The Book of Thoth: A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians is the title of The Equinox, volume III, number 5, by English author and occultist Aleister Crowley. by Aleister Crowley. acts as a companion book for the Thoth Tarot deck,. authored by Aleister Crowley and illustrated by Frieda Harris. from FireHead Website. THE BOOK OF THOTH (Egyptian Tarot) by Aleister Crowley file:///D:/Books/Non -Fiction/Magick+Esoteric/Crowley/The book of Thoth/aracer.mobi (1 of.
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Aleister Crowley () was the most widely read author in 20th-century occultism. He single-handedly redefined magic as a field of inquiry and endeavor . The Book of Thoth book. Read 58 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Now a classic in the field, used by students of the Golden Dawn a. THE BOOK OF THOTH, CONTENTS PART ONE THE BOOK OF THOTH ( Egyptian Tarot) by Aleister Crowley CONTENTS AND PART ONE partly linked, mostly.
But this is Crowley's book, and though he must be taken always with two or three grains of salt, the only magical writer who has equaled him since is Andrew Chumbley.
Chumbley actually understood his Latin and Greek, and though Crowley's poetry is serviceable, even good, Chumbley's is pure ecstasy and orgasm: unique. Crowley's Greek is bad: his Hebrew is nonexistent. Fortunately we are not subjected to any Hebrew prose of Crowley's even a mediocre classicistlike mewill groan and giggle at the dismal Greek of, e.
The Hermetic Qabala truly does have its own validity, however: it has accrued this over the centuries and it seems quite powerful, though I make little use of it myself I confess. Of this species of Qabalistic lore Crowley is a past master: it is an integral part of all his magick and of his Tarot.
People say any sufficiently complex and consistent symbol set will serve adequately as a magical tool a Chaos Magician invoking Mister Spock to ace a computer programming exam is proof a simple and silly symbol set will do in a pinch. The Qabala not to be confused with Christian Cabala, must less Jewish Kabbalah has the virtue of being the West's most complicated and also dead serious such system.
It does also have the virtues of elegance and beauty: no small virtues, those. Though as I said, you can read it any way you want: this book will still help. To be fair, Crowley himself unlike his latterday devotees had a gigantic sense of humor: but to get the jokes it helps if you know Plato, among others.
I confess I don't get all the jokes, but at least I usually spot them I think. They say to you have to spend money to make money: to learn from this book, you will need to have already learned much of the "canon", as folk like Harold Bloom call it.
But you're a bookish person, you're here at Goodreads after all: you're up to the task. The Book of Thoth will replay you in spades or rather, in Swords. From What I garnered from Crowley's writing style, he tends to be very cryptic.
Like most mystics, he shrouds his intent behind allegories and clues and outright denial. This is to inspire the reader to actually "sweat it out" a little bit as well as provide a sort of qualifications test. There is some really cool shit though in this novel.
There an end. It is only later philosophical speculation to derive the Father-Mother Dyad from a Unity manifest, and later still to seek the source of that Unity in Nothing. This is a concrete and limited scheme, crude, with its causeless Beginning and its sterile End. The Pagan system is circular, self-generated, self-nourished, self-renewed.
It is a wheel on whose rim are Father-Mother-Son-Daughter; they move about the motionless axis of Zero; they unite at will; they transform one into another; there is neither Beginning nor End to the Orbit; none is higher or lower than another.
Difficult as this is, at least one very desirable result has been attained: It also explains why there are four suits. The four suits are named as follows: The student Wili notice this interplay and counterchange of the number 4. It is also important for him to notice that even in the tenfold arrangement, p. The Tree of Life can be divided into four planes: This division corresponds to the analysis of Man.
The number I is his spiritual essence, without quality or quantity; the numbers 2 and 3 represent his creative and trausmissive powers, his virility and his intelligence; the numbers 4 to 9 describe his mental and moral qualities as concentrated in his human personality; the number 6, so to speak, is a concrete elaboration of the number I; and the number 10 corresponds to Earth, which is the physical vehicle of the previous nine numbers.
The names of these parts of the soul are: These four planes correspond once more to the so-called "Four Worlds", to understand the nature of which one should refer, with all due reservations, to the Platonic system. The number I isAtziluth, the Archetypal World; but the number 2, as being the dynamic aspect of the number I, is the Practical attribution. The number 3 is Briah, the Creative World in which the Will of the Father takes shape through the Conception of the Mother, just as the spermatozoon, by fertilizing the ovum, makes possible the production of an image of its parents.
