The Palace of the Phoenix: Discover Tarot & Alchemy (Gated Spreads of Tarot Book 4)

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The Palace of the Phoenix: Discover Tarot & Alchemy (Gated Spreads of Tarot Book 4)

Table of contents :
About the Authors
What is the Tarot?
What Are The Top 10 Wrong Ideas About Tarot?
The Tarot & Alchemy
Palace of the Phoenix: Gate 1 The Mystic Sister
Palace of the Phoenix: Gate 2 The Laboratory
Palace of the Phoenix: Gate 3 The Tree of Mercury
Palace of the Phoenix: Gate 4 The Palace
Websites & Resources
Kindle Tarot Books & Series

Citation preview

THE PALACE OF THE PHOENIX: Gated Spread Book 4 Explore Alchemy & Tarot

By Tali Goodwin & Marcus Katz Copyright © Tali Goodwin & Marcus Katz, 2013 Published by Forge Press, Keswick All rights reserved.

WHAT OUR STUDENTS SAY … I am extremely thankful for these exercises. I feel like I could spend years contemplating these results and still not get to the bottom of the insight I have gained. C.C. This exercise as well as the others have spoken volumes. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. R. G. Incredible knowledge so easily shared … This has been a journey in which I have learned a lot of new things and feel very satisfied. L. J. Very moving and effective. I cannot wait for the next gates! Y. I suddenly realized I have been dreaming like crazy since I started these exercises! Very intuitive stuff about my situation, and about my Tarot! L.

We have used real-life examples and authentic feedback throughout this series, anonymously, from our students in Tarot-Town. We thank them for their engagement with these experiences over the years.

About the Authors “It’s all about alchemy. Everything. It’s all alchemy! Even this! . Oh, it’s cold. Maybe that’s bad alchemy. Is there a bad alchemy? Like an evil alchemy? What about a villain alchemist that goes round turning gold into lead …? I guess that’s actually the mystical quest – to turn everything we think is valuable into the simple matter that it is. Are you making tea?” Goodwin to Katz, Typical Conversation. Tali Goodwin is the co-author of award-winning and #1 best-selling Tarot books, including Around the Tarot in 78 Days, Tarot Face to Face, and Learning Lenormand. She is also a leading Tarot researcher and is credited with the discovery of A. E. Waite’s second tarot deck, kept secret for a century, published as Abiding in the Sanctuary. She has also uncovered and published the Original Lenormand deck, and with co-author Derek Bain, the original Golden Dawn Tarot images in A New Dawn for Tarot. Her research into the life of Pamela Colman-Smith with new photographs will be published as The Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot by Llewellyn Worldwide in Spring 2014. She is co-Director of Tarosophy Tarot Associations (Worldwide) and organizes the international tarot conventions, TarotCon.

Marcus Katz is author of the ground-breaking Tarot book and teaching system, Tarosophy, and is the co-founder of Tarosophy Tarot Associations (Worldwide). In addition to Tarot books with Tali Goodwin, he is the author of The Magister, an 11-volume opus on the Western Esoteric Initiatory System, The Magician’s Kabbalah, and the forthcoming Path of the Seasons. He teaches students privately in the Crucible Club, available by application.

Contents WHAT OUR STUDENTS SAY … About the Authors Contents Preface What is the Tarot? What Are The Top 10 Wrong Ideas About Tarot? The Tarot & Alchemy Chapter 1:

The Mystic Sister

Chapter 2:

The Laboratory

Chapter 3:

The Tree of Mercury

Chapter 4:

The Palace

Conclusion Bibliography Websites & Resources Kindle Tarot Books & Series

Preface Our gold is not the common gold. An old Alchemical Saying. You are about to go on a journey and experience alchemy – the art of turning lead into gold – and maybe more. Grab a Tarot deck, and we are good to go! The purpose of Gated Spreads is to overturn the common use of Tarot cards as a means of “telling” the future, or providing a brief insight into our life and motivations – and hence our future possibilities. The teaching of Tarosophy encourages the use of Tarot as a divine language; one which connects us to the deeper world underneath the apparent one which we often take for granted. A gated spread requires you to take action in your life, from which change emerges naturally. This is not the empty promise of a feelgood self-help book, but a call to action – your action – to change your life through Tarot. Our Gated Spread experiences have been offered for several years to the public, and now for the first time we provide them in handy self-study packages on Kindle. In each of these individual books, you can experience shamanism, relationship and romance insight, creativity, alchemy, and even delve into your ancestry, all using just a tarot deck.

