APPENDIX: Comments to creating a deck of cards to assist in the hieros gamos

The comments were almost as important as the post:

Responses (22 of 22)


While I appreciate the long dialogue, I am lost as tou your question or premise. Maybe I just have not had enough coffee but…could you clarify?


ah so I should revise? thank you.

I am suggesting we can use language and Semiology (the branch of Semiotics that focuses on the meaning of symbols) with Jung’s understanding of the Collective Unconscious to practice the Sacred Marriage through kabbalistic archetypes.

The Hieros Gamos is prehistoric and was a deep part of Mesopotamian cosmology. I think there was a Jewish attraction to this practice since they had been an important part of that culture for a few thousand years. Be that as it may, Kabbalah actually has a system for the descent of a “god” to a mortal. Whether its real or archetypal is irrelevant — the old symbols work to make something awesome happen and tarot cards are a great format for making that happen.

omf if this is your “wake up” my husband NEVER talks to me without an hour of degrog. But is that any clearer? if not please let me try again. Where am I hitting a snag?

GarethB: devilheart

Sex magic is physical, not cerebral; the Tarot is cerebral, not physical.

Certainly the Tarot is a document of (among other things) occult philosophy organized into a deck of cards. While it can provide some ideas around sacred sex and sex magic, that’s all it can do — stimulate some ideas.

The Hieros Gamos is prehistoric and was a deep part of Mesopotamian cosmology.

That’s probably true, as sex is the most popular route to ecstatic experience. Assertions as to its “prehistoricity” are problematic, since the fundamental description of pre-history is that it was the time before “history” had begun to be recorded. Ancient Egyptian religious practice famously included the Hieros Gamos between royal siblings who were married to each other to replicate a famous mythological coupling. In Middle Eastern ancient religion, Inanna married Tamuzi; Orpheus married Eurydice; and so on. Did ritual practice replicate these connections? Maybe.

Today, the Hieros Gamos is the sacred sexual connection between the High Priest and the High Priestess, of whatever path is being discussed. The fundamental technique is to focus on the goal of the ritual while having sex, and keeping that concentration while orgasming, the orgasm “powering” the magic.

This doesn’t require a lot of cerebral overplanning, Do it first, research it later.

I’m a Gardnerian 3rd Degree, and a Feri initiate. While there is an oceanic quantity of cerebral activity around those paths, they really only “work” when all those involved “get out of their heads.” Study, study, study; then “forget it all” while doing the ritual.


@Talith I did answer, but did not hit reply so I don’t think you got my response. My apologies.


@GarethB. Interest. A little bit different of an approach from high magic, and certainly different as a premise from what Uncle Buck used to advise?

The concept that the effort defines the results etc.?


@GarethB OK, so you don’t believe in the body/mind/spirit connection. The idea of “Low Magick” as understood by the Hermetics doesn’t either. I had a friend who was a 3d degree Gard HPS who taught me some of the fundamental of the craft while she was here doing her graduate degree in Neuroscience. I have her on a podcast raising all hell with Donald Michael Craig for Hermetics labeling the Craft as Low Magick. I’m not sure this is the episode since they both were on a couple of times, but was pretty funny.…

I am saying that because of my own personal experiences throughout my life, I went back to school in my 50s, switched my major to finish out an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies. Though I have much to learn from the Wiccan perspective of the Craft, this is not where I got my experience in Witchcraft.

I have a great deal of respect for sympathetic magick that’s so important to Gards — but I am also saying there are many many people that have experienced “gods” in a palpable fashion which is why I used Jung as an example. His experiences are much like my own so I turn to his books a lot. But even if you don’t want to think about Jung, we could talk about the whole neotantric movement inspired by the Hindus that bring together Mind/Spirit/Body. About spirit? I had a lengthy discussion with a Canadian Anishinaabe who said it was not his job to teach non-indians (and yes he used the term indian) about spirit. For them and for most mystics, there is an intimate connection between the mind, spirit and body. It’s simply how some people are wired. And because I experience this connection different from many Wiccans, I don’t call myself nor does anybody else in my coven. I do, however, experience the Great Rite through an entity.

