the cost for the choices I make — not my neighbor, and not my Bishop or SP. Most of those folks understand this, and give members wide berth to explore, test, and try things that they themselves might have no interest in. Like Freemasonry! I’m a Freemason, just like Joseph Smith was. However, no modern LDS GA is a Freemason; I don’t suppose from this that becoming a Freemason is somehow morally questionable.

  86. Kerry said: ” Each and every single knight of Arthur’s Round Table saw that vision, but when they went after it, if one knight simply followed another one he got lost, ***even if the other was on the RIGHT path!*** If they simply thought well King Arthur is, after all, king! We can just follow him! They would fail. One HAD to find it using their own light, or they failed. A powerful lesson.”
    —-

    I feel this way, too. I think that some LDS are satisfied to follow Joseph Smith’s revelations, and that’s good enough for them. Not me, not me! I want to be the kind of person that Joseph Smith WAS, so that I can get what he got, for myself.

    ~J

  87. I said: “Meditation on Tarot definitely illuminates what lies in your mind and heart. My own experience suggests that there is plenty of wickedness to be found there, even if we never mentioned the Devil at all. Tarot has encouraged me to face what I find in myself. I should say, though, that Tarot does mention the Devil Key 15). My own meditation on the Key suggests to me that the Devil finds his most willing home in the shuttered and dark minds of narrow and dogmatic sectarians.”

    For the Endowed Latter-day Saint who has reflected at all on the ritual, I’m sure most understand what I’m saying above. After all, the Endowment cast the Devil out of our own hearts.

  88. Sorry! That last reply went out before completed. Rather I said: “Meditation on Tarot definitely illuminates what lies in your mind and heart. My own experience suggests that there is plenty of wickedness to be found there, even if we never mentioned the Devil at all. Tarot has encouraged me to face what I find in myself. I should say, though, that Tarot does mention the Devil Key 15). My own meditation on the Key suggests to me that the Devil finds his most willing home in the shuttered and dark minds of narrow and dogmatic sectarians.”

    For the Endowed Latter-day Saint who has reflected at all on the ritual, I’m sure most understand what I’m saying above. After all, in the Endowment, the Devil must be cast out of our own hearts before more advanced principles may be revealed. After all, where is the Kingdom of God, and who legitimately rules there?

  89. Joe Swick:

    I didn’t think anyone had the guts to repeat what I said about ‘beautiful renditions of Dumbo’ on Tarot Cards – but you just did in #101 – and now, I can’t get that picture out of my mind. I keep thinking of Dumbo’s mother, on a rampage during a circus fire and how wonderful the flames would look – sparkling and twinkling etc.

    A whole deck of Tarot Cards could be made depicting Dumbo in an entire range of situations that match up with appropriate Tarot Card scenerios. What a collector’s item.

    The ‘elaborate usage’ I stated, is exactly what you described. I don’t care how simple it might be – to me – its elaborate.

    You are correct in one matter: “I’m the one who pays the cost for the choices I make”. So are we all.

    You brought up psychology texts etc. and the problems associated with them and it brought to memory a statement from Pres. Marion G. Romney at the dedication of BYU’s J. Rueben Clark Law school: Pres. Romney said that when he went to law school that he HAD to read the Book of Mormon, every day. We all knew what he ment. – There are things one learns in college that challenges you to the core, at times.

    It seems to me that Tarot Card usage falls into that realm where it is wise to do some scripture reading after a hot, and somewhat sweaty Tarot Card session. – But I would just rather read scriptures instead.

  90. sxark:
    It seems to me that Tarot Card usage falls into that realm where it is wise to do some scripture reading after a hot, and somewhat sweaty Tarot Card session. – But I would just rather read scriptures instead.

