We furnish our temples, decorate our altars, dress (or undress), and burn incenses that, on some level, create an aesthetic shift from the mundane to the sacred. And while, objectively, you're still standing naked in your living room, you've turned the living room Off and turned Temple Between The Worlds On.
I sometimes find myself musing on how much the aesthetics are the magic. I've thought about this a lot over the years, going from doing pretty shoddily staged plays in high school to fabulously done theatricals in college. Believe me, it helps your performance when you are wearing a real straightjacket and fighting with swords that could in fact kill someone.
I believe this is true when it comes to magical tools.
I started thinking about this again when I was reading cards for my friend Sardonicus. I've been yapping about the cards alot lately, since that's been the focus of most of my magical work for the past few months. He's noticed a definite change in the quality of the readings, and in my eagerness to actually read for people after I switched decks.
The first tarot deck I ever bought was the Sacred Rose Tarot. It's artwork appealed to my sensibilities. And gorgoues though it is, in the twelve years I've owned it, it has never spoken to me nor given accurate or useful readings.
Tarot, being so largely visual as opposed to runes or palmistry, you have to like the images. You spend a lot of time looking at them. But what if you love the images but the deck doesn't talk? Is there more than aesthetics at work? Does your personal magical pactice or religious beliefs determine which tools are going to work for you and which ones are just pretty pictures?
I really learned to read the tarot using the standard Rider-Waite/Smith deck. It's traditional, there's a long established egregore around it, and since so many decks are basically clones of the RWS, it's weighted with a good bit of lineaged authority. But the artwork? Meh.
I've picked up a number of decks to replace the RWS, something more in line with who I am, and that has artwork that appeals to me. Crowley? I suppose if I were more CM or had more of an interest in astrology, it would speak to me beyond having gorgeous artwork. DruidCraft? It's fabulous for reading for Witches and as a deck for personal meditation.
The only deck that's been talking, clearly geared towards Wiccans and stripped of a lot of the CM of the RWS, is the Robin Wood. I know some people make fun of this deck, and while the cards are pretty friendly, some of the suits get pretty dark, the swords especially.
I've been using the five-card spread in the Little White Booklet for general readings, and when I shuffled for my friend Sardonicus, five cards sprayed out of the deck and landed on the floor. Those five cards answered his question. That shit has never happened with other decks.
So I put the question out there. Do the aesthetics of your particular practice determine which tools work best for you?