the mutational alchemy tarot: sword and shield spread

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Sword and Shield image by m1thr0s. Creative Commons attributions license 3.0 A credit hyperlink / printed credit to this site and to cr103.com is required to reproduce this image where it is re-used.

Sometimes called the Celtic Cross, here we use the less common name for the spread, Sword and Shield. In this context the right vertical pillar represents the sword, and the diamond shape formed by the left pattern represents the shield.

One of the most widely known and used spreads, the Sword and Shield is a very useful general purpose spread. It’s better suited for situations than it is for analyzing people themselves. The complex Sephiroth spread is better at analyzing personalities. 

  1. The first card in the spread represents the querent – either you or someone you’re reading about. If it is a card with a person on it, one should consider the figure to be one and the same with a querent. If there is no figure or that doesn’t make any sense, it could represent the thoughts dominating the querent. 

  2. The crossing card. The represents the dilemma, person, or situation facing the querent – the person holding the shield and sword. If it’s an enemy this should be fairly clear. If using reversals it’s important to remember that the card is normally read as being about go either way. You can certainly interpret it with reversals but there is a reason why it is laid sideways. It represents the changeability of fate. 

  3. This position represents the past. This card can have a strong effect on the other cards, so even if there are difficulties if this card is auspicious it slants the reading towards a more manageable scenario. If it’s an unlucky card one should take this into account and advise corrections based on past behaviors that aren’t working for the querent. In the context of the Shield, it represents that path which the querent is already in the habit of following. One should consider if they wish to repeat the past or not.  

  4. The malleable future. It is the right hand path, the more difficult path often, requiring the use of the Sword. Although sometimes it will proclaim the querent should keep to “steady as she goes” if the past and future cards are dramatically different, changes should be considered.

  5. The path we are on, and the enviromental factors we can’t see. The querent could be about to trip on a banana peel or they might have solid footing. Whatever it is will affect the situation in front of the querent. 

  6. Above we have the higher will and unseen forces of the superconscious. There are other wills at play in the world and some of them are helpful, others are adversarial. This card will reveal what is acting over the situation. Changing this requires higher powers as well, but this will mean something different to everyone.

  7. The hilt of the sword is the querent’s handle on all of the other aspects of this pillar. 

  8. The left side of the sword represents one’s external enviroment, things that have nothing to do with the querent or the situation but which can change everything about the outcome. It can also hold secrets about hidden paths and ways of doing things the querent hasn’t looked at yet, especially if the outcome is poor.

  9. The right side of the sword represents the ideas, thoughts and plans of the querent which are being used in that given moment. If the outcome is poor, consider this card carefully.

  10. The point of the card, the essence of the element of Air and Jen. This card is the most important card in the spread, if it’s a good outcome card, such as the Hierophant or the Emperor, even if all of the other cards are horrible the final outcome will be a positive one. 

As always consider coincidental pairings, strong elemental showings, such as an unusual multitude of Pentacles, or many ATU, or many male or female figures. In meditation one may visualize oneself as a figure carrying a sword and shield on a kind of road, on their mission. Pay attention to what kind of enviroment populates as well as the details on both pieces of equipment, as well as the appearance of the object or lifeform in front of you. 

Izi Ningishzidda

 

 

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the magickal name

My friends in the occult have often told me they don’t have a magickal name, or they’re not really satisfied with the one they chose. I’ve helped many friends and acquaintances choose a magickal name and wanted to write a helpful guide for neophytes or even self-taught journeymen occultists who might not know how to do this.

It is easy to outgrow a name after achieving success in your pathworking, and it’s also natural. One should remember that once you have a name you never really lose its potential or magick. Holding on to a name after it has become boring, repugnant or corny to you without replacing it can signify stagnation. When you find a name that represents your will and your role of participation in the great work, you will feel a sense of confidence and ease with it, and you should feel powerful, calm or elated when you tell others your name. (feelings will differ depending on your focus in life.)

 Why Choose a Magickal Name?

It lets you choose who you are. You don’t get to choose your name when you’re born. You can shape your whole future with a name. Try it and you’ll see people treat you differently. In the Kabbalistic numerology, Gematria, each letter has a value which can form correspondences to other words and a number. It’s believed to have an effect on ones day to day affairs in manners which are not insignificant – it can shape and alter destiny. 

