Number: 10 Letter: 11 Yod
In this picture we see a strange wheel in a small boat afloat on the waves. The boat consists of two half-moons, one is positive-red, the other negative-green. A sturdy grey pole stands in the boat and round its base coil two serpents, one positive-red, the other negative-green. A large wheel is attached to the top of the pole. At the point where the wheel is fixed to the pole, thus on the axis of the wheel, there is a handle. From this we see that the wheel is being turned. The wheel consists of two circles: the outer, larger one is red, the inner, smaller one, blue. The red one signifies spirituality, the blue one, deep faith in God. The spokes of the wheel are yellow, therefore the two wheels are sustained by intelligence and intellectual powers.
Two strange creatures cling to the wheel. One of them looks like an animal, a dog with a human body. Its head and long mane are yellow, its body is blue. It wears a yellow sash round its belly, the loose part of it fluttering out behind him. In its hand it holds the ' Hermes staff'.
The other creature on the wheel is a devil with a Neptune's trident in his hand. Instead of feet, he has fins like a Triton. This shows that he is connected with the element 'water'. His head is a nondescript dark colour, his body is green. He, too, wears a sash round his belly: its colour matches his head and the loose part flutters out behind him. From this part of the sash we see that the wheel is being turned in an anti-clockwise direction by some invisible agent.
Above the wheel a sphinx sits on a yellow board. In her, all four elements are represented. Her head is red, her headdress red and white-striped. Therefore her head belongs to the element 'fire'. Her wings are blue and thus denote the element 'air'. She has the body of a lion; the upper part is green and belongs to the element 'water'; the lower part is brown and belongs to the element 'earth'. The tip of her tail is red like her head, thus again fiery. The sphinx has lions' paws; in her right front paw she holds a short sword.
What does this strange picture mean?
It shows the human state of consciousness following upon the ninth level of consciousness, symbolised by the picture 'Hermit', where, in his inmost being, man withdraws from the 'world' and breaks away from all his personal concerns. It is only outwardly that he plays his part in the ups and downs of life, inwardly he is serene and free. Not without a hard struggle he has cut himself off not only from the 'world', but also from his entire destiny. He now knows that he cannot run away from the problems he has to solve because they go with him. He would take the problems with him and acquire new ones in addition, which would always demand the same answer of him. Now he has reached the stage where he sheds all his inescapable problems as a snake sheds its skin. The answer, therefore, to his outward destiny in this world was not to leave his family and work, but rather, to learn and gain experience from these. Thus he had to cope with all the difficulties of life from which he would have liked so much to escape. When he has learned wrhat he had to learn, he will have new and more sophisticated work and more intricate problems to solve, in order to learn yet further truths and gain fresh experience. Now he no longer wants to run away from his present situation, work and duties but to learn as much as possible from them. He consciously looks for what these circumstances can still teach him and what spiritual and intellectual advantage he may derive from them. In the course of this he does not notice that a gradual change is taking place around him because, in the first instance, it does not occur from the outside, but in himself. His reaction to everything that happens to him has changed. In his inner world he is a true hermit.
In die external world no one notices anything of this. Things are still the same, his life seems to continue as before. For the time being, the difference is that he begins to look at everything, his whole life on earth, from above, just as the sphinx looks down on everything. He continues to free himself inwardly from all that has tied him in the past and allows his person to act like an implement without himself being touched by it. He perceives the solutions of his problems only rationally, he does not participate in them heart and soul. He regards all his affairs as if they belonged to a third party. He remains in a superior position like the sphinx above the wheel of fortune, who symbolises his higher Self and looks on impartially at what happens. She holds the sword in her 'paw', ready to strike and obtain what she wants if anything should happen against her will.
In this state of consciousness man no longer swims himself in the ocean of life, but lets himself be carried along on the waves in a boat. In the picture this boat consists of two half-moons. As in the picture of the queen of heaven, the moon stands for man's emotions. He has already become spiritual, loving and understanding. This is shown by the red and green of the half-moons. The red and blue circles also denote that he judges things first from an intellectual and only afterwards from an emotional point of view. The yellow spokes stand for the powers of intellect, which dominate in his present state.
