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Tarot, the

Category: Mystic groups and systems

The Tarot cards are not cards that were intended for divination or prophesy or even for games, but their original use was to symbolically describe spiritual truths at a time when the institutional religions were persecuting those who followed the spiritual path.  Whether it was Islam, Catholicism or the Jewish religion, the persecution of mystics and spiritually minded people usually meant torture, imprisonment, and death.  And the death could be ghastly – burnt alive, hung drawn and quartered, flayed and so on.

So the need for secrecy was paramount and the Tarot deck – looking like a game and entirely pictorial was ideal for hiding the truths.  From the Tarot came our ordinary packs of playing cards with the suites and trumps and so on.

Every card in the Tarot has a spiritual meaning.  I have provided some of the meanings of each card in the definitions section under symbols.  I have also added observations to illustrate the symbolism of specific example cards, but if you turn to the Symbol section you will find all the symbolism there.

SUITS - The suits in the Tarot correspond to the Levels and layers.  Thus

[The playing card suits derived from these are spades, clubs, hearts and diamonds].  The traditional Kabbalah/Rosicrucian based tarot suits are swords, batons/wands, coins and cups; in modern tarot decks, however, the batons suit is often called wands, rods or staves, while the coins suit is often called pentacles or disks.

   

TWO PARTS - The order of the Tarot pack is important, some of the cards symbolise the stages or roles one has to go through on the spiritual path.  Thus it can also be looked on as a mapping of the stages one has to go through on each reincarnation too, as having been a ‘Hermit, say, on the next reincarnation you may be a ‘Magus’.  The 78-card tarot deck used by those who are spiritually inclined has two distinct parts:

  • The Major Arcana – covers what are called the greater secrets, or trump cards and consist of 22 cards without suits.  Some cards show roles or stages in evolution, the rest are cards that have a symbolic meaning related to what you need to know or go through.  All these relate to advanced stages of the spiritual path .  There is a link here with the Sephirot and the letters of the Hebrew alphabet which only has 22 letters.
  • The Minor Arcana – or the lesser secrets) consists of 56 cards, divided into four suits of 14 cards each; ten numbered cards and four court cards. There are some links here with the feudal hierarchy although this is a degradation of the actual meaning, which showed the levels one had to go though on the spiritual path of ascension - the stages.   The court cards are the King and Queen, Knight ,and  Prince or Princess, in each of the four tarot suits. All these relate to the lesser and thus lower stages of the spiritual path – if indeed the spiritual path is being followed at all.  All these will result in reincarnation.   Princes and princesses are aspiring Kings and Queens – the pawns in chess.  In the Wheel they are to be found round the rim.

Divination using the Tarot does not mean ‘telling one’s fortune’ or trying to work out the future.  Of course people these days play games with the cards and pretend to use them for this purpose, but divinity meant ‘of the divine’ the cards were used to try to work out where you were on the path.

The numbering of the cards is indicative of the match between major and minor arcana.  The first major arcana cards are 'active' helpers and the number of the card matches with the number of the minor arcana cards.  In effect this person in this role, plus all those above this role, help with the people on the spiritual path at this stage.   As we have seen. the Minor Arcana matches the spiritual path and we have provided a set of observations under the heading of 'Tarot', which shows the meaning of the card from the point of view of the spiritual path, as well as its links with the Kabbalah and the Sephirot.

References

The Tarot.com website has a large number of example decks and is therefore useful for comparison.

The full description for all of Crowley's cards provided in his usual coded language can be found on this reference site for the Book of Thoth

Observations

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