Sunday, February 7, 2010

Eliphas Levi: The Tarot

The Tarot - the memorable words of the great 18th century occult scholar Eliphas Levi:

It is a book which is the sum of all the sciences and whose infinite permutations are capable of solving all problems: a book which informs by making one think.

The twenty-two figures of the alphabet represent, in the first place, the thirteen dogmas, and secondly, the nine beliefs authorised by that Jewish religion which is so strong and so firmly established in the highest reason. Here, follows the religious and kabbalistic key of the Tarot, formulated in technical verses after the mode of the ancient lawgivers:

01 A conscious, active cause in all we see.
02 And number proves the living unity.
03 No bound hath He who doth the whole mountain.
04 But, all preceding, fills life's vast domain.
05 Sole worthy worship, He, the only Lord,
06 Doth his true doctrine to clean hearts accord.
07 But since faith's works a single pontiff need,
08 One law have we, and at one altar plead;
09 Eternal God for aye their base upholds.
10 Heaven and man's days alike his rule enfolds.
11 In mercy rich, in retribution strong,
12 His people's King he will upraise ere long.
13 The tomb gives entrance to the promised land,
Death only ends; life's vistas still expand.

These doctrines sacred, pure, and steadfast shine;
And thus we close our number's scale divine.

14 Good angels all things temper and assuage,
15 While evil spirits burst with wrath and rage.
16 God doth the lightning rule, the flame subdue.
17 His word controls both Vesper and her dew.
18 He makes the moon our watchman through the night.
19 And by his sun renews the world in light.
20 When dust to dust returns, his breath can call
21/0 Life from the tomb which is the fate of all.
21/22 His crown illuminates the mercy seat,
Ang glorifies the cherubs at his feet.

-Eliphas Levi, Transcendental Magic, pp. 94, 1896

The twenty-two keys of the Tarot are the twenty-two letters of the primitive Kabbalistic alphabet:

01 The Juggler:
Being, mind, man, or God; the comprehensible object; unity, mother of numbers, the first substance.

02 The Female Pope:
The house of God and man, the sanctuary, the law, the Gnosis, kabbalah, the occult church, the duad, the wife, mother.

03 The Empress:
The word, the triad (spirituality, immortality, the queen of heaven), plenitude, fecundity, nature, generation in the three worlds.

04 The Emperor:
The ports or government of the easterns, initiation, power, the tetragram, the quaternary, the cubic stone, or its base.

05 The Pope:
Indication, demonstration, instruction, law, symbolism, philosophy, religion.

06 Man between Vice and Virtue:
Sequence, interlacement, lingam, entanglement, union, embrace, strife, antagonism, combination, equilibrium. The number six represents the antagonisms of the two triads, that is, absolute negation and absolute affirmation. It is therefore the number of toil and liberty, and for this reason it connects also with moral beauty and glory.

07 A cubic chariot with four pillars and an azure and starry drapery:
Weapon, sword, cherub's sword of fire, the sacred septenary, triumph, royalty, priesthood.

08 Justice:
Balance, attraction and repulsion, life, terror, promise and threat.

09 The Hermit or Capchin:
Good, horror of evil, morality, wisdom.

10 The Wheel of Fortune:
Principle, manifestation, praise, manly honour, phallus, virile fecundity, paternal sceptre.

11 Strength:
The hand in the act of grasping and holding.

12 Hanged Man:
Example, instruction, public touching (hands-on teaching (MM); symbol of sacrifice and the finished work.

13 Death:
The heaven of Jupiter and Mars, domination and force, new birth, creation and destruction.

14 Temperance:
The heaven of the Sun, climates, seasons, motion, changes of life, which is ever new yet ever the same.

15 The Devil:
The heaven of Mercury, occult science, magic, commerce, eloquence, mystery, moral force.

16 Tower (of Babel) struck by Lightning:
The heaven of the Moon, alterations, subversions, changes, failings.

17 The Burning Star and Eternal Youth:
The heaven of the soul, outpourings of thought, moral influence of the idea on forms, immortality.

18 The Moon:
The elements, the visible world, the reflected light, material forms, symbolism.

19 A Radiant Sun:
Composites, the head, apex, prince of heaven.

20 The Judgement:
Vegetative principle, generative virtue of the earth, eternal life.

21 The Fool:
The sensitive principle, the flesh, eternal life.

22 Kether, or the kabbalistic Crown:
The microcosm, the sum of all in all.

-Eliphas Levi, Transcendental Magic, pp. 363-369, 1896


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