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The Fifth Principle, Part I

September 30, 2020

by Tony Willis     

The Emperor, Trump 4, symbolizes the Four Elements of the Wise – Fire, Air, Water, and Earth – interacting on the Material Plane. The card also corresponds to the Element of Earth itself. As is apparent from the card’s symbolism, the Emperor acts as an ordering center – a central point around which all other things are arranged. The Emperor brings order to the multiplicity of qualities brought forth through the activity of The Empress.

The energy mediated by the Emperor is related to all manifestations of what occultism terms “the powers of Four”. Included in that concept is the planet on which we live and the way our minds interpret it through the impressions of it we receive via our five senses. We perceive planet Earth spatially through the medium of the four directions. The solidity of the Earth, its tactile aspect, is represented symbolically by the cube and in some occult Tarots the Emperor is depicted seated upon a cube. The cube is the Platonic solid equated with the Element of Earth.

Arcane-Arcana-04-empereur-emperor  red sulphur  BOTA Emperor

The Emperor is also associated with Alchemical Sulfur, which has fiery connotations. This may appear at odds with other attributions given to Trump 4, in particular its connection with the Element of Earth. What we find represented in the Emperor, however, is the prima materia in solidified form. When the student of tarot first encounters the prima materia, in Trump 2, The High Priestess, it is in a fluid, chaotic state, “without form, and void” as the opening chapter of the Book of Genesis describes it. While, at this stage of evolution the prima materia might be lacking form or even existence as human beings understand the word, yet, all the same, it contained within it a potency that the alchemists of old called Sulfur. They taught that, if this Sulfur was extracted and separated from the prima materia, then what remained would be another potency that the alchemists called Mercury. The next phase of the alchemical operation was to reunite the Sulfur and Mercury in such a way as to create a new substance – the Philosopher’s Stone. At the stage of spiritual evolution denoted by Trump 4, this goal lies some distance ahead. What the student of occult tarot needs to grasp at this point is simply that Philosophical Sulfur dwells within Earth, seen as the prima material made apprehendable. In most occult tarots, the configuration of the Emperor’s torso and limbs suggests the sigil for Alchemical Sulfur, a triangle over a cross, hinting both at the correspondence between the Trump and the Sulfur of the Wise, and at the possibility of extracting it from the solidified form of the prima materia, represented by the cube upon which the Emperor sits.

At the evolutionary stage represented by Trump 4, then, the prima materia has assumed a form and can be apprehended by the senses. This form we call Matter. At the Emperor stage, it is often referred to as dead matter. Once matter exists in this fashion, it needs to be spiritualized, blessed one might say; hallowed was another name for this process, as in the old form of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name”. This process of spiritualization falls under the governance of the occult principle mediated by the energy symbolized by Trump 5, called the Hierophant in some occult tarots, and the Pope in others.

Psychologically, Trump 5 indicates the awakening of the inner powers of individualization. Under its influence the divine spirit within becomes manifest. The more ancient view was that the Hierophant stood for the fifth element, known as the Quintessence, which lay at the heart of all things. Its effect was to synthesize, refine, and spiritualize all experience. Occultists of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries, believed that even numbers were female and odd numbers male. At the same time, they did not think of One as a number; rather, to them, One was the Father of Numbers. Therefore, in the number Five, they saw the first even number (Two) joined with the first odd number (Three), and interpreted the Pentad as the marriage of female and male. When the tarot is used predictively, Trump 5 can signify marriage, union, or reunion. In Catholicism, one of the Pope’s titles is Supreme Pontiff, where ‘pontiff’ means ‘bridgebuilder’. The Pope’s chief function is to act as a bridge between the human world and the spiritual realm presided over by God.

Arcane-Arcana-05-pape-pope   BOTA HP

Read in another way, Five, the Pentad, represented Spirit or God (One) united with the physical Universe (Four). Hence the Quintessence was also called the Spiritus Mundi, literally the World’s Spirit, and metaphorically it is interpreted as Spirit or God (One) infused throughout the physical Universe (Four). The Renaissance mage Henry Cornelius Agrippa makes clear the importance of the Spiritus Mundi by stating that, “By this Spirit, therefore, every occult property is conveyed into herbs, stones, metals and animals, through [the action of] the Sun, Moon, planets and through stars higher than the planets.” (Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk. I, Chapter 14 (Tyson ed.) p. 44.) The Spiritus Mundi forms a vital link in the chain of correspondences lying at the heart of astrological, alchemical and magickal theory. A deep understanding of the Spiritus Mundi plus the ability to manipulate it are necessary for the mastery of both magick and alchemy. Consequently, to the would-be magus, or the alchemist in search of the Philosopher’s Stone, acquisition of the Quintessence represented command of the physical laws of nature.

In the search for the Philosopher’s Stone, the One has to be divided into the four elements which must then be recombined into a Unity. In tarot symbolism, the One, represented by Trump 1, divides first in Two (Trump 2, polarity), then into Three (Trump 3, the three Qualities) and finally into Four (Trump 4, the Elements). After this, the individual potencies represented by the first four trumps are re-united so as to form the potency of Spirit (also known as Æther), a quality denoted by the fifth trump, The Pope or Hierophant. The entire process is summed up in a saying attributed to Jesus: “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner as the outer, and the upper as the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male shall not be male, and the female shall not be female: . . . then you will enter [the kingdom of heaven].” This, said the alchemists, is the result of Spirit (One) being suffused throughout the physical Universe (Four) – One plus Four equaling Five.

thoth hierophant 5    5t tdm

As already explained, Trump 4 acts as an ordering center. At a personal level, the force the Emperor represents sets about arranging around itself everything the student of magick acknowledges as constituting reality. As what psychology calls the Self gains in strength, that Self takes over the central role, and the Emperor hands over control of the ordering process to the Pope, or Hierophant. Carl Gustave Jung stated that the Self, as center, then becomes the spiritus rector [the spiritual guide] to daily life. Few reach this stage of inner development, but it is possible to do so. Nearly two and a half thousand years ago, Socrates managed to do it; he referred to his spiritual guide as his daimon. How can one attain this level of spiritual evolution? That is a conundrum unraveled succinctly by the Sufi mystic Rumi as follows: “I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God.”

I have slightly adapted the words of the psychologist Maria van Franz to illustrate further the role of the Self as the spiritual guide. “From the psychological standpoint, a genuinely religious attitude consists of an effort to discover the unique experience of contacting the Higher Self/God and gradually to keep in tune with it . . . so that the Higher Self becomes an inner partner toward whom one’s attention is continually turned.” There are magickal and psychological procedures intended to lead a person to this mental state but none will be successful if the seeker has not first dedicated herself to the Higher Powers, whether these are taken to be Angels and Archangels or the deities associated with one or other of the ancient pantheons.

Our next step, now we have consecrated our Wands, is to pledge ourselves and our Wand, as a single unit, to the service of the Higher Powers. I will give that ritual in the second part of this article.

One Comment
  1. Arul Francis permalink

    Quite informative made to understand the christian rituals

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