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The Secret Inner Voice

November 10, 2011


The Power Within You

Students of the occult are often led to the belief that all arcane secrets must have been published in book form at one time or another, and that consequently, if they but had access to all these books, the wisdom of the Universe would be theirs. This belief is fallacious, and leads only to the acquisition of a hotch-potch of half truths and fables in which students can become bogged down, until they learn — by trial and error — to prove all things for themselves and to hold fast only to that which is true.

Within our brain, each one of us has a subconscious sifter of facts sometimes called inspiration or the secret voice. Prayer or meditation allows this voice to be heard. It is represented by No. 5 in the Tarot, The High Priest, or Hierophant, formerly called the Pope. It was to this secret voice that King Arthur referred when he counselled his knights to “Go into the stillness and harken to the voice within you” before they faced a new ordeal. In the lives of us all there are trails and tribulations, some of which may seem too immense for our own strength to overcome. It is at times like these that the “sifter” within our minds can be of help; the knights who knelt in prayer through the dark hours knew that, at some time during their vigil, the hidden voice would speak and advise.

Everyone who reads these words and who has a problem can make an experiment this very night which will prove the secret voice within them to be a reality and not a mere myth. Devote the night hours to meditating upon your problem and praying that you may be shown how to solve it; if you feel drowsy drift into sleep, leaving the question to the secret voice. Some will wake up with the answer clear in their minds, while others will later receive a flash of true inspiration which gives the only possible solution. Thus both will have learnt, for all time, the powers of No. 5 in the Tarot. It represents the link between yourself and the Divine Parent — a true channel of communication with all knowledge.

Never pray for your troubles to be removed from your path, for they come to teach you something. Ask, instead, that you may be inspired with a solution, and may be enabled to play an active rather than a passive part. Many of our troubles are self-induced, sometimes by muddled thinking, or in some cases by taking the advice of others. True students of the occult resort regularly to the secret voice, for they know that the destiny of mankind is not to avoid trouble but to overcome it.

All our lives can be compared to a Mission Perilous; but once we accept that true guidance from the One who knows us best is there for the asking then the prospect of misfortune loses much of its terror. The Knights of the Holy Grail discovered this the first time they knelt in contemplation full-armoured for the battles ahead. It is the allegory contained in the famous picture of the kneeling knight, who seeks to resolve his own doubts and to be sure his cause is just before he wields his sword.

The card representing Justice, No. 8 in the Tarot, stands for the initiation which comes to us when we learn, for the first time, to see ourselves as we really are and to judge ourselves fairly and without self-excuse. It represents the Initiation which each Knight had to undergo before being accepted as a member of the Round Table, and that time when “he looked upon his true self and groaned aloud for bitter shame.” It is far too easy a matter to judge others and arrive at what we suppose to be an impartial verdict if we are ignorant of our own limitations. We are shocked if people condemn us for delivering justice untempered by mercy, for we believe ourselves to have been fair. “It’s my honest opinion,” we cry. But what use is an opinion if we are unfit to form it? Only after we have judged ourselves can we realise that we do not know enough to condemn others. Instead we are enabled to put ourselves in the place of the accused, to see that her or his limitations are much the same as our own, and so extend the understanding that we should want ourselves.

A man who taught me much occult lore once heard me say bitterly: “All I want is justice.” “Never ask for justice,” he answered gravely, “when what you really want is mercy.” During the course of our own Mission Perilous we will be required to administer justice — and it is to be hoped, mercy — from time to time; therefore the sooner we put ourselves through the self-initiation represented by No. 8 in the Tarot the better. It is then, and only then, that we are properly fitted to deal with the vicissitudes of life, the alternating good and bad fortune which falls to our lot.

No. 10 in the Tarot Trumps, the Wheel of Fortune, represents the ever-changing aspects of our lives; the various trials, the luck, good and bad, which we encounter on the journey from birth to death. The wheel symbolises the world, as it turns beneath the unchanging stars which shed their light on humanity, affecting them for good or ill according to their capacity to deal with life. Whether or not you believe in astrology, much occult teaching is founded upon it, and upon the assumption that the motions of the stars correlate with events in the world on both mundane and individual levels. Hence, we are all tied to the wheel of earthly life, and as it turns, receive the benefits or tribulations meted out by the Cosmic Powers. Luck and misfortune seem to pursue us in a regular sequence. Once, however, we have learned to battle with — or adapt ourselves to — the less fortunate aspects of life, we find that it is our troubles which have taught us most. We find also that, properly handled, they can bring fortunate changes in their train.

