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Tye Overview

The Cards as a Sequence ost interpreters of the Major Arcana take one of two approaches: either they consider the cards as separate entities or they look at them as a sequence. The first approach looks at each card as representing different qualities or situations of importance to a person's spiritual development. The Empress represents the soul glorified in nature, the Emperor mastery of self, etc. This system considers the numbers on the cards as part of their symbolic language. The number 1 belongs to the Magician not because he comes first but because that number signifies ideas - unity, will power -appropriate to the concept of the Magician.

The second approach looks upon the trumps as a progression. The Magician is 1 because his qualities form the starting point of the growth pattern figured in the other cards. Card number 13, say, belongs at just that point, between the Hanged Man and Temperance, and no other. Each new trump builds upon the previous one and leads the way to the next.

In general, I have followed the second method. While the number symbolism should not be neglected it is equally important to see where each card fits in the overall pattern. Comparisons with other numbers can also help us to see the limitations as well as the virtues of each card. For instance, number 7, the Chariot, is often spoken of as 'victory'. But what kind of victory? Is it the total liberation of the World, or something narrower, but still of great value? Looking at the card's position can answer these questions.

The interpreters who have taken this approach have -usually looked for some place to divide the trumps for easier comprehension. The most common choice is the Wheel of Fortune. As the number ten, it symbolizes a completion of one cycle and a beginning of another. Also, if you place the Fool at the beginning this divides the

Western and Eastern religion the Magician represents the West, with its emphasis on action and historical salvation, the High Priestess the East, the way of separation from the world and time. Yet those who have gone deepest in both traditions will combine these elements.

The High Priestess sits between the pillars of light and dark. Though she herself symbolizes the dark passive side, her intuition can find a balance between the two. This is less paradoxical than it sounds. If we sense our lives as filled with opposites which we cannot resolve, we can react in either of two ways. We can rush back and forth, going from one extreme to the other, or we can do absolutely nothing. Sit in the middle, not seduced in either direction, but passive, allowing the opposites to go on around you. Except, of course, that this too is a choice, and eventually we lose that balance and that inner knowledge simply because life continues on around us.

In Qabalist imagery the High Priestess represents the Pillar of Harmony, a force which reconciles the opposing Pillars of Mercy and Judgement. Therefore she sits between the two pillars of the temple. But without the ability to blend in the active force of the Magician, the High Priestess's sense of harmony becomes swept away.

As archetypes, the Magician and the High Priestess cannot exist in our lives any more than the Fool can. Inevitably, we mix up these elements (rather than blend them) and thereby experience their lesser forms, as confused action, or else insecure and guilt ridden passivity. In other words, the purity of the two poles becomes lost because life muddles them together.

The purpose of the Major Arcana is twofold. First of all, by isolating the elements of our lives into archetypes it enables us to see them in their pure forms, as aspects of psychological truth. Secondly, it helps us to truly resolve these different elements, to take us step by step through the different stages of life until it brings us to unity. In reality, perhaps the innocence symbolized by the Fool never existed. Somehow we experience as something lost. The Major Arcana tells us how to get it back.

consciousness, the outer concerns of life in society; subconscious, or the search inward to find out who we really are; and super-conscious, the development of a spiritual awareness and a release of archetypal energy. The three levels are not forced categories. They derive from the cards themselves.

The first line, with its concentration on such matters as love, social authority, and education, describes the main concerns of society. In many ways the world we see mirrored in our novels, films, and schools is summed up by the first seven cards of the Major Arcana. A person can live and die and be judged a success by everyone around him or her without ever going beyond the level of the Chariot. Many people, in fact, do not reach that level at all.

Modern depth psychology concerns itself with the second line of trumps, with their symbols of a hermit-like withdrawal into self-awareness followed by a symbolic Death and rebirth. The angel of Temperance at the end represents that part of ourselves which we discover to be essentially real after the illusions of ego, defensiveness, and rigid habits of the past are allowed to die away.

Finally, what of the last line? What can go beyond finding our true selves? To put it simply, these seven cards depict a confrontation and finally a unity with the great forces of life itself. The other cards, formerly seen as so important, become merely the preparation for the great descent into darkness, the liberation of light, and the return of that light to the sunlit world of consciousness.

To most readers the last line will seem too vague and fanciful. We can call this subject matter 'religious' or 'mythical' but these words too remain hard to grasp.

The vagueness in our minds perhaps speaks more about ourselves and our time than about the subject. Any society automatically teaches its people, just by the language it uses, to make certain assumptions about the world. Examples in our culture would include the value and uniqueness of individuals, the reality and overwhelming importance of love, the necessity of freedom and social justice, and, more complex, but just as strong, the basic separateness of each person. 'We are born alone and we die alone.' Our society, built upon the materialist eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, does not merely reject the notion of'superconsciousness' or 'universal forces', we do not really know what they mean.

When we deal with the last line of the Major Arcana, then, we deal with an area uncomfortable to many of us. It will make the task of understanding these cards harder - and perhaps more rewarding. Working with these ancient pictures can bring us knowledge neglected in our education.

cards neatly into two groups of eleven. Most important, the idea of a turning wheel symbolizes a change of outlook, from a concern with external things, such as success and romance, to the more inward approach depicted in such cards as Death and the Star.

Despite the value of seeing the Major Arcana as two halves, I have found that the trumps divide even more organically into three parts. Setting the Fool apart as really a separate category all by itself (and setting it apart allows us to see that it belongs everywhere and anywhere) gives us twenty-one cards - three groups of seven.

The number seven has a long history in symbolism: the seven planets of classical astrology, seven as a combination of three and four, themselves archetypal numbers, seven pillars of wisdom, the seven lower stations of the Tree of Life, seven openings in the human head, seven chakras, and of course, seven days in the week.

One particular aspect of seven relates it directly to the Tarot. The Greek letter pi stands for a ratio that exists in all circles between the circumference and the diameter. No matter how large or small the circle, the two will always work out to the same fraction, 22/7. And the Major Arcana with the Fool comes to twenty-two, just as without the Fool it reduces to seven. Also, twenty-two times seven equals one hundred and fifty-four (154 adds up to ten, linking it to the Wheel), and one hundred and fifty-four divided by two, for the two Arcana, comes to seventy-seven, the entire Tarot with the Fool again set aside.

Like the Qabalistic conception of God the point is nothing, yet the entire circle radiates from it. And the Fool's number, 0, has been represented as a circle as well as a point.

The best reasons for the division into three groups lie within the Major Arcana itself. First, consider the picture symbolism. Look at the first card in each line. The Magician and Strength are both obviously cards of power, but so is the Devil. The Magician and Strength are linked by the infinity sign above their heads, while the Devil bears a reversed pentacle. If you look at the Devil's posture, one arm up, one arm down, you will see the picture is in some ways a parody of the Magician, with the torch pointing down instead of the wand pointing up. In some decks card 15 carries the title of 'Black Magician'. (In many decks Justice, not Strength is number 8. If you look at the posture of the figure injustice you will see an even closer resemblance to the Magician and the Devil.) The same kind of vertical correspondences apply all the way through the three lines.

The Chakra Checklist

The Chakra Checklist

The chakras are described as being aligned in an ascending column from the base of the back to the top of the head. New Age practices frequently associate each chakra with a particular color.

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