Tarot Tales with author & occultist Julian Vayne

Julian Vayne is something of a polymath when it comes to the occult, but he has a particularly special place for tarot. He shares a few of his favourite tarot things.

By: The College of Psychic Studies.   Posted

Head to any occult bookshop, look for 'V', and find Julian Vayne's titles. You'll see from the sheer variety - psychedelic ceremony, tarot, chaos magic - that he's something of a polymath in the occult arts. A subject that has continued to pique his interest since adolescence is tarot, and he has been a dedicated adept ever since. Here, Julian shares the details of his enduring romance with the cards...

What's your favourite tarot deck?

"The Thoth Tarot of Frieda Harris and Aleister Crowley is my favourite deck. The artwork is glorious, the backstory of the deck is fascinating and, of course, it includes the distilled wisdom (and idiosyncrasies) of Crowley's approach to magick."

Julian Vayne with Thoth Tarot

What first sparked your interest in the tarot?

"I've always been interested in the occult for as long as I can remember. I voraciously read everything I could get my hands on from childhood, joining my first occult group when I was 16 years old. The tarot was very much part of the occult tradition and I purchased my first deck, a Major Arcana only set based on the Marseille Tarot, via the Aquarian Books catalogue, in the early 1980s."

What do you remember about your first ever tarot reading?

"It was a reading using the above cards for my R.E. teacher at school! Later that day, I attempted to read for some friends and soon realised that I needed a full deck to work with. I bought a Thoth deck soon after and a copy of The Book of Thoth which, luckily, (mostly) made sense because I'd already read various Qabalistic texts. From there, I started reading for myself and others."

Which tarot card most represents you?

"I aspire to be The Magus and have been honoured to be the model in a couple of decks for Atu I. The Prince of Cups in the Thoth deck is a card that resonates strongly with me."

Julian Vayne with Prince of Cups and Magician Thoth Tarot

What are your favourite tarot rituals?

"I like to be easy with the cards; to gently slip the magic under the radar of the psychic censor, so to speak, and so rarely, when I'm reading for others, do I use any (overt) ritual acts in my practice (these days). That said, I often use the cards for inner journey work and they are a key part of my internal magical landscape. I pick a card from the Smith-Waite deck more-or-less each day (sometimes at the end, most frequently at the beginning of the day) by using a Tarot app."

What do you love most about the tarot?

"That this is a gaming deck in which the secrets of the universe were 'discovered' hundreds of years after its origination. The relationships discerned years later between the cards, the Hermetic Qabalah and other occult systems, are delightful examples of magical 'Just So' stories. The framework that the cards provide, and the latitude taken within this by the many creative practitioners who have produced decks, I find inspirational and delightful."

Quickfire round:

Dominant colour in your wardrobe? Black
Dog or cat person?
What's on your bedside table? 
Currently a copy of the Psychedelic Press journal.
Last movie you watched? 
At the moment, I'm reviewing the complete works of Jack Hargreaves. I rarely watch movies so the most recent, a few months back, was Don't Look Up.
Guilty pleasure? 
'There is no grace, there is no guilt, this is the law; Do What Thou Wilt' as some dude said...
Breakfast of champions?
Full English veggie, tea, cannabis (where it is safe and legal to do so of course).
Favourite time of day? 
Early morning so I can catch the rising chi of the day early, do my practices, crack on with work and spend the afternoon loafing about, walking in nature and reading.
Where did you grow up? 
Sunny Stevenage in Hertfordshire and I came of age in Bristol.
Last thing that made you laugh? 
The idea of Liz Truss being Prime Minister. That is a disgrace ;)
Have you ever seen a ghost?
I've encountered numerous spirits and certainly a few that could be described as ghostly.

Julian has some incredible stories! Watch our interview with Julian here.

Julian Vayne spoke on The Tarot as a Magical Tool at our Tarot Weekend in November 2022.

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