Paul F. Case Tarot
THE Phoenicians indicated the letter Teth by a circle inclosing a cross, a similar character for the ninth letter appears in other ancient alphabets, and it survives in a modified form to this day, as the Greek Theta. The object represented is a tally, hence the first idea the letter suggests is counting. Now, counting is the beginning of exact knowledge, and the measuring-rod is the true wand of miracles; for numeration is the basis of arithmetic, arithmetic is the foundation of mathematics, and upon mathematics the whole structure of science is reared. To use the language of Freemasonry: "All the works of the Almighty are made in number, weight, and measure; therefore to understand them rightly, we ought to understand arithmetical calculations; and the greater advance we make in mathematical sciences the more capable we shall be of considering such things as are the ordinary objects of our conceptions, and be thereby led to a more comprehensive knowledge of our great Creator and the works of His creation." (Simons' Masonic Monitor.) The peculiar properties of numbers which are the keys to the Kabbalah, and to the construction of the Tarot, and the secret significance of the ten numeral signs from Zero to Nine, must be known by him who seeks to decipher the cryptograms that veil the Ancient Wisdom from the uninitiated.
Of these number-puzzles, the symbol for Teth is a good example. The clue to its meaning is the mathematical relation between the diameter and the circumference of a circle. Approximately, this is as 1 to 3 1/7. The number 7, therefore, is the only integer which, taken as a diameter, will cor respond to a circumference that may be represented by a whole number; and a circle with a diameter of 7 will have a circumference of 22. Thus the symbol for Teth, because it has two diameters, will suggest to the initiated the sum of twice 7 plus 22, which is the solar number, 36. Numerically, then, this character corresponds to the sun. This interpretation is confirmed by the fact that the circle inclosing a cross, although used in comparatively recent times to denote the earth, is really a variation of the wheel-emblem which appears again and again upon ancient monuments as a sign for the sun.
This explanation of the pictograph is in harmony with the ideas suggested by the letter-name, which means "a serpent." From the very beginning snakes have represented subtlety, secrecy, and Divine Wisdom. That Wisdom is mathematical. We are told that God geometrizes, that all His works are made in number, weight, and measure, that the very hairs of our heads are numbered. It follows that the Divine Wisdom must, at bottom, be a mode of intelligence that finds expression in numbers, and we conclude that the subtlety and secrecy of natural laws results from the intricacy of the numerical combinations which govern all things. Hence the snake, like the tally, is a symbol for mathematics. In this connection it is interesting to find that when Masons declare that by Geometry they "may curiously trace Nature through her various windings to her most concealed recesses," they employ a figure of speech that must suggest the serpent-symbol to every reflective reader.
Madame Blavatsky stated the connection between Teth and the universal radiant energy. She wrote:
"The ancients represented it (the universal energy) by a serpent, for Fohat hisses as he glides hither and thither, in zigzags. The Kabbalah figures it with the Hebrew letter Teth, whose symbol is the serpent which played such a prominent part in the Mysteries. Its universal number is 9, for it is the ninth letter of the alphabet and the ninth door. It is the Magical Agent par excellence, and designated in Hermetic philosophy 'Life infused into Primordial Matter,'
the essence that composes all things, and the Spirit that determines their form." (Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 105.)
Because it sloughs its skin, the serpent is also a symbol of regeneration. The relation of this idea to those of counting and solar force, represented by the pictograph, will be evident to anyone who knows the first principles of yoga. After the preliminary exercises that purify the body and the mind, yoga-practice begins with Pranayama, which aims to control Prana, or solar force, by rhythmic breathing, and secures the necessary rhythm by counting. Hence the work of every yogi is based upon what Teth suggests. Furthermore, the illuminated sage who has attained the goal of yoga is often called a Naga, or "a serpent without poison." He has realized the ideal of Jesus, "Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
Prana, as I have said before, is described in terms that demonstrate its identity with what Eliphas Levi calls "Astral Light;" and Levi mentions the serpent as one of the most ancient and universal symbols of his Great Magical Agent. Like Madame Blavatsky, he expressly declares this force to be the instrument of life. He says, "God creates it eternally, and man, in the image of the Deity, modifies and apparently multiplies it in the reproduction of his species." These words would be understood by a Tantrik philosopher as a description of the Kundalini, which innervates the reproductive organism when it is active in the sacral plexus, and becomes the means of regeneration when its current, under proper conditions, is made to pass through higher centers of the nervous system, until finally it reaches the seventh gate, or Third Eye.
