Preface to the 2nd Edition

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Welcome to the second edition of The Satanic Tarot. You might be surprised to know this, but it was never my intention to publish a second edition. The first edition of The Satanic Tarot was more than a year in the making, and like any proud parent I was very excited for my offspring to see the light of day. Unfortunately, mistakes were made along the way and shortly after publication it became evident to me that a second edition was needed for three reasons.

First, just a few months before I finished the manuscript for the first edition of The Satanic Tarot my doctor accidentally discovered a cystic lesion inside my spinal cord during an MRI for an unrelated issue. My doctor advised me that it could possibly be a rare cancer of the central nervous system, so as you can imagine this was a frightening period of time for me. Seven months after it was first discovered, subsequent evaluations revealed that it's nothing to be concerned about, but for a while it sure felt like I was living on borrowed time. For this reason, I felt a great urgency to publish the manuscript as quickly as I could before I reached a point of no return. 

In my haste to publish I overlooked a number of typos, grammos, and formos. In hindsight, there was no reason that these errors should have ever seen the light of day, but I hope you can understand how a health scare had a way of impacting my better judgement. I've gone through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb and to the best of my knowledge the second edition is the polished book that the first edition should have been. If you're among those who purchased the first edition, you have my gratitude but also my sincere apologies that you didn't get the book that you deserve.

Second, it was always my goal to write a book about an informed, skeptical approach to fortune-telling and it's for this reason that I was so happy to have found Satanism in 2015 through the writing of Dr. LaVey and Magus Gilmore as well as the broader body of literature championed by the Church of Satan. However, for reasons that are beyond the scope of this book, shortly after publishing the first edition of The Satanic Tarot I experienced a paradigm shift in my understanding of Satanism and I reached a point in early 2018 where the Redbeardian insistence that might makes right, as well as the interpretation of Satan as a kind of Nietzschean ├╝bermensch, no longer matched my understanding of Satanism.

The second edition of The Satanic Tarot retains much of the carnival sideshow atmosphere which informed the first edition, but has discarded its manipulative and predatory overtones in favor of a cooperative view of fortune-telling as seen through the concept of a ritual chamber attended by informed, willing participants. 

There are many pages I borrowed from Dr. LaVey’s The Satanic Witch that are still present in the second edition, and those pages are reflected overtly in the chapters which discuss cold-reading, the archetypes of fortune-tellers, and the importance of appropriate costuming, but also subtly in the emphases on fortune-telling as a persuasive performance as well as in my belief that once a sitter has been sufficiently advised of the nature of fortune-telling, the fortune-teller's no longer responsible for how the sitter indulges in that fantasy.

If you're a fortune-teller but not a Satanist, you may not agree with my arguments and the principles upon which they're premised. You might think that I'm missing the point, or that if this is the way I feel that I was never "one of you" to begin with. If that's what you think, then I'll tell you in advance that I was brought up in the esoteric tradition of fortune-telling using the popularly taught methods synonymous with the philosophies of Arthur Edward Waite and for a time I also labored under the three-fold law and the commandment to "harm none" as taught in Wicca. Pass judgement on me if you will, but know that I once stood exactly where you are now. There is a reason that I've come to feel the way that I do, and I think that if you're willing to put aside counter-productive pride while you read this book that you might come to feel the same way.

If you who read this are a Satanist, then I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. No matter my decision to retreat from the Redbeardian aspects of the first edition, this second edition is still steeped in principles outlined in The Satanic Bible, The Satanic Witch, The Satanic Rituals, and The Satanic Scriptures. No matter my other criticisms of Dr. LaVey and Magus Gilmore, I'm still grateful to them for their intellectual contributions to my life and if you know what to listen for you'll hear their voices echoing through nearly every page of this book.

Third, while I’m an arguably shallow person who’s largely motivated by greed and materialism, it’s not my goal to keep my vision of a Satanic Tarot locked away. I’d sure love to get rich selling books and Tarot decks, but even more than that I nurture the fantasy that I can make a lasting mark on the world of fortune-telling and Tarot cards. For this reason, I’ve decided to license the second edition of The Satanic Tarot through Creative Commons so that others can not only learn from my writing, but build upon it and contribute to something that in my wildest fantasies will become greater than the sum of my parts.

This decision to invite others to build upon my work—with attribution and even for commercial purposes—initially surprised me, but in fact is right in line with my repeated encouragements through the length of the book that readers should consider my writing an invitation to play Dr. Frankenstein in the creation of their own monster. If there are limbs and organs in the body of my monster which may be harvested for the construction of something even greater, then by all means please cut my work to pieces because I want to see the awesome and terrifying creation that may emerge.

All of which is a very long way of saying, Welcome to the second edition of The Satanic Tarot. I hope that this work at the least challenges your perspective and convinces you to look beyond the established paradigms, and at best becomes a productive and satisfying addition to your personal Satanic tool-kit. 

The book you're reading today is the book I wish I had been able to read 20 years ago. May it serve you well, and Hail Satan!

James Oliver Bridge