Showing posts with label tarot card. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tarot card. Show all posts

Tarot, Mysticism, Divination and Traditions

The poet's pathology says that "the undevout astronomer is mad"; the very simple man's pathology says that "the genius is mad"; and the sovereign justification takes the place of a moderator and does what it can between these extremes, which stand for ten thousand comparable excesses. I do not believe that the pathology of occult dedications persists, but no one should doubt their extravagances, and it is not less painful than ungrateful to act as a moderator about them. In comparison, if it existed, the pathology would presumably be an empiricism rather than a diagnosis and would not give any requirements.

Now, occultism is not like mystic faculty, and it rather rarely operates in conjunction either with business aptitude in the things of everyday life or with a knowledge of the canons of facts of its own domain. I know that for the high art of ribaldry there are few things more boring than the critique which maintains that a thesis is untrue, and cannot understand that it is decorative. I also know that it is often refreshing, in the field of this craft, to deal with what is clearly deception or at least utter unreason after a long deal with questionable doctrine or with challenging science.

But, as seen through the prism of occultism, the forces of history are not, as a rule, decorative and have little refreshing gifts to repair the lacerations they cause on the rational perception. In the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, it almost takes a Frater Sapiens dominabitur astris to have the patience that is not lacking among clouds of stupidity when the Tarot's consideration is conducted in compliance with the higher rule of symbolism.

Symbolism is the real Tarot; it knows no other language and does not give any other indications. They become a kind of alphabet, provided the inner significance of its emblems, which is capable of indefinite variations and makes true sense in everything. It gives a "Key" To The Mysteries on the highest plane, in a way that is not subjective and has not been read in. But it has been told the wrong symbolic stories about it, and in any published work that has so far dealt with the topic, the wrong history has been given.

Two or three authors have intimated that this is inevitably the case, at least in terms of definitions, since few are familiar with them, while these few keep pledges through transmission and will not compromise their trust. On the surface, the suggestion is brilliant, because there seems to be a certain anti-climax in the proposition that a specific meaning of fortune-telling should be reserved for Sons of the Doctrine, I'art de tirer les cartes.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that there is a sacred custom surrounding the Tarot, and since there is always the possibility that a small arcane of the Mysteries may be made public with a flourish of trumpets, it may also be appropriate to go before the event and to alert those who are interested in such matters that any discovery will contain only a third of the earth and sea and a third of the earth and a third of the moon.

This is for the simple explanation that no more has been put into writing in either root-matter or creation, so after every pretended unveiling, more will remain to be said. Therefore, the guards of those initiation temples who hold watch over the secrets of this order have no reason for concern. As far as the series of larger symbols is concerned, their ultimate and highest meaning lies deeper than the typical image or hieroglyphic language. Many that have received any portion of the Hidden Custom will recognize this.

They are meant to set aside the follies and impostures of past attributions, to place those who have the gift of wisdom on the right path, and to take note, within the limits of my possibilities, that they are the reality as far as they go, as regards the linguistic meanings assigned here to the more relevant Trump Cards.

In many ways, it is regrettable that I have to admit to such doubts, but there is a matter of honor at issue. In comparison, between the follies on the one side of those who know little of the practice, but are, in their own view, the exponents of something called occult science and philosophy, and on the other side of the make-believe of a few writers who have earned part of the tradition and believe that it constitutes a legitimate title to scatter dust in the eyes of the outside world.

We shall see in due course that the history of Tarot cards is mostly of the derogatory kind, and that, when the problems are cleared by the dissipation of reveries and gratuitous speculations articulated in the terms of certitude, there is in effect no history prior to the fourteenth century. The deceit and self-deception about their roots in Egypt, India or China put the first expositors' mouths in a lying spirit, and the later occult authors did nothing more than replicate the first false testimony in the good faith of an intellect that was unawakened to the research problems.

All exhibits have operated within a very limited spectrum, as it happens, and owe little, relatively speaking, to the imaginative faculty. At least one genius chance was lost, for it has not occurred to anybody so far that the Tarot might have done duty and perhaps emerged as the Albigensian sects' secret symbolic tongue. In the tradition of Gabriele Rossetti and Eugene Aroux, I commend this recommendation to the linear heirs, to Mr. Harold Bayley as another New Light on the Revival, and at least as a taper in the gloom that may be helpful to Mrs. Cooper-zealous Oakley's and all-searching mind with great reverence.

