Life is a journey. Is it possible to get pointers along the way? I believe that the Tarot is as good an indicator of where to go and how to get there as any other process. See if you agree.
While preparing my talk for the 1991 Fountain International (UK) Conference, I happened upon an image in a book called “Tarot for Relationships”, which seemed to lend itself quite nicely as a framework for the quotations. This image, known as a lemniscate (more commonly referred to as an infinity symbol), is reproduced here.
According to the authors, once you lay out the 22 cards of the Major Arcana in the form of the lemniscate,
“It will be seen that it consists of two circles: one male/clockwise/solar circle representing the masculine principle; and one feminine/anti-clockwise/lunar circle representing the feminine principle. When the cards are placed in this pattern, the circular designs of The Wheel and The World occur at the intersection. The cards of the male circle turn outwards, symbolizing extroversion, activity and interaction with the physical world, while the female circle turns inwards symbolizing introspection, passivity and the cultivation of psychic qualities. The cards of the male circle are numbered clockwise 0 to 9 (single figures) and the cards of the female circle are numbered anti-clockwise 11 to 20 (double figures).”
To me the infinity symbol has always represented the concept of eternity, of recurring cycles of birth, life and death, creation and destruction. During one lifetime, a person may reach the intersection of The Wheel and The World, and if that person is not ready to work on the inner planes, he is returned to the outer world.
That is why there is The Refiner’s Fire: to try us, to purify us, to separate us from the world of matter and bring us back to spiritual subtlety. May the subtlety of the quotations in this book be part of “The Refiner’s Fire” for you.
The Refiner’s Fire
Behold, I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed; for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
The Seed’s Secret
From “Tales for Jung Folk” by Richards Roberts
When The Wanderer had passed this way again, He strew some seeds over the world to make the world green and to give Him much joy. But He moved quickly on through the universe, and left within each only a small seed of His Own Light.
It was winter on the earth when He passed our way, and Mother Nature was cold and unreceptive to the seeds. Her body was awaiting the great surge of spring, when she stirred in her sleep, shook her loins, and the great cycle of life began again within her.
The seeds lay in a great horde over her body, and on the first day the rains rained all day. “Now,” said the seeds, “we’re soaked through and through. Just right for our beginning.”
On the next day, a cold wind blew out of the north, and some of the seeds began to complain. “We were told that accommodations might not be the best, but this is absurd.” Some of them even began to wish that they had never been strewn.
The third day was no easier. The ground was hardened by the wind, and not a root could be put down.
The rest of the week the rains came back, softening the earth, but driving the seeds deeper and deeper into the ground. Some of them were borne away on rivulets of water. Others bounced from place to place as giant raindrops struck them.
“Ouch,” and “Oouch!” said the seeds as the rain hammered their heads. “If only the sun would come out!” chorused all of them.
“What a beautiful seedling I could be,” said another, “if only I had the right warm soil around me, and just enough sun to start me sprouting.”
“Oh,” said its neighbour, “I don’t ask much. Just a little sun through the clouds and I can manage as well as any.”
But the rains carried on through all of that month and the next. This was impossible to the seeds. Anyone listening who could talk seed-talk would have heard a whole field of complaints,
Except for one! This one seed had been bored at first by all the bad vibrations around him, then genuinely annoyed, and now he knew that if he paid any more attention to them, he would become just like them – a complainer who would never, ever grow.
So what if the rains wouldn’t stop, and the sun hadn’t come out. It was time to do something about it. All the others were waiting for something to happen outside themselves. Maybe nothing ever happened out there. Was there a sun? He had never seen it.
Their Great Legend was that the sun would come again. It had come once before, so the ancestral story went, and when it had, all of “those-who-had-bloomed-before” had burst their jackets and raised their heads to heaven.
Now despair was rampant in the seeds like a fungus, corroding the very spirit of The Wanderer at the centre of their beings.
Except for the one seed. The time had come to do something, and none of the others had thought of that. It had had enough of rain and mud, too. Perhaps the thing to do was to bring the sun out.