I only had so much I could say in one submission (love that word) here. If you’re at all interested in my reference to prehistoric references here’s a few.

1) There’s a travel guide attempting to bring more people to Bulgaria and introducing us to the Womb Cave at…. (I couldn’t get the “embedding to work :() Bulgaria shares a coast with the Black Sea which shares its shores with Turkey whose mountains to Iraq’s mountain range that is the source of the Tigres Euphrates rivers.

2) The book, “Ancient Iraq” by Georges Roux is a book the University of Chicago uses for first level Sumerologists. On p. 81 he says “Another point should be made quite clear: there is no such thing as a Sumerian ‘race’ neither in the scientific nor the ordinary sense of the term. The skulls from Sumerian graves that have been examined are either dolicho- or brachycephalic and indicate a mixture of the so-called Armenoid and Mediterranean races, the latter being somewhat predominant.” Even if there are fewer “Armenoids” I like the fact that they’re near the source of the Tigres Euphrates rivers and in an area where there’s a womb cave which clearly housed a pretty sophisticated “Sacred Marriage.”

3) I see a strong possibility that some of these prehistorics got in “boats” that floated them from the Taurus Mountains in Eastern Turkey and Iran down the rivers and to the mouth of the rivers by the Persian Gulf to Dilmun (some think was Eden). At some point they could have reached the main shore of what is now the Arab shore and migrated north to where the two rivers meet and founded Eridu. I could have happened archaeologically and geographically. I probably need a better focus to see the area more clearly, but being 64 I think I have enough to start with someone younger and can create a more facile dialogue.

Totally LOVE the “do it first, research it later” attitude. I did it for years in TerraIncognita, our “temple” here in Chicago before we sent me back to DePaul. So now I’m researching. 😉

GarethB: devilheart

Talith and TempleWhore: thank you for the thoughtful responses.

TW: @GarethB OK, so you don’t believe in the body/mind/spirit connection.

My perception (cerebrally and carnally!) is that mind, body, and spirit are all facets of one thing: a human being.

A mind without a body is not, as far as I’m aware, possible at all. Dead people don’t emit “mind.” Neither do people with severe head injuries. Without the meat, there is no (discernible mind.

People with functioning heart and lungs, but who have had severe brain injury (e.g. anoxia), exist in a “vegetative state”. This demonstrates that the body can live without a mind, but anyone who seen such a person instantly sees that “no one is at home.” Without the mind, the meat doesn’t express a person.

Of course, body and mind each affect the other. It’s a cliché that most of the time, having a penis provides its possessor’s mind with a certain way of looking at the world (please don’t lecture me about hormones etc.) while possessing a vagina provides other ways of looking at the world. Of course, for some people, these anatomical occurrences inspire a vastly different set of attitudes, hence the extensive cultural recurrence of “multiple genders”, yet another example of how the body affects the mind and vice versa.

However, mind and body are capable of different things. This is similar to the proverb “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” If you want to do sex, involve your body; if you want to think, involve your mind. You get to have more than one tool.

Copper is plentiful and was extracted from ore to make some early Egyptian weapons, for instance. But the addition of tin (about 90% copper, 10% tin) created bronze, a tougher metal. That, however, required “international” trade. Phoenicians sailed from Cornwall. in southwestern Britain where there were tin mines, to buyers in the Mediterranean, starting before the recording of history. It’s important to remember that all these ancient cultures were at least aware of each other. So even if boats had a mystical quality (“I shall said on the boat of a million years” – ancient Egypt) they still had an utterly practical aspect as well. Boats may have also been used in transporting some of the stones to Stonehenge. I suspect that although that may have had a ritual foundation, those people likely yelled at each other to assure the boat was managed properly, and had some mead once they arrived with their cargo. Those people had the same brains and brain power that we have… just a smaller vocabulary, and different foundational notions (e.g. living within the “sphere of the fixed stars.”)

So I think it’s important to remember that 10,000 years ago, living people were basically indistinguishable for us.

