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Thursday 25 October 2012

The Tarot Moon – a positive force

I have been reviewing all my tarot material lately as I gather information on a book I have been meaning to write for a while.  What is interesting from a Golden Dawn perspective is how Samuel Mathers appears to have started well with the Tarot, but then clung on to some things within tarot to maintain a tradition he was undermining.
Take for example the Moon card. The traditional interpretation of the moon card is bad.  It represents illusion and suggests that the querant is being fooled by themselves or others.   This is the negative aspect of the Moon.
However Mathers made it clear that the Moon as seen by the Golden Dawn was on the side of Mercy and therefore its symbolism should be seen in a positive way.  The Golden Dawn attributed the card to the letter Qoph and Pisces.
The image of the letter Qoph is the back of the head which is the most primitive part of the brain.  It is that of the automatic consciousness and carries out functions which we do not think about.  The symbol is sometimes seen as an axe.  While you might think that an axe is simply a primitive weapon, in ancient Egypt it was a symbol for a God's power.  This reveals to us that magic works at the unconscious level and any miracles on the material plane happen by manipulating the subconscious.  The shape also looks like an ear, which means that we are dealing with psychic “hearing.”
When Qoph appears in a reading it is indicative of something powerful which is going on behind the scenes.  It might indicate that what is happening is unconscious.  Something new is coming and something powerful.  The Moon is the sun reflected and it is also the Sun at midnight.
One of the more unusual meanings of Qoph is a monkey.  This is a reference to what Buddha called the Monkey Mind.  It is that clever, but automatic consciousness, which drives us from one thing to another.  Buddha said that the human mind is as if filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, and chattering, which need to be quietened before real meditation takes place.  This is the automatic conscious at its worst and it acts as a destraction.  In some readings Qoph can represent distractions and too much going on.
Qoph has the number 100, which is the same number as the Archangel Michael who was “like unto God”.  The fact that there is a 100, and Cabbalah says that there are ten spheres in each sphere of the Tree of Life, gives us the impression that Qoph is a totality, a perfect mirror image of the Universe.
The world is written Qoph [Back of Head, 100] plus Vav [Nail, 5] plus Peh final [Mouth, 800], all of this equals 905, which reduces to 14 (Temperance) and again to Vav.  905 is the same number as the word Resheth which means net.  Qoph then links all creation and forms a connection between all beings.  It gives a method for the unconscious forces to communicate (Peh).  The letter is important because it is first letter in the word Qesheth, which means rainbow.  This was the rainbow which God revealed to Noah after the flood, promising that there would be no more wiping out of humanity by floods.  Notice that a rainbow is prominent in the Temperance tarot key.  So when Qoph shows up in a reading, we are being told about communications, links and networks.  It is also indicative of promise that things will get better.
The Sepher Yetizirah says that God produced Qoph and made it “predominant in Joy, crowned, combined, and formed Pisces in the world, Adar in the year, and the spleen in man”.  Joy, is an unconscious reaction to a situation.  Joy takes away the power of restriction expressed by Ayin and makes a mockery of the illusion that is material reality.   Adar is the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar and it is seen as a  month of good fortune for the Jewish people.  Purim, the holiday of Adar, commemorates the "metamorphosis" of the Jews' apparent bad fortune to good.  The festival of Purim marks the high point in the joy of the entire year.  Cabbalists say that Purim is a time of great wonder, which symbolises the infinite essence of God's transcendent light entering into the finite context of physical reality and revealing itself.  Thus Qoph can indicate that things are about to change for the better and if joy is not already there, it soon will be.
So lets look at the astrological connection. Pisces rules secrets and is in turn ruled by Jupiter.  This emphasises the idea of something secret going on behind the scenes.  Jupiter is the sign of expansion and success and so it underlines the idea that things are getting better.   But this will not be so hot in the area of relationships and creativity.  Venus falls in Pisces, which means that love and creativity cards are weakened by the presence of Qoph in a reading.  Communications and magical operations will fail, as Mercury is in detriment in Pisces.
On the path of involution, which is questions of a material nature, Qoph is Venus acting on the Earth through Pisces.  As we have seen above, that is not a good thing.  Divine Love is weakened through the sphere of Pisces which explains a lot of why the world is in the mess it is in.  Divine Love instead manifests as material growth and evolution.  On the path of evolution it is the material nature working on divine love through Pisces.  Again, this is difficult in a spiritual sense, as the Earth cannot really understand the Venus side of God.  Instead it attempts to create more forms which is the earthly inclination.  For this reason Qopth sometimes relates to pregnancy, new theories and ideas, which are built on existing developments rather than true breakthroughs.
So if the Moon is looked at in a general reading,  it is the unconscious mind which links all things together, but with an  emphasis that something is always on things going on behind the scenes.  Nothing will be immediately obvious, but seems to be moving for the best.
It could be a period of great happiness, with everything slowly moving towards a perfection.  If things have been bad, Qoth indicates that there is a turning point about to happen which will change things.  The answer to questions that you seek might be found by networking and asking others.
It is a good letter for business because it shows that a plan will go forward and develop and expand.  But it could show up in a relationship reading for someone who has been concentrating too much on their work at the expense of their relationship.
In a relationship reading, the question “does he love me?” is probably not answered.  It suggests unconscious forces at play, but these usually work to block a successful relationship.  If it is a question about an established relationship, it could mean that while everything is under stress, everything is evolving and in time the true nature of the relationship will reveal itself, usually positively.  In a spiritual reading, the message is to quiet your monkey mind, relax and accept that you are moving towards your goal.
So this creates a totally different Moon card from that of tradition.   So the question is, “why did Mathers go for the traditional meaning of the card when he wrote it in Book T?”
Instead of using his own suggested attributions, Mathers said “Dissatisfaction, voluntary change. Error, lying, falsity, and deception.”  This is certainly not the mercy side of the lunar forces, nor has it anything really to do with Qoph or Pisces.
Do you have a problem with
Women Mr Crowley?
Based on this meaning Crowley would be justified in his particularly vile meaning of the Moon card in his Book of Thoth which he admits is for the waning moon. “... the moon of witchcraft and abominable deeds. She is the poisoned darkness which is the condition of the rebirth of light.“
While I would suspect that Crowley might be projecting his attitude to women in this meaning, both he and Mathers would be wrong.
While I am finding myself agree less with Paul Foster-Case's meanings of Tarot, I think he hit this one on the head quite well.
The Card is one of unconscious evolution.  The moon is the light in darkness it is the reason why we develop.   When we encounter it in regards to a problem it means that we are developing, slowly and surely towards something better.

