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New Birth, New Birthchart

November 21, 2011


Excalibur — Sword of Power

Though some of the secrets of the Ace of Swords in the Tarot have been dealt with in the previous chapter, there is still much to say regarding the arcana of Excalibur, the Sword of Power. In occult lore this card symbolises force which has been invoked as contrasted to natural force. A volcano in eruption is natural force: a world war is invoked force. Note, too, that invocation can take place without the invokers being aware of it!

In a mundane Tarot reading, the upright Ace of Swords signifies the presence of an enemy, or someone not well disposed towards the querent. This does not mean the person alluded to is evil: we are all entitled to our personal likes and dislikes. From another angle, some of us need to be prevented from taking the “wrong” job, buying the “wrong” house, and so forth by external material events – which frequently entails another person blocking our path. This is something that happens often to those individuals who are deaf to intuition and blind to omens but whom Providence desires to protect against themselves nevertheless. In reverse, the Ace of Swords indicates that, although the querent has enemies or rivals, in this instance they will not prevail.

In an esoteric Tarot reading, the reversed Ace of Swords presages divine help over otherwise unconquerable obstacles. Upright in an esoteric reading it signifies “inspiration” emanating from the opposite pole, and which, if followed, can lead to destruction, for in such a case our greatest enemy is most often ourselves. Excalibur represents one aspect of this card: strength attained through affliction and struggle. The message can be applied to the reversed and the upright meanings of the Ace of Swords, for both represent severe initiations, though of different kinds.

The sword is an important part of an Adept’s equipment. She or he employs it both to invoke and banish forces, both good and evil. It has an astrological correspondence with Mars and the martian attributes, and when encountered in a Tarot spread is invariably powerful, predicting events that are to happen in the near future, and forecasting good or ill according to its upright or reversed position and how it is placed with other cards.

Returning to the allegory of the Morte d’Arthur we find that only the “True King” could pull the Sword from the stone in which it had been embedded, and that after the death of Arthur it was thrown into the lake, or, in correct parlance, submerged beneath the astral sea. There it remains until those with true occult knowledge come to find it for themselves and wield it in the terrific battle between knowledge and ignorance – or, if you prefer it, good and evil.

The Ace of Swords also represents the weapon in the hand of War, who is one of the four dreaded Apocalyptic Horsemen, the other three being Famine, Pestilence, and Death. These four lie under a “Magickal Seal” unless let loose . . . and the Sword is one of the implements which can break that seal.

When the Knights of the Round Table were told to “take the Sword and fight that which is evil”, they had first the advantage of having learnt the occult lore of the Round Table, which taught them to differentiate between what was evil and what was good. And it was not one whit as simple as it seems.

The student must learn to reconcile a belief that the Supreme Creator is all wise and pitying with the undeniable fact that evil exists. Merlin taught the Knights of the Table Round that the Divine Parent tolerates the existence of evil because some purpose lies behind it. Without evil to fight against, mankind becomes slothful, self-satisfied and non-progressive, content with a physically comfortable life. Remove evil and the strife it brings, and the very method by which humanity climbs upward would be removed. Because mankind’s frame is more akin to that of the animals we resemble than that of the angels to which we wish to attain, we need troubles and enemies to strive against, in order to develop our full powers. Knights (or student magicians) needs them too – until that hour when their mental and spiritual qualities have become so developed that evil ceases to have power to affect them, and so for them, simply ceases to exist. The Knight can then lay down the sword or throw it back into the astral sea of illusion that represents the accumulated “good” and “evil” desires of mankind.

But because evil no longer exists for the newly-fledged Adept, it does not follow that it has ceased to exist far the rest of humanity. For them it is still there, until they have learned how to negate it. This each individual must discover for her- or himself. It is as individuals we have to fight the majority of life’s battles, and the evils we battle against differ in each case. No occult formula for entirely negating evil by mass thought or wish ever fully succeeded yet. Each of us must tackle, on our own, that evil which besets us, and in conquering it we have each played our part in overcoming mass-evil. To this end each of us may employ deliberately invoked force – or Excalibur.

When evil or trouble threatens, don’t hope it will disappear. Summon all your courage and tackle it boldly. The threat either comes to nothing in the end, or dwindles to proportions you can deal with. This is Excalibur . . . the will to fight and conquer. That is correctly invoked force. Wrongly invoked force, or invoking the demonic powers of the Ace of Swords, can be explained by this simple allegory.