We have also ensured that this is not a book of fictional examples that sound too good to be true. Our books are based only on real-life testing and the actual experience of real people like you, encountering magick often for the first time. We have taught these methods and ran workshops and gated spread weeks for many years, and have hundreds of experiences which have constantly shaped what you are about to experience for yourself. This book is ideal for first time users of Tarot or the experienced reader who is looking to activate the tarot in their life. We have ensured that you are given the necessary instructions and clarifications (from our previous teaching and feedback given by students) to experience true magick in your time using this book. Before you begin, you may wish to join our free Facebook group if you have any questions about Tarot, and also download our free keyword guide to tarot cards and standard spreads from our site:

What is the Tarot? The tarot as most commonly recognized is a family of card decks, most often 78 cards divided into four suits of 14 cards (10 numbered cards and 4 Court cards for each suit) and 22 Major cards. There are presently about 1,000 different decks in print or circulation, and many more out-of-print, rare and collectable decks. Although it can be proven that the tarot was developed in the early 15th century, a lot of books still suggest that it was used by the “ancient ...” and then provide lists of the unproven, non-factual ideas which results in a conflation of tarot and those very ideas. The earliest names for the tarot are Italian. Originally the cards were called carte da trionfi (cards of the triumphs), but around 1530 A.D. (about 100 years after the origin of the cards) the word tarocchi began to be used to distinguish the tarot cards from a new game of triumphs or trumps then being played with ordinary playing cards. You are actually seeing in the cards some direct examples of the triumphs – the procession of floats common at festivals in Italy at the time – particularly in such cards as The Chariot and the Court cards. There is even a Christian tarot in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; the cards were used to depict virtues, the liberal arts and sciences, and other aspirational notions from their earliest development. In fact, it could be said that the cards were originally educational or self-development tools, although that could also be debatable.

There is no evidence that the tarot were used by gypsies, originated in Egypt or were used for divination prior to the 1700s, despite popular occult lore that the cards have embodied ‘ancient teaching’ from time immemorial. It was not until a pseudo-connection between the Hebrew letters and the tarot was published in 1781 – by Comte de Mellet, in Antoine Court de Gebélin’s Le Monde Primitif – that esoteric interest began to appropriate the cards to embody occult teaching. The earliest list of the 22 cards which have become known as the Major Arcana is given in a sermon against their use by a monk writing in Latin around 1450-1470 A.D. This sermon is sometimes called the Steele Sermon as it belongs to the collection of Robert Steele. [This above section which we think is so important to teach is repeated in each booklet in this series, and is an extract from Tarosophy, by Marcus Katz].

Which Tarot Deck is Best for This Gated Spread? Our students have used a range of decks for this experience, and of course the standard Waite-Smith is a favorite. However, students have used this deck by Robert Place with particularly good results: The Alchemical Tarot

This is also the deck which features in this gated spread, being based entirely on Alchemical images.

What Are The Top 10 Wrong Ideas About Tarot? There are many wrong ideas about the tarot that seem to be popular. We would like to present quickly some common myths about tarot that you may have heard already, and change your view!

1. The tarot did not originate from Egypt, the gypsies, the Templars, Atlantis or a secret order. 2. You do not need to be gifted or given your first tarot deck – you can simply buy a deck for yourself. 3. You do not have to keep your tarot in a silk bag or bag of any particular color. 4. You can let other people touch your cards if you choose. 5. There are no real ‘rules’ in tarot, but some generally agreed good ideas. 6. The keywords for cards are not set in stone; they can be modified depending on the deck, the reading and the question. However, there are basic concepts specific to each card in the deck, which form a basic language. 7. The cards are not evil – no more than any art or printed material is “evil”.

8. You do not have to be intuitive or gifted in some special way – you can learn, and develop your tarot skills in any way. 9. The ‘ancient Celtic Cross’ spread has not been used for centuries, and it is not particularly ancient and it is not Celtic. 10. There is no single right way to read tarot – we encourage every reader to discover their own unique voice.

The Tarot & Alchemy Whilst there are many alchemical symbols in Tarot cards, there is no consistent and definite connection between the two. However, many decks have featured alchemy as part of their design in the last two centuries during the “occultism” of Tarot from its original roots. We have provided some reading material suggestions at the end of this experience for those wishing to discover more. We also have a 6-week course in Alchemy and Tarot as part of our Hekademia 2year Tarot course. We would like to begin this experience by sharing with you a section of a famous alchemical text, “the chemical wedding”. It provides us a symbolic invitation, to enter the journey of alchemy and approach what we have called “the palace of the phoenix”. This version was edited, from the Foxcroft English edition of 1690, into modern English by Adam McLean and Deirdre Green, and formed the basis of the Magnum Opus Edition, published in 1984.

