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The Fifth Principle, Part I

by Tony Willis     

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arcane-Arcana-05-pape-pope   BOTA HP

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

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

thoth hierophant 5    5t tdm

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

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

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

The Fourth Principle, Part II

by Tony Willis     

The Third Exercise
Preparation for the Ritual of Consecration

Our third exercise is the consecration of the Wand. A consecration is a magickal ceremony that charges an item with numinous (OtherWorldly) energy. The version of the consecration ritual I am about to give you is carried out almost entirely “in vision”. On the physical plane you will need a table, to act as your altar, your ritually cleansed Wand, and a chair to sit on. On the astral plane, i.e., “in vision”, you will be working in the courtyard of large stone building, with high towers and gabled roofs, set on top of a hill. In this ritual, as with many rituals of the Western Esoteric Tradition, Divine Power enters the “magick circle” from the East. Consequently, you will commence the ritual