Number: i Letter : X Aleph
In this picture we see a strong young man, a magician, whose posture assumes the shape of the letter aleph. He leans slightly towards the right, pointing downwards with his right hand and upwards with his left. At the same time, this posture suggests the ancient truth which the great Chaldean initiate Hermes Trismegistos teaches in his tabula smaragdina hermetis: ' As above7 so below/
The young man is dressed in garb of a curious colour. He is wearing a hat which, on careful examination, turns out not to be a hat at all. The crown of the supposed hat is the man's own head, a closed red circle symbolising his eternal spirit, his higher Self. Part of the circle is covered by the brim of the hat so that we do not see all of his head. This denotes that he is not yet fully conscious in his spirit, that there is still a great deal in his unconscious, in the invisible part of himself. The colour red indicates that the spirit, positive-giving, is a divine fire. It is in a closed circle because it can never show itself in the external world of matter. The spirit belongs to another world. In the world of matter it is invisible and cannot be perceived by any sense-organ. That is why it requires an instrument of manifestation through which it can reveal itself directly as idea, thought or knowledge. This instrument is the intellect, symbolised by the brim of the hat. This brim has the shape of the sign used by mathematicians to denote 'infinity', an 8 in a horizontal position: oo. The edge of the brim is yellow, the colour of reason, and the inside of the brim is green, the symbol of sympathy, goodwill and amity. The young magician thus manifests his invisible, fiery, eternal spirit - which has never been born and therefore will never die - through the boundless infinity of thought and knowledge, but also through sympathy, goodwill and amity.
On his torso we see a red, tight-fitting tunic with a blue collar and a blue stripe down the front. The tunic is tight for the simple reason that it is not a tunic at all, but his own body. Red symbolises his spiritual being, which, like his head, is positive-giving. The blue of the collar and centre stripe edged in white symbolises his pure, selfless love of mankind. He bears this selfless love within, but also allows himself to be led by this universal love of mankind on his path through this world. This is shown by his legs which bear him along his earthly path and are clad in blue stockings.
His arms symbolise the two great polar principles of creation, the active-masculine, positive-giving pole, and the passive-feminine, negative-receiving pole. His arms are clothed in several coloured layers. This means that the magician uses his arms and hands in many different ways: with reason, as symbolised by yellow, and with good intentions and goodwill towards his fellow-men, as indicated by green, while under these two layers he wears a blue, tight-fitting, knitted garment, which, like the blue stripe on his torso, shows his own true being. The red cuffs denote that he continues to radiate spiritual, giving power, even if he lets himself be guided in his activity and work by his selfless love of mankind and by his humanity.
On the blue centre panel of his tunic we see five buttons. These are his five sense-organs through which he links himself, his inner world, with the external world!
Only three legs of the table in front of him are visible, the fourth juts out into the invisible spiritual world. The magician's activity rests for the most part on a material basis. His person lives in the visible world of matter, and so it is here that he must fulfil his task. Yet part of his actions, the fourth leg of the table, rests on invisible, spiritual foundations.
On the table lie three symbols of tarot, as yet unused but ready for use: the cup, the sword and the coin. He holds the most important symbol, the wand or baton, in his left hand. At each end of the wand is a coloured ball. These again symbolise the two polar principles, the red ball standing for the positive pole, the blue one for the negative pole. The magician lolds the wand so that the positive end points upwards and the negative end downwards towards the coin. The wand symbolises the letter jay, which is the picture of the first divine manifestation, a single flame, from which proceed all subsequent letters and gradually the whole of creation. In the magician's hand the baton becomes a magic wand. This is the creative power of the magician with which he realises the will of his higher Self in the visible world. With it he can effect true miracles and thus he gradually turns into a white magician.
The outside of the cup is blue, thus feminine-negative, receptive, but it contains the spirit, the masculine-positive, fiery principle represented by the red liquid inside the cup. The latter stands on a hexagonal base. It is formed by the two interwoven triangles which stand for the spiritual and the material worlds. The cup points to the magician's spiritual principles and signifies his receptivity to all that is good, to the divine higher truths of the spirit.
The sword also lies open, as yet unused, on the table. It symbolises the magician's courage with which — like Siegfried and the 'Nothung' against the dragon - he is prepared to fight against the shadows of the underworld, against the unconscious, in order to attain the divine light of consciousness.
Lastly, there is a gold coin lying on the table. The circular shape always stands for the spirit; but the cross drawn on the coin shows that in this case it is a very powerful and special spirit, which with its vast concentrating power creates matter and controls it thus unifying the two opposing elements. That is the coin, money. For the content of this concept 'money' is purely symbolical. How could anyone think of 4money' as matter? Has anyone ever seen 'money' or held it in his hand? No one! At most we have seen or held a piece of paper or metal marked with a certain value. Therefore both are valuable only when they bear an inscription specifying that they represent a certain monetary value in which we have to believe. If, however, on the same note or coin there are no inscriptions denoting the particular value, then it is no longer 'money'. The moment we cease to believe in it, the note will become a worthless piece of paper and the coin will have no more value than the metal it is made of. But this, too, fluctuates according to demand. Remember that for a man dying of thirst in the desert any piece of metal, whether gold or silver, is utterly worthless. On the other hand, a glass of water would save his life. 'Money' is therefore a purely abstract notion rather than visible or tangible matter. It is the spirit of absolute matter, precisely because as a concept it cannot be identified with any kind of matter. And yet, we can acquire all the material treasures of the world with this nameless matter: real estate, jewels, furniture, clothes or whatever. Money is therefore the spirit of absolute nameless matter.
