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