Making a mighty effort of will, the seed slowly pushed out a small root. “Lord,” it thought, “this is hard work!”
The other seeds were full of scorn. What good was it to try to amount to anything when the sun wasn’t out. All of them knew the seed would come to a bad end. “Never start anything unless things are just right,” was an old seed law.
Well, the single seed sent its root down, and in just a day it had a firm grip on Mother Earth. Instead of gripping, the other seeds went back to griping. “If only –“ was the prelude to each of their thoughts.
The next day was rich with clouds, as full and fluffy as the cream topping on a shortcake. Not a ray of sun could get through, if there was a sun at all.
But the seed had forgotten now about “out there.” It was engaged in a fierce concentration of all its powers of will and all its collective memory of what it was like to be born. It no longer knew of the other seeds, or the field, or the rain that continued to beat down. Deep within itself, the sun was being centred. The seed was giving birth to the sun.
The next day a green shoot burst abruptly through the roof of the seed, and bore the jacket up above the ground with it.
Just at that moment, above the field the clouds parted and a glorious sun appeared. The rest of the seeds were all dead and could not see it, but it was as beautiful as the Great Legend had said it would be. It wore a gown of golden light, and was crowned with a halo of pure white light.
The seed sent a shiver of warmth blossoming down its length from tip to root, then gathered itself and surged upwards towards the sun. For the seed had learned the Great Secret of the universe, that all along the sun had been shining within.
Most of the quotations contained in this short booklet came from “The Axis of Eros” by Walter M Spink, published by Penguin Books, 1975.
Fool = 0 (no-thing)
The Servant on an errand (to seek the priceless jewel) for his Master falls into a ditch face down. He cannot see where his Master is, so he presumes that he is lost forever. But his Master is just behind him, at the top of the bank…
The Christian Mystery by Lois Lang-Sims
In this Angelic Fall the idea is suggested that it is not our bodies (as often supposed) but the angelic part of us, the pure flame of spiritual intellect whereby we are enabled, if we choose, to apprehend the Divine, which brings about our undoing when we cease to remember that we are no-thing in God’s Presence.
How many nights must it take One such as me to learn that we aren’t, after all, made from that bird which flies out of its ashes, that for a man as he goes up in flames, his one work is to open himself, to be the flames?
The Gospel of Philip
At the time when Eve was in Adam, then there was no death; but when she was separated from him, death came to exist. If completion shall occur again, and the early identity is attained, then death will be no more.
Magician = 1 / High Priestess = 2
Also, in the book of Genesis, the two are split asunder in the moment of the drawing forth of the principle of Femininity, called Eve, which significantly occurs at the moment when the Adam is asleep. Sleep is a forgetting.
The three primary sins (pride, disobedience, lust) of the Adam represent the inversion of the three primary gifts bestowed by the Creator upon Lucifer because they were intended for Man: Knowledge, Freedom, Ecstasy; the power to know, the power to do, and the power to create.
These three powers are attributes of God.
Empress = 3 / Emperor = 4
In asking for something we must always be prepared, in some way, to give its equivalent; that by suffering we may bring about the joy; and by grasping at bliss we must, by an inexorable law, be responsible for pain. (Sunset and Sunrise)
Hierophant = 5 / Lovers = 6
The Dark and the Light are the twin polarities of the One. Love and Death, the Plenitude and the Void, continuously play with one another, dancing together like those medieval angels on the needle’s point.
Woman, verily, O Gautama, is a sacrificial fire. In this case the sexual union is the fuel; when one invites, the smoke; the vulva, the flame; when one inserts, the coals; the sexual pleasure, the sparks. In this fire the gods offer semen.
Late Buddhist Aphorism
Buddhahood abides in the female organ.
Chariot = 7 / Strength = 8
…The fear of what the female principle can bring about when uncontrolled, unleashed and out of balance has blinded man to the fact that the male principle, when out of harmony with its partner, is just as lethal. And so we come again to the end of the cycle, and this time it is the male principle in man and nature, the over-dominant, aggressive force, which will cause the downfall of our civilisation. The earth will be purified by fire.
