Essence of Tarot

The tarot embodies symbolical presentations of universal ideas, behind which lie all the implicits of the human mind, and it is in this sense that they contain secret Doctrine, which is the realization by the few of the truths embedded in the consciousness of all.

The true Tarot is symbolism; it speaks no other language and offers no other signs. Given the inword meaning of its emblems, they do become a kind of alphabet, which is capable of indefinite combinations and makes true sense in all.

A. E. Waite

More than a Gateway to the West.

The Arch lays the fertile ground – or foundation – to St.Louis and gives birth to the rest of the nation, symbolized by the symbols of fertility on the Arch grounds.

The Sphinx alludes towards the mind ascending to take dominion over the processes of life, disorder, and destruction being overcome. It represents equilibrium or the balance of all forces of nature, it also intimates illusion and like the Sphinx of Oedipus sits ready to destroy all incapable of answering it’s riddle. The whole sphere of Nature as man knows it is but a shadow of reality. The Sphinx is the keeper of the gates of mystery, illusion itself is the keeper of reality and illusion destroys itself when we give the right answer to life’s riddles. Though there is only one, the Sphinx of Egypt guarding the Giza complex, looking East, watching the sunrise, these two sphinxes sit back to back watching the sunrise and sunset as if they’re the keepers of this illusion we call reality (crowning the Wheel of Fortune). These sit just like the Sphinx on the Wheel of Fortune card in Tarot crowning the wheel declaring the entire wheel itself is an illusion.

Credit for the large majority of the interpretation goes to Yolanda M. Robinson and Manly P. Hall

Lovers Card Origins

A motif similar to the Lovers can be seen and the frontispiece for the Triompho di Fortuna by Fanti, a fortune book published in Venice in 1527. In this allegorical illustration, we find a large figure of Atlas supporting a globe that is actually an elaborate wheel of Fortune with a belt displaying the signs of the zodiac surrounding it and crank handles extending from the central axes. On our left, there is an angel, representing Good Fortune, turning the handle clockwise. On right, there is a devil, representing Bad Fortune, also turning the handle. At the top of this wheel and globe, sits a pope. As in the Tarot, he represents the highest temporal ruler – he is literally on top of the world. On either side of him, sits one of two women with their names written in latin next to their heads. On the left is Virtus (virtue) and on the right, the same side as the devil, sits Voluptas (sensuality). The Pope’s fate hangs on his choice of a mate.

Robert M. Place

Renaissance Homage

Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites believed that art was a spiritual or magical endeavor and toward this end they formed a mystical brotherhood of English artist dedicated to recapturing the sincerity of the art of the early Renaissance – the same period that gave us the Tarot.

Burne-Jones based his tall female “stunners” and melancholy heroes on the paintings of Botticelli and Michelangelo, two artists, whose works are considered primary examples of Renaissance neoplatonism. His work expresses the Renaissance idea that physical beauty and spiritual beauty are linked and in one continuum that can lead to the mystical experience of beauty itself, as a timeless, underlying reality – Plato’s “true food of the soul.”

In the Renaissance, artists, like Botticelli, symbolized this spiritual essence as an ideal female nude and this ideal allowed early Tarot artist to place a nude on the World card as a symbol of the primary beauty and allowed alchemists to use the nude as a symbol for the Anima Mundi.

Robert M. Place

Oracular Keys

The tarot is a veritable oracle and replies to all possible questions with more precision and infallibility than the android of Albertus Magnus. (Albertus Magnus was said to have created a brass head that could answer any question. It was called Androides) an imprisoned person with no other book other than the tarot, if he knew how to use it, could in a few years acquire universal knowledge, and would be able to speak on all subjects with unequalled learning and inexhaustible eloquence. In fact, this wheel is the real key to the Oratorical art in the Grand Art of Raymund Lully (Raymon Lull); it is the true secret of transmutation of shadows into light; it is the first and most important of all the Arcana of the Great Work.

Eliphas Levi

Sufi Asceticism

Perhaps the greatest contribution that Sufis made to Islamic culture was through their poetry and song. They became the masters of love poetry that expressed the soul’s longing for union with God, the beloved. In their poetic forms, divine beauty was symbolized by female beauty, and the longing of the soul was expressed as the longing of a man for a woman, who was of higher rank and beyond his reach. In other forms, the soul is described as a loving wife and her husband as God. Sufi poetry so thoroughly infiltrated Islamic culture that all Middle Eastern love songs were influenced by it, and in these songs the distinction between profane and spiritual love was blurred. In the 12th and 13th centuries, these mystic singers inflamed the Christians of Spain and southern France with their passion and the troubadour tradition was born.

Rober M. Place

Dream-Like Nature

There is no objective reality that exists sperate and independently from our consiousness. Because of the quantum dream-like nature of reality, once we view the universe as if it independently – objectively exists – it will manifest in a way that confirms our view point. Nature responds in accordance with the theory and beliefs by which it is approached. The choices we make about what we observe make a difference in what we find.

“You get back what you put into the world” comes to mind.