The numbers 4 to 9 include Yetzirah, the Formative World, in which an intellectual image, an appreciable form of the idea, is produced; and this mental image becomes real and sensible in the number 10, Assiah, the Material World. It is by going through all these confusing and sometimes seemingly contradictory attributions, with unwearying patience and persistent energy, that one comes at the end to a lucid understanding, to an understanding which is infinitely clearer than any intellectual interpretation could possibly be.
This is a fundamental exercise in the way to initiation. If one were a shallow rationalist, it would be quite easy to pick holes in all these attributions and semi-philosophical hypotheses, or near-hypotheses; but it is also quite simple to prove by mathematics that it is impossible to hit a golf ball. Hitherto, the main theme of this essay has been the Tree of Life, in its essence the Sephiroth. It is now proper to consider the relations of the Sephiroth with each other.
See diagram, p. It will be explained in due course how it is that these correspond to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It will be file: Notably, there is an equilateral triangle, which one would think would be a natural basis for the Operations of Philosophy, consisting of the numbers 1,4 and 5.
But there are no lines joining land 4, or land 5. This is not an accident. Nowhere in the figure is there an erect equilateral triangle, although there are three equilateral triangles with the apex downwards. This is because of the original formula "Father, Mother, Son", which is three times repeated in a descending scale of simplicity and spirituality.
The number lis above these triangles, because it is an integration of Zero and depends from the triple veil of the Negative. Now the Sephiroth, which are emanations of the number 1, as already shown, are things-in-themselves, in almost the Kantian sense.
The lines joining them are Forces of Nature, of a much less complete type; they are less abstruse, less abstract. If it does not equal 0, it is not an equation.
And so, whenever any symbol loses importance in one place in the Qabalah, it gains in another. The Court cards and small cards form the skeletal structure of the Tarot in its principal function as a map of the Universe. But, for the special significance of the pack as a Key to magical formul-, the twenty-two trumps acquire a peculiar importance.
To what symbols are they attributed? They cannot be related identically with any of the essential ideas, because that place is taken by the cards from I to They cannot represent primarily the Father, Mother, Son, Daughter complex in its fulness, because the Court cards have already taken that position.
They are attributed as follows: There is a slight clotting or overlapping in this arrangement. The letter Shin has to do duty for both Fire and Spirit, in very much the same way as the number 2 partakes of the nature of the number I; and the letter Tau represents both Saturn and the element of Earth. In these difficulties there is a doctrine. But one cannot dismiss these twenty-two letters thus casually. The stone that the builders rejected becomes the head of the corner.
These twenty-two cards acquire a personality of their own: It would be quite wrong to say that they represent a complete universe.
They seem to represent certain rather curious phases of the universe. They do not seem essential factors in the structure of the universe.
They change from time to time in their relation to current events. A glance at the list of their titles seems to show no longer the strictly philosophical and scientific spirit of austere classification that is found in the other cards. There leaps at us the language of the Artist. Obviously these are not plain, straightforward symbolic representations of the signs, elements and planets concerned. They are rather hieroglyphs of peculiar mysteries connected with each.
One may begin to suspect that the Tarot is not a mere straightforward representation of the Universe in the impersonal way of the system of the Yi King. The Tarot is beginning to look like Propaganda. It is as if the Secret Chiefs of the Great Order, which is the guardian of the destinies of the human race, had wished to put forward certain particular aspects of the Universe; to establish certain especial doctrines; to declare certain modes of working, proper to the existing political situations.
They differ; somewhat as a literary composition differs from a dictionary. It has been very unfortunate, but quite unavoidable, to be p.
It may make it simpler to proceed to summarize the above statements. Here is a simple statement of the plan of the Tree of Life. The numbers, or Things-in-Themselves, are ten, successive emanations from the triple veil of the Negative.
The small cards numbered I to 10 correspond to the Sephiroth. These cards are shown in fourfold form, because they are not the pure abstract numbers, but particular symbols of those numbers in the universe of manifestation, which is, for convenience, classified under the figure of four elements. The Court cards represent the elements themselves, each element divided into four sub-elements.
