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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Magical Tattwa Cards

This article was written by Donald Michael Kraig (Shambhala Nath), Certified Tarot Grandmaster on January 11, 2009
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Summary: A unique deck of cards that unites the Eastern Tattwa symbols and the Western flashing colors. Great for broad, general divinations and for a wide variety of magical work. Especially good for Golden Dawn practitioners or for people following the spiritual systems of the East.

Name of deck:Magical Tattwa Cards
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
ISBN: 1-59718-472-3
Creator: Dr. Jonn Mumford (Swami Anandakapila Saraswati)
Name of accompanying book:Magical Tattwas: A Complete System for Self-Development
Number of pages of book: 288
Author(s) of book: Dr. Jonn Mumford
Brief biography of author(s): Dr. Jonn Mumford (Swami Anandakapila Saraswati) wrote his first book Psychosomatic Yoga in 1961 while completing an intensive period of study in India. His current books include Ecstasy Through Tantra, A Chakra and Kundalini Workbook, Mind Magic Kit and Magic Tattwas from Llewellyn.

Dr. Mumford is a direct disciple of Dr. Swami Gitananda and Paramhansa Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Bihar. He was initiated by Swami Satyananda in 1973, at BSY Monghyr, Bihar State, India. Dr. Mumford is respected across the world for his knowledge and scholarship. A born teacher, Dr. Mumford frequently gives lecture on relaxation techniques, sexuality, Tantra and other aspects of human development and spirituality .

No mere theoretician, Dr. Mumford is a world renowned authority on Tantra and yoga. He has demonstrated his own self-mastery of cardiac cessation, obliteration of individual pulse beat at will, sensory withdrawal and voluntary breath retention over the 5 minute range, and start and stop bleeding on command.

His background combining chiropractic and psychology with extensive international experience in a wide range of Eastern disciplines makes Dr. Mumford eminently well-suited to the task of disseminating the secrets of Tantra unto the West.

Available in a boxed kit?: Yes. It includes the book and a special set of cards.
Magical Uses: Skrying and Clairvoyance, Chakra Stimulation, Healing, Visualization, Talismans
Reading Uses: General Divination
Artistic Style: Geometric designs
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Other
If other, describe A deck of 25 cards in striking colors, each one being a square with sides four inches long, plus a card of the same size with a drawing of the god known as the "breaker of obstacles," Ganesha.
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: No


In the late 19th century, a man named Rama Prasad, wrote a book called Natureís Finer Forces that was published by Madame Blavatskyís Theosophical Society. It revealed to the West, for the first time, certain metaphysical concepts from pre-Hindu India that electrified the occult world. Many of the concepts were immediately adopted by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, although almost nothing else from India was so adopted. Part of the teachings from this book involved the use of a set of geometric figures known as the Tattwa [spelled variously including Tatva] symbols. Thanks to the kindness of Gareth Knight, I currently posses a set of these symbols that were hand made and used by the late Israel Regardie.

Most Westerners in modern times ignored the symbols as they seemed so foreign to the Western Mystery Tradition. Besides, Dion Fortune pointed out that we should practice the spiritual system of the land into which we were born. When Ms. Fortune wrote that, however, she could not have conceived of jet travel and the internet, turning the world into what Marshall McCluhan referred to as a "global village."

Dr. Jonn Mumford studied in India where he learned of the Tattwas, and brought a deeper knowledge of them back to the West. Together with Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, he designed a set of cards (and, I believe, slides for a slide projector?). I have a set of the cards. Theyíre about eleven inches on each side and come with a single sheet of instructions. Not much information on the use of geometrical figures, there.

In the Magical Tattwa Cards set, however, Dr. Mumford ups the ante in three ways. First, the cards are now smaller, just 4 inches per side, making them far easier for individual work. Second, are the colors, and third is the accompanying book.

The Golden Dawn borrowed the use of the Tattwas and the theories behind them from ancient India. Dr. Mumford took a little-known concept used by the Golden Dawn and attached them to these cards. Specifically, the Golden Dawn worked with a physiological phenomenon they called the "flashing colors." The basic concept is that if two adjacent colors are exactly opposite (certain reds and greens, for example), the mind would jump from one place to the other, creating a type of "flashing" within the mind. This flashing can lead to altered states of consciousness. It is a powerful effect that few people know and fewer people use. In this deck, Dr. Mumford has applied the flashing colors to the Tattwas, making them very powerful for entering an altered state or trance. Unfortunately, the use of expensive, highly specialized, florescent inks to achieve the right effect is also a problem with this deck. The colors are photosensitive and prone to fading in light. As a result, this deck should never be left out or displayed. It should always be stored in a dark place.

The book is the first book in a century to deeply analyze the Tattwas, and the first ever to explain their practical use in a variety of ways, ranging from divination to skrying and healing.

The Symbols
The Tattwa symbols, themselves, are very basic and are related to the elements. Earth is a square, water a crescent, fire a triangle, air a circle, and ether (AKA spirit or Akasha) an oval. These five can be mixed. For example the fire triangle can appear inside the earth square, making "Fire of Earth." If the square is inside the triangle it is "Earth of Fire" and if the square is inside a circle it is "Earth of Air." Each symbol also has its own color which is where the flashing colors described above comes in.

The Cards
The cards themselves are on heavy stock. Combined with their small size, they are very sturdy and will be good for long periods of use. The back of the cards has a very Western pentagram with the Tattwa symbol for each element attached to the associated point of the pentagram. There is also an extra card with an image of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god.

Ganesha is a fascinating figure. He is known as the breaker of obstacles. Personally, I would describe him as the "bringer of opportunities." Traditionally, if you were faced with a problem, you would pray to Ganesha. However, that doesnít mean that Ganesha would destroy your opposition so much as giving you ways to work around it, perhaps completely different approaches. In Hindu traditions, Ganesha is always called on at the beginning of rituals, even if youíre going to perform a ritual in honor of another deity.

So it is only natural that in the divination system described in the accompanying book, you lay out the card and call on Ganesha for assistance with a chant, incense, and the sounding of a bell. This compares to calling on the angel HRU before a reading as done by the Golden Dawn. You then mix the cards and choose one. Included in the book is a complete description of the divinatory meanings of each card.

As fascinating as this system is, there is a problem. It is basically a form of bibliomancy. Bibliomancy, of course, is a form of divination where you simply open a book (traditionally the Bible) to any page and randomly look at a word or sentence. This is then meditated upon and considered in relation to the question that drew you to the divination. There is a LOT of interpretation and very little work with the cards.

Thereís nothing wrong with this at all, but with the meanings given to the cards, I believe that they could be used in more complex spreads than drawing a single card. Still, the system provided here does provide breadth enough to respond to numerous questions, especially those that are grander (What should I do next in life?) as opposed to smaller (Should I go to hear a lecture tonight?).

Here is where this book really excels. It contains exercises and techniques, combined with the use of the cards, to enhance your abilities to skry (access psychic planes), meditate upon and stimulate the chakras, shaping your future, improving the imagination, make talismans, enhance clairvoyance, and even perform healings. To the best of my knowledge there is no single source that has all of this information in one place.

This is not a Tarot deck but can be used for divination. It can also be used for a wide variety of magical techniques and methods. Itís great for people interested in the spiritual systems of the East as well as the Golden Dawn tradition. The book, by itself, is an amazing course in philosophy and spirituality. The only difficulty with it is that the inks on the cards are sensitive to light.

Well actually, there is currently another difficulty. Itís out of print. And yet itís highly desired, with used copies selling for over $100 and new copies selling for almost $200. Find a copy if you can, even if the cards are not in good condition. The information in the book is worth it.

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