    Kerry:
    I don’t read one in isolation from the other. Once one understands properly what Tarot is and is all about, one sees the problematic nature of your statement. They are both scripture. It isn’t an either/or dichotomy with one being more valuable than the other. To an illiterate person, stranded on an island all alone, I can promise you the Book of Mormon will mean absolutely nothing compared to an entire deck of Tarot cards. One will be completely befuddling meaningless squiggles, while the other explodes in astonishing meaning and reality and use and charm and joy etc. Would God force the illiterate to hell for using the Tarot instead of the “scripture”?

    And hot, sweaty Tarot session?! Fer real? That’s like saying a strenuous, debilitating meditation session. The deliberate contradiction and poisoning of the well serves your mental image no good at all. I know of absolutely *no* book on meditation to teach one that we must be swinging on the high bar whilst juggling 4 jars with our feet, reading a book, eating a banana and combing our hair while working out a crossword puzzle all at once in order to have a successful meditation. Meditation sessions, so far as I know really are not hot lurid sordid sweaty affairs as you may suppose.

  91. Kerry:

    A long time ago, I took a writing class from an Englishman from Oxford. He caught us all off guard by his demeanor. But one day he taught us how to write and concentrate until sweat appeared on our brows. He did that on purpose to show the possibilities of intensity of writing and of concentration. It was an interesting exersize that I have never repeated, but will allways remember. – because I did it.

    Therefore, could it be said that one has not had a ‘real’ Tarot Card experience until sweat appears on their brow? And could one push themselves in a manner where the experience becomes ecstatic? And would there be anything wrong with that?

  92. sxark: “I didn’t think anyone had the guts to repeat what I said about ‘beautiful renditions of Dumbo’ on Tarot Cards – but you just did in #101 – and now, I can’t get that picture out of my mind. I keep thinking of Dumbo’s mother, on a rampage during a circus fire and how wonderful the flames would look – sparkling and twinkling etc. A whole deck of Tarot Cards could be made depicting Dumbo in an entire range of situations that match up with appropriate Tarot Card scenerios. What a collector’s item.”
    —–

    Sure! After all, there is a Baseball Tarot, and a tarot in which all the keys have cats. I suggest you begin your Dumbo Tarot right away, once you’ve resolved the copyright issues with Disney.

    sxark: “The ‘elaborate usage’ I stated, is exactly what you described. I don’t care how simple it might be – to me – its elaborate.”
    ——

    Your engagement here is debate for debate’s sake. When you arrive at the point where you have to define “elaborate” as “simple” (i.e., it’s logical opposite), it seems pretty clear to me that your real concern here is winning a point, rather than admitting you may have been mistaken about this aspect of Tarot. The truth is, most of the meditative exercises with Tarot are relatively simple to learn, although they may require some time to do well. They do build on each other, but the point is prescisely NOT to “work hard” at it. The thing should be held lightly in the mind.

    sxark: “You are correct in one matter”
    —-

    Thank you, but actually I suppose I’m correct on far more than one matter. I’m happy, though, to leave that for other forum readers can judge for themselves.

    sxark: You brought up psychology texts Pres. Romney said that when he went to law school that he HAD to read the Book of Mormon, every day. We all knew what he ment. – There are things one learns in college that challenges you to the core, at times.
    —-

    My point was that folks of average intelligence can navigate through these kinds of texts without the need of GA sanction or prohibition. That being true, it seems to me at least highly likely that they will be able to manage a “picture-book” of between 22 – 78 pages without GA sanction or prohibition.

    sxark: “It seems to me that Tarot Card usage falls into that realm where it is wise to do some scripture reading after a hot, and somewhat sweaty Tarot Card session. – But I would just rather read scriptures instead.
    —-

    In fact, since folks largely think in pictures and not in letters, a meditative session with tarot is going to be a lot less hot and sweaty than your reading of the scriptures. In fact, they are designed to take advantage of the way the mind works with images. Now, if you are experiencing “hot, somewhat sweaty Tarot Card sessions” — or similar with scripture study, for that matter — I’d suggest you are either working at it all wrong, or you really need to be spending more private time with your wife.

