Numerical Value : 90 Letter: X Tzaddi
This tarot card is dominated by the large lunar disk containing. the face of a beautiful woman in profile. Her face is kind, full; it puts one in mind of a good mother. The background of die disk is blue like the sky. The rear part of the head consists of a blue, a white and a yellow stripe. As we already know from the previous explanations, the blue background and blue stripe denote devotion and faith in God, the white stripe stands for purity, and the yellow one for shrewdness, intelligence, understanding. The lunar disk is set in eighteen long yellow points, which surround the moon like rays of light. The eighteen points refer to the number of this card. Between the long yellow points there are short red ones. The yellow points are the intellectual powers emanating from the intelligent head, and the red points in the background denote the spirituality manifested through the woman's intellectual powers. From the red points of light large coloured drops fall to the ground like leaves from a tree. There are yellow, green and red drops. This means that from this face, from this lunar being, goodwill and humanity as well as intelligence and spirituality radiate to all living creatures on earth.
Below, on die ground, we see a landscape divided into two parts. We feel that there is a great difference, a sharp distinction between the foreground and the background. At the entrance to the background, to the right and left, we see two massive towers. They are reminiscent of the one struck by freak lightning on tarot card 16. Here the towers do not have four, but three square crenels. This already denotes a certain spiritualisa-tion of matter. Both towers are built of heavy bricks and each has one window. On the left tower the window is open; on the right one it is closed.* At the foot of the right tower we see an open door leading to the foreground. The occupant of this tower has left - this explains the closed window - but he has not gone towards the horizon but rather to the foreground of the picture. He first had to withdraw into the blue pool. In the other tower there is no door, only an open window. These towers correspond to the two pillars of Solomon, 'Jachin' and 'Boaz', and to the two legs of Logos, one of which stands on the ocean, the other on the ground.
Between the towers a path from the right-hand side of the foreground leads into the distance. It is red and therefore a purely spiritual path!
In front of the towers are two animals. A white dog and a black wolf. We already know that the white dog symbolises something pure, the black wolf, on the other hand, something diabolic and material. The two animals look up at the moon and howl full-throatedly. They are the guardians of the threshold.
In the foreground there is a large, round, blue pool. In it we see many small tufts of water grass and a huge red crayfish. The pool symbolises the human memory in which rest all the things that have happened in our lives, and the crayfish is our spirit, our higher Self, which withdraws to the pool of memories to make the final settling of accounts. The path leading into the distance between the two towers passes this pool. We see how the path breaks up into fragments between the towers, becoming continuous again in the distance.
* Due to an error on die part of the artist, this is not properly illustrated in die picture.
We have a sense of a solemn, dramatic stillness in this picture. At this moment something decisive must happen to affect the entire future life of the man who experiences this level. After all the experiences of his previous states, he arrives at the great threshold where he actually, and not merely inwardly, leaves all earthly things behind and crosses over to the purely spiritual world as at the moment of death. He crosses the threshold between resurrection and life - and death. First, like the crayfish in the depths of the pool, he withdraws to the depths of his being where all memories rest, to digest and ponder over what has happened to him in this life. He digests all that he has experienced and learned with his fellow-men, with his family and in his work, he takes stock of and clarifies everything. He digests his entire earthly life and comes to terms with it. When he has struggled through this stage of development, he will inwardly be as he was at the moment of birth and as he will be at the moment of death. He brought nothing with him, nor can he take anything away. When he entered this world he was simply here, in his consciousness he had neither parents nor friends, neither marriage partner nor children nor grandchildren, he possessed nothing, he did not know what it means to possess. For him the universe was a connected whole, that simply existed and with which he had had no dealings as yet, and which had not yet fettered him. Now he has reached this state once more. Nothing belongs to him personally, but he himself does not belong to anybody either. He is free of all that has stood in the way of his freedom, just as we shall be free in death. He leaves everything behind and follows in the footsteps of the spiritual titans who have preceded him on this path to resurrection, to eternity. First, however, he must enter upon the path which leads out of earthly, illusory reality, from the pool of 'withdrawal into the Self' and of'reflection on all that has happened', he must pass between the towers, if the guardians of the threshold let him cross at all, and continue on his way. As he proceeds he must be very careful to trace only the steps of his great predecessors who also once crossed this threshold. He must follow these titans faithfully. He must not miss his footing: a single false step and he falls back to where he started. He cannot afford to stumble at this stage, since it is already a matter of life and death.