The Invitation to the Alchemical Journey “On an evening before Easter Day, I sat at a table, and having (as my custom was) in my humble prayer sufficiently conversed with my Creator, and considered many great mysteries (whereof the Father of Lights his Majesty had shown me not a few) and being now ready to prepare in my heart, together with my dear Paschal Lamb, a small, unleavened, undefiled cake; all of a sudden arose so horrible a tempest, that I imagined no other but that through its mighty force, the hill on which my little house was founded would fly into pieces.

But inasmuch as this, and the like from the Devil (who had done me many a spite) was no new thing to me, I took courage, and persisted in my meditation, till somebody in an unusual manner touched me on the back; whereupon I was so hugely terrified, that I dared hardly look about me; yet I showed myself as cheerful as (in such occurrences) human frailty would permit. Now the same thing still twitching me several times by the coat, I looked back, and behold it was a fair and glorious lady, whose garments were all sky-coloured, and curiously (like Heaven) bespangled with golden stars; in her right hand she bore a trumpet of beaten gold, on which a Name was engraved which I could well read but am as yet forbidden to reveal it. In her left hand she had a great bundle of letters of all languages, which she (as I afterwards understood) was to carry to all countries. She also had large and beautiful wings, full of eyes throughout, with which she could mount aloft, and fly swifter than any eagle. I might perhaps have been able to take further notice of her, but because she stayed so little time with me, and terror and amazement still possessed me, I had to be content. For as soon as I turned about, she turned her letters over and over, and at length drew out a small one, which with great reverence she laid down upon the table, and without giving one word, departed from me. But in her mounting upward, she gave so mighty a blast on her gallant trumpet, that the whole hill echoed from it, and for a full quarter of an hour after, I could hardly hear my own words.

In so unlooked for an adventure I was at a loss, how either to advise or to assist my poor self, and therefore fell upon my knees and besought my Creator to permit nothing contrary to my eternal happiness to befall me. Whereupon with fear and trembling, I went to the letter, which was now so heavy, that had it been mere gold it could hardly have been so weighty. Now as I was diligently viewing it, I found a little seal, on which a curious cross with this inscription, IN HOC SIGNO VINCES, was engraved. Now as soon as I espied this sign I was the more comforted, as not being ignorant that such a seal was little acceptable, and much less useful, to the Devil. Whereupon I tenderly opened the letter, and within it, in an azure field, in golden letters, found the following verses written.

This day, today Is the Royal Wedding day. For this thou wast born And chosen of God for joy Thou mayest go to the mountain Whereon three temples stand, And see there this affair. Keep watch Inspect thyself And shouldst thou not bathe thoroughly The Wedding may work thy bane. Bane comes to him who faileth here Let him beware who is too light. Below was written : Sponsus and Sponsa.

As soon as I had read this letter, I was presently like to have fainted away, all my hair stood on end, and a cold sweat tricked down my whole body. For although I well perceived that this was the appointed wedding, of which seven years before I was acquainted in a bodily vision, and which now for so long a time I had with great earnestness awaited, and which lastly, by the account and calculation of the planets, I had most diligently observed, I found so to be, yet could I never foresee that it must happen under such grievous perilous conditions. For whereas I before imagined, that to be a welcome and acceptable guest, I needed only to be ready to appear at the wedding, I was now directed to Divine Providence, of which until this time I was never certain. I also found by myself, the more I examined myself, that in my head there was nothing but gross misunderstanding, and blindness in mysterious things, so that I was not able to comprehend even those things which lay under my feet, and which I daily conversed with, much less that I should be born to the searching out and understanding of the secrets of Nature, since in my opinion Nature might everywhere find a more virtuous disciple, to whom to entrust her precious, though temporary and changeable, treasures.

I found also that my bodily behavior, and outward good conversation, and brotherly love towards my neighbor, was not duly purged and cleansed. Moreover the tickling of the flesh manifested itself, whose affection was bent only to pomp and bravery, and worldly pride, and not to the good of mankind: and I was always contriving how by this art I might in a short time abundantly increase my profit and advantage, rear up stately palaces, make myself an everlasting name in the world, and other similar carnal designs. But the obscure words concerning the three temples particularly afflicted me, which I was not able to make out by any after-speculation, and perhaps should not have done so yet, had they not been wonderfully revealed to me. Thus stuck between hope and fear, examining myself again and again, and finding only my own frailty and impotence, not being in any way able to succor myself, and exceedingly amazed at the aforementioned threatening, at length I betook myself to my usual and most secure course - after I had finished my earnest and most fervent prayer, I laid myself down in my bed, so that perchance my good angel by the Divine permission might appear, and (as it had sometimes formerly happened) instruct me in this doubtful affair. Which to the praise of God, my own good, and my neighbours' faithful and hearty warning and amendment, did now likewise come about.

