The In-between

In a recent essay on David Spangler’s (he of the pioneering New Age pedigree) Lorian Association website (see “Strange Attractors” at, Susan Beal described how she eventually resolved the apparent conflicts between her inner and outer worlds – those of private spiritual practice on one hand and routine daily existence on the other – that resulted in several major life changes before she found her true way. She called her epiphany . . .

“. . . the Inbetween—the place between places, a zone of high potential, of unformed possibilities, of What Could Be, but isn’t yet. It’s where the friction between the material and subtle worlds can be shaped into useful warmth and illumination.”

Although I’m pretty sure it never crossed her mind, I can’t think of a more eloquent description of the “zone between worlds” where tarot as a tool for empowerment makes its most telling mark. I believe it operates chiefly in the realm of subconscious awareness, where each of us is capable of creating his or her own personal reality in the Buddhist sense of “What you dwell upon you become.” Divination is just the outward application of that awareness toward constructive ends; where it really comes into its own is in expanding one’s inner landscape through greater self-understanding, principally as it arises from the archetypal “treasure-house of images” (in Gareth Knight’s memorable phrase) encoded in the cards.

The Major Arcana are obviously where this paradigm finds its most cogent expression. But the court cards are useful in illuminating what Aleister Crowley often referred to as “moral characteristics” as a type of psychological thumbnail, revealing personal traits, attitudes or behaviors that the seeker should consider emphasizing (or in some cases downplaying) in matters of individual development. The Minor Arcana, generally seen as reflecting day-to-day affairs of a mundane nature, also have broader evolutionary potential in terms of the numerological, astrological and qabalistic attributes – qualities they share with the Major Arcana but on a less exalted level – derived from the system of correspondences formulated by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Taken together, this panorama of interconnected associations provides a comprehensive profile of innate self-knowledge that can be brought to bear on the mission of enlightened living. Getting in touch with it through contemplation of the cards provides an imaginative window into that mystical “place” between the phenomenal and noumenal worlds.

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