Regarding the Major Arcana

It is fairly easy to read the symbols on the Major Arcana in terms of their placement on the card. There is above and below, left and right and center and there is also the corners of the cards which the eye uses to focus and confine the images inside a border or boundary.

The way the images face and what direction they look towards is another layer of symmetry or pattern formation. As an example in the Chariot card all eyes are directed towards the left- both the eyes of the Driver above and the eyes of the horses below in the image. The Camoin-Jodorowsky deck shows a red center line which divides the card in half marking  the space of  firmament /stars and foundation/ soil and plant life- the celestial and terrestrial realms .

 

In the Devil card shown below the center of the card is marked by curved lines. Between the red curves is  a face on the stomach of a Devil  standing on a raised spherical platform. The world “above”  the center is marked by wings and overt breasts while the world below shows  male genitalia, eyed knees and two chained minions. The symmetry is present but the location is not the same as is shown on the Chariot card. There is white sky and water behind the figures and the minions do not stand on red soil but on black land.

In order to understand  Major Arcana scenarios the reader  has to juxtaposition sides, tops, bottoms and corners to ascertain the location in which energy is held. To see where energy  is being directed one looks at the eyes of the dominate/larger or central figure on the card face.

Another element in evaluation of the Major Arcana  is color and shading. In the Chariot and the Devil cards above we see the light blue skin tone is used to denote a non-human and an animal figure. In the Lovers the contrast of blue, red and yellow as bold colors adds “temperature”.  The red color can show us what is hot or active; blue what is  cool or inactive and the yellow what is neutral or not yet fully engaged, i.e. undecided.

The coloring and geometric placement of symbols dominates the Major Arcana just as the numeric  code is the power element in the pips of the Minor Arcana.

The use of keywords for the Tarot Trumps does not allow a reader the agility required to flow into the narrative and tell the tale. Keywords like borders on cards isolate and short-circuit the energies released in a layout.

In order to use the Major Arcana, a reader must announce the Game as it is being played, to read the cards as maps of current plays and moves made by  the teams /generations engaged with the world today. Time changes things and meanings…

Marseilles Starting Points

Camoin-Jodorowsky, Tarot de Marseilles

When starting on the Royal Road of Tarot where exactly do we begin? Most look at the numbers on the Arcana and start with 1.  As human beings in existence the place we begin is generally where we are.  People are not balanced at the beginning of any new endeavor. The old name of the Magician was The Juggler. Juggling  is a skill which has to be practiced in order to be developed.  So the Magician is not a starting point but a process.

Other’s may look at the numberless Fool and believe this is the place to begin. The Fool of Tarot was unnumbered and ungendered. In time it was assigned a zero or cipher. It is nowhere and everywhere,  shifting in space.  The Fool is best associated with oddities, synchronic phenomena, warning signs and things which like it’s rank in the deck cannot be classified.  One can think of The Fool as carrying all the X-files in his pouch, those things people see and blink at closing their eyes as their belief systems reject, deny or ignore the  unfamiliar usually  at their own peril! Again The Fool is not a firm or formed starting point in the physical realms.

Many will say why not start at the end/beginning or card 21 which is The World? The World card represents existence and all contained therein. However, this is a vast fluid plane, an entire playing field  and not all of its levels are mapped out!  The beginner can easily be overwhelmed at the outset by too many possibilities. Not to select a starting place is a choice as well,  one which delays the start of training.

The proper place in my estimation to begin study of the Tarot Trumps as a tool to self development is to be found within the book of the 10th Major Arcana – The Wheel of Fortune. This is where mankind finds themselves moving in circles/space  and cycles/time between their Beast of Instinct, Tyrannical Ego  and  Human Intelligence  around a center point of  Consciousness.

 

A Cool Breeze Came

 

Dumbledore’s Pensieve

Time to investigate a little bit of Tarot philosophy.  Tarot de Marseille was my beginning and still is my path. Though the way Tarot is used by Hermeticists and occultists differs from the way of diviners all can benefit from learning a bit of the  mystical anatomy of the system.

First things first. The Tarot is constructed in two parts. The Major Arcana which consists of  21 Trumps (1-21 ) and the Minor Arcana which consists of the Unnumbered Trump  or the Fool, the 40 Pips or numbered suit cards and the 16 Court Cards for a total of 56+1 or 57 cards.  57 + 21= 78

The two division terms Major and Minor often give people the wrong idea about Tarot. They believe the Major Arcana is higher in rank than the Minor.  Actually the opposite is true but we begin where we are…  In the metaphysical approach it is not a matter of  higher or lower but of Visible ( Major Arcana) and Invisible (Minor Arcana) or the realms of Classical Physics and Quantum Mechanics if you will.