On another level, The Wheel of Fortune represents the Round Table itself, at which no one knight was elevated in position above another. Nevertheless, each knew that he would have to meet trial and danger, and resolve it in his own way. The parallel with our present-day existence is plain. The successful ones among us are those who have learned to understand themselves and the powers within themselves which, properly used, lead to human beings taking control of their lives instead of being controlled by external forces. And that was one of the lessons the Quest of the Holy Grail taught every Knight who pursued the Cup of Knowledge and Happiness.


There are two routes by which the mysteries of Trump No. 5 can be approached. If at this very moment you are in difficulties or are wrestling with a hard decision then you are in a position to put into operation the advice contained in paragraph four above. “Everyone who reads these words and who has a problem can make an experiment this very night which will prove the secret voice within them to be a reality and not a mere myth. Devote the night hours to meditating upon your problem and praying that you may be shown how to solve it; if you feel drowsy drift into sleep, leaving the question to the secret voice.” The remainder of the paragraph explains the various ways in which you might receive your inspiration, an inspiration which, if followed, will lead you out of your present difficulties.

However, if you are not currently beset with any specific worries or problems, the reality of the “silent voice within” can be proved by another means, namely the all-night vigil. This is a variation on the wise counsel given by King Arthur to his knights before they embarked on any new quest: “Go into the stillness and harken to the voice within you.” What lies before you in further meditations and exercises is the task of self-examination. You will need assistance if you are to face this assignment with true courage and honesty. Therefore, so as to form a channel between your conscious mind and the secret voice of your Higher Self, which, once open, will permit help from Above to flow though whenever it is needed, you are asked to spend one night kneeling in contemplation “full-armoured for the battles ahead”.

Set a date for the night on which you will make your vigil. In the room you intend to use, create for yourself an altar, placing it towards the eastern wall (or most easterly-facing wall). In carrying out this exercise you face east since, as it continues, you will be waiting for the sun to rise, and that, of course, happens towards the east. The sun, in the tradition followed by the Temple of Janus, stands for such ideas as knowledge, gnosis, enlightenment and illumination. The symbolism should be clear.

A perfectly adequate altar can be made up using a coffee table or bedside cupboard draped with a white cloth. On the altar place a red rose in a vase and a cup of water. A chalice is not strictly required, though it is a nice touch to have one is present. There is a practical reason, too, for supplying yourself with a cup containing water: you will be able to sip from it now and then as the night wears on. If you have a sword, lay it on the altar so that its length is parallel with the north-south axis, grip to the south. Finally, place Trump No. 5, The High Priest, face-up in a prominent position on the altar.

When ready to commence the vigil, kneel, fully clothed, before your altar. Remain there all through “the hours of darkness”. You may start your vigil as late as you like (e.g., at two or three in the morning), as long as you have not slept previously that night. Once started, however, you must continue until day-break. (Naturally, you are allowed to visit the bathroom when you need to.) But should you give up the vigil before first light, you have failed the test and must either make another attempt or abandon the project — and your chance to become a Major Adept.

Some students like to perform a Lesser Pentagram Ritual, with the angels looking inwards, before starting the vigil. Also, you may find it advisable to provide yourself with a cushion or some folded towels to put under your knees to protect them. Otherwise, just remain in a contemplative state pondering until day-break the tests of impartial Justice, and of good and bad fortune, that are to come. It may be prudent to ask of your inner silent voice whether you have the strength and determination to persevere with this exercise; or what pursuance of the grade of Major Adept may cost you. As you kneel in the stillness, listening to the voice within you, you too will learn that “true guidance from the One who knows us best is there for the asking”.

Once you have completed the vigil, you are ready to proceed to the next part of the exercise. Do not, however, undervalue this technique. Recall what you are told in the text above, that “true students of the occult resort regularly to the secret voice”.

Your next task after the vigil is neither easy nor pleasant. You are asked to attempt to see yourself as you really are and to judge yourself fairly and without self-excuse.

Remove from the deck Trump No. 8, Justice (in most modern packs this card is numbered 11). Place it upright before you and meditate on your good and bad points, your ideals — and how, from time to time, you fall short of them. Be honest about your virtues; do not discount them. You may be a loving parent, a loyal friend, a dutiful son or daughter, an honest salesperson, an efficient and cheerful waitress. Give yourself full credit for these traits even as you castigate yourself for your failures and vices. Even so, your self-assessment will reveal in no uncertain manner that you are a less than perfect specimen of humankind. This is all to the good, for only after we have sat in judgement on ourselves in this way are we able to see clearly that we do not know enough about human nature to condemn others. Continue with this meditation for seven days. It is not expected that you will complete the task of self-exploration by the end of this time. You will only have scratched the surface. But you can return to the exercise on a later occasion when all the work set out in this symbolic quest for the Holy Grail is completed and discover even more about yourself.

