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The Eighth Principle

by Tony Willis     

Taking the Tarot de Marseille as our guide through the occult principles, we start our exploration of the properties of the second septenary of the Major Arcana with an examination of the Trump Justice. The eighth principle is, correspondingly, that of balance and of the processes necessary for the maintenance of balance. On the physical level the card Justice represents the state of balance brought about between forces which were originally – by their very natures – opposing or conflicting. On account of this, some authors state that the Trump represents both Attraction and Repulsion, the two impulses operating simultaneously, a condition that, if managed rightly, would result in perfect poise, or as the occult philosophers of the French School of tarot put it, somewhat poetically, Universal Equilibrium. This attribution is also a reference to Electro-magnetic attraction and repulsion, which is the key to understanding the working of this principle.

This dual action of the number Eight is symbolized by the two ‘circles’ of which the figure 8 is composed, mirroring, in their vertical arrangement, the two pans of the balance held by the figure of Justice on the Trump, where they are presented lying next to one another horizontally clip_image002. It is not hard to see why, at the Psychic Level, the level of Mind, the phrases ascribed to the Justice card are ‘Fair Distribution’ and ‘Reparation’. At the Material Level the card denotes human justice, which, unlike Divine Justice, from time to time delivers verdicts that are biased or inequitable.

Arcane-Arcana-08-justice    08 II

Divine Justice has as its goal Universal Balance. The Trump Justice therefore has much to do with Karma, this being another term for the Law of Cause and Effect. Where Universal Balance is disturbed, the Law of Cause and Effect is brought into play. Karma will strive to bring about the restoration of balance even if several decades have to pass before it can attain its objective. The novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas presents a fictional account of the Law of Cause and Effect in operation, with the title character acting as its agent. Because the instrument of Justice is in this case human, as the novel nears its conclusion the scales of the balance begin to lose their poise and it starts to look as though justice will give way to vengeance. The novel is a lesson in the outworking of Karma, with a footnote on the fallibility of human justice.

Although Karma may take decades to attain its goal and may even on occasion take centuries to reach a state of perfect balance, pursuing the person responsible for creating imbalance from one incarnation to another, this does not mean that, when Karma does act, the process is a prolonged one. The outworking of Karma is not like the aging process, where a miniscule amount of aging goes on day after day, the effects hardly noticeable in the short term. Karma bides its time, and when it does go into action its effects tend to be rapid and life-changing. We can think of the Justice card as standing for that moment in a person’s life when judgement is pronounced upon them. This moment may occur in a court of law, in the minds of their associates, or in the heart of a single person only; and the judgment may be in their favor or go against them.

As many tarot readers are aware, in divination, the card can indicate a law suit, and the legal process can be taken as a model for the way in which Karma works. For most people, going to law is a last resort; if reparation or restitution of what has been taken from them is withheld in everyday life, an individual may feel they have no alternative than to put the matter before a judge and jury. However, the verdict in a court of law is not a forgone conclusion. The person being sued may have broken a moral law but unless they have transgressed civil law the court will not find them guilty; it cannot. A court case is rather like a duel: in a duel the best swordsman or the better shot will win; whether that person is in the right or in the wrong plays no part in the final outcome. There is an irony, therefore, to finding the card Justice in a tarot reading occupying a position indicating the eventual outcome of any condition inquired about; for then it signifies that right will triumph, and the inquirer will only be the victor if they are morally in the right. Almost everyone who becomes involved in a civil suit believes that they are have the law on their side, but as has already been pointed out, there is a world of difference between being morally in the right and being legally in the right.

Arcane-Arcana-08-justice     mmTarot 08

The antagonism of opposite modes of existence may at times only be resolved through the intensity of confrontation. For instance, the combination of Fire and Water in the right proportions can have extremely fortunate results. In Nature, the two Elements fight against each other, one being hot and dry, the other cold and wet, but if a Magus can bring them into balance, the cycle of endless opposition is broken and fruitful growth is offered the chance to commence anew.

Occultly, to a magician of the grade of adept, the secrets of Trump 8 give instruction in the art of neutralizing opposing conditions. Excessive heat is combated by the introduction of cold into the environment; that is the principle of air-conditioning. Intense cold is counteracted by the introduction of heat into the environment; that is the principle of central heating. Opposition is not solved by setting up the forces in exactly equal proportions, for when they are of equal potency the pair merely battle on and on, each looking to achieve supremacy. One force must be slightly stronger than the other, yet not so strong as to utterly overwhelm it. The Feng Shui Masters reign supreme in this area. They are very well aware that in Nature the perfect balance between forces is never 50/50. Feng Shui generally recommends applying a 66/34 proportion to opposing modes of existence. This formula works very well when dealing with major factors such as those that Chinese philosophy names Yin and Yang. More complex situations require a more sensitive handling.

The magician who intuits that there is an unwanted excess of Mars energy in their life must be careful not to invoke upon the situation such a quantity of Venus energy that both forces are nullified; for that would snuff out creativity, leaving behind an arid condition once the magickal operation had been completed. Nor should the magician draw down so much Venus energy that the whole of the Mars force, with its virtues as well as its vices, is obliterated, as that would render the practitioner unfit to face the challenges life constantly presents human beings with.

As already said, on the rarified heights upon which the powers known to Taoism as Yin and Yang (and to Qabalists as Binah and Chokmah) operate, only two factors need to be taken into account when the magician is harmonizing forces. At the lower level of the celestial plane, seven major forces are in play, and the balancing out of these seven forces is a more complex and delicate business.

Should a magician recognize that their innate capacity for compassion for their fellow human beings had become dulled, they might seek to redress the imbalance by creating and consecrating a Talisman of Venus. The planets, and the energies equated with them, operate from the celestial plane. Therefore, in order to consecrate a planetary talisman, the magician choses a time when the planet in question is transmitting its powers to Earth in their purest and most beneficent form. The old texts of astro-magick instruct that, in the case of a Venus talisman, the planet Venus should occupy either Pisces, Taurus or Libra, signs with which it has a strong affinity. Venus should also be in aspect to the Sun, Moon and Mars, all of whom should likewise be well-placed by sign and house. And so the magician seeking to increase their capacity for love and understanding searches for a date and time when the decreed conditions prevail in the heavens and on that day and at that time they consecrate their handmade talisman of Venus.

In this instance, which as already noted concerns the forces of the celestial plane, four factors are involved. Firstly, Venus, and naturally so since it is a Venus talisman that the magician wishes to consecrate. But along with Venus the instructions mention Mars. As psychic centers of harmony and strife, Venus and Mars are polar opposites. Furthermore, the astrological symbols denoting Venus and Mars are used in branches of biology such as botany to represent femaleness and maleness in relation to reproduction, and this distinction represents another kind of opposition. These oppositions of polarity must be equilibrated in the heavens before the forces for which they stand are called down upon the Earth plane and injected into the Venus talisman. The two other planets mentioned in the formula are the Sun and the Moon and they signify dynamic, out-giving force and receptive, in-gathering force respectively. Both these forces must be in productive balance at the time of consecration if the Venus/Mars interaction is to be transmitted to Earth in an undistorted from. Finding the right time at which to perform this consecration is no straightforward exercise. All four factors need to be harmoniously disposed with Venus having, so to speak, the upper hand to a slight degree.

In the career of any serious student of the occult, the card Justice represents a turning point when dedication to the Great Work is asked of them. It comes once the student has committed certain data to heart and has mastered a handful of magickal actions, such as how to perform the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. In making the dedication, the student essentially agrees to work off some measure of the karmic burden they are carrying. Occult training is at root the willing out-working of karma, for only the cleansed and purified psyche is capable of working High Magick. Lao Tzu put the matter very well when he said, “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.

