Saturday, February 6, 2010

PD Ouspensky: The Symbolism of the Tarot

The Symbolism of the Tarot

1 - 0
2 - 21
3 - 20
4 - 19
5 - 18
6 - 17
7 - 16
8 - 15
9 - 14
10 - 13
11 - 12

The 1st card, The Juggler", depicts the Superman, or mankind as a whole, connecting earth and heaven. Its opposite is The Fool, card 0. This is the individual man, a weak man. The two cards together represent the two poles, the beginning and the end.

The 2nd card, The High Priestess", is Isis, or Hidden Knowledge. Its opposite is card 21, "The World" in the circle of Time, in the midst of the four principles, that is, the object of knowledge.

The 3rd card, "The Empress", is Nature. Its opposite is card 20, "The Day of Judgement" or "The Resurrection of the Dead". This is Nature, its eternally regenerating and revivifying activity.

The 4th card, The Emperor", is the Law of Four, the life-bearing principle, and its opposite is card 19, "The Sun", as the real expression of this law and the visible source of life.

The 5th card, "The Hierophant", is Religion, and its opposite is card 18, "The Moon", which as "Astrology", that is as the basis of religion. In some old Tarot cards, instead of the wolf and the dog, on the 18th card there is a picture of two men making astronomical observations.

The 6th card, "Temptation" or Love, is the emotional side of life, and card 17, "The Star" (The Astral World), is the emotional side of nature.

The 7th card, "The Chariot", is Magic in the sense of incomplete knowledge, in the sense of "the house built upon sand," and its opposite, card 16, "The Tower", is the fall which inevitably follows an artificial rise.

The 8th card, "Justice," is Truth, and card 15, "The Devil," is Lie.

The 9th Card, "The Hermit," is wisdom, or knowledge and the search for knowledge, and card 14, "Time", is the subject of knowledge, or what is conquered by knowledge, or what serves as the measure of knowledge. As long as a man does not understand time, or as long as a man's knowledge does not change his relation to time, his knowledge is worth nothing. Moreover, the first meaning of card 14, "temperance", points to self-command or the control of the emotions as the necessary condition of "wisdom".

The 10th card is "The Wheel of Fortune", and its opposite is card 13, "Death". Life and death are one. Death only indicates the turning of the wheel of life.

The 11th card is "Strength", and its opposite is card 12, "The Hanged Man," Sacrifice, that is, what gives strength. The greater a man's sacrifice, the greater will his strength be. Strength is proportionate to sacrifice. He who can sacrifice all, can do all.

The 22 cards fall into three sets of sevens.

The major Arcana, as is the whole Tarot, are divided into God, Man and the Universe.
One set of seven refers to Man. Another set refers to Nature. And the third set refers to the world of ideas (ie., to God or the Spirit).

The first seven: Man.
1 The Juggler or Magician (Adman Kadmon), humanity or Superman;
0 The Fool (individual man);
6 Temptation (love), mankind;
15 The Devil (the fall);
7 The Chariot (the illusory quest);
9 The Hermit (the real quest);
12 The Hanged Man (attainment).

The first seven represents the seven steps on the path of man if taken in time, or the seven faces of man which co-exist in him, the seven faces which are expressed in the changes of the personality of man - the latter if they are taken in the mystical sense of the secret doctrine of the Tarot.

The second seven: the Universe.
19 The Sun;
18 The Moon;
17 The Star;
16 The Lightning (The Tower);
20 The Resurrection of the Dead;
10 Life;
13 Death.

The third seven: God.
2 The High Priestess (knowledge);
3 The Empress (creative power);
4 The Emperor (the four elements);
5 The Hierophant (religion);
14 Time (eternity)
11 Strength (love, union and infinity)
8 Truth.

The second and third sevens - the Universe and the world of ideas or God - each represent separately, and also in combination with the first, a wide field of study. Each of the seven symbolical pictures which refer to the Universe connects man in a certain way with the world of ideas. And each of the seven ideas connects man in a certain way with the Universe. None of the three sevens includes the 21st card, "The World", which in this case contains in itelf all the 21 cards of the three sets.


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