Think only about what the supposed testimony of watermarks on paper could obtain from the Pope's or Hierophant's Tarot Card in connection with the notion of an Albigensian secret patriarch that Mr. Bayley finds so much information for his intent in these same watermarks. Think of the High Priestess' card as portraying the Albigensian church itself for just a moment; and think of the Tower struck by Lightning as representing the desired ruin of Papal Rome, the city on the seven hills, with the pontiff and his temporal force thrown down from the sacred edifice as it is demolished by God's wrath (Nature).

The possibilities are so various and convincing that one of the elect vwho has invented them almost deceives in their speech.

But there is much more to it, even though I barely dare to quote it. When the time came for the Tarot cards to be the topic of their first systematic description, some of their most notable emblems were replicated by the archaeologist Court de Gebelin, and, if I might name it, the codex he used, by his carved plates, as a reference basis for many subsequently released collections. The figures are rather primitive and, as such, vary from the cards of Etteilla, the Tarot of Marseilles, and those which are still present in France.

In such things, I am not a strong judge, but the fact that each of the Trumps Majors may have replied for watermark purposes is shown by the cases I have cited and by one of the most impressive examples of the Ace of Cups.

In the manner of a ciborium, I should call it a eucharistic symbol, but this does not mean at this time. The argument is that in his New Light On The Renaissance, Mr. Harold Bayley offers six analogous instruments, which are watermarks on seventeenth-century parchment, which he says to be of Albigensian origin and to represent sacramental and grail emblems. Had he only read of the Tarot, had he learned that these divination cards, the cards of fate, the cards of all the vagabond arts, were perhaps present in the South of France at that time, I assume that his enchanting, but all too fantastic, theory would have dilated even more in the atmosphere of his imagination.

No doubt we should have had a vision of Christian Gnosticism, Manichseanism, and all the true primal Gospel knows, sparkling behind the images. I do not look through those lenses, and at a later stage I can only commend the topic to his attention; it is said here that I will add the marvels of arbitrary speculation as to the past of the cards with an unheard-of wonder.

It should scarcely be useful to enumerate them with regard to their type and number, since they must be almost universally recognised.

The Magician ~ Meaning and Symbolism


I Saw the Man.
His figure reached from earth to heaven and was clad
in a purple mantle. He stood deep in foliage and flowers
and his head, on which was the head-band of an initiate,
seemed to disappear mysteriously in infinity.
Before him on a cube-shaped altar were four symbols
of magic—the sceptre, the cup, the sword and the

His right hand pointed to heaven, his left to earth.
Under his mantle he wore a white tunic girded with a
serpent swallowing its tail.
His face was luminous and serene, and, when his eyes
met mine, I felt that he saw most intimate recesses of my
soul. I saw myself reflected in him as in a mirror and in
his eyes I seemed to look upon myself.

And I heard a voice saying:
— "Look, this is the Great Magician!"
With his hands he unites heaven and earth, and the
four elements that form the world are controlled by him.
The four symbols before him are the four letters of the
name of God, the signs of the four elements, fire, water, air.

I trembled before the depth of the mysteries I touched...
The words I heard seemed to be uttered by the Great Magician
himself, and it was as though he spoke in me.
I was in deep trepidation and at moments I felt there was
nothing before me except the blue sky; but within me a
window opened through which I could see unearthly things and
hear unearthly words.

The Fool ~ Meaning and Symbolism


And I saw another man.
Tired and lame he dragged himself along the dusty road,
across the deserted plain under the scorching rays of the sun. He
glanced sidelong with foolish, staring eyes, a half smile, half leer
on his face; he knew not where he went, but was absorbed in
his chimerical dreams which ran constantly in the same circle.
His fool's cap was put on wrong side front, his garments were
torn in the back; a wild lynx with glowing eyes sprang upon him
from behind a rock and buried her teeth in his flesh. He
stumbled, nearly fell, but continued to drag himself along, all
the time holding on his shoulder a bag containing useless things,
which he, in his stupidity, carried wherever he went.
Before him a crevice crossed the road and a deep precipice
awaited the foolish wanderer. Then a huge crocodile with open
mouth crawled out of the precipice. And I heard the voice

"Look! This is the same man."
I felt my head whirl.

