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More on Tarot - Re to Arthur

May 30, 1995 04:35 PM
by Jerry Schueler

Arthur: <Ok, since it is legit to add to the major arcana what
are these new archetypes and what energies are they contributing
to our consciousness? It is back to my previous post - do these
things live or not and if they do how do you know if they are
operative in our lives?>

First of all, I am not so sure that it is a given that additional
trump cards are "legit." I doubt if traditionalists would ever
accept them.  The number of trump cards (and minor arcana cards
too) depends on how you want to structure the universe.  If you
add cards, then you must also add regions somewhere in the
universe.  While this is easily done, it is not so easily
accepted by the layman - those who read the Tarot cards or those
who feel that tradition is important in the significance of
symbolism.  I feel that it is very legit for the Enochian Tarot,
because the Enochian universe has a different structure from the
Qabalistic universe.  And, I did not make it up, but rather it
was given to John Dee by Angels (and who am I to argue with an

According to HPB, monads that express themselves in our universe
cannot skip any of the cosmic planes.  So, we must express
ourselves on each cosmic plane all the way down to the physical.
I intepret this to mean that we have a part of ourselves in each
major realm of the invisible universe - and a subtle body
suitable for each cosmic plane.  These are all "operative in our
lives" to some extent.  We are more than our physical body.  So,
we can assume that each Tarot card, or at least each major arcana
card, represents both an external realm or deity, and an internal
state or energy or force as well.  When we look at a Tarot trump,
we are looking at the symbols of both an external and an internal
state of our being.  The Empress is both a goddess and an
archetype.  The Hanged Man is symbolic of both an external event
(the descent of the Silent Watcher or cosmic Christ) and an
internal event (the sacrifice of our own spiritual state of bliss
in order to take on physical manifestation).  The Hierophant is
both external Adept and inner divinity.  And so on with all of
the trump cards.

The following is something that I wrote several yers ago on Tarot
smbolism which some may find useful.


The Tarot cards were originated long before modern psychology.
The designers, whoever they may have been, attempted to preserve
key religious, sociological, and psychological processes and
relationships, and yet had not the proper words in which to
express their ideas.  Their language was limited to expressing
the experiences of the common man of those times.  For example,
the notion of ego and the subtle relationships between ego and
the subconscious were totally unknown to the common man, and thus
no words had been coined to express them.  In short, their task
was to preserve as well as to disseminate the esoteric ideas
realized by the highest mind's of their day, but they had very
limited exoteric means in which to work.  Their answer to the
problem was the use of symbols.  H.P.  Blavatsky expressed this
process when she wrote, "The primative purity of a creed can
become soiled; its apostles can degrade and soil it by the
inevitable admixture of human element.  But its symbolism as the
concrete expression of some now lost idea of the founder, will
survive forever." (COLLECTED WRITINGS, Vol XIII, page 300).

Because the ancients couched their ideas in symbols, they have
survived through the centuries.  Unfortuneately, the meaning of
many of the symbols used has either become lost over the long
span of years, or has been changed in subtle ways.  This has led
to the many discrepancies that exist in the numerous Tarot books
available today.  Modern authorities each read into the symbols
their own biases and views, and in some cases, have deliberately
"refined" the cards to better reflect their own ideas.

The main symbolism used in the Major Arcana cards are as follows:

The Fool.  The Marseilles shows the fool as a court jester
holding a baton and standing near a cliff.  This symbolism
suggests silliness, but perhaps a deliberate silliness.  The
Waite deck (this is the popular name of the deck made famous by
A.E.  Waite) is more complex.  It shows a young wanderer holding
a rose and a walking stick, to which a bag is tied, walking off a
cliff.  A dog romps at his side.  This suggests a happy and
carefree attitude that could be dangerous.  The Golden Dawn deck
(this is the deck used by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn,
and was probably created by one of its founders, McGregor
Mathers) shows a naked child holding the reins of a wolf while
plucking fruit from a tree.  This symbolism, probably the most
esoteric of any of the cards, suggests that the fool is
innocence, and that pure innocence can check animal passions
while surviving quite nicely on what nature provides.

The Magician or Magus.  The Marseilles deck shows a parlor
magician going through a magic act of some kind with various
`tools of the trade' on a table.  This is the popular view of the
magician; one who does sleight of hand, and who employs
gimickery.  The Waite and G.D.  decks are a bit more
sofisticated.  They both show a true magician in robes, with his
four traditional weapons: a sword, a wand, a cup, and a pantacle.

The High Priestess.  The Marseilles deck shows the goddess Junon
(Juno), wife of the god Jupiter and a peacock.  The more
traditional goddess shown most other decks is Isis.  The symbols
here are lunar and suggest a lunar or occult vision (for example,
the intuition as opposed to common sense).

The Empress.  Most all decks agree that this card is symbolized
by a mature woman wearing a crown and seated on a throne.  This
suggests the feminine side of the psyche, perhaps the anima of
Carl Jung, or any strong feminine authority.  She is the
archetypal mother, the ultimate feminine creator and provider.

The Emperor.  Most all decks agree that this card is symbolized
by a mature man wearing a crown and seated on a throne.  This
suggests the masculine side of the psyche, perhaps the animus of
Carl Jung, or any strong masculine authority.  He is the
archetypal father, the ultimate masculine creator and provider.

The Hierophant.  Like the Emperor, this card is usually shown as
a mature man wearing a crown and seated on a throne.  The
Marseilles deck shows the god Jupiter.  Some decks show this as
the Pope or some other religious leader which clearly
distinguishes the difference between the Hierophant and the
Emperor; the former is religious while the latter is civil or
social.  The symbolism here suggests the conscience.