For I was yet scarcely fallen asleep, when I thought that I, together with an innumerable multitude of men, lay fettered with great chains in a dark dungeon, in which, without the least glimpse of light, we swarmed like bees one over another, and thus rendered each other's affliction more grievous. But although neither I nor any of the rest could see one jot, yet I continually heard one heaving himself above the other, when his chains and fetters had become ever so slightly lighter, though none of us had much reason to shove up above the other, since we were all captive wretches. Now when I with the rest had continued a good while in this affliction, and each was still reproaching the other with his blindness and captivity, at length we heard many trumpets sounding together and kettle drums beating in such a masterly fashion, that it even revived us in our calamity and made us rejoice. During this noise the cover of the dungeon was lifted up from above, and a little light let down to us. Then first might truly have been discerned the bustle we kept, for all went pell-mell, and he who perchance had heaved himself up too much, was forced down again under the others' feet. In brief, each one strove to be uppermost. Neither did I myself linger, but with my weighty fetters slipped up from under the rest, and then heaved myself upon a stone, which I laid hold of; howbeit, I was caught at several times by others, from whom yet as well as I might, I still guarded myself with hands and feet. For we imagined no other but that we should all be set at liberty, which yet fell out quite otherwise.

For after the nobles who looked upon us from above through the hole had recreated themselves a while with our struggling and lamenting, a certain hoary-headed ancient man called to us to be quiet, and having scarcely obtained this, began (as I still remember) to speak on thus: If the poor human race Were not so arrogant It would have been given much good From my mother's heritage, But because the human race will not take heed It lies in such straits And must be held in prison. And yet my dearest mother Will not regard their mischief, She leaves her lovely gifts That many a man might come to the light, Though this may chance but seldom That they be better prized Nor reckoned as mere fable. Therefore in honour of the feast Which we shall hold today, That her grace may be multiplied A good work will she do : The rope will now be lowered Whoever may hang on to it He shall be freed.”

Illus. Judgment, Alchemical Tarot, © Robert M. Place

Palace of the Phoenix: Gate 1 The Mystic Sister

Illustration. The Mystic Sister Leading the Alchemist. This is the first gate of our Palace of the Phoenix experience, and is called “The Mystic Sister”. In many alchemical texts, we find the presence of a mysterious guide, often female, who leads the alchemist. We must contact this guide to lead us to the Palace of the Phoenix. We will do this by conducting our opening reading with a spread entitled, “The Lights of Nature” spread. You will see in the alchemical image above similarities with Tarot images.

The Lights of Nature Spread

Take your cards, shuffle and cut whilst considering the life of Nature as a teacher. If the whole of the Universe is a teacher, what is it teaching? Consider that it is interesting that we humans are more prone to paranoia – the belief that everyone and everything is conspiring against us, rather than pronoia – the belief that everything is conspiring secretly to help us. Lay out the cards in a circle, face down. Move a card in from each of the four quarters into the centre of the circle. Turn these 4 cards up and place them left-to-right in the order you pulled them and stack the others remaining in the circle. Take the base card from that stack as card 5 underneath the line of 4 cards previously selected.

Asking the Mystic Sister To engage with this spread, we must consult with the mystic sister by asking a series of questions which open up the relationship between the 4 cards we have divined. In this unique spread method we do not use “positional meaning” but rather linking questions between the cards themselves. This is based on “clean language”. Clean language is a system of working with metaphors which was modelled by Lawley & Tomkins, based on the work of the therapist David Grove (1950-2008). [1] This system has been introduced into a diverse range of communications including the work of many teachers, trainers, coaches, researchers and the police. [2]. It is covered more in Tarosophy. You can either carry out a mental, verbal or written dialogue as follows, taking the first card and then asking the second card … 1.

And is there anything else about [card 1]?

What does card 2 tell you about card 1, “is there anything else about it”? Particularly in the light of the question, what is the teaching of Nature? Write down or consider what comes to mind comparing the first card in the light of the second. Then we develop the answer further by summarizing that response and then asking… 2. And what kind of [answer from card 2] is that [answer from card 2] [in the light of card 3]? We then progress by asking … 3. of card 4]?