For convenience, here follows a list of these cards: Here are one or two examples. The number 6 is the human personality of a man; the number 3 is his spiritual intuition. Therefore, it is natural and significant that the influence of the 3 upon the 6 is that of the intuitional or inspirational voice. It is the illumination of the mind and the heart by the Great Mother.
Consider again the card joining the number I to the number 6. This card is called "The High Priestess", and is attributed to the Moon. The card represents the Heavenly Isis. It is a symbol of complete spiritual purity; it is initiation in its most secret and intimate form, descending upon the human consciousness from the ultimate divine consciousness.
Looked at from below, it is the pure and unwavering aspiration of the man to the Godhead, his source. It will be proper to enter more fully into these matters when dealing separately with the cards in turn.
From the foregoing it will be clear that the Tarot illustrates, first of all, the Tree of Life in its universal aspect, and secondly, the particular comment illustrating that phase of the Tree of Life which is of peculiar interest to those persons charged with the guardianship of the human race at the particular moment of the production of any given authorised pack. It is therefore proper for those guardians to modify the aspect of the pack when it seems to them good to do so.
The traditional pack has itself been subjected to numerous modifications, adopted for convenience. For instance: The card originally called "The Hierophant", representing Osiris as is shown by the shape of the tiara became, in the Renaissance period, the Pope. The High Priestess came to be called "Pope J oan", representing a certain symbolic legend which circulated among initiates, and became vulgarised in the fable of a Female Pope.
More important still, "The Angel", or "The Last J udgment", represented the destruction of the world by fire. Its hieroglyph is, in a way, prophetic, for when the world was destroyed by fire on 21st March, ,1 one's attention was inevitably called to the similarity of this card to the Stele' of Revealing. The art of progress is to keep intact the Eternal; yet to adopt an advance-guard, perhaps m some cases almost revolutionary, position in respect of such accidents as are subject to the empire of Time.
Ill file: The Sun is a star. These bodies revolve in one direction only. The Solar system - not a sphere, but a wheel. The planets do not remain in exact - but swing to a certain comparatively small extent from one side of the true plane to the other.
Their orbits are elliptical. The Ancients imagined this wheel very much more clearly than modern minds are wont to do. They paid particular attention to the imaginary rim. Within the limits of this rim, they conceived that the Fixed Stars beyond were in a special way connected with the apparent motion of the Sun. This rim or belt of the wheel they called the Zodiac. The reference is to Maat, Themis, Lady of the Balance. In old times, it was supposed that the Earth was the centre of the Universe.
The Heavens being above the Earth-they did not realise them as being equally below it-they were accounted as of the Divine Nature. And as they recognised imperfections and irregularity in mundane affairs, they thought that the movements of the Heavenly Bodies, which they observed to be regular, must be perfect.
Their mathematicians had the idea that a Circle was a perfec-figure; therefore they said, with characteristic theological reasoning all heavenly bodies must move in circles. As their measurements became more extended and accurate, they found it increasingly difficult to reconcile observation with theory, at least to do so without putting themselves to vast inconvenience in their calculations.
So they invented "cycles" and "epicycles" to explain the observed movements. Ultimately Copernicus was goaded by this annoyance to suggest that it would really be very much more convenient if only the idea were not so wicked to imagine that the Sun, and not the Earth, was the centre of the System.
In mathematics there are no fixed facts. Bertrand Russell says that in this subject "nobody knows what he is talking about, and it matters to nobody whether he is right or wrong". For example: Begin with the assumption that the Moon is the immovable centre of the Universe. Nobody can contradict it; one simply switches the calculations over to suit. The practical objection to this is that it would not facilitate the work of navigators. It is important to have this idea in one's mind, because otherwise one fails to grasp the whole spirit of modern Science- Philosophy.
It does not aim at Truth; it does not conceive of Truth in any ordinary sense of the word as possible; it aims at maximum convenience. They did not understand that the Circle is only one case of the Ellipse: To return to the picture of the Solar System. The Sun is the Hub of the Wheel; the outermost Planet is on its rim; and beyond, but laterally within that rim, are the Twelve Constellations of the Zodiac.
Why twelve? The first rough division of the circle is into four, according to the observed seasons. These do not mean the objects now understood by these words, as explained above. Perhaps because they thought it necessary to introduce so sacred a number as Three into everything heavenly, or else because the observed constellations happened to be naturally divided into twelve groups, they divided the Zodiac into twelve signs, three to each Season.
