TRTZ 37 : 8th November : The Tarot

The Real Secrets of The Tarot

The Star – from Crowley’s Book of Thoth Tarot


Tonight’s show is about The Tarot

We will be exploring some of the facts and fallacies behind this particular set of images and in the process perhaps calling into question some of the pseudo-mystical hyperbole surrounding the Tarot as well as looking at it as a symbolic system for personal exploration.


A bit of a plug…

I’ve got a workbook out on The Tarot. It includes a potted history, an outline of Tarot symbolism and how it can be used for your own self-reflection.


The Fools Journey by Alan Jones

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.



Last week on The Real Twilight Zone we featured a call about a man who called 999 (911) to report a UFO only to later call back and realise that he’d been looking at the moon! This report prompted me to look at some more stories of wacky, odd and decidedly weird emergency calls…

There was a woman in Aloha, Oregon, who called 911 because she thought a deputy who had just visited her house on a complaint was good-looking. After her neighbours reported a noise complaint, two sheriff’s deputies knocked on Lorna Jeanne Dudash’s door. One of them caught her eye. When they left, Dudash dialed 9-1-1 in a desperate attempt to get the deputy she described to dispatchers as “a cutie pie” to return.

She said that she didn’t have an emergency; she just wanted the dispatcher to “throw the cute police back her way”. The “cute” deputy returned, and, once he determined there was no legitimate emergency, he arrested Dudash for misusing 9-1-1.


A Florida woman called 911 because she was locked inside her car. Turns out all she needed to do was manually pull up the lock on the door.

The unidentified woman was parked at a Walgreen’s store in Kissimmee. “My car will not start. I’m locked inside my car,” the unidentified woman said. “Nothing electrical works. And it’s getting very hot in here, and I’m not feeling well.” The dispatcher then suggested pulling up the lock. The woman tried it and was successfully able to open the door

John Triplette, a 45-year-old unemployed man, was charged for abusing the 911 emergency line: he made over 27,000 calls to 911.
Police says he was a lonely man who would call the dispatchers for company, sometimes hundreds of times a day. He would also make various noises, including grunts and other bodily noises, minimal conversation in a disguised voice, beeps from the touch pad, etc.

The prank 911 calls were made from a T-Mobile cell phone which leaded to his arrest after police tracked his cell signal. Police said he apologized for the calls. He said he made them “because they were free.”

Angered that her local McDonald’s was out of Chicken McNuggets, a Florida woman called 911 three times to report the fast food “emergency.” Latreasa Goodman, 27, called police to complain that a cashier would not give her a refund. When cops responded to the restaurant, Goodman told them, “This is an emergency. If I had known they didn’t have McNuggets, I wouldn’t have given my money, and now she wants to give me a McDouble, but I don’t want one.” She was arrested and the Police pressed charges for misusing the 911 system.

A frustrated German housewife called police because her husband would not stop watching porn movies. The 44-year-old woman, from Aachen, dialed the emergency police number and told the dispatcher in a weepy voice there was an emergency. But when officers arrived at the scene they found her pacing the apartment while her husband, 46, sat in front of the TV watching a blue movie. She was told however that there was nothing the police could do in such a case, but refered her to a counselor for help.

From WALES on-line there’s this interesting batch of calls

In a report dated 15th August 2010 the news source reports..

“WITCHES could be stalking the streets of rural Wales – if calls to Dyfed Powys Police are to be believed.

The force, which covers Mid and West Wales, has received 86 reports of witches in the last five years.

The force’s police incident log reveals details of the calls. One caller reported “that one individual is a witch and had attended at the house to put salt around the bed”.

A caller in January last year claimed he had been fed a “fur ball” during a witchcraft ritual.

Following a call from Llanelli, police recorded: “Caller, who was drunk, who rang regarding a gang of witches who want to sacrifice him.”

Another call was a report of a “malicious communication: rumours that an individual’s mother is a witch”.

The details released to Wales on Sunday under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed the counties of Powys, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire are awash with reports of weird goings-on.

In addition to calls about witches in the past five years, the force has received one call about a werewolf, seven about vampires, 19 about UFOs, 13 about big cats, 73 reports of ghosts, 16 of zombies, 35 of demons, five regarding big foot sightings, 33 of monsters and 18 about wizards.

Haverfordwest appears to be the real hotbed of ghostly activity.

