Philosophy • Spiritual Science • Freemasonry • Tarot
Tarot as spiritual tool
To those familiar with Tarot, it may seem a little odd that I used the stone carving of Adam and Eve at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil as my entry point (click on the heading above to view the image).
I was reminded of the adage that a little knowledge is dangerous. In some ways, Tarot can be like that, in that one can presume to know far more than is really the case: whether this be about oneself; about others; or about tarot itself. And with this 'knowledge' further presume to be able cause (or seek to effect) a change leading to a specific result that may, inadvertently, instead lead in other directions.
If there is something about Tarot that is fantastic, is that is allows ever more deeper reflections into the realm of symbolism. A symbol, and especially a sacred symbol, is one that always points beyond itself, and yet also binds itself to that to which it points. It therefore has, to be sure, a literal meaning that is as real as its allegorical, its pure symbolic, and its spiritual referents.
The five 'suits' of Tarot
I'm increasingly unsure how to best describe the structure of a deck. To characterise it without caricature, I shall here describe it (alphabetically) as a deck having five suits: the suit of 22 iconic Atouts or trump imagery; the suit of Batons; of Cups; of Deniers (or coins); and of Epées (or swords), these last four suits each containing ten pips and four court cards.
The twenty-two trumps
Here I shall simply list them in the Marseille-style order, calling to mind that early decks had neither number nor title. In the Marseille-style, the thirteenth card often carries no title (though some, such as the early Noblet deck, does!), and the Fou or Mat carries no number (though placed by some, including myself, as the twenty-second card). In the list which ensues, I have retained (in red) the French title when its common translation misleads.
It should also be pointed out that various attempts have been made to present different orderings of these cards.
Personally, I prefer the traditional order. It has an inner vibrancy and quality that remains unmatched.
Ordering of trumps
In the above presentation, the twenty-two trumps are presented (nearly) sequentially – in this case from right-to-left. If we briefly look at the sequence as presented, let us take note of a few features.
Firstly, there is a progression from I-VIIII, then the X visually asks us to 'turn around' and repeat this series as the 'other side' of the first, from XI-XVIIII. In that sense, XI becomes the inner quality of I, XII of II, etc..
At the conclusion of this, XX calls us back out again to the light of day, to emerge as an accomplished human being in its highest form (XXI), often presenting itself to the world as but a Fool.
Petroglyphs and Tarot
An aspect that was being slowly developed on this site is the relationship between petroglyphs from especially late mediæval religious houses and Atouts depictions. This work has been put on hold, initially during the development of Tarotpedia, and then due to the development of my 30-week course(s) (which form the basis of my Reading the Marseille Tarot). I'm not sure when I'll resume this. To get an idea as to what I had started, Cf. XVI - Maison Dieu.