Soul of Nature

I discovered unexpected correlations in things which hitherto I had thought foreign to each other. Objects distant and different from one another appeared near and similar. The facts of the world arranged themselves before my eyes according to a new pattern

And beneath the radiant stars beside the blue river I saw a naked maiden, young and beautiful. She stooped on one knee and poured water from two vessels, one of gold and one of silver. A little bird in a nearby bush lifted its wings and was poised ready to fly away.

For a moment I understood that I beheld the Soul of Nature.

Ouspensky, Tarot Symbolism, The Star

The 19th Path

hebrew-mercy-graceThe Grade of Exempt Adept, associated with Chesed, is perfected when the power of the sphere of Mars, Geburah, has been drawn along the 19th path back to Chesed. In doing this one places oneself in Chesed, for the knowledge of the Great Arcanum, of the Secret of all spiritual activities, is not open to him who has risen no higher than the Grade of Major Adept. That is to say, the 19th Path is not open so long as we are no further along the Way of Return than Geburah, and the power from Geburah must be brought over from the side of Severity on the Tree of Life to the side of Mercy, by a process initiated from the point-of-view afforded by Chesed.

When all the desires of the seeker for light have been unified in the one desire to be a free, unobstructed vehicle for the manifestation of the cyclic activities of the cosmos, he has traversed the first path leading to the Grade of Exempt Adept, the path of the letter Kaph, corresponding to the Wheel of Fortune in the Tarot. After this, by a supreme effort of imagination, he sees behind the mechanistic expression of the Life-Power in the cosmic cycles the operation of a Living Will, and through the 19th Path he transmutes the activities of the serpent-power, and this transmutation is pictured in the Tarot by the woman taming the lion.

Tarot Card 11 - La Force (Strength)You will remember that lion (in Hebrew), the name of the zodiacal sign Leo, is the number 216, and that this is the number of Geburah, one of the names of the sphere of Mars. Note, too, that 216 is 9 by reduction, and 9 is the number of Teth, the letter corresponding to the 19th Path. 216 is also the number of [the Hebrew word for] Sight, the function assigned to the 15th path, and of wrath or excitement, which is the function of the 25th path, that of Probation or Trial. The path to which Sight is attributed is that of Aries, ruled by Mars. And the path to which excitement is attributed is that of Sagittarius. It thus becomes evident that all these [Hebrew] words – strength, the lion, Sight, and excitement, are related to the fiery power which we have learned to associate with the Mars-vibration.

This vibration, you will recall, is especially active in self-consciousness, and the feeling of strength which it gives is misinterpreted by people who have not progressed beyond self-consciousness. The misinterpretation arises from the illusion of separateness, which engenders the feeling of ‘myness’, and this feeling is the root of belief in personal will. This is why the Sephirah Geburah is said to represent personal will, which is merely the misunderstanding of the power of undeviating cosmic law in its manifestation through personal centers of expression.

The Major Adept still feels the illusion, although he has overcome the delusion caused by it. But the Exempt Adept, having in his union with  the One Self so identified himself with the cosmic memory that he never forgets his relation to the Sources of All, is almost wholly liberated from even the illusion. Almost, I say, because there are times when even he who perfectly remembers the Self (Chesed is the Sephirah of Memory) must identify himself with the relative states of being in order to serve, in order to perform the actions necessary to his part in the Great Work. And at such times he feels the illusion of separateness as much as anybody else.

Paul Foster Case, Esoteric Secrets of Meditation and Magic

Degree of Perfection

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