Our next step will be to make that dedication. It is not the Great Dedication wherein the Magus adopts magick as their life’s work, pledging that everything they do, say, or think shall from that day forward be done for the greater glory of the Divine Parent. It is a lesser dedication in which the student consents to take a long hard look at themselves and correct such defects as are immediately apparent; a polishing, as it were, of an as yet unfinished statue, smoothing the rough edges, giving greater definition to the facial details or to the fingers or the toes. At the end of the process, the occult student’s psyche will have attained greater balance. For we should never forget that, while we are in incarnation, the root substance out of which our physical existence is formed is our own psyche. The making of the dedication to examine oneself and modify any character flaws thereby brought to light is a necessary forward step, because the more balanced the magician’s base is, the more effective their magick is.

The Astral Tides

by Tony Willis      

I had to wait for the planet Mercury to cease his retrograde motion through the zodiac before I could post Exercise Six. When a planet is retrograde it appears to be moving backwards in the heavens. It is a time when the planet’s energies frequently become disturbed, and as in mythology Mercury is assigned the role of psychopomp, or guide to the Unseen Worlds, it would have been irresponsible of me to post the meditation on the naming of the received object while the planet’s natural strengths were at a low ebb because many readers of the blog would have gone ahead with the meditation within a day or two of reading it.

The work we do “in vision” is carried out on what occultism calls the Astral Plane. This is a state of consciousness all human beings have access to. It encompasses the realm of the imagination and while it responds most readily to emotion, it runs according to its own rules that are as strict and immutable as the laws of physics on the material plane. Never forget that the Higher Planes are a part of Nature, nor that, as Leonard da Vinci remarked, “Nature never breaks Her own laws.”

The Astral Plane has been likened to a sea, a vast ocean of energy. The comparison is made because, over many centuries working “in vision” and gaining experiential knowledge of the Astral Plane, occultists noted that its energy was subject to an ebb and flow, that it had the equivalent of a rising tide and a falling tide as well as periods of slack water and choppy water. They discovered also that these tides had a connection to the passage through their cycles of the Sun, the planets, and most especially the Moon. The Sun’s cycle is a yearly one, as the Sun in its ever-forward motion takes one year to complete its circuit of the zodiac. The Moon has a cycle that runs from New Moon to Full Moon and back to New again; this cycle is approximately 29 days long. However, the Moon takes something like 27 days to make its way through all twelve signs of the zodiac, giving the Lunar force a more complex pattern than the Solar force as there are two factors to be taken into account not one.

The Astral Plane received its name from those investigative occultists of old on account of its connection to the movements of the heavenly bodies. ‘Astral’ is from a Latin root meaning ‘star’, and in the language of the mysteries the planets together with the Sun and Moon are collectively referred to as stars. Another name for the Astral World is the Celestial Plane, and ‘celestial’ too points us to the heavens, being paired with ‘terrestrial’ in occult terminology.

The charts depicting the rise and fall of the astral tides represent the result of multiple forces exerting their influence on the subtle matter of the Astral Plane. There is, for instance, a change in the quality of the astral tide when a planet moves from one zodiac sign to another. The initial effect is astral turbulence but then the planet settles into its new home, so to speak, and, all things being equal, the agitation quietens down again. Besides having to wait for Mercury to end its retrograde motion, I had to wait for Saturn to find its feet in its new home, Aquarius, and for the Moon to be near her full strength, which is gauged by how much of its face the lunar orb shows to the Earth. Only once these conditions were met did publication of the meditation in which students could name their received object – Ring, Sword or Book – become possible. I cannot, of course, control when a student carries out the meditation. The best I can do is to publish the article on the blog at the most opportune time available to me and leave the rest in the hands of the Divine Parent of All.

The worldwide epidemic is changing the way humans live on planet Earth. Only this morning I heard a news report explaining that the nine-to-five working routine that was so familiar to us our entire lives until this time last year will not return as standard once the coronavirus has been tamed. Already it is clear that department stores are thing of the past; they will linger on into the new normal but won’t thrive; their decline will continue and they will be replaced by other retail options. The drastic changes to our mundane lives are only one half of the shift. Changes just as drastic are occurring in the worlds of consciousness and spirituality. In response to those changes I am publishing on this blog magickal techniques that have not been made public before; they may have been referenced but the actual methodology has not been given out. Having published the instructions, it is thereafter in the hands of the One who reads or doesn’t read them; who carries them out or who sets them to one side; who implements them at an optimum time in respect of the astral tides and who implements them when that tide is at its lowest ebb and lacks any power to launch the soul on the psychic voyage of a lifetime.

Exercise Six: Naming Your Received Object

Meditation Postures

As the British occultist Dion Fortune noted: “The physical body is literally an electric battery, and during meditation must be a close circuit.” Therefore, when we meditate or undertake adventures “in vision”, our posture is of primary importance. Dion Fortune explains: “Any position in which the body is symmetrically disposed in poised balance will be satisfactory so long as the spine is straight, the feet together, and the hands either joined, or touching some other part of the body . . . Either flat on the back on a bed or couch, or sitting very upright in a straight-backed armchair, is best.” Her conclusion is that “the best position for meditation is sitting bolt upright, heels and knees together and hands laid along thighs, in the position in which the gods of the Egyptians are sculptured.” When you travel “in vision” the same rule applies.

Naming Your Object

Another remark of Dion Fortune’s is this: “The occultist must be able to give life to the symbols of occultism.” A symbol without life is only an outward show. In the previous guided visualization you undertook, you received either an ancient leather-bound book, a simple gold ring, or a short sword of the type known as a gladius. Which object you were given was dictated by the branch of occult power you have been assigned to study. The time has now come to give your object life. One way to kickstart this process is to name the object. In the same way that a child begins to take on a personality and stand out from all the other children in the postnatal unit once it has been given a name, so does any symbolic object respond to being named. A named object takes on a life of its own, weak and febrile at first, but gaining in strength over time. The quality of the life the object takes on will be shaped to a very great extent by the name it is given.

Read through the guided visualization below and begin to think of the name you might give to your Book, Ring, or Sword. Do not co-opt into use a name that has already been assigned. Do not, for instance, call your sword Excalibur. Your object’s name should reflect its individuality. Before you actually undertake this exercise, in the gap between reading the account of the astral journey and settling down to start the journey several names might suggest themselves. Do not make your final decision until you reach that point in the guided visualization where the name is bestowed. Sometimes exactly the right name comes through into consciousness at that precise moment, almost as if someone else, some other intelligence divorced from your own, is doing the choosing.

07 II       7ChariotRiderWaites

As we come to the end of the first septenary of Trumps, it is appropriate that a bond between the trainee magician and their symbolic object should be first initiated and then sanctified. The two horses that pull the Chariot (in the Waite-Smith deck they are sphinxes) stand for intellect and emotion. The trainee magician learns to get the pair to work in unison, for if they are not mastered, progress along the Path of Initiation will inevitably be erratic to say the least, proceeding usually in fits and starts. But when the chariot does move smoothly forward along that Path, the trainee magician will need a trusty companion to lean upon during times of trial. For you, at this stage in your magickal-spiritual development, that companion will be the object you received during the course of Exercise Five. Naming it is the first step in forging an unbreakable bond between you and it that will be an invaluable asset to you in the course of future adventures undertaken “in vision”. That bond is strengthened when you set your object, Book, Ring or Sword, against your heart as you are instructed to do in the following guided visualization.

Exercise Six

Mentally clear the space around you. Sit in meditation with your eyes closed. Allow darkness to envelope you. Gradually the darkness turns into a grey mist and you feel yourself in motion, as if gently and ever so slightly rocking. The mist thins and clears and you discern, ahead of you, a coastline: a sandy beach and a line of low cliffs with a set of rough wooden slats forming a stairway leading from the beach to the cliff-head. You yourself are seated on a raft made of tree trunks lashed together by lengths of vine or liana. Your satchel containing your received object lies at your feet.

