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The Seventh Principle

February 4, 2021

by Tony Willis  

The seventh tarot Trump, the Chariot, depicts a temporary state of rest in the process of Creation, a condition where Spirit manages Matter and directs it into appropriate channels. The principle is described in the Bible in the passage from Genesis which tells us that on the seventh day of the work of Creation, God rested from His labors. This does not mean that Nature rests; clearly Nature never rests; She is ever active in all things, even on the Sabbath. But the creative urge rests, allowing Nature to continue with Her work in Her own way. So far as the creative urge is concerned, it is a time for taking stock.

7ChariotRiderWaites    levi-7chariot

For the trainee adept, the stage of development marked by the Chariot is likewise a time of taking stock. In the Taoist traditions of China, Seven, the number assigned to the Chariot card, denotes prestige, a noble character and above all worthiness. These qualities are in evidence in the details for the Tarot de Marseille version of the card. The man riding in the chariot wears the breastplate of a warrior and the crown of a monarch. His scepter is a staff of office. All staffs were symbols of office in the medieval world. One of the functionaries still active in the British parliament is called Black Rod. He receives his title from the mark of office he carries – a long, thin black rod – with which he hammers on the doors to the House of Commons so as to summons the Members of Parliament to the House of Lords to hear the monarch speak at the start of each administrative year, which in Britain takes place in November.

7t tdm    07 II    T7Italian

The chariot on Trump 7 moves forward, drawn by the two horses. The man riding in the chariot does not direct the horses; they know where they are going having travelled this path many times before, facilitating the progress of other initiates moving in stately fashion in the direction of adepthood.

Five attributes are needed to make a fully functioning adept. The first two Trumps represent the quality and the quantity of Yin (The High Priestess) and Yang (The Magician) that the prospective adept was born with. The next five Trumps express the five attributes that need to be developed or acquired by the initiate if she or he is to become an adept. The first of those attributes is natural ability. Everybody has some natural ability for the esoteric; for one person it may be the talent to interpret an astrological chart, for another it may be a skill for herbalism, the ability to work with plants, for a third it may be a skill in psychometry, the extraction of information in the form of impressions from an inanimate object such as a watch or a wedding band. The initiate training for adeptship is encouraged to develop the aptitudes they were born with to the highest degree possible. One’s innate occult abilities relate to the third Trump, The Empress.

The second attribute was traditionally termed trustworthiness; today we might call it dependability. It is the quality of being true to one’s word. In Britain in the nineteenth-century, there was a saying, “A gentleman’s word is his bond.” It meant that, if a gentleman made a promise to anybody, he was morally bound to keep that promise; he staked his reputation on being true to his word. This attribute resonates to the fourth Trump, The Emperor. The third attribute is not too different from the second; it is a strong sense of ethics, of what is right and what is wrong. It was made the middle attribute of the seven because one’s ethical stance is of central importance, defining who one is; it is the pivot around which all we do and say revolves. It resonates to the powers of The Hierophant (or in older decks, the Pope), Trump 5.

Natural ability, represented by The Empress card, is nothing without training. It needs not only to be put to use but put to good use, and that is what an occult training leads to. At every stage of that training, the rate of progress must be measured. The student with a natural inclination for astrology will be expected, at the end of their first year of instruction, to be able to interpret a horoscope in which the character and temperament of the subject is revealed by the positions of the planets in the various signs of the zodiac. After a further six months of training, the student will be required to interpret a horoscope in which the character and temperament of the subject is revealed not merely by the position of the planets in the signs but largely from in the angles formed between individual planets, the so-called ‘aspects’ in the chart. At each stage the work becomes more complicated and thus more arduous. On account of these tests that are periodically made of the student’s development under training, the Trump equivalent to the fourth attribute of adepthood is The Lovers. Esoterically, the card depicts a test made of the young Hercules. When he set out to seek his fortune, Hercules met, at a fork in the road, two women. One offered to escort him along the easier path that ran broad and even, rising on a gentle incline. The second woman offered to accompany the youth along the other path, which rose steeply and was strewn with boulders that in places almost blocked their passage. This was a test of the adolescent Heracles’ inner intentions: did he crave the easy life, or would he choose to take up those challenges that, should he overcoming them, would transform him from man to god. Hercules passed the test by selecting the more difficult path, the one that offered to take him to more rapidly to the heights.

The fifth and final attribute of the fully functioning adept used to be called ‘propriety’, but as that word has changed its meaning over the years, the attribute is now named ‘good manners’. The inner meaning of that phrase is: The student of occultism needs to have good manners. They must respect their teachers and their elders. The rationale behind this injunction is that the practice of good manners will lead the student to greater wisdom. What we show respect for opens up to us, or reveals to us another facet that would have remained unknown and inaccessible had we not formed a bond with it through the practice of courtesy or good manners. Another interpretation of ‘propriety’ is that one should present oneself well to the world. The student of occultism is counselled not to affect an odd manner of dress or embrace peculiar or eccentric traits, not to make themself stand out in any way by adopting a flashy, “look-at-me, see-who-I-am” persona. Much Western occultism has a Rosicrucian bias, and one of the tenets of the Rosicrucians is that its members should blend in with the people of the land they have chosen to settle in, to dress like them, to eat the foods they eat, and in general to take up the customs adhered to by the people they are living amongst. These characteristics are all part of the practice of ‘good manners’, and this attribute is related to the seventh Trump, The Chariot.

