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TAROT OF CEREMONIAL MAGICK
A PICTORIAL SYNTHESIS OF THREE GREAT PILLARS OF MAGICK: ENOCHIAN, GOETIA, ASTROLOGY
By Lon Milo DuQuette
Samuel Weiser, Inc.Copyright © 1995 Lon Milo DuQuette
All rights reserved.
The Qabalistic Mandala
The traditional version of the Wheel of Fortune card displays four letters, T A R O placed upon the rim of a great wheel. As the wheel turns we read the letters in a variety of orders and permutations including: OTAR (to purify oneself), ROTA (the wheel), AROT (vigilance), TORA (the Law), ORAT (awe), TROA (gate), AT OR (thou art), RATOT (vibration)
A little imagination and a free afternoon with a Hebrew and Latin lexicon will render a dizzying array of other meanings and messages. My point is more fundamental. The tarot is a wheel, a mandala revealing the mechanics of creation. Each card has its place upon the great wheel, from the inscrutable Zero of the Fool to the dense materiality of the Ten of Disks. For our study we will move from the center of the wheel outwards; from the cosmic to the mundane. As we approach the rim of the wheel we will begin to recognize aspects of our own being and of the world around us. Used with skill, the tarot allows us to observe this development so we may trace the hidden influences that underlie and support our world and our being.
In order for the tarot to speak to us we must first learn its language—a language of numbers, of colors, of images. We must also try to understand the fundamentals of the spiritual discipline that created that language, the Holy Qabalah. ONE &
FOUR—A RULE OF THUMB
"And the Elohim created Ath-h-ADAM: in the image of the Elohim created They them; male and female created They them." Genesis I: 27
If we could for a moment put ourselves in the place of the early Hebrew mystics and view the above verse from the first book of Moses with the same holy awe as did they, we would begin our investigation of deity by first investigating ourselves.
Even before birth, the child in the womb finds its thumb and recognizes this digit as a source of comfort and self nurturing. It is the thumb's opposition to the other four fingers that first enabled the human hand to make tools, weapons, and fire. The hand distinguishes primates and humankind from the rest of the animal kingdom and is an appropriate symbol of the dominion of the human race. For this reason it is safe to assume that the hand was a fundamental subject of speculation and meditation among the ancient qabalists.
The qabalists teach that the Hebrew alphabet is the very tool of creation, taught by God to the angels and by the angels to Adam. The Hebrew word for hand is Yod (YVD), the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and represents numerically the number ten. Interestingly enough the remaining twenty-one Hebrew letters are variations of the letter Yod. Yod could indeed be called the source of all the letters.
Because the human hand has four fingers and one thumb which vivifies them (four ruled by a fifth), the ancient qabalists surmised that the "hand" of the Creator (the mechanics of the involving/evolving universe) must be an absolute unity which manifests through a fourfold process. This formula is universal and permeates all levels of existence and consciousness. To express the mechanics of this very fundamental observation, the Hebrew mystics embodied the formula in the concept of single God with a four letter name, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].
JEHOVAH IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD
These four letters, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], are representative of four descending worlds through which the creative process is actualized:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Atziluth, the Archetypal World, is the highest and most perfect of the four worlds. In Atziluth the male and female aspects of deity are united in bliss. The remaining three worlds are the product of this union, and continue to diminish in purity. Atziluth could be considered the will of deity in its purest aspect.
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Briah is the Creative World in which the pure light of Atziluth begins to become organized. This is the throne and abode of the highest Angels and could be viewed as the heart of deity.
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Yetzirah is the World of Formation where the universal organization of Briah becomes specific and a hierarchy of Angels with individual duties is established; the mind of deity.
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (final) Assiah is the Material World, in which the impurities produced by the degeneration of the original light as it passes through the various worlds are crystalized to form the material world, nature, and human existence.
The world of Assiah is also the abode of the qliphoth, the shells or receptacles which in the three higher worlds serve to hold the divine light as it descends, but after serving their purpose are cast down like burned-out light bulbs into Assiah. These shells, made up of the grosser elements of the three higher worlds, still contain enough vivifying force to make them troublesome. Not spirits in the true sense of the term, these vessels aimlessly seek in vain to refill themselves with the living light. However, because in their new environment of Assiah the light does not exist in the rarified states as in the higher worlds, the qliphoth are cut off from the pure energy and become as it were wandering vacuums which seek to suck as much of the essence of the light as they ca n from the native inhabitants of Assiah (including humans).
Armed with this understanding we can now see why the qliphoth manifest the averse qualities of their original homes in the three higher worlds. Thus, that which once held the pure essence of the unity of the universe (Kether) now manifests as Thaumiel (Twins of God); the harmony of the sixth Sephira Tiphareth becomes the qliphoth known as Thagirion (the Litigation).