The pull of the tide draws your raft to the shore, where it beaches and settles. Take up your satchel and get to your feet. Step from the raft onto the sand and make your way to the wooden stairway. Ascend the stairway. At the top of the cliff you find yourself looking out over a flat expanse of grass that seems to run on forever. The sky is blue, the sun is warm on your back. As you take in the view, you catch sight of glints of light caused by the sunlight falling on something reflective in the middle distance. Make your way towards those elusive specks of light that come and go as you trudge towards them. As you walk, you feel the wind on your face and you see it ripple the long grass that now lies all around you. There is no path to follow. Your only guide is the twinkling of the light. However, it is not long before it is clear what your destination is: a circle of standing stones. These stones are in their natural state; they have not been worked upon with tools and neither are they formed into trilithons as the stones of Stonehenge are. They stand in a circle and at the center of that circle is a flat stone, again unworked, but whose upper surface is flat enough to act as an altar. Veer to your right so as to enter the circle by passing between the two tallest, most substantial-looking uprights.

Within the circle, approach the central altar and stand at it so that the sun is in front of you. Take your received object out of the satchel and lay the satchel on the ground beside you. Place your object flat upon the altar stone. Pause for a moment, head bowed, gazing at your object as it lies on the grey, slightly gnarly surface of the altar. When the time seems right, lift one hand to sky in a salute to the sun. Allow the rays of the sun to warm your hand before saying, “In the name of the Divine Parent of All . . .” Here, lower your hand so that the palm hovers over your object, and continue. “. . . I name this Book/Ring/Sword . . .” At this juncture, speak the object’s name. It may be one you have thought of before setting out on this “in vision” excursion or it may be one that comes spontaneously to mind at this point in the visualization. Continue, “. . . May it serve its Keeper well by day and by night, in all the worlds whether Seen or Unseen; and always to the greater glory of the One Reality, the ultimate Source of All.”

Take up the object and hold it to your chest for a moment. Then put it in your satchel and start on your return to the sea shore. Be sure to go back by the way you came, leaving the circle by passing between the two tall, imposing standing stones and walking through the long grass that covers the plain until you come at last to the edge of the cliff. Go down the stair of wooden slats and make for the raft with a throne-like chair set upon it. Board the raft and sit on the chair. Wait while the rising tide lifts the raft free of the sand and then, at the turning of the tide, carries the raft with you on it out to sea. Once you are some distance from the shore, a pale grey mist arises out of the water and very soon surrounds you, darkening, turning first charcoal grey and then black. When the rocking motion of the sea stops, you can open your physical eyes and look about you at the familiar room where you seated yourself but a short while ago with the intention of undertaking this astral journey. Have a warm drink or something to eat and make a note of all that happened on your adventure so as to have a record of your experience with your received object before and after it was given a name.

The Seventh Principle

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.


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.


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.

The Tarot Looks At 2021

by Tony Willis

I was talking to Auntie Tarot the other day in the time of slack water between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. We were reminiscing about our first meeting in 1967, and the condition of occultism at that time. It was the Swinging Sixties and there was a renaissance going on in spiritual matters alongside the reassessment of sexual mores and the inclination to experiment with psychotropic drugs. But one thing remained static throughout the sixties and on until the beginning of the naughties, and that was the appearance, year after year, in the Prediction annual, of an assessment, made by means of the tarot, of the UK’s fortunes in the year ahead. The layout employed was invariable that of the horoscope spread. That is good solid practice, and I feel sure it is kept up in many countries across the globe to this day, whether the results get published or not.

Auntie T. then speculated as to how the current collective fortunes of the nations of the world might be ascertained, following a year of crisis so far as humans and the nations they belong to are concerned. We decided between us that a ‘reading for the whole world’ would fit the bill. No one has attempted such an overview before, so far as we are aware. To bring it off successfully would require some adjustment to the original method of interpreting the twelve houses of the horoscope spread, but we thought of some that might be appropriate, and they were duly noted down. Then Auntie volunteered me to make the reading. (Thank you, Auntie!) The results of my labors can be viewed below.

The reading I have made is an esoteric reading as much as a mundane one. Therefore some cards may not be interpreted in the way you, Reader, might have anticipated. I have pointed out where the esoteric meanings come into play, which they sometimes do concerning the way in which a house is interpreted and at other times they do concerning the way a particular card is interpreted.

I ask you, Reader, to accept, for the present, what I have written. This is my tarot deck speaking to me in a symbolic language it and I have worked out between us over the past fifty years. Let events judge me. Next year, at this time, I intend to return to the reading and compare my predictions with what actually happened in the realms of politics, the world economy, the mass reaction of the human race to the conditions imposed on it during the twelve months to come, and individual reactions to those same conditions, where we are able to detect them in operation, perhaps in the actions of those who act upon the world stage like Greta Thunberg and her contemporaries, or Kamala Harris, or the philanthropist-footballer Marcus Rashford in the UK, or human rights activist Sonita Alizadeh in the USA.

These are the cards I laid out, in the familiar horoscope spread formation, a thirteenth card at the center, with an overarching observation to make, encompassing the layout as a whole, and to be interpreted in the light of what the indications of the twelve houses portend.


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Normally, the first house represents the person for whom the cards are being read. In this case, it stands for humankind as a whole. It indicates the general attitude of humanity at the very start of the year. In this house we find The Fool, which I read according to the older, original rule, as signifying folly. My interpretation of the card, therefore, is that, taken as a whole, the human race will be harboring unrealistic hopes for 2021. The majority will continue to ignore the dangers of climate change or to believe that the tiny acts of reparation they are making adequately counteract the damage caused to our seas by plastics and to our air by excessive methane emissions. Many people expect the coronavirus to be vanquished during 2021, or to be well on the way to being overcome. Other cards in the reading suggest that that will not be the case. However, with false hopes in their hearts, a great many people will act foolishly in respect of the coronavirus at the start of the year, and will continue to do so for some months thereafter.

While the first house stands for the inquirer, the seventh house stands for ‘the other’. When a reading concerns a court case, the seventh house signifies the person bringing charges against the inquirer. When a reading concerns marital problems, the seventh house signifies the inquirer’s spouse. When a reading concerns business matters, the seventh signifies those who have a share in the inquirer’s business, even if that is only the bank from whom the inquirer has secured a substantial loan. Similarly, in the present reading, the seventh house represents the opposite of us mortals, those spiritual beings, the angels or devas, however they are named in various cultures across the globe.

The 9 of Pentacles in the seventh house indicates that the spiritual beings whose allotted task it is to look after human development and evolution will be holding out the offer of inner wisdom and a life lived more in tune with nature. In other words, they offer human beings a corrective to the heedless, devil-may-care attitude illustrated by the presence of the Fool in house one.

In weather forecasting, the tenth house represents the heavens above us, and can signify fair skies or torrential rain depending on the card found therein. For a reading such as the one I am attempting, the tenth house signifies Heaven in the sense that Taoists speak of the twin influences of Earth and Heaven. The powers of Heaven in Taoism are strong and are considered somewhat akin to Fate or Destiny. Thus the East speaks of ‘the decree of Heaven’. In the 2021 spread, The Hierophant occupies the tenth house. Esoterically, this card stands for inspiration from above, for spiritual counsel, and the courage to take an ethical stand. I read it as backing up the indications of the seventh house. The offer of inner wisdom is being made by the angels because heaven wills that the offer be made. Those humans who are sufficiently spiritually advanced will feel the pull of the angels, and indeed of Heaven itself, toward a more elevated and less materialistic attitude to the planet. This is a trend that has already started, as is obvious from the fact that the cards in the seventh and the tenth houses are so definite in their indications. Outliers, from the very young Greta Thunberg to the very old David Attenborough, have attempted to catch the attention of a wider audience and so change the attitudes of people all around the world. Much will depend upon the reaction of individual members of the human race to this call to action.

