Oct 022011
 

The first Arcanum – the principle underlying all the other twenty-one Major Arcana of the Tarot –  is that of the rapport of personal effort and of spiritual reality.

It occupies the first place in the series because if one does not understand it (ie, take hold of it in cognitive and actual practice), one would not know what to do with all the other Arcana.

For it is the Magician who is called to reveal the practical method relating to all the Arcana. He is the “Arcanum of the Arcana”, in the sense that he reveals that which it is necessary to know and to will in order to enter the school of spiritual exercise whose totality comprises the game of Tarot, in orer to be able to derive some benefit therefrom.

In fact, the first and fundamental principle of esotericism (ie, of the way of experience of the reality of the spirit) can be rendered by the formula: Learn at first concentration without effort; transform work into play; make every yoke that you have accepted easy and every burden that you carry light!

This counsel, or command, or even warning, however you wish to take it, is most serious; this is attested by its original source, namely the words of the Master Himself: “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew, xi, 30)

Meditations on the Tarot, Unknown Author, Letter I, The Magician

Jun 192010
 

It is in we ourselves that there is to be found the ‘Edenic’ layer, of that of Paradise before the Fall, of which an account is to be found in the book of Genesis of Moses. Do you doubt the essential truth of this account? Descend into the depths of your own soul, descend as far as the roots, to the sources of feeling, will and intelligence – and you will know.

It expresses in symbolic language the first layer (first in the sense of the root of all that is human in human nature) of human psychic life, or its ‘beginning’. Knowledge of the beginning, initium in Latin, is the essence of initiation. Initiation is the conscious experience of the initial microcosmic state (this is the Hermetic initiation), and of the initial macrocosmic stage (this is the Pythagorean initiation).

The first is a conscious descent into the depths of the human being, to the initial layer. Its method is enstasy, ie, experience of the depths at the foundation within oneself. Here one becomes more and more profound until one awakens within oneself to the primordial layer – or the ‘image and likeness of ‘God’ – which is the aim of enstasy. It is above all by means of the sense of spiritual touch that this experience is effected. One can compare it to a chemical experiment undergone on the psychic and spiritual plane.

The second experience – that we have designated ‘Pythagorean’ from a historical  point of view – is based above all on the auditory sense or sense of spiritual hearing. It is essentially musical, just as the first is substantial or alchemical. It is by ecstasy – or rapture, or going out of oneself – that the macrocosmic layers (spheres or heavens) reveal themselves to consciousness. Pythagoras’ ‘music of the spheres’ was this experience, and it is this which was the source of the Pythagorean doctrine concerning the musical and mathematical structure of the macrocosm.

Christian esotericism unites these two methods of  initiation. The Master had two groups of disciples – ‘disciples of the day’ and ‘disciples of the night’ – the first being disciples of the way of enstasy and the latter those of the way of ecstasy. He also had a third group of disciples ‘of day and night’, ie, those who possess the keys to both doors at once, to the door of ecstasy and that of enstasy. Thus, the apostle, John, author of the Gospel of the Word-made-flesh, was at the same time he who listened to the heart of the Master.

He had a twofold experience – macrocosmic and microcosmic –  of the Cosmic World and the Sacred Heart, of which the litany says: Cor Jesu, rex et centrum omnium cordium. It is thanks to this twofold experience that the Gospel which he wrote is at one and the same time so cosmic and so humanly  intimate – of such heights and depths simultaneously. There, the macrocosmic solar sphere and the microcosmic solar sphere are united, which explains the singular magic of the Gospel.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VI, The Lover