Once, I won a game of Trivial Pursuit simply by having the U.S. Presidents memorized, in order, from Washington to Carter (I’ve since added on the more recent presidents to my memorized list), as well as similar lists for Kings of England and leaders of the Soviet Union. The question, as I recall it, was, “Who was the leader of the Soviet Union during the so-called ‘kitchen debates’?”

I couldn’t remember when the kitchen debates occurred. I couldn’t remember who was the leader of the Soviet Union, either. So I had to punt. I said, “Well, let’s see. The kitchen debates occurred between Nixon and the Soviet leader… but I don’t think that Nixon was president, and he was elected in 1968. So the debate had to have occurred when he was vice-president to Eisenhower, and Eisenhower was president from 1953 to 1961… and in the Soviet Union, Gorbachev was preceded by Andropov, and there was another guy in there but he only lasted a year, and Andropov replaced Brezhnev, and Brezhnev replaced Khrushchev, and he succeeded Stalin’s successor who only lasted a year, as well. So it was Khrushchev, and it was probably 1958 or 1959.”

I was right. We looked it up later: the kitchen debate occurred on July 24, 1959 between Richard M. Nixon (as vice-president to Dwight D. Eisenhower) and Nikita Khrushchev in Sokolniki Park in Moscow.

My opponents simply stared at me. In Trivial Pursuit, the expectation is that you either know the answer or you don’t. You don’t put together two lists of leaders and wrangle your way to the solution by a process of elimination like that. “That was … magical,” said one opponent, as I finished my answer.

Modern education assumes that the answer is always as close as the phone in your pocket or the computer on your desk. To the medieval, Renaissance, or early Enlightenment-era mind, though, the answer might be as far away as a monastery several counties (or countries) over, and an inconveniently long walk away. To travel to your answer wasn’t so useful as being able to place yourself in space or time on your own.

For these reasons (and not just winning Trivial Pursuit), it is useful for an occultist or memory artist not simply to memorize the sigils and names and abilities of various daemons and angels, but also to cultivate knowledge of real-world events, and to be able to quickly place them in time.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to memorize U.S. Presidents. The most senior officer of the US government has changed every four or eight years (with only a few assassinations along the way) since 1789, which creates a useful time-keeping device for the last two hundred thirty-two years. The continuity of that cycle is incredibly useful for when you can’t track specific events by year — you can narrow an event down to a simple four- or eight-year window even when your phone has a dead battery (or when you’re in the middle of a cutthroat game of Trivial Pursuit with your partner’s family, and winning makes you look good).

Learning the Memory Technique

For the purposes of memorizing the presidents using palace of memory techniques, it’s useful to imagine a U-shaped hallway, with each president’s portrait and name plate and years arranged along the outside edge of the U. To date, there have been forty-six presidents, which means that there will be fifteen on each of the three legs of the trip. This also means that Abraham Lincoln as the sixteenth US President will be just after the first bend in the hallway, and Herbert Hoover, as the thirty-first president, will be just after the second bend in the hallway. Since Abraham Lincoln presides over the US Civil War, and Hoover’s administration witnessed the start of the Great Depression, these help anchor the keystones of US history, as well — the American Revolution is at the start of the hall; the Civil War is at the first curve; the Great Depression and World War II define the second curve; and the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars define the other end of the hall.

The second thing that you can do, to cultivate memory of image, is go to Wikipedia and download all of the portraits of the US Presidents into a slide-show program on your computer. Duplicate the slide show, and make one the practice slides, with all the names and dates listed. Make the other the test, with no names or dates, and use it to confirm your progress. Most of the US presidents have distinctive facial features, hairdos, and weird stances that will assist you in memorizing them — Martin Van Buren particularly comes to mind when I think “weird hair.”

The occultist should notice that the more thoroughly they have this list memorized, the more easily events since 1789 get ‘slotted in’ to a chronology. You’ll find yourself thinking things like, “Oh, the British witchcraft law was repealed in 1959… Eisenhower was president. Oh, Aleister Crowley was born in 1875… Ulysses S. Grant was the president… and Harry S. Truman was president when Crowley died.” You’ll find that, over time, these sorts of conversations in your head help you weave a clearer context and content around your investigations of magic, occultism, and spirituality — and give you a clearer picture of politics, economics, and scientific development. All of these will help you become a more effective adviser, thinker and investigator, whether or not your phone is a dead in your pocket.

Andrew B. Watt is an astrologer, artist, designer, artist, writer, speaking coach, and philosopher in western Massachusetts. You can find him at his website, Wanderings in the Labyrinth.