So did quite simple things like the measure of time between Sunrise and Sunset. When one says that the Sun enters the Sign of Aries, one means that if a straight line were drawn from the Earth to the Sun and pro-longed to the Stars, that line would pass through the beginning of that Constellation.
Suppose, for instance, that one observes the Full Moon on the first day of Spring, one will be able to see, behind her, the stars of the beginning of Libra, the sign opposite to Aries. Her mysterious influence was supposed to change in each file: This theory does not enter directly into the Tarot, but it must be mentioned to help to clear up a certain confusion which is about to complicate the question.
Early astronomers calculated that the Sun took days to go round the Zodiac. This was a closely guarded secret of the learned; so they concealed it in the divine name Mithras, which adds up, according to the Greek Convention M 40—1 10— Th.
When the others found this out they p.
In this there is still an error of not quite six hours; so that, in the course of centuries, the Calendar kept slipping. It did not assume its present form until the time of Pope Gregory. The Point of all this, that they divided the Circle of the Zodiac into degrees, is that this is a convenient basis for calculation. Each angular measure of 10 degrees was called a Decanate. Of these there are thus thirty-six, dividing each Sign of the Zodiac into three sections.
It was supposed that the influence of the Sign was very swift and fierce in the first Decan, powerful and balanced in the second, spiritualised and deciduous in the third. A short digression. One of the most important doctrines of the Ancients was that of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm.
Man is himself a little Universe; he is a minute copy of the big Universe. This argument was, of course, worked backwards; so the characteristics above given of the qualities of the Three Decans in the sign were probably due to an analogy with the course of a man's life.
The above remarks constitute a fairly complete idea of the arbitrary, or mostly arbitrary, presentation of the Cosmos by the Ancients.
First of all, the division into Four Elements. These Elements pervade everything. They would argue something like this about the Sun. They would say that he was principally Fire, for obvious reasons; but he would have also in him the Airy quality of Mobility. The Watery part would be shown by his power to create Images; and the Earthy part, his immense Stability. Similarly, of a Serpent, they would call his power of Death fiery; his Swiftness, airy; his undulatory motion, Watery; and his habit of life, Earthy.
These descriptions are obviously quite inadequate; they have td be filled up by attributing planetary qualities and zodiacal qualities to all objects.
Thus, the Bull in the Zodiac is an Earthy sign, and this is the central sign of the three through which the Sun passes during Spring. But the bovine nature is also gentle; wherefore they said that Venus rules the Sign of Taurus.
The Cow, moreover, is the principal milk-giving animal, so they made her the Great Mother- p. They represented this idea by saying that the Moon is "exalted" in Taurus-that is, that she exerts the most beneficent aspect of her influence when she is in that sign. It is confusing at first, but most instructive and illuminating when the principle is thoroughly assimilated, to note how all these Elements subdivide and coalesce. One can only reach the comprehension of any one of these Symbols by making a composite picture of it, one composed of all the others in varying proportion.
Thus each of the planets gives a certain portion of its influence to any object. This habit of thought leads to an understanding of the Unity of Nature with its proper and spiritual exaltation which could bardly be attained in any other way; it produces an internal harmony which ends in an acceptance of Life and of Nature.
It is now almost time to analyse and define the traditional characteristics of these symbols; but perhaps it would be better, first of all, to build on a sure foundation by consideration of the number Two, which hitherto has not been taken into account. There are only two operations possible in the Universe, Analysis and Synthesis. To divide, and to unite. Solve et coagula: If anything is to be changed, either one must divide one object into two parts, or add another unit to it.
This principle lies at the basis of all scientific thought and work. The first thought of the man of science is Classification, Measurement. He says, "This oak-leaf is like that oak- leaf; this oak-leaf is unlike this beech-leaf". Until one has grasped this fact, one has not begun to understand Scientific Method. The Ancients were fully cognisant of this idea; The Chinese, in particular, based their whole philosophy on this primary division of the original Nothing.
One must begin with Nothing; otherwise the question would arise, file: These then combine in varying p. See diagram: The Chinese Cosmos. This Chinese arrangement is thus tenfold, and has been shown to be admirably equivalent to the System which has been here examined. This identity between the two systems was masked, until quite recently 1 , by the fact that the Chinese continued with their doubling-up system, and so turned their eight trigrams into sixty-four hexagrams, while the scholars of Western Asia joined together their ten numbers on the Tree of Life by twenty-two Paths.
