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.
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.
If 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.
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.
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
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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:
A write-up of the Tarot reading
A photograph of the Tarot reading
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!
What do the grimoires say about ritual purity and the material world? In this episode, Misha Magdalene joins me to discuss the role of the body in grimoire magic. We begin by examining concepts of ritual purity in the Key of Solomon before exploring more concepts from gnosticism to Kabbalah. We discuss ritual purity as a way of connecting the spirit to the gross material world, as well as how to create a spiritual continuity from your ritual space to the divine. We also discuss how these concepts could be embraced by the modern neo-pagan and occult community.
Misha Magdalene is a multiclassed, multi-geek, multiqueer witch and sorcerer with a degree in gender studies and a slightly odd sense of humor. Their first book, Outside the Charmed Circle: Exploring Gender and Sexuality in Magical Practice, was published by Llewellyn in January 2020. They’re an initiate of multiple lines of traditional witchcraft, including Anderson Feri and Gardnerian Wicca, and have also been known to dabble recklessly in both modern ceremonial magic and grimoiric goetia. They live on occupied Duwamish territory in the Pacific Northwest with their polymath partner and two adorably destructive black kittens.
I am joined by Dan Attrell, the massive mind behind the Modern Hermeticist YouTube channel, which includes the vast and ever-growing Encyclopedia Hermetica. He is currently working on his PhD in Renaissance history at the University of Waterloo. He has gone out of his way to share tons of his knowledge and learning with his impressive audience, and is also known for translating some amazing materials from Latin.
In this episode, we discuss Marsilio Ficino, and in particular Dan’s translation of Ficino’s De Christiana Religione, On the Christian Religion. We discuss many topics and themes in Ficino’s life, including the highest goal of mankind, the immortality of the soul, the nature of reason, the supercelestial world, and the question of whether or not there even was a Platonic academy in Florence. We also attempt to make some sense of the tangled historical events unfolding around Ficino’s life.
The Intermission and Beyond
We ran into a really bad recording problem in this episode. About 25 minutes in or so, Dan’s Canadian internet connection gave out on us! We had to pick up the conversation the next day. I filled in the gap with a reading from De Christiana Religione that Dan was kind enough to provide.
The background music during Dan’s reading is “But We Shall All Be Changed” by Matt Anthony. Thank you, Matt!
In part two, Dan and I begin by talking about Aristotle and Plato and their reception in Medeival and Renaissance Europe, but then we get a few tangents, and then we spend time with our favorite mad monk, Savonarola!
Dr. James Russell joins me for the third episode in my series on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Dr. Russell is a book historian in Phoenix, Arizona. He completed his doctorate at the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Durham University in the UK. James is interested in how material texts shape spiritual experiences. Focusing on early modern esoteric and contemplative literature, he studies the traces readers have left behind in books and manuscripts in order to reconstruct the reading experiences of the past.
Marginalia in the Buffalo copy of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, what Dr. Russell describes as a “DVD menu”.
In his dissertation, Dr. Russell wrote, “Instead of merely being viewed as an art object, the HP was a text in which readers engaged extensively with both word and image.”1 We discuss the HP as a used text as evidenced by its marginalia, like a “humanist activity book” filled with pen-and-paper intellectual games, whether or not the author intended it to be.
James also leads us through an exploration of several of the commentators of early editions of the HP, including two alchemists, a botanist, and Pope Alexander VII. This conversation opens up so many new avenues that make this remarkable book worth exploring and enjoying.
When James first approached me, he mentioned The Book that Nobody Read by Owen Gingerich. Gingerich attempts to trace the influence of Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus using marginalia. I was also a fan of Gingerich’s book, so I knew right away we would have plenty to talk about. Please enjoy this episode and don’t be afraid to write in your books!
Here is a list of sources that Dr. Russell used in preparing his notes for the interview.
Le Tableau des riches Inventions…dans le songe de Poliphile (Paris: Guillemot, 1600). This is the openly alchemical 1600 edition of the HP
D’Espagnet, Jean, Enchiridion Physicae Restitutae (Paris: Widow N. de Sercy, 1642, 3rd edn).
Nazari, Giovan Battista, Della tramutatione metallica sogni tre (Brescia: Pietro Maria Marchetti, 1599). English translation: Three Dreams on the Transmutation of Metals, trans. Doug Skinner (Glasgow: Magnum Opus Hermeticum Sourceworks, 2002). A very HP-like alchemical allegory
Quintilian, Institutio oratoria, ed. and trans. H.E.Butler (London: Heinemann, 1963).
Barney, Stephen A., Annotation and Its Texts (Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).
Jackson, Heather J., Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books (Yale University Press: New Haven and London, 2005)
Jardine, Lisa and Anthony Grafton, ‘“Studied for Action”: How Gabriel Harvey Read His Livy’, Past & Present 129 (1990), pp. 30-78.
Sherman, William H., Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).
Other Secondary Sources
Doody, Aude, Pliny’s Encyclopedia: The Reception of the Naturalis historia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
Eco, Umberto, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, trans. Geoffrey Brock (London: Vintage Books, 2005).
Fierz-David, Linda, The Dream of Poliphilo: The Soul in Love (Dallas, TX: Spring Publications, 1987). A Jungian reading of Poliphilus and Polia as Animus/Anima
Freud, Sigmund, The Interpretation of Dreams (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)
Heckscher, William S., ‘Bernini’s Elephant and Obelisk’, Art Bulletin 29 (1947), pp. 155-82
Kenny, N., The Palace of Secrets: Béroalde de Verville and Renaissance Conceptions of Knowledge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). On the author of the 1600 alchemical edition of the HP
Painter, George D. The Hypnerotomachia Poliphilo of 1499: An introduction on the Dream, the Dreamer, the Artist, and the Printer (London: Eugrammia Press, 1963). An introduction to the HP which highlights the pagan nature of the text
Poe, Edgar Allan, ‘Marginalia’ in James A. Harrison, ed., The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe Vol. XVI, (New York: AMS, 1965) pp. 1-178.
Priki, Efthymia, ‘Elucidating and Enigmatizing: the Reception of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili in the Early Modern Period and in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries’, eSharp 14 (2009), pp. 62-90 http://www.gla.ac.uk/esharp Accessed 21/08/2011.
On Aldus Manutius and the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
Barolini, Helen, Aldus and his Dream Book (New York: Italica Press, 1992).
Casella, Maria Teresa, and Giovanni Pozzi, Francesco Colonna. Biografia e opere. Vol. I Biografia (M.T. Casella), Vol. II Opere (G. Pozzi) (Padua: Antenore, 1959).
Cruz, Esteban Alejandro, Re-Discovering Antiquity through the Dreams of Poliphilus (Oxford: Trafford, 2006).
Fogliati, Silvia and David Dutto, Il Giardino di Polifilo: ricostruzione virtuale dalla Hypnerotomachia Poliphili di Francesco Colonna stampata a Venezia nel 1499 da Aldo Manuzio (Milan: Franco Maria Ricci, 2002). This is the 3D reconstruction of the HP
Russell, James Charles (2014) `Many Other Things Worthy of Knowledge and Memory’: The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and its Annotators, 1499-1700, Durham theses, Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/10757/↩
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