Monday 22 October 2012

Good and bad tarot cards

Lately I have been doing a lot of work on the Golden Dawn version of the angels of the Shemhamphorash. For those who came in late, the Angels of the Shemamphorash are based on a cabbalistic system connected to the 72 letter name of God. The Golden Dawn did some serious surgery to the system by orientating them to Leo rather than the more traditional Aquarius and assigning each of the two angels a Tarot card connected to their decan.
While I will probably report back later on my experiments, one thing that all this has taught me is that there are no good or bad cards in tarot.
The Golden Dawn attributed some pretty nasty titles to some of the cards. Perhaps the worst was the Lord of Ruin connected to the Ten of Swords, which often leads to a reading sliding down the pathway to Doom. You can have a reading with lots of good cards and then suddenly the ten of swords pops up and you start seeing the riders of the apocalypse.
But equally you can have readings with lots of good cards when evidence suggests otherwise. For example a person whose life has collapsed has cards which say everything should be coming up roses right now.
The Golden Dawn said that each of the minor keys (without the aces) were under the control of the zodiacal trumps. Most of these are seen by readers as being more powerful and get a more optimistic reading than the minors.
The list is

Emperor controls the Two, Three and Four of Wands
Hierophant controls the Five, Six and Seven of Pentacles
Lovers controls the eight, nine and ten of Swords
Chariot controls the two, three and four of Cups
Strength controls the five, six and seven of wands
Hermit controls the eight, nine and ten of Pentacles
Justice controls the two, three and four of Swords
Death controls the five, six and seven of Cups
Temperance controls the eight, nine and ten of Wands
The Devil controls the two, three and four of Pentacles.
The Star controls the five, six and seven of Cups.
The Moon controls the eight, nine and ten of Cups.