"What has he in the bag?" I inquired, not knowing
why I asked. And after a long silence the voice replied
"The four magic symbols, the sceptre, the cup, the sword
and the pentacle. The fool always carries them although
he has long since forgotten what they mean Nevertheless
they belong to him, even though he does not know their
use. The symbols have not lost their power, they retain it
in themselves.

The High Priestess ~ Meaning and Symbolism


When I lifted the first veil and entered the outer court
of the Temple of Initiation, I saw in half darkness the
figure of a woman sitting on a high throne between two
pillars of the temple, one white, and one black. Mystery
emanated from her and was about her. Sacred symbols
shone on her green dress; on her head was a golden tiara
surmounted by a two-horned moon; on her knees she
held two crossed keys and an open book. Between the
two pillars behind the woman hung another veil all
embroidered with green leaves and fruit of pomegranate.

And a voice said:

"To enter the Temple one must lift the second veil
and pass between the two pillars. And to pass thus, one
must obtain possession of the keys, read the book and
understand the symbols. Are you able to do this?"

"I would like to be able, " I said.

Then the woman turned her face to me and looked
into my eyes without speaking. And through me passed a
thrill, mysterious and penetrating like a golden wave;
tones vibrated in my brain, a flame was in my
heart, and I understood that she spoke to me, saying
without words:

"This is the Hall of Wisdom. No one can reveal it no
one can hide it. Like a flower it must grow and bloom in
thy soul. If thou wouldst plant the seed of this flower in
thy soul —learn to discern the real from false. Listen only
to the Voice that is soundless... Look only on that which is
invisible, and remember that in thee thyself, is the
Temple and the gate to it and the mystery, and the

The World ~ Meaning and Symbolism


An unexpected vision appeared to me. A circle not
unlike a wreath woven from rainbow and lightnings,
whirled from heaven to earth with a stupendous, velocity,
blinding me by its brilliance. And amidst this light and fire
I heard music and soft singing, thunderclaps and the roar
of a tempest, the rumble of falling mountains and

The circle whirled with a terrifying noise, touching the
sun and the earth, and, in the centre of it I saw the naked,
dancing figure of a beautiful young woman, enveloped by
a light, transparent scarf, in her hand she held a magic

Presently the four apocalyptical beasts began to appear
on the edges of the circle; one with the face of a lion,
another with the face of a man, the third, of an eagle and
the fourth, of a bull.

The vision disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. A
weird silence fell on me. "What does it mean?" I asked in

"It is the image of the world," the voice said, "but it
can be understood only after the Temple has been
entered. This is a vision of the world in the circle of
Time, amidst the four principles. But thou seest
differently because thou seest the world outside thyself
Learn to see it in thyself and thou wilt understand the
infinite essence, hidden in all illusory forms.

Understand that the world which thou knowest is only
one of the aspects of the infinite world, and things and
phenomena are merely hieroglyphics of deeper ideas.

The Empress ~ Meaning and Symbolism


I felt the breath of the spring, and accompanying the
fragrance of violets and lilies-of-the-valley I heard the
tender singing of elves. Rivulets murmured, the tree-tops
rustled, the grasses whispered, innumerable birds sang in
choruses and bees hummed; everywhere I felt the
breathing of joyful, living Nature.

The sun shone tenderly and softly and a little white
cloud hung over the woods.

In the midst of a green meadow where primroses
bloomed, I saw the Empress seated on a throne covered
with ivy and lilacs. A green wreath adorned her golden
hair and, above her head, shone twelve stars. Behind her
rose two snowy wings and in her hands she held a sceptre.

All around, beneath the sweet smile of the Empress,
flowers and buds opened their dewy, green leaves. Her
whole dress was covered with them as though each newly
opened flower were reflected in it or had engraved itself
thereon and thus become part of her garment.
The sign of Venus, the goddess of love, was chiselled
on her marble throne.

"Queen of life," I said, "why is it so bright and joyful all about
you? Do you not know of the grey weary autumn, of the cold,
white winter? Do you not know of death and graveyards with
black graves, damp and cold? How can you smile so joyfully on
the opening flowers, when everything is destined to death, even
that which has not yet been born?"