The Lovers.  The Marseilles deck shows Cupid about to shoot one
of his famous arrows into a young couple.  All decks show a man
and woman together, and the general theme is love.  This card
suggests the union of opposites, especially masculinity and
femininty, anima and animus.  Cupid is the symbol of romance, but
one that is usually governed more by emotions than by rational

The Chariot.  Most decks agree that the main symbol of this card
is a chariot.  Usually a charioteer is also shown.  The theme is
powerful deliberate motion toward a fixed goal and thus a victory
over space.  The card symbolism suggests the spiritual impulse
which sooner or later will drive man to seek his true nature.

Justice or Adjustment.  The main symbol for this card is a
balance or scale used for measuring weight.  The scale is held by
a goddess who holds an upright sword.  The symbolism represents
karma, the law of cause and effect, which seeks a balance or
moderation in all things.

The Hermit.  Almost all decks agree that the symbolism of the
Hermit is an older man in a robe holding a staff in one hand and
a lamp in the other.  The lamp is a symbol of the inner light of
truth.  The theme here is the wise old sage, the inner guiding
light of conscience illumined by the intuition.

The Wheel of Fortune.  The main symbol of this card is a wheel.
The wheel is a symbol for cycles, and the card represents the law
of cyclic manifestation.  The original symbols of this card were
meant to portray the doctrine of reincarnation, as well as other
cyclic processes.

Strength/Lust.  Most cards use the symbol of the lion in this
card.  The lion as the "king of beasts" is a traditional symbol
for strength.  Some cards also show a man, while others show a
woman, who is controlling the lion in some way.  The theme here
is controlled strength, or inner resolve that is directed toward
a goal.

The Hanged Man.  The Hanged Man is just that, a man hanging
upside down from a wooden scaffle of some kind, ususally in the
form of a cross.  Most cards show the man with his left leg bent
to form a cross with his legs.  The cross is the traditional
symbol for sacrifice.  The theme here is the deliberate
undergoing of a selfless sacrifice, usually for the purpose of
helping others.

Death.  Death is symbolized by a human skeleton.  Sometimes the
skeleton is shown holding a sickle to suggest that death levels
all living beings.  The theme is the process of death, which is
an ending or completion of something that we have known.  Death
also implies change of some kind, a transformation.

Temperance/Art.  This card is usually depicted by an angel who is
pouring water from one vase into another.  The water is the
"water of life" and its being poured suggests that a necessary
change of some kind is taking place.  The card symbols not only
imply the skill or ability that is required to `get through'
unwanted experiences, but those needed to turn such experiences
to your advantage in some way.

The Devil.  The main symbol here is a devil.  The Marseilles deck
shows a stereotyped middle-ages Christian concept of Satan
complete with horns and a forked tail.  The Waite deck is much
more refined, showing the stereotyped version of a devilish black
magician.  Most cards also show a naked man and woman chained to
a block.  The theme is Black Magick and the card suggest slavery
or confinement.  The symbolism strongly suggests the wrongness of
an overinflated ego.

The Lightening Struck Tower.  Almost all decks agree on the basic
theme of this card.  A stone tower is shown being struck by a
bolt of lightening with two people falling from the destruction.
The card suggests bad karma of all kinds, but especially
destruction and ruination.  In at least one sense, the card
represents the Fall of Man, because the lightening bolt is a
symbol of an "act of God" that forces man to fall from his
protective tower, itself a symbol of a spiritual environment,
into an unprotected mortality.

The Star.  The main symbol here is a star.  One or more stars is
shown over the head of a goddess who is pouring water from two
vases into a pool.  The goddess is usually shown naked, although
the Marseilles deck shows her partially clothed.  She is Isis,
the goddess of nature, and the waters are the Waters of Life.
She is shown returning individual water into a collective pool,
thus indicating that nothing in life is ever lost.  The theme
here is one of hope.

The Moon.  The main symbol here is the moon, and the cards of all
decks amplify the lunar theme with various symbols usually
associated with the moon.  Most cards show two towers with a
stream running between them to illustrate the idea of
relationships.  A scorpion, lobster, crayfish, or scarab, is
often included to represent the forces of regeneration.  One or
two dogs or jackals are often shown to suggest the idea of the
subconscious and the underworld.  The theme here is the astral
world, the realm of illusions and dreams.

The Sun.  The main symbol of this card is the sun which is almost
always shown with extending rays, and sometimes with a face to
suggest solar intelligence.  The Marseilles deck shows a young
couple together under a sun.  The Waite deck shows a naked child
riding a horse under a sun.  The Golden Dawn deck shows two naked
children holding hands under a sun.  The sun, as the generator of
light and heat, is the symbol for life and the forces of
conscious creativity.

Judgement.  Most decks represent Judgement with an angel blowing
a horn above a group of people.  The heralding of a trumpet call
as an act of divine judgement is suggested here.  The Waite deck
shows people standing in coffin-like boxes which suggest that an
after-death judgement is implied.  The Golden Dawn card shows
people chest-deep in water implying a renewal or regeneration.

The Universe.  The last card of the Major Arcana includes the
symbolism of the four animals of the Apocalypse and of the vision
of Ezekiel.  These are the bull, the lion, the eagle, and man.  A
naked woman stands within a circular wreath.  In the Marseilles
deck, this woman is the fourth animal, but in most decks she
stands apart as a central figure.  Her symbolism as the mother of
the universe is clearly suggested in the Golden Dawn deck where
the wreath is a ring of twelve globes which are obviously the
twelve constellations of the Zodiac.  The symbolism here suggests
that this card includes the entire universe: the physical,
emotional, mental, and spiritual planes of existence.

Jerry S.

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