These Princes are seated in chariots, and thus borne forward. They represent the Vau Forces of the Name in each suit; The Mighty Son of the King, and the Queen, who realizes the influences of both scales of Force; A prince, the son of a King and Queen, yet a Prince of Princes, and a King of Kings. An Emperor, whose effect is at once rapid (though not so swift as that of a King) and enduring (though not as steadfast as that of a Queen). It is therefore symbolized by a figure borne in a chariot, and clothed with armour. Yet is his power illusionary, unless set in motion by his Father and Mother.
The Princes are very complex cards in that they are wholly activated by the King and Queen. As the text suggests, they have no motive power of their own, being pulled along in their chariots. But, from the standpoint of the enlightened Tarot, these cards are all-important. First, it will be seen that the Lion, Eagle, Man (Arch Fairies here) and Bull, are the Four Kerubim. These are very ancient symbols of the elements, attached to many different religions. They appear among the Gods of the Assyrians; they are the Four Animals in the Old Testament vision of Ezekiel; they are the four symbols of the Christian Evangelists, they are the rulers of the Four Elements of the Qabalah. In Kether are the Primordial Elements, which become the united rulers of the Elements in Tiphareth, and which are individually expressed in Malkuth.
The Princes are the personified forces (Kings) of those elements brought into perfect balance in Tiphareth. If the cards are set out in a row-Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles — the Golden Light of Spirit may be imagined as permeating the four, and directing the Kerubim to pull the chariots. These are the most refined aspects of the Personality; they are the Elemental Kings in ourselves. As such, the Princes may be taken in any direction by the Divine Will. The energy of the PRINCE OF WANDS may be applied with justice or with cruelty; the unconscious flow of the PRINCE OF CUPS may be subtle and artistic, or it may be very evil; the mental activities of the PRINCE OF SWORDS, ideas, may be creative or destructive; the material qualities of the PRINCE OF PENTACLES may cause growth for good or evil.
The Princes may provide a point of entry for true understanding of the Tarot deck as a tool of enlightenment. And here the utility of the Princesses may also become clear, for they are the grounding of the lessons of the Princes on our material plane.
It will now be appreciated why the Princes, in a divination, often represent the coming and going of an event or person, and the Princesses often represent approval or disapproval of a matter.
PRINCE OF WANDS, Prince of the Chariot of Fire, Prince and Emperor of the Salamanders. (Last Decan of Cancer-first two Decans of Leo).
The Prince of Wands is Air of Fire, Specific Air of Primal Fire. In the Golden Dawn and Crowley cards, his chariot is drawn by the Lion of Leo, symbolizing enormous strength which may be turned in either direction, and which has the potential for violence if angered. In the Golden Dawn card the Prince holds the Elemental Fire Wand, while Crowley's Prince holds the Phoenix Wand associated with the fiery Sephira, Geburah.
Generally, the Princes (Knights) in the Marseilles and Waite decks are unexceptional, and need not be discussed.
PRINCE OF CUPS, Prince of the Chariot of the Waters, Prince and Emperor of Nymphs and Undines (Last Decan of Libra-first two Decans of Scorpio).
The Prince of Cups is Air of Water, Specific Air of Primal Water. Here again, the Golden Dawn version is the inspiration for that of Crowley, both emphasizing the water Lotus, and the Serpent issuing from a Cup. Wherever the Serpent appears it is generally a reference to Chokmah, the Divine Wisdom, the Yod Force; here it has the fiery, menacing qualities of Scorpio. The Cup, held by the Prince, is Heh, and encloses the Yod-Serpent. As Vau, the Prince carries out the activities of the Yod and Heh combined; here is Water. The chariot itself is pulled across the water by an Eagle, water symbol among the four Kerubic emblems. At another level, the suggestion is that the calm appearance of Water may hold violent and fiery energies, like sulphuric acid, which appears entirely benign until it has something upon which to act. Water symbolizes the personal, group, or universal Unconscious which bears dynamic energies.
The Prince of Swords is Air of Air, Specific Air of Primal Air. There is significant Yesod-Moon symbolism here in that this is a card of mind. The dual Fairies of the Golden Dawn card, and the three winged children of
Crowley's suggest that (like the mind itself) the chariot may be pulled capriciously in any direction. In the right hand of the Prince is the Sword which invokes and creates, but in his left is the sickle which immediately destroys that which is created. In the Golden Dawn card the repeated Pentagrams are a reference to the Sword of Geburah. But as the Prince's crest is a child's head with a Pentagram on its forehead, we are told here that this Prince wields the Sword with childlike innocence. This is an extension of the same symbolism found in the QUEEN OF SWORDS.
PRINCE OF PENTACLES, Prince of the Chariot of Earth, Prince and Emperor of the Gnomes (Last Decan of Aries-first two Decan of Taurus).
The Prince of Pentacles is Air of Earth, Specific Air of Primal Earth. In the Golden Dawn card he holds a wand of earthly dominion in his right hand, and an inverted Orb (material force grossly applied) in his left. The chariot is pulled by the powerful bull of Taurus. Crowley explained his version of this card in considerable depth, emphasizing the meditative qualities of the Prince. "He is," Crowley said, "the element of earth become intelligible."86
Continue reading here: The Four Sevens
Was this article helpful?