Buddhism, Tarot & Opening the Key

by Aug 15, 20140 comments

Having spent some time with The Opening Of The Keys Spread as taught by Paul Hughes-Barlow, I believe that the true secrets to the Tarot have truly been opened. In my early work with Tarot, I had spent some time relating to the Tree of Life and then trying to remember definitions. From there I did readings. Mostly for myself, but also for friends and colleagues. I never found these readings very useful or deep and the accuracy was about that of flipping a coin. So, it became a fun past time with not much further introspection.


I entered college to study psychology and religion and during this time became involved with Buddhism and began a formal meditation practice and Tai Chi training. From this, I seemed to have no use for reading any more and would only read once in a while (Now using Wang’s Golden Dawn deck). What was becoming increasingly more clear is that whatI had glossed over in my past studies with Tarot and Kabbalah, were now becoming true realities. I studied Regardie’s Golden Dawn material again in this new light along with some material by Aleister Crowley.

Certain levels of attainment in my meditation practice were those paths that were first introduced to me in the Tarot. I thought this was very interesting. I could now read Regardie, Crowley and others and it all was making sense. I began reading again, but still had some strange results. Every time I did, I could not find the continuity and fluidity in the cards that I had found in my meditation practice. One day during a meditation retreat, I saw one of the Buddhist nuns, reading Tarot. I had never thought that Buddhists were into this kind of thing, especially a nun. Using some readings to help clients in my psychotherapy practice (those that were receptive) and I saw how this was very helpful in helping them find direction through tough times. It also helped make sense psychologically. I was using the symbols in the Tarot like interpreting dreams from a Jungian perspective. This was very effective, especially since I started using the Thoth (now being revealed to me as the most useful Tarot deck on the planet). But, I was still experiencing the cards being used in “traditional” spreads as isolated entities. Even after using  dignities in these “traditional” spreads, I still felt I was coming up short.

In one day of lessons from Paul Hughes-Barlow, I was reading better than I ever had. He reintroduced me to the Opening Of The Keys spread that I had read in the Golden Dawn material but had not used because of the lack of complete instruction in this material. Paul has clearly put this information in a very clear and easy to follow program. From learning elemental dignities, and by using close relationships of cards, I was able to free up the areas I was stuck at in reading. I now am using readings in my psychotherapy practice more effectively than ever before. The cards now seem alive and are revealing secrets that I could have never imagined before. It is almost as if they would never have given up these secrets unless you allowed them to be put together in this way. This, to me is what Opening The Key means. These cards are living symbolic entities in our psyche. If forced into some geometric configuration that is the creation of our own ego driven forces, they will never respond. When fanned out into the Key spread, they interact with each other and are fluid and your intuitive mind to step up to the plate and become active in its world of symbols.

Other spreads, in my opinion, are so linear and sequential, with each place already specifically defined, that the intellectual mind automatically gets in the way. With the Key spread, you are dropped right into the flowing river of intuitive thought. Another thing I have noticed by doing this method, is that all the other subtleties of the cards come through. Zodiac and Planetary influences can easily be seen. Once you start by looking at the elemental relationships to each card, then you begin to see how the Zodiac and the Planets are also at play. Reading from different directions makes the whole spread come alive. Years ago, I never thought that I would again be reading. But, I am and now feel that the cards are truly a living part of the psychic world.

In Buddhism it is taught that when we let go of our thoughts, ideas, opinions, desires, and thus illusions, that what we have left is this moment. When we still our thoughts, then my mind and your mind are the same mind. That is how it always has been. So, if my mind and your mind are ultimately the same mind, then this universal consciousness has a way of communicating at levels that, otherwise clouded by our illusions, will have no way of getting through. Just in this way, if we are using spreads that are contrived and concretized based on some interpretation of how things should be, then that is how the communication comes through – purely intellectual. If, however we allow things to flow naturally and not be forced into conformity, then the communication flows beautifully. This is The Opening Of The Key spread! This is how it works. You open the key into communicating directly with universal consciousness. After all, it is no other than you, but now you have a way to do it. How very compassionate and loving are these messengers that all you needed to do was open the door and allow them to speak. Turn the key! Hats off to Paul for teaching us how to do this! He is definitely not a selfish person. He has made it available for all of us to use. How else can the human consciousness evolve unless we have a way to communicate with it? The rest is up to you.

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