It must be remembered that the qliphoth are a natural and necessary part of the nature of deity as envisioned by the qabalists. Like the Titans of Greek mythology and the Giants of the Nibel-ungenlied, the qliphoth do the dirty work of building and supporting the material world as we perceive it. They are dangerous to us only when ungoverned, unrecognized or ignored. In fact, much of what we ignorantly believe to be ourselves (i.e., our bodies, minds, personalities) can be considered qliphotic containers for the incomprehensibly subtle essence that is our true identity.
The four qabalistic worlds also serve as the blueprints for the four parts of the human soul, known in the Qabalah as Chiah, the life force; Neschamah, the divine soul-intuition; Ruach, the intellect; and Nephesh, the animal soul. They are also exemplified in the four primal Elements of the antiquity, Fire, Water, Air, and Earth respectively. As we will see, these worlds and these Elements are represented in the Tarot by the four suits, Wands-Fire-Atziluth; Cups-Water-Briah; Swords-Air-Yetzirah; and Disks-Earth-Assiah. This four-fold division is further extended within each Tarot suit and expressed in the Court Cards. The Knights represent the fiery aspect of their respective suits, the Queens the watery, the Princes the airy, and the Princesses the earthy. But more on this later.
TEN & TWENTY TWO
The Thirty-Two Mysterious Paths of Wisdom It is a basic technique of the qabalist to search for hidden meanings of significant words and numbers by dissecting them and examining their components. To delve deeper into the mysteries of four we discover that it is defined in more detail by other numbers:
0 + (or -) 4 (indicating that four, and indeed all numbers, somehow came out of zero);
1 + 3 (revealing the mystery that one can only be adequately defined by three correlatives);
2 + 2 (suggesting that the initial act of creation was an act of reflection).
Most interesting of all is to look at four as a progression of 0 + 1+ 2 + 3 + 4. Here we see four as a developmental process, and the resulting sum = 10 = Yod (Hebrew for the "hand"), the fundamental divine letter. Four conceals and defines ten and vice versa.
Ten is obviously a very important qabalistic number. We will see it graphically expressed in the ten emanations (Sephiroth) of the Tree of Life, and in the Small Cards of the tarot, Ace through Ten, (a set of ten for each of the four suits). The Tree of Life is a map of the universe, and is the fundamental qabalistic diagram. It illustrates the tenfold process of the descent of God-head into matter (humanity), and the twenty-two step process of our return back. So important is the Tree of Life to our understanding of the qabalistic principles of the tarot, that I will take just a moment to introduce the fundamentals of its construction. I hope the qabalistic purist will forgive the crudeness of the following anecdote.
Imagine, if you can, the lonely predicament of the Absolute.
So perfect is the oneness of the Absolute that there is no way for It to examine Its own infinitude. Why It should desire to do so is beyond our comprehension, but tradition maintains that the impulse to create drives the One to seek self-examination. But how is this done? There is no "outside" of an infinite One. It cannot hold a mirror up and look at Itself. Yet It can reflect Itself by turning Its attention inward in just the same way a yogi closes his eyes and turns his or her attention inward in meditation until consciousness reaches the perfect center of being. This perfect inward reflection allows the One to recognize the conditions of Its oneness, but by doing so creates a second condition (One and Its reflection).
This realization of Self instantly brings with it a third condition, for no sooner does the Self realize what It is, it also realizes what It is not. In other words, we have the Self (1), the reflection, or Not-Self (2), and the knowledge they are not the same thing (3).
This may seem very abstract, but even the exoteric branches of the world's great religions acknowledge in some way this threefold view of absolute unity. Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva; Father-Son-Holy Spirit, all echo the mechanics of this Supernal Triad.
Now we must view the trinity of 1-2-3 as the primal unit. The same impulse that made 1 reflect to realize 2, now impels the Supernal Triad to do the same;
and the same process that established 3 from 2 and 1, now is done with trinity units;
Finally the whole process attempts to repeat itself by the establishment of a single unit (10); a reflection of a reflection (9) of a reflection (6) of the Absolute (1).
This assembly of ten Sephiroth is joined by twenty-two paths, forming the complete diagram known as the Tree of Life.
The top Sephira is called Kether, the Crown. Two is Chokmah, Wisdom. Three is Binah, Understanding. Four is Chesed, Mercy. Five is Geburah, Strength. Six is Tiphareth, Beauty. Seven is Netzach, Victory. Eight is Hod, Splendor. Nine is Yesod, the Foundation. Ten is Malkuth, the Kingdom.
Perhaps the most concise and profound elucidation of the above process was written by Aleister Crowley and included in his classic text on the tarot, The Book of Thoth.
The Naples Arrangement
61 = 0.
61 + 146 = 0 as Undefined (Space).
61 + 146 + 207 = 0 as basis of Possible Vibration.
