The Initiatory Scheme Of The Tarot

As we have seen, the Tree of Life is based on one very simple principle, that of a positive and a negative which, between them, produce a third and balanced energy. These are the Yod, Heh and Vau of the Divine Name. A variety of terms describe this pattern, such as: Male, Female, Neuter, or Father, Mother, Son. Figure 28 labels the Sephiroth centers of Force and Form, whereas

Tree Life Male Female

Figure 28. Patterns of Form and Force on the Tree of Life. The Activating Paths are the ■> ; the Formative Paths are the ¡1 ; the crossing Paths and those of the Middle Pillar are the 1 . Note that the word "formative" is used here rather than "passive," chosen by some authorities. There is no inertia on the Tree of Life; it is in a state of constant activity, the formative process being a response to the activation. This is not neutral in the sense that the word passive would imply. Here one might usefully consider the fact that THE EMPEROR is a Formative Path, rather than an activating one, and the fact that Binah (like the Path of THE EMPEROR) is bright red in Atziluth.

Figure 28. Patterns of Form and Force on the Tree of Life. The Activating Paths are the ■> ; the Formative Paths are the ¡1 ; the crossing Paths and those of the Middle Pillar are the 1 . Note that the word "formative" is used here rather than "passive," chosen by some authorities. There is no inertia on the Tree of Life; it is in a state of constant activity, the formative process being a response to the activation. This is not neutral in the sense that the word passive would imply. Here one might usefully consider the fact that THE EMPEROR is a Formative Path, rather than an activating one, and the fact that Binah (like the Path of THE EMPEROR) is bright red in Atziluth.

the Paths are called Activating and Formative. This slight distinction is made to point out that the Sephiroth are centers of energy, while the Paths are the subjective experiences between those centers.

Before proceeding further, it seems important to point out that the complex discussion which follows is presented not so much for its content as for its method of analyzing the Tree.

The Tree of Life is a system of triangles made up of Paths which are Activating, Formative and Balancing. This is an absolute Qabalistic given, a universal pattern. In light of this pattern, let us return to the idea that each of the key triangles on the Tree refers to one part of the Soul: The Supernal Triangle is the Supreme Spiritual Self, the Ethical Triangle is the Higher Self, and the Astral Triangle is the Personality in incarnation. This idea, which was particularly developed by Dion Fortune,96 places special importance on nine Tarot cards:

THE SPIRITUAL SELF

supernal triangle

THE FOOL (Activating) THE MAGICIAN (Formative) THE EMPRESS (Balancing)

THE HIGHER SELF

ethical triangle

STRENGTH (Balancing) HERMIT (Activating) JUSTICE (Formative)

THE PERSONALITY

astral triangle

TOWER (Balancing) STAR (Formative) SUN (Activating)

The core structure of each part of the Self is composed of three aspects, an Activating (Yod-Fire), a Formative (Heh-Water) and an energy which is Balancing (Vau-Air), as is shown in Figure 29. One important clue to the symbolism is that Heh-water, wherever it appears means consciousness. In some Tarot cards this is a Universal Consciousness, while in others it is the

STRUCTURE OF THE SPIRIT

Stabilizing Activating-Extreme

Connecting Activating Path

STRUCTURE

OF THE^ INDIVIDUALITY

Stabilizing Formative Extreme

Connecting Formative Path

STRUCTURE

OF THE PERSONALITY

STRUCTURE OF THE SPIRIT

Stabilizing Activating-Extreme

Connecting Activating Path

STRUCTURE

OF THE^ INDIVIDUALITY

Stabilizing Formative Extreme

Connecting Formative Path

STRUCTURE

OF THE PERSONALITY

Tarot Scheme

THE SPIRITUAL SELF (SUPREME MYSTERIES)

Stabilizing Formative Extreme

Connecting Activating Path

THE PERSONALITY (LESSER MYSTERIES)

THE PHYSICAL BODY

Figure 29. This very complicated chart is based on the idea that each of the Triangles on the Tree represents a given part of the Soul, The Spiritual Self, The Higher Self and The Personality. If we accept this idea we are accepting that nine of the Paths (shown in black) are givens, each being the positive, negative or balance of one aspect of the Soul. The question must then be asked: How do the other thirteen Paths relate to the given nine?

THE SPIRITUAL SELF (SUPREME MYSTERIES)

Stabilizing Formative Extreme

Connecting Formative Path

THE HIGHER SELF (GREATER MYSTERIES)

WHEEL Qtahiii,;™ OF FORTUNE Stabilizing

Activating Extreme

Connecting Activating Path

THE PERSONALITY (LESSER MYSTERIES)

THE PHYSICAL BODY

Figure 29. This very complicated chart is based on the idea that each of the Triangles on the Tree represents a given part of the Soul, The Spiritual Self, The Higher Self and The Personality. If we accept this idea we are accepting that nine of the Paths (shown in black) are givens, each being the positive, negative or balance of one aspect of the Soul. The question must then be asked: How do the other thirteen Paths relate to the given nine?

personal consciousness. Yod-Fire is the motive principle (what Fabre d'Olivet called the "intellectual volative principle"). It is that on which consciousness acts. Vau-Air is the balance between these two, which sustains their interaction. What is important to appreciate is that the pattern is implicit at all levels. And, having seen the activities of the Yod, Heh and Vau within the core structures of the Self, we look for the same pattern in the Path energies around these core structures.