He who makes the Kundalini function through the Third Eye gains direct and detailed knowledge of natural laws. Of these, some are not even suspected by the average man, while others, though heard of, are not known, but only believed in, or doubted, or absolutely denied—each person's mental attitude toward them being influenced by the stage of his progress along the Path. This exact knowledge is what Kabbalists designate by the name of the path corresponding to Teth—"Intelligence of the Secret." Levi says: "The Great Magical Secret is the secret of the direction of the Great Magical Agent; it depends upon an incommunicable axiom, and upon an instrument which is the supreme and unique Athanor of the Hermetists of the highest grade." The Magical Agent is the serpent-force; the axiom upon which its direction depends is incommunicable, because no statement can convey the realization of its truth which makes it an axiom for those who know, as distinguished from those who merely believe, or doubt, or deny it; the Hermetic Athanor is the human organism.
The path of Intelligence of the Secret joins Chesed, the seat of the Measuring Intelligence, to Geburah, the seat of the Radical Intelligence. As I explained in Chapter VII, the Measuring Intelligence is the outcome of the Triumphant and Eternal Intelligence, which corresponds to the letter Vau, and is symbolized in the Tarot by the Hierophant. In human personality, the Measuring Intelligence is the source of that understanding of natural laws which distinguishes those who have entered Samadhi, the consciousness above thought, in which the yogtf realizes the incommunicable axiom.
When a sage manifests the Intelligence of the Secret in the field of his personal consciousness, the result is the same as the outcome of the Intelligence of Influence, which corresponds to Heth and the Chariot. That is, the path represented by Heth and the one assigned to Teth lead to the same end. They indicate two streams of emanation from Kether, the Supreme Crown. The path for which Heth is the alphabetical symbol belongs to the feminine stream; the one for which Teth is the sign is a phase of the masculine current.
To understand this better, the reader should refer to the diagram of the Sephirotic Tree in Chapter I. This shows that the masculine stream of emanation flows from the Hidden Intelligence of Kether, through the Fiery Intelligence represented by Aleph and the Fool, to the masculine Sephi-rah, Chokmah, the seat of the Illuminating Intelligence.
Thence it passes to the second masculine Sephirah, Chesed, through the path corresponding to Vau and the Hierophant. On the other hand, the feminine current goes from Kether to Binah through the Intelligence of Transparency, symbolized by Beth and the Magician; and passing from Binah, through the path typified by Heth and the Chariot, it gives rise to the Radical Intelligence of Geburah.
A glance at the diagram will also show that the path of Intelligence pf the Secret, like the one corresponding to Daleth and the Empress, does not result in the projection of a Sephirah, as do those mentioned in the preceding paragraph. It unites two Sephiroth that have already been brought into manifestation. The origin of its activity is masculine, and it joins this masculine power to one that is feminine. Teth and its Tarot trump, like Daleth and the Empress, imply the exercise of the feminine generative power, and the expression of the subjective mind's influence over the forces of nature; but they also direct our attention to the fact that the generative power is a response to a masculine impulse, and remind us that the sovereignty of the subjective mind is, as it were, a borrowed light, reflecting the supreme authority of a higher principle.
Among other Kabbalistic meanings of Teth we find digestion. The Latin root of the verb "to digest" means "to separate, arrange, dissolve." Students of Hermetic philosophy will be reminded of the words of the Emerald Table: "Thou shalt separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, gently, with much sagacity." In chemistry, as in alchemy, substances are said to be digested when they are softened by the influence of heat and moisture. The symbolic meaning must be obvious to every reader of these pages. Since heat is masculine and moisture is feminine, digestion, which combines the two, represents the reciprocal activity of Purusha and Prakriti.