On the same day, one caller reported “that they had seen their father as a ghost”, while another call to the police was “regarding concern for safety – reporting that an individual is stating that ‘ghosts’ are going to kill them”.

In Lampeter, police dealt with a call “reporting concern for safety, individual believes they are a vampire”.


And from Cornwall reprorted on the 9th October 2011 on the website

A gentleman from Callington, Cornwall, reported his wife and dog being abducted by aliens. Unfortunately we don’t know if he ever got his wife and dog back.

Another man phoned to say he had spotted a UFO over a pie factory in Okehampton, Devon. I guess even aliens get hungry.

And someone phoned to report ‘a long, white cylinder thing, like a train in the sky, with orange balls moving slowly upwards and in all different directions’. Most uncomfortable.

Officers told of an emergency call from a man who had seen the ghosts of ‘two old ladies.’ The police log recorded what these two ghosts were doing: ‘The ghosts of two old ladies in a white Ford Fiesta came onto the A38 carriageway facing the wrong way. They stopped on the hard shoulder, trying to reverse back up the off slip.’ So, do ghosts need driving licences and insurance?

Yet another ghost report was recorded: ‘Caller states he has got a ghost on CCTV. Caller wanted advice on who he could contact as the footage was going to make him a million. Advised to go to the press.’

One caller claimed a spectre gave him a ‘horrible hairstyle and some dodgy photos.’ The ghost seemingly was Paul Newman!


Some of my favourite transcripts..

Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What is the nature of your emergency?
Caller: I’m trying to reach nine eleven but my phone doesn’t have an eleven on it.
Dispatcher: This is nine eleven.
Caller: I thought you just said it was nine-one-one
Dispatcher: Yes, ma’am nine-one-one and nine-eleven are the same thing.
Caller: Honey, I may be old, but I’m not stupid.

Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What is your emergency?
Caller: Hi, is this the Police?
Dispatcher: This is 9-1-1. Do you need police assistance?
Caller: Well, I don’t know who to call. Can you tell me how to cook a turkey? I’ve never cooked one before.

Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What is your emergency?
Caller: Someone broke into my house and took a bite out of my ham and cheese sandwich.
Dispatcher: Excuse me?
Caller: I made a ham and cheese sandwich and left it on the kitchen table and when I came back from the bathroom, someone had taken a bite out of it.
Dispatcher: Was anything else taken?
Caller: No, but this has happened to me before and I’m sick and tired of it

Dispatcher: 9-1-1
Caller: Yeah, I’m having trouble breathing. I’m all out of breath. Darn….I think I’m going to pass out.
Dispatcher: Sir, where are you calling from?
Caller: I’m at a pay phone. North and Foster.
Dispatcher: Sir, an ambulance is on the way. Are you an asthmatic?
Caller: No
Dispatcher: What were you doing before you started having trouble breathing?
Caller: Running from the Police.

via :


Some News from Catherine…


The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP) has announced that it has been registered with the Government as a Professional organisation in it’s’ field of study.  ‘Seriously Strange’, the groups 30th Anniversary conference held at the University of Bath this year was where the exciting announcement was made and Chairman Dave Wood declared that ‘All investigators can take pride in this recognition… we are keen for as many people as possible to be part of this.’

November 1st: Court Oak Pub in Harbourne, Birmingham apparently suffers from a rather unusual haunting, it has been reported by manager Anne Tayler.  Every Halloween for the past few years she states that she discovered the house wine in the cellar smashed to pieces until she had it upgraded to a better quality brand, thus resulting in the pub regulars dubbing it ‘Corky’, or ‘The wine-snob ghost’.  The pub is part of the chain ‘Sizzling’, though it has a unique location on a 17th century hanging ground.  Other customers and many of the staff claim to have felt the presence of something while they were drinking or serving and some report sightings of man in his 60s behind the bar.

November 6th: The Retford to Huddersfield train was subject to delays owing to the fact that they may or may not have been ‘a lion on the line’.  Police in West Yorkshire received two unconfirmed reports of a lion and cub ‘jumping on the tracks’ and accordingly scrambled a police helicopter to search the area as well as twelve officers to search the area at ground level.  Nothing has thus far been found and train services have resumed as normal.  Police say that they will resume the search on Monday if anymore sightings are reported.

