#### TagPaganism

In parts one and two of our interview we discussed the history of the Koldun and their relationship to the Tarot. In this third installment we discuss how to find one’s Tarot Constellation, which form the basis for other Kolduny practices.

TiamatsVision– You mentioned that you use the Tarot Constellation for assistance in helping someone. How does one go about finding their Tarot Constellation?

NATALIA– The process of finding a person’s Tarot Constellation consists of first reducing the birth date down to a single digit. This is the Soul Number. Then find the Tarot card within the major arcana that is associated with that number. Next, you have to find the Persona and Will cards and then the Fate and Path cards. From there you look for the Hidden Influence, Visible Influence and the Inner Teacher cards.

NATALIA– To determine one’s Tarot Constellation you must first determine the Soul Number. To do this you add all the numbers of the birthdate up. Let’s say someone was born on 6-12-1955. Add 6+1+2+1+9+5+5=29. Now take and reduce 29 to its lowest single number which is 2+9=11, 1+1= 2. The person of this birthday has the soul of a 2. The second card of the major arcana is The Priestess. So you pull The Priestess card and the 2’s of all the suits. These twos are the Fates and Path cards. Next you find the Inner Teacher card. The easiest way to do this is to ask The Hermit card, which is a card that portrays one holding either a lantern or hourglass and is the 9th card of the major arcana. If a person has a Soul of a 2, you add 9 and you get 11, 1+1=2. The reason you ask The Hermit is because no matter what the Soul Number is, by adding 9 you get the Inner Teacher number which adds up to the Soul Number. Work it out and see. A soul number of 5? Add 9 you get 14, 1+4=5, The Temperance card. A Soul Number of 7? Ask the Hermit; add 9+7 and its 16, (1+6=7) The Tower.

The Soul Number, the numbers of the suits, and the major arcana numbers that add up to the Soul Number form the skeleton of the Tarot Constellation.

ANTON– This is important to understand, and it is the basis of the constellation. A soul of 2? 2 plus 9=11. 1+1=2, the original Soul Number. A soul of 3? 3 plus 9 =12, 1+2=3, and so on. If you know a Soul Number and ask The Hermit, you will not fail finding the Inner Teacher.

The point is that the Soul card, no matter what the number is, has an Inner Teacher card that when broken down and added up, matches the Soul Number. In every circumstance The Hermit card stands lighting the way.

TiamatsVision– What is the significance of the different cards (i.e. the Soul card, the Inner Teacher, etc.)?

NATALIA– The Soul card reflects what will please and perplex the individual. The Inner Teacher card is the card of the inner teacher. When this card comes up it means that the inner teacher has a message or lesson for you. This card should be trumped by placing a card over it sideways and then considering the card in both a positive and negative manner. Fate and Path cards are cards that show how a person will view the issues raised by the suits. Cups are interpersonal relationships and romance. Swords are conflicts and lusts. Wands are creativity and intellect. Pentacles are work, money, home and survival. Influence cards reflect what will influence the person, both visible and hidden. The Hidden Teacher is the reflection of the hidden lessons that one’s past has taught them. The Will and Destiny cards reflect how one will behave in a struggle and how they routinely respond to certain situations.

It seems very complicated and in some ways it is. But the constellation is the beginning of understanding what makes the individual tick.

The next three cards that you need for a person’s Tarot Constellation are the Persona cards. These cards are the Personal Potential Card, The Hidden Teacher Card and the Manner of Expression Card. These cards are based upon your Sun Sign, your Moon Sign and your Ascendant. Your Sun sign will be the Personal Potential card, your Moon Sign is your Hidden Teacher card and your Manner of Expression card will be the sign of your Ascendant.

The signs and cards align like this:

Aries– Queen of Wands

Taurus– King of Pentacles

Gemini– Knight of Swords

Cancer– Queen of Cups

Leo– King of Wands

Virgo– Knight of Pentacles

Libra– Queen of Swords

Scorpio– King of Cups

Sagittarius– Knight of Wands

Capricorn– Queen of Pentacles

Aquarius– King of Swords

Pisces– Knight of Cups

So if your Sun was in Libra then your Personal Potential Card would be the Queen of Swords. If your Moon was in Leo then your Hidden Teacher would be the King of Wands. If your Ascendant sign is Virgo then your Manner of Expression card would be the Knight of Pentacles.

