No study of Occult Philosophy is possible without an acquaintance with symbolism…. Symbolism cannot be learned as one learns to build bridges or speak a foreign language, and for the interpretation of symbols a special cast of mind is necessary; in addition to knowledge, special faculties, the power of creative thought and developed imagination are required.
In order to become acquainted with the tarot, it is necessary to understand the basic ideas of Kabala and of Alchemy. For it represents, as, indeed, many commentators of the tarot think, a summary of the Hermetic Sciences – the Kabala, Alchemy, Astrology, Magic, with their different divisions. All these sciences really represent one system of a very broad and deep psychological investigation of the nature of man in his relation to the world of noumena (God, the world of spirit) and to the world of phenomena (the visible physical world).
The letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the various allegories of the Kabala, the names of metals, acids and salts in Alchemy; of planets and constellations in Astrology; of good and evil spirits in Magic – all these were only means to veil truth from the uninitiatedP.D. Oupensky
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
Astrology is based on the idea that the soul departs from Heaven, which is above the stars, through one of the constellations of the zodiac and then descends through the planets to live in a body on Earth. At each planet the god of that sphere clothes the soul in certain qualities that become its personality. This is the origin of the list of the seven virtues and seven vices. Effectively the planets function as a ladder or stairway to earth and as personal emanations or steps in every person’s individual creation. Through a complex system of correspondences between the planets and colors, metals, herbs and other objects on Earth, magicians can make use of the powers of the planetary gods in their magical practice.Robert M. Place