OOTK | First Operation | Golden Dawn

Published by Alison Cross on


I know.

It sounds like something an orangutang might say if it happened to be the librarian at a University for Wizards* but in this case it stands for Opening Of The Key.  And it’s a Tarot spread.

The whole OOTK shebang involves four stages, but today,  we are going to look at only the first part of the first stage, or First Operation.

I could write pages on the background to this spread, rattling on about the great occult meanings imbued within it – the Princesses!  The Aces!

But I like to keep things simple, so I’m providing only a tiny bit of background for you – but be aware there is more to know πŸ™‚

OOTK was designed by the Great and The Good of the Golden Dawn, it is an impressive set of four manoeuvres that perfectly suits that highly intellectualised GD approach to the Tarot.

Today we’re just looking at the First Operation. Actually, just the first part of the First Operation.

This can be used perfectly well as a stand-alone spread and one need never venture into the thigh-high swirling waters of the other three operations if you don’t want to.

Anyway, let’s crack on!

Using whichever manner you are comfortable with, select a significator for your client. Or let them select one.

Allow the querent to shuffle the cards and formulate their question.

All you are going to ask them to do is split the deck into four.

First of all you ask them to half the deck – placing one half on the right of the area to which you will use for the spread and the other half towards the left.

The red arrow shows the position of your two initial stacks

Then half each portion again, again laying half immediately to the left of the portion from which it was cleaved.

The blue arrows show the positions of the second stacks.

The cards on the extreme right (the stack to which I am pointing) represent the Fire energies , then Water, then Air and the final stack on the extreme left represent the Earth.

Now, you might be lucky and have all four piles roughly the same height.  More than likely you will have one pile substantially larger or smaller than the others.

You might be able to hazard some thoughts about what the largest/smallest pile might mean?  You can include these musings in your reading, if you like.

Turn each stack over and read according to the stack that it is in.

To illustrate:  the 6 of Cups  in the Fire stack.  The Water of the Cups weakens the Fire of the stack.  This might indicate that one’s natural fiery energies (optimism, expansion, career) are being adversely affected by the watery Cups energy of the 6.  Perhaps the sitter is brooding on something from the past that is holding back their natural enthusiasm for a situation?

Do the same for each of the four stacks and it will give you an overview of what the rest of the reading is about; paving the way for the subsequent Operations.  However, you can actually just stop there if you like!

But since WE are concerned with the Court Cards and their role, here as significator, we’re going to plough on a tiny bit further……..

Search through every pile – without disturbing the order of the cards – until you find the stack that the significator is in.

At this point, the Golden Dawn advocate the following:

If the Significator is NOT found in the correct stack then the reading is abandoned.  What they mean by ‘correct stack’ is that if the question is to do with the emotional problems of a relationship, you would hope to find the Significator in the second stack, the Water pile.  If it was to do with one’s health, one might expect to find it in the Earth pile……and so on,  but I don’t ascribe to that *shrug*.

I’m in the Carry On Regardless Team πŸ˜€

The reason for this is that it is not always clear to the sitter (and consequently to the reader) what the querent’s issue is REALLY about.  For example – maybe the sitter thinks that it is a problem about sex (for me, that would be the fire stack) but the issue may actually be entirely emotional, or health-related (ie either the Water or the Earth stacks).  So I’m all for continuing with the reading!

So, you’ve found the stack with the Significator.  Let’s assume that you are going ahead with the reading – what next?

………..tune in next time to find out πŸ˜€

*If you don’t read any novels by Terry Pratchett, then this reference is completely meaningless.  I apologise.  But urge you to read them.

Alison Cross

The Tarot's Court Cards are my specialist area.Β  They talk to me. Not LITERALLY though ....


Anonymous · 18th November 2017 at 3:42 am

Maybe the First Operation is more essential than it seems to be.

The problem with divination of that kind, is that you will always get a result: there is no way that your cards will get blank. The question is, what if the Source which answers your question is (for whatever reason) unwilling to do so?

The First Operation can be regarded as a respectful act for getting a permission. It isn't always clear how to perform it as you rightly pointed out, and it's very annoying when the permission is not given, but again, every result should have a reason.

Bonkers · 12th July 2012 at 12:41 pm

thanks for sharing this. golden dawn reading methods have always seemed a bit too much for me, but maybe i shall give this a try sometime…

Lena · 12th July 2012 at 11:15 am

Thank you for sharing this one, Ali! Great instructions, the most precise and clear i've read so far! (And it's ages that i've been researching the opening of the key!) xxxx

Anonymous · 12th July 2012 at 11:10 am

Hi Alison,

I got quite a lot of mileage about using just this part of the OOTK, and it produced some very nuanced readings for me. And it takes much less space than doing the entire first step! (Which is as much as I ever bothered with for OOTK.)

Coincidentally I was thinking about writing more about OOTK myself. But I keep coming back to how much work it would be to display and type for all those cards, especially if it were a thorough analysis.

Nice Pratchett reference, too. I expect to see some Weatherwax in future posts! πŸ˜‰

Joanne · 12th July 2012 at 2:59 am

So, very interesting. I get 10 of pentacles in the Fire stack and 8 of Wands in the Earth stack. Earth and Fire, Fire and Earth. Pretty cool pattern. Looking forward to more tomorrow (Swords in the middle at Water and Air).

    alisoncross · 12th July 2012 at 10:21 am

    Will be Monday, Joanne – takes me a little while to organise myself during the school holidays πŸ˜€

    Anonymous · 12th July 2012 at 11:13 am

    Hi Joanne,

    One approach (originally taught by Paul Hughes-Barlow) is to consider Earth as the outcome, being the final stack. Fire can be past, as the actions that lead to everything else. When I used this as a whole reading, I also liked to look for earth cards in general, to indicate the matter in question would have some impact or come to fruition… it really depended on the question.

    Just some more ideas for you to play with. πŸ™‚

Inner Whispers · 11th July 2012 at 9:15 pm

I think this is my favourite way to use a significator, seeing where things are at. Looking forward to the next installment!

    alisoncross · 12th July 2012 at 10:20 am

    I tried to do this with a video – using the mac imovie. It's bloody tricky! I am filled with renewed respect for your own video skills!

Neopagan Priestess · 11th July 2012 at 9:09 pm

I'm so with you on the "Carry on regardless" front! What next, what next? You're such a tease πŸ˜‰

    alisoncross · 12th July 2012 at 10:20 am

    Yes, I am the Dita Von Teese of Tarot *bwhahahahaha*

    More to come on this particular situation on Monday πŸ˜€ *wafts fan seductively*

Caroline Blackler · 11th July 2012 at 4:28 pm

Wow! I love the first part of OOTK and will be trying it later. Very much looking forward to learning more about this spread, it's very different from the spreads I have done so far, so will be good to tax different parts of my brain πŸ™‚

    alisoncross · 12th July 2012 at 10:19 am

    I use just this first part of the whole shebang as a spread in itself – or even as a fore-runner to a Celtic Cross or other large spread.

    Ali x

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