This exercise represents an evolutionary stage each Knight presenting himself at Camelot had to pass through before being accepted as a member of the Round Table. Up to this point in your own magickal progress you have been, metaphorically speaking, but a simple knight. After seven days working on this exercise you can consider yourself to be a Knight of Table Round, a high honour since, according to legend, not every candidate was accepted.

Having put yourself through the self-initiation represented by the Tarot card Justice, you are properly fitted to deal with the vicissitudes of life, the alternating good and bad fortune which falls to our lot represented by Trump No. 10, the Wheel of Fortune. Take this Trump from your Tarot deck and place it upright before you. For seven days, think about the ever-changing aspects of your life; the various trials, the luck, good and bad, which you have encountered on your journey from birth to the present moment. Ask yourself if there is any kind of pattern to the changes, the successes and reverses which you have experienced. Ask yourself too if there is a relation between your actions, kind and unkind, selfless and selfish, and the good and bad fortune you have experienced. Maybe there is no pattern, no relation, or maybe the pattern is too large for you to discern as yet. But often the pattern is discernible.

As you work through these meditations, make a record of your life-history to date. Write it as a synopsis, allowing yourself approximately one foolscap page for every seven years you have lived. Note every important incident — and deciding what is important can be a realisation-exercise on its own. Leave out everything that is incidental. Rewrite the synopsis if necessary: one rarely gets the balance right at the first attempt. This part of the project may allow you to discover patterns and relationships you missed during meditation. Finally, remove Trumps No. 5, No. 8 and No. 10 from the pack and place them in triangular formation with The High Priest at the head of the triangle, Justice below it on your right, and The Wheel of Fortune in line with Trump No. 8 on your left. Think of these Major Arcana cards as explained below.

Although The High Priest normally represents our link with Divinity, in this instance, standing at the head of the triangle, it acts as a symbol for the Divine Parent Itself, overseeing all, including the work of those beings known in occult lore as the Regents of Karma.

Justice, Trump No. 8, represents the work of the Regents of Karma themselves. Karma is a Sanskrit word basically meaning action. The doctrine of Karma teaches that every action we perform has “an equal an opposite reaction” the effect of which we will surely feel in the fullness of time. What is not generally taught is that these actions can be performed on any level, so that inaction on the physical plane alone does not circumvent the creation of future karma. The labourer who is digging up a road is performing an action (karma), but the yogi who is meditating is also performing an action. The sensualist indulging in a sex-romp is performing an action. The sick person taking medicine is performing an action. Trump No. 8 stands for all the actions one has performed in the course of one’s present life on all levels.

The Wheel of Fortune represents Destiny, or those events that must happen to us because they are reactions to deeds we ourselves have done – some kind or selfless, others unkind and selfish – in the past.

Meditate on this triad of forces for seven days, noting whatever ideas suggest themselves on both the mundane and individual (the objective and subjective) levels. You may not entirely grasp the mechanism by which the Law of Karma proceeds in the time allotted. Do not concern yourself over this deficiency. In one sense, this exercise is but a preparation for further deliberation which will be carried out by those students who at some future date attain the grade of Major Adept. Moreover, there is another piece of this particular jig-saw not yet in your possession and which you will learn about in the next chapter.

Several students have asked why none of the cards which are the subject of this lesson are meditated on in reverse. In the case of Trumps No. 8 and No. 10 the reason is that their reversed meanings have already to some extent been included in the meditation exercises. Both cards denote simple opposites: good and ill fortune, justice that has either found in our favour or found against us. Whether a ruling goes for us or against us, justice is still justice. Similarly, the type of luck or destiny signified by The Wheel of Fortune we have made ourselves and may be good or bad, fortunate or unfortunate. In a Tarot reading Trump No. 8 in reverse can on occasion represent injustice, but that is one of its mundane meanings. On the higher levels, justice is always unbiased, impartial. When the higher justice chastises us, it is because we have done something that merits chastisement. Even when we suffer injustice, it may be because we are destined to do so.

The High Priest, Trump No. 5, in this exercise stands for the Divine Parent, and the mysteries of the Eternal One’s symbol in reverse are reserved for contemplation by those of the higher grades.

© Madeline Montalban, 1954

© Tony Willis, 2010

From → tarot

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