Name changes are especially common in Hollywood where a person’s name is synonymous with their wares – its the box they frame their image in. This does not normally qualify as a magickal name, since most Hollywood name changes are done on the basis of impressing other people with their uniqueness or affiliation with a certain culture, rather than as a conscious act of Will. A well crafted magickal name is also viable across time and space universally, rather than just being a soundbyte intended towards local popular culture.

Encryption with AIK BQR, the Gematria of the Nine Chambers, or other proven numerology counts which bear significance are best. For example, Aleister Crowley chose the name Perdurabo, Latin for “I will endure until the end” in keeping with the Golden Dawn tradition of choosing a motto as a name and its magickal number in AIQ BQR form of Gematria is 557. In some societies the name is shortened to its initials and preceded by Frater or Soror. 

As an example, m1thr0s noticed his chosen magickal name is a loaded name – he started getting into all kinds of irrational conflicts with people after taking it. It’s a very masculine name. The idea of completion is kind of inferred in the name because Tau is the omega point – the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This sort of name is the name of a closer – which is what m1thr0s is – someone who ties up loose ends and destroys old paradigms.

So words are powerful. This is what Abrahadababra itself hints at, being a magickal word used in curing illness. A force lies behind every word you speak or every act you engage in. The energy is happening while you are beginning to create your name.

Conversion to some traditions requires a name change, for example, in Sanatana Dharma, a convert always takes a Sanskrit name to signify the rebirthing process.  Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Sikhism all require or at least advise choosing a name before taking their first step into the process of conversion. and commitment

Anyone serious enough about choosing a magickal name that will do them any good has a lot of work ahead of them. It is neither simple nor easy to correctly choose a name for magickal purposes. It is for this reason that the Buddhists of Japan, tantricists, charge upwards of a million Yen for names for deceased family. These names are intended to prevent return by utilizing long complex names in archaic kanji mostly unpronounceable by laymen. 

It is not uncommon for an  individual, especially in certain shamanic/tantric cultures, to have more than a handful of names, given after certain milestone events, for purposes such as abating illness or curses, and for simply having the will to choose a name given a passing of a certain level of spiritual development. 

How to Start

Explore different languages and cultures, and examine how they treat names, words and nicknames

As a Mutational Alchemist, I find syncreticism is perfectly acceptable as per the magician’s will, but bear in mind you might catch flak for taking an Egyptian name when you are Irish or Chinese by descent.

Be prepared to defend your choice if confronted. Not everyone accepts the idea that race is a scientific fallacy, (even though it is) and adopting a culture you are not related to by blood has to be done with style and finesse, or people will probably make fun of you.

Decide if you want to keep your magickal name private, to be shared only with other occultists, your own coven/house or yourself, or if it will be a more public name that you use daily on message boards or have legally changed. You can have more than one magickal name.

You should always check the Gematria value of a name via one or another traditionally reputable systems – Hebrew is fine. Explore different spellings to extract the most auspicious form of the name before you decide to take it.  

 Decide if you would like a well established name or one that is completely unique to you.  There’s no hard rule on this. Aleister Crowley took the name Baphomet as his name in the O.T.O. He became Baphomet 729 towards the end of his reign as Outer Head of the Order.

“I had taken the name Baphomet as my motto in the O.T.O. For six years and more I had tried to discover the proper way to spell this name. I knew that it must have eight letters, and also that the numerical and literal correspondences must be such as to express the meaning of the name in such a ways as to confirm what scholarship had found out about it, and also to clear up those problems which archaeologists had so far failed to solve. “

Aleister Crowley

The magickal name is not a screen name or a nickname that describes some quirk. The name should denote the place you want to get to in some point in the future. It should represent not who you are, but who and what you wish to become. It’s something that you work up to. It’s much better to shoot for the impossible than something  you see as attainable. 

Otherwise a magickal name can be anything you like. It may represent knowledge you want to attain, or they represent standards of morality that people want to achieve – dedication, loyalty or any number of things. It calls for an honest level of self analysis and self appraisal to try to ascertain your strengths and weaknesses and figure out where you can strengthen yourself to be a better person and of better service to the Work in general. 

Finally, a magickal name is taken on for life. You should feel free to add to it but it is not something that is frivolously discarded. Even if you should do so, a strong and powerful magickal name will continue to haunt you until you acknowledge it or death takes you. 

And after you’ve chosen a name, try out some cool graffiti tags with it!

m1thr0s