Focusing on the doom card of the ten of Swords we see that it is controlled by Gemini which is probably the lightest major arcana. True the GD did try to give a more pessimistic image of it (Andromeda rescued by Persius) but that is still no justification for the pile of doom which the eight, nine and ten of swords are attributed. True Air is not exactly “happy” in the stodgy element of Earth
The Angels of the Shemamphorash who look after the ten of swords are Damabiah and Manaqael.
Damabiah takes the energy expressed by the Lovers card and converts it to the 10 of swords and Manaqael releases it so that it can move into the next decan (in this case the “extremely positive” two of cups).
So what then is this energy expressed by the Lovers' card. The lovers appears in tarot it is always sorting out wheat from chaff, dividing things apart. This makes the Tarot attribution “the Lovers” all the more stranger as you would think that Love is a unification. But this is one of the Mysteries of the Tarot. You are separating things knowing that they are One thing. You are saying this is man and this is woman, but they are separate aspects of One Thing. This is real love or true marriage. The couple are both separate but at the same time working together. The only time they express true union is during the sexual act, but the rest of their lives are working together at something they call their relationship, or their marriage.
So based on these combined meanings, the ten of swords should be read as an ending or separation which which leads to a new beginning or union (emphasized by the two of cups in the next decan). In a relationship reading this meaning would be more obvious but in a business reading, it would mean that a project will end and the result will be good.
This is far from the Lord of Ruin of the Golden Dawn. In fact I have said before that this card is better to be called the Lord of Endings and Beginnings. The connection between the Lovers (zain) suggests that there has to be a separation before there can be a union.
So what about so called positive cards. The sort of cards people like to see are the two of Cups which suggests partnership and union. Is it possible then to see a negative aspect to the Lord of Love, which is the Golden Dawn title of this card?
The cards are ruled by the Chariot and the Hebrew letter Cheth. While the Chariot is generally optimistic card, Cheth rules over the Hebrew month of Tammuz which was seen as a “month of tragedies.” Tammuz was a Babylonian god and the Babylonians enslaved the Hebrews. It is connected to the sin of worshipping the Golden Calf and begins is the three week period which commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Cheth is seen as a force which brings things together which might not normally be joined (it even looks like a vav and a Zain linked together). Since the two of cups shows a bringing together of things it does not necessarily mean that this is a good thing. A sword and a nail are opposites. One joins and the other splits apart. Cancer is the co-dependant sign of the zodiac and tends to want to hold relationships and families together no matter how destructive they are.
With the Two of Cups follows in sequence from the ending of the ten of swords. Our first Shemhamphorash angel is Eiael and as we have seen he has elements of the ten of swords the second angel is Chabuiah who has elements of the three of cups. Inside these two elements can be found the negative aspects of the cards. Eiael suggests a possibility that two things have been bought together, but it could contain the seeds of an ending, it has has been bought together too soon, or is two things that should not be together. The energy of Chariot (opposites bought together) could contain the seeds of destruction. Chabuiah suggests that it could move into a more friendly aspect over time or established partnership (three of cups).
So looking at this in a reading we can have a negative from a positive card.
Say a querant wants to know if their relationship will last. The card representing the relationship is the two of cups. Traditionally you could say that this is one of the great loves which should be able to overcome everything. But when you look at other cards you see negative ones which indicate there could be arguments and quarrels. Indications that there are two sides at odds with each other. The near future is the ten of swords but the long term future is the two of swords. This would indicate that the relationship is probably one of two people who have different world views and are not getting along. The ten of swords may not mean that the relationship is doomed (although it could) because it is followed by the two of swords. This would suggest that the couple work out away to resolve their differences and the problems end at least in the short term.