And that’s [answer from card 3] like what [in the light

And finally … 4. And when [answer from card 4] what does the light of [card 5] teach? As an example, if I drew: The Sun 9 of Pentacles Ace of Pentacles Page of Wands And the Base card: 5 of Pentacles I would have this likely dialogue:

“ … and is there anything else about the Sun (in the light of the 9 of Pentacles, card 2)? Well, the Sun causes things to grow and eventually leads to a situation where everything has grown fully – but this may not be the happiness that was expected at the beginning. The child has grown up and feels a sense of entrapment. So I now see that the Sun has a negative side if not constantly renewed; we mustn’t allow expansion to overwhelm us and entrap us. In fact, this is a very alchemical reading already – and something Nature itself teaches, as anyone with an overgrown garden would appreciate. So I answer the first question with “overgrowing”. I then turn to the next question and ask “… and what kind of ‘overgrowing’ is that in the light of the Ace of Pentacles (card 3)?” Well, it is a gift – and provides the seed for the next season, I see in the Ace of Pentacles. That being overwhelmed can sometimes offer us the opportunity to prune and cut, hack and slash even, and find space for new seeds of opportunity. In alchemy, the philosophers stone was not just the goal – it was then used as a “seed of gold” to turn everything else into gold, like Midas. Again, Nature – the mystic sister – teaches us to regularly take time to clear out old stuff; clothes, haircut, friends, memories and make space for the new. So my answer is “clearing”. I then turn to the next question and ask, “… and that’s clearing like what, in the light of the Page of Wands?” I see that as suggesting that clearing is part of making a new journey, and part of the journey, a chance to gain a fresh perspective on the landscape and set new goals and ambitions.

So I answer “ambition”. I then ask, “… and when ambition [these questions are not grammatical!] what does Nature teach in the light of the 5 of Pentacles (the 5th, base card). I answer, “when we are ambitious, we sometimes have to go through periods of feeling on the outside, impoverished, and not part of the mainstream. We have to use this time to struggle forwards, because it is just like winter – necessary to prepare the ground for the seeds sown to grow forth in Spring”. In an alchemical sense, the teaching of Nature is here something that we might phrase as ‘in the darkness, the seed of gold grows”. Perhaps you can also develop an “alchemical saying” from your reading of your cards in this gate? We trust this makes some sort of sense, as it is quite a radical method of reading Tarot. In Tarosophy we explore free-form methods of developing conversational readings using the whole panoply of clean language questions! Whilst we hold our first converse with the Mystic Sister in this “Lights of Nature” spread, you may also wish to consider the following two Alchemical Images from Atlanta Fugiens, by Michael Maier. What Tarot cards do they resemble, in what way – and are there any significant differences?

Conclusion The gates in this particular spread are constructed upon a particular pattern and will open themselves up to slowly reveal the Philosophers Stone where it is held secret in the Palace of the Phoenix. We have a long way to go, and little time. May the Light of Nature and our Secret Sister in the Work guide us!

Illus. High Priestess, Alchemical Tarot, © Robert M. Place

Palace of the Phoenix: Gate 2 The Laboratory This is the second gate of our Palace of the Phoenix experience, and is called “The Laboratory”. Whilst we are all familiar with the concept of a laboratory, to the Alchemist, these were not simply places of chemical experiment – the inner world and the outer world were both seen as places where the “Great Work” of transmutation could be hastened. In this gate, we really start to experience the nature of “gated spreads” as the spread here feeds into the next.

The Sulpher Spread

Take your deck and shuffle whilst contemplating the following three processes:

Calcination – the slow burning fire, drying out all things to their basic elements. Solution – the dissolution and resolution of a solid into a liquid. Coagulation – cooling something liquid into a solid. These are usually seen as the first three processes of alchemy and often the essential steps as the work progresses. They also relate to the elements – Calcination (Fire), Solution (Water) & Coagulation (Earth). The next process, Sublimation, corresponds to Air, but here we are going to look at just the first three alchemical processes. So we take the next symbol of the essential elements of Alchemy, the symbol of Sulpher, as our spread design, and we are going to add a little sulphur into our laboratory – our life – through the first three processes of Alchemy! We will try not to blow anything up. Incidentally, Robert Place has the following cards as symbolizing these three processes: Calcination - Hanged Man Solution - Which card do you think may correspond to solution? Coagulation -


Adding the Sulpher

So using the symbol of Sulpher, we take 6 cards from our shuffled deck and lay them out to represent these three basic processes:

1 – Calcination: What do I need put patient work into accomplishing in the next 2 days to progress to the gate of the palace wherein lies the true philosophers stone? 2 – Solution: What must I change my mind about? 3 – Coagulation: What must I fix once and for all? 4/5/6 – What resources can I use to ensure these are balanced? The important thing with these three processes is that you divine from your reading real-world tasks, causing change in your life. Applying these notions of alchemy to the world to see what happens when you work with three processes together. You may find they all inter-relate or all appear separate.

Illus. 5 of Swords, Alchemical Tarot, © Robert M. Place We will examine what transpires and the insight adding sulphur to your life through this gate brings when we reach the next gate. It is important to ensure that you gain some “result” from this “experiment”, whether it be a change in circumstances or a state of mind, a new decision or insight, as that will be the material for the next spread.

Conclusion This is one way that gated spreads work, engaging key esoteric processes in life then channelling them into the next gate/process in a structured magical manner.

