The Four Aces

□ All that Is; the Breath of That which Is Not

□ The Source of Energy from the Infinite Unmanifest

□ The First "Motion"

□ God the Creator

□ That from Which we come, and to Which we shall return

Symbols: Crown, Point, Swastica

Color: White

In Kether is the Divine White Brilliance, the scintillation and corruscation of the Divine Glory—that light which lighteth the universe—that light which surpasseth the glory of the Sun and beside which the light of mortals is but darkness, and concerning which it is not fitting that we should speak more fully. And the sphere of its operation is called Rashith ha-Gilgalim—the beginning of whirling, the Primum Mobile or First Mover, which bestoweth the gift of life in all things and filleth the whole Universe. And Eheieh is the name of the Divine Essence in Kether; and its Archangel is the Prince of Countenances— Metatron, he who bringeth forth others before the face of God. And the Name of its Order of Angels is called Chaioth ha-Qadesh, the Holy Living Creatures which are also called the Order of Seraphim.63

All of the Sephiroth must be approached intellectually before some intuition about their natures begins to develop. One begins with a study of the symbols attached to each Sephira. Such symbols transcend language. Moreover, one symbol may suggest something about another symbol, thus creating a general picture of the energy in question. It is impossible to know Kether, as it is said that man cannot look upon the face of God and live. Yet we can establish some principles about Kether through its symbols, such as the Point. It may be said that Kether is the point, and that is true. But the Point is not Kether, it is merely an idea, a focus of reference for our thoughts about Kether.

The interrelationship of symbols provides the best instruction, for each symbol describes a specific aspect of a Sephira. In Kether, these are the Crown, the Point and the Swastica. This latter is one of the oldest symbols of the Ultimate Godhead, unfortunately attached to the positive evil of Nazism in an age past.

The first symbol of Kether is the Crown. Our anthropomorphic perspective may lead us to the idea that the directing force is within our heads, but the Qabalah places that force above. The distinction is a significant one, indicating that the Holy Guiding Spirit is a crowning glory to which we may aspire, and an energy to which the mental processes of our brain are subordinate. The Crown, in the microcosm, is our Essential Spirit. In the macrocosm it rests above the head of Adam Kadmon, the Archetypal Man of the Zohar who symbolizes the entire manifest Universe. Kether is the Crown above Creation, but it is also that from which all creation springs. For this reason, another of its prime symbols is the Point.

The Point is complete unto itself, without dimensions or external definition. It represents total Unity. It is the seed from which the Universe grows. Ultimately, all is Kether, and each of the Sephiroth emanating successively from Kether are crystallizations of the latent aspects of the One. The journey of manifestation begins and ends with Kether. It is the Kether of Atziluth to which we aspire, and into which the manifest Universe will eventually withdraw.

We begin the process of accelerating our own spiritual development, or return, by the invocation of our own Kether. This Kether unconsciously guides and directs us. The very act of calling attention to the "Light above our heads" brings about a subtle activity on the Inner Planes. It is a conscious affirmation of the Personality in manifestation of its mutability, and that the source of all true life is above. As the very universe begins and ends with Kether, so all work of spiritual development, whether meditative or ritualistic, must begin with an invocation of the Highest. The God name in Kether is Eheieh, meaning I WILL BE, a name which has been likened in its sound and meaning to breath.

To the Point is attributed the number 1 which, mathematically, has the potential for all other numbers, by simple addition. If we take the number 1 and place another number 1 beside it, we have 2. If we take a third 1, we have three ones, i.e., 3. This idea may appear so obvious as to be inane, until we begin to meditate on the concept of simple numbers and simple geometry. What do we know, for example, that could be considered pure one, which is totally indivisible? Numbers are the most pure form of symbol and are of great importance in the Qabalistic scheme of things. No student who has pursued Ouspensky's Tertium Organum64 through its profound discussion of dimensions would dispute that.

While Kether is symbolized by the Point and the number One, it is not static. In Assiah (the material world) it is also the "First Swirlings" of manifestation. So a third descriptive idea is attached. That is the Swastica representing vital, swirling motion around the point. It is self-contained, but in motion.

The Swastica has four arms, representing the four latent aspects of the nin» , the Primordial Elements. It is not trinitarian. These are the energies which, unified in Kether, are finally differentiated into the four Base Elements of Malkuth, called the Bride of Microprosopus. Malkuth is Kether on the lowest arc, and defines the principle of "As above, so below." The Swastica is the perfect symbol for the Primordial Elements because if the arms are imagined in motion, like the blades of a fan, each is indistinguishable from the other. As the Elements are represented in Malkuth, on the Tree of Life, they are sharply defined.