As the tenth house stands for the will of Heaven, so does the fourth house indicate the powers of Earth, the precious planet upon which we live and move and have our being. We are used to thinking of the Earth as feminine, because like a woman It gives birth to plants, trees, bushes, all in due season; and we personify the planet Earth as Mother Nature. In the spread for 2021, however, the Earth presents to humankind a masculine face; for in the fourth house we find the King of Pentacles. When representing a person in a normal tarot spread, the King of Pentacles describes someone with high principles, but one who can, at the same time, be sever and ruthless when necessary. This characterizes very well Nature’s more forbidding face. Nature functions according to a set of well-established rules. We humans have spent thousands of years calculating what those rules are, and to this accumulated store of wisdom we assign the label ‘physics’. Having collated so many of these rules over such a long period of time, humanity began to feel that it was Nature’s master and that it could use Her as it willed with no come back. In recent decades it has been discovering that this is not the case. Humankind has yet to open its eyes to the fact that the Earth can do without it as easily as She was able to do without the dinosaurs when their time was up. Species come and go; Earth outlives them all.

I have read first the cards in the four ‘Angles’ of the chart (the first, seventh, tenth and fourth houses) because that are, as it were, the foundations of the story told by all thirteen cards comprising the spread. Once the foundational factors are understood, it becomes easier to understand how the other pieces of the story fit into the unfolding narrative of the year’s events. Now, I shall proceed to deal with the remaining houses.

The second house of a horoscope spread indicates finance and in this instance refers to the world economy. The presence herein of the 5 of Cups, symbol of disappointment, informs us that, while certain individual countries may do well, overall national economies will be slow to rise up out of the depression brought upon them by the coronavirus epidemic of 2020. [1] So far as the human population of Earth is concerned, many will experience a disillusionment with material things.

The Page of Cups occupies the third house, which esoterically represents physical and mental prowess, will power, and the quality of perseverance. The message of the Page operates upon two levels. At the most basic level, we are being told, the people of Earth will continue with their basic day to day endeavors even if physical conditions remain less than congenial. They will, in the war-time language of the UK, keep on keeping on. On a higher level, the condition of the third house in this ‘horoscope of the World’ is in harmony with the indications of the seventh and tenth houses, already discussed. For the Page of Cups represents an invitation or offer made by the spiritual beings that inhabit our planet and share it with us. These are the nature-sprites, the dryads and naiads of Greek legend. They are more than willing to work with humankind, if only they can gain our cooperation. The more spiritually advanced among us will take up the cause, and in doing so perhaps lay the foundations for a re-birth of planet Earth after decades of wounding it has suffered as a result of humanity’s carelessness of results and short-term thinking.

Good karma, love in the romantic sense, and amusements and diversions come under the rule of the fifth house. In that house we find card 14, Temperance, reversed. By the looks of things, humankind has all but used up its store of good karma. On a more personal level, marriages and other arrangements where couples are living together will suffer. In reverse Trump 14 presages confrontation, discord, and disunion. I imagine that changes in working conditions will put a strain on relationships across the globe. Unemployment will be a factor in some cases, the increase in the number of people working from home will be a factor in other cases. If coronavirus isn’t sufficiently tamed during 2021, couples face the prospect of being cooped up together twenty-four/seven, with constant, unremitting, and seemingly unending propinquity souring the relationships. Some folk will inevitably seek refuge in on-line gambling or in any of the other ‘amusements and diversions’ offered by the world of electronic wonders. There will be a tendency in some quarters to frivol away free time, while here and there others put the continued restrictions imposed by the varying degrees of lockdown to good use and maybe write a book or start up a business from home. How we, as individuals, respond to the effects foreshadowed by Temperance reversed is entirely up to us.

The sixth is the house of mental and physical ailments; it is also the house of impediments. With the 3 of Swords falling here, prospects in these departments of life do not look good. It would appear that, despite the vaccines that became available toward the end of 2020, coronavirus will not be completely vanquished in 2021. Its dangers, its propensity to kill or to stamp long-lasting effects on some who survive its onslaught, and most tellingly its ability to mutate, will scar humanity’s prospects for the coming year.

Nursing staff, who fall under the rule of the sixth house, will be working to capacity. As in 2020, a host of minor operations and regular heath check ups – those whose purpose is to detect the presence of cervical or breast cancer, for instance – will be put on hold, while more urgent conditions take priority. In the sphere of medical research, also, the main effort will go into the creation of the most effective remedy possible for coronavirus, all other research relegated to the back burner for the duration. The sixth house also has rulership over the workforce, the proletariat, and the presence of the 3 of Swords in the sixth does not bode well for them as a class.

The 10 of Pentacles occupies the eighth house, which governs such factors as the death rate; major changes, along with the transitional phase between one settled condition and another; and occultism and sacred knowledge. In a conventional tarot reading, the eighth also signifies the financial condition of the inquirer’s spouse or business partner. In an esoteric reading such as I have undertaken, however, it stands for the wealth of the planet, whatever form that wealth takes, be it the timber of the Amazonian basin, the iron ore deposits of Eastern Europe, or the silicone hoards that exist on lands governed by the USA, Russia, and Brazil. The 10 of Pentacles speaks of the completion of a cycle of material gain. For centuries humans have taken from the Earth with very little thought of the need to give something back. As other cards in the reading have indicated, that tide is on the turn. More and more human beings have concerns for the planet should the attitude of take, take, take is perpetuated. A greater consideration of the environment will be evident over the next twelve months. Conservation will become an issue for more and more people, and as public opinion turns, so will the reactions of politicians. Although, it must be born in mind that 2021 falls on the cusp of this cycle, which is still gearing up for change, and not yet in a position to race ahead at full throttle. Appropriately, both the card and the house it is in relate to transitional states.

As I’ve said, the eighth is also the house of occultism. There will be an increase in the number of people reaching out to the occult in all its diverse forms in 2021. Some will be drawn to New Age thought, some to Freemasonry, some to one of the offshoots of Freemasonry, and some to the modern colleges of esotericism erected upon the foundations of the mystery schools of old, laid waste in the third and fourth centuries of the Current Era. Each will be attracted to the level of instruction they are capable of imbibing and utilizing to their own advantage.

The ninth house is traditionally the house of religion, or what today we in West might define as a spiritual or philosophical belief system. From this house we can, in an esoteric reading, gauge whether there will be changes in religious or philosophical beliefs, and determine to a degree what the nature of those changes are likely to be. Positioned here we find the 6 of Wands, a good omen. It points to a great mass of people across the globe using their spirituality or philosophy of life to help them to face and manage the issues brought upon us by the imminent dangers of accelerated climate change, the threat of decimation of the race by coronavirus, and whatever else Nature cares to throw our way in the coming year.

The 6 of Wands in the ninth house also suggests that in the main, and excluding China and Russia, nations will react to one another with better amity. Pre-existing alliances will be strengthened and old alliances that had become attenuated will be repaired, while fresh alliances between nations with similar goals will be formed. I say this because the ninth is the house covering international relationships. At the same time, it is the house of higher education. The influence of the 6 of Wands in that sphere will be positive, and university students will, in 2021, be getting a better deal than they did in 2020. While, in those countries where university students were not much inconvenienced by the ravages of coronavirus, large numbers of those in their final year will be issuing forth from the realms of academe with excellent qualifications in physics, chemistry, biology and computer science at a time in history when expertise in all those areas can only benefit the brave new world humankind will be attempting to build in the not too distant future.