Palace of the Phoenix: Gate 3 The Tree of Mercury This is the third gate of our Palace of the Phoenix experience, and is called “The Tree of Mercury”. We now apply Mercury – the quicksilver of the Alchemist – to our result from the previous spread. We should by now have had some direct result from our actions arising from the previous gate. If not, please await a result before continuing on through this gate – the secret of Gated Spreads is that they are indeed gates! So go back to the previous spread until a result is obtained.

The Tree of Mercury Spread

We now use the symbol of the third of the most important elements – Mercury – to lay out our spread. We take the “salt” of our first work, the result of our “sulphur” and process it through the “mercurial” waters into manifestation. We do this by laying out the symbol of Mercury on the Tree of Life. This templating of one symbol onto another is a key feature in the Western Esoteric Initiatory System and arises from the concept of correspondence. In fact, many Golden Dawn rituals are based around these symbols being invisibly (astrally) templated onto the temple floor. So as you move around the temple and encounter various experiences, these relate to the “Sepiroth” of the Tree of Life that you walking across!

So, take the result from your previous Sulpher activities and consider it as a seed for further growth. You may not know how to manifest this as yet, so this is why we add Mercury in our alchemical experiment.

Take your deck, shuffle and then layout the cards in sequence, 1 – 9 as the diagram, starting at the Sephirah known as “Chockmah” and going down the last position of “Malkuth” at the bottom of the Tree. Watch the order – you are making the “lightning flash of creation” zig-zagging from one side of the Tree to the other. When you get to the bottom, lay out the 9th card then start again at the top by laying the next card on position 1, and going back down the lightning flash again to position 9. Then keep repeating until you have all the cards laid down in 9 piles, with the cards in each pile obviously face-up, with one card facing up at the top.

Your “event” is the “Kether” of this gated spread – the top Sephirah in the Tree of Life, so we haven’t laid out a pile for it. The other cards now facing up in each position show how we can manifest this in our lives, using Mercurial clarity and responsiveness: 1 [Chockmah] What must be energized 2 [Binah] What must be structured 3 [Chesed] What can expand and must be encouraged 4 [Geburah] What can contract and must be restricted 5 [Tiphareth] Where to find balance 6 [Netzach] Where to take advantage - opportunities 7 [Hod] Where to find assistance and learning 8 [Yesod] What you will find happening in your life that tells you things are settling 9 [Malkuth] The manifestation of the seed event - outcome The cards in each pile can also be read as a narrative sequence explaining more about that particular aspect of the reading.

Palace of the Phoenix: Gate 4 The Palace This is the fourth and final gate of our Palace of the Phoenix experience, and is the Palace itself. Here we discover the Alchemists Stone and the secret of the Great Work by combining our work with Salt, Sulpher and Mercury in the preceding Gates. First, we would ask you to consider this very early mystical experience described in terms of an alchemical process – it is by Zosimos of Panoplis, 3rd Century A.D.

The Visions of Zosimos The composition of the waters, and the movement, and the growth, and the removal and restitution of bodily nature, and the splitting off of the spirit from the body, and the fixation of the spirit on the body are not operations with natures alien one from the other, but, like the hard bodies of metals and the moist fluids of plants, are One Thing, of One Nature, acting upon itself. And in this system, of one kind but many colours, is preserved a research of all things, multiple and various, subject to lunar influence and measure of time, which regulates the cessation and growth by which the One Nature transforms itself.

And saying these things, I slept, and I saw a certain sacrificing priest standing before me and over and altar which had the form of a bowl. And that altar had fifteen steps going up to it. Then the priest stood up and I heard from above a voice say to me, "I have completed the descent of the fifteen steps and the ascent of the steps of light. And it is the sacrificing priest who renews me, casting off the body's coarseness, and, consecrated by necessity, I have become a spirit." And when I had heard the voice of him who stood in the altar formed like a bowl, I questioned him, desiring to understand who he was. He answered me in a weak voice saying, "I am Ion, Priest of the Adytum, and I have borne an intolerable force. For someone came at me headlong in the morning and dismembered me with a sword and tore me apart, according to the rigor of harmony. And, having cut my head off with the sword, he mashed my flesh with my bones and burned them in the fire of the treatment, until, my body transformed, I should learn to become a spirit. And I sustained the same intolerable force." And even as he said these things to me and I forced him to speak, it was as if his eyes turned to blood and he vomited up all his flesh. And I saw him as a mutilated image of a little man and he was tearing at his flesh and falling away.