In a violent flash of lightning I discern in the highest peak of power the most fearful pair embracing: Terror and Silence. And between them, a Flame.
The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Hermit = 9 / Wheel of Fortune = 10
At this juncture a tall, broad-shouldered man steps up to me, Seemingly, he can read my thoughts, for he replies to my inner questions: “Beautiful lady, don’t you know that this is love?”…”Now just forget the intellect a while,” says the man, “you’re not qualified to judge because you’ve never tried it. Dance with me and you’ll see for yourself.” So saying, he embraces me and drags me out into the whirling mass of people, acting just as foolishly as all the other people…I dance with him and observe myself with great curiosity…Will I too become as intoxicated, as carried away by the close contact as these poor, demented people about me? But the only thing I notice is how extremely unpleasant I find the close proximity of a man. His breath is hot, and I find it very revolting for him to be breathing into my face and down my neck. Exhaled air is used up air! Why should I be inhaling air he has already used up? Then, too, I find the odour of his body and his perspiration most unpleasant. I want fresh air. I want to get away from this repugnant place. As I try to get away from him, the man suddenly changes. In a thrice, he turns into a gigantic, fiery flaming spirit. He no longer has a body. He is only a mighty flame, trying to force me into subjection. He surrounds me, trying to force himself into my mouth…into my body. But the power I radiate, the power of my clear and sober consciousness keeps him away. He cannot reach me. He reacts, growing hotter, greater and more eager. He takes on tremendous proportions, spreading throughout the whole room, devouring all these passion-drunk people in his consuming fire. Nobody is left…nothing more…only a sea of flames, devouring and consuming everything…But I stand untouched, unscathed, and I am that I am! Then I hear a thunderous voice from out of the flames: “You have won…you have passed your test, but watch out! You haven’t won because you are stronger than I. You can’t be stronger, because I’m the fire of your own self. You just didn’t come alight because your purity and your lack of experience stand between you and me. Your body and its senses are still sleeping. That’s what protected you. But watch out, we’ll meet again…we’ll meet again!…” And with that everything disappears – fire, room, smoke — everything…and I find myself alone again… (Initiation by Elisabeth Haich)
King Lear by William Shakespeare
Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears do scald like molten lead.
Justice = 11
Edgar Cayce’s STORY OF JESUS by J Furst
The reading stated that the book of Job was written by The Master (as Melchizedek) as an explanation for the pattern of man in the earth. The characters are symbolic rather than actual persons who lived on the earth.
Job 1: 6-12
The day came when the members of the court of heaven took their places in the presence of the LORD, and Satan was there among them. The LORD asked him where he had been. “Ranging over the Earth,” he said, “from end to end.” Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? You will find no one like him on the Earth, a man of blameless and upright life, who fears God and sets his face against wrongdoing.” Satan answered the LORD, “Has not Job good reason to be God fearing? Have you not hedged him round on every side with your protection, him and his family and all his possessions? Whatever he does you have blessed, and his herds have increased beyond measure. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and then he will curse you to your face.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “So be it. All that he has is in your hands; only Job himself you must not touch.” And Satan left the LORD’s presence.
Hanged Man = 12 / Death = 13
After Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, he had him prepare himself for a spiritual baptism by meditating with the angels of the Heavenly Father and Earthly Mother for 6 days in the manner of the ESSENES. Then on the seventh evening, Jesus took Lazarus to a cave with a stream running through it and initiated him with a secret ceremony.
“The Mystery of the Kingdom of God”
To judge from the hekalot and Qumran texts, the magical papyri and the Byzantine liturgy, these will have been mainly the recitation of repetitive, hypnotic prayers and hymns. The magical tradition also prescribes, in some instances, interference with breathing. Manipulation, too, was probably involved; the stories of Jesus’ miracles give a very large place to the use of his hands.
