Sep 212010
 

The Card, “The Pope” puts us in the presence of the act of benediction. It is essential to have this in mind when one undertakes the interpretation not only of the structure of the whole Card but also of each of its particular elements.

One should therefore never lose from sight that in the first place it is a matter of benediction and everything associated with it – no matter who the Pope may be or who the acolytes kneeling before him are, and no matter what the two columns behind the Pope signify, and no matter what his tiara and the triple cross he is holding symbolise.

What is benediction? What is its source and its effect? Who has the authority to bestow benediction? What role does it play in the spiritual life of humanity?

Now, benediction is more than a simple good wish made for others; it is also more than a magical impress of personal thought and will upon others. It is the putting into action of divine power transcending the individual thought and will of the one who is blessed as well as the one who is pronouncing the blessing. In other words, it is a sacerdotal act.

The two sides of the Cabbala – the “right” side and the “left” side – and the two columns of the Sephiroth Tree, the pillar of Mercy and that of Severity, and similarly the two pillars of the Temple of Solomon, Jachin and Boaz, correspond exactly the the two columns of prayer and benediction on this Card. Because it is Severity which stimulates prayer and it is Mercy which blesses.

the venous “blue blood” of Boaz ascends and the arterial “red blood” of Jachin descends. The “red blood” bears the vivifying benediction of oxygen; the “blue blood” rids the organism of the “severity” of carbonic acid. It is the same in the spiritual life. Spiritual asphyxia menaces he who does not practise some form of prayer; he who practises it receives vivifying benediction in some form. The two columns therefore have an essentially practical significance – as practically spiritually as rerspiration is for the life of the organism.

Thus, the first practical teaching of the fifth Arcanum – for the Major Arcana of the Tarot are spiritual exercises – relates to spiritual respiration.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter V, The Pope

Jun 122010
 

History – as, moreover, the life of the individual – is ‘worked’ by day and by night. It has a diurnal aspect and a nocturnal aspect. The former is exoteric, whilst the latter is esoteric. The silence and obscurity of the night is always full of events in preparation – and all that which is unconscious or superconscious in the human being belongs to the domain of ‘night’.

This is the magical side of history, the side of magical deeds and works acting behind the facade of history ‘by day’. Thus, when the Gospel was preached by the light of day in the countries around the Mediterranean, the nocturnal rays of the Gospel effected a profound transformation in Buddhism. There, the ideal of individual liberation by entering the state of nirvana gave way to the ideal of renouncing nirvana for the work of mercy towards suffering humanity. The ideal of mahayana, the great chariot, then had its resplendent ascent to the heaven of Asia’s moral values.

This is the formula of the twofold teaching – by the speech of day and by the knowledge of night; of the twofold tradition – by verbal teaching and by direct inspiration; of twofold magic – by the spoken word and by silent radiation; and lastly, of twofold history – ‘visible’ history by day and ‘invisible’ history by night.

*

…and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night (Genesis i, 4-5)

And the act of separation of the intelligible from the mysterious signifies at the same time the establishing of cosmic respiration, which is the analogy of ‘the Spirit of God moving above the face of the waters’. For the divine breath (ruach ‘elohim) above the profoundness of peace (‘the waters’ –  it is this which is the psychological as well as the cosmic reality of nirvana) is the divine prototype of respiration.

Unknown author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter V, The Pope