To digest means also to distribute and arrange method' ically. This implies grouping, classification, and the like.
The process of mental digestion requires concentrated atI
tention to facts, and orderly arrangement of sense-impressions. This the Tarot symbolizes by the Magician. Mere attention and orderly arrangement, however, will not suffice. The purely subjective processes typified by the High Priestess must be brought into play. To make a digest, therefore, is to combine the mental activities indicated by the Magician and the High Priestess, and this combination is first represented in the Tarot by the Empress, a trump which has already suggested itself as having some correspondence with the one we are now analyzing.
The astrological correspondence to Teth is Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac. This is the common sign of the fiery triplicity, in which Aries (The Emperor) is the positive member, while Sagittarius (Temperance) denotes the negative manifestation. Leo partakes of the qualities of both.
As a fire sign, Leo corresponds to the Tejas Tattva, which is active in the stomach, where it presides over digestion. The state of the stomach has a marked influence upon sight, and injuries to the eyes often affect digestion. Thus a pronounced aberration of vision is one of the symptoms of ptomaine poisoning, and sick-headaches may often be cured by wearing glasses. Yoga philosophers recognize this close relation between the eyes and the stomach when they say that Tejas, which governs .digestion, is the subtle principle of sight. Sight is the faculty represented by Heh and the Emperor ; and when we learn that the three decans of Leo are ruled by Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, the three aspects of the masculine principle of which the Emperor is the emblem, it becomes evident that there must be a very definite connection between the ideas indicated by the fourth card and those that are suggested by the picture now before us.
That connection is established by the fact that the Emperor symbolizes the universal masculine principle, which is specialized in the human organism as the nerve-current that vitalizes the reproductive centers. That current is a modification of the Tejas Tattva, and it is the serpent-force of the yogis.
This force is a form of solar energy. Thus it is easy to understand why Leo is the sign of the sun, which rules it by day and by night. In this particular Leo is the direct antithesis of Cancer, which is the diurnal and nocturnal throne of the moon. Cancer represents the positive and negative activities of the reflected light, which Tantrik philosophers call "Rayi." Rama Prasad tells us, in "Nature's Finer Forces," that Rayi is the counterpart and reflection of Prana. He also says that the sun is the great center of Prana for our world-system. We may expect, then, that the trump corresponding to Teth will teach us something about both aspects of Prana.
Leo is said to rule the heart, and modern astrologers ascribe to it a dominant influence in the solar, or epigastric, plexus. The latter, which is the largest ganglion of the sympathetic nervous system, is often described as the "abdominal brain." It has also been identified with the Mani-pura Chakra of the yoga philosophy. In the Manipura Chakra the Tattva supposed to be most active is Tejas evolved from Vayu—Fire derived from Air.
What this means will be clear to every student of the Science of Breath. By properly regulated breathing, the blood passing through the lungs is charged with solar force, which it carries to the epigastric ganglion, where it is modified into a special form of nervous energy. This energy, we have good reason to believe, is the "animal magnetism" of the mesmerists, and the "psychic force" which is the energy employed in the physical phenomena of spiritism. The solar plexus is like a storage battery of this force, which, among other uses, constitutes the reserve energy that enables people under the stress of emotion or dire necessity to perform feats of strength far beyond their normal powers.
It is unfortunate that certain writers, after having gained a smattering of Eastern philosophy, have published not a little arrant nonsense about the solar plexus; but their ignorant misuse of a small part of the practical wisdom of the Orient must not lead us to throw away the grain of truth in the chaff of their preposterous fancies. The solar plexus is a most important center. No success in yoga is possible until its purpose is understood, and its function brought under the intelligent direction of the trained will.
Such direction cannot be learned from books. It is particularly dangerous to attempt some of the widely advertised exercises for concentrating upon the solar plexus. In fact, all yoga exercises are dangerous except under the guidance of a competent teacher. I have recently had my attention called to a very sad case of the evil results of trying to practice yoga without a qualified Guru.