    Now, later recording the results of one’s “work” with Tarot can be a bit of a challenge for some. This can also be true of those meditating on passages from the Bible.

    sxark: “Could it be said that one has not had a ‘real’ Tarot Card experience until sweat appears on their brow?”
    —–

    No. This kind of exertion is contrary to the meditative approach, in which one is to hold the image lightly in the mind, but with the same kind of anticipation one experiences when fishing. I suppose if the sun is beating down on you and the heater is turned way up, you could have sweat appear on your brow, but it would be incidental to tarot meditation (or fishing, for that matter).

    sxark: “And could one push themselves in a manner where the experience becomes ecstatic? And would there be anything wrong with that?”
    —–

    Yes, something would be very wrong with that. Again, the “pushing oneself” part isn’t cool. And while ultimately a Master of the Tree of Life has the ability to evoke, hold, and release modes of consciousness at will, this isn’t accomplished by long sweaty Tarot sessions, or because one “pushes oneself” or forces something. A meditation session generally does involve a simple operation of the will — bringing your full attention to a thing. It then involves afterwards recording your questions, and noting your own thoughts and insights. This is a specific instruction you are giving your own mind.

    Furhermore, when it comes to the superconscious mind-states, are not properly the result of something one “works oneself into.” Rather, “He who knows these, understandingly, possesses the … Key before whose TOUCH all the Doors of the Temple [of Wisdom] FLY OPEN” (Kybalion 25).

    I’m serious when I say that the main activity in Tarot meditation, is to bring the attention to the Key, and take in its various details. When you know those details well enough to manipulate them in your mind, then there are meditations in which you play with those details in specific ways. Again, these are not complicated — certainly not any more complicated than the “read, ponder, and pray” model, a variation of which can be employed in Tarot Key study. In an esoteric deck, nearly every Tarot Key of the Major Arcana also has something to “say” about meditation. If you have Looked at my version of Key 16, you’ve already been exposed to that instruction. So, you tell me: was it all hot and sweaty for you? LOL.

  93. Joe Swick:re #108

    My brain got ‘hot and sweaty’ just reading #108.
    I disagree with: “….It seems clear to me that your real concern here is winning a point, rather than admitting you may have been mistaken about this aspect of Tarot”.
    There is nothing to admit to. I could care less if you claim that the ritual is simple, – when it is obvious that the ritual can start as simple and go all the way up to where sweat appears on the brow and the experience becomes ecstatic.

    You may say you don’t do it this way and those that do – probably abuse the powers of Tarot. I say: So what!

    One ‘bottom line’ with Tarot Cards is all the quibbling among it’s devotees. I may choose to follow Aleister Crowley’s instruction on how to use the Thoth Tarot Deck and if others object, – I could thumb my nose at them and tell them to eat rocks, – I’ll do what I want with Tarot Cards.

    You may have your own rules and code of ethics concerning Tarot Card usage, but I don’t have to follow it. Can you now see why the LDS Church would not want its members to be involved with such a quagmire – with no rules?

    Why be involved with such an instrument [Tarot Cards] – when a better instrument exists [simple prayer and scripture study].

  94. sxark: “My brain got ‘hot and sweaty’ just reading #108.”
    —-

    You seem to be the excitable type. Might I recommend a bit of meditation to help with that? LOL.

    sxark: I disagree with: “….It seems clear to me that your real concern here is winning a point, rather than admitting you may have been mistaken about this aspect of Tarot”. There is nothing to admit to. I could care less if you claim that the ritual is simple, – when it is obvious that the ritual can start as simple and go all the way up to where sweat appears on the brow and the experience becomes ecstatic.
    —–

    “It is Obvious” =translation= “I have no evidence in favor of my argument, but you should agree with me anyway, because I’m right and you’re wrong.”

    You introduced this debatable idea, provided no evidence in its favor, and then in all subsequent postings, you treat your unproven theory as though it were beyond question. Please cite your source for a Tarot meditation that makes one sweat as a precursor to a superconscious mindstate. I’m seriously interested to see where you are getting this idea.

