Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Tarot and the Planets

As discussed in the Path of Saturn if you use the Chaldean order then the association of the seven planetary tarot cards to the seven sacred planets becomes:
  • Magus - Saturn
  • Priestess - Jupiter
  • Empress - Mars
  • Wheel of Fortune - Sol
  • The Tower - Venus
  • The Sun - Mercury
  • The World - Moon

To begin this understanding we have to be able to see The Magus or more correctly the Juggler (Jugglery being Goetia) as inherently Saturnian.  The Magician is involved in all planetary spheres, they are called to work their spellcraft in all of the kingships - wisdom, wealth, fertility, health, power, peace and luck.  To say the Magician is ''Mercurial'' I think really depends on what kind of Magician you are referring to.  If we see him as a trickster or charlatan I think Mercury suits him well but if in following the vein of the last post on the Path of Saturn - we see the figure as one of inspired melancholia forging a path of inquiry out of mathematics, natural law and philosophy, astrology, angelology, demonology, and time travel with the ultimate aim of healing the sick and liberating the poor then this figure is Saturnian in mindset.  Again putting ourself in the perspective of the Medieval or Renaissance mindset we could follow either path into the Tarot here but what I think is interesting is what that choice says about what we think magic is...  John Dee and Edward Kelley reflect, in their personalities and approaches to occultism, this tension between  the garmetnts of a Mercurial magician or a Saturnian one.

The Priestess was originally associated with Juno - sister and consort of Jupiter, patroness of riches and goddess of wealth.  Equated with the Greek Hera she is the mistress of prosperity and childbirth. Jason Miller calls upon Juno in assistance with prosperity as a female alternative to Jupiter, to that extent she is very much involved in what we call the Jupiter current.  To my mind this is a pretty strong association with Jupiter.

In order to understand the Empress and Mars relationship we need a better understanding of the planet itself as Mars is often misconstrued as a brutal bloodthirsty psychopath.  As I have argued before Mars is originally an agricultural deity, the soldiers that fought under him were primarily farmers, retainers and tribal militias - they fought not for love of war and booty, but in defence of their farms.  As Empires grew and professional armies were raised, at various points throughout history the cult of the warrior has consequently changed or become corrupted.

In all of my experiences with Mars he has shown itself to be a lover of peace, loyalty and competition in the sense of athletics, endurance or hunting.   Mars does not glory in bloodlust or psychotic slaughter but he does love the challenge of the hunt and the struggle against nature for survival - he is a pastoral sylvanian God.  In the Sefer Yetzirah we find the Kingship of Seed is associated with Mars* - again as an agricultural deity this makes sense - its transposition Desolation is what happens when Mars is out of harmony i.e. fields are burned instead of farmed.  If we wish to see the Empress in the classic Martial sense maybe we need to think of women such as Elizabeth the First but in my mind, Elizabeth acted *defensively* like a mother Goose is violent in defending her offspring. 

In looking at The Wheel of Fortune and its connection to Sol, it is thought by some scholars that the belief in the turning wheel of fortune had its beginnings in early seasonal rituals. The decline into misfortune or death was seen to be linked to the beginnings of autumn and the approach of winter; improvements in one’s fortunes were linked to the renewal of life in spring and the fruitfulness of summer. On the card we see Solar cross of heaven now a wheel, and four cherubim, showing the four quarters of the year or seasons.  That our fortune - fair weather or foul - is one with the sunshine.

The Tower or the House of God shows a disaster struck tower and a couple being ejected from it.  Again we tend to focus on the building and the destruction itself rather than the individuals who have literally ''fallen from the House of God'' or been cast out of Heaven.  So how does this connect with the the planet Venus?  In Latin the word for Venus is Lucifer, and in the Christian understanding this is the Devil.  What I see in this attribution is the idea that if one gives in to temtpation, lust, debauchery, desire, etc one will fall from heaven or a state of happiness.  In understanding this we need to think of giving in to desire from a Medieval or Renaissance point of view - the ideas of chastity and restraint were very close to the idea of holiness whereas liscentiousness and lasciviousness were the work of Succubi.


Whilst displaying a gigantic Sun in the sky as if our planet has somehow been brought closer to our star, the foreground of Sun cards often display young male imagery which could be taken for Mercurial, the twins in fertile fields reminscent of Gemini and Virgo or the boy on the horse carrying the message of the Sun behind him. 