This guest article was made possible by the Arnemancy Patreon supporters. Want to help? Join us!

Continuing on the Decan Walk, we come to the second Decan of Aries, which stretches from 10° to 20° of the sign. This year, the Sun was in this Decan from March 30th to April 9th. In the Pacific Northwest, where I live, this is the time of year when the Sun is shining more and more, rain showers tend to be a little less frequent, and I complain a lot because the winter didn’t get enough snow again.

As a reminder, my Patreon subscribers get a more in-depth look into my Decan Walk experience. I believe it will be helpful to share with my audience and supporters the nature of my experience – successes, failures, and everything else! If you are not yet a Patreon supporter and would like to get the full Decan Walk experience, you can sign up at this link.

The Three of Wands

RWS Three of WandsContemplating this card during this Decan has been tricky for me. I know what the card means to me, but that wasn’t the challenge I faced. I contemplated the meaning of three-ness, its connection to the sefirah of Binah, its meaning as a vehicle of growth and generation. But I started to get swept away and overwhelmed with the number of associations and correspondences that one can encounter by looking at the Decans.

In fact, it wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I really realized that the overwhelming rush of expansion is part of the experience of this card. The Three of Wands is about looking outward, getting bigger, and expanding horizons. In the grand story of the Minor Arcana, this card is the first explosive burst of creation, after the creator becomes aware of itself but before anything truly comes into being as a result of that awareness. Though the Waite-Smith image of the card doesn’t reveal itself, there is chaos here – raw potential, unformed and eager, reaching for the horizon.

Some of this is present in the card’s image. The main character looks outward, just like in the Two of Wands, but they are not contemplative as much as they are commanding. Their fleet of ships sails away, toward the horizon and new discover. There is a possibility that the main character is a conqueror, since their right arm appears to be armored.

None of the threes are particularly stable cards. They all indicate change, with various degrees of control and purpose. This card is about a burning desire for more. Maybe it signifies greed to some extent, but to me it is about ideas taking hold, perhaps assuming a life of their own, and spreading into the world like wildfire or a conquering army.

The growth of the Three of Wands cannot last forever, though, as we will see as the Decan Walk progresses.

The Second Face of Aries

Agrippa and the Picatrix have very different things to say about the image associated with the Second Face of Aries. I’m just going to quote from T. Susan Chang’s Tarot Correspondences: Ancient Secrets for Everyday Readers, since it’s easier than having a dozen grimoires on my desk.

Here is the Picatrix image:

A woman dressed in green clothes, lacking one leg.

And Agrippa:

A woman, outwardly clothed with a red garment, and under it a white, spreading abroad over her feet.1

If you would like to read more, it is available through Patreon!

  1. Chang, T. Susan. Tarot Correspondences: Ancient Secrets for Everyday Readers. Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2018. 67. 

Enroll now in my new class, Tarot and the Art of Memory: The Minor Arcana!

Learn how to use the fabled Art of Memory to memorize the Minor Arcana of the Tarot. This class introduces a method that once memorized, adapts quickly and easily to any standard Tarot deck. Learn how to use Giordano Bruno’s powerful seals to memorize the meanings of the Minor Arcana, including the court cards.

I’ve been writing and speaking about the Art of Memory for years, and if you have been following the blog or podcast, you have heard a short overview of my technique. This class will go more in-depth, discussing the theory behind using the Art of Memory for Tarot memorization and how this can influence your cartomancy practice.

This class will be held on Sunday, April 25th, 2021 at 10:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time. Enrollment is based on a sliding scale from $10 to $25. If you can’t make it, sign up for the Arnemancy newsletter to be notified when it is available for watch-on-demand later. Click here to enroll or use the form below!

Science and Magic with Tres Henry

Today, occultists and practitioners are fortunate to have the aid of modern tools like computers to aid in their studies. In this episode of the podcast, I am joined by one of the creators of such tools, Tres Henry. We discuss not only the role of software in magic, but the balance between rational science and mysticism. We also discuss geomancy, maintaining magical balance, and the responsibilities of a magician.

Tres Henry is a magician, software engineer, and tinkerer who has worked in the tech industry for over twenty years. He is now bringing all of that nerd power to bear by creating digital tools for magicians. Two that you may have heard of are the astrology software Urania and online geomantic tool Georatio.