"As above, so below" is a principle which states, in essence, that Malkuth, the densest development of the universe, is equally holy as the source. Fundamentalists, finding the physical world evil, per se, are misguided extremists.

This question of evil is best approached in dealing with Kether because this is the sole area of the Tree of Life where no evil exists. It is the Holy of Holies, having no opposing energies within it.

Evil is unbalanced is a by-product of evolution, resulting from a stage of temporary imbalance in one Sephira, prior to the mitigating emergence of another. That is the Qabalistic theory: at each point of evolution is left an extreme of a specific energy.

Evil is an extreme. It attempts to pull to one side, making balance impossible. Unity is the ultimate good, and unity is the result of the balance of two opposites. For example: Geburah is dynamic strength, and its opposite, Chesed, is Mercy or Love. The extreme of Geburah is hideous cruelty. The extreme of Chesed is the worst kind of weakness manifesting as bigotry and hypocrisy.

Dion Fortune makes the point that there are two kinds of evil, positive and negative. Negative evil is not so much a matter of choice as unbalanced temperament. But positive evil involves willfully espousing an unbalanced force for some sort of self-gain.65

Each Sephira has its unbalanced aspect, and a system of named Demons, as it has its God Names and Angelic forms, known as the Qlippoth. These are extremes which are also found in each individual, in varying degrees, and which the Qabalah serves as a method of first defining, and then bringing under control. It is for this reason that a system such as that of Abramelin invokes both the good and evil forces. One is viewed as no better than the other, since they are both an integral part of All. There is no value judgment, only the desire to understand and bring under the control of balance. This is the meaning of the warring families of the Bhagavad Gita. They are the component parts of the personality which is, literally, at war with itself until the battle is resolved through the intermediary of the Higher Self (Krishna in this work) and peace restored.

The ultimate peace and unity of Kether is represented by a special anthropomorphic symbol known as a Magical Image. Such an image is given for each of the Sephiroth, and has been built up over the centuries by meditative work on the inner planes. These images are, along with the applicable symbols, points of contact with the energies of the Sephiroth. In the case of Kether, the image is that of an Ancient Bearded King Seen in Profile. This is a crowned and white-bearded head, seen from the right side, its left being unknown to us, as it borders on the Unmanifest.

As the Aces are attributed to Kether, they represent the most pure forms of energy, subject to elaboration as the Sephiroth (symbolized by the other numbered cards of the Tarot) consecutively emerge to form a complete World. Each is unique and distinct in the degree of its density and in its specific type of energy. Thus, when any Ace appears in a divination, it stands for great power.

Finally, it must be reiterated that while the Kether which is the Source of all is a quality which cannot be known to us, it is a quality which we can symbolize to some extent. It is intriguing to consider the idea of eternity, an effort which tends to underscore the very frailty of the system of definitions within which we necessarily function. We may be able to deal with the idea that the division between matter and spirit is artificial, or even a concept of intelligence which is totally formless, but our concept of time falls hard! We suppose that if God is not finite, he must be infinite. And yet, we are told that none of our human concepts can begin to apply to Kether, and infinite is a human concept. There is a large degree of faith required here, and an open mind which asks questions fearlessly until answers emerge.


First in order of appearance are the four Aces, representing the force of the Spirit acting in, and binding together the four scales of each element and answering to the Dominion of the Letters of the Name in the Kether of each. They represent the Radical or Root-Force. The Four Aces are said to be placed on the North Pole of the Universe, wherein they revolve, governing its revolution, and ruling as the connecting link between Yetzirah and the Material Plane of the Universe.66



Golden Dawn Kabbalah
Note: This sequence of illustrations - Golden Dawn (1890), Crowley (1944), Waite (1910), and Marseilles (1748) decks-is followed throughout the text.

THE ACE OF WANDS, Root of the Powers of Fire (t).

This card represents the primary outpouring energy of the universe. It is the Kether of Atziluth, the influence of Kether on the level of pure Spirit. In the Golden Dawn card an angelic hand holds what is basically an inverted root of three sections (possibly influenced by the Tree of Life diagram published by Fludd). The ten root sections are painted with bands in the colors of the ten Sephiroth in the Four Worlds. The sigils on the three parts are drawn from the Rose Cross Lamen,67 using the letters VK (Aesch, Fire), D'n (Maim, Water) and nil (Ruach, Air). The twenty-two Yods are the Paths on the Tree of Life. The Marseilles deck is probably the source of these Yods, although there the number seems arbitrary.

