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Fame & The Tarot

November 10, 2012

Initiation and the Tarot

[The following article fluttered a few dovecots when it was published in 1957. In it, Madeline Montalban names Elvis Presley as an advanced soul. She was particularly taken with Mr Presley as they share the same birthday. Whether she was right about the King or not, the teaching in the article is sound. For believers in reincarnation, the success certain people receive in this life is the reward for effort expended in some previous life, just as Miss M. says. T.W.]

Mushroom Success

May have been earned in other lives

by Madeline Montalban

In tracing the various stages of initiation through the Tarot, we have seen how the occult way corresponds to the trials and events of life itself. Life is the Great Initiator – which leads us to a question many readers have posed: “What accounts for the fact that some people gain fame or fortune overnight without much effort, while others who have tried much harder never seem to have any luck?”

Well, that is not one question. It is two, and must be dealt with separately, as each question is “ruled” by two different Tarot trumps. We will deal first with the first half, the “fame or fortune overnight” part, which is ruled by No. 22, the World, the Apocalyptic card.

[Miss Montalban uses a card from her own Tarot deck to illustrate this article. It is numbered 22. In the same deck, The Fool is numbered 21. This is the order of the Trumps according to certain French schools of occultism, although generally the numbering of the deck is not tampered with. To avoid confusing the reader, Miss Montalban refers to the card as No. 22 throughout the article.

Her stance on The World being ‘the Apocalyptic card’ comes from her source-book on Tarot lore, The Complete Book of Fortune.  Here is what the book says: “. . . the four corners of the card are occupied by the symbolical figures of the Apocalypse – the Lion, the Calf, the Man and the flying Eagle – who disclosed to the wondering eyes of St. John the four ravening horsemen of Divine judgment.”

The Complete Book of Fortune remains in print to this day. It covers may other kinds of divination besides the Tarot. Of its writing, Paul Huson, the son of its compiler, had said this on the occasion of its reprinting:

“When my father, Richard Huson, as an editor for Associated Newspapers Ltd, first compiled this book in 1936, it was published under the title of THE COMPLETE BOOK OF FORTUNE. He drew on the expertise of the foremost exponents of the mantic arts of the time, and maybe because of this, the book retains its readability to this day. It is good to see a facsimile edition brought out under the imprint of Gramercy, even though my father’s informative introduction has been replaced by a short, perfunctory preface by J.L. Smythe.”  T.W.]

Instantaneous riches or success, and those who experience them, are said to be “Apocalyptic”. The four corners of card No. 22 usually bear the symbolical figures of the lion, calf, man, and the flying eagle – corresponding to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. No. 22, the World, thus becomes the card that denotes the individuals who become rich overnight, with little effort (such as by winning a sweepstake or a football pool), and who alter their whole way of life in consequence.

Many of them, alas, confess later: “Money ruined my life. I was happier before I got it.” In such cases, Fortune’s smile concealed a sneer at the hidden trap. In their former mode of life such “lucky” individuals might have been spiritually invincible because they lived, thought, and did right within their small orbit. Once the possession of riches gave them the world to play in, their horizon enlarged, they became confused, met temptations that formerly passed them by, and lost their mental and spiritual footing. Equipped by practice and environment to cope with one set of problems, they were presented with another – for which they had no training whatever! Bewilderment and disaster was the inevitable result. But they, like all of us, have to “pass through the fire”; and being given the world for a footstool is one of the certain demoniac temptations!

There are other cases, of course, in which the sudden smile of Fortune, the “gift of the world”, can be the result of honestly earned spiritual or moral merit, either in this life or those preceding it. In such cases overnight success or wealth does the individual no harm whatever. To the outsider they were “lucky”; to the initiated they were enjoying the rightful rewards of merit.

There is a third, and much more interesting, case of the person who achieves overnight success and wealth apparently easily, and brilliant fame shines upon him. To use a modern example, let us consider a young man who staggered the world by singing to a guitar – Elvis Presley. Being neither a music nor an entertainment critic, but a practising occultist, I cannot discuss the merits or demerits of Mr. Presley’s talent, but his character as an individual interests me amazingly (as a general rule, the entertainment world leaves me cold!).

Before he was twenty-one years old, destiny gave Elvis Presley the world as a footstool. It knew what it was doing, for, from the occult viewpoint, he is a very remarkable person, an “advanced soul” of high spiritual and moral worth, with the Sun on the horizon of his natal horoscope, signifying an individual who makes himself by his own efforts. (In esoteric Astrology this is also the sign of an advanced soul.)

Presley made his first record almost accidentally. It swept the world, not because of the song or lyric, but despite it, and because something vital in the singer’s personality projected itself, disturbing the hearer in a strangely subtle way. This power of projection is an occult gift that is given to advanced souls to make people take notice. Because they must; because the projector is on earth to teach something.

So, using Elvis Presley as an example, we may say that the persons possessing the power of projecting themselves are part of a Plan – and a plan of which they may not be actively conscious. But Mr. Presley must feel within himself a mighty surge of power – and wonder why he should have it. Time will show him this, as it has shown others; for instance, Danny Kaye and Frank Sinatra, among other entertainers. Apart from their theatrical and film work (which only got them the audiences) they do an immense amount of excellent work for children and young folk that never gets into the headlines. It would almost seem that such people get their reward “in advance” in order that they might follow their inner, and true, bent – the upliftment of their fellow-men.

In other days these advanced souls would have appeared in religious, political, or philosophical circles, but in this machine-age it is the entertainers who most easily capture the public’s attention. Many of these “advanced souls” with a secret, inner mission are thrust into prominence via the entertainment world; it is as entertainers they become known, and pass into fame.

Were Elvis Presley to decide to teach Occultism, he’d draw the same immense crowds as he does as an entertainer. It is not what he does that attracts the public, it is because his remarkable personality has that Uranian quality – the quality of awakening – that makes him sought after. He is stirring the masses now by an emotional appeal. In later years he may switch the “awakening power” into mental or spiritual fields – or he may not, depending on how much he realizes about himself. But watch this young man, who has reached No. 22 in the Tarot and grasped the world. Before his story is fully told, he will do something much more remarkable than singing blues or rock ‘n roll to a twanging guitar.

As with this example, so with others who are given the world in their youth. It is the reward, and the servant, of the advanced soul.

*           *           *

So much for the first half of the question that I have tried to answer. Now for the second part. “Why do others, who have tried harder, never seem to have any luck?” This I will deal with in next month’s issue.

[Published in Prediction, April, 1957]

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