A reading from The High Priestess (Arcanum 2, Beth) of the G.O. Mebes Tarot Majors Course
The aim of sacred magic, as we have said, is represented by the shield that the Empress holds in place of the book which the High Priestess holds. Sacred gnosis has as its aim the communicable expression (or ‘book’) of mystical revelation, whilst the aim of sacred magic is liberating action, ie, the restoration of freedom to beings who have partially or totally lost it.
The eagle in flight depicted on the shield signifies this emblem of sacred magic, which could thus be formulated: ‘Give freedom to he who is enslaved’. And this includes all the works mentioned by Luke:
Jesus cured many of diseases and plaagues and evil spirits, and on many that were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered the: Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. (Luke vii, 21-22).
This is the aim of sacred magic; it is nothing other than to give freedom to see, to hear, to walk, to live, to follow an ideal and to be truly oneself – ie, to give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, the ability to walk to the lame, life to the dead, good news or ideals to the poor and free will to those who are possessed by evil spirits. It never encroaches upon freedom, the restoration of which is its unique aim.
It is more than pure and simple healing which is the object of sacred magic; it is the restoration of freedom, including here freeing from the imprisonment of doubt, fear, hate, apathy and despair.
Meditations on the Tarot, Letter III, The Empress
A mystical act and a gnostic act ‘precede’ in eternity the act of creation as a magical act; this is followed by the activity of formation by the demiurge, or the demiurge hierarchies, who undertake the work of craftsmanship – work which is essentially that of executive or Hermetic-philosophical intelligence.
The classical Cabala furnishes us with a marvellous example of the peace possible between apparently rival doctrines. In its doctrine of ten Sephiroth, it teaches first the mystery of eternal mysticism – AIN-SOPH, the Unlimited. Then it expounds the gnostic doctrine of eternal emanations from the womb of the Divine, which precede – in ordine cognoscendi – the act of creation. They are the ideas of God within God, which precede the creation – the latter being a conscious act and impulsive or instinctive.
Then it speaks of pure creation or creation ex nihilo – the act of the magical projection of the ideas of the plan of creation, ie, the Sephiroth. This creative, magical act is followed – in ordine cognoscendi, always – by the activity of formation in which the beings of the spiritual hierarchies participate, including man. It is in this way that, according to the Cabbala, the world comes into being, that the world of facts or deeds known to us through experience becomes what it is.
Now, ‘olam ha’assiah, the world of facts, is preceded by ‘olam ha yetzirah‘, the world of formation or the demiurgic world; this is the product of ‘olam ha beriah‘, the world of creation or the magical world which is, in turn, the realisation of ‘olam ha atziluth‘, the world of emanations or the gnostic world, inseparate and inseparable from God, who in his true essence is the mystery of supreme mysticism – AIN-SOPH, the Unlimited.
It is therefore possible – and for us there is no doubt about it – to reconcile the diverse doctrines concerning the creation; it is only necessary to put each of them in its proper place, or to apply each to the plane which is proper to it. The Cabbala, through its doctrine of the Sephiroth, provides a wonderful proof that this is so.
Pantheism is true for the ‘world of emanations’, (olam ha atziluth), where there are only ideas – within God and inseparable from him; but theism is true when one leaves the domain of uncreated eternity to pass on to the creation, meaning the creation of the ancestors of archetypes of phenomena that we know through our experience. And demiurgism is true when we contemplate the world or plane of formation, or the evolution of beings with the aim of coming into conformity with their created prototypes.
But leaving aside the worlds or planes of formation, creation, emanation and divine-mystical essence, one can confine oneself solely to the plane of facts. Then naturalism becomes true – within the limits of this plane, taken in isolation.
Meditations on the Tarot, Unknown Author, Letter II, The High Priestess
One becomes conscious of the pure act of intelligence only by means of its reflection. We require an inner mirror in order to be conscious of the pure act. The breath of the Spirit – or the pure act of intelligence – is certainly an event, but it does not suffice, itself alone, for us to become conscious of it. Con-sciousness is the result of two principles – the active, activating principle and the passive, reflecting principle.
In order to know from where the breath of the Spirit comes and where it goes, Water is required to reflect it: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of Water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God (John iii, 5).
Reintegrated consciousness must be born of Water and Spirit, after Water has once again become Virginal and Spirit has once again become divine Breath or the Holy Spirit
Christian yoga does not aspire directly to unity, but rather to the unity of two. This is very important for understanding the standpoint which one takes towards the infinitely serious problem of unity and duality. For this problem can open the door to truly divine mysteries and can also close them to us….for ever, perhaps, who knows? Everything depends on its comprehension.
We can decide in favour of monism and say to ourselves that there can be one sole essence, one sole being. Or we can decide – in view of considerable historical and personal experience – in favour of dualism and say to ourselves that there are two principles in the world: good and evil, spirit and matter, and that, entirely incomprehensible though this duality is at root, it must be admitted as an incontestable fact.
We can, moreover, decide in favour of a third point of view, namely that of love as the cosmic principle which presupposes duality and postulates its non-substantial but essential unity. These three points of view are found at the basis of the Vedanta and Spinozism (monism), Manichaeism and certain gnostic schools (dualism) and the Judaeo-Christian current (love).
Meditations on the Tarot, Letter II, The High Priestess
The key to the Apocalypse is to practise it, ie, to make use of it as a book of spiritual exercises composed of twenty-eight exercises. For as the Apocalypse is a revelation put into writing, it is necessary, in order to understand it, to establish in oneself a state of consciousness which is suited to receive revelations.
It is the state of concentration without effort (taught by the first Arcanum), followed by a vigilant inner silence (taught by the second Arcanum), which becomes an inspired activity of imagination and thought, where the conscious self acts together with super-consciousness (teaching of the third Arcanum).
Lastly, the conscious self halts its creative activity and contemplates – in letting pass in review – everything which preceded, with a view to summarising it (practical teaching of the fourth Arcanum).
The mastery of these four psychurgical operations, symbolised by The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress and The Emperor, is the key to the Apocalypse. One will search in vain for another.
Unknown author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter IV, The Emperor
The essence of pure mysticism is creative activity. One becomes a mystic when one dares to elevate oneself – ie, ‘to stand upright’, then even more upright, and ever more upright – beyond all created being as far as the essence of Being, the divine, creative fire.
‘Concentration without effort’ is burning without smoke or crackling fire.
On the part of the human being it is an act of daring to aspire to the supreme Reality, and this act is real and effective only when the soul is serene and the body completely relaxed – without smoke and crackling fire.
The essence of pure Gnosis is reflected mysticism. Gnosis signifies that that which takes place in mysticism has become higher knowledge. That is, gnosis is mysticism which has become conscious of itself. It is mystical experience transformed into higher knowledge.
Now, this transformation of mystical experience into knowledge takes place in stages. The first is the pure reflection or a kind of imaginative repetition of the experience. The second stage is its entrance into memory. The third stage is its assimilation in thought and feeling, in a manner where it becomes a ‘message’ or inner word. The fourth stage, lastly, is reached when it becomes a communicable symbol or ‘writing’, or ‘book’ – ie when it is formulated.
The pure reflection of mystical experience is without image and without word. It is purely movement.
Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter II, The High Priestess.