The next cards to consider in the Tarot Constellation are the Visible and Hidden Influence cards. These are based upon planets that were either in the Midheaven or on the Ascendant at the time of birth. Planets in the Midheaven would be reflected by Visible Influence cards, while planets on the Ascendant would be reflected by Hidden Influence cards.

The planet and card associations are:

Mercury– The Magician

Venus– The Empress

Jupiter– The Wheel

Neptune– The Hanged Man

Mars– The Tower

Pluto– Judgment

Saturn– The World

Uranus– The Fool

The Sun– The Sun

The Moon– The Moon

If a person was born at noon with the Sun in the Midheaven, then the Sun card would represent a Visible Influence. Let’s say Jupiter was also in the Midheaven, then The Wheel would also be a Visible Influence card. Now let’s imagine that Pluto was ascending at the time of the person’s birth. Their Hidden Influence card would be The Judgment card. There are only 3 cards left to determine that will complete the Tarot Constellation.

The last three cards to determine in the Tarot Constellation are the Will cards of which one is the Destiny card. The Will cards are minor arcana cards that are associated with the Sun sign, and the time involved in the Sun sign. Each Sun sign in astrology is broken down into three deaconates. Each deaconate is represented by a minor arcana card. The minor arcana card that represents the actual date of birth is the Destiny card.

They break down like this:

Aries:

March 21-30: 2 of Wands

March 31- April 10: 3 of Wands

April 11-20: 4 of Wands

Taurus:

April 21-30: 5 of Pentacles

May 1-10: 6 of Pentacles

May 11- 20: 7 of Pentacles

Gemini:

May 21-31: 8 of Swords

June 1-10: 9 of Swords

June 11-20: 10 of Swords

Cancer:

June 21-July 1: 2 of Cups

July 2-11: 3 of Cups

July 12-21: 4 of Cups

Leo:

July 22-Aug. 1: 5 of Wands

Aug. 2-11: 6 of Wands

Aug. 12-22: 7 of Wands

Virgo:

Aug. 23-Sept. 1: 8 of Pentacles

Sept. 2-11: 9 of Pentacles

Sept. 12-22: 10 of Pentacles

Libra:

Sept. 23-Oct. 2: 2 of Swords

Oct. 3-12: 3 of Swords

Oct. 13-22: 4 of Swords

Scorpio:

Oct. 23-Nov. 1: 5 of Cups

Nov. 2-12: 6 of Cups

Nov. 13-22: 7 of Cups

Sagittarius:

Nov. 23-Dec.2: 8 of Wands

Dec. 3-12: 9 of Wands

Dec. 13-21: 10 of Wands

Capricorn:

Dec. 22-30: 2 of Pentacles

Dec. 31-Jan. 9: 3 of Pentacles

Jan. 10-19: 4 of Pentacles

Aquarius:

Jan. 20-29: 5 of Swords

Jan. 30-Feb.8: 6 of Swords

Feb. 9-18: 7 of Swords

Pisces:

Feb. 19-29: 8 of Cups

March 1-10: 9 of Cups

March 11-20: 10 of Cups.

To determine your Will cards go to your Sun Sign. To determine your Destiny card, go to the deaconate of your birth. This completes the Tarot Constellation. Each person has one which is totally unique to them alone. Some come close, but no two are exactly alike. It is like a fingerprint. The uses of the Tarot Constellation are numerous. Everything from Tarot readings, to herbal prescriptions, to talisman for spells; they all come back to the individual’s Tarot Constellation.

(Next: Part 4- The different tarot spreads)

“Evidence of pagan rituals involving swans and other birds in the Cornish countryside in the 17th century has been uncovered by archaeologists. Since 2003, 35 pits at the site in a valley near Truro have been excavated containing swan pelts, dead magpies, unhatched eggs, quartz pebbles, human hair, fingernails and part of an iron cauldron.