Consideration of The Chariot brings us to the end of the first set of seven cards of the Major Arcana, the first septenary being its technical name. Esoterically, the Trumps form three septenaries plus the originally unnumbered card, the Fool. The Chariot, as said, marks the end of the first septenary. Its symbolism, therefore, represents a recapitulation of the stages the soul has already passed through in order to reach this point, a feature more easily observable in the depictions of the card in the occult tarots than in the exoteric tarots.

mars-bonatti_god

In the higher grades of occultism, initiates are set to meditate upon certain magickal images. The magickal image associated with the sphere of Mars is “a mighty warrior in his chariot”. This figure has been described as “the king in his chariot going forth to war, whose strong right arm protects his people with the sword of righteousness and ensures that justice shall be done.” The design of the Chariot card does not exactly replicate the magickal image of Mars. The charioteer on Trump 7 is the mighty warrior returning from war having gained a great victory, riding home in triumph. In his right hand he holds not the sword of retribution but the staff of office, equivalent to the regal scepter. In early tarots the Wand suit is sometimes called Scepters and sometimes Staves (plural of Staff). There is a correlation between the staff of office, the royal scepter and the magician’s wand. All can be used to point at something or someone. At the level of invisible forces, they act as directing tools. Once the wand of the magus has been loaded with numinous power, the energy accumulated within it can be discharged by the simple but effective means of pointing the wand at the object or person the magus wishes to affect by magickal means. Another distinction between Mars’s magickal image and the charioteer as represented on almost all occult tarot decks is that the occupant of the chariot on Trump 7 does not control the creatures drawing the chariot. They move ahead without his urging, in no need of his direction.

bota trump 01       bota trump 02

In the Builders Of The Adytum version of the card, the charioteer’s staff of office is topped by a composite symbol made up of a lemniscate (a figure resembling the number Eight and in the BOTA deck shown hovering horizontally over the head of the Magician on Trump 1) and a crescent Moon, the astrological correspondence of Trump 2, The High Priestess. In the BOTA design for the Chariot we find the magick wand combined with the lemniscate and the lunar crescent. The symbol represents the Will (the wand) operated by the united powers of the conscious mind (The Magician) and the unconscious, or subconscious, mind (The High Priestess), which in the average person are so often at odds. The charioteer himself stands for the Higher Self while the chariot represents the physical body with its desires and passions governed by the twin forces of emotion and intellect. In the state of spiritual development depicted by the Chariot card, a state of peace has been achieved, for a great victory has been won within the soul; the Higher Self has taken hold of the staff of office denoting the soul’s grade, wherein the marriage of the conscious and unconscious minds, the Magician and the High Priestess, is celebrated, and for a while smooth progress can be expected on the material level since the emotions and the intellect are no longer at odds. This is the state of rest or peace that I described in the opening paragraph of this article.

As part of this state of rest, achieved upon arrival at the end of the first septenary of tarot Trumps, a period of consolidation is initiated. The student walking the Path leading to esoteric competence makes out, at this stage of their development, a balance sheet of their assets and their remaining defects. So far, on our work done “in vision”, we have acquired two assets: our Wands and our Swords. The Wand we have already put to use; the Sword, which we possess only “in vision”, we have had no reason to use as yet. Before we wield it either in defense or attack, it must be given a name. That is to say, it must be personified so that the student can have person to person relationship with it. By giving a sword a name, its personality is recognized, memorialized, and celebrated.

damascus-crusder-medieval-sword-1612

All the important swords in history had names. Even the hobbit Frodo carries a short sword named Sting. The best-known sword-name must surely be Excalibur, the weapon given to King Arthur by the mysterious Lady of the Lake. The sword that Arthur withdrew from the stone in the famous Sword in the Stone episode of his history also had a name, Clarent. The name is related to the forename Clarence, derived from a root meaning bright or shining. The Spanish hero El Cid’s sword was called Tizona. Ogier’s, one of Charlemagne’s paladins, had a sword named Sauvagine, relentless. For those Readers who have been following the training offered in my articles intended to cultivate and bolster their power to function on the Inner Planes are about to be offered the opportunity to name the sword they carry with them whenever they venture forth into the Astral Light. That is the purpose of the sixth exercise. If you are working to this program, do not consciously think of a name for your sword yet. The name will come to you – it will be made manifest to your conscious mind – during the “in vision” experience I shall be offering you in my next post to the blog.

From → occult tarot

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