    Here is why I think you are doing this; please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. First, you tend to question the validity of any spiritual experience outside of those by members of the LDS Church. However, Tarot is used by folk who are not members of the LDS Church, as a meditative tool or device. Meditation encompasses a number of modes of consciousness, including what are called “superconscious mind-states.” Since in your mind non-LDS spiritual experiences are invalid, one who uses Tarot as a meditative device must be must be fabricating these experiences for themselves. Therefore, they must “work themselves” into whatever mindstate we are talking about, and because they are self-induced they are not “authentic” spiritual experiences.

    For some reason, you seem fixated on “ecstatic” states, but aren’t really clear about what you mean by that. Would you kindly review this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_ecstasy and indicate what part of this you believe relates to Tarot?

    If you mean to suggest that one must “work one’s self up” in some way in order to experience an expanded awareness and feelings of bliss, then I’m going to say no. Traditionally “hot and sweaty” activities to “work oneself up” are not associated with meditative work with Tarot. However, ecstatic mind-states are certainly possible (e.g., Binah Consciousness and Chokmah Consciousness, which in my personal opinion look like Hinduism’s Savikalpa Samadhi and Nirvakalpa Samadhi, respectively). While there are these kinds of ecstatic states possible in Kabbalism, most meditative activity with Tarot looks a lot like one-pointed meditation, which is fairly common in Buddhist traditions. Such meditation is relatively uncomplicated, unelaborate, and relaxed.

    In my own experience, working with Tarot meditatively is one way to open one to what the Kabbalists call “mezla,” the Holy Influence which continuously pours into and through the manifest universe from the Upper Worlds (i.e., from the Divine Presence; see D&C 88:6-13, esp. 12,13).

    sxark: “You may say you don’t do it this way and those that do – probably abuse the powers of Tarot.”
    —-

    Rather, what I’m most likely to say is that Tarot has no innate powers, but that folks engage in lots of different behaviors relating to Tarot. Some of these behaviors are valued by folks who are interested in one thing, and others of these behaviors are valued by folks who have a different aim in mind. However:

    “The study and practice of … Tarot is a process of transformation. There is a tremendous cosmology presented through the vehicle of the Tarot. Any student who takes up a serious study of this cosmology will be amply rewarded. . . . Perhaps the most popular, and perhaps the least important application of the Tarot is reading Tarot cards. . . . [While] divination should not be underestimated[, i]f divination is your only goal concering the Tarot, this work [i.e., Tarot meditation] is not for you . . . If you go thorugh the [meditative] process offered in this work, you will gain [a personal] undstanding of the Tarot not given in any book. The main intentio of this work is to make practical application of the wealth . . . expressed by the Tarot. Accessing that wealth will ultimately lead each student into the full and uncompromising Grip of the Soul” (Kevin Townley, Meditations on the Cube of Space, xi-xii).

    sxark: “I say: So what!”
    —-

    And I say: So there!

    sxark: “One ‘bottom line’ with Tarot Cards is all the quibbling among it’s devotees.”
    —-

    Right! And you may disagree with a definition of Mormonism which includes Adam-God, a current requirement to live plural marriage, and a belief in multiple mortal probations. You may say that you don’t believe this, and that it doesn’t really characterize what is taught in the LDS Church. And I would say: So what! Because, after all, the bottom line with Mormonism is the quibbling among it’s devotees, who are divided up in to somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 different denominations. I may choose to follow some other Latter-day Saint group and if others object, — I could thumb my nose at them and tell them to eat rocks, – I’ll do what I want with LDSism! LOL.

    In other words, I don’t think much of your argument. You assert that Tarot meditation requires some kind of exertion (apparently enough exertion to sweat) which hot, sweaty exertion leads to ecstatic mind-states. I would simply point out to you again that tarot meditation usually involves sitting and looking at Tarot Keys, either singlely or in various combinations. It may involve the use of sound and color ( I’ve seen many folks practice this form of meditation, and while the effects have sometimes been consciousness-expanding, it has never involved sweating or similar.