The passage is narrow. The towers stand close together, thus forcing him to go through this narrow gap. And there are also the two animals, guardians of the threshold, who do not want to let him through. These animals, who sometimes resemble dragons and sometimes Cerberus of Greek mytho-logy, can be seen at church entrances both in Europe and in Asia. Who are these guardians of the threshold ? And why is one white and the other black? Why does the white dog at least not let him through, since his very colour shows that he symbolises something pure, spiritual and beautiful? Indeed! That is precisely die reason!
We recognise in these two animals the two strange creatures on tarot card 10, on the wheel of fortune. There the wolf was still a devil; but the dog was already a dog. They denote the instinct of preservation of the species and the instinct of self-preservation. There they still rotated in the destiny of man, even though he was already superior and impartial like the sphinx. Now, however, he will finally leave these two behind him, just as in death we leave our desires and instincts here on earth. Now the two animals have been divested of their attributes. The wolf, previously a devil, no longer has his Neptune's trident, nor the dog his Mercury's staff. They have therefore much less power over man. The wolf, who as the instinct of preservation of the species once exercised a 'diabolic' power over him, is now no more than an animal. The same is true of the dog, who once acted as mortal fear in the human consciousness. Neither of them can any longer subject man to their power; for he is already above them, just as the moon looks down on the landscape. They can only 'bark' and 'bay' at him. That they can do to frighten him. Many fall into this trap, for the moment they reach this threshold and want to cross over into the purely spiritual life while still in the living mortal body, they are seized by the fear that they could now actually physically experience death and die. . . . They withdraw in fright and fall back into this side of life, into the material-worldly state of consciousness. That is why in the ancient initiation rites the candidate was tested for his courage in the face of mortal danger. But our 'magician', who has already passed through all the previous states of consciousness, no longer needs this test. He does not let the keepers of the threshold deter him. He knows that there is no death, only eternal life, and he wishes to enter it at all costs. The wolf still barks at the man of courage but does not bite him. He lets him pass through. Only the white dog, symbol of his animal-psychic bonds, remains to be conquered. When the 'magician' has reached the stage where he consciously wishes to cross the thieshold and immerse in the ocean of the divine - at this overwhelming moment the image of a loved one, perhaps of his child, springs up from deep within himself and this thought alone is sufficient for the white dog to restrain him with this apparition. He wants to seize him by exploiting love - personal love! But no! Even if he tears himself away from all those for whom he still has a deep personal affection, he knows that he can never lose these people, but will only come closer to them in the spiritual world. Completely merged widi God, in a divine unity, he will become one not only with those he loves, but with the whole universe which also includes the latter. And with his consciousness he bravely continues on his way in the footsteps of the great ones - into the boundless distance, to immortality, to eternity. He crosses the threshold, nothing remains to daze him, no apparition can hold him back. In his consciousness he goes through the gates of death to find on the other side the long-yearned-for deliverance.
In blessed meditation man may experience all this. In such a state of consciousness man is above everydiing, just as the moon looks down on the earth. Just as in this picture the crayfish withdraws into the pool, so man, in meditation, withdraws into his divine Self. And as the moon in the dark sky reflects like a mirror the light of the sun to the earth, so man now radiates the light of God to the whole world, to every living creature, to every plant, to every animal and to every human being. He no longer feels any difference between the people to whom he is tied by an earthly blood relationship and those with whom he has a purely spiritual bond. He can see that consanguinity is a purely animal, purely physical bond. If there is no underlying spiritual tie then he has no more kinship with his relatives than with all the other creatures of the world. In death all blood-ties fall away with the body and there remains only the spiritual union in god. We then feel in Him our inner union with all that lives, we feel that we stand in our awareness of self in relation with the entire living universe -that we can and do taste the fruits of the tree of life.