The vertical pole supporting the wheel of fortune and the two serpents coiling round it are nothing else but an extended Hermes staff, the symbol of man, going back to the great
Chaldean mystic, Hermes Trismegistos. This staff, as depicted in the hand of the creature, has two wings at the top and is surmounted by a small ball. The staff symbolises the human spine, the ball denotes man's reason, and the two wings his spirit hovering up above. Two serpents twine round the staff. They cross at several points and keep each other in check. There is tension between them. The serpents symbolise the two great vital currents in man. In the Indian Vedanta philosophy they are known as the two main channels of lite: Ida and Píngala Nadi. Píngala, the red serpent, passes on the right side, Ida, the green serpent, on the left side of the spine. The central canal in the spine is called Sushumna Nadi. The wheel in the picture signifies man's fate, which he himself has shaped and which revolves around his Self like the planets around the sun. His two great instincts revolve with his earthly-material person. These are the instinct of self-preservation and the instinct of preservation of the species, over which he has not yet attained complete mastery. The instinct of self-preservation is symbolised in the picture by an animal, since it is the 'animal in us', as Paracelsus termed it. This controls our mortal bodies and thus, too, our physical health. That is why the animal creature holds the Hermes staff with the three currents of life. This instinct governs the body from within and endows us with the ability as well as the urge to keep our bodies healthy, to eat, drink and act in the interest of our health. This is true at least in the case of healthy people, if they have not yet destroyed their healthy instincts with various addictions.
The instinct of preservation of the species is symbolised in the picture by a devil who works with the body-fluids through which life is transmitted. This devil is here the symbol of the unconscious, sexual, purely animal instinct in man, which has nothing to do with love.
These two instincts are active only in the body, in our earthly person, but not in our spirit, since they are the physical manifestation of the spirit. The same thing cannot be in two places at once. Divine-creative power manifests itself either in the spirit as creative power, or in the body as sexual energy. At this level of consciousness man is already spiritually aware, but has not yet been able to convert the two instincts. Nevertheless, he already dominates them with his reason, just as the sphinx in the picture dominates everything and determines from above what should happen in the body, in one's own person. Man already rules in his realm. As the Upanishads so aptly put it:
He who, dwelling in the earth, yet is other than the earth, whom the earth does not know, whose body the earth is, who controls the earth from within - He is your Soul, the Inner Controller, the Immortal.
As in the Bible, earth in this context means the body, the person composed of earthly powers. It does not know the spirit, the Self, the Immortal - but the spirit, the Self, the Immortal knows the Mortal, the person - and governs it from within, from the unconscious.
This card carries the number 10 and the letter yod. (In our alphabet, I.)
The number 10 is the number of fulfilment, the perfection of creation. The boundless circle, the cipher, which at the same time forms the letter O, symbolises the universe, boundless space, the maternal aspect of God. In itself it is the absolute nothingness that is ready, however, to give birth to everything and to take it all back again and absorb it into itself. The cipher becomes a number only when it is preceded by any of the other nine numbers. The number one and the letter yod (our I) are identical. They are the first original manifestation of God. All ensuing numbers and letters originate from this primal festation. It is the fecundity of God, Logos, the creative principle which creates countless worlds and living creatures in the great and boundless cipher, in infinite space. In the number 10 creation reaches perfection and fulfilment. The masculine-positive, creative principle of God has penetrated and fertilised space, the negative, maternal aspect, and has become one with it.
The number 10, correctly depicted, is a circle containing the fertilising, positive-creative power of God:
The picture of the wheel of fortune also represents the number 10. The wheel is the cipher and the pole supporting the wheel is the number 1. This number 1 is, however, identical with the letter yod or I.
In the Hebrew alphabet, as in every other, all the letters derive from the one yod or I. Hebrew letters are letters of fire. Each character is a combination of flames. Yod is the very first flame of the divine fire, of the spirit of God. All other flame formations - the letters - proceed from this first flame. Just as the number one is the first number from which all further numbers spring forth, so the letter yod is the first letter, the first flame from the spirit God, from which all further letters are derived and formed. At the level of consciousness of the wheel of fortune man must penetrate to the depths, the roots of his being, from where, endowed with a new perspective, he must find a new direction and follow a new path. Just as on tarot card 1 the 'Magician' with the number one and the letter alepk was the beginning, so now, at the level of the wheel of fortune, at which the number one is linked with the boundless cipher, he will again be the beginning at a higher level. From now on he will no longer move in single figures, but coupled with the cipher, symbol of the universe, he will advance by ten at a time. Now he is not an isolated, personal being, but begins to become a part of the universe - hence the cipher.
The tenth sefirah is Malkhuth and means kingdom. This tarot card marks the end of the sefirotk sequence.
Tarot card 10 complements tarot card 9. Together they make 19, which by cabbalistic reduction again leads to the number 1:10+9 = * + 9 = 10 = 1.
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