And being afraid I woke and considered, "Is this not the composition of the waters?" I thought that I was right and fell asleep again. And I saw the same altar in the shape of a bowl and water bubbled at the top of it, and in it were many people endlessly. And there was no one whom I might question outside of the bowl. And I went up to the altar to view the spectacle. And I saw a little man, a barber, whitened with age, and he said to me, "What are you looking at?" I answered that I wondered at the boiling water and the men who were burning but remained alive. And he answered me saying, "The spectacle which you see is at once the entrance and the exit and the process." I questioned him further, "What is the nature of the process?" And he answered saying, "It is the place of the practice called the embalming. Men wishing to obtain virtue enter here and, fleeing the body, become spirits." I said to him, "And are you a spirit?" And he answered, saying, "Both a spirit and a guardian of spirits." As he was saying these things to me and the boiling increased and the people wailed, I saw a copper man holding a lead tablet in his hand. He spoke aloud, looking at the tablet, "I counsel all those in mortification to become calm and that each take in his hand a lead tablet and write with his own hand and that each bear his eyes upward and open his mouth until his grapes be grown."

The act followed the word and the master of the house said to me, "Have you stretched your neck up and have you seen what is done?" And I said that I had and he said to me, "This man of copper whom you have seen is the sacrificial priest and the sacrifice and he who vomited out his own flesh. To him was given authority over the water and over those men in mortification." And when I had seen these visions, I woke again and said to myself, "What is the cause of this vision? Is this not the white and yellow water, boiling, sulphurous, divine?"And I found that I understood well. And I said that it was good to speak and good to hear and good to give and good to receive and good to be poor and good to be rich. And how does the Nature learn to give and to receive? The copper man gives and the water-stone receives; the thunder gives the fire that flashed from it. For all things are woven together and all things are taken apart and all things are mingled and all things combined and all things mixed and all things separated and all things are moistened and all things are dried and all things bud and all things blossom in the altar shaped like a bowl. For each, by method and by weight of the four elements, the interlacing and separation of the whole is accomplished for no bond can be made without method. The method is natural, breathing in and breathing out, keeping the orders of the method, increasing and decreasing. And all things by division and union come together in a harmony, the method not being neglected, the Nature is transformed. For the Nature, turning on itself, is changed. And the Nature is both the nature of the virtue and the bond of the world.

And, so that I need not write to you of many things, friend, build a temple of one stone, like ceruse, like alabaster, like marble of Proconnesus in appearance, having neither beginning nor end in its building. Let it have within, a pure stream of water glittering like sunlight. Notice on what side the entry to the temple is and take your sword in hand and seek the entry. For thin-mouthed is the place where the opening is and a serpent lies by it guarding the temple. First seize him in your hands and make a sacrifice of him. And having skinned him, cut his flesh from his bones, divide him, member from member, and having brought together again the members and the bones, make them a stepping stone at the entry to the temple and mount upon them and go in, and there you will find what you seek. For the priest whom you see seated in the stream gathering his colour, is not a man of copper. For he has changed the colour of his nature, and become a man of silver whom, if you wish, after a little time, you will have as a man of gold. Then, again wishing to ascend the seven steps and to behold the seven mortifications and, as it happened, one day only did I ascend the way. Retracing my steps, I thereupon ascended the way many times. And on returning, I could not find the way, and becoming discouraged, not seeing how to get out, I fell asleep. And I saw in my sleep a certain little man, a barber, wearing a red robe and royal garments, and he stood outside of the place of the mortifications and said, "What are you doing, Man?" I said to him, "I stand here because I have missed every road and am lost." He said, "Follow me".

And going out, I followed him. And being near to the place of the mortifications, I saw the little barber man leading me and he cast into the place of the mortifications and his whole body was consumed by fire. Seeing this, I fled and trembled from the fear and I woke and said to myself, "What is this that I have seen?" And again I took thought and determined that this barber man is the man of copper. It is necessary for the first step to throw him into the place of the mortifications. My soul again desired to ascend -- the third step also. And again, alone, I went along the way, and as I drew near the place of the mortifications, again I got lost, losing sight of the path, and stood, out of my mind. And again I saw an old man of hair so white my eyes were blinded by the whiteness. His name was Agathodaemon. And the white old man, turning, looked on me for a whole hour. And I asked him, "Show me the right way." He did not turn toward me but hastened to go on the right way. And going and coming in this manner he quickly effected the altar. As I went up to the altar I saw the white old man. He was cast into the mortifications. O Creator-gods of celestial natures -- straightaway the flames took him up entire, which is a terrible story, my brother. For from the great energy of the mortifications his eyes became full with blood. And I questioned him saying, "Why do you lie there?" And he opened his mouth and said, "I am the man of lead and I am withstanding an intolerable force."