The finds have been dated to the 1640s, a period of turmoil in England when Cromwellian Puritans destroyed any links to pre-Christian pagan England. It was also a period when witchcraft attracted the death sentence. Jacqui Woods, leading the excavations, has not traced any written or anecdotal evidence of the rituals, which would have involved a significant number of people over a long period. There are no records of similar practices anywhere else in the world.”

(via Times Online)

“It lasted a mere 100 minutes but launched an industry that continues to endure after almost 25 years. The Wicker Man film inspired an American remake, several books, an academic conference, and now a West End musical.

The dark tale of paganism, loose morals and murder in the Highlands is set to take on spectaculars such as The Phantom Of The Opera and Les Miserables. Workshop sessions – the step before full rehearsals – start on the new version in London tomorrow and will, in an unusual twist, include award-winning Scottish actress Lesley Mackie, who played a schoolgirl in the original film. It was her very first role.

Discussions have already taken place with Scottish theatres to preview the musical early next year ahead of a West End opening. “Although it’s a brilliant film, it is inherently theatrical,” said Andrew Steggall, who at 28 has been hailed as one of Britain’s most promising young theatre directors and producers. “The key ingredients are music, played by people who are in the story, and a sense of ritual. The Wicker Man would be a rich piece of theatre.”

(via Scotland on Sunday)

In our first interview with Natalia and Anton we discussed the history and superstitions surrounding the Koldun. In this segment we discuss the history and relationship of the Tarot that form the center of their tradition.

ANTON– I think it’s important before discussing the tarot constellation that we should first review the history of the relationship between the Tarot and the Kolduny. The last time I checked Tarot scholars are totally undivided as to the origins of the Tarot. Stuart Kaplan, Mary Greer, and Rachel Pollack as well as other Tarot historians all seem at a loss concerning the origins of the Tarot. The Kolduny are not at this loss. It is our beliefs concerning the origins of the Tarot that set us aside from other “Tarot” readers. It is our beliefs concerning the origins of Tarot, which creates the pathology that makes Kolduny Tarot both unique and incredibly powerful.

The Kolduny, believe heart and soul that the Tarot is theirs. Even today when people think of the Tarot, the most common mental image is an Eastern European woman laying cards down. There is a reason for this collective mental image.

As far as I can find? Our tradition is the only tradition that has an explanation for the origins of the Tarot. It is what makes Kolduny Tarot what it is. Natalia recently did an online reading with someone on a Pagan/Wiccan forum that caused that person to state during the reading that they were “blown away by the accuracy”. This is not so much due to intuitive reading as it is with understanding how the Tarot came to be. Bottom line, if you don’t know the history and origin of Tarot then you don’t know jack. This is how the Tarot came to be:

Years ago, the Tartars invaded the land of Rus. It was a military conquest, and the only thing that changes in military conquest is the technology of the weapons. The concepts of conquest have always been the same, take out the leadership, pacify the people, and rape the resources.

The land of Rus at this time was a tribal society that was matriarchal. Wise women were the judges, the leaders, and the healers. This made them the targets of the Tartars. The Tartars came across the Russia slaughtering the wise women until finally there were only 78 wise women left. One of whom was pregnant. They took refuge in the village of Kostroma. There they made a vow to the Moon that they would instill their last collective knowledge upon the unborn child of the one among them who was pregnant.

The child was born a male, shocking all of the wise women, but a vow is a vow. All of the wise women put their knowledge on pieces of birch bark and taught the child using the birch bark. Except for one woman, who was the child’s mother. She died at child birth. The lesson she was supposed to give was “Mercy.” This is why there is no card symbolizing mercy in the Tarot, and why the Tarot is merciless in its truths.

According to our legends this leaves 77 cards of birch bark which this child, Nicholi Popvich Issakov, was sent out to the Tartars with. When Nicholi Popovich finally met the Tartar leader, he showed him using these birch barks the world that was being created by him, and was able to steal a small piece of his soul that he placed in a crystal and threw in to the Volga River.

After Nicholi completed his mission, he realized he was a man with no mission and no mercy so he stepped off of a cliff, after having made his own birch bark symbol representing his mother’s innocence, which is the only card in the major arcana not numbered. The Fool.

Books could be written on this, but you must know this story to understand Kolduny Tarot.

