SBR 2.5: Arcanism

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Background sounds and music
Panning effects (sounds will be different in right and left headphones)
References to death and dying
Raised voices (brief, not notably louder than the rest of the audio)
Voice altering effects; reverberation and echo effects (used sparingly)
Sudden sounds (not louder than the rest of the track but still abrupt and distinct)


There are atoms in you that were once inside the centre of a sun, that were once in the bones of a dinosaur, that were once inside of Shakespeare. Change is constant and unreliable. In the end, we all go the way of stars and universes. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.


Hello, faithful listeners! I hope you’re having a wonderful end of the year. It will be good to see this one go out, I think. Well, for me, anyway, and many of you on the forums seem to agree! There has been plenty of bustling activity, and a few of you have been curious to know as to whether I’ll be picking up Madame Marie’s New Years’ tarot tradition this year. Well, I’m still not super confident with tarot cards, but I am getting a little bit better at it all, especially with having the True Arcanist Tarot to compare and contrast with! I’ve had to get a better grasp of how proper tarot works to get a handle on how this strange deck works, too!

Faithful listener Newt has asked me to consult the deck about whether or not the coming year will be a good one for them in general. They say ‘this past year has been really rough to get through and I feel like things are only just starting to improve. Would you ask the cards if there is anything I can do to make sure next year is better than this one has been?’

Of course I will, Newt! As you’ve not specified which deck I should use I’ve decided to use our ordinary tarot deck, and this will give me a sort of baseline, a starting point, you know? I’ve really been enjoying three card spreads recently, and this is a perfect question for my absolute favourite one.


I’ll shuffle the deck, and the first—-


— card I draw will be a sort of overview of the current situation, the second card, this one —


— that’ll be an insight into the cause of the problem, and the third card —


— will be all about what you might to do improve on the previous year!

Okay, so in that first space, I’ve drawn the Knight of Cups reversed for you, Newt. That means the problem is a lot of withdrawn possibilities, things haven’t been really working out even though they started out promising. The cause I’ve drawn for you is the Sun, which. Hmm. I suppose in this context it could mean that you’ve been too optimistic? That you’ve been setting your sights to high, or perhaps pushing yourself too hard. Enthusiasm is never a bad thing, Newt, but maybe this is a case of you having been counting your chickens before the eggs hatched? I don’t know. Did you find yourself spending money from a job you thought you’d get only to not get it after all, that kind of thing? I don’t know. Hmm. Interesting, though.

Okay, and the advice the deck is offering is the Seven of Swords, reversed. Oh, this makes a lot of sense, actually! Seven of swords upright is about lies and deception, but reversed it’s more like, well, coming clean and being honest and true to yourself. So I’d say the best thing you can do Newt is be honest and true to yourself, and use that honesty to move forward, instead of pushing yourself too hard or putting too much pressure on yourself to succeed, or celebrating before you actually know the outcome of things? I don’t know. I hope that wasn’t too harsh, Newt, and that it was at least of some help even if it wasn’t much comfort!

Forum user Honey Chu had a nice, straightforward question for the deck! They wanna know whether or not this year should be the year she finally bites the bullet and gets a dog.

Okay! Honey, I’m going to do a one card draw for you as it’s a fairly all or nothing question so I think it deserves an all or nothing answer! Based on my readings, there are a few ways to ask a tarot deck a yes or no question, but the most straight forward way is with a one card draw. Whether the answer is a yes or a no is basically to do with what my own associations with particular cards is, whether those are good or bad. And ones I don’t have an opinion on, they’re ‘maybes’ of varying flavours. I’ve not practiced this kind of a draw much so it’s exciting to give it a whirl! And I’ve drawn…


Oh! Nice! It’s the Page of Swords, which seems like a pretty definitive yes to me, don’t you think? Do send in photos when you acquire your new puppy, Honey! We’d all love to meet them.


Right, moving on then to a slightly different sort of question. Calliope Stew wants to know if I can consult the True Arcanist Tarot deck specifically regarding some sinister goings on in their home. Apparently cold spots have been appearing in several rooms, and so, they want me to ask the deck if I can identify them. I can’t make any promises, Calliope, but I will certainly try my best.



Okay. What is the source of the cold spots in Calliope’s home?


Okay… I’ll look through the seeing glass and, oh!

Yes, two cards! This one! Which is an echo. The second one is… breeze.

I… oh. Hang on, I think. I think this means it’s an echo but it’s transient? Like it’s there now but it won’t be for long… I. Huh.


Yeah. Right, okay.

Iguacel wants to get a general reading about the direction of their upcoming year. We’ve actually had a few questions of this kind, where people are just looking for a general vibe. I’ll do one draw with Iguacel in mind, and another draw which will be more open to interpretation. I’m going to do a three card draw for this one, but they won’t be in any sort specific formation, more of a general spread, to match the general nature of the question! What the grouping of all three cards combined is going to mean. This is a fun spread to do for beginner tarot users like me, because it encourages to thoughtfully apply your extant knowledge of the deck and think critically about various possible interpretations. It’s just good practice! And it’s useful to know how to do this.

