Taking On Destiny: The Septrionic Order and the Naipes Cards

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading the copy of “Fate Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon: The Septrionic Order and the Naipes Cards” by Marlene Dobkin de Rios that Park Street Press mailed to me. I had no idea what naipes cards were and I had never heard of the Septrionic Order, as I’m guessing many of you have not either. Well, this lean, mean text explains it all in amazing detail as well as offering loads of other information!

The book follows the journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios: her start as an anthropologist studying the folk healing tradition in Peru, which in turn led her to become a fortune teller that uses the naipes cards in a shantytown in Peru called Belen, and the end where she has become an initiated member of the Sacred Mystical Order of Septrionism. It’s a journey that began in 1968 that Dobkin de Rios effectively relates in an engaging manner that’s presented with historical, social, anthropological, and religious context.

The first part of the book focuses on her time as a fortune teller and the history and use of the naipes cards. Dobkin de Rios also looks at the bigger picture. Why do the poor of Belen spend money that they can’t spare on fortune tellers? Why do her readings seem alarmingly effective? What do you learn from readings that cannot be learned from traditional testing such as the Rorschach and the Thematic Apperception Test? Dobkin de Rios offers excellent insight not only in the role of the naipes cards and the people who read them, but also into fortune telling in general.

In her time living with and studying the people of Belen, Dobkins de Rios began reflecting on destiny and how the people of Belen felt it affected their day to day lives. All the while, she was learning about the Sacred Mystical Order of Septrionism and their take on the role destiny plays in the lives of the people of Peru.

In 1968 Claudio Cedeno Araujo, also referred to as Shirky Gama, founded the Sacred Mystical Order of Septrionism. Dobkins de Rios describes Septrionism as “a contemporary mystical approach to self-knowledge and self-development, with emphasis on change. Personal knowledge of the spiritual world is primary. The goal is to control our instincts and passions. It sees as its role to provide a new view of the world and to delineate universal laws of causality. The doctrine questions the mission of human beings in society and their relationship to eternal forces. The primary focus of the doctrine is helping humankind to achieve spiritual peace and to overcome afflictions and tribulations.”

Dobkins de Rios carefully outlines the history, philosophies, and practices of the Septroinic Order and compares and contrasts both sides views on the role of destiny. I love learning about new religious movements, if you view Septrionism as a religion and not just a philosophy, and so this second part of the book was just fascinating. In attempting to learn more I found no listing in Wikipedia, a Google search just showed listings for this book, and the website Dobkins de Rios mentions (www.septrionismo.com) is in Spanish with no translate to English option. What I’m saying is, this stuff is fresh! At the end of the book you learn the author has started the first, and as far as I know of only, center for Septrionism in the United States (in California).

“Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon” is a fantastic book. In this 122 page text you’ll learn about naipes cards, divination and fortune telling, the social and economic make up of Peru, the Septrionic Order, and more! I can’t recommend this book enough.