NATALIA– This is why also all males who are taught by their mothers have a crystal that is blemished in the center, to reflect that small evil that was thrown into the Volga given to them by the one who gifted them.

TiamatsVision– What happened to the Tartar leader whose soul was captured in the crystal and thrown into the Volga? Why was birch bark used for the cards? And where does the Kolduny tarot’s history go from Nicholi’s death?

ANTON– It was just a small piece of the evil in the soul of the Tartar leader’s soul. He continued to live but was just not as evil, so that the Kolduny was spared and allowed to exist. When Nicholi stepped off the cliff he left behind the wisdom of the wise women that was given to him with the card of innocence that he had made depicting The Fool. Birch bark was used because it was a common thing to use for communicating. Even today in Russia in areas that tourist frequent there are birch bark cups all inscribed with scenes of villages and such. The birch is also a sacred tree symbolizing fertility, wisdom and protection.

T.V– Along with The Fool, are there any other cards that stand out or hold more relevance to the Kolduny in the major arcana?

NATALIA– The 8th card of the major arcana, we view it as Justice and the 11th card as Strength. Some of the later year decks have this backwards. But the Kolduny views the first 9 cards starting with the Magi, as soul cards, and the 8th card is Justice.

(Next: Part 3- The Tarot Constellation)

Koldoun, Koldun, Koldun’ya (Russian) – A magician or sorcerer; one having more power and knowledge than a znachar (wizard). – (via the Theosophy Dictionary)

The Koldun are an ancient Pagan sect that has existed in the Russian/Slavic areas for hundreds of years. The teachings are passed down through families orally, and there isn’t much written on them. What little is known is written by scholars in a few texts on Russian magic. I sat down and talked with a couple who currently practice and live in the United States, Natalia and Anton Tikimirova.

TiamatsVision- I understand that you use tarot, astrology, numerology, and herbs in your practices. These techniques are used together for example, in finding a specific herb to use for an ailment or looking into a good day to marry. How does this work?

NATALIA- It is all intertwined, that is what keeps it a formal tradition. It is the frigid pathology of the Kolduny that has kept it so separated from other traditions. Unlike Wicca, which has it’s own beauty in its free flowing way of doing things. Yet with that freedom comes a lot of questions, which is why many who claim to be Wiccan are still seeking to define what Wicca is. It seems anyone can buy a couple of books and suddenly be “Wiccan”. I am not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing for Wicca. But that is for them to figure out. Kolduny practices are far more formal and rigid. A lot of what we do is based upon numbers. Time, is very important to us.

T.V- After reading a bit more about the Koldun, I found it disturbing to see how misunderstood and persecuted you were. You were feared and loathed, but not completely shunned because the people needed your services? Is this right?

NATALIA- Even today, in Russia, the znarkhar is sought after.

T.V- How far does the Kolduny tradition date back? Or is this an unknown, because of the oral nature of the teachings?

NATALIA: I remember as a young girl asking my mother this same question along the lines of ‘how far do these things go back’? My mother just smiled and said ‘to yesterday’. I didn’t understand it then and questioned her, to her chuckles and amusement. Today I do understand it. There is nothing so remembered, yet so fleeting as ‘yesterday’.

ANTON: The Kolduny can be traced back through it’s earliest legends to the invasions of the land of Rus by the Tartars which would date it’s earliest known history to around the early Byzantine era.

T.V- How are the teachings passed down to the children? Are all children taught these practices? How does that work?

NATALIA- To be Kolduny, you must be born into a Kolduny family. The teachings of the Kolduny are passed from Mother to Daughters with few exceptions. The Kolduny is very sexist in as much as only women are allowed to teach and pass on the gifts. Now we do have males who are Koldun, or mouseyhar. But the only way a male becomes a Koldun is if a woman has no daughter, or the daughter dies before ‘polovoy vozrast’. In this case the mother is allowed to teach her youngest son.

ANTON- Yeah, I come from a family of 6 boys and one girl. My sister died at the age of three, and I was the youngest son so my mother gifted me.

T.V- You mentioned earlier that to this day the ‘znarkhar is sought after’. By this do you mean people coming “after you” for persecution? Or that your wisdom is sought? Or is it both? The same as it’s been for hundreds of years?