The figure in the centre of the World card is Luna, the Cherubim present as they were in the Wheel of Fortune.  Our lunar year alongside the solar year.  Diana and Artemis both goddesses of nature and the Moon, showing Luna's rulership of the Earth below - the oceans, the behaviour of animals, fertility and symbol of the chaste maiden, the etenral virgin in the middle.

In considering these Chaldean associations bear in mind that the Tarot deck is then brought into order with the Christian cabala and the Hermetic magic going on during the high Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance.  If mysteries were imbedded in the deck by some of these geniuses why would they scramble that order?  The Alefbeit and its associated astrological system are all laid out rationally in most parts of the WMT with the primary exception of the order of the 7 sacred planets.  Some of these varying orders arise from planetary weekdays, or planetary hours, or mystical symbols created by various adepts but as you can see from the table at Psyche they severely deviate from the earlier authorities

Like many initiates of the WMT I followed the Golden Dawn / Thelemic associations to begin with but knew that these had already been changed from the original Eliphas Levi (continental) associations.  As I studied the Sefer Yetzirah with the companion text from Kaplan along with other texts of Jewish Kabbalah my associations shifted to the rule of 3, 7 and 12 - 3 elements, 3 horizontal paths, 7 planets, 7 vertical paths and 12 diagonals for the 12 signs of the zodiac. I understood what that would mean for the Kircher Tree of Life and the Tarot attached to it. 

I agree with the repositioning of the Fool which originated in the British system.  I disagree with Crowley's shift of the Star card, and think that the communication, if not intentionally misleading, was misinterpreted**.  As you can see from the shifts caused in the above, moving our star, the Sun, to Wheel of Fortune plants it nearly squarely in the middle of the deck.  These associations were also the foundation of the work with the 231 gates, where the Chaldean order of the double letters makes sense out of much of the Sefer Yetzirah's more abstract/complex sections***.

Although I no longer work with the tarot after the communication from Raziel I certainly worked with the deck closely for ten years, the first few with the Marseilles and then as I discovered the Golden Dawn, etc the Rider-Waite and the Thoth took over.  Although I had success with these decks I avoid pragmatism bias and understand that if I shift my theories to better reflect the underlying spiritual reality I will get better results. I hope this post will at the very least make you reflect on that.  I do not own these associations so please feel free to take them, experiment with them and enter the dialogue if you are interested.  I am equally happy to engage be it supporting information or counterclaims.

Thoth Deck laid in Saadia, incorrect attributions have affected the imagery

*Chaldean Yetziratic Kingships and their corruptions/transpositions

  • Saturn - Wisdom and Ignorance
  • Jupiter - Wealth and Poverty
  • Mars - Seed and Desolation
  • Sol - Life (Health) and Death (Disease)
  • Venus - Dominance and Submission
  • Mercury - Peace and War
  • Luna - Grace and Ugliness
**“Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well! He, my prophet, hath chosen, knowing the law of the fortress, and the great mystery of the House of God.
All these old letters of my Book are aright; but 
צ is not the Star. This also is secret: my prophet shall reveal it to the wise.”

***Concentrated in Ch.6 of the Gra version, integrated throughout in the Saadia Version.

****If you want to get ahead feel free to use these associations and map out the tarot cards to the Tree of Life according to the Saadia Tree.  You will see the medieval chain of being (although you will see it more clearly if you use an earlier deck rather some psychadelic awesome mash-up like the Thoth deck which has sadly been a bit maimed by the Kircher Tree) - bearing in mind that the figure of the Hanged Man in the centre is the accused of the legislators (emperor, pope, empress, ''papess'', generals, princes, princesses, jesters and alchemists above him) and what exists around and below him reflects his potential fate - death, exile, justice, heaven, hell, purgatory, etc.

Alef - The Fool
Beit - Magus
Gimel - Priestess
Dalet - Empress
Heh - Emperor
Vav - The Heirophant
Zayin - The Lovers
Chet - The Chariot
Teth - Strength
Yod - The Hermit
Kaph - The Wheel of Fortune
Lamed - Justice
Mem - The Hanged Man
Nun - Death
Samekh - Art/Temperance
Ayin - The Devil
Peh - The Tower
Tzaddi - The Star
Qoph -The Moon
Resh - The Sun
Shin - Judgement
Tav - The World

Thoth Deck laid out with Saadia attributions in full

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