November 7th: Hikers in the English countryside have been coming across some weird and wobbly discoveries recently.  Named ‘star jelly’ according to some folklore (Based on the theory that it appears after a meteor shower) the translucent goo has walkers and scientists confused.  Apparently the blobs of jelly have been appearing in puddles and pools around the Lake District in the last few weeks in particular and theories as to what it might be are many and varied despite the fact this stuff made its first appearance in the 14th century.  Botanist Dr Hans Sluiman states that it is mostly water but that apart from that very little else could be uncovered about it.  Many suggest it has something to do with frogs, as it has the consistency of frogspawn without the spawn.


November 1st: Vladimir Tsar’kov took a paragliding trip over the Indian Himalayas only to have it turn nasty after a large eagle collided with the chute he was using on his descent.  The bird had been surveying him at a distance with it’s mate before becoming coming in for a closer look and becoming tangled in the lines of the parachute.  The parachute was thusly rendered ineffective as the tangled twine twisted it out of shape and Tsar’kov began to fall.  Fortunately he kept his head and deployed his reserve parachute to keep him from plummeting to his death and he managed to land in a clearing, despite hitting some rather thorny looking trees on the way down.  He also managed to release the trapped bird, who promptly flew off without a scratch!  The whole event was captured on Tsar’Kov’s helmet camera and can be viewed here.

November 2nd: There have been some strange things done in the name of art, but Jasha Lottin from Oregon took them to new (And somewhat disturbing) levels when she decided to take some unusual photographs with boyfriend John Frost.  They had had a 32-year-old horse in their care for some time, but its’ health was declining and the pair decided to put it out of its misery, believing it to be the humane thing to do.  Having put it down, they then proceeded to gut the animal so that Lottin could take off her clothes and pose nude, and smiling, inside the carcass for photographs.  Furthermore, they then went ahead and posted the pictures onto the internet where they were, not surprisingly, met with a torrent of disgust and accusations of animal cruelty.  The local authorities say they cannot arrest the pair as they have not technically committed a crime, had the animal been killed purely for the purposes of the ensuing photo shoot then circumstances would be different, but as the situation stands, there is no case against them.  The couple argue that they wanted to ‘feel at one with the horse’, which logically (?!) led to them eating the remains after the photoshoot.  If you would like to see the aforementioned photographs (You should definitely take the time to consider the answer to that!) then you can click here. Please keep in mind that they graphic images and not suitable for all.

November 4th: On November 8th, a large asteroid will pass earth at a distance of 201,700 miles.  Asteroids often pass earth at this distance (And closer) but they are not normally large enough to spark any media interest.  This one is 1300 feet wide and ‘roughly spherical’, and NASA hope it will aid them in further investigation of the field as their scientists do not normally get to examine an asteroid this closely.

Astrophysicists have hit upon a new way of searching for the potential of extraterrestrial life: look for the lights.  The proposal is in accordance with the notion that intelligent life on other planets would likely evolve some way of producing light during hours of darkness.  This light would result in an noticeable difference in the overall amount of light produced by a star or planet naturally, and therefore could be detectable.  ‘The total flux from a planet with city lighting will vary in a way that is measurably different from a planet that has no artificial lights.’  Avi Loeb from The Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics believes that though it may be a long shot, it will not require any extra resources and the discoveries made could change the nature of human perception of our place in the universe.

Catherines Primer on The Tarot

Tarot and Playing Cards History, Origins and Uses


The origin of Tarot is somewhat unclear, many contradicting historical sources coming forward to claim they started the mystical practice.

One fairly solid theory outlines its origins in Italy in the 15th century, sometime between 1420 and 1440.  This at least gives us the origins of the first tarot cards, though where the inspiration came from prior to the tarot cards (The origins of playing cards) themselves is harder to say.

In c.750-800 China, the Kuei t’ien lu, (an eleventh century book of anecdotes by historian Ou-yang Hsiu) outlines implications that playing cards were invented in c.618-906: the middle of the T’ang dynasty, around the same time as the printing of some of the earliest books and thanks to the invention of paper there.  There are questions about the translation for this, as the Chinese word for playing cards is ‘yeh tzu’, which makes reference to dominoes.  However, these could be thought of as the ancestors of what we perceive to be playing cards anyway. Additionally, the Chinese word for gaming tiles was also used for playing cards. (Pái)

The Chinese domino deck contains the 21 combinations feasible on a pair of dice.

The earliest quotable reference that speaks of playing cards still has its origins in China (969) under an entry in the ‘Liao shih’ of T’o-t’o, a history of the Liao dynasty written in the 14th Century describing Emperor Mu-tsung playing cards on New Year’s eve.