Nor does the coin in this picture of the magician suggest visible 'money' with an exchange value. It suggests much more, namely, man's inner spiritual power which allows him to control all the values of the material world, if he knows this secret! Our magician knows it for, of course, he already has power over the secret of 'money'.
Between his legs, just behind him, we see a flower which has grown out of the earth, and hence out of matter. It has three green leaves and a bud. The green leaves stand for the three great principles of spirit, power and matter. The closed flower, the bud, is red and thus denotes the spirit. This sym bolises that the magician's spirit, like the bud, does not yet manifest itself completely. Like the flower, his spirit is already present, but in many respects still unconscious. Just as the flower does not yet unfold its inner splendour, so the magician also does not yet show the perfection of his spirit, of his higher Self. His very highest, divine treasures are still latent in his unconscious. That is also the reason why the flower is behind him, just as his unconscious is behind his consciousness. It is, however, only a question of time until the flower opens to reveal its glory and the magician manifests his innermost perfect being.
This picture, the magician, shows a man who has just awakened, suddenly become conscious in himself and perceives for the first time that he actually is here - that he is here now. Thus he experiences for the first time the absolute present in the state of self-awareness. His Self is boundless and infinite in the unconscious, just as his hat shows infinity, but the first flickering of self-awareness is still limited and its light is only the first divine spark not yet illuminating his whole divine being. He is still the divine child but is already the beginning, just as the child is the beginning out of which he grows to adulthood. In the same way, the number one is first in die sequence of numbers and the letter aleph is the beginning of the alphabet.
'The magician' represents a male or female being. That the state of awakening is depicted in this case as a man does not mean that only a man could experience this state. In the first state of self-awareness there is no sex. The human being, male or female, experiences a positive spiritual state; this state is represented by the picture of a man. A living creature at this level of consciousness is already in possession of all the divine gifts which continue to help him along the great path to self-knowledge.
The magician holds the 'magic wand' which he can use to open all the closed doors in his unconscious. His soul is like a cup from which he can already sip the divine nectar of the spirit. The sword, too, is already at his disposal so that he can vanquish the shadows of the underworld, of the unconscious, and win the divine light of the Self, of all-consciousness. And finally, he already possesses the gold coin, the spiritual power over all that is matter. He already knows the inner, divine value of all things, so that he will never again lose his way in the forest of the false material values of this world.
Although he possesses all these treasures, he is not yet an active 'magician'. Indeed he possesses these divine gifts, but he does not yet make use of them. He does not know that he already has all the attributes at his finger-tips for becoming a genuine white magician in the garden of God. He stands there still motionless, but ready to set out on the long path to self-knowledge.
The picture of the magician carries the number i and the letter aleph. The number i is the divine number which exists even before other numbers are born out of it. It is the father of all other numbers, it is indivisible and eternal. It is the only number which we can use as a multiplier without changing the value of the mutiplied number. The Vishnu-Purana says: 'There was neither day nor night, neither heaven nor earth, neither darkness nor light, nor any other thing, nothing but the one.' And Ramakrishna, the great Indian illuminate, states similarly: 'Know the One and you will know all.' The ciphers become hundreds of thousands if we place them behind the one. If, however, the one is extinguished, nothing remains. The many is only of value in relation to the One. First the One and then the many. First God and then the world and the creatures.
This card with the letter aleph corresponds to the first name of God as He named himself when Moses asked: ' If I come to the people of Israel... and they ask me, "What is his name?" what shall I say to them ?'
God said to Moses, 'i am who i am.' (Exodus 2: 13-14)
In the Cabbala this card corresponds to the first choirs of angels which are called Seraphim. Until the time of the prophet Isaiah seraph signified a sacred serpent with three pairs of wings. Isaiah then took over this name for the angels. Since that time Seraph has been the name of an angelic being with three pairs of wings, sefiroth is a whole host of such angels. In the Cabbala there are ten such creative sefiroth. Sefirah literally means emanation (radiation). In modern scientific terminology the sefiroth would be known as 'emanating energy fields'. Each sefirah is both a number and a letter and has its corresponding attribute. That of the first sefirah is Kether Elyon, the 'supreme crown' which stands for the self-aware-ness of man. Just as a person is ruler of his country by virtue of a crown on his head, so consciousness of the Self gives him the power to become ruler over all the powers of the universe. His self-awareness is the crown of his being.
In the Hebrew alphabet three letters are called 'mothers'. These three mothers are: aleph, mem and shin. All three mean a birth and for that reason are known as 'mother'. Aleph is the first birth, the birth of the divine child, of self-awareness. Man's purified soul gave birth to the divine child, the first flickering of self-awareness. Man is still like a child, only beginning to look about himself and not yet able to use his divine attributes, his God-given talents. In the course of time his activity will develop and only then will he become an adult. The letter aleph has thus given birth to the first awakening of consciousness in man.
The number i and the letter aleph are both the beginning of a development. Just as the divine number i gives rise to all subsequent numbers ad infinitum, so the letter aleph marks the beginning of the alphabet. Just as the bud is the beginning which leads to the full blossom, so the present consciousness of man with the magic instruments at its disposal is the beginning of the great, long and uneven path to the supreme goal, to perfect, divine all-consciousness.
Tarot Card z
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