The Page of Swords inverted, the Queen of Pentacles, and the Ace of Cups. So, the Page of Swords right ways up is about positive change, so I guess inverted it’s talking about indecision, which is interesting, because the Ace of Cups is also a card about change, in a way; it’s all about creativity and self-empowerment, which interesting when paired with a card about the dangers of indecision. The Queen of Pentacles is a very soft sort of card, about understanding and compassion, and adding that to the mix… well, Iguacel, I think what this spread is saying is that you need to trust in yourself and your own passions, and beware of a lack of focus which may stem out of not believing in yourself.

And now for the more general general reading! I’ll shuffle the deck up good and proper. Right, this time we’ve got…

The Queen of Wands, the Fool and the… Eight of Pentacles!


The Queen of Wands is all about self-confidence and quick thinking. The Fool, which sounds pretty bad, is all about a kind of naive optimism and idealism, which is an interesting contrast to the Eight of Pentacles, which is all about mastery and hard earned skill. There’s a lot of ways you could interpret these three cards in chorus. I’m excited to see what you feel it says to you in the forums! I won’t spend too much time reading into myself, as it’s intended to be left for you to make of it what you will.

Instead, to wrap up this fascinating session, I’m going to address this little letter from faithful listener Arlo, which has a request for a tarot reading at the end! Arlo says:

Dear Sam, we listen to your show every week. I left my family a while a go to be with people who are more like me, but, I think something may be wrong. People here talk like we’re all working towards the same thing but I’m not sure if its true. Could you ask your deck whether it’s true, what they’ve said about why we’re here?

Thank you, Arlo, from STTR.


I’m not sure what STTR is, Arlo, but I’m glad you’ve found people like you! Though that is a little unusual for Arcanists, as I understand it. Kitty says it’s hard, travelling like she does. Trying to get people to help her out is always difficult. There are a few covens which a couple of Arcanists in them, or at least on the fringes, but she says it’s like herding cats.

Incidentally I’ve never had much trouble with that, have I, Revel?

REVEL: Mrrooow.

SAM: Anyway, back to your question, Arlo! This one will be a True Arcanist Tarot draw – I hope that’s okay!

Let’s see. I’ll shuffle the deck, try and read it like that, just to mix things up, and I’ll just… I won’t look at them through the seeing glass, I’ll draw three cards, a little spread!

Okay, and this one is one of those gilded cards, from the weight of it. And I’ll shuffle again and draw… another gilded card. Huh. And shuffle and… Oh. A third gilded card? Weird. Maybe I’m favouring them, somehow? Weird, ‘cause from the back they all look the same, but…. I don’t know. Okay, so, the first card, in the past position, is the one with the animal in the field of… wheat? Corn? I don’t know, some kind of crop, but the animal. It might be a deer or a horse or a cow, I don’t know, it’s hard to tell, but it’s emaciated and I think it’s dead. But that’s the first card.

The second card, the present, is the smiling man. The Man in the Flat Cap’s card. Um…

And the third card is the skull in the crown. Hmm.

Okay. Well, that wasn’t helpful.

I’ll try a regular draw and see if that sheds any further light on things for you, Arlo!


Okay, one, two, and three!

Right, first we’ve got the six of swords, reversed, then the magician reversed, and then the sun, upright. If I’ve got this right, trying to relate it to your question, it’s saying something to do with feeling stuck or stagnant, or that bad things are on the horizon, and the magician reversed is saying that there is some kind of ruse going on, a kind of manipulation, and the Sun upright is to do with success or optimism, which is good, so I’d say that maybe things didn’t start out so well, and they’re a bit difficult to navigate right now, like maybe the purpose of whatever group you’ve landed in is a little lost, but the future is bright!


Which is weird because, well. The metal cards. I’d thought they were like… I don’t know, Major Major Arcana or something? Like a level of specificity above the other Major Arcana in that deck like Indifference and the Unrelenting. But… this matches the starving animal with the six of swords which, granted, infamously dreaded card, but just part of a suit, not that it makes it any less important. The Man in the Flat Cap as the Magician reversed is… I don’t know. It makes sense but. I don’t know? Maybe each deck is trying to answer your question in different ways. And it’s hard to see how a skull in flowers could be so optimistic as to be the Sun in upright.


Oh well, we move, I suppose. I think that’s quite enough tarot for me for one day, don’t you think Cosmo?

He’s very asleep. He’s mostly a pillow, aren’t you, dear? Are you for decorative purposes only?


SAM: Yes, Eggroll, you make a beautiful addition to any room too, but you’re a nuisance, aren’t you? Darling. Darling?



Tiny, furry, criminal.

I’ve received a letter this week that isn’t so much asking for advice or for confirmation of things as it is just… telling me stuff. I don’t know. It’s very interesting, actually. It’s from someone who describes themselves as ‘Ace’, nothing else.

