by Soror A. T.
Tarot in the Development of the Initiate
What the Tarot is, is unique, complex, cyclic, a complete revelation of Power, Love, and Wisdom. It unfolds at the Heart of the Cube of Space with its roots in Malkuth and its uppermost point in Kether, dynamically balanced between the pillars of Force (Fire) and Form (Water). In short the Tarot is a portrait of who we are meant to become.
Created entirely of a universal language of number, color, and proportions the Tarot speaks the Law of Hathor, of Nature. It is one of the precious remaining complete symbol sets bequeathed to us of the ancient initiatic traditions. It is a guide through the path of darkness into light, from death to resurrection, leading us forth into the light of the Eternal Day: All poetic ways of saying that the Tarot is a science of personal transformation.
Each Key of the Major Arcana symbolizes true initiatory forces that describe the hidden mechanisms behind the manifest universe. They apply equally to the Microcosm as they do to the Macrocosm. Their initial appearance did not coincide with the evolution of the Hebrew Language but correspond with the Letters of the Flame Script because they were created along universal patterns as signposts that could guide humanity on the journey of consciousness we refer to as the Path of Return.
Each Key is a snapshot of the most positive aspect of the potencies that interweave to form the Matrix of the Universal Mind. This is a holographic universe we live in where the even the smallest of units are reflective of the highest realms of reality. One principal stands above all the others: Everything without exception is quite literally alive. As humans we have become bound to the material view of reality and tend to anthropomorphize what we cannot otherwise relate to. The Tarot provides a clear delineation of relationship that allows us to build bridges into the Unseen that we may cross and explore beyond the limitations of physical incarnate reality.
Some of the Sons of Adam, and Daughters of Eve, have gone on a little ways ahead in the evolutionary scheme. It is ludicrous to expect that they would all speak the English language or that any one exoteric language should suffice for communications across time and space, after all this is not an episode of Star Trek. So if communication between those incarnate here and those who have dramatically altered their vibratory frequency and gone on ahead in evolution takes place it is through some other medium than that which we ordinarily use. The Tarot is just such a language that has the potential to bridge all communication gaps and the medium that carries it is the Universal Subconsciousness.
Since our true progenitor is the One Source, our ultimate inheritance is the Universe but before we may take our place in the Cosmic Scheme of Administration we must prepare ourselves in earnest by expanding, purifying and consecrating all the forms in our environment, exploring the deepest desires of our hearts, and training our ability to wield power for good alone that we may dedicate our works to the Highest Good. This is NOT the work of Man alone but of intelligence that works through man.
The Major Arcana are keys that function in myriad ways. So many in fact that this paper was extremely difficult to organize: How does one convey something infinite in a experiential report? The Keys portray myth, symbol, allegory and metaphor, which are all languages of the Soul. They tell the story of our quest for Power, Wisdom, and Love. Each card is a snapshot of various components which are not entirely separate from each other, distinguishable but circuitous, every Key inexplicitly interwoven with the others.
Interacting with the Tarot, whether for the purpose of communication between our sub and self consciousness or with others further along the Path of Return depends upon our connection with our Holy Guardian Angel. The cards are traditionally presided over by the angel HUA who is representative of our own Higher Self. Unless we clear some time and brain space, unless we make room for the symbols to “speak” with us our progress in using them will be slow. Success ultimately depends on our ability to quiet our thoughts that we may hear the Wisdom of the Ages.
The closer to the foundation of the Truth the more inadequate words become. Before the language portion of our brains ever developed we were interacting with numbers which stand above all symbols just as the snow capped mountains rise above the Fool in Key 1. Words and affirmations made of words usually only impress the temporary portion of our multiple incarnations; the deeper levels that exist continually from incarnation to incarnation are accessed through the language of symbols. The entire universe, including what we think of as ourselves, develops along orderly lines that are predictable because they are based on founding principals of number.
In order to understand what effect the symbols have upon us it is helpful to understand the occult theory of the previous evolutionary stages of Humanity. The events that led to each successive stage of our evolution were brought about through our exposure to symbols and constellations of symbols which resulted in the manifestation of new patterns. An entire paper could be written on this subject alone. If the occult perspective is true then our development at one time in the primal past was speeded along by cosmic elder brother and sisters who exposed infant Humanity to symbols which resulted in the manifestation of new faculties. The principals that were used to bring about Homo Sapiens are the same principals that will take us to the next epoch of evolution: Homo Spiritualis. The difference between past incarnations and where the majority of us are today is that we have been given the KEYS to bring about our own transformation. The Tarot are just such Keys that accelerate personal evolution.