And then I woke out of fear and sought in myself the cause of this fact. And again I reflected and said to myself, "I understand well that thus must one cast out the lead -- truly the vision is concerning the combination of liquids." And again I knew the theophany and again the sacred altar and I saw a certain priest clothed in white celebrating those same terrible mysteries and I said, "Who is this?" And answering he said to me, "This is the priest of the Adytum. He wishes to put blood into the bodies, to make the eyes clear, and to raise up the dead." And again I fell asleep for a while and while I was mounting the fourth step I saw one with a sword in his hand coming out of the east. And I saw another behind him, holding a disk, white and shining and beautiful to behold. And it was called the meridian of the Sun and I approached the place of the mortifications and the one who held the sword said to me, "Cut off his head and sacrifice his meat and muscles part by part so that first the flesh may be boiled according to the method and that he might then suffer the mortifications." And waking, I said, "I understand well that these matters concern the liquids of the art of the metals." And the one who held the sword said "You have fulfilled the seven steps beneath." And the other said at the same time as the casting out of the lead by all the liquids, "The Work is completed."

How Does Nature Learn to Give and Receive?

This question is one at the beating heart of the Palace of the Phoenix, which as you may have guessed whilst reading the above text, is none other than your own body. The Phoenix here is the spiritual self purged of its attachments and reborn, and the Stone is what is left once mortification is complete – a temple, a palace, which is a “pure stream of water glittering like sunshine” – your own awareness which arises from the very transformations of Nature, with no reflection other than itself. To ascend these final steps to the Palace of the Phoenix, we will turn back and draw together the previous Gates.

The Palace of the Phoenix Spread

Illustration. The Emerald Tablet. Take your deck and shuffle, recalling the previous work you have accomplished. Take out 3 cards for each question below as your divination:

1. What is the “lovely gift” spoken of in the rhyme at the closing of the invitation of the Chymical Wedding? What is Nature presenting me to “come to the light?” 2. And having seen that gift, how do I apply the lesson I learnt from Nature when I conversed with the Mystical Sister? What do I do in response to the gift? 3. And in taking that response, how do I best utilize the inevitable presence of Sulpher? How do I maintain balance as Nature Gives and Receives? 4. So at last I reveal the Philosophers Stone, the Pure Mercury. What is the Nature of Nature when it only reflects itself in and through my-self? These 12 cards represent 3 steps in 4 stages through the Alchemical process of the previous Gates. They should be used as contemplation pieces for a week if you choose, as they may not always be immediately obvious on first reading. If you require ideas for the meaning of the cards, download our free 22-page guide at Do consider your experiences in each of the Gates as shedding light on each of the first three questions which derive from those same Gates.


We trust you have found this Alchemical experience through Tarot of interest and engaged in your Life. There are many avenues to pursue your interest in Alchemical symbolism – with Robert Place’s Alchemical Tarot, with Jungian considerations, or looking at the alchemical symbolism in the Thoth deck. You may like to read Mary K. Greer’s article on the latter in the special “Thoth” issue (#4) of Tarosophist International, free to members of Tarosophy Tarot Associations.

Conclusion “The Sun and his shadow finish the Work”. An old Alchemical Saying We trust during this week-long taster experience you have been given a new angle on your Tarot, and look forward to welcoming you on our other Gated Spreads in the future. You can share your experiences in our social site, Tarot-Town, and ask questions. The site is free with membership of your national Tarot Association, with many other member benefits.

Notes 1. James Lawley & Penny Tompkins, Metaphors in Mind (London: The Developing Company Press, 2000) 2. Clean Language Site, [last accessed 18th January 2010]

Bibliography Katz, M. The Alchemical Amphitheatre: A 6-month self-study course in Alchemy. Forge Press, 2008. In Entrance to the Alchemical Amphitheatre By Marcus Katz, M.A. (Western esotericism) you will learn to live a Transformative life through Magical Alchemy! This book, reviewed independently on Amazon as “simply genius” is an Alchemy course in six monthly modules available as a download or paperback book version. In this thoroughly researched course, combining a range of learning styles, you'll experience four simple alchemical experiments using household materials, seven unique praxis meditations, the Ritual of the Dew for transforming your life, and Alchemical Adorations, amongst a range of readings and alchemical exercises. Suitable for beginners and adepts alike, using research of the highest academic level, informed through thirty years practical experience of teaching and western esoteric studies. Find out who wrote the Rosicrucian Manifestos, why Alchemy and Dreaming are related, the secrets of the Emerald Tablet, and much, much more! Katz, M. Tarosophy. Chang Mai: Salamander & Sons, 2012. Katz, M. & Goodwin, T. Around the Tarot in 78 Days. Woodbury: Llewellyn, 2012. Katz, M. & Goodwin, T. Tarot Flip. Forge Press, 2012. Waite, A. E. Pictorial Key to the Tarot. London: Rider, 1974.

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