Special preview of my upcoming Tarot Magic course
UPDATE: I just released a guided video for this meditation—check it out here (and be sure to subscribe to get more content like this!)
As I’m getting ever closer to launching the presale of my Tarot Magic course, I wanted to give you a taste of what you’ll experience — and something you can try out from the course right now!
This is a meditation I developed and tweaked over the course of several years, then to my surprise discovered had already existed (albeit in a slightly different form). So I decided to credit the originators, Golden Dawn magicians Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, from their book The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot.
If you’re interested in the magical system of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ciceros should be your go-to sources—and please, please avoid these lunatics.
(Although I don’t practice Golden Dawn magic anymore, I do still occasionally use the accompanying deck the Ciceros created—it’s worth having if you can find a copy).
Their ritual/meditation in the book is called “The Fourfold Rite of the Tarot,” so I decided to keep their title. In essence, it’s a simple but powerful meditation based on the four classic elements — Air, Water, Fire, and Earth — as embodied in the aces of the tarot (see diagram below from my Art and Magic of the Tarot: Foundations course).
Students of the course will get a guided video and audio version of the meditation, along with a number of additions/enhancements, but I wanted to share the instructions so you can enjoy its benefits right now.
Those of you familiar with pranayama (yogic breathing) or breathwork will recognize this as a variant of what is now called “box breathing,” but my first encounter with it was in the work of occultist Israel Regardie (who taught it to the Ciceros).
So find a quiet location (outdoors is ideal if possible), and follow these simple instructions.
The Fourfold Rite of the Tarot (meditation)
(Based on the ritual by Chic and Tabatha Cicero, with my own additions)
Sit comfortably, with your back straight, on the floor, ground, or in a chair. If you have a deck of tarot cards, take out the aces and lay them in front of you in the following order from left to right:
Ace of Swords, Ace of Cups, Ace of Wands, Ace of Coins (or Pentacles).
Light a candle (any color, although white is ideal). Take a few slow, deep relaxing breaths. Now you are ready to begin.
Here is the basic structure — practice this for a few minutes until you get the rhythm.
- Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose slowly to count of four (as you’re inhaling, count to four slowly).
- Hold your breath for another count of four.
- Exhale through your mouth to a count of four.
- Hold your breath for the count of four.
- Repeat the cycle.
That’s what’s become known as box breathing, and is used by Navy Seals, firefighters, and others who need to remain calm and collected in the face of dangerous situations. If you just practice that for a few minutes, you’ll notice immediate benefits, including a release of stress and a feeling of calm and bodily relaxation. But occultists were practicing this in the 19th century for more esoteric benefits — which is what we’ll add now.
You can use the graphic below to help you with the visualizations.
- This time, as you breathe in through your nose to the count of four, concentrate on the feeling and (if you can) visualize the element of AIR entering your nose and filling your body. Feel the elemental air going in your nostrils, into your head, your lungs, and through your torso, arms, and legs all the way down to your toes.
- As you hold your breath for four counts, feel and visualize the element of WATER coursing through your body. Feel/visualize the water running from your head down to your toes, filling your body with cooling water.
- As you exhale through your mouth to the count of four, visualize your breath igniting a powerful FIRE around your body, starting at your feet and burning all the way up above your head, inside and out. Think of how you blow on kindling to get the flames to ignite and spread. Feel the heat!
- As you hold your breath to the count of four, visualize and feel yourself sinking down into the EARTH. Feel the intense pull of gravity as you sink into the embrace of the ground below you.
Repeat the cycle for as long as you feel comfortable. When you’re done, open your eyes, take a few deep breaths, blow out the candle, and put away your aces.
If you’re like most people who have tried this mediation, you will feel a paradoxical sense of relaxation and renewed energy. The esoteric principle behind this ritual is simple: It blends, synergizes, and harmonizes the classic elemental energies that are a part of us and connects us to their universal archetypes.
This is a core ritual/meditation for the practice of Tarot Magic, and in the course we will build upon it incrementally, adding further visualizations and symbolism to deepen the elemental connections. You will learn how to correct imbalances and work with the individual elements to better yourself and achieve your goals, whether spiritual or practical.
And if you find this exercise useful, please consider forwarding this to a friend who might benefit from it. If you’re interested in learning more about tarot, please check out my Art and Magic of the Tarot: Foundations course.
So … what do you think?
Do this meditation once a day for a week and I promise you’ll be impressed by the cumulative results. Drop a comment and let me know if it works for you!
Michael M. Hughes is a writer, speaker, and magical thinker. He is the author of Magic for the Resistance: Rituals and Spells for Change as well as numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction, and he speaks and teaches classes on magic, tarot, psychedelics, and more.
Michael’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe,CNN, The L.A. Times, Rolling Stone, Comedy Central, Wired, Elle, Vox, Cosmopolitan,and even the ultraconservative The American Spectator, which wrote: “He may play footsie with the devil, but at least the man has a sense of humor.”