A young man attempted prolonged exercises in Pra-nayama, according to certain directions he had read in a translation of a Hindu book. He undertook these arduous tests without giving due attention to the necessity for preliminary purification. Utterly unaware that he was playing with fire, he subjected himself to a psychic tension and a physical strain for which his heredity and constitution made him quite unfit. Instead of separating the ethereal from the gross gently, he was impatient for powers, and tried violence. To make matters worse, he mixed his yoga-practice with ceremonial magic based on the rituals of a notorious European school. He is now threatened with a total nervous collapse. Auditory and visual hallucinations of the most disgusting character, voices urging him to unmentionable acts, and visions in which all the worst elements of his subconscious memory are combined in a horrible phantasmagoria, have driven him so close to the verge of insanity that he may at any time commit suicide.
I should be very sorry if anything I have written should encourage anyone to run a similar risk. Prana is the mightiest force known to man, and it can kill as quickly as it can cure. What makes it so dangerous is that its activity goes on within the experimenter's own body. For this reason people who would never try to make nitroglycerine in their home kitchens, according to the directions given in an encyclopaedia, will blithely run chances of making themselves the victims of the disintegrating current of Prana, which is quite as destructive, in its own way, as any explosive.
In "The Apocalypse Unsealed," Mr. Pryse identifies the solar plexus with the church at Pergamos, which the Bible describes as dwelling "even where Satan's throne is." Satan is compared to "a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour;" and he is also the "old serpent" and the "adversary" who must be overcome by the seeker for liberation. In Chapter XVII I shall have more to say concerning the Biblical doctrine of the Devil. At present, therefore, I shall merely remind the reader that both the Old and New Testaments lay stress upon the idea that the Devil personifies something the first effects of which are destructive, but which, when brought under control, becomes of great service to man.
For instance, Eve yields to the seductions of the serpent, and her first-born becomes a murderer; but of her seed, in the fulness of time, is born the Christ. The Christ, like the Adversary, is compared to a lion. He is "the Lion of the Tribe of Judah." In other words, Satan and Christ are two aspects of a single principle. For we know from the story of Job that Satan is one of the sons of God. Satan is the disobedient son; and Christ is the obedient one. The principle that is represented by the word "son' 'is the positive creative and reproductive principle. It is the great fire-principle, the energy that brings all things into manifestation.
In his first epistle, John says, "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." When the fire-principle finds manifestation in the phase of the divine sonship which is a perfect expression of the purpose of the Originating Principle, the works of the Adversary are doomed. The works of the devil are all carried out through human instruments. They are mistaken actions of deluded men, who prostitute the force of Prana to the service of their passions, and bring suffering upon themselves and upon all who fall within the baleful influence of their misdirected energy. To destroy the works of the devil, men must be brought to do the will of the
Father. They must be made to act in harmony with the Great Purpose of creation. To do God's will, they must know it ; and to each person, wh'en thé time is ripe, that will is revealed by the Intelligence of the Secret symbolized by the letter Teth.
The trump corresponding to this letter bears the number Eight, which I have had occasion to mention several times in the course of this work. Thus the reader will probably remember that Eight is a sun-symbol, because its extension is 36; that when it is placed horizontally it stands for the spinal cord, which is the path of the serpent-force in its passage from the sacral plexus to the pineal gland; that it has been given various mystic names; and that it is the number of Hermes and of Christ.
In his Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, Mackey says: "Among the Pythagoreans the number Eight was esteemed as the first cube, being formed by the continuous multiplication of 2x2x2, and signified friendship, prudence, counsel and justice; and as the cube and reduplication of the first even number, it was made to refer to the primitive law of nature, which supposes all men to be equal. Christian numerical symbolists called it the symbol of the resurrection, because Jesus rose on the eighth day, that is, the day after the seventh, and because the name Jesus, in Greek numerals corresponding to its Greek letters, is 10, 8, 200, 70, 400, 200, which by adding up, is 888. Hence, too, they called it the Dominical Number."
