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The Magical Tarot – The Fours

October 19, 2013
Four-Square Fate

by Madeline Montalban

From time immemorial a four-sided figure, or square, has been held to symbolize limitation, or hemming in, much as the four walls of a cell keep in a prisoner.

scan0008The Minor Arcana “four” cards have been given very simple meanings for purposes of prediction. But these meanings hide greater occult truths, as it is not the exoteric, or outer meanings of the cards which are occult, but the esoteric, or inner ones.

Our illustration shows a composite design which represents the Four of Cups (the Pomegranate); the Four of Pentacles (the Pineapple); the Four of Rods (Mask of Comedy); the Four of Staves (the Mask of Tragedy). They are the symbols of one very old pack.

Association of ideas has much to do with the way any artist interprets the Tarot. The greater the imagination of the designer, and the more occult knowledge possessed, the more varied and “corresponding” are the symbols.

Take the Four of Cups, the Pomegranate, that fruit being representative of the seeds of mankind. In a spread, this card warns that your love affair may go wrong because of outside influences; but, if reversed, it often means a new and pleasant friendship. The reason? The seeds of the pomegranate are enclosed within a tough’ outer skin, or limitation; the skin represents outside influences and the seeds the fruition of love, since from seeds all things grow. But, reverse the Pomegranate (as it hangs from the tree), and it falls when ripe, bursting and scattering its seeds over the ground, and re-fertilizing it.

The Four of Pentacles is the Pineapple, a fruit which represents plenty. In a spread, it denotes that the querent may come to ruin through extravagance, over-attention to pleasures and social amusements, and even be led astray, or waste his substance on worthless but temporarily entertaining people. When the card is reversed, ruin is implied. Because the pineapple skin is scaly, like that of both fish and elephant (the first a sign of money, the second of endurance), reversal of the card implies a lucky, but improvident, person, a fool from whom substance and reason alike are soon parted.

The most tragic cards of the fours are those of the Four of Rods and the Four of Swords. The first, which is symbolized by the Mask of Comedy, represents the kind of person who is indiscriminate, weak of character, hail-fellow-well met with all and sundry, a general favourite (while things go well) and an incorrigible waster. Such persons are usually good-looking, amoral and generous . . . with the money of others . . . since they are too busy making a good impression to earn any of their own.

They are fickle in love, and have no scruples where the loves or unions of others are concerned. They break up their own and other people’s homes as carelessly as a child breaks a toy. They are, in fact, emotionally and mentally, no more than children. They have to put up a front of continual charm and gaiety, for, when things go wrong, nobody has help or sympathy for them. That is, nobody who knows them well. But this type are well aware of that, and they are for ever seeking fresh fields and conquests new, whether it be a new love affair, or a new victim from whom to borrow the necessary cash to keep up their Comedy of Life.

They have one chink in their armour, though. They cannot bear to be laughed at. They must wear the Mask of Comedy; they must always be the entertainer. But nobody must laugh at them. They are immature, the “never-grow-ups” of the world.

The Mask of Tragedy, which represents the Four of Swords, is the saddest of all the cards, and is often tied up with the Four of Rods in a spread, since the one mask complements the other. Comedy and tragedy often follow each other in life, but the great tragedy of the Four of Swords brings to bear the whole four-square confining influence. It is a card which indicates a person of great abilities, and even great attainments, who has brought about self-ruin.

The card denotes a person of occult, religious, scientific or philosophical mind; one who voluntarily seeks seclusion, or privacy, in order to study or work out the things in which he or she is interested. The gifted, able person, who remains aloof. But, in reverse, the card betokens the same person brought to disaster, ruined, and forced to endure loneliness and seclusion . . . in extreme cases, that of a prison cell.

Tragedies of this nature shock everyone, but when it is remembered that such people, by voluntarily keeping themselves away from the world (and its temptations and experiences), are by their very nature quite unable to comprehend, let alone resist, such snares, is it any wonder that they fall?

And the causes of their self-ruin and disgrace are usually completely opposed to their true nature, just as the four corners of a square are opposed to one another. The true mystic believes in the complete goodness of mankind. The true occultist may not, but is always prepared to give the benefit of the doubt. The philosopher views everything in the light of history; the scientist in terms of discovery, and what will happen years from now.

They are all living in the past, or in the future, and only existing (as aloofly as possible) in the present.

Because of this attitude, other people, and the moods, emotions, passions and temptations of contemporary life, seem remote from them. Or they do until something stirs their own emotions. They may be quite brilliant in their chosen sphere, but when the emotions are involved they are complete fools, because, so far as worldly matters are concerned, they are utterly impractical. Once their emotions, whether roused by a love affair, pity or ambition, get control, they pursue the object of their desire regardless of consequences.

They live in a dream world, whereas those around them do not. Sometimes the law is contravened, and the result may be a prison sentence; sometimes the conventions are outraged and the result personal disaster. In all cases, ruin is the outcome, because these people have taken themselves out of their own element of air (mentality) into that of fire (emotions).
[Prediction, October 1964]

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