The Kings

The Four kings or Figures mounted on Steeds [Golden Dawn and Crowley versions] represent the Yod forces in the name of each suit, the Radix, Father and commencement of Material Forces. A Force in which all the others are implied and of which they form the development and completion. A force swift and violent in action, but whose effect soon passes away, and therefore symbolized by a figure on a steed riding swiftly, and clothed in complete armour.

KING OF WANDS, Lord of the Flame and of the Lightning, King of the Spirits of Fire, King of the Salamanders. (Last Decan of Scorpio-first two Decans of Saggitarius). The King of Wands is Fire of Fire, Specific Fire in Primal Fire on the Tree of Life.

The Marseilles King is seated on a throne, and holds a wand in his right hand. Waite's King is also seated, and holds the same fertile Wand found in the Rider Ace of Wands. His crown indicates flames, as the Serpents behind and on his robe refer to Chokmah.

The Golden Dawn and Crowley cards symbolize the dynamic, out-rushing, pattern of this energy with the Moorish (Arabian) black horse which leaps through the flames. The King's crest is a winged horse head. Like all of the Golden Dawn court cards, he is in armor, implying that the qualities of the Elements which they symbolize do life's battle for us. In his hand he carries the same wand found on the Ace, showing that he is the motive vehicle for the Fire Force.

Winged Horse Tarot Card

KING OF CUPS, Lord of the Waves and of the Waters, King of the Hosts of the Sea, King of Undines and Nymphs (Last Decan of Aquarius - first two Decans of Pisces). The King of Cups is Specific Fire in the World of Primal Water. It is a personification of the force which motivates the currents of the unconscious mental world symbolized by Water, an idea found in Waite's King, whose heavy throne seems to ride effortlessly on the Water as does the Golden Dawn figure. That King carries a Cup from which issues a Crab, symbol of the Sign Cancer (Cardinal Water) which, ruled by the Moon, directs the flow of tides. The Crab also relates to Isis, the Great Mother, Stella Maris, Star of the Sea.71 The peacock, found as the crest of the Golden Dawn King, enlarged and abstracted by Crowley, is variously attributed as a symbol of wisdom (i.e., Chokmah) and as a bird whose flesh is incorruptible. It was also related to the Phoenix, a bird which died in flames every five hundred years and then rose from its own ashes.72

Tarot JournalChokmah WisdomAir Sword Golden Dawn

THE KING OF SWORDS, Lord of the Winds and Breezes, King of the Spirit of Air, King of Sylphs and Sylphides (Last Decan of Taurus-first two Decans of Gemini). The King of Swords is Specific Fire in Primal Air. It is a personification of the activating Force behind the World of Astral images and ideas. It is a violent and agressively cutting power, an idea shown best by Crowley, and not at all by the Waite and Marseilles cards. Crowley's mounted King is the dynamic energy of the charging bull of Taurus, but being predominantly Gemini he turns easily in one direction or the other. Gemini is also implied in the Golden Dawn King's crest, the Hexagram which is a merging of opposites.

To this King is attributed a subtleness and craftiness, as Air refers to the conscious mind.

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KING OF PENTACLES, Lord of the Wild and Fertile Land, King of the Spirits of Earth, King of the Gnomes (Last Decan of Leo-first two Decans of Virgo). The King of Pentacles personifies Specific Fire in Primal Earth. It is the most dense manifestation of the Elemental Yod Force, and is the energy which brings about material fruition and growth as Waite has shown here in a very effective card. His King is the very essence of the energy underlying earthly growth.

The Golden Dawn and Crowley Kings use the emblem of a stag, an animal to whom great regenerative powers are attributed. The stag mythically eats the Serpent (absorbs wisdom) and in so doing sheds its skin, as well as any illness, weakness and old age. It is totally regenerated.73 Thus, it is a fitting symbol for Fire of Earth. It moves fleetingly, as fire, but also represents the cyclic rebirth of the earth. This same fruition is indicated by the corn (symbol of Isis-Ceres) in the foreground. It is clear that Mathers was a student of medieval bestiaries, where the animal legends are collected.

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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