The Chinese have thus sixty-four principal symbols as against the thirty-two of the Tree; but the Qabalists have a concatenation of symbols which is capable of very subtle interpretation and handling. It is also better fitted to describe the internal relations of its Elements. Moreover, each can be multiplied or subdivided at will, as convenience may require. This figure must be studied very carefully, for it is the basis of the whole system on which the Tarot is based.
It is quite impossible to give a complete explanation of this figure, because for one thing it is quite universal. Therefore it cannot mean the same to any one person as to any other. A's universe is not B's universe.
If A and B are sitting opposite each other at table, A sees the right side of the lobster, and B the left. If they stand side by side and look at a star, the angle is different; although this difference is infinitesimal, it exists. But the Tarot is the same for all in the same way in which any scientific fact or formula is the same for all. It is most important to remember that the facts of science, though universally true in the abstract, are still not precisely true for any one observer, because even if the observation of any common object is made by two people 1 The present author discovered this fact during his study-still incomplete-of the Yi King, p.
This fact is to be emphasised, because one must not take the Tree of Life as a dead fixed formula. It is in a sense an eternal pattern of the Universe, j ust because it is infinitely elastic; and it is to be used as an instrument in one's researches into Nature and her forces.
It is not to be made an excuse for Dogmatism. The Tarot should be learnt as early in life as possible; a fulcrum for memory and a schema for mind. It should be studied constantly, a daily exercise; for it is universally elastic and grows in proportion to the use inteHigently made of it. Thus it becomes a most ingenious and excellent method of appreciating the whole of Existence.
It seems probable that the Qabalists who invented the Tree of Life were inspired by Pythagoras, or that both he and they derived their knowledge from a common source in higher antiquity. In any case, both schools agree upon one fundamental postulate, which is as follows: Ultimate Reality is best described by Numbers and their interplay. It is interesting to note that modern Mathematical Physics has been finally driven to some similar assumption.
Further, the attempt to describe Reality by a single definite terin has been abandoned. Modern thought conceives Reality under the image of a ring of ten ideas, such as Potential, Matter, and so on. Each term has no meaning in itself; it can only be understood in terms of the others. This is exactly the conclusion which appears earlier in this essay, with regard to the way in which the planets, elements and signs were all dependent on each other, and composed of each other.
But the further attempt to reach Reality led the Qabalists to sum up the qualities of these rather vague and literary ideas by referring them all to the numbers of the decimal scale. Numbers, then, are the nearest approach to Reality which is shown in this system. The number 4, for instance, is not so specially the result of adding one to three, or squaring two, or halving eight. It is a thing in itself, with all sorts of moral, sensible, and intellectual qualities.
One may now proceed to imagine any point in this "light", to select it for observation; the fact of doing so makes it Positive. This gives the number I, which is called Kether, the Crown. The other numbers arise by reason of the necessity of thought as explained in the following table: The Point: Positive yet indefinable, 2. The Abyss-between Ideal and Actual. Defined by 3 co-ordinates: Motion time — He', the Womb; for only through Motion and in Time can events occur.
The Point's Idea of Bliss Ananda. It will be seen from the above that by means of these ten positive 1 It is intentional to repeat here, in other language, the ideas explained already in this essay. So far, the argument has been erected on a rigid, mathematical basis, with only the slightest tincture of philosophy to give it form. But it is at this point that, for the purpose of describing the objects Thought and Sense, one is compelled to join hands with the trologers.
The problem now is: This is partly a matter of experience, partly tradition derived from older experience. It would be unwise to discard tradition with complete contempt, because all thinking is bound by the laws of the mind itself, and Mind has been formed rough thousands of years of evolution in each man by the thoughts of his ancestors.
The cells of all living brains are just as much the children of the great thinkers of the past as the development of the organs and limbs. There are very few people today who have heard of Plato and Aristotle. Not one in a thousand, perhaps ten thousand, of those have ever read either of them, even in translations. But there are also very few people whose thinking, such as it is, is not conditioned by the ideas of those two men.