Mr. Blank threatens Mr. Dash. Mr. Dash, in desperation, decides that if he kills Blank, his threats can come to naught. So he kills Blank. (The Ace of Swords wrongly invoked.) Does the threatened evil disappear? Not at all, it reshapes itself, and Dash faces a murder trial and subsequent punishment far worse than any which Blank intended. True, Mr. Dash has done away with Mr. Blank, but he can’t do away with the effects of his action. He has used the demonic power of the Sword, and this destroys the wielder. If Dash had said calmly to Blank: “Do your worst – I will still live, and overcome this somehow”, he would have invoked Excalibur. Blank may have had a temporary gain, but in the long run he would have been the loser. With the Ace of Swords protecting Dash, its punitive power would have to attack somewhere; and its target would have to be Blank. Blank would have gained nothing but trouble in the long run . . . trouble far greater than that with which he threatened Dash.

Be sure, however, that the evil you fight is not your own weakness. Most evils are, you know. Too often our enemy is ourself, and we fall into the power of others because we fear to fight them. Don’t do it. Fear breeds troubles. Invoke Excalibur, go into the fray with determination, and like the Knights of the Round Table you will unhorse your opponents and make them beg for quarter.

That is the allegory underlying the many battles the Knights of the Round Table were engaged upon. They were trials of strength – trials of right against wrong, with right triumphant. The knights were learning the correct use of the Sword of Invoked Force. Anyone can learn to invoke and use Excalibur, for knowledge is free and open to all. But, like the Knights of the Round Table, one has to learn the correct use of Excalibur by trial and error . . . and fight every step of the way.


Part One

In preparation for your 3rd Degree, in the first of these exercises you will be “learning the correct use of the Sword of Invoked Force”.

Place the Ace upright in front of you on a table. Sit in a relaxed posture and for three days contemplate the card as a symbol of invoked force, in contrast to natural force. As you do so, keep in mind that an energy – or an entity – can be invoked without the invoker being aware of what they have done.

At the end of the allotted period, turn the Ace into reverse, and for a further three days, contemplate it as a symbol of “Divine help over otherwise unconquerable obstacles”.

Next, set the card upright again, and take four days to think of it as representing both “an enemy, or someone not well disposed towards you” and an ‘inspiration’ arising out of ignorance or some negative emotion, such as fear.

Part Two

Set up once again the “horoscope” you made for yourself as part of the exercises of the previous chapter. Include The Fool and the four Aces in the centre. This represents the basic horoscope of each and every Adept of the 3rd degree that ever was, is, or shall be. Now is the time to personalise it.

Take the remaining Trumps and cards from the Minor Arcana and shuffle them together thoroughly. Once this is done, cut the deck once, restack and begin to deal out all the cards on to the twelve zodiacal Trumps of your horoscope. Start by placing the top card on to The Tower, then place the second card on The Moon, the third on The Sun, and so on, round to The Devil. Continue to circle around the zodiac until all the cards have been dealt out. Now go through the twelve resultant piles discarding all Minor Arcana cards. When you have finished sorting one pile, set any Trump cards you are left with beside the zodiacal Trump they had been dealt on to. You should end up with something resembling Figure 1 if you are using a square chart format, or Figure 2 if you are using a circular chart format. (The central section, with the Aces and The Fool, have been omitted from both diagrams for the sake of clarity.)

In both diagrams, the cards marked with a ‘Z’ are zodiacal Trumps; those marked ‘P’ are the extra Trumps you have now dispersed around the zodiac. Your personalised horoscope may not look exactly like Figure 1 or 2, but you will have nine planetary Trumps distributed among the twelve signs of the zodiac. Correction: one of these is not Planetary. Trump No. 13, Death, represents your new Ascendant. Note carefully in which sign it falls. We pass from death to new life via the medium of the womb’s amniotic fluid, and that is why Trump 13 – death, dissolution, Water – is used to signify the Ascendant of the horoscope representing your birth into Adepthood.