Interesting observation on Middle Eastern races,
About 18 years ago I visited Egypt and spend a day inside the national Egyptian Museum. There are painted human-figure statues from the Old Kingdom. Those people had a distinctive copper-colored skin tone with brown hair. Their features were remarkably “caucasian”. People who look like that aren’t walking the Earth today. I appreciate that “race” is basically a social construct; a Siberian shaman’s blood can possibly match an Australian aborigine’s. People’s faces and skin tones vary, but we are all human beings, all the same species. That is why, when you’re asked to specify your race on some form to be filled out, put in “human.”

(By the way, there are blonde Egyptians. I mentioned this to a local I met, who laughed and told me that the Vikings came through Egypt and did what Vikings aways do.)

Totally LOVE the “do it first, research it later” attitude.

I cannot take credit for that. In the 60s, the late great Abbie Hoffman, talking about street theatre, said: “Perform it first, rehearse it later.” Words to live by.


@GarethB actually some groups are able to be distinguished from others more than others. Finns, Australian Aborigines actually being to of the bigger exceptions to the rule.

If you are interested in magic read about some of the aboriginal shamans in particular. Some of the aboriginal holy or cursed sites etc..


@GarethB Clearly I’m talking to someone who’s had some experience with the human body outside of the normal physical exchanges we’d expect here on Fet… I’m thinking you and I are having issues with definitions and understanding of what a “mind” is. Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you saying that the mind is the same thing as a brain function? Or as everything in the body comes from some sort of brain function, perhaps its more correct to say the mind is one of many functions that a brain does? You could easily trigger this my nasty propensities for overthinking. gryns

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail I used to work at the Theosophical Society when I lived in the suburb next to Wheaton where Olcott (one of 3 international Theosophy centers) is first as a High School student then as a young adult. They used to say that when a pickpocket saw a prophet, all he’d see were pockets. Really interesting how one clever concept is expressed in different cultures though within the same language. There’s Durkheim again. Our language identifies our totem. I’d say you had a scientific bend — maybe something to do with Anatomy. Your responses are very physical — and I would NOT say you were wrong, but I would say there is a property of the mind that is humanly physical AND bridges to spirit or houses a spirit or an aspect you are not reflecting in your answer here.

I’m fascinated with the copper color of the skin of Egyptians. You see a copper tinge in Australoid who at some point mixed with the Caucasoids creating those in Sri Lanka and the Indian subcontinent. I’d say the Caucasoids broke off from whatever was going on in the Indian Subcontinent but this happened 60,000 years BCE and frankly Anthropology is a little more than a passing interest. An Australian Aborigine somehow ended up spending the night in my apartment when I was in my early 20s living in Arizona. I was totally taken by his intelligence and the coppery tinge to his dark brown skin. He could have had me then and there, but respected me more than that. I will always remember him as the one that got away, but boy he was captivating.


@Talith so wish I’d seen your post earlier. how is it you slip in just before me? twice now? lol


@Talith I just read your fascinating thread from almost a year ago:…. Couldn’t find a reply button to your post. Wish I had the juice left to respond to it. Though Gengis_chuan’s reply interesting as well. I guess somehow I’d try to craft something around conscious energy – but maybe that’s supposed to be another post 😉

Triskalon: devilheart

Temple Whore, this is a very interesting thought line and while I’m not a fan of Kabbalah I do appreciate the historical background that you presented. And found your thread to be both informative and enlightening.

In regards to your question about Tarot cards being used in a Sacred Marriage rite. I would think that the cards would be an effective magical tool for such a working or any other working of magic for that matter.

Conventional wisdom is that the Tarot is a tool of divination however when one takes the time to learn each card and understand how the cards relate to each other. Taking chance out of the equation and being replaced with the desire and willed intent of the magician the Tarot can be a powerful magical tool in the hands of an adept magician.


@Triskalon Indeed … and yet what I’m saying is this: the hermetic images that were applied to tarot cards have set a standard which are not set up to call down a proper Hieros Gamos. This is because the Rubric for this to happen was reconfigured by Christians centuries ago.