As a symbol for resurrection, Eight is directly related to the meaning of the letter-name, Teth, because the serpent typifies the same thing. The resurrection must be preceded by the death of the body. For most people this is a sudden break-down, and the higher elements of the organism lose their physical vehicle for the time being; but an adept, by means of the Hermetic Athanor (the literal meaning of "Athanor" is "a self-feeding, digesting furnace"), effects the separation of the ethereal from the gross gradually and gently, and so transmutes his physical body that the cor ruptible puts on incorruption. As the serpent casts its slough when a new skin has grown beneath the old, so does a perfected Master cast aside his corruptible body. This transmutation is effected through mental control of the assimilative and eliminative functions, and instead of throwing aside the worn-out body all at once, the dead cells are ejected from the body without being allowed to accumulate. In some quarters there seems to be a notion that a miraculous change takes place in the cells themselves; but as I understand the matter, the incorruptible body is a body that is built up as fast as it wears out. I may provoke a smile from some when I say that a number of persons now living have such bodies; but Theosophists will understand to whom I refer, for the names of some of these Masters are known. Perfected men like these are the Nagas, or serpents without poison. They have realized to the full what most readers of Jesus' doctrine seem to have overlooked—that to be wise as a serpent is to know the secret of physical regeneration.
In its application to the Tarot, Eight is also the sign for five numerical combinations, representing groups of major trumps. These are formed by the various numbers whose addition, without the repetition of any integer, totals Eight. Three groups contain two figures: 1 plus 7; 2 plus 6; and 3 plus 5. The other two comprise three figures: 1 plus 2 plus 5; and 1 plus 3 plus 4. To give an extended analysis of these combinations would require more space than I have at my disposal. The reader should lay out the cards for himself, and study them carefully, always remembering that each group represents a combination of ideas typified by the single trump whose number corresponds to the total of their numbers. The same rule is to be applied in studying all the other cards; and notes should be kept of all impressions and observations gained from such study.
The title of the eighth trump is Strength. Even in English it conveys the same suggestion of energy that is the leading implicit of Teth; but the French title, "La Force," is even more definite, because the feminine article emphasizes the idea that the power designated is an expression of the universal feminine principle. We must always remember that Prana, though masculine in its immediate aspect, is of feminine origin, since it is the energy phase of Prakriti. This old Hindu doctrine is in harmony with the discoveries of modern students of psychic phenomena, which indicate that the subjective mind is the seat of telekinetic energy—the force by means of which ponderable objects are moved at a distance without contact, as in table-tipping, in the experiments of Reichenbach with "Odic Force," and in the phenomena observed in connection with the biometre, an instrument invented by the late Dr. Baraduc, who gave a full account of his observations of psychic force in his book, "Les Vibrations Humanes."
Investigators who have not had the benefit of the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom stumble upon this force from time to time, and often suppose they have discovered something new; but all their theories, from Mesmer's "Animal Magnetism," down to the most recent versions of the "psychic force" hypothesis, are more or less mutilated variations of the Hindu doctrine of Prana.
As a vital force of the human organism, Prana is the source of every person's strength; and when it is controlled by a trained adept, it enables him to exert a force that nothing can withstand. The technical Sanskrit name for such control is Samyama; and by Gematria this word, written in figures, gives a total which may be expressed by 9, the letter-value of Teth. Other Sanskrit terms which give the same result are: Alambana, objective contemplation; Brahma, the creator of the universe; Ganesha, god of wisdom and remover of obstacles, the elephant god who symbolizes the power that comes with wisdom; Jiva, the individual soul; and Prajna, the highest knowledge, which leads to realization of the Supreme Spirit.
Now, Hindu philosophy declares that the universe is created by the objective contemplation of Brahma, the Supreme Purusha, asserts the identity of the individual soul with the Supreme Spirit, and affirms that all obstacles to complete liberation are removed by realizing that identity.
