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The 4 of Rods

January 28, 2013

Initiation and the Tarot

Parties and Purpose

break through the bonds of restriction and reap the harvest of your talents

by Madeline Montalban

“Impediments to success and a generally unsympathetic atmosphere” warns the Four of Rods when upright; but when reversed, it indicates “Gaiety, pleasure and enjoyable company and the love of congenial friends”.

Neither of the interpretations above should be regarded as permanent, for above all it is a card of temporary conditions. We cannot live on the peaks all the time, nor can we be eternally doomed to the depths. This card is therefore likely to be prominent in a spread to mark no more than a temporary or passing condition. Behind its mere predictive meanings, however, are certain fascinating mysteries that have become greatly obscured as, with the progress of time, the symbolism of the Tarot cards became confused.

The true symbolism behind the Four of Rods is that which is seldom seen save in those rare packs made by hand by Taroists who knew what they were about. It is “Two white radiating angelic hands, issuing from clouds right and left of the card, and clasped in the center with the grip of the First Order, holding four wands or torches crossed, with flames issuing from the point of junction”. Some of you will understand what that symbolism means, and those that do not must be content to let it remain a mystery, because the whole arcana is too much to tell of here.

For the predictive aspect of the Four of Rods you can use those meanings given at the beginning of this article, the predictive side of the Tarot being but its outer, and lesser form. The use of the Tarot as a Book of Occult Records exemplified in pictorial form represents a far more important aspect, however. It is from that perspective that I propose to tell you something of the hidden lore behind the Four of Rods.

In true mysticism, the Four of Rods reversed represents the perfection or completion of anything built up by your own labor. It represents something you have attained in the face of all difficulties, and forecasts enduring success in that matter.

To give an example: if you have built up your own business from nothing, and really love what you have built, then be sure it will not fail or pass from you. If you have cultivated a talent in the teeth of opposition, and if you love the work it entails, then be sure that it will bring you your fair measure of success in due course, along with that congenial company and enjoyment that the card forecasts in its predictive meaning.

To understand the arcana fully, you must understand what congenial company and enjoyment mean. If you are the frivolous type, then take its outer meaning, which is parties, social success and amusing friends. If you are of a serious type, then your congenial company might be that of just a friend or two of like mind and interest, or even the “mental companions” that occult study brings; those important, invisible friends and inspirers.

But should your life be boring, lonely, or unsatisfactory, there is another meaning to be extracted from this card; a meaning that ties up with the ancient picturegraph of the White Angelic Hands, and also to the symbolism on the card you see above – that of the lion and the sheaf of com enclosed in a square made by the Four of Rods. [Sister T.Q.V. is describing the illustration that originally accompanied this paper.] The White Angelic Hands represent an inner ability or talent you may possess that you either do not know about, or have not bothered to cultivate. They indicate that the knowledge of how to cultivate it, and occult help to do so, can be yours if you are prepared to take some trouble to find the way. This means strength of character, and the ability to lay aside the swamping trivialities of each day in order to set apart some time for studying yourself.

The lion is a pictorial symbol representing strength (and not Leo). The sheaf of corn enclosed in the Square of Four Rods represents the harvest that can be yours once you break through the square of restricting circumstances, sow the seed of effort and, in due course, reap your own true and proper harvest.

To begin to understand all this you must ask yourself: “What is the purpose of my life? Why am I living, when so many perish each day? What is it, in myself that gives me the right to have endured and come through when others have passed away?” It is a hard analysis, for too many of us get caught up with the mere mechanics of living, and let them absorb all our time and eat into our souls. This eternal cry of “I wish I could learn to use the occult forces to help myself” can be answered, but in eighty cases out of a hundred, the minute an aspirant learns that time and trouble is needed, he says: “I haven’t time . . .”

Well, there it is. The forces will come and help you if you really want them to do so, and are willing to learn a new way of thought and life. But if you haven’t time to help yourself out of your own troubles, then what in heaven’s name have you time for?

The power of self-undoing is often represented by a sloth. Too many people are mental and spiritual sloths. They want help in their troubles from occult forces, while being quite unwilling to learn anything about them. They will not set aside time to learn about ancient formulas and rituals that could indeed help them.

It isn’t time that man lacks, it is mental and spiritual energy. To earn our daily bread is not enough. That merely supports the body. We must learn of other things to support and nurture our spirit. From this nurturing spring certain wonderful powers that lie within us, and the exercise of these powers can help you solve your troubles, and prevent you from getting into others. But the formula cannot be given to you wrapped up in a few words. Like the starry constellations, it is an upward-winding spiral.

Attainment of one or more things leads to the desire to attain others, which means more occult study and practice. The first person you must begin with is yourself. I am a little weary of letters asking me: “How can I help others?” If you can help yourself, you automatically can help others. If you cannot help yourself, then why should you set yourself up as a helper of humanity? Physician, heal thyself.

On the whole, humanity needs very little help at all. What it needs is a little help here and there, and mostly any advice is disregarded anyway. People love their own errors, and will cling to their troubles indefinitely rather than accept a new way of life or mode of thought that could dispel them. One correspondent wrote to me asking for advice on a personal matter. The advice I gave to her seemed extraordinary in her eyes, because she had no idea whatever of the powers it could bring to her help. I told her to do a certain, simple thing. Because she could not connect what I told her with the solving of her particular problem, she wrote back and said: “She didn’t believe in such things so felt it couldn’t help her.” I wondered why she had bothered to write and take up my time (to which she had no right) in the first place if she was not willing to act upon my advice!

So many of you cry: “I haven’t time to study the occult myself” – yet think you have a right to demand that others should spend their time helping you with your problems. Is their time less valuable than yours, then? With your own time fully occupied, have you a right to the time of others? For time is one thing we cannot recapture, once squandered. Waste your own if you wish, it is yours, but please do not waste the time of others if you are not prepared to act on their advice. When you ask others to devote their time to your problems you are asking for a portion of their life to deal with problems that are not theirs.

If you want to solve the mysteries of life and live successfully, you must make time for it. No person on this earth was ever prevented from doing anything they really wanted to do. Everybody makes time for things that give them pleasure (which is why the entertainment industry thrives). Until the study and practice of the occult can really give you pleasure, and make it worthwhile laying aside some of your time to do it, then you are not ready for its secrets or powers.

So it is not much good your saying that you would love to study these things if you had the time. Your life span is just as long as anybody else’s, and nothing of occult importance will ever come your way until you make time for it. That, again, is the White, Angelic Radiating Hands. They are the hands of your alter ego, your higher spirit that wants to help you, if you will but take time off from the ordinary things of life to learn how to help yourself.
[Prediction, February 1960]

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