In the Tree of Life, therefore, is found the first attempt to conct the Ideal with the Actual. The Qabalists say, for example, that the number 7 contains the idea of Venus, and the number 8 that of Mercury, that the connecting path between I and 6 refers to the moon, and that between 3 and 6 to the Sign of Gemini. Then what is the true meaning, in the category of the Real, of these planets and signs? Here again one is faced with the impossibility exact definition, because the possibilities of research are infinite; also, at any moment in any research, the one idea merges into the her and clouds the exact definition of the images.
But this, of urse, is the objective. These are all blind steps on the way to the reat Light: The beginning of this work is, however, easy enough. One reuires no more than elementary classical knowledge. Roughly taking, for a start, the natures of the planets are described by those of the gods after whom the actual bodies in heaven were named, p. The same is true, to a less extent, of the Signs of the Zodiac. There is not so much information available about their natures; but it is file: The individual Fixed Stars do not enter into the system of the Tarot.
In it is little place for abstract ideas. The subject of the book-the Tarot is called The Book of Thoth or Tahuti-is the influence of the Ten Numbers and the Twenty-two Letters on man, and his best methods of manipulating their forces. There is there fore no mention of the Three Veils of the Negative, which was dis cussed in the description of the Tree of Life. The description begins with the "small cards", numbered I to These are divided into four suits according to the four elements.
It pertains to Kether, and purports to represent the first positive manifestation of the idea of Fire. The 2 pertains to Chokmah. But here is already no more the simplicity of the idea of fire. An Idea in action or in manifestation is no more the pure Idea. This card is attributed to the first Decan of the fiery sign Aries, which is ruled by Mars; this, then, gives the idea of a violent and aggressive force.
The card is therefore called the Lord of Dominion. This progressive degradation of the idea of Fife goes on increasing through the suit. Each successive card becomes less ideal and more actual, increasingly so until, with the number 6 which corresponds to the Sun, the centre of the whole system, the fiery idea resurges, balanced; hence pure, although complex.
Beyond this, the force is beginning to expend itself, or to spiritualise itself, in the cards of the Decan of Sagittarius. But the best fixation of the fiery force is found in the 9, which number is the foundation of the structure of the Tree of life. Thus the card is called The Lord of Strength. The fire p. But in the 10, showing complete materialisation and nimiety, the effect of fire is pushed to its extreme limit.
Its death is impending, but it reacts against this as best it can by appearing as the Lord of Oppression, formidable on the surface, but with the seeds of decay already sprouting. The above summary can easily be applied by the student to the other suits. The Court cards are sixteen in number, four to each suit. There is thus a subdivision of each element into its own system.
These cards have many manifestations in natural phenomena.
Thus, the Knight of Wands has the attribution of Aries, and represents swift violence of onset, the lightning flash. But the airy part of Fire is sympathetic with Leo, the steady force of energy, the Sun. Lastly, in the watery part of Fire, the harmony is with Sagittarius, which shows the fading, spiritualised reflection or translucence of the image of Fire, and this suggests the Rainbow.
See table of the Triplicities of the Zodiac. The Twenty-two Houses of Wisdom, Or: The Twenty-two Trumps of the Tarot. Twenty-two is the number of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It is the number of the Paths of the Sepher Yetzirah. These paths are the paths which join the ten numbers on the figure called the Tree of Life.
Why are there twenty-two of them? Because that is the number of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and one letter goes to each path. House or Key, in Ancient Egyptian. Egyptian God of Wisdom, magick, Science, also Illusion. In Coptic, Thoth: The Hindu and Scandinavian Gods corresponding are debased forms.
Why should these paths be arranged on the Tree in the way that the diagram shows? Why should there not be paths connecting the numbers 2 and 5 and the numbers 3 and 4? One cannot answer any of these questions. One knows only that this was the conventional arrangement adopted by whoever it was that devised the Tarot. What is worse, it seems very confusing, very annoying; it shakes one's faith in these great sages.
But at least file: The letters of the Hebrew alphabet are twenty-two. But there are four Elements, not three. Or, including the element of Spirit an important matter to initiates , there are five. There are therefore two letters of the alphabet which have to do double duty.
The element of Fire is very close kin to the idea of Spirit; so the letter Shin, belonging to Fire, may be taken to mean Spirit as well. There is a special reason why this should be so, although it only applies in later ages, since the introduction of the dognia that Spirit rules the four elements, and the formation of the "Pentagram of Salvation" connected with the Hebrew word IHShVH, Yeheshuah.