Is it not curious that all the Sanskrit names for these ideas have the same numerical value as the word for "control of Prana?" Can we avoid the suggestion of Hindu influence in the philosophy that finds outlet in the Kabbalah and the Tarot, when we see that all these ideas are implied by a letter and a picture which represent the direction of the universal radiant energy by a process based upon applied mathematics?
The title of our card, then, leads us to expect that the symbolism will indicate some aspects of the great law that governs all manifestations of Prana. When formulated in human consciousness this law becomes the Intelligence of the Secret; and when it is applied to the control of personal expressions of the radiant energy, it results in the mighty works that the ignorant call miracles.
To illustrate this doctrine a very simple symbolism is employed. The scene is a fertile plain, with a river and trees in the middle distance, and a mountain in the background. In the foreground stands a woman, dressed in spotless white. Over her head is the vital sign of the Holy Spirit, which also hovers over the head of the Magician. Calmly, and without effort, she opens the mouth of a red lion.
The most obvious idea conveyed by this picture is that of mastery; but it is feminine mastery, as opposed to the masculine dominance symbolized by the Chariot. This is in accordance with the rule that each major trump is the antithesis of the one that precedes it. Another traditional interpretation of Strength says that it represents the principle of all force. The various writers on the Tarot also agree that the picture stands for courage and fortitude. Papus, with somewhat less than his usual insight, says this arcanum expresses only two ideas—the idea of strength, and the idea of vitality. Attentive consideration of the design, however, shows that it has implicits far more important than any of the surface indications just mentioned.
To begin with, the scene is laid in a valley. The lion is not tamed upon the heights of spiritual consciousness. On the plain, where vegetation flourishes, where fields are cultivated, where flocks are kept, where cities are built, and where the great drama of human society is enacted—this is where we must learn how to control the fire-principle. Occult students make a great mistake in supposing that they must give up their daily vocations for the sake of gaining the higher knowledge. Under certain conditions, and at particular seasons, it is necessary to get away from the world for a time, and complete isolation is required for the success of certain experiments. These, however, are the exceptions that prove the rule that the great tests of our self-command come to us in the course of business and social life. For it is through our association with our neighbors that all our temptations come, and our response to the thoughts and words and acts of other people is the measure of our self-control. Not without reason does the Biblical allegory of evolution begin in a garden and end in a walled city. Those who bewail the stress of our complex modern life are simply blind to their opportunities.
What we must not lose sight of is the truth that all the intricacies of our every-day experience are variations of a single originating impulse. All the forces that we recognize are modes of one energy; all the forms that we distinguish are built from a single substance; and all the activities around us are working, in one way or another, to the realization of the same Great Aim. Of this truth the mountain in the background is a symbol. It reminds us of the height whereon the Fool stands, and bids us never to forget that the limitations and artificialities that encompass us are as nothing to the pure Spirit which is the I AM in our hearts. The mountain reminds also that the concrete is the expression of the abstract. This has particular reference to mathematics; for, as plains are watered by rivers flowing from mountain springs, so is the field of daily life made fertile by streams of consciousness flowing into it from the heights of abstract thought. Nothing, for example, could be more purely abstract than the calculations which led to the formulation of the theory of the Ether; but when the researches of mathematicians had made that theory a reasonable assumption, the genius of Marconi, carrying out experiments based upon reasonable faith in something that no man has ever experienced through the senses, was able to produce the miracle of the wireless.
The river and trees in the middle distance recall the stream and grove shown in the picture of the Empress. They indicate that the principles of mental action symbolized by the third card are to be sought for in the law represented by Strength. Until we have become channels for the life-giving stream of the Illuminating Intelligence, we cannot realize the incommunicable axiom. To learn the Great Arcanum, the student must have become, through the generative activity of the subjective mind, a center for the personal expression of the Divine self-knowledge.