1. The Point: Positive yet indefinable,
2. The Point: Distinguishable from 1 other.
3. The Point: Defined by relation to 2 others. The Abyss—between Ideal and Actual.
4. The Point: Defined by 3 co-ordinates: Matter.
5. Motion (Time)—Heh, the Womb; for only through Motion and in Time can events occur.
6. The Point: now self-conscious because able to define itself in terms of above.
7. The Point's Idea of Bliss (Ananda).
8. The Point's Idea of Thought (Chit).
9. The Point's Idea of Being (Sat).
10. The Point's Idea of Itself fulfilled in its complement, as determined by 7, 8 and 9.
Each of the four qabalistic worlds is represented by its own Tree of Life through which flows the pure energy of the Absolute. Each Sephira, and each Tree of Life, receives the energy from the one above it and transmits it to the one below. The lower the power descends, the more diluted and polluted the energy becomes. The ten Sephiroth of Atziluth, for example, are very close to the source and are therefore very pure. They are the abodes of the ten aspects of Deity represented by the great Divine Names. These Divine Names rule the Archangels who reside in the next lower world, Briah, who in turn rule the Angels in the next lower world, Yetzirah, who in turn rule the planetary intelligences of the lowest world, Assiah.
In the world of Assiah, Kether (1) is the Sphere of the Primum Mobile. Chokmah (2) is the Sphere of the Zodiac or fix ed Stars. Binah (3) is the Sphere of Saturn; Chesed (4) is the Sphere of Jupiter; Geburah (5) is the Sphere of Mars; Tiphareth (6) is the Sphere of the Sun; Netzach (7) is the Sphere of Venus; Hod (8) is the Sphere of Mercury; Yesod (9) is the Sphere of the Moon; and Malkuth (10) is the Sphere of the Elements. I'll talk more on the Tree of Life in the next chapter.
Continuing our qabalistic examination of human body we of course observe a total of ten fingers and ten toes= 20. If we spell the Hebrew letter Yod in full (YVD) it enumerates to twenty, reaffirming the direct relationship between ten and twenty. We can be certain that such coincidences did not go unnoticed by the qabalistic pioneers.
Finally, between the ten fingers is another part of the human body which is instrumental in separating us from the beasts, the tongue—the organ of speech, and between the ten toes is found that which makes each of us a creative "god," the penis or vagina. In all, twenty-two fundamental landmarks of the human body. Throughout our study of the tarot we will not stray very far from Four, Ten, and Twenty-Two, for it is upon these numbers that the mandala of the tarot is built. It is these numbers that turn the great wheel.
The Twenty-Two Trumps
The 78 cards of the tarot are divided into four categories:
16 Court Cards
36 Small Cards.
It is no coincidence that there are twenty-two letters in the sacred Hebrew alphabet (affirming the qabalist's awful respect for Genesis I:27), and these twenty-two letters are expressed in the tarot as the twenty-two Trumps. The common titles of the Trumps are: Fool, Magician, High Priestess, Empress, Emperor, Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Justice, Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Strength, Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, Devil, Tower, Star, Moon, Sun, Judgement, and the World.
The Trumps each have their place upon the Tree of Life and serve as the paths which connect the ten Sephiroth. It is said that the universe was created by a lightning flash that descended the ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life from top to bottom. The path of humanity's return to Godhead, however, is by way of the twenty-two Paths, which start at the bottom and climb like a serpent up the Tree.
THE 22 LETTERS OF THE HEBREW ALPHABET
The Hebrew alphabet is divided into three categories; 3 Mother letters (Aleph [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Mem [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Shin [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]); 7 Double letters (Beth [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Gimel [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Daleth [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Kaph [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Pe [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Resh [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and Tav [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]); and 12 Simple letters (Heh [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Vav [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Zain [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Cheth [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Teth [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Yod Lamed [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Nun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Samekh [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Ayin [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Tzaddi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and Qoph [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].
The division of the twenty-two letters into three–seven–twelve was not an arbitrary act by our qabalistic ancestors. It was based upon a simple yet profound attempt to reenact the creation of the dimensional universe. In a sense, this reeactment is the exact opposite of the above meditation by which we created the Tree of Life, yet the results are profoundly similar. Please bear with me for one more imaginary projection into the mind of God.
Imagine, if you can, that you are the deity and you have not yet begun to create the universe. You are alone. There is no out-side of you. You are just you; the One; the Only; the Singularity. For some reason, perhaps out of boredom, you decide to create the universe. But because there is as yet no outside of you in which to do this, you must first give yourself some elbow room. And so you reach straight up and establish infinite HEIGHT. As you do this the dimension of Height is sealed and begins to expand in never-ending concentric wavelets.
Excerpted from TAROT OF CEREMONIAL MAGICK by Lon Milo DuQuette. Copyright © 1995 Lon Milo DuQuette. Excerpted by permission of Samuel Weiser, Inc..
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