“Jung and the Lost Gospels” by S A Hoeller
Baptism was practiced in two forms – ordinary baptism as administered by the orthodox was known as “psychic baptism”, because it was designed for people whose consciousness was lodged in the mind-emotion complex and who were not ready to enter the realm of spirit. A higher form of baptism was known as “pneumatic baptism”, indicating that when administered in this fashion, the baptism rite no longer merely served the purpose of purifying the soul, but rather put a personality in touch with the higher, or spiritual, self… Anointing (in modern times called confirmation) is the second initiatory sacrament. Water is used to wash, oil is employed to seal. Oil, when ignited, burns, and is thus associated with the element of fire, whereas baptism is associated with water. These two elements have traditionally been regarded by the ancients as the primary polarity which when conjoined produce wholeness. Thus the following saying becomes meaningful:
The Gospel of Philip
“The soul and the spirit entered existence from water and fire. The child of the bride-chamber came into being by these and by Light. The fire is the chrism, the light is the fire, the light also is formless, we speak not of it, but the other whose form is white, which is of the light and beautiful and bestows beauty.”
The Gospel of Thomas
Become, by passing away. (Logion 42)
The images are revealed to man, and the light within them is hidden. It shall be revealed in the image of the light of the Father and his image is hidden by his light. (Logion 83)
When you see your likeness, you rejoice but, when you see your images, which came into existence before you (and which) do not die, nor are they revealed, how much will you endure? (Logion 84)
Temperance = 14 / Devil = 15
There is a story of the Buddha which relates how, in one of His incarnations, He encounters a starving tigress with her young, and presents Himself to them as food. The story has a meaning similar to that of the Eucharistic rite. It reverses the usual order: instead of the lower being consumed (or eaten) by the higher, in a gesture of Divine generosity, the reverse process takes place. The Divine One presents Himself to be eaten. For this, if we accept the idea (which is basic to every tradition) that mankind has become alienated from God, is the necessary condition, before man, in the wholeness of his nature, can himself be consumed by the Godhead and so be made Divine. If a man in his alienated state were cast bodily into the Fire of God’s Love that Fire would be for him what the Church has called “Hell”. He could not endure it for an instant. So God, Who is that Fire, has given us to eat of Himself, so that we may after all become not “as gods” but as God. That is the meaning of the Eucharist.
“The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ” by Levi
Jesus teaching Lazarus how to pray:
Our Father-God who art in heaven, holy is Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven; Give us this day our needed bread; help us forget the debts that other people owe to us, that all our debts may be discharged; and shield us from the Tempter’s snares that are too great for us to bear; and when they come, give us the strength to overcome.
Tower = 16 / Star = 17
The moment of Life is the moment of Death, occurring on what T S Eliot calls “the point of intersection of the timeless with time”. It is on account of the absolute paradoxicality of this primal moment that the act of generation has had, from the point of view of Christianity, a double face. The orgasm of ecstasy is, in a blinding mystery which has almost never been exposed because the Church has considered it to be at once too holy and too terrible to contemplate, the cry of dereliction from the Cross. The words which follow that cry are plainer in the Latin than in the English text: It is finished – Consummatum est.
(In those Nuptials) the Mystical Union between Christ and His Church, all Christian marriages are said to co-inhere; a point which is explicitly stressed in the marriage service, and which explains why the sexual act within marriage is regarded as a sacrament. The Nuptials of the Virgin are associated with what mystics all down the ages have described as the Divine Kiss, which constitutes the Union between the soul and Christ. The Cross is the “shadow side” of this Mystery of the Kiss. In the Myth it is the dark Bride of the Crucified God. He who hangs upon it is the same Who creates the whole world by an Act of Love.
The Crucifix is a symbol corresponding to the Tantric images of coupling gods. The difference is that it expresses anguish rather than bliss. The seed of life which is spilled on the Cross is carried in a stream of blood. The Christ-figure on the Crucifix represents both the Heavenly Bridegroom Himself, and the Divine Phallus upraised in the Creative Act.