The nine cards of the Self are clearly defined. What is then required is an appreciation of the relationship of the other cards to these givens. We know, first of all, that each Path represents a specific lesson about the Self, a lesson required to full understand the core aspect (triangle) of the Self to which it relates. Here it will be seen that the subsidiary Paths operate in the same pattern of zig-zag energies accross the Tree as do the Sephiroth. Considering only the outermost Paths:

CHARIOT HIEROPHANT

(Activating) ^^ (Formative)

HANGED MAN ^ WHEEL OF FORTUNE

(Formative) (Activating)

JUDGMENT MOON

(Activating) (Formative)

The four upper Paths are the extremes of energy which maintain the opposite Pillars and which may thus be called Paths of Stabilizing Extreme energy which is either Activating or Formative. We then discover that at each level, the two Paths on either side of the balanced Middle Pillar share the qualities of the cards beside them, an even more complicated and interesting scheme appears, one which reveals card relationships obvious in no other way:

Tarot Kabbalah Path

Each Stabilizing Extreme Path is related to an inner Connecting Path (i.e., THE LOVERS, THE EMPEROR, THE DEVIL, DEATH). These inner Paths connect the levels of the Self, rather than being a part of either Pillar; they may also be considered the lesser extremes of Activating and Formative energies. These, and the Paths of the Middle Pillar can be called probationary Paths.

To some extent, these definitions are arbitrary, yet it is essential that we make an attempt to place what we know into an overall intellectual perspective.

From there we begin to internalize, personalize, concepts so that we view our own lives differently than before. This process can be frustrating and painful.

Everyone who works seriously with the Tree of Life reaches a point where they are no longer able to take the symbols at face value, where the symbols seem somehow shallow and empty. It is then that one begins to ask: How do each of the Paths and Tarot Keys relate to me personally? The question may grow from an internal observation of one's own thinking process, what the Hermetic Mysteries would call "watching the watcher." We are all aware of our own consciousness, although it is something on which very few people ever stop to focus attention. And as we observe our own process of attention to ourselves, we may well ask how the consciousness, as well as the observation of it fits on the Tree of Life.

To answer this question, let us consider our own bodies. The Qabalah neatly fits our physical vehicles into Malkuth (using the one Tree system) or Assiah (on the four Tree system). Moreover, while the body is a totality, working as a unity in whatever physical operation we may perform, we conceptualize its components as separate for the sake of understanding their individual contribution to the whole. The head is not the hand, although one does not function without the other. And it is not difficult to apply the various parts of the Tree of Life to the body. No great intellectual effort is required.

But when we become aware of our own consciousness, the Personality "I" that functions in our heads, we may experience difficulty in relating what we observe to the Tree of Life. Our self-awareness (which is in actuality limited to the Personality for most) does not fit anywhere on the Tree of Life in toto. The package of thoughts and feelings which we observe does not seem specifically applicable to any Sephira or Path. It can be said that Hod is intellect, that Netzach is intuition and feelings, or even that Yesod is our faculty of imagination. But when we think about something we are not functioning exclusively in Hod, anymore than when we use our imagination we are funcioning exclusively in Yesod. These qualities are not specific, they are fluid and interwoven. In fact, we are, of necessity, functioning on all Paths at once. Our Personality consciousness is the combined effect of what happens on these lower Paths. We cannot separate our thinking capacity from our feeling capacity, but we can focus on either (the Alchemical process of "Dissolution"). To do so is to begin the conscious travelling of a Path, where we encounter the trail left by many others who have pursued the same process. The Paths are partly the artificial separation out of twenty-two discrete aspects of consciousness; they are also the encounter of the same specific qualities in the Universal consciousness of mankind. Using the formula "As Above, so Below," we begin by studying our own personal intellectual and intuitive functions. As we begin to understand these, we also begin to recognize their patterns in all created human beings.

It may, thus, be appreciated why it is only possible to express these qualities in terms of symbols. The separation of the Body, the Personality, the Higher Self and The Spirit is only conceptual, the symbols providing a focus for study of any specific aspect of the inherently indivisible whole.

The Illustrated Key To The Tarot

The Illustrated Key To The Tarot

The pathology of the poet says that the undevout astronomer is mad the pathology of the very plain man says that the genius is mad and between these extremes, which stand for ten thousand analogous excesses, the sovereign reason takes the part of a moderator and does what it can. I do not think that there is a pathology of the occult dedications, but about their extravagances no one can question, and it is not less difficult than thankless to act as a moderator regarding them.

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