The eleventh house is an indicator of whether a desire will be fulfilled or not. The greatest desire in most people’s minds as I write this would be, I think, that the coronavirus could be overcome or tamed to such an extent that family life and the world of work could return so far as possible to normal. The presence of the Queen of Cups in this house is a sign that in large part this wish will be granted, since, when not representing a person, this queen is a symbol of success and happiness. The wish will not be granted at once and it might not be granted to the extent that most of us would hope for; that is because the Queen’s beneficent influence is checked by the presence of Temperance reversed in the opposite house.

That prediction is backed up by the presence of the 5 of Pentacles reversed in the twelfth house. The twelfth house describes the end of anything, since it is the last of the houses; after the twelfth house, there comes a new beginning and the sequence starts anew with a return of the ever-cycling cosmic energy to the first house once again. In esoteric lore, the 5 of Pentacles reversed signifies a slight or passing gain. Judging from the omen lying in the eleventh house, the world will, in 2021, experience the latter: a slight gain, or as I have already expressed it above, a delayed gain and also one that does not fulfil everything that the human heart had wised for in relation to the eradication of the coronavirus.

The thirteenth card, at the center of the horoscope spread, represents a distillation of the events of the year. Either that or it provides a commentary upon them. In the reading before us, it fulfils the former function. The 3 of Cups holds sway here. Esoterically, the card speaks of a problem resolved, and of flexibility and compromises that bear fruit in the shape of results at once advantageous, practical and constructive. The problem that will be resolved, in whole or in part, during the coming year is that presented by the coronavirus epidemic. That, as we have seen, is one of the major occurrences of 2021, even if we have to wait a while to see it happen. The key words in what I have just written are, I feel, ‘flexibility’ and ‘compromise’. Those of us who can be flexible in making adjustments to accommodate themselves to what I see referred to as ‘the new normal’, and those willing to make compromises with Fate will fare well in the year to come. Those who are inflexible and refuse to compromise, rejecting the new normal in favor of an old normal that is destined never to return, will have a hard time of it.

tudor rose 2

The picture painted in the tarot spread for 2021, while it is not one of total doom and gloom, is not the most joyous picture either. An improvement in conditions is predicted but it is slow in coming, and as far as next year is concerned, the improvement is presented as a bud, not a fully open flower in all its glory. The indications are that human beings cannot stand idly by and wait for politicians or big business to make all the moves. As individuals, some form of action is required of us. But what can any of us do as one person among millions? The key is to be found in the eighth house of the spread above. The 10 of Pentacles in the eight house declares the end of one cycle of esoteric learning and teaching and the beginning of another. 2021 stands on the point of transition. Change is coming and anyone with a strong intuitive faculty can sense the approach of change while not necessarily being cognizant of what shape that change will take.

Some may be fearful of the coming change; others will embrace it. There have been signs that this change is on its way, and intimations have been given as to the form the change will take. Over the last five or six years, some easily accessible books on the Gnostic approach to spirituality have been published. These books have been met with acclaim and have won over many adherents. Those I have personal experience of include the works of Samuel Aun Weor and Peter Kingsley. Anyone interested in pursuing this line of inquiry might start by reading Samuel Aun Weor’s Introduction to Gnosis or Peter Kingsley’s In the Dark Places of Wisdom. The Gnosis (Greek for knowledge) as presented by one author might have great appeal for you, whereas the prose technique of some other author, expounding the same tradition, may grate on your inner ear. Look up the books I’ve mentioned on Amazon and read the reviews. If there is a facility to ‘look inside’ these books, do so, and make up your own mind as to which of these authors would make the best instructor for your needs. Alternatively, if you are reluctant to spend money until you have a better understand of what you are getting into, there are You Tube tutorials available at no cost. The Ordre Martinistes Souverains has many webinars on You Tube. Here is a link to their introduction to the Kabbalah: Intro to Kabbalah Part I – The Tree of Life & Hebrew Letters – YouTube. The Ordre Martinistes Souverains works with Kabbalism but is part of the Gnostic tradition. It accepts as students all comers so long as the individual brings with them an open and honest heart and is genuinely seeking to perfect themselves inwardly, that is, to cleanse the soul.

Should you, Reader, have passed beyond the beginner stage of occult understanding, then you can start to work with inner vision, on the Astral Plane. There it is possible to practice the expansion of consciousness through interaction with various aspects of one’s psyche. “How would this benefit others, or the world at large?” you may ask. The answer lies in an old occult maxim: What is done for one is done for all. One person expanding their consciousness acts as a way-shower to humanity as a whole. To explain the situation in another way, the person who expands their consciousness, taking it to new realms, forges a path though hitherto unexplored territory. But where one soul had ventured on the Astral, other souls may follow, treading, so to speak, in the footprints of the pioneer. By and by, the narrow track marked out by these outliers becomes a wider path, and all the people on earth are beginning to thinking in the same way as the pioneer was when he or she first struck out into the unknown. The principle is known today as the hundred monkey effect. You can check it out on Google.

The old saying “It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good” is a true one. Twenty-twenty, the year of Corvid, brought us a host of trying circumstances, and for some sickness and even death at the hands of the virus. To some it has meant unemployment or shortage of funds; to almost everyone it has brought the restrictions of social distancing. On the up-side, humans have discovered that a great many of their normal, everyday activities can be performed online. And so it is with esoteric practices. Although gatherings of people are discouraged, and in some countries banned, so that the rites of ceremonial magick, for example, cannot be carried out physically as they were less that twelve months ago, yet it is still possible that they can be performed via online contact or, using the powers of the mind, they can be done “in vision”, with the participants working Astrally. Groups of individuals employing these techniques are springing up across the globe. They have begun to make their presence known. If you come across one, and it sounds to be something you would like to be a part of, put out feelers and see if the group will accept you as a member. At times of great change, on the inner levels almost anything becomes possible.


[1] In a spread of this type, where the fortunes of the whole world are being considered, it is not possible to make categorical statements applicable to every single nation on Earth. Every nation has its own destiny and at times one nation will thrive while its near neighbors fare badly. I am able, therefore, only to talk in terms of general trends. Some indications of the fates of particular nations can be picked out by referencing that nation’s ruling sign and aligning it with the houses of the horoscope spread. Thus, later in the reading, I exempt China and Russia from the overall trend of cooperation in international affairs denoted by the 6 of Wands falling in the ninth house.

Let us look more closely at Russia in this respect. It is ruled by the sign Aquarius, equivalent to the eleventh house of the horoscope spread. In that house we find the Queen of Cups and the intimation of this is that Russia will feel satisfied with the way conditions stand right now, at the moment when I laid out the cards. As to reaching out to other countries in a meaningful way, that possibility is suppressed by the presence of Temperance reversed in the opposite house, the fifth. When Temperance is in reverse, its energies become defiant and discordant, and consequently little in the way of open and honest cooperation can be expected of Russia throughout 2021. Similar indications can be found concerning China in the layout, too; and for these reasons, I did not number either Russia or China among those nations seeking greater amity and mutual support among other nations in the coming year.

Correspondences – an Interlude

by Tony Willis       

Readers of my contributions to this blog will have noticed that I rarely mention correspondences. If I ever do, I do not pronounce in favor of one side or the other. In the previous article, concerning The Lovers, I noted that the French adept Papus associated the Trump with the sign Taurus. A fair proportion of continental occultism subscribes to that belief to this day, one hundred years after Papus’s death. At the same time, the English-speaking occult world by and large accepts Gemini as the astrological equivalence for the Lovers. Both attributions are part of wider systems of correspondences that stretch out their hands over all twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana.