NATALIA- The znarkyar is a healer, even today in Russia they are sought out before Doctors.

T.V- So with the power to heal, comes with it the fear of the znarkyar’s possible power to harm. And if the znarkyar doesn’t succeed in healing someone, they are probably the first suspect if the patient gets worse. That’s a lot of pressure there.

ANTON- Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

T.V- What were some of the superstitions and misconceptions that were attached to being Koldun in the old days? Are some of these superstitions still around today? Which ones?

NATALIA- I would venture that the most damning superstition would have to have been the wedding spoiling that was attributed to the Koldun, or male member of the Kolduny. Koldunias’ were sought after to help set the date of a wedding, and to assist in all aspects of it. Kolduns’ are forbidden to be public except as wedding guests. If things went badly as they often do when vodhkah is involved and the wedding would be “spoiled” it would always be blamed on the Koldun.

T.V- What is the process of finding a particular remedy for someone with a problem? You need their astrological information first, correct? The birth chart. What is done with this?

NATALIA- The first step is always the creation of the Tarot Constellation. The Kolduny believe that the Tarot Constellation is the introduction of the individual to us from the universe. The Tarot is multi cultural, it screams of humanity. The Kolduny believe that each individual has a constellation that is unique to them. Each card of the Tarot is governed by and governs all the secrets to life. Within an individuals Constellation will be cards that represent, certain herbs and times, that are beneficial to healing. Yet when a znarkyar asks, it is for purposes of healing.

(End of Part 1)

(Related: Slavic Paganism)

“Winter in Ireland means dark and rain and mud and chill that aches in your bones. It means short wet days and long wet nights. Cold that runs damply down the sides of stone walls. Ashen fields, rubbly with last year’s hay. Winter, which began as the sun lost its vigor at Samhain, still holds sway as the land nears Imbolc, or so the cold and the damp proclaim.

But spring is near, near as sheep who materialize out of the fog near spiky outcroppings of granite. Lambs kick within the ewes, hidden as spring on a foggy winter morning. The bitter chill and the ashen fields give no clue to the nearness of a new season but, like the lambs, spring is “in the belly” of winter, for that is the meaning of the word Imbolc. Soon spring, in all its robust fragility and wild insouciant joy, arrives as suddenly as birth which, like death, is always sudden no matter how fervently anticipated or feared.

Imbolc is La Feile Bridghe, the day of Brigit, celebrated each year in ritual in Kildare, the town historically associated with the Celtic goddess and saint. The festival focuses on the largest of the area’s 32 holy wells, where a tiny wooden bridge leads into a grassy sacred precinct. Miniature standing stones link a deep rock-circled well with its outlet in a stream into which shallow stone steps descend. Brigit, sculpted in an old-fashioned nun’s habit, stands in a stone grotto among coins and flowers and other offerings.

People come to the holy wells continually throughout the year, in groups and singly, for traditional healing rituals. But the greatest crowds arrive for Imbolc, when Brigidine sisters sponsor a vigil at the well, which I was honored to attend several years ago. Hundreds join in, many coming from other parts of Ireland to attend at Brigit’s central shrine for her most important holiday. As we gathered in the late evening, we were greeted by a bonfire of gorsewood, welcome in the still-wintry chill. But that was not the only fire that lit the dark well precinct, for the women of Ch?irde Bhr?de — “heart of Brigit,” the local laywomen’s association — had placed hundreds of candles on the pathways and stone steps, outlining the well and the spring and the pathways. The rushing waters caught and reflected the candlelight, so that the whole precinct shimmered with light.”

(via MatriFocus)

(Thanks Pat!)

Wes’ post on Icelandic magick got me thinking about other Scandanavian magick systems. The fastest growing (in practitioners) probably being that of Asatru.

I was once acquainted with an individual who belonged to this religion – he was in the process of writing a book on runes. He informed me about how he spent one day a week at various prisons in the area teaching Asatru. It seems that (and we all know that in prison you usually have to align yourself with one group or another) there are plenty of white inmates that don’t wish to align themselves with skinheads. Asatru – with its tough Nordic ancestry – has become the number one alternative.