Philosophic Tarot is often referred to as a Thought Experiment or a Gedankenexperiment, a term used by German-born physicist Albert Einstein. The Tarot’s purpose is to aid the mind in working with the abstract- i.e. The Fool;  the conceptual or the Pips and  the workings of elemental forces as exemplified by the Court cards.  Situations encountered by mankind while in physical incarnation are dealt with in the scenarios, their contents  and context which comprise The Major Arcana.

In philosophic Tarot the Trumps or Arcana are often confused with the word Arcanum which means secret. Each Arcana has within it a core an Arcanum  which is revealed by working with the images not as a divinatory tool  but as a repository of teaching left by those who came before us which is transmitted not in words but reached by introspection.

 

 

 

“At 6’s and 7’s”

Jodorowsky- Camoin TdM

And so we begin this post on decisions and directions with the Chariot. Take a look at this book. The Charioteer or central figure of the trump wears a crown and overhead is a canopy of stars. He also wears armor. The Charioteer’s  feet are in his Chariot, only the wheels of the Chariot touch the ground.  All of these symbols speak of the driver being protected (armor) and prepared (stars as right timing). The scepter in his right hand speaks of his control or his will. In some TdM decks the Charioteer holds a sword in his left hand. The esoteric lore of the seventh Trump card identifies the Charioteer with Hermes and the Chariot itself as the Hermetic tradition.

The trump says  GO STRAIGHT, do not deviate as the horses – our natural impulses would.  The driver is there IN THE CENTER to maintain control and keep the Chariot on course and moving in a forward motion. The Chariot is both like and unlike the card which precedes it, The Lovers.  The Chariot is the solution to the scenario  depicted on the Lovers card.

In Tarot,  The Lovers trump shows a situation of selection. It is where the Querent is at – if the card is in a flagged position in a spread or in the center in a line of cards.  The Lovers is graphically the same as the Chariot with some differences. In the Lover’s card shown just below from the Grimaud  TdM, the central figure is barefoot. His legs are  without hose under his doublet.  His outfit is  worse than that of the Fool!   His empty hands are held close to his body and limited in motion by the proximity of two women. In trump six the  women take on the role of the chariot  horses by coding the different “turnoffs” or directions i.e. right or left which the central character, the Querent is being pulled in.  There is an older Latin name for the sixth trump which is Bifurcatio, a fork in the road or a divide.

Grimaud style TdM

If the central figure corresponds to the Chariot  in the Lovers card then who is the Charioteer? It is the cherub above who plays that role in the Lovers card. It is Cupid’s Arrow or the attractive force which will prompt the selection and the direction taken by the central figure.  While in The Chariot trump the  scepter is held by the Driver, in the Lovers the arrow is not in the central character’s hands but is aimed at him from above! This means  the decision is literally “out of his hands”.  What the central figure is calling decision or choice is actually a selection  based on  factors  which he or she does not control coming down from a higher source.  The term higher source  can refer to  the celestial hierarchies or star laws which operate literally over the heads of mankind compelling them in their season to act, as does every species of flora and fauna on the planet.

There is an additional implied third direction at the Lover’s fork in the road. It is the backward  direction, the psychological equivalent of backsliding on  regrets and doubts which first show up as being hesitant to select.  While the time of making a “selection” appears to be in the present moment, prolonging the  decision places a client in limbo. Limbo  being the recurring or replaying of the present moment in linear time, the eternal return as a feedback loop in the mind which traps the client.   As selection is somewhat pre-conditioned in the Lovers by so many factors NOT IN THE CLIENT’S HANDS, it often  manifests as being  different  in external appearance  but of the exact same essence or energy configuration!

In seeing a group of cards when a Querent is asking about an impending important decision The  Lovers card alone offers no solution. Look to see if the Chariot is included in the grouping for it will indicate  the Querent who is willing and ready to make a choice which  puts them on the straight road out of Dodge or Oz.

Remember, pip cards hold the energies of the first ten Major Arcana and their suits indicate the four different stages of the invisible abstract descending into visible manifestation. Wands represent the energetic state; Swords – thoughts, a  mental frequency rate; Cups the psycho-emotional “feelings” of attraction and repulsion and finally Disks which are symbolic of energy vortices* in the subtle bodies of mankind and  the planet.

The presence of any grouping of 3 or more 6’s or 7’s in a reading  foreshadows an approach of either a  Lovers – Chariot  situation for a Querent.

Note: *Vortex-1650s, “whirlpool, eddying mass,” from Latin vortex, variant of vertex “an eddy of water, wind, or flame; whirlpool; whirlwind,” from stem of vertere “to turn” (see versus). Plural form is vortices.