Here’s what they have to say.


Dear Sam,

I’ve been an on-and-off user of the Spirit Box Services for a very long time but for the most part I like to steer away from the forums where I can. I grateful to have access to a Spirit Box whenever I need one. Even if not being able to adjust it can be a little inconvenient, the ability to just whip my phone out and access a Spirit Box with minimal preparation is almost invaluable.

I’ve tuned into your segment a couple of times since you took over. I was surprised to hear that something awful had happened to Madame Marie. She and I would run into each other on occasion. Our paths didn’t cross often, as is the way for most Arcanists, but we always managed a few pleasant words whenever we did happen to meet. I found her pleasant enough to speak with, though perhaps a little too eager to discuss the practical aspects of Arcane Practice. Say what you may of her she was pushing boundaries, and whilst that may not be admirable, it is at least commendable. Consider this my commendation. I regret to hear of her passing.

The true reason I am writing, though, is not to send condolences on the death of Madame Marie. I used the Spirit Box Services some weeks ago and got some strange results. When I attempted to repeat the conditions in which those results were acquired, I found the services were not working correctly. Even more recently, when I tried to use them again, the skipping channels started blasting full throttle out of my microwave and my car, sat outside on the driveway. It gave me the fright of my life.

Many, many years ago, Madame Marie gave us details of a website on which we could file our responses and discuss any commune we had made using Spirit Box Radio. She gave the impression it was little more than a digital letter box. What I discovered when visiting the prescribed URL was that dozens upon dozens of people discussing various aspects of Arcanism, some of them apparently not even connected to the show at all.

I’m not sure if you, as the new host of the Community Segment or whatever it is Madame Marie called it, are aware of the extent of this problem. I’d suggest you do what you can to rectify the situation as soon as possible.

Arcanism, as I presume you know, is predicated on the individuality of its practitioners. Whilst many, like myself, mingle with witches and other users of arcane energies, Arcanism does not breed community. It negates it. It is lonely work, the embrace of the unknown. To sit at the fringes of what is conceivable is not just necessarily isolating, it is predicated upon it. To attempt to understand the arcane is to try to wield power over it and too much of that power can lead only to utter destruction. We have known it for millennia, that it is in the dissemination of arcane knowledge, in its transformation from obscure to generalised, that the foundation of our very existence will come to an end.

Please do what you can to shut down these forums.



It’s interesting, isn’t it? I don’t think there’s much point in trying to address Ace directly as they don’t seem to listen to the show very regularly, if at all.


It’s so strange to me, this idea that Arcanism is about protecting some kind of secret knowledge that’s too terrible to know. It’s ridiculous. Knowledge empowers people. It lets them understand where they fit in the vast mechanisms of the world around them. The first step towards changing things for the better is the knowledge that there’s something wrong in the first place.

‘The dissemination of arcane knowledge, in its transformation from obscure to generalised, that the foundation of our very existence will come to an end’. It really bothers me. Teaching people about the Arcane Arts is going to end the world, is it?! Absurd. I don’t know.

I understand that there is some knowledge belonging to some cultures that isn’t for outsiders to know but Arcanism isn’t a culture, it’s not even a community, its— it’s. I don’t know!


It had me thinking, anyway, about some stuff I learned from the little Book of Big Magic; this sort of passive knowledge never said outright but definitely there, singing out in the space between every word. Arcanism isn’t just. I don’t know. It’s more than what it claims to be, or what it sets out to be. It’s. Worshipful. It’s fetishistic of the limits of knowledge. It’s in love with the concept of the Arcane itself. It implies at once that knowing about something gives you a special connection to it, and that connection should be limited to a few people, that if it becomes bigger, it becomes somehow diluted and less important. Less connected to you.

I don’t know about you, Faithful Listeners, but that makes me pretty angry. I don’t know why. It just feels wrong! Greedy! Elitist! I don’t know! The information should be there to be found by those who want to find it. People should be able to speak and learn from each other and grow from that knowledge laid out by others rather than trying to learn from scratch every time. That’s why it all feels so insurmountable, so huge and vast and endless! The knowledge other people had has been sequestered, squandered, locked away and ultimately lost. And for what? For what? To avoid the world ending? How? How does that keep people safe? Keeping people deliberately ignorant only puts them in danger. It breeds lies and suspicion and.


And I can’t. I can’t— I won’t! The forums are too important to me. Is it absurd of me to assume they are important to you, too?

We start putting caps on who should be allowed to learn what, we start to govern the remits by which people are allowed to communicate… that sounds like the end of the world to me.

But what to I know, really? Very little.


And whose fault is that.


We share, here. We learn from one another and we grow with each other. We’re better together, faithful listeners. I know it in my bones. I feel it in my blood.

Goodnight, faithful listeners. I hope you welcome this next rotation around the sun happy, warm, full of food and drink, with people you love. Goodnight.