Origin Of The Symbolism Of The First Card Of The Tarot

The Aleph hieroglyphically expresses Man himself as a collective unity, the master principle, ruler of the earth.

From this hieroglyphic meaning are derived ideas of the Unity and of the principle which determines it, ideas which give to Aleph its value as the sign of Power and Stability.

Man, or the Microcosm, the Unity and the Principle in all the worlds, is the meaning of the primitive hieroglyphic, which, as we see, exactly renders the general ideas which we have established.

But attentive consideration of this first card of the Tarot will enlighten us still further.

Symbolism of the First Card of the Tarot. THE JUGGLER.

If you take the first card of the Tarot and examine it attentively, you will see that the form of the juggler depicted upon it corresponds in all points with that of the letter Aleph. If we now apply to the study of this card the principles of the elucidation of symbolism, according to the Traité Élémentaire de Science Occulte, we at once find new explanations of it.

The top of the figure is occupied by the divine sign of Universal Life œ placed upon the head of the Juggler.

The bottom of the figure represents the Earth ornamented with its productions, the symbol of Nature.

Lastly, the centre is occupied by the Man himself, placed behind a table covered with divers objects.

The right and left of the figure are occupied by the hands of the Juggler, one of them bent towards the Earth, the other raised towards Heaven.

The position of the bands represents the two principles, active and passive, of the Great All, and it corresponds with the two columns Jakin and Bohas of the temple of Solomon and of Freemasonry.

Man with one hand seeks for God in heaven, with the other he plunges below, to call up the demon to himself, and thus unites the divine and the diabolic in humanity. In this way the Tarot shows us the rôle of universal mediator accorded to the Adam-Kadmon.

If we wish to make a summary of the meaning of the symbol, so far as we have now deciphered it, we can represent it in this way--





(Arm lowered)




(Arm raised)








Yet the symbolism of this first card of the Tarot does not end here.

The Juggler holds the wand of the Mage in the left hand, which he raises, and the four great symbols of the Tarot are placed before him.

The Cup, the Sword, the Pentacles or Talisman, which, as we have already seen, exactly correspond with the letters of the Tetragrammaton--

Sceptre or Yod, symbol of the active Principle preeminent, and of God.

Cup or He, symbol of the passive Principle pre-eminent, or of the Universe.

Sword, Cross or Vau, symbol of the Equilibrist Principle pre-eminent, or of Man.

Pentacles or 2nd He, the cyclic symbol of Eternity, which unites the three first Principles in one Whole.

From the human point of view these symbols correspond with the four great human castes.

The men of Yod, or the Inventors, the Producers. The Nobility of Intellect.

The men of He, or the depositaries of the great truths discovered by the men of Yod: the Savants, the Judges. Professional nobility.

The men of Vau, or the guardians and defenders of the former: the Warriors. Nobility of the sword.

The men of the 2nd He, the multitude from which the other classes are continually recruited: the People.

The four great symbols are placed upon the table at random, and Man rules them and must arrange them; in the twenty-first arcana we shall find these symbols arranged in a cross.

We already know that the first card of the Tarot is completed by the twenty-first (21 + 1 = 22), and we see why, if this first card represents Microcosm, the last would represent Macrocosm, and the eleventh card, which serves as the universal link to all the complements of the Tarot, represents the Vital reflex Current, which serves as a link between the worlds.

But we must not anticipate, so we will return to our first arcanum.

This symbol is the first of the whole Tarot, 1 and it bears the Unity as its characteristic number.

The Unity-principle, the origin of which is impenetrable to human conceptions, is placed at the beginning of all things. We cannot seize the origin of this primal cause, which we are content to assert according to the absolute law of analogies so well expressed by Eliphas Levi--

"Je crois à l'inconnu que Dieu personnifie, Prouvé par l'être même et par l'immensité, Ideâl SURHUMAIN de la philosophie, Parfaite Intelligence et Suprême Bonté." 2

If we cannot follow this Unknown in its principle, it is p. 109

at least easy to us to follow it in its consequences, and therefore our study will be only the development of the Unity-principle in creation, related according to the Cosmogony of ancient initiation.

God, Man, and the Universe are, then, the three meanings of our first card, and we will now say a few words upon the application of these data to all the other cards of the pack.

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