We’d be able to design an appropriate deck much easier by using the original design as first developed by Jewish mysticism. Jewish mystics never used cards, the hermetics did — successfully. So, why not apply the hermetic format (78 cards, divided into major arcanum based on a Tree of Life and minor arcanum based on elements) but with Judaic meanings which you can find on sights dedicated to Jewish mysticism involving the Jewish Kabbalah and Gematria. You’d get the term Hieros Gamos already established right where it should be (the 9th major arcanum card) instead of psychically arguing with the Hermit that presently sits in the 9th place.

Does that make sense? Sometimes my meanings get garbled.

Triskalon: devilheart

Thanks for reminding me about the Hermetic roots connected with Jewish Mysticism. That is something to ponder. I’m going to look at my cards starting with the Major Arcanum study them through out the day in light of the Hermetic & Jewish Mysticism background you presented and I’ll PM you with my observations sometime tomorrow morning.


@Triskalon I don’t believe my explanation was clear enough. How about this:

Look at the major arcanum IX in your tarot deck. It’s a Hermit – right?

That began some time in the 16th Century when the Christians deliberately changed the Jewish Tree of Life and changed some things around to suit a Christian agenda. I could make this into another post, but I don’t think that would clear up what I’m trying to say here… but one thing was removing the Da’at which then honored a Christian trinity instead of an intended Jewish Gnostic Monadic Monad. It’s possible MacKenzie added it back in when he was codifying the cards.

The Christians diminished the point of the 5th sefirot. Their change inspired the Hermetics to put a Pope or Hierophant in that spot, which is to diminish the power of the “Lilith or demonic aspect of that sefirot.

The 8th card or sefirot in which is traditionally Justice Gematria would say was marriage. There are many reasons Marriage fits here so well is because in VII (the Chariot) you’re invoking the god or being. in 8 you are doing the ritual to santify the womb before seeding it through the sexual act with the god in the IXth. This is the Hieros Gamos, the sexual act in the Ixth card, not the Hermit. The Shakhinah is in the 10th which is priceless. The Hermetic deck makes that Fate, but in Jewish Mysticism this is where the divine femnine finds her salvation within her husband’s semen —

Sexist attitudes have made this whole process profane, but that’s a whole other post and I have no juice left to poke at that can of worms. lol

I am saying that we can assign anything we want from a spell with the usual deck of tarot. But it’d be interesting reworking the cards to honor the original intent of the Tree and activate this pagan rite. It’d be kinda cool to have Lilith running the V with IV being a shaman king to satisfy Emperor and Hierophant and a sex couple doing the do in the IXth to start. Could be fun.

Triskalon: devilheart

I just laid those cards out in the order you presented them in and yes that would be a very cool working.

I would love to get my hands on a Hermetic deck with the original images you described.


@Triskalon There is no such thing.

The meaning I’m speaking of is purely Jewish mysticism.
The Christians stole it for their own agenda.
The Hermetics used the Christian paradigm to codify the cards in the 1800s.

Now look at this: (It’s very cool)

Elphias Levi came to London in the 1800s and hired a Freemason to design a deck. This Freemason’s name was Kenneth MacKenzie. He was a very well educated and highly placed Freemason – This is what he did.

I want you to understand first that some Kabbalists see there as being an exoteric and esoteric meaning to each sefirot — which shows me that MacKenzie knew something of Jewish mysticism. If we assign a sefirot to each of the 22 major arcanum this is what happens:

Thinking Christians feel before you go to your forever place, you pass through the final judgment – right? So hold the XX card in your mind as you do this exercise. And remember, if you count the 0 card there are 11 going down to Destiny X and 11 returning to finally leave with the XXI right? So now watch

The 0 fool goes through XX – he pays a consequence or gets a reward for his actions.
The exoteric side of the 0 card is the Fool, its spiritual esoteric side is the Fools Judgment.
the I or Magus goes through XX (so take 1 away from 20 = 19) the Magus is the exoteric and XIX is the Sun or clarity which is its counterpart.