T1Italian             bota trump 01

Above are two versions of Trump 1. The continental variant depicts the Hebrew letter Aleph at the top right of the card, here named Il Bagattel. The Anglo-American variant depicts the Hebrew letter Beth in the bottom right corner of the the card. What we are looking at is the same tarot Trump seen through lenses belonging to two apparently incompatible systems of correspondence.

Which system is right and which wrong? You may find my answer disconcerting. Neither is right, neither is wrong; and then again both are right; it all depends on one’s perspective. When investigating occult practices, we must apply common sense together with the evidence of our own senses and eschew prejudice and partisan attitudes. In my sixty years involvement with occultism I have operated with two entirely different sets of correspondences and I have had satisfactory working associations with other practitioners operating yet other sets of correspondences of which I myself have had no direct experience. I achieved results with both the sets of correspondences whose rationale I had been initiated into, and my associates did the same using the sets of correspondences with which they were familiar. My first conclusion, therefore, was that all systems generate results, with the proviso that any given system needed to be a genuine system and not a chimera invented on a whim by some over-vaunting charlatan or quack occultist. (Although, such is the power of the mind that even the quirkiest and irrational manufactured system can be made to work if enough people can be pursuaded to believe in it. But that is another story.)

Any system of correspondences applied to the tarot cards is a construct. The atheist and the materialist will say that all these constructs have been created by the human mind. The occultist likes to imagine that they have come about through the action of some higher mind upon the human mind; that the pattern behind the system emanates from a Being or group of Beings belonging to the Astral Plane, or even one of the Planes beyond the Astral, that of the Concrete Mind, for instance. Whatever its origin, the worth of a system of correspondences must be judged solely upon results. As I have already said, in my time, I have encountered many systems that work, that is to say, that produce the results expected of them once the operator has been initiated into their proper application.

The general public, and even persons having an interest in the occult but who have received no one-to-one instruction on esoteric matters, have no understanding of what a system of correspondences is used for. I have also come across some individuals who, while having been initiated into a mystery school, had no concept of how the astrological attributions assigned to the Major Arcana by their Order were to be used; they accepted the list of correspondences presented to them, copied it down or committed it to memory, and thought no more about it. The uses of the astrological correspondences are wide-ranging but this is not the place to go deeper into them. However, to slake, to some extent at least, the curiosity of my readers, I shall give an example.

The astrological correlations assigned the Tarot Trumps form part of a complex key giving access to those expanses of the Astral Plane that may safely be travelled by initiates of the Order working with that particular set of attributions. In Qabalistic organizations, the Trumps are associated with the twenty-two Paths on the Tree of Life diagram.


The Qabalistic ‘Tree of Life’ Diagram

The treading of those Paths “in vision” is known as Pathworking and along each Path there are three milestones or way-markers. As the Pathworking progresses, these milestones must be attained, for upon reaching them, travelers may assure themselves that they are headed in the right direction. As in a game of baseball the player must touch all the bases in order to come safely home and score a run, so must all astral travelers make contact with each of the three milestones in turn on their way to the location, often an astral temple, that represents the avowed goal of the journey. One of the three way-markers is the astrological correspondence assigned to the Trump that acts as a portal to the Astral. But to tread the thirty-second Path of the Tree of Life which leads from the material world to that of the psyche, as understood by Jungian psychology, and corresponding to Trump 21, The World, employing Golden Dawn symbolism is quite another matter to treading it using the symbolism advocated by Papus in The Tarot of the Bohemians. One of the reasons for this difference in symbolism is that, as previously mentioned, each occult school has, to a large extent, its own regions of the Astral Plane allotted to it, areas that have been explored and to a degree tamed by the journeying to and fro of the initiates of that Order and by their interaction with the flora and fauna that inhabit them.

Since results can be obtained by the use of any valid system, I do not, in my articles, promote any one of set of correspondences over another. Since they all function, each in its own fashion, my advice to any student working with a particular set of correspondences is: Get to know it (by which I don’t just mean ‘memorize it’), and gain the best understanding you can of the way it functions both in divination and as an aid to “in vision” projects centered upon the tarot Trumps.

A great many tarotists claiming to follow an established occult tradition do not, in my experience, properly comprehend the link between the Trumps and their corresponding astrological associations. When I hear someone who claims to be self-initiated into the Golden Dawn system of ritual magick say, “I can’t imagine why dour Saturn is assigned to The World, a card denoting success, attainment, and lasting happiness, as the two factors appear to have nothing in common,” then I know that this person does not understand the system they are working with. The same applies when I hear someone apparently steeped in the works of C.C. Zain, founder of the Church of Light, bewailing the fact that they cannot for the life of them see why Mr Zain associated Trump 17, The Star, with the sign Gemini when the tarot card and the astrological sign seem to have no obvious association. This person, too, lacks insight into the system they have chosen to embrace.

My overarching advice to anyone considering correspondences in conjunction with the Tarot and who is not an associate of a reputable esoteric school is to set the matter aside until you have a thorough grasp of both sides of the equation, the astrological and the tarotic, or until you come under the wing of a teacher who can explain the matter to you in person and give you a demonstration of the correspondences in action.

1t mercury 1t point

The first card represents the Magician corresponding to Mercury, with the sigil at the bottom right of the card. The second is the Magician (here called Il Mago, the Magus) symbolizing Air, with the sigil towards the bottom left of the card. This sigil does not represent the Sun, although it appears to. In fact, it signifies the geometrical idea of the Point – the point of departure from which everything else in the world issues forth while itself remaining invisible, just as the air around us is invisible.

For the record, the two Trump correspondences I have a working knowledge of are that of the Golden Dawn and that promoted by Papus. In my youth I was introduced to the same Golden Dawn system of correspondences as, in their time, A.E. Waite and Paul Foster Case had been initiated into. It is a system in which, to take three examples at random, The Magician corresponds to Mercury, The Emperor to Aries, and Judgment to the Element of Fire (or if one is a modernist, to Pluto). It is a system that agrees with Papus’s system hardly at all. For Papus, The Magician corresponds to Elemental Air, The Emperor to Jupiter, and Judgment to Saturn. In spite of their dissimilarities, it is possible to achieve effective results using either system, as I have witnessed many times for myself. I now work with yet another system of correspondences that is a modified version of Papus’s method.

4t Aries PapusWirth04

The Emperor corresponding to Aries, with the sigil in the bottom right corner, and The Emperor corresponding to Jupiter, with the sign in the bottom left-hand corner.

20t pluto  20t westcott

Judgement corresponding to Pluto, with the sigil in the bottom right corner, and Judgement corresponding to Saturn, the sign inscribed at the top left of the picture.

Finally, I think it is worth pointing out that, when I first began my study of tarot in the 1950s, I was introduced to a method of divination that recognized no astrological correspondences for any of the cards. The four suits were not associated with the Elements. Instead, Pentacles represented money, Cups love, Wands business affairs, and Swords setbacks. The Trumps, it was reckoned, needed no further embellishment, the resonances of their titles being explanation enough of the significances they held in divination. It is, after all, perfectly possible to read the tarot from the predictive angle without knowledge of or reference to astrological correspondences; many beginners in tarot reading function in that way. It is perfectly possible to read the tarot from the psychological angle without knowledge of or reference to astrological correspondences.

