Opening of the Key Tarot Spread Introduction

by Jan 22, 20190 comments

Introducing the Opening of The Key Spread

The Opening of the Key Spread lies at the heart of the Golden Dawn system, and using Elemental Dignities really brings the whole system to life. This spread really is the greatest, the most powerful of all Tarot spreads. If you have been studying and applying the Elemental Dignity lessons on this site, the original Golden Dawn instructions should hold no terrors… Consider yourself an ‘Advanced Reader’.

For the more advanced reader, the Opening of the Key can provide valuable insights into the many subtle energies of the Tarot.

The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot

The Opening of the Key Spread really brings Elemental Dignities to life. In the previous lessons, the Spreads I have discussed have been exercises to get used to the techniques that can be used with Elemental Dignities.

The Opening of the Key Spread is so daunting that few Tarot Readers get beyond reading about it, then having a lie down in a darkened room for an hour. The language used to discuss this spread does not help, especially when the Reader is advised:

Also it may be well for the Diviner to put on his insignia, and make over the pack any invoking hexagram or pentagram, either with the hand alone, or with some convenient magical instruments. And it may also be advisable in some instances to invoke an elemental force consonant with the matter, to aid in the divination.

The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, Volume 9

Matters are not helped when other commentators suggest that a minimum of 2-3 hours is spent on a reading! I can assure the reader that in all the years I have been using this spread I have never done anything remotely like the advice suggested above: I have no insignia, I never bother with pentagrams or hexagrams, I have no ‘convenient’ magical instruments, I do not invoke any ‘elemental forces’, and I can get the information I need in a few minutes. In fact, some readings take no more than ten minutes. So far I have not been struck down either, but I am sure some Adepts will have other views…

Having said that, the information contained within the GD is a veritable goldmine. Here is one comment:

It is a mode of placing the cards based upon the scheme of the dominion of the Tarot Symbols. The more rigidly correct and in harmony with the scheme of the Universe is any form of Divination, so much the more it is likely to yield a correct and reliable answer to the enquirer.

The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, Volume 9

How many Spreads do we know where this injunction is followed, even among GD writers? As far as I am concerned these series of Spreads really do achieve such a laudable aim and they deserve far greater use among the Tarot community.

Five stages of the Opening of the Key Spread

Five operations are performed in this order:

  1. Four Aces: The Dominion of the Four Knaves
  2. Twelve Houses: The Kings, Queens, and Knights
  3. Zodiac Signs The Twelve Major cards
  4. The 36 Decanates Twos to Tens
  5. The 10 Sephiroth in the Celestial Heavens

Stage 1 of The Opening of the Key is normally enough for most purposes, and it seems that even within the Golden Dawn, this was as far as most went. Annie Horniman seemed to find this Stage adequate, as we can see in Mary Greer’s Women of the Golden Dawn.

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