These ‘money cards’ had four suits, coins, strings of coins, myriads of coins or strings of coins, and tens of myriads.  Each were represented by a pictogram with ‘numerals of 2–9 in the first three suits and numerals 1–9 in the tens of myriads’.

There are suggestions from some historians that the earliest cards may also have been an actual currency, used as both gaming totems and as something to play for.

Chinese playing cards are very different to early European designs however, being long and thin and there is some debate as to whether these are where European gaming cards came from.

Another theory puts the cards entrance into European mainstream down to Gypsies, but they were too late for this to have been possible, widespread almost 100 years after card games appeared.  Additionally, their use of cards to tell fortunes was ordinary playing cards before tarot cards.

It has been suggested that playing cards entered European history after being brought back from the Holy Land by Crusaders. However, the last crusade ended in 1291 and playing cards were not documented as existing in Europe until almost 100 years beyond this time.

Indian cards, though very different to Mamluk (See next point) cards, are debated about as well.  ‘Ganjifa’ was the earliest Indian card game known to Europeans, dating to the 16th century.  It is sometimes disputed whether these cards influenced the design of the Mamluk cards or vice-versa.  They were usually round, made of ivory, paper, cotton fiber, or even mother of pearl or simple palm leaves. Cards were represented by ten suits, each comprised of 10 numeric and two court cards.  One court card from each suit depicted an incarnation of the God Vishnu and the second showed a detail related to that particular incarnation.  Other cards in the suits were Soldiers, demons, women, elephants, horses, and ships.

The most commonly held theory is that European playing cards came from Egyptian Mamluk cards.

‘A deck of cards discovered in the Topkapi Sarayi Museum, Instanbul, in 1939. The Mameluke Deck, discovered by Professor L. A. Mayer, dates from the 15th century. However, subsequent finds have yielded even older examples from the 12th century.’ ~

The Mamelukes ruled parts of Egypt in a period reaching from 1254 to 1517.

The deck consists of 52 cards divided into 4 suits of 13 classes.  The suits were swords, polo-sticks, cups and coins and each suit comprised of numbers One to 10, which were characterised by their suit symbols.  Each suit additionally had three Court Cards of King, Viceroy (Or deputy) and Under Viceroy. (Malik, Na’ib Malik, and Thani Na’ib)

The court cards were not signified by faces, but by geometric patterns, apparently very similar to early Italian court cards.

Some propose that the Mamluk cards could’ve reached the rest of Europe through Spain instead of Italy, but Venice was the main trade route of the time and it is thought that the Italian packs resemble the Mamluk packs more closely than the early Spanish ones.

It is thought that Spain was therefore the second in line on route of card games spread through Europe, followed by Germany then France.

We know of the existence of card games in Europe mostly by the fact they were frequently banned, their prohibition outlined in several documents of law.  Firstly the City of Florence forbade (by the vote of 98 to 25) playing the game ‘naibb’, in 1376.

This can be translated from the Spanish ‘naipes’, meaning ‘playing cards’.

Later, the German city of Regensburg proclaimed card games ‘punishable by law if played for high stakes’ in 1378.

The Chronicle of the City of Viterbo also mentioned ‘Naybb’ in 1379.

Paris and St. Gallen outlawed card playing to the working classes in 1377 and 1379.

By the 15th century card games were fairly established in Europe and had reached England with Italian-Spanish-French designs.

The English manufactured French-based packs of cards in 1450 and began the tradition of making the cards recognisable from both ends and of decorating the ace of spades.

Many religious leaders prompting people to burn their decks to resist the evils of gambling.

The first playing cards in America are thought to have come with the Spaniards.  Cards used by Indians shared the names for court cards and suits with Spanish cards.

The 15th century decks typically had four suits, sometimes five.  German suits included, Herz/Rot (Hearts), Schellen (Bells), Grün (Leaves), and Eichel (Acorns).  These are still used in Eastern and Southeastern German decks today for many games.

Italian and Spanish cards used swords, wands, coins, and cups.

The four suits most common in most of the world today (Spades, diamonds, clubs and hearts) originated in France around 1480.

The Tarot was invented in Italy in the 15th century also.


The tarot deck that originated from Italy was specifically created in Milan.

The deck consisted of a standard 56 card deck interlaced with 22 figurative trump cards, resulting in a 78 card tarot deck, or a carte da triofi (Cards of triumph).