However, a Qabalist, on laying out a tarot spread for himself in which the 5 of Wands, 5 of Cups, 5 of Swords, and 5 of Pentacles appear along with Trump 4, The Emperor, will realized that he is operating under the influence of the Sephirah Geburah. In qabalistic lore, Geburah (or Gevurah) is the Fifth Sphere on the Tree of Life, and vibrates astrologically to the energy of Mars, the red planet; and, of the spot cards, the Fives of all suits are conduits of that energy, enabling its descent to the physical plane, as is The Emperor card, since the Trump is allied with Aries, one of the zodiac signs ruled by Mars. Understanding that the present period of his life is under the sway of Mars, an aggressive and contentious potency, the Qabalist might determine to counteract that energy by invoking, using ceremonial magick, the powers of some other planetary force: Venus perhaps, who offers Calm where Mars inclines to Agitation, or Jupiter, who counsels Mercy where Mars favors Severity of judgement. In this instance, knowledge of the astrological correspondences is a vitally important factor affecting the Qabalist/ceremonial magician’s decision of how he will deal with the situation in which he finds himself. But for the general reader, such knowledge is not necessary, since the general reader of tarot can get along very well without it.

Secrets of the Hexagram

As we have seen, one of the symbols associated with Trump 5 is the Pentagram in which context it represents the human form. The head is at the top, the arms are outstretched and the legs spread apart. In this diagram, one human being stands for the entire species. pentagramManEach human being is a microcosm, a representation, constructed on a smaller scale, of the macrocosm, the entire magnificent and diverse universe. The Pentagram, therefore, is a symbol of the Microcosm.

Turning to the Lovers tarot card , we find occultists associating it with the Hexagram in the form of the Seal of Solomon and assigning it the Latin tag Pentagrammatica Libertas. The Six-pointed star, or Hexagram, makes clear sense since the number of the card is Six. But why does the Pentagram make a reappearance here in the form of the Pentagrammatica Libertas? Let us go through the problem step by step.


The Hexagram is the symbol for the Macrocosm, just as that Pentagram is a symbol of the Microcosm. The Macrocosm, as I’ve said, embraces the whole Universe, a term sometimes applied to Trump 21 as an alternative to The World. Indeed, we will encounter the hexagram again when we come to investigate the properties of Trump 21. Occult teaching is that, if the student magician can, though esoteric practices, align themself with the harmony of the Universe, they will attain a state of liberation analogous to the state that Buddhism calls Nirvana. If that reading of the microcosm and the macrocosm is taken into account, it becomes apparent that the inner meaning of Pentagrammatica Libertas is “the freedom of human will”. When human will is brought into harmony with the will of the Cosmos it can work marvels. In coming into harmony with the will of the Cosmos, human will is absorbed into a higher will and aligned with it in such a fashion that human will desires what the will of the Cosmos desires, naturally, of its own free choice and without dissension.

This formula is reflected in the divinatory significances certain well-respected occultists assign to Trump 6. Paul Foster Case interprets The Lovers as meaning, “Attraction, beauty, love. Harmony of inner and outer life.” A.E. Waite takes a similar view of the card: “Material union, affection, desire, natural love, passion, harmony of things; contains also the notions of modus vivendi, concord and so forth; equilibrium.” These are attributes associated with the card’s geometric figure, the Hexagram, wherein two triangles, one upward facing, the other downward facing, are interlocked, forming a balanced, harmonious figure. It can represent the amicable union of two people or, as Paul Foster Case puts it, the “harmony of the inner and outer life” of an individual.

r-w-lovers     BOTA Lovers

The Lovers has other meanings, relating to the ordeals the initiate goes through as they travel the road to adepthood. The rationale to these ordeals is that they bring about harmony within the soul of the candidate for adepthood by ironing out any kinks that exist within the candidate’s inner nature. However, these ordeals are not the subject of our scrutiny in this review of the esoteric principles lying behind, and working through, the tarot Trumps.

The occult principle associated with the Lovers is Harmonization. It brings about an agreeable alignment between disparate parts, whether these be the disparate parts of the human organism, with its physical, astral and mental bodies, or of planet Earth, with all its biodiversity, or of the Cosmos, made up of innumerable solar systems and a sprinkling of black holes too.

In traditional Chinese lore Six is the number of Peace but also of Sacred Emptiness, meaning Emptiness of Form. In the time of absolute emptiness, so it is taught, one can plant the seed of one’s wishes. Whatever one thinks or imagines at that time can become a reality. This sacred moment of absolute emptiness occurs when the forces represented by the two triangles making up the hexagram are in perfect harmony, having achieved perfect balance.

In one occult school belonging to the Western Esoteric Tradition, there are three symbols depicting the stages of initiation. Two triangles one above the other, the first with its single point facing down, the second with its single point facing up, represents the lower grade initiate, the Trainee or Apprentice. A drawing of the same two triangles, this time with their points touching, indicates the grade of the Lesser Adept. But the symbol of the hexagram, the two triangles conjoined, is the badge of the Fully-Fledged Adept.

In such schools, there are grades within grades. When a Fully-Fledged Adept makes the step to Minor Magus, they recite this oath and its preamble before the assembled company of their peers. “It is written that anyone who hears the word of enlightenment must dedicated themselves to the cultivation of kindness and good. Anyone who listens to the word will gain wisdom. In order to enter the grade of Minor Magus, my mind and heart must unite as one, in harmony with all living creatures. Therefore, I renounce selfishness, for in each thought of personal interest good and bad intentions co-exist. I swear to maintain a big heart, a merciful heart, and a kind heart, even toward the insects that crawl at my feet.”

The rationale behind this oath is the conviction that the ideal magician must have a good heart and good ethics. For a person cannot hope to manipulate successfully the basic building blocks of the universe, the forces of Yin and Yang, without becoming one with the Cosmos. The hexagram is the symbol of that oneness. Neither you, dear Reader, nor I have attained the giddy heights of Minor Magus. But it is a goal we can aspire to, while, on the other hand, the conditions embodied in the hexagram do sometimes come about in the world, not as a permanent arrangement, but existing for a brief instance. When those conditions arise so does the opportunity to take advantage of Sacred Emptiness. At such a time can be planted the seeds of Good, not as part of the quest of personal attainment, but in order to sow love, mercy and harmony in the world for the benefit of the whole of Nature – the Earth and everything that is on it and in it, including humankind – at a time when all seems bleak, when division has become the order of the day.

Let me remind you of the words of L.R. Knost.

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go, love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”

Occultists and philosophers have, for millennia, insisted that all individuals possess this power . . . if they will only nurture it, and having nurtured it, put it to use. How to use it? That question was answered centuries ago by the Chinese sage Lao Tzu:

“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”

This is the work of the Pentagram (the individual human being) that will exalt it to the next stage, that of Pentagrammatica Libertas. We be only at the beginning of this adventure, yet we may still play a part. When two triangles align, creating the shape of a Hexagram, we can cast our Will into the Sacred Emptiness and sow seeds of goodness that will blossom in time to come. That is what the Fifth Exercise is all about.





Exercise Five

Warning. Do not attempt this guided visualization if you have not already completed the previous four exercises.

At the start of this visualization, I want you to imagine that you are in a wood or forest. You can use a place you know as the model for your starting point. If you are unfortunate enough never to have visited an actual wood or forest, you can borrow an image from a movie you have seen. You could use the rainforest of the planet Pandora from Avatar or the background to the deer hunting scenes filmed in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that lie at the heart of The Deer Hunter. Adapt the scenery from any movie you have seen that has a forest in it.

To begin, sit facing East with your Wand on your lap. Light a candle to mark the beginning of the exercise. Close your eyes and conjure up the image of a wood or forest in your mind. You are in a natural clearing, narrow and broadly curved. The forest lies before you. Behind, you can hear the gentle sound of running water and you ‘know’ that a swift-flowing stream lies at your back. “In vision” you carry your Wand in your dominant hand (even though, in reality, it lies on your lap). Start to move into the wood, walking on the grass and avoiding any obvious obstacles such as bushes or clumps of nettles.