Support me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/arnemancy
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Aries I: The Two of Wands

Beginning a Decan Walk is its own kind of experience. There are so many things you can focus on, so many avenues to explore, and a multitude of approaches. I have chosen to combine a few different approaches. For my own personal exploration of the 36 Zodiacal decans, I am following the rituals put together by my friend Andrew B. Watt, which he is distributing on his Patreon page.

However, I am also giving my Patreon subscribers an inside look into my Decan Walk experience. Since this is my first foray into one of these year-long explorations, it’s not responsible for me to claim that I can lead anybody through it. However, I am a practitioner with many years of experience and I believe it will be helpful to share with my audience and supporters the nature of my experience – successes, failures, and everything else! If you are not yet a Patreon supporter and would like to get the full Decan Walk experience, you can sign up at this link.

Most of what I will share about this experience will be my insight into the connection between the Decans and the 36 Minor Arcana of the Tarot with which they are associated.

This is the first segment of the Decan Walk, Aries I. It covers the first ten degrees of Aries, is ruled by the planet Mars, and is associated with the Two of Wands.

The Two of Wands

Wands are the suit of elemental Fire, and as such they deal with the most abstract, energetic, and creative force in the Tarot. These cards are about imagination, creativity, and beginning. Fire is an active element, and like real fire it can have a destructive side. This card, however, holds pure potential.

Two of WandsIf we look at all of the 36 Minor Arcana associated with the Decans as one story, this is the beginning. In the Two of Wands, the motive force behind pure creation has reflected upon itself and has created a second from nothing. With two, you can generate a third, and all of creation – the entire story of creation – cascades out of it.

In the Waite-Smith card, a man holds a globe in his hand and looks out over a vast landscape. He thinks about expansion and creation. The globe in his hand represents the final form of creation that we will eventually reach at the end of the suit of Pentacles. It is interesting that these cards are far away in terms of Tarot, but only about six months away in terms of the Decan Walk itself. But let’s not jump too far ahead!

While this card doesn’t necessarily indicate action, it is definitely the coiled spring of the Minor Arcana. From here, all potential springs and can either be realized or wasted. I have always seen this character as an ambitious merchant more than a conqueror, and as a merchant he appears ready to take a risk. Ahead of him is opportunity, and he is about to burst forth to carry out his plans. Will he succeed? This card isn’t about that – it is about the power and will to act.

The plans being pondered by the man in the Two of Wands will quickly begin to be realized. There is a rocky road ahead, with both successes and failures, obstacles and triumphs.

If you would like to read more about this Decan, you can find the rest on my Patreon page!

Astrological Magic with Joshua Proto

In this episode, I am joined by my friend Joshua Proto (he/they) for a conversation about astrological magic. We discuss a variety of interesting topics, such as spirit-based astrology, how to get started with astrological magic, how to overcome “election paralysis”, and more. Later in the podcast, we drill down into the philosophy of astrological magic, discussing topics such as the golden chain of existence and the concept of ensouling matter through magical ritual.

Since 2014, Joshua Proto has created over 100 astrological talismans according to traditional sources like the Picatrix, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, and the oral teachings of select Tibetan and Newar Buddhist Tantras. Josh frequently helps clients find talismanic and ritual solutions to a variety of astrological and magical problems through his website and offers training and workshops around practicing astrological magic.


Josh also says, “Send me an email with the subject ‘Planetary magic’ and you’ll get a special gift once what I’m planning at planetarymagic.com goes live!”

Support me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/arnemancy
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Decans have been everywhere in my occult life lately. First, there are the Picatrix Decans cards by J Swofford, then Andrew B. Watt’s incredible Decans series on his blog, and now my latest interview with T. Susan Chang. This has inspired me to perform my own year-long Decan Walk and share the results both here on the Arnemancy website, but even more thoroughly on the Arnemancy Patreon.

Patreon Special Offer

If you are interesting in joining along on this journey, I encourage you to become a supporter on Patreon so you can get access to exclusive articles and podcast episodes! And to sweeten the pot, if you join at the Neophyte level or above before March 30th (when the Sun moves into the second decan of Aries), you will get a hand-written letter or card from me, along with some sweet Arnemancy stickers!1

Take advantage of this special offer and become a supporter of Arnemancy on Patreon today!
Become a Patron on Patreon

What is a Decan Walk?

Every ten days, the Sun enters a new 10° arc of the sky, known in astrological terms as a decan. Each decan is associated with one of the classical planets, magical images, and a number of Tarot cards. A decan walk is a year-long exploration of each of the 36 decans, one every ten days. It is an undertaking that requires discipline while also teaching you a lot about Tarot and astrology.

