Or not. The choice is yours.
There are three main approaches to the Opening of the Key that I’ll be referring to in this tutorial series; Crowley’s approach, Regardie’s Golden Dawn and Paul Hughes-Barlow’s variation. Both Crowley and the Golden Dawn make use of a Significator, whilst Paul Hughes-Barlow does not.
Israel Regardie, in his book called the Golden Dawn, deviates somewhat from Book-T. When I use the term Golden Dawn, I’m referring to Regardie’s book on the Golden Dawn, not Book-T. Interestingly, Crowley follows Book-T exactly.
Choosing whether or not to use a Significator is a critical decision. It will determine what steps you follow for the rest of the first “operation”.
Use a Significator and you will be using a Crowley or Golden Dawn version. Don’t use a Significator and you will be using Paul Hughes-Barlow’s version.
But before you can make an informed choice, you’ll need some additional information.
Why are they important to both Crowley and Regardie’s Golden Dawn?
Significators play a vital role in telling you what the client’s question is and what card to start Card Counting from.
To make things clearer, here are the steps involved (without any detail):
- Select a Significator.
- Shuffle and cut the deck into four piles (I’ll explain how in the next post).
- Know that each of the four piles represents an area of the client’s life.
- Find out what pile the Significator is in.
- That pile represents the client’s question.
The last point is particularly important. Both Crowley and Regardie start the reading without knowing what the question is.
So, you select a Significator to represent the client, put the Significator back in the deck and shuffle. The next step is to cut the deck into four piles and then find the pile that contains the Significator. The pile that contains the Significator represents an area of the client’s life. This allows you to make a quick prediction on what general topic their question involves.
I’ll be covering what the four piles represent in the next post. But it is important to understand at this early stage that for both Crowley and Regrdie, the Significator plays an active role in the Opening of the Key.
How do I select a Significator?
You have two obvious choices. You can chose the Golden Dawn way, or the Crowley way.
Regardie’s, “The Golden Dawn” says to use the physical description of the client, whereas Crowley says to use their character.
1. The Significator.
Choose a card to represent the Querent, using your knowledge or judgement of his character rather than dwelling on his physical characteristics
— The Book of Thoth, page 249
The Golden Dawn’s method
Before commencing the Divination, one of the sixteen court cards should be selected to represent the significator of the enquirer, and should answer as nearly to his description.
Wands generally – very fair-haired and red-haired persons with fair complexion.
Cups generally – moderately fair persons.
Swords generally – dark persons.
Pentacles generally – very dark persons.
Kings – Generally men.
Queens – Generally woman.
Princes (Knights) – Generally young men.
Princesses (Knaves) – Generally young women.
What if you have never seen them before or don’t know their character?
On this point Crowley is silent, but The Golden Dawn offers this suggestion:
If the Diviner be performing the Divination for a person at a distance and of whose general description he is ignorant, he can select the significator by cutting the pack, and taking one of the court cards of that suit, cut to represent him of course earnestly thinking of the person at the time.
Not everyone will be comfortable with this approach. If not, you could always use a different method.
For instance, select a Significator based on their date of birth (Astrology) or use any Tarot card, not just Court cards. I know the Golden Dawn insists on using a Court card but it might suit your particular situation to use a minor or major card.
Yeah, but Doug, I hate Significators
Then don’t use them.
In the next post I’ll cover what the consequences of that decision are, but they’re neither good nor bad. It just means that you need some other device to select one of the four piles to read from – and which card to start counting from.
Decide what you want to do. Do you want to use a Significator? If so, do you want to use Crowely’s way or the Golden Dawn’s way? If not, don’t. Paul Hughes-Barlow doesn’t and it’s effective.
When it comes to working with a Tarot spread, you have to be comfortable with it. And that means adaption. A Tarot spread is not rigid. It’s dynamic and a confident Tarot reader will adapt a spread to suit their style. If a Tarot spread is so rigid that it can’t adapt it becomes a hinderance.
There is nothing sacred about any Tarot spread. They are just Tarot spreads. I mentioned in the introduction that most Tarot readers have their own version of the Celtic Cross. The Opening of the Key is no different. Each person who uses the Opening of the Key will have their own version.
The purpose of this Tutorial series is to keep things practical. I want you to be able to use the Opening of the Key, adapt it and be effective with it. To do that you need to understand your options and choose the right approach for you.
The Opening of the Key Tutorial Series
- How to Select the Significator that will be used in the Opening of the Key