Before this can happen, the subjective mind must be thoroughly purified. Even the seeds of evil suggestions must, as the Hindus quaintly say, have been "fried in the fires of contemplation." Ambition must have been destroyed, root and branch. The sense of separateness must have been overcome. The process by which all this is accomplished is an application of the law that the subjective mind is constantly amenable to control by suggestion. Study of sacred books; meditation upon their inner significance; daily and hourly aspiration towards union with the Spirit; persistent repetition, with understanding, of the suggestion that the subjective mind is the vehicle of the all-knowing, omnipotent Self—these are some of the means. Most important of all is rigorous self-examination, having for its object the perfect squaring of thought, speech and action with the principles of the Sacred Science, because it is worse than useless to give formal suggestions to the subjective mind if one continually plants counter-suggestions. In time —and the length of time depends largely upon faithfulness in observing small details of conduct and speech—this course of training cleanses the subjective mind, and it becomes the white-clad woman of our picture.
So transformed, it is instantly responsive .to the im pulses of the I AM. No slightest antagonism exists between the will of the Spirit and subjective desire. Having thus become an unobstructed channel for the outpouring of the Ego's limitless possibilities, the subjective mind does herself take on the Ego's characteristics. Hence the white-clad woman is given the vital sign of the Magician, to show that through her is manifested the same control of nature that he represents.
In many Tarots the woman closes the lion's mouth, but in Court de Gebelin's version she opens it. This I prefer, because to the idea that she subdues the fire-principle it adds a very significant implicit. "To open the mouth of the red lion" is to render articulate the force he represents. It suggests the giving of the ¡faculty of speech to something hitherto dumb, or the linking together of intellect and instinct in harmonious, concerted action.
The red lion is an alchemical symbol, in addition to being the conventional emblem for the sign Leo. It stands for Sulphur, perfected in its union with the animated Mercury. Alchemical Sulphur is the universal fire-element, of which the root is Rajas. The animated Mercury is the universal water-element, the pure reflecting medium, and its root is Sattva. Hence the picture represents the mastery of Rajas by Sattva, the subordination of passion to wisdom. Consequently Mr. Waite very properly says: "There is one aspect in which the lion signifies the passions, and she who is called Strength is the higher nature in its liberation." (The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, p. 103.)
The lion is the king of beasts. He is an emblem of the supreme force in nature. Eliphas Levi shows that this interpretation of the lion symbol was known to the ancients, for in his entertaining "History of Magic" he gives this free rendering of an old Latin author:
"Let us go further, and affirm the existence of a fire which abounds in images and reflections. Term it, if you will, a superabundant light, which radiates, which speaks, which goes back into itself. It is the flaming courser of light, or rather it is the stalwart child who overcomes and breaks in that heavenly steed. Picture him as vested in flame and emblazoned with gold, or think of him as naked as love, and bearing the arrows of Eros. But if thy meditation pro-longeth itself, thou wilt combine all these emblems under the form of a lion."
The motto that goes with this picture is "Knowledge is power," and the knowledge it represents is intelligent grasp of the law that governs every manifestation of the universal radiant energy. What we understand we can usually control; and to understand the law that governs all manifestations of Prana is to know that the I AM is now, and always, the absolute master of those manifestations, because Prana is a phase of Prakriti, and Prakriti is eternally subject to Purusha, who is the Ego in every heart.
To know that the Self is master of all conditions is to have the only adequate basis for the courage required for practical demonstration. This doctrine implies so much, and seems so contradictory to human experience, that most people laugh at it as pure folly; but it is the unchanging truth in the midst of the illusions that surround us. To make that truth our own, and enjoy the freedom that follows its realization, we must think, speak and act from moment to moment, from hour to hour, and from day to day from the premise that what we know within us as the I AM is identical with the Originating Principle of the universe, which is subject to no condition, limitation or qualification whatsoever, although it is perfectly free to enter temporarily into any form of expression that it wills to assume.
Such thought, speech and action call into manifestation the highest forms of the activity of the subjective mind. She becomes the unspotted mirror of Spirit, and reflects into every corner of personal existence, the light of the Creative Intelligence, which knows just how to adapt all means to the furthering of its ends. Thus every circumstance of personal life is turned to advantage, and "all things work together for good" to the knower and lover of the Supreme Self.
To be continued.
Continue reading here: The Secret Doctrine Of The Tarot By Paul F Case
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