The Tarot is a complete symbol set which assists the initiatory process in numerous ways.
The Three Mother Letters give us a firm and balanced nucleus on which to base our “magical personality”. The Seven Planetary Letters hold the key to modifying our frequency that we may perform miracles of the ONE THING. These Double Letters purify our frequencies, harmonize them into one key note and through resonance allow us to attract higher octaves of similar frequency. The twelve signs associated with the Zodiac equate with the twelve Tribes of Israel; these are our faculties, or sensory nature. Since all Tarot Keys show only the positive manifestation of the Forces that they represent, these faculties, frequencies and foundation are all shown only in their most positive and powerful mode.
It is vital to remember that these forces are Living Intelligences, and therefore it is necessary to approach them with the desire to be of service to all Life, and to express appreciation for the influx of Power, Wisdom, and Love that flow to us by our contact with them. The attitude of gratitude and simple delight speeds the arrow of our aspiration along.
One final word before we move into a discussion of how the Tarot depicts the development of the personality of an Initiate: The correlation of the Tarot Keys with the Hebrew Letters appears to be attributed first to the work of Eliphas Levi. I believe that the two did evolve separately but are based upon the same foundation of TRUTH. Not many people realize that one of the classical musical scales in ancient India is based on an Octave divided into 22 different notes! This is very interesting in light of the Auervedic perspective that the Universe is wholly composed of sound (or LIGHT) and also seems to support the correspondence of 22 as a universal symbol for the whole of Creation; Aleph and Tav; Alpha et Omega; First and Last: the WORD made manifest.
One way of looking at the Tarot is the pattern of the Tableau. The first row represents SPIRIT, the Second row, our powers, the third are laws or agencies, the fourth and final row are conditions or effects.
0 or SPIRT stands above the Tableau.
Keys 1 through 8 are pictures of our faculties. Key one is Mercury the agency of the alchemical operation of the wedding of the Solar and Lunar currents within us. Our conscious mind is the magic wand and potency aligned with Yod. Key 2 is the foundation for all manifestation, the Prima Materia of the ground of being from which all manifestation subtle and gross arises. Key 3 is our faculty of imagination, the Matrix with which we create our experiences. Whether we realize it or not this matrix is always in operation. Key 4 balances the creative nature of Key 3 with the faculty of rational decision making which must rule over the creations of the previous key. Key 5 tells us that rational decision making is not enough, we must listen for instruction in order to discover the highest good or purpose of any endeavor. There must be purpose as well as principal. This instruction of the Teacher comes to us through the subconscious mind and is experienced by us as a reflection. With this faculty we intuit the relationship of things. Key 6 allows us to separate the gross from the subtle, the important from the unimportant. Only with discernment can we come into right relationship and orientation with all creation. It shows the correct relationship between Keys 1, 2, and 5. Finally each of the faculties represented by this second row are summed up and aligned as a picture of our whole self driven and guided by the Charioteer which is pictured in Key 7. Key 7 is the enclosure or rings pass not of the individual self showing the harmonious blending of all the other Keys of the first row or self mastery.
All this is well and good but the real question is how do we use these ideas? By meditating on any of these seven Keys we bring that power or faculty to the forefront. For example if we need to increase our ability to receive guidance we can meditate on Key 5. For developing our vision of the unity of all existence we would use Key 2.
Although these keys each have a basis in the material world they also function in the astral world as faculties. We tend to localize our consciousness firmly to our physical body but this is not the sum truth of our condition. When Key 0 is added to any one of the keys in the second row it refers to our permanent vehicles.
The second row in the Tarot Tableau symbolizes the laws or agencies. They act as a focus for the faculties of the first row.
Key 8 tells us that bringing our faculties under control is accomplished through the focus of desire. This alignment is brought about by the action of the subconscious mind under the direction of the conscious mind. This preliminary step is the first step on our way toward the mountain which is the legendary home of the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross. Our bodies are modified by the process of incorporating solar force into the body. This force manifests as the energy coiled at the base of our spines and is gradually raised through the course of our Gradework through each succeeding center until it results in illumination. By meditating on this card we bring forward the idea that we have dominion over all nature, especially over our personal nature and this entails accepting full responsibility for all the circumstances of our life.