With regard to Earth, it was considered adequate to make the letter Tau, belonging to Saturn, correspond also to Earth. These additions are clear evidence that the Tarot took definite and arbitrary steps to assert the new discovery in Magick some two thousand years ago; for no system is more rigid than a Hebrew system.
And the system of the Sepher Yetzirah is the deepest rooted of all the elements of the Hebrew system, the most dogmatic of them all. The Tarot is justified not by faith, but by works. The departures from the original bone-dry Qabalah have been justified by experience. The point raised above about the way in which the paths are selected to join certain numbers and not others, is found to express important doctrines connected with the facts of initiation. It must always be p. The answer is that the li is a measure of the time of marching, not of miles.
The difference of calculation jnforms one that Pu Peng is a long way up the hill. It is very much the same with the Tarot. This dicates not only what victory is like, but also the conditions to be fufilled in order to obtain victory. There is need of the fiery energy of the suit of Wands, the balance of the number 6, the stubborn courage of Leo, and also the influence of J upiter, the little bit of luck that tips the scale.
These considerations are particularly important in dealing with the Atu, or Trumps. The Planets are already represented in the numbers or Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. But they have also attributions to certain of the Paths. Some etymologists of a singularly idle disposition have tried to derive the French word "atout" from the ATU meaning House. It may seem simpler to suggest that "atout" is short for "bon atout", meaning "good for anything", because a Trump will take any card of any suit.
They are guides to conduct. They give you the map of the Kingdom of Heaven, and also the best way to take it by force. A complete understanding of any magical problem is necessary before i't can be solved. Study from outside, and action from outside, are ways abortive. It is of the utmost importance to understand this extremely specialised character of the Trumps.
To say that the Trump numbered III, called The Empress, represents Venus, means something much less and also much more 'than appears if Venus be studied from a strictly astrological standpoint.
One abandons the contemplation of the whole in order to take p. J ust so Tactics differs from Strategy.
A great general does not think of war in the abstract, but confines his attention to a minute part of his perhaps vast knowledge of the subject by considering the disposition of his forces at a given place and hme, and how best to employ them against his adversary. Thi5 is of course true not only of the Trumps, but of all the other cards; and it must be true of any specialised studies. If one goes into a shop and asks for a map of a certain country, one cannot get a complete map, because any such map would necessarily merge into the Universe as it approached completeness, for a country's character is modified by the adjacent countries, and so on for ever.
Nor would even any useful map be complete in the most vulgar practical way without leading to confusion. The shopman would want to know whether his customer wanted a geological map, an orographical map, a commercial map, a map showing the distribution of population, or a strategic map; and so on for ever. The student of the Tarot must not therefore expect to find anything beyond a careful selection of the facts about any given card, a selection made for a quite definite magical purpose.
However, the Tarot does try to resume, in a single pictorial symbol, as many as possible of the useful aspects file: In studying any card, one ought not to neglect any of the attributions, because each class of attribution does modify the form and colour of the card, and its use.
This essay will endeavour, in the section describing each card in turn, to include as many of the correspondences as possible.
It has puzzled the traditional writers on the Tarot that these numbers should run from 0 to XXI. They seem to have thought that it would be proper to assume that 0 was the Fool, because he was a cipher, a good- for-nothing. They made this assumption simply because they did not 1 Some paragraphs of this section repeat, in slightly different phrases, statements already made in earlier pages. This is intended. They did not know elementary Mathematics. They did not know that mathematicians begin the decimal scale with Zero.
To make it quite clear to initiates that they did not understand the meaning of the card called The Fool, they put him down between Ahe cards XX and XXI, for what reason. In this simple yet ingenious manner they the attribution of every card, except The Universe, XXI, wrong.
By putting the card marked 0 in its proper place, where any mathematician would have put it, the attributions fall into a natural order which is confirmed by every investigation. There was, however, one kink in the rope. The Rider Waite fool is gazing into the sky above, about to step off a cliff — a little dog tries to warn him. The tarot fool is traditionally interpreted an indication of new beginnings, spontaneous action, leaps of faith, and innocence or naivete.
When the card appears reversed, it indicates bad decisions or choices. A butterfly references transformation. A vulture, shown in part above the butterfly, represents Maut, the Egyptian vulture goddess. Every color, line, gesture, and object carries a symbolic message. Join our community of seekers, dreamers, and doers to empower your own evolution.
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