Aug 092013
 

Ace of Wands_MarseilleThe Minor Arcana of the Tarot represent the way of ascent from consciousness belonging to the world of action (the phenomenal world) through the world of formation and the world of creation to the world of emanation. Thus, it is a matter of four degrees (including the summit) of ascent from the world of sensual and intellectual imagery which corresponds to pentacles, to the world (or degree) of destruction of this imagery – or the ‘wilderness’ – which corresponds to swords, so as to attain to that degree of spiritual poverty which is necessary to become a receptacle for revelation from above – which degree corresponds to cups. The summit is attained when the cup of consciousness which receives the revelation from above is transformed – by cooperating with revelatory action – into this latter. It then becomes revelatory activity itself, being actively united with the world of emanation. Then the degree of wands or scepters is attained, ie, that of pure creative activity.

Therefore the way begins in the world of coins or pentacles. This is the world of the imagery of facts, intellectual constructions and imagined ideals. Here consciousness surrounds itself with a world of images – n the one hand the memories of experiences, and on the other hand the formulae and schemes of the intellect, as well as those of moral imagination, which latter we call ‘ideals’. This world of images is neither reality nor illusion. It consists of values/images corresponding to reality and which are therefore ‘convertible’ into reality; for this reason coins are its symbol. For just as pieces of money are not themselves board, heating and lodging but can be converted into board, heating and lodging, so do memory images and the formulae and schemes of the intellect and moral imagination represent realities – being ‘worths’ that may be converted into reality.

Now, the world of coins – the world of images – has a twofold significance. It signifies, on the one hand, the wealth acquired by consciousness, and on the other hand it signifies the totality of that which must be renounced if consciousness wants to come to spiritual reality. Because in order to convert money into real things, ie in order to buy them, one has to pay. One has to become ‘poor in spirit’ in order to have the kingdom of heaven.

This payment, where one divests oneself of one’s wealth of spirit, is that of swords. Here, the values/images (or coins_ that one has struck through intellectual, moral and artistic efforts are destroyed, one after the other, in the same (Sephirothic) order in which they were formed. This can last an instant, an hour, or decades. With St Thomas Aquinas it took the time of a single ecstasy, whilst with Plato it seems that it was a slow process extending over several years. With respect to St Thomas, it was probably at the end of 1273 that he underwent the decisive ecstasy.

The ecstasy that St Thomas underwent persuaded him that all that h had written and taught was of little significance. This is a case of passing through the sphere of swords.

4-10Plato, as did St Thomas Aquinas, arrived at the ‘spiritual poverty’ which is necessary to become a ‘cup’ and ‘sceptre’ (or ‘wand’), ie to become a receptacle for the revelation of Being, and then to become an active cooperator – which means to say ‘initiated’ .

The ‘worlds’ or ‘spheres’ of pentacles (coins), swords, cups and wands correspond to the degrees of the traditional way of preparation, purification, illumination and perfection.

What one acquires through observation, study, reasoning and discipline constitutes the degree of preparation, or the world of coins.

This ‘world’ exposed to the action of the breath of the Real, constitutes the degree of purification, or the world of swords.

That which remains after this trial becomes the virtue or faculty of the soul to receive illumination from above. This is the degree of illumination, or the world of cups.

And, lastly, to the extent that the soul raises itself from receptivity to active cooperation with the Divine, it is admitted to the degree of perfection, or to the world of scepters or wands.

These are the things which can serve as a key to the Minor Arcana of the Tarot, for your work, dear Unknown Friend, on these Arcana.

Adieu, dear Unknown Friend.

Festival of the Holy Trinity, 21 May, 1967

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XXII, The World

Jul 102010
 

it is said that Angels are in perpetual contemplation of God. They are, if one understands by contemplation the state of being in  permanent contact with the Holy Trinity and of being blinded by its light. It is the ‘dark contemplation’ of which St John of the Cross spoke which is that of the Angels. They do not see God; they are united to him substantially.

With respect to guardian Angels, neither do they see one another, nor do they see entities of the other hierarchies – Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. For the presence of the transcendental divine light in them envelops in darkness their perception of the intermediary spheres between God and mankind.

It is the latter sphere that they see, or rather, the ‘spheres’ of their proteges. It is here that they make use of this clairvoyance, which the human being – who has lost it – has need of for the protection it affords. It is here also that the Angels display the geniality of synthetic and profound understanding – without parallel – which has merited them, on the part of human beings, with the attribute of ‘omniscience’.

They are not omniscient, but the facility with which they orientate themselves in human things and grasp at them – at contact with which their ‘dark’ divine wisdom becomes resplendent – has so impressed human beings who have had the experience of consciously meeting with them that they have been led to consider them as omniscient. It is to this impression that has been gained of Angels that the word ‘genius’ owes its original meaning, namely that of superhuman intelligence.

But – and this is the tragic side of Angelic existence – this geniality shows up only when the human being has need of it, when he makes room for the flashing forth of its illumination. The Angel depends on man in his creative activity. If the human being does not ask for it, if he turns away from him, the Angel has no motive for creative activity.

He can then fall into a state of consciousness where all his creative geniality remains in potential and does not manifest. It is a state of vegetation or ‘twilight existence’, comparable to sleep from the human point of view. An Angel who has nothing to exist for is a tragedy in the spiritual world.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XIV, Temperance