The law or agency of Key 9 is twofold: one is the principal of all our work is not to hoard what we receive but to pass it on to those who prepare themselves in earnest for illumination. Until and unless we orient our study and work toward service we will not reach the mountain at all. Second when our bodies become infused with Kundalini we become lamps unto others. The Hermit refers to someone who has retired from the commerce of the world in order to complete spiritual processes. This does not mean that we retire from the world, far from it, but symbolizes our choice to specialize in life fulfilling patterns of living to the exclusion of culture oriented towards self-gratification. I think it is significant that the staff symbolizing power is grasped in the left hand or sub consciousness while the right hand or consciousness is engaged in holding out the Solar light. This card is a picture of the work of an Adept. Meditating on this card brings forth the mark of the Architect of the Universe within our soul, the mark that makes us most ourselves (T), and sufficient power for any task we may encounter.
Key 10 is our grasp of the workings of Nature and the occult principal of vibration or rhythm. All life moves in cycles. When we meditate on this card we are invoking our ability to utilize the cycles of Nature for the purpose of expansion. There are terrestrial cycles and cosmic cycles which we may use to accomplish our work. The main thing to grasp here is that all things have a beginning middle and an end. Nothing is static, ever, thus this law or agency represents the principal of Solve in the alchemical formula that separates the Elemental nature of any circumstance, objects or alignment into its component parts. Key 10 can also be considered the cosmic law of action and reaction. Nothing is truly separate. All things exist based on principles that are true at every level of creation. Meditation on this Key teaches us to harmonize with the world around us in order to expand into new ideas and or material circumstances.
Key 11 is the law or agency of adjustment or balance. It’s operated by careful reasoning and analysis, by the Conscious mind separating thoughts and ideas which will enhance our central intention from those that will not.When attention is focused toward a definite purpose our Subconscious mind tends to destroy all ideas, responses and automatic activities that are not in harmony with that intention. For example when the intention is to be come a servant of the Light, processes are initiated which rid us of all that stands in the way of transparency to the Superconscious Will. Conversely we are responsible for the results of faulty attention so this Key also expresses the law of Karma. Meditation on this Key increases our inward capacity for self-direction and urges us to align with cosmic principals.
Key 12 is the law of reversal. It is a biological fact that we receive information through the cerebral cortex upside down and our brains turn the images right side up. So to our internal perceptions of the world come to us upside down and we must consciously learn to turn them right side up. This requires a certain distance and willingness to suspend previous judgments. Like reflections in water a certain amount of inner stillness is needed so that the reflections may be understood. When comprehended fully this law refers to our utter dependence upon the cosmic life. This is what is True and refers to that pure quest for the Light of Truth which should guide all human endeavors. The figure in this card is the ONE LIFE and one of the old occult names for the One Life is LVX. Human life is completely dependent upon the All. Obedience to esoteric law results in the reversal of our ordinary perceptions. The worldly perspective is that we must hack and burn our way through the jungle of modern life, the occult perspective is that of our dependence and leads to self-empowerment through quite an unexpected path – that of surrender.
Key 13 is the law that all changes are brought about by a change in our mental imagery; we change our point of view from the personal to the universal viewpoint and the result is a viewpoint radically different from the world around us. Paul Case said “Love is the fruit of understanding; and when we understand that the One Life which finds expression in the order of the heavens of which our world-system is a part is a Life working always toward the liberation of mankind, we advance from the fear of the Lord which is only the beginning of wisdom into the recognition of the perfect beauty of the order of which we are a part. This perfect love casts out fear, and with the coming of this deeper understanding comes freedom from fear or death”. My own reflections tell me that Service is the motive that admits to the Western Mysteries but it is Love that opens the door to the innermost temple
Key 14 is the last Key of this series of 7. This law or agency represents the necessity of trials and tests to purify and prove our mettle. Can we adapt ourselves using occult art? What is our aim in our work? Are we trying to overcome through the power of the lower personality or have we truly learned that some obstacles are set so high that only by surrender and receptivity to the Holy Guardian Angel can we achieve the aspirations of our soul?
We have come to the last row in the Tarot Tableau which depicts the stages of an aspirant’s growth. Each Key in this series shows an increasing manifestation of light.
Key 15 shows the light in bondage to false interpretations. The stage of illumination in this Key is actually the absence of light. The beginning of wisdom is the recognition that we do not know. Until we realize and admit we do not know we remain in the chains of ignorance. It is not a pretty sight, the woman in the Key can only be described as blasé, and the man holds his hand out as if to say I am self satisfied and have no need for greater awareness. This is a sorry state indeed but a necessary one.