For answer the Empress looked on me still smiling and, under
the influence of that smile, I suddenly felt a flower of some clear
understanding open in my heart.

Judgement ~ Meaning and Symbolism


I saw an ice plain, and on the horizon, a chain of
snowy mountains. A cloud appeared and began to grow
until it covered a quarter of the sky. Two fiery wings
suddenly expanded in the cloud, and I knew that I beheld
the messenger of the Empress.

He raised a trumpet and blew through it vibrant,
powerful tones. The plain quivered in response to him
and the mountains loudly rolled their echoes. One after
another, graves opened in the plain and out of them came
men and women, old and young, and children. 

They stretched out their arms toward the Messenger of the
Empress to catch the sounds of his trumpet.

And in its tones I felt the smile of the Empress and in
the opening graves I saw the opening flowers whose
fragrance seemed to be wafted by the outstretched arms.
Then I understood the mystery of birth in death.

The Emperor ~ Meaning and Symbolism


After I learned the first three numbers I was given to
understand the Great Law of Four—the alpha and omega
of all.

I saw the Emperor on a lofty stone throne, ornament-
ed by four rams' heads. On his forehead shone a golden
helmet. His white beard fell over a purple mantle. In one
hand he held a sphere, the symbol of his possession, and
in the other, a sceptre in the form of an Egyptian cross—
the sign of his power over birth.

"I am The Great Law," the Emperor said. 

"I am the
name of God. The four letters of his name are in me and
I am in all.

"I am in the four principles. I am in the four elements
I am in the four seasons. I am in the four cardinal points I
am in the four signs of the Tarot.

"I am the beginning; I am action; I am completion I
am the result.

"For him who knows how to see me there are no
mysteries on earth.
"I am the great Pentacle.

"As the earth encloses in itself fire, water and air;
as the fourth letter of the Name encloses in itself the first
three and becomes itself the first, so my sceptre encloses
the complete triangle and bears in itself the seed of a new

"I am the Logos in the full aspect and the beginning of
a new Logos."

And while the Emperor spoke, his helmet shone
brighter and brighter, and his golden armour gleamed
beneath his mantle. I could not bear his glory and 1
lowered my eyes.

When I tried to lift them again a vivid light of radiant
fire was before me, and I prostrated myself and made
obeisance to the Fiery Word.

The Sun ~ Meaning and Symbolism


As soon as I perceived the Sun, I understood that It,
Itself, is the expression of the Fiery Word and the sign of
the Emperor.

The great luminary shone with an intense heat upon the
large golden heads of sun-flowers.
And I saw a naked boy, whose head was wreathed with
roses, galloping on a white horse and waving a bright-red

I shut my eyes for a moment and when I opened them
again I saw that each ray of the Sun is the sceptre of the
Emperor and bears life. And I saw how under the
concentration of these rays the mystic flowers of the waters
open and receive the rays into themselves and how all
Nature is constantly born from the union of two principles.

The Chariot ~ Meaning and Symbolism


I saw a chariot drawn by two sphinxes, one white. the
other black. Four pillars supported a blue canopy, on
which were scattered five-pointed stars. The Conqueror,
clad in steel armour, stood under this canopy guiding the
sphinxes. He held a sceptre, on the end of which were a
globe, a triangle and a square. A golden pentagram
sparkled in his crown. On the front of the chariot there
was represented a winged sphere and beneath that the
symbol of the mystical lingam, signifying the union of two

"Everything in this picture has a significance. Look and
try to understand", said the voice.
"This is Will armed with Knowledge. We see here,
however, the wish to achieve, rather than achievement
itself. The man in the chariot thought himself a conqueror
before he had really conquered, and he believes that
victory must come to the conqueror. There are true
possibilities in this beautiful conception, but also many
false ones. Illusory fires and numerous dangers are hidden
He controls the sphinxes by the power of a magic
word, but the tension of his Will may fail and then the
magic word will lose its power and he may be devoured
by the sphinxes.

This is indeed the Conqueror, but only for the
moment; he has not yet conquered Time, and the
succeeding moment is unknown to him.