In this exercise you take the lower half of the major arcanum away from Judgment and next to it you put down the higher arcanum card and tell me what happens. What insight do you get from the major arcanum cards as both the cards structure (exoteric) is what people see, but the higher majors show what spirituality runs that structure (esoteric).

The meet in the middle – Destiny or X.

Tell me your thoughts after you do this. 😉

Triskalon: devilheart

Temple Whore, below are my impressions using the 1JJ Swiss Tarot Deck without reading too much into the cards.

Cards from the major Arcana:

The Fool, Judgement XX, The Magician I, The Sun XV1111, Wheel of Fortune X
The Fool takes responsibility for his actions and deals with the negative consequences through acceptance while at the same time gaining the benefit of wisdom.

The Fool passes through Judgement and becomes a master of him-self and is transformed from a Fool to an Adept Magician. The Adept Magician becomes Illuminated, and finds companionship and works his magic in the world and is control of his destiny.


@Triskalon I love what you did here!!!! You added a piece for me I overlooked. I completely to take the step forward as a product of JUDGMENT. EXCELLENT!!! This is Hermetic and a valid path. I love what happens here — so again let’s suspend this thought and come back to it in a minute.

The term for Western European/American perspective as contrasted with the East is Occident or Occidental. The Jewish mystics have a more cyclic mindset that does the West. The Hermetic Tree is progresses linearly. Right? Ever upward and it moves through the 10 sefirots like this:

0 + 20 (Fool Exoteric – Judgment Esoteric) to the next step as you say
1 + 19 (1 Magician Exoteric – 19 Sun Esoteric) through JUDGMENT to next step
2 + 18 (2 HPS Exoteric – 18 Moon Esoteric)
3 + 17 (3 Empress Exoteric – 17 Star Esoteric) Levi’s Empress was pregnant because the Binah which corresponds to this Hermetic image was the mother of the rest of the sefirot.
4 + 16 (4 Emperor Exoteric – 16 Tower Esoteric) Isn’t this interesting? what are your thoughts here? But just as cool:
5+15 (5 Hierophant Exoteric – 15 Devil Esoteric) So the Devil motivates the Pope? How wonderful is THAT? and how Hermetic! but then what do you see?
6+14 (6 Lovers Exoteric – 14 Temperence Esoteric) Youth control thyself! lol. Not on FET you won’t muahahaha. (Amanda apply Temperence) Seriously Your thoughts?
7 +13 (7 Chariot Esoteric + 13 Death Exoteric) One way of looking at this is one calls down the Ineffable in 7 – what are your thoughts?
8+12 (8 Justice Esoteric + 12 Hanged Man Exoteric) All sorts of ways a Hanged Man can effect Justice – Some of your thoughts?
9+11 (9 Hermit Esoteric + 11 Strength) and this is why I’ve thought of Strength as Inner Strength)
it all meets at 10
10 Fate + 10 Fate.

The fact that this pattern is so seamless makes me believe this is how Kenneth MacKenzie designed it and how Elphias Levi saw it. I’m not sure why tarotic archetypes line bridges between sefirot, but I don’t think it works the same way as MacKenzie’s vision which is why I think that practice is a Golden Dawn invention and not from Aleister Crowley.

With that said, we can compare this to The Jewish Tree path which goes down and then up again. It’s a dialectic between the right and left pillars through 4 worlds resolving in the IXthe and finally Malchut (the Shekhinah) . There is a whole different experience here. But this pattern can turn into a lemniscate which coincidentally is an 8 on its side (or conversely an 8 could be a lemniscate on its end)which in itself can mean a great deal … but again for another time.

So In the Jewish Tree, the Hieros Gamos (a god having sex with his beloved in the physical world) is the end goal, not an adept going to heaven through the Gates of Judgment. In fact, you can always tell a Hermetic from a Jewish Tree because the 10th sefirot in the Hermetic Tree is attached where it is not in the Jewish Tree. That’s because the Shekhinah separated from her beloved. The Hieros Gamos brings them back together if not for just a moment.

I’m really interested in what you see now?

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