“I, if I be lifted up, shall draw all men unto Me.” (Caduceus/The World Tree/Ygg Drasil)
“And behold the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom, and the earth did quake…” The veil of the temple protected the sanctuary known as the Holy of Holies which could only be entered by the High Priest. It corresponds to the hymen protecting the virginal womb. (Blessed Virgin = Shekinah = Mystery of Divine Femininity Whose Presence filled the Holy of Holies, as She hovered above and around the Ark of the Covenant.)
Also the feminine is united to her consort in the bride-chamber, and those who have united in the bride-chamber will never be divided again.
But the bride-chamber is concealed. It is the Holy of Holies… There is a Glory that is superior to glory, there is a Power which is above power. Thus the perfect things are revealed to us, and so are the hidden things of the truth; and the holy things of the Holy are disclosed, the bride-chamber calls us to enter.
Moon = 18 / Sun = 19
St Theresa of Avila
I could not explain it. In his hands I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails. When he pulled it out, I felt that he took them with it, and left me utterly consumed by the great love of God. The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness, caused by this intense pain, was so extreme that one cannot possibly wish it to cease, nor is one’s soul then content with anything but God.
“The Secret Path” by Paul Brunton
And we may even be forced down on our knees, at unexpected hours of the night or day, to pray that the Light be granted us. If this happens, do not resist or resent it. Yield, and if you feel an urge to weep when praying for the Oversoul’s Grace, then let the tears flow copiously as they come forth. Do not hold them back. There is great spiritual merit in weeping for the visitation of a higher path. Each tear will dissolve something that stands between you and the divine union. Never be ashamed of such tears, for they fall in a good cause.
“Since you have drunk, you have become drunk with that sparkling source which I have measured out.”
“But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus said: “He who drinks from my mouth shall become as I am, and I myself shall become him, and that which is hidden shall be revealed to him.” (Logion 108)
Norman O Brown
To find the true fire, Semele asked for the full presence of her divine lover, and received the thunderbolt.
Last Judgement = 20
And a fire within me leaps up to answer. Fire will surely come one day to purify the earth. Fire will surely come one day to obliterate the earth. This is the Second Coming.
Norman O Brown:
Speech re-sexualised. Sexual potency, linguistic power, abolished at Babel and restored at Pentecost. At Pentecost, tongues of fire, a flame in the shape of a male member.
God will not judge the world and mankind; but a blinding light will pierce the world and man. This will be not only light, but a searing, purifying flame.
The ancient tradition, that the world will be consumed by fire at the end of six thousand years, is true, as I have heard from hell. For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the Tree of Life; and when he does, the whole of creation will be consumed and appear infinite and holy, whereas it now appears finite and corrupt. This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.
But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his soul is to be expunged…
If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks in his cavern.
World (Universe) = 21
Misfortunes, often brought on by his odd disposition and whimsical ways, multiplied, and made him at times feel that he was the particular target of the world’s buffetings. Yet he managed to avoid the self-pity to which his contemporary Rosseau was so given. Rather, Blake saw himself as a Job, who would be the subject of one of his greatest masterpieces. Like Job, he accepted God’s chastisement as something to be endured, that would in the end purify and enlighten: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
Naked I came from the womb,
Naked I shall return whence I came.
The LORD gives and the LORD takes away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.
When you make two into one, and when you make the inner as the outer, and the outer as the inner, and the upper as the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male shall not be male and the female shall not be female, when you make eyes instead of an eye, and a hand instead of a hand, and a foot instead of a foot, an image instead of an image, then you shall enter the kingdom. (Logion 22)
He who seeks shall not cease seeking until he finds, and when he finds he is dismayed, and when he is dismayed, he is filled with wonder, and he shall become king over the All. (Logion 2)
By Kahlil Gibran
Then said Almitra, “Speak to us of love.” And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said:
When love beckons you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you, yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you, believe in him, Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the North Winds lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you, so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth, so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.