This is the Conqueror, not by love, but by fire and the
sword,—a conqueror against whom the conquered may
arise. Do you see behind him the towers of the conquered
city? Perhaps the flame of uprising burns already there.
And he is unaware that the city vanquished by means
of fire and the sword is the city within his own
consciousness, that the magic chariot is in himself and that
the blood-thirsty sphynxes, also a state of consciousness
within, watch his every movement. He has externalized
all these phases of his mind and sees them only outside
himself. This is his fundamental error. He entered the
outer court of the Temple of knowledge, but thinks he
has been in the Temple itself. He regarded the rituals of
the first tests as initiation, and he mistook for the goddess,
the priestess who guarded the threshold. Because of this
misconception great perils await him.

Nevertheless it may be that even in his errors and
perils the Great Conception lies concealed. He seeks to
know and, perhaps, in order to attain, mistakes, dangers
and even failures are necessary.

Understand that this is the same man whom you saw
uniting Heaven and Earth, and again walking across a hot
desert to a precipice.

The Moon ~ Meaning and Symbolism


A desolate plain stretched before me. A full moon
looked down as if in contemplative hesitation. Under her
wavering light the shadows lived their own peculiar life.
On the horizon I saw blue hills, and over them wound a
path which stretched between two grey towers far away
into the distance. On either side the path a wolf and dog
sat and howled at the moon. I remembered that dogs
believe in thieves and ghosts. A large black crab crawled
out of the rivulet into the sands. A heavy, cold dew was

Dread fell upon me. I sensed the presence of a
mysterious world, a world of hostile spirits, of corpses
rising from graves, of wailing ghosts. In this pale moonlight
I seemed to feel the presence of apparitions;
someone watched me from behind the towers,—and I
knew it was dangerous to look back.

The Lovers: Meaning & Symbolism


I saw a blooming garden in a green valley, surrounded
by soft blue hills.

In the garden I saw a Man and a Woman naked and
beautiful. They loved each other and their Love was their
service to the Great Conception, a prayer and a sacrifice;
through It they communed with God, through It they
received the highest revelations; in Its light the deepest
truths came to them; the magic world opened its gate;
elves, undines, sylphs and gnomes came openly to them;
the three kingdoms of nature, the mineral, plant and
animal, and the four elements—fire, water, air and
earth—served them.

Through their Love they saw the mystery of the
world's equilibrium, and that they themselves were a
symbol and expression of this balance. Two triangles
united in them into a six-pointed star. Two magnets
melted into an ellipsis. They were two. The third was the
Unknown Future. The three made One.
I saw the woman looking out upon the world as
though enraptured with its beauty. And from the tree on
which ripened golden fruit I saw a serpent creep.
It whispered in the woman's ear, and I saw her
listening, smiling at first suspiciously, then with curiosity
which merged into joy. Then I saw her speak to the man. I
noticed that he seemed to admire only her and smiled
with an expression of joy and sympathy at all she told

"This picture you see, is a picture of temptation and
fall", said the voice. "What constitutes the Fall? Do you
understand its nature?

"Life is so good", I said, "and the world so beautiful, and
this man and woman wanted to believe in the reality of
the world and of themselves. They wanted to forget
service and take from the world what it can give. So they
made a distinction between themselves and the world.
They said, "We are here, the world is there." And the
world separated from them and became hostile.
"Yes", said the Voice, this is true. "The everlasting
mistake with men is that they see the fall in love. But
Love is not a fall, it is a soaring above an abyss. And the
higher the flight, the more beautiful and alluring appears
the earth. But that wisdom, which crawls on earth, advises
belief in the earth and in the present. This is the
Temptation. And the man and woman yielded to it. They
dropped from the eternal realms and submitted to time
and death. The balance was disturbed. The fairyland was
closed upon them. The elves, undines, sylphs and gnomes
became invisible.

The Face of God ceased to reveal Itself to them, and all
things appeared upside down.

"This Fall, this first sin of man, repeats itself
perpetually, because man continues to believe in his
separateness and in the Present. And only by means of
great suffering can he liberate himself from the control of
time and return to Eternity—leave darkness and return to

The Star - Meaning and Symbolism


A strange emotion seized me. A fiery trembling ran in
waves through all my body. My heart quickened its
beating, tumult agitated my mind.

I felt that I was surrounded by portentous mysteries.
And presently shafts of Light penetrated my being and
illuminated many things before in darkness, whose
existence even I had never suspected. Veils vanished of
which I had been before unaware. Voices spoke to me.
And suddenly all my former knowledge took a new and
different meaning.