    That there are diverse opinions regarding Tarot, its history, meaning and use is NOT an argument against the thing itself. Similarly, there are a variety of concepts regarding what a religion should look like, and some quibble about what constitutes a proper government. However, that we have bad implementations of religion and government is not an argument against the thing itself.

    Kerry pointed out that while others use Tarot as a fortune-telling device, that he has never used it in this way. The way he suggests has a relatively long history, and as you have read, is the most important aspect of Tarot (even “divination” in this way is reflective and not predictive in nature).

    sxark: “I may choose to follow Aleister Crowley’s instruction on how to use the Thoth Tarot Deck and if others object, – I could thumb my nose at them and tell them to eat rocks, – I’ll do what I want with Tarot Cards.”
    —–

    Yes. Just as you may join any religion you desire, or belong to any political party you may choose, or otherwise live according to your own best judgment. Just like anything else in your life. In fact, if you are a convert to the Church, then this was another of your choices to live according to your own best lights.

    And for the record, I’m curious to know what “instruction” by Crowley on the meditative use of Tarot is “elaborate” in your mind?

    sxark: “You may have your own rules and code of ethics concerning Tarot Card usage, but I don’t have to follow it. Can you now see why the LDS Church would not want its members to be involved with such a quagmire – with no rules?”
    —–

    Uh, no. In the first place, Tarot has very specific uses, and very specific rules for those uses. That some folks choose not to follow those rules, is fundamentally no different than what you will find in every other area of your life.

    sxark: “Why be involved with such an instrument [Tarot Cards] – when a better instrument exists [simple prayer and scripture study].”
    —–

    You mean, praying until you pop a sweat and begin to enter ecstatic states? LOL. Your question is like asking why anyone would bother to study Hebrew or Greek, since they have the Bible nicely rendered in English.

    I was reading this with a good friend of mine. Her first remark after reading your post was about the “sweating ecstatic.” She laughed and said, “Oh! What a wonderful bit of circular reasoning!” She next commended on your “I may choose to follow whatever I want” remark. “Anyone can make a strawman. Here… watch me make one right now! I did it! See?! that PROVES Tarot is evil!”

    LOL.

    Now, this initial discussion was about the creation of a Mormon Tarot that uses LDS history and theology as its basis. Asking why do this instead of reading the scriptures and praying, is akin to asking why we need games like these: http://tinyurl.com/qwwpdf when we can just as easily read the scriptures.

    Perhaps your first Tarot activity would be to see how many Biblical themes you can identify in the Major Arcana before you begin to sweat and fall into an ecstatic trance.

    I really thought Professor Midgely’s remarks were well-framed, and would like to spend some time responding to the issues he has raised . . . which I think is probably more profitable than to continue in this thread with you, sxark. Sorry!

    Cheers,
    ~J

  95. Joe Swick:

    I’ll stick with the common sense expressed in #42, #94, #99, and #109 and will only scoff at your suggestion in #110: “…but you should agree with me anyway because I’m right and your wrong”.

    Also, you cannot compare my example of different Tarot card usage around the world with your example of LDS members believing in different things. – For should LDS members stray too far with their beliefs, they run the risk of Excommunication.
    Tarot Card devotees have no such rules, -only maybe in some private Tarot Card club.

    As I state in #99 – I have teken it upon myself – and I still recommend that LDS members stay away from Tarot Cards. – And my arguement for doing so – has been made very clear. In conclusion – read #105.

  96. Gut Yontif, Sxark!

    sxark: “I’ll stick with the common sense expressed in #42”
    —-

    So, that’s your story and you’re stickin’ to it? 🙂

    Please point out the common sense there. Perhaps it is so common it escaped my notice. Should you be referring to the idea that there is no such thing as a white witch, I have four words for you to consider: “Smith Family Magic Materials.”

