Si Vales, Valeo
Thank you for your kind letter.
I am really happy to hear about your experiences with the Qabalah. Trust me when I say this is only the beginning. As for memorization, you just need to know a few things to get benefit from it: the Hebrew letters, their English equivalent, what the letters mean (i.e. Lamed = ox goad) and their numerical value. If you can incorporate the tarot card association: that is a bonus. Things will continue to pop once you have assimilated the correspondences. It is a gift that keeps on giving.
Funny you should mention Joseph Campbell. He is one of my personal heroes. He really makes a good case for the universal unconscious. If that is a subject that interests you, I would recommend Jung’s “The Symbols of The Mass.” Fascinating stuff for magicians.
As for what Tarot deck to start out with: I have a pretty good collection of tarot decks. My story with the tarot goes like this. My teacher told me to get a copy of the BOTA deck. This comes in the form of line drawings that you are supposed to color in yourself. The idea is (and man, did it ever work!) that as you go through the motions of coloring in the cards your unconscious will pick up details about the card you may not be immediately conscious of, and that these “clues” will be organized into you psyche accordingly if you understand the Qabalah well enough. I love that deck, and it looks much like the Rider Waite Deck.
The first time I saw the Crowley/Harris deck it blew my mind. It felt very uncomfortable and I didn’t mess with it again for a couple of weeks… until I realized that deck caused an emotional response from me unlike any other deck, so I figured that had to mean something. And it did. Right now, it is the only deck I use. Period. Just remember that when it comes to tarot, it isn’t just the picture that is important, but the color corresponds to the Qabalah, and there are a LOT of tarot decks out there designed by people who don’t know that. If you have never owned a tarot deck before I would recommend the BOTA one that you color yourself. Second choice would be the Rider Waite Deck. The images aren’t distracting, and it is easy to digest the symbolism. Once you are familiar with those cards and their colors, get your hands on a Thoth Deck.
Decks to avoid. There are a lot of Tarot decks out there to choose from. The reason I am such a staunch supporter of the BOTA deck is because it allows you to OWN it by demanding your concentration as you color it yourself. Also, a great many deal of decks are simply artistic expression of their creator, who has used created license to change the colors while keeping the imagery intact. The most important part of each Tarot card IS the color. If you want a calculated effect always go with a traditional deck as I have already mentioned.
A word of warning: If you are studying and memorizing your correspondences you may begin to experience elevated levels of foresight. It can be so mind blowing that the temptation to stay at that level is pretty intense. Keep your eye on the prize when that happens. There is much more beyond the internal perception you’ll acquire. In fact, psychic awareness is the very first phenomena. There is much more to come.