I discovered unexpected correlations in things which
hitherto I had thought foreign to each other. Objects
distant and different from one another appeared near and
similar. The facts of the world arranged themselves before
my eyes according to a new pattern.

In the sky there appeared an enormous star surround-
ed by seven smaller stars. Their rays intermingled, filling
space with immeasurable radiance and splendour. Then I
knew I saw that Heaven of which Plotinus speaks:
"Where... all things are diaphanous; and nothing is dark
and resisting, but everything is apparent to every one
internally and throughout. For light everywhere meets
with light, since everything contains all things in itself, and
again sees all things in another. So that all things are
everywhere, and all is all. Each thing likewise is
everything. And the splendour there is infinite. For
everything there is great, since even that which is small is

"The sun too, which is there, is all the stars; and again
each star is the sun and all the stars. In each however, a
different property predominates, but at the same time all
things are visible in each. Motion likewise there is pure;
for motion is not confounded by a mover different from
it. Permanency also suffers no change of its nature,
because it is not mingled with the unstable. And the
beautiful there is beautiful, because it does not subsist in
beauty. Each thing, too, is there established, not as in a
foreign land, but the seat of each thing is that which each
thing is.

 .... Nor is the thing itself different from the
place in which it subsists. For the subject of it is intellect,
and it is itself intellect. ... In this sensible region, therefore,
one part is not produced by another, but each part is
alone a part. But there each part always proceeds from the
whole, and is at the same each time part and the whole.
For it appears indeed as a part; but by him whose sight is
acute, it will be seen as a whole.

"Where... is likewise no weariness of the vision which
is there, not any plenitude of perception which can bring
intuition to an end.

"For neither was there any vacuity which when filled
might cause the visible energy to cease; nor is this one
thing, but that another, so as to occasion a part of one
thing not to be amicable with that of another.
"Where... the life is wisdom; a wisdom not obtained by
a reasoning process, because the whole of it always was,
and is not in any respect deficient, so as to be in want of
investigation. But it is the first wisdom, and is not derived
from another."

I understood that all the radiance here is thought;
and the changing colours are emotions. And each ray, if we
look into it, turns into images, symbols, voices and moods.
And I saw that there is nothing inanimate, but all is soul,
all is life, all is emotion and imagination.
And beneath the radiant stars beside the blue river 1
saw a naked maiden, young and beautiful. She stooped on
one knee and poured water from two vessels, one of gold
and one of silver. A little bird in a near by bush lifted its
wings and was poised ready to fly away.
For a moment I understood that I beheld the Soul of

"This is Nature's Imagination", said the voice gently.
"Nature dreams, improvises, creates worlds. Learn to unite
your imagination with Her Imagination
and nothing will ever be impossible for you. Lose the
external world and seek it in yourself. Then you will find
Light. "But remember, unless you have lost the Earth, you
will not find Heaven. It is impossible to see both wrongly
and rightly at the same time."

The Hierophant - Meaning and Symbolism


I saw the great Master in the Temple. He was siting on
a golden throne set upon a purple platform, and he wore
the robe of a high priest with a golden tiara. He held a
golden eight-pointed cross, and lying at his feet were two
crossed keys. Two initiates bowed before him and to
them he spoke:-—
"Seek the Path, do not seek attainment, Seek for the
Path within yourself.

"Do not expect to hear the truth from others, nor to
see it, or read it in books. Look for the truth in yourself,
not without yourself.

"Aspire only after the impossible and inaccessible.
Expect only that which shall not be.

"Do not hope for Me, — do not look for Me,—do not
believe—that I am outside yourself.

"Within your soul build a lofty tower by which you
may ascend to Heaven. Do not believe in external
miracles, expect miracles only within you. Beware of
believing in a mystery of the earth, in a mystery guarded
by men; for treasuries which must be guarded
are empty. Do not search for a mystery that can be
hidden by men. Seek the Mystery within yourself.

"Above all, avoid those towers built in order to
preserve the mysteries and to make an ascent to Heaven
by stone stairways. And remember that as soon as men
build such a tower they begin to dispute about the

"The Path is in yourself, and Truth is in yourself and
Mystery is in yourself.