An old Jewish fable has it that a man asked his neighbour : 'Whom do you love more, your brother or your friend?' And the other answered: ' I love my brother if he has become my friend.' Not the blood relationship, but the spiritual oneness is essential!
At this level of consciousness man crosses the threshold between life and death, from the earthly point of view. From the spiritual point of view, however, this threshold is the border between death and life. Physical birth into matter signifies death for the spirit, but birth into die spiritual world, into the native realm of the spirit, denotes resurrection and eternal life for the spirit - for the earthly consciousness, on the other hand, death. From the earthly side, the foreground on the divided landscape of tarot card 18 denotes life, and the background death. From the spiritual side, however, the foreground means death and the background resurrection and eternal life in god! The 'magician' now passing through here has seen everything 'the other way round' since tarot card 12!
The person crossing this threshold vanishes as far as his spiritual being is concerned from the ken of earthly men. They still see his body, but his inner being gradually recedes until it is no longer comprehensible to diem. It disappears on the path to infinity, to eternity. Now he not only sees everything in reverse, he also sees the transient in all that is earthly, yet he appreciates only the lasting, the intransient, the eternal. And behind all earthly forms, whether plant, animal or man, he sees only the lasting, the absolute, the eternal. In each earthly form he already perceives its future as if it were already present - the transience, the constant change and the ultimate dissolution of everything that is form, its return to where it came from: God. In the case of his own earthly body too he sees the change, the transience, the coming extinction and disappearance from the earthly sphere. Yet he knows now that his true being, his ego, his self, has nothing to do with transience, for his true self is eternal, just as god is eternal.
Tarot card 18 carries the numerical value 90 which consists of the sum of the digits of the number 18 and the o, symbol of boundless space. It carries the letter tzajddi. The number 18 consists of the divine number 1 and the number 8. Eight is the falling of the spiritual into matter, thus the mirror-reflection and the eternal cycle of the infinite from the spiritual into the material and back again. Moved by the sight of the Staubbach waterfall in the Lauterbrunnen valley, Goethe divines:
The soul of man Resembleth water: From heaven it cometh, To heaven it soareth, And then again To earth descendeth, Changing ever.
The free spirit is caught in this endless rotation which signifies its death. If, however, we add the number 8 to the divine number 1, we obtain 9, the number of absolute adjustment and adaptability. At this level each tarot card, therefore each number, contains the symbol of infinity, o, and thus the two numbers result in the number 90. The number 9 was discussed at the ninth tarot card. It was shown that it stands for 'self-denial' and 'self-effacement'. This number always remains itself, it does not change, no matter how it may be manipulated, it always remains 9 and its adaptability is equally unalterable. Together with the o, the number 9 no longer stands for adaptability to earthly powers; rather, as the number 90, it becomes a self-sacrificing and malleable instrument of God.
The letter tzaddi designates a border, an end, a goal, tzaddi is a terminal sign referring to all ideas of limitation and release from division and aim. In this instance it symbolises the border between life and death - and death and life. As a hieroglyph tzaddi stands for a pool inhabited by the elemental creatures - nymphs and Tritons. Symbolically speaking it is the pool full of 'living creatures', die water swarming with living experiences of the unconscious manifesting itself, i.e. of the unconscious becoming conscious. As a letter tzaddi corresponds to the letter teth, number 9, of the hermit. In hieroglyphics tzaddi and teth express the same idea, something that offers man shelter and protection, like a roof in the rain; thus his guardian angels.
Tarot Card 19
Was this article helpful?