The Waite card shows the club as living and bearing leaves, a reference which is intentionally phallic. Crowley's Ace abstracts the flaming Yods into the form of the entire Tree of Life, thus continuing the Golden Dawn symbolism of the Ace of Wands as the source of All.

Here it may also be observed that the entire Tree is a glyph of the power of Fire, when manifestation is symbolized as the mn> .permeated by w. Yod and Shin are, to some extent, used interchangeably.

THE, ACE OF CUPS, Root of the Powers of Water (n).

The Ace of Cups is Kether in Briah, the influence of Kether on the mental level. This is an all-encompassing Maternal Force, symbolized by Water which in the Golden Dawn and Waite cards pours dynamically from the Cup, but becomes calm and stable beneath. The Golden Dawn represents the unfolding of Divine Consciousness with the Lotus colored red to suggest that the origin of this consciousness is in Fire. Waite, on the other hand, shows the Cup as the perfection and formalization of the run* evolving toward matter. The twenty-six drops of water coming from the Cup mean the m rp, a


a,» .hMM*, ,


Kabbalah Numbers VenusDove Symbols Rosicrucian

number derived by Gematria as we will later demonstrate. The Dove here is a symbol of Venus as the Great Mother, beneath which is the circle and equal-armed cross of the earth which she produces. This symbol was incidentally, adopted by Dion Fortune to represent her Society of the Inner Light.

Crowley's version of the card emphasizes the wave action characteristic of physical water, but here meaning the activity which encloses and directs pure consciousness. The Cup emerges from the Lotus itself.

The Marseilles Ace is the most basic of the three versions, and appears to be nothing more than a simple chalice. Yet the suggestion of Gothic architecture tells us that what is intended is The Church, as Holy Mother. In the fourteenth century the Virgin Mary was often referred to as the Church itself, the very building which enclosed the faithful. That symbolism is completely consistent with the meaning of the Ace of Cups.

Tarot Journal

THE ACE OF SWORDS, Root of the Powers of Air (1 ).

The card is Kether in Yetzirah, the influence of Kether in the Astral World, the world of fleeting forms. This is a potent card which can be either extremely good or extremely evil. It represents force which is invoked, rather than the natural force of the ACE OF WANDS. This is a force called upon.

When the Kether energies are seen on the Astral level they are both dynamic and erratic, having the potential to be applied at will to different situations. Thus, this is described as the "Sword of Good or Evil," of "Whirling force and strength through trouble. It is the affirmation of justice upholding Divine Authority; and it may become the Sword of Wrath, Punishment and Affliction."68

The style for most versions of this card relates to the Marseilles version, showing the Sword of Air, passing through the Crown of Kether. Dual possibilities for action are implied in the palm of suffering, and the olive branch of peace. The six Vaus above the Golden Dawn crown mean Tiphareth, the Ruach (Air) center of the Tree of Life.

Ruach Kabbalah

THE ACE OF PENTACLES, Root of the Powers of Earth (n).

This Ace represents Kether in Assiah, the influence of Kether in the World of Matter. It is a card of materiality which may, like the ACE OF SWORDS, be either good or evil. It is not necessarily a card of wealth, and should be compared with the TEN OF PENTACLES.

The Marseilles card is extremely simple, and relates to the ancient suit of Coins, money being considered the essence of material things. Waite's version also features a coin, but this is really a Pentacle, magical symbol of earth, held above a flowing garden of pure lilies. The hand floats in the air, suggesting that it is that which brings about the fruition of matter, rather than being matter itself.

In the Golden Dawn card an angelic hand holds a Rose Tree surmounted by a Pentacle of five concentric circles. The outermost circles are in the colors of Malkuth: citrine, olive, russet and black. These are the four Base Elements, shown to be in perfect balance by the red equal-armed cross. The twelve white rays are the forces of the Zodiac, expressed through the Elements of Earth. The four roses also represent the Elements, but the addition of two buds implies the very fertility of these Elements in their subtle earthly balance. The winged Red Cross refers to the Primordial Elements of Kether. It is winged to show that the Elements pass through the state of Spiritual Air before manifesting into matter.

Crowley's card apparently represents the wings of the four Archangels (Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Auriel) whose powers serve to balance one another, and create stability. At the center is Crowley's personal phallus symbol and the number of the Beast of Revelation, 666, with which he identified. In the wheel are Greek words meaning "to the mark of the beast," another indicator that Crowley chose this particular card as his own.

Continue reading here: The Four Twos The Four Kings

Was this article helpful?

0 0


  • ruta
    What are the four aces in a tarot card deck?
    11 years ago
  • SM
    What is the oldest symbol for energy equals matter?
    11 years ago