Figure 1

Figure 1

If you know anything about astrology, you can attempt to interpret your new horoscope using the rules with which you are already familiar. However, this chart will possibly contain features that a normal birth chart could never accommodate. For instance, by this method, it is possible to have Venus or Mercury in opposition to the Sun, something that cannot occur under normal circumstances.  There are eight cards besides Death. They stand for the seven planets of the ancients plus the Moon’s North Node (or Rahu), which is sometimes called a shadow planet. The Juggler/Magician corresponds to the North Node, The High Priestess to the Moon, The Empress to Venus, The Emperor to Jupiter, Strength to Mars, The Star to Mercury,  Judgment to Saturn and The World to the Sun.

Don’t despair even if you know nothing about astrology. There is another way of accessing the information in your new birth chart, and this other way is the one that has to be adhered to by everyone following this Course.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Go through the houses starting with the First House; i.e., the house in which the card Death has fallen. Only read Houses that have other Trumps associated with them. But read them in pairs: House 1 then House 7, House 2 then House 8, House 3 then House 9, etc.

Working with either Figure 1 or 2, imagine that card Z5 represents the fifth sign of the zodiac, Leo, which corresponds to The Lovers card, and that P2, P3 and P4 stand for the cards signifying the Ascendant and the planets Sun and Mars respectively. These last three equate with the Trumps Death, The World and Strength. Since Death falls here, Leo becomes the 1st house of this horoscope. As a consequence, a person with this configuration in their new birthchart would be required to interpret the cards The World and Strength in association with The Lovers, alongside the meanings of the 1st house. (The card Death is not read; it is only a pointer to tell us where the first house lies.)

Following this, our imaginary student would be required to look to the house opposite the 1st, namely the 7th. This house need not detain us long, as there is no extra Trump in it. Nor are there any in the 2nd or 8th houses. However, there are two cards in the 3rd house (P6 & P7) and one the 9th (P5). First the Trumps in the 3rd house are read along with the Trump representing Libra (Justice), and then the Trump in the 9th house is read in tandem with the Trump representing Aries (The Tower).

Your “reading” of the Trumps in each house will actually take the form of a meditation on the meanings of all the cards of which the group is composed.

In order to understand the relevance of the houses of your new horoscope, you may need to refer to the list giving the meanings for the twelve houses set out below.

First House: Your basic temperament, physical stamina and innate abilities.
Second House: Financial matters and your earning capacity.
Third House: Short journeys, letters and communications. Your brothers and sisters (if there are any), subordinates or assistants.
Fourth House: Your home, happiness, bodily comforts, property, reputation and education. Your mother.
Fifth House: Talent, physical recreation, romance, pregnancy, learning, memory, intelligence, further education. Your children.
Sixth House: Transient mental and physical ailments, debility, worries, quarrels, enemies, obstacles and impediments to success, gain through service and hard work.
Seventh House: Marriage, partnership, lawsuits. Your spouse and/or business partner.
Eighth House: Accidents, formidable obstacles to success, troubles to spouse, splitting of partnerships or rifts between friends, legacies, money permanently tied up in investments or property. The occult, magick, transformative experiences.
Ninth House: Good fortune, good luck, long journeys, foreign travel. Your spiritual and philosophical outlook. Your father.
Tenth House: Success, fame, rank, status. Your profession or employment.
Eleventh House: Profit and loss, desires and their fulfilment (or not, as the case may be). Your friends and social life.
Twelfth House: Self-undoing, sorrow, loss, separations, hospitalisation, falls from grace, extravagance, renunciation and self-sacrifice.

Calculate the time spent meditating on each house in the following way: take one day for any planetary Trump found in the house and two days for the Trump representing the zodiacal sign. Working with the diagrams above, for example, one would spend four days meditating on whatever house was indicated by card Z7 and three days meditating on whatever house was indicated by card Z1.

For the house indicated by card Z7, one sets aside one day each for the two planetary Trumps associated with Z7 plus a further two days for the zodiacal Trump itself: 1+1+2 = 4. You meditate for four days on the whole group.

For the house indicated by card Z1, set aside one day for the planetary Trump associated with Z1 plus another two days for the zodiacal Trump itself: 1+2 = 3. You meditate for three days on the two cards that from the group.

Depending on the way the planetary Trumps have fallen, one could be meditating for as long as 27 days or for as short a period as 11 days.

© Madeline Montalban, 1954

© Tony Willis, 2010


From → tarot

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