As you proceed, the canopy overhead becomes denser causing the light to take on a greenish tinge. You are unable to move forward in a straight line because the trees are distributed haphazardly. Every so often, you have to sidestep one of them. Try as best you can to continue in an easterly direction.

Keep your eyes peeled for a tree that has the sign of two triangles, separate, their points facing each other, carved into its bark. When you come to the sign, step to the right of that tree and follow the narrow path you will find there and which runs ever deeper into the forest. The tree trunks are more massive now, the trees themselves unbelievably ancient. There is a buzz of insects in the air and at times you hear the croaking of frogs. Tiny, brightly colored birds dart across your field of vision, busy with their quest for food. Make your way carefully along the path until you come to a tree with the sign of two triangles, their points touching, carved into its bole. Again, go to the right of this tree and press ahead. You will come to a massive boulder blocking your way. It is flanked on either side by two enormous redwoods, stretching above you seemingly into infinity. On the boulder, someone has painted in sky blue the astrological sigil for Venus and below it an arrow pointing to your left.

The path to your left may meander around the redwoods and the boulder, emerging on the other side of them. Or it may strike out at right angles to them, or it might twist you around and take you back in a westerly or north-westerly direction. Your path from here forward will be your path, one unique to you, shared with no other person on the planet. Follow your path until you come to a tree with a hexagram carved inclip_image002[11]to its bark, the sign of Human Will in perfect harmony with Cosmic Will. When you find it, look to your right and you will see another tree some distance ahead of you, huge and mighty, with a door set in its trunk, and three wooden steps leading up to the door. Approach this tree, mount the stairs, and knock at the door. It will slide open revealing a softly lit space within. Enter this space and the door will close again, and after a moment another door will slide silently open.

Passing through this second door, you find yourself in medium-sized room lit from above by a glowing globe of amber light. In the center of the room is a stone altar upon which lay two wooden triangles, one painted blue and with its point facing downward, the other painted red and with its point facing upward. Approach the altar and lay your Wand upon it while you adjust the positions of the two triangles so that they form a hexagram, and the hexagram is in the center of the altar. Once the two triangles are perfectly aligned they will change color. The entire hexagram will turn flaming scarlet if your Wand is red; it will become shining white if you are the possessor of a white Wand; and it will turn vivid emerald if own a green Wand.

As soon as the transformation occurs, in vision only, take up your Wand again and place its tip at the center of the hexagram, and wait to the count of five. (One, and two, and three, and . . .) During that time a figure will step forward out of the shadows gathered at the room’s corners. The figure approaches you and confirms that the time is right for casting the image of an ideal future into the Sacred Emptiness of the moment. On hearing this, you should form a mental picture of the Earth seen from space, revolving slowly, the varied blues of the oceans, the multitudinous greens on the continents, with here and there sandy shades marking out the deserts, and charcoal grey splotches indicating the sprawling conurbations of Europe, North America and China. Imagine peace within nations and between nations; imagine harmony between humankind and the natural world – the birds, the fish, the trees, the corals of the Pacific, the animals, the insects, the prolific plant life of our home planet. Allow these thoughts and images to well up in your heart and then will them to travel across to the shoulder of your active arm, down that arm, into your hand, into the Wand your hand is holding, and from the Wand into the center of the vivified hexagram. Take as long as you need, as long as the process requires. When you sense that the energy is no longer flowing out from your heart, remove the tip of your wand from the middle of the hexagram, and take a step back from the altar.

The figure that came forward out of the shadows now leads you to one side of the room (it may take you to the left or to the right, there is no set formula at this point) to where stands another altar. On this altar is a shallow silver bowl filled almost to the brim with water. The figure gestures for you to gaze into the water. On doing so, you will at first see only reflected light on the water’s surface, the bowl appearing to resemble a full moon. After a moment, light is replaced by darkness on the surface of the water, as if the moon was in eclipse, and you can see into the bowl. However, you find yourself peering into what seems to be the depths of the sea. Your vision ripples and you are aware of looking down hundreds of miles below the room in which you are standing. A form approaches moving with great speed. It streams up to the surface of the water in the bowl in front of you and emerges into the room. An arm and hand extend from the water. In the hand is an object. If you are the possessor of a white Wand, the object will be an ancient, leather-bound book lying flat on the palm of the hand. If your Wand is green, the object will be a simple gold ring, like a wedding band. Should you own a red Wand, the object is a short sword which the hand holds by its hilt, directing the blade skywards. Take the object. Be careful how you handle it if it is a sword! (You may put your Wand on the altar beside the bowl in order to retrieve the object.) The mysterious figure will then hand you a satchel. Put the object in the satchel and sling the satchel over your shoulder. Take up your Wand again. Let the figure guide you back to the central altar. You will see that the two triangles have been broken up into their constituent parts and arranged, one line above the other, so as to form the I Ching symbol Kh-Yen representing the purest form of power and positive energy. It is an expression of unadulterated truth and strength that exceeds all worldly, physical or immediate concerns.

You do not have the leisure to contemplate this change, however, for now it is time to return home. Go to the door by which you entered, which remains open, and step into the softly-lit space within. This door will slide shut and almost immediately another will slide open allowing you to walk down the three wooden steps and into the depths of the wild, untamed forest. Make your way back to the tree that has the hexagram carved on it and from there retrace your steps until you come to the massive boulder sandwiched between the two imposing redwoods. As you pass the boulder, you note that, while the sigil for Venus remains on it, the arrow giving directions to the tree of knowledge has mysteriously vanished.

Keeping to the path, continue until you reach the tree with the two triangles, points touching, incised into its bark. Walk on and in a while you will come to the tree on which the two separate triangles, one above the other, are carved. Continue and you will find more light penetrating the forest, and eventually you will reach the fast-flowing stream that cuts through it, the stream that was at your back when you set out on this adventure. Approach the stream and turn around so that you are facing East, as you were standing at the start of the exercise. In vision, hold up your Wand, pointing it heavenward. Then place it against your chest. Let the image fade and, gently but firmly, bring your consciousness back to the physical world, centering it in your body, seated, and with your actual Wand laying in your lap. When you feel your consciousness has fully returned to the material plane, extinguish the candle, leave the room and have something to eat or a hot drink.

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This may seem a lot to remember. To help you with the feat of memory, reduce the instructions to its component parts: You are in a forest; you go forward until you see the symbol of two separate triangles; step to the right and go forward until you find the second symbol; step to the right again and go forward until you come to the boulder between two redwoods; follow the arrow on the boulder and continue on that path until you see the third symbol to the right of which stands a tree with a door set in it. Go through the door, arrange the two triangles into a hexagram; look into the silver bowl, take the object when it comes out of the bowl; return to your starting point and then back to everyday consciousness.

Study the synopsis of events until the route you are to take is imprinted on your mind. Then you are ready to begin the guided visualization.

It will help if you understand the symbolism involved. The meaning of the three Arcane-Arcana-06-amoureux-loversymbols composed of two triangles you already know. An important juncture is reaching in the guided visualization when you come to the boulder between two redwood trees. The redwood, being a type of cypress, is sacred to Venus, who rules cypresses of all kinds. The arrow has been painted on the boulder in sky blue paint. The lighter shades of blue are also ruled by Venus, goddess of peace and harmony. She has an obvious connection with a card named The Lovers. Although in English-speaking countries The Lovers is almost always put under the rulership of Gemini, on the continent the card is widely believed to be governed by Taurus, one of the signs of Venus. (See illustration.) In numerology, Six is under the rule of Venus, and the Hexagram, the geometric representation of the powers of the number Six, is inexorably linked to The Lovers, as Trump 6. It is unsurprising, therefore, that this guided visualization is dedicated to the goddess of love and harmony, the Lady Venus.

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With this information in your possession, you should have no difficulty following the instructions for Exercise Five.