The last week of October is upon us. As previously mentioned, this month I broke custom in favor of using Robert Place’s Vampire tarot deck. I put my Marseilles decks away. Fitting as this month is traditionally about shadows, entering the darker months, communing with or honoring the ancestors, the dead. There are a couple reviews of the Vampire tarot around the web, and on youtube (this is my favorite). And it is true what most say about the companion book, it is a jewel. Robert Place is concise and approaches the subject with an academic’s grace while also being engaging. The deck is now out of print.
I will not be doing a review of the deck as I feel that has been done quite well already. I will be talking about concepts that relate to the deck, namely the shadow self, the hidden realm, the “underworld” of our psyche. I don’t know if many remember the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but if you do and saw the whole show, all seven seasons, towards the end in the final couple seasons, things got very dark with Buffy. Right after her resurrection from the “other side.” Buffy feels lost, disconnected, starts an affair with Spike, the dark “quasi” hero, bad boy. From here the show enters into the realm of the psyche. Buffy starts battling her inner demons, asking herself why she keeps falling for the things she kills, vampires, what is the purpose of it all, a never ending cycle of desire versus love, good versus bad. What is good? What is bad? And after having faced death, and constantly slaying the undead. She now has to answer the question, what does it mean to live, in the threshold between life and death. She has to start a conscious discourse with death. I say all this because, well because it is fitting that as nature turns inward we turn inward as well. As I enter the flow of the cycles of nature, things are dying around me, leaves falling, trees turn pale, birds migrate. Death is all around us, always. Well, all this death has got me thinking about the inner creatures we nurture inside us, what creatures need to die, and when? What creatures we need to integrate, accept as part of our self?
For some this doesn’t seem necessary, to know what darkness lies within us. I disagree. Think about the stories we construct of our self, the identities we construct and allow culture, society, and family to add building blocks. Oftentimes these constructs, whether consciously or unconsciously manifest themselves entwined the unexplored darkness within. Moments of ire, irrational behavior, out of the norm, restlessness. Rash decisions. Foolish personas. Excessive guilt and self-hate. Wouldn’t it be better to sift through the murk, to appease the darkness and begin a discourse with it?
This is a good time to explore the depths, to explore the ties that bind us, the monsters that suck the life out of us, to explore death.
Using these cards I came up with a small ritual, or “performance.”
Take three black candles and place in a grid, a triangle, somewhere safe, where the candles will be undisturbed. Take a white flower (albedo, soul/spirit), a knife (rubedo, sacrifice/eros), and a wand or tree branch(nigredo, death/ fertile potential). Connect these together with a string, so that they form a circle. Place the the three objects within the grid. Light the candles. Devise a couple lines that speaks to you of the cycles of life and death, asking what must die and what must live within. Seek clarity so that you can see the darker aspects that lie hidden, hence the flame of the black candles and the framing of the objects within. Sling a couple cards down, see what they have to say, mediate, converse with your spirits, or converse with your heart. Let the candles burn out. *I normally use the seven day candles inside the glass jars so the flame remains undisturbed.
In all things, keep it simple, keep it clear, and keep it precise. I hope you all have a lovely Samhain.
As always, happy reading.