The subjects used for the symbolic or allegorical cards remained fairly consistent, variants on a theme remaining still somehow rooted to the original archetype.

The tarot cards were used for trick-taking games and a card game akin to bridge.

Variations of the tarot pack included the extension to 97 cards by adding more trumps, the removal of low-value numeral cards resulting in a 63 card pack, the conversion to French suit-signs, and the removal of all numerical cards to reduce the pack to 54 or 42 cards.

A trial in Venice in 1589 suggest that tarot may have had links with witchcraft according to the accusers, but subsequent to this, there are no more references speaking of any connection between tarot and divination  or occult magic until the 18th century.

Ordinary playing cards were connected with divination as well, and far earlier than tarot cards, dating back to 1487.

The intentions of the original designer of the tarot trump and fool cards are unknown and open to speculation.

Early poets also used the titles of trump cards to create verses known as tarocchi appropriate.  Girolamo Bargagli described the process as follows (in Siena in 1572). Each player would be assigned a tarot trump by an opponent, who would then go ahead and explain the reason for the association poetically if they could.  It was often used to describe ladies of the court.

There are records of mystical affiliations to tarot cards in the early 1700s, specifically in Bologna, this being the first solid evidence of tarot divination (As we understand it).  But the currently popular interpretations of the cards originated in France according to the Tarot de Marseilles packs that were derived from it.  These were used in France until the switch to the French suited cards.

The earliest extant rules for the game of tarot were published in 1637.

The 1700s seem to be the high point in tarots popularity with the introduction of a modernized deck.  The French suit-signs replaced the Italian ones and the trumps became double headed during the 1780s.

The medieval metaphorical pictures associated with the tarot were replaced with barely related illustrations and large roman numerals during this period also.

The later 18th century saw the development of tarot cards beyond their original use for play and leisure.

In the 1500s, the fortune-telling aspect of playing cards developed from their use as a device with which to randomise the selection of a page in a book of fortunes.

The 1600s saw the production of fortune-telling decks specifically designed for just that.

The 1700s saw regular decks being attributed with occult significance after the publishing of the first book on cartomancy in 1770 by Etteilla, the first professional cartomancer.

Etteilla went on to found occult Tarot along with two other French writers. Collectively, they cultivated a great deal of the fortune-telling methods and associated folklore that left us with the reinvention of the tarot deck as an occult device in the 1800s.

The original meaning and use of the tarot deck were paid little heed in the reinterpretation of the images.

‘They used the twenty-two trumps as signs designating the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These newly-minted correspondences made the Tarot deck into a novel emblem system for Cabalistic magic and mysticism. The two esoteric uses, Cabala and divination, became permanently attached to Tarot.  The authors of this newly invented Tarot also wrote up a detailed fantasy about Tarot’s origin and history, involving Egyptian initiations, Jewish mystics, and vagabond Gypsies. These fictional histories were intended to validate the correspondences the occultists had devised, by appeal to alleged ancient wisdom and secret traditions.’ ~

Christian mystic and scholar of the occult Arthur Edward Waite, rejected occult Tarot and he went on to write his own novel interpretation of the trumps, drawing on varying sources (occultists included) to produce a diverse interpretation of the ‘mystical Perennial Philosophy’.  He wished to remain in ‘keeping with common ideas of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century regarding comparative religion and the universality of myth and mysticism.’ (

This new deck was designed to be ‘not occult, but mystical’.

This deck serves as the template for many future variations and modern versions.  The twentieth century user utilised it more in conjunction with free-association and redefinition of the tarot deck in this period had significant influence from Jungian psychology.

Contemporary tarot methods are sometimes used in psychology as part of therapy.

Today, Tarot still makes appearances in various mediums.  It has appeared in Xena, Warrior Princess, Life on Mars, Mad men, Torchwood, Synasty, the Simpsons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Supernatural, X Files, True Blood, Bones, Live and Let Die (Bond), The Red Violin, Just My Luck, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The House of the Dead, Silent Hill and many, many, many other films, games and TV shows.

Perhaps somewhat ridiculously, you can find Pokèmon tarot decks, Star Wars tarot decks, Star Trek tarot decks and so on and so forth.  In fact, if it exists there’s probably a tarot deck of it!


The music provided tonight from Mevio’s Music Alley.

Check it out at ‘’

Bands & Songs:

7 Million Gigawatts : Got You Covered

2012 : Testify

Heart : Crazy on You

American Head : Just So You Know

Delina : Spiritual Suicide


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