Key 16 shows the Tower of fear and isolation that hides under the pretense of being self-sufficient being destroyed by lightning from heaven. This too is a necessary stage for new growth demands that old structure of the false personality be razed. In this card it is clear that to the Higher Self this destruction is a positive development but the lower personality predictably responds with overwhelming fear and anger. This flash of light briefly illuminates the darkness to reveal the Truth even for a moment resulting in the overthrow of the false kingdom.
Key 17 is a gentle light illuminating the landscape of our inner world. It is the light of the distant stars. Under the stars, if we have become receptive, Truth is revealed rather than forced into our awareness. At this stage of our journey our grasp is still weak but the awesome forces of Nature are revealed to us one by one.
Key 18 brings us to the gentle reflected light of the moon that is the symbol of our Subconsciousness. In this stage of our journey we purify our inner world. First we had destruction, then the seed from the stars, and here the forces of growth are germinating in darkness.
Key 19 shows the seed of light emerging into the light of a new day. The stones of the Tower that isolated us have been reworked into the bricks which protect and nurture what is within. We are creatures of solar force and that force applied correctly transforms both the Subconscious and the Self-Conscious. This card is symbolic of our consecration to becoming new creatures. However something greater is coming out to meet us in this card and the result is not exactly what we might have imagined.
Key 20 reveals the Hidden Light to the regenerated personality through the RUACH vibrating in sacred proportion. This revelation comes from something above what we once conceived of as the “self”. We are no longer becoming in this Key, the new creature is revealed in Key 20. Tiphareth the divine child has come. This experience cracks us open to infinity.
Key 21 is a portrait of our aspirations. The equilibrated dancer, the hermaphrodite has the opposites balanced in his/her hands with her head extended into the crown of Kether/Nature. This is the SPIRIT in manifestation, ruling the Elements. But where has the light gone? It is incorporated, completely infused into the purified and consecrated body of the Liberated Adept! The Light then is our inheritance bequeathed to us from the One Source.
There are endless ways to view the Keys of the Tarot the Tableau is only one way. Another such way is to consider the 22 Keys divided into proportions of three, seven and twelve.
The three Mother letters represent our essential nature or nucleus around which we form our magical personality. These three represent the threefold nature of the One Source as it reflects into the manifested world. Air, Water, Fire; Wisdom, Love, Power, these qualities are at the center of our nature as they are the center of God’s Nature. It is normal to favor one of these qualities above the others. Initiates are charged with developing dynamic balance that each quality may predominate in constant succession according to the need and situation.
The seven Double Letters symbolize the Inner Holy Planets which form the organs of our energetic body. They function as a series of step down transformers that take energy from our Sun. Through guided use of the Tarot these various frequencies of Light are harmonized and purified so that they represent in total a harmonious balanced nature. Once established this refined vibration may be used to transform other people (only at their request) and the lower kingdoms of nature.
The signs of the Zodiac are our potential powers or faculties represented by the crown worn by the Empress. The balance of these universal forces within places us on a firm foundation from which to practice the Magic of L.V.X.
In addition to the Tarot Tableau and the divisions based on the Mother, Double and Simple letters there are many combinations and permutations of Tarot for the Science of Self Transformation left to explore. Because Tarot is a wheel we know that Key 0 and Key 21 are linked without beginning and without end. The complete cycle is seen in Key 1 as the belt around the Magician’s waist.
Our hero the Fool (A) carries a measuring rod upon which hangs a wallet. The wallet contains something unique to each one who journeys along the Path of Return: The blueprint of our highest potential (T) given to us by the
Architect of the Universe. In order to become most ourselves we must first know ourselves. This is where the Tarot comes in. As a symbolic language it allows us to read and unfold our highest potential much like the white rose in the Fool’s other hand. The color white combined with the symbol of the rose indicate that the ultimate cause and purpose for our lives does not grow out of the desires of the material world but out of the desires of the SPIRIT.
Most people are content to remain in the median bandwidth of human consciousness but for those adventurers who explore and expand the frontiers of awareness the Tarot is a means of reaching our highest capacity to perceive and create. The twenty two letters can and do initiate quantum changes in consciousness, adding to the collective wisdom and expanding human understanding exponentially. The story of the Fool’s adventure is the Path of Return, the road traveled is a Journey of Consciousness and Tarot is an unlimited map.
In L.V.X. – Soror A.T.