    Now, say it again very slowly, and see how it sounds: “there is no such thing as a white witch.”

    If you are unfamiliar with the Smith Family Magic Materials — talisman, lamen, athame, pouch, etc. — then you might wish to familiarize yourself with them before you say this kind of thing. Because, frankly, your comments lack common sense.

    sxark: “I’ll stick with the common sense expressed in #94”
    —-

    Answered nicely in #101.

    sxark: “I’ll stick with the common sense expressed in #99”
    —–

    This isn’t “common sense.” It is an admission that these are merely your opinions, and that you are speaking only for yourself. Thank you.

    sxark: “I’ll stick with the common sense expressed in #109”
    —–

    Post 109 has the consistency of a pile of cheese-doodle out of the can. It is a beauteous example of circular logic and straw-man argumentation. I bet folks in the future will use it as an example of how many logical fallacies a person can fit into a single posting on a topic.

    I trust you know this is so. You have failed to seriously address a single point I raised, or answer a single question I presented.

    sxark: “[I] will only scoff at your suggestion in #110: “…but you should agree with me anyway because I’m right and your wrong”.
    —–

    Scoffing isn’t providing evidence in your favor. I asked that you cite your source for a Tarot meditation that makes one sweat as a precursor to a superconscious mindstate. That you choose to “scoff” suggests tome that you are really emptyhanded, but are merely tinkling on the cymbals.

    sxark: Also, you cannot compare my example of different Tarot card usage around the world with your example of LDS members believing in different things. – For should LDS members stray too far with their beliefs, they run the risk of Excommunication.
    —-

    So, Tarot is evil because conformity is not demanded under threat of excommunication? That’s rich. Your argument here makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. You say excommunication and I say “So what! Because, after all, the bottom line with Mormonism is the quibbling among it’s devotees, who are divided up in to somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 different denominations. I may choose to follow some other Latter-day Saint group and if others object, — I could thumb my nose at them and tell them to eat rocks, – I’ll do what I want with LDSism!” So, YES, it is comparable. I mean, “You may have your own rules and code of ethics concerning what makes a good Mormon, but I don’t have to follow it.” Whether or not there is a consequence among LDS for choosing to not follow some set of rules is really a moot point. I was speaking of the worldwide Restoration movement, which includes many more people than are found in the LDS Church.

    sxark: “Tarot Card devotees have no such rules, only maybe in some private Tarot Card club.”
    —-

    I hate to break the news to you, sxark, but a religious institution operates in precisely the same way as your “private Tarot Card Club.” That is to say, a religious organization is in effect a private religious club (an association), that sets the rules of affiliation, including the conduct required for continued membership. As in such groups as The American Tarot Association, the Church has no absolute authority over my actions: I am the one that chooses whether I like those rules. If I do, I might choose to have the Bishop or Stake President “keep score for me.” If for some reason I cease to find that helpful, then I can pack up my toys and play somewhere else. And, in both the case of the Church or,say, the ATA think that you have broken their rules, they can set the rules for how those violations should be handled. In both cases, the greatest “penalty” they can “impose” is excommunication — they can kick me off of the ball team, not let me into the bar, forbid me to swim in their pool, not let me carry around an official ATA membership card, etc. These are identical in reality, even if you personally value one particular association over another.

    And, perhaps you’ve heard of the “unchurched.” Folks who like Tarot but don’t like the institutional nonsense found in this or that Tarot-related group may choose to not affiliate with any Tarot organization. Similarly,the “unchurched” may be very friendly with principles of Mormonism, but find the institutional devotion required by this or that group to be hard to stomach (because devotion can sometimes look an awful lot like narrow bigotry or hardankled dogmatism).