A decan walk can take different forms, depending on what you focus on and how you approach the topic. I will be looking primarily at the 36 magical images of the Picatrix as outlined in J’s cards, as well as using this opportunity to explore the deep and intricate symbolism in the Dracxiodos Tarot by Greg Traw.

What Form will This Take?

The first day that the Sun moves into each decan, I will post some initial thoughts to Patreon so that members over there can discuss and ponder and ask questions. By the last day of the decan, I will have something posted publicly on the Arnemancy blog, as well as something posted privately for my Patreon supporters.

I anticipate the exact form of the decan walk will evolve over time, but the posting pattern should remain the same.

Does this sound interesting to you?

  1. Existing supporters at the Neophyte level and above will also be receiving this special bonus! 
36 Secrets with T. Susan Chang

“What the dickens are decans?” asks T. Susan Chang in this episode of the podcast. Susie joins me this time to discuss her new book, 36 Secrets: A Decanic Journey Through the Minor Arcana of the Tarot. We explore the concept of a decan walk, talk about Susie’s process, and then we dig into some specific examples of various decans, Tarot cards, and decanic images from the Picatrix and Agrippa. Please join us for this deep dive into Tarot, astrology, and the occult.

T. Susan Chang bought her first tarot deck at a Barnes & Noble in New York, where she moonlighted as a reader while working in academic publishing. After leaving the city, she took her practice underground for many years, re-surfacing in 2015 and taking up the systematic study of esoteric correspondences in tarot.

  • Along with deck creator Mel Meleen, Susie hosts the Fortune’s Wheelhouse esoteric tarot podcast, which explores imagery and symbolism in the Rider-Waite-Smith and Thoth decks.
  • She is the creator of the Arcana Case® for tarot decks, which can be found on her Etsy page, along with her line of esoteric perfumes.
  • She reads tarot in person at the Inspirit Crystal shop in Northampton, Massachusetts
  • Her online Tarot course, “The Living Tarot,” course can be found on her website.

When not engaged in tarot-adjacent activity, she teaches writing at Smith College, and writes occasionally about food and cookbooks. She lives in western New England with her husband, two children, and a variable number of chickens.

Also make sure to check out all the other times Susie has appeared on the podcast!

Support me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/arnemancy
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The Magus with R.A. Priddle

The Magus with R.A. Priddle

Mr. R.A. Priddle joins me to explore the world of fraudulent ballooning magicians. No, not the Wizard of Oz, but rather Francis Barrett, author of that famous early 19th century tome of ritual magic, The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer. Mr. Priddle, or Robert, as I usually call him, wrote his dissertation on Barrett and as I learned very quickly, it is actually not fair to label Barrett as fraudulent. He was instead a working, professional magician and teacher of magic, and his influential book was crucial for keeping alive many earlier occult secrets for later generations.

Barrett led a life filled with interesting characters and dangerous adventures. He was an alchemist who experimented with hydrogen ballooning. He studied under Ebenezer Sibly, the 18th century astrologer famous for casting the natal chart for the United States of America. Barrett also attempted a translation of George von Welling’s massive tome, Opus Mago-cabbalisticum et Theosophicum.

Barrett’s legacy is also impressive. He influenced Eliphas Levi and Edward Bulwer-Lytton, thus becoming a major contributor to the 19th century occult revival. In addition, a talisman drawn directly from The Magus was carried by none other than Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter-Day Saints (you know, the Mormons).

I have a feeling that you will love this episode of the podcast. Mr. Priddle’s enthusiasm in exploring Francis Barrett’s life, work, and influence is infectuous. Barrett is an historical character worth examining, and I think you will agree that his work is worth a closer look.


Support me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/arnemancy

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You have been considering an email Tarot reading, but you don’t know exactly what to expect. Let me share with you my process in preparing a Tarot reading for email, and what you will receive in your email.

For each of these readings, I gather whichever deck of cards I’m using for the day, and sit down at my reading table with a print-out of your question. I perform these readings just like you are here sitting with me. However, since you will not be sitting here with me, I take a lot of notes. I sit with this process for a while, which gives me some time to mull over the cards.

After all of the note taking, I take a few photos of the Tarot cards. Next, I return to my computer, type up a document, and send everything to you!

What’s in the Email?

Each email contains the following:

  1. A write-up of the Tarot reading
  2. A photograph of the Tarot reading
  3. A nicely formatted PDF document with the photograph and write-up for your records

If you would like to read a sample Tarot reading, download a PDF using the button below. Hint: there is a special bonus for you in the PDF!