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Re: More on Tarot - Re to Arthur

May 31, 1995 11:05 AM
by Arthur Paul Patterson

Jerry: >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

Arthur: To limit archetypal symbols to a certain number or to
limit spheres or planes of the universe seems to me to be
somewhat contradictory of the whole principle of what a symbol
is.  A symbol is elastic and bends and deepens - perhaps there
are perameters but certainly never ridgid ones.

>Jerry: 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 Angel?).

Arthur: I am not a esoteric historian by any means but wasnt'
John Dee a 17th century divine?

Jerry:   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.

Arthur: Other than a heuristic one, is there a distinction
between an archetype and a goddess.  I think the categories are
culturally conditioned.  Goddess seems to come from the religious
framework whereas Archetype a more philosophic one.( or from Jung
trying to look repectable among his reductionistic 20 century

Jerry: 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
>     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.

Arthur: I am not sure about whether their words are proper of
improper? What do you mean? They didn't think in our categories
but that is no blight as I see it.

>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.

Arthur: Medieval humanity certainly did a lot of unconscious work
and symbolic work without the benefit or blight of modern
categories - you will note that as we became more discursive the
symbols seemed to dry up considerably.  Ancient man spoke of the
oracle within or the daimon these are words that I think we may
want to begin using again.

>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

Arthur: I would say that the original experience of the mysterium
tremendum or whatever was categorized and creedalized.  When this
happened the experience was lost.  I really think the same holds
true today the more we cognate about an experience rather than
attempt to move the experience forward evocatively the more we
distance ourself from the experience.

>  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.

Arthur: Some of the modern writers do this with depth and others
superficially.  Those individual interpretations that express
something in the creative unconsciousness will last whereas those
that that are just aping contemporary culture will go the way of
the go go boots.  Oh I shouldn't say that go go boots return
occassionally.  I feel that it is perfectly alright to play with
the symbols you never know what wisdom we may step in.  The Tarot
is a tradition and if it is to be a living tradition it will
require heretics and defenders - it is the dialectic that makes
it move forward.

My main fear about the Tarot Tradition is about the propensity
toward fortune telling in a ridiculous sense - and in making the
cards part of the new age fundamentalism that is occuring.  I
can't stand it when a tarot client asks what will happen to them
in a literal manner - all I can do is say where I intuit the
symbols to be leading in very broad terms.  On the other hand the
new age fundamentalists often have complete simpified meanings to
the cards...  this means that...  sort of stuff that I think
denigrates the great collective wisdom that formed them.

Thanks a lot for the summary of the cards.  I want to re-read
that a few times.  It is good to have some tradition to keep the
wandering psyche in check.

In the Spirit of the Tarot Fool.

Arthur Paul Patterson

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