    The truth is that the only authority that any church leader or other association (religious or otherwise) has over me, is the authority I myself choose to recognize and give him through my consent — which consent is generally revocable (some limit on that of course if I’m contractually or financially obligated, of course). In other words, if I don’t like the Church of Christ with the Elijah Message, Established in 1929 Anew, I wave at the Elders as I head out the front door of the Church, without letting the door hit me in my behind as I leave.

    Private Tarot Clubs operate in a very similar way.

    Now, why any of this means that you can’t create a deck of Tarot cards with LDS images on them is entirely beyond my ken.

    sxark: “I still recommend that LDS members stay away from Tarot Cards.”
    ——

    Because you believe:

    1. The “Source” of the inspiration one gets from Tarot is “Questionable,” even if the pictures are “Dumbo the Elephant,” or even LDS themes.

    2. The use of Tarot, is “elaborate,” and Tarot sessions are hot, sweaty things, leading to ecstatic states, and if we aren’t careful, maybe this causes to hairy palms and bed-wetting, who knows.

    3. The Church doesn’t need Tarot Keys (or seer stones, or golden plates, or divining rods, or coffin canes, or blessed handkerchiefs, or gemestones, or other divinatory aids or spiritual tools).

    4. If man were meant to have a Tarot deck, General Authorities of the Church would have sanctioned it already, and published a handbook on proper use. And if man were meant to fly, he’d have wings.

    5. People can use Tarot decks any which way they like, with or without others telling them what to do, and this is spiritually dangerous, because they might choose the wrong thing. What a quagmire should General Authorities allow or encourage members of the Church to use Tarot! I mean, giggity-giggity!

    1.) I’d be happy if someone said, “Wow, what a cool idea!” I don’t suppose that I’m worried about Latter-day Saints getting all excited about anything but the art. The work on this end is to find or create suitable art that has a consistent look and feel, and which touches upon those defining qualities which make us Latter-day Saints. As for Tarot in general, as I said before: In my own experience, working with Tarot meditatively is one way to open one to what the Kabbalists call “mezla,” the Holy Influence which continuously pours into and through the manifest universe from the Upper Worlds (i.e., from the Divine Presence; see D&C 88:6-13, esp. 12,13).

    2.) “Hot, sweaty Tarot session?! Fer real? That’s like saying a strenuous, debilitating meditation session. . Meditation sessions, so far as I know really are not hot lurid sordid sweaty affairs as you may suppose.” (Kerry Shirts106)

    3.) As I said, this isn’t about what the Church needs, but what individual members might find interesting.

    4. I similarly don’t wait for a General Authority to tell me what brand of shoe to wear, or what political party to join.

    5. I rather agree with Kerry: you don’t need to support folks who use Tarot in ways you don’t like: “Bad news for New Agers, they missed the mark, so why go to them for a definition and use of Tarot?”

    Thank you for the exchange.

    Joe Steve Swick III
    And Proud of It!

  97. Joe Swick:

    It has been said by a learned proponent of a certain tyrant: [That if you scream loud enough and talk long enough,- that people will start to believe you]. Unfortunatly, I cannot recommend anyone to waste their time reading your #112.
    And, if they do – and they start to believe you,- then it’s their fault.

    I prefer the simplicity of #111. And will recommend it to all LDS members and hope they don’t fall for this Tarot Card dribble. Just remember something Joe. – When you engage in your next Tarot Card session – will the name “sxark” appear over and over again in your mind, when looking at your Tarot cards? – possibly forever?
    Or maybe, you could invent a “sxark” card – and what could that possibly mean – during a session ,were it to come up?

  98. sxark: “Unfortunatly, I cannot recommend anyone to waste their time reading your #112. And, if they do – and they start to believe you,- then it’s their fault.”
    —–

    I don’t feel to blame anyone for their spiritual explorations. We all get precisely what we need moment by moment, and the results which flow from our choices –good or bad in our own judgment– are the manifestation of a loving God, ever willing to lead us along.

    sxark: “I prefer the simplicity of #111.
    —–

    111! The value of the Hebrew letter Alef, The Fool in Tarot. Also the value of the word PeLA, “miraculous” — the “marvelous” in “marvelous work and a wonder,” as I recall.

    sxark: “Just remember something Joe. – When you engage in your next Tarot Card session – will the name “sxark” appear over and over again in your mind, when looking at your Tarot cards? – possibly forever?”
    —–

    LOL! Fascinating. That’s the desire of every black magician, including ad company execs. I don’t suppose I’ll fall for that kind of silliness.

    sxark: “Or maybe, you could invent a “sxark” card – and what could that possibly mean – during a session,w ere it to come up?”
    —–

    Feel free to include it in your upcoming Dumbo Deck.

    Cheers,
    ~J

  99. i say how dare these people to add Mormonism subjects into something that is played by the unseen, this the unseen his Lucifer (Satan his fallen name) and his ghostly host who was kicked out of Heaven for not following Heavenly Fathers Rules

  100. I tend to agree with the author and Shirt that knowledge and truth are to be found everywhere, and by using the Tarot as a set of images with connotations, it can be possible to execute one’s own intuition and inspiration.  I think the danger associated with any form of divination is when we turn away from the Spirit as the Revelator and seek input from other sources, or tell ourselves that the tools themselves are providing answers.  In a way, I see the Tarot as a poor-man’s psychologist – it impels us to question things like our motivations, our circumstances, our goals, to look at things from an outside perspective, etc.  Because the meaning of the cards comes from within us, the answers were there all the time – we just need a nudge to bring them to the forefront.

  101. I think mysticism plays a huge part in the church today. Everything we use in the church is represented by symbols. Our prophet uses his own sources to find answers to guide the church. Whether it’s through the Holy Spirit, scriptures, personal revelation by sight, hearing or intuition. The use of these aids are never questioned about our spiritual leaders. All of them derive from the same origin, the creator of all good and evil. Why shy away from them, when they can be of help. More importantly, a person should explore many avenues until they find truth for themselves, it’s not up to the church to decide what is right or wrong for any individual. That is between God, Christ and the individual. Search, ask and decide for yourself.

  102. Also, I’ll accept tarot, psychic(clairvoyant, clairaudience), guidance by angels, Shamanism, and anything that feels right for me or moves me towards positivity. I don’t fool with anything requiring the physical sacrifice of animals or humans, or anything that requires blood or raising the dead(medium). Anything questionable is a no no for me.

  103. I think when people associate tarot cards with ouija boards. Ouija board is a medium for spirits, good or bad, and the scriptures tells us not to mess with it. But tarot cards help you tap into your subconscious, and has nothing to do with spirits.
    Its not the cards themselfs that do the reading its the reader and the card arent supposed to be used to tell someones destiny, rather to question ones motives and actions and to suggest what path you are on if you continue living as you are.

  104. Every religion or faith has this bit of hidden knowledge in it. Besides, doesn’t the word “occult” pertain to anything hidden? I disagree with the commenter who associates mysticism to the Devil. Jesus’ statement regarding the Ten Commandments is a clear example of revealed occult knowledge. Jews in his day were led to believe that following them is all about obedience. But Jesus’ revealed an occult principle – love thy neighbor. When he said that, all those Old Testament commandments made sense. God didn’t want you to follow His laws for obedience’s sake. He wanted to teach us something deeper – something “hidden” that we are obligated to seek out.

  105. I agree with all of this. I have psychic abilities, and I know others who have discovered this beautiful thing. It is without a shadow of a doubt from God, The Father. We are his offspring, so naturally we too have these similar capabilties. Do people actually think that God is so full of himself to have made us so special, in his own inage, to throw us out here to the wolves of this world, to fend for ourselves with no fore-knowledge? I think not. Why should those of us who realize what we were given: that is so much more, be prosecuted by a jury of threatened; nay-sayers.

  106. I think the idea of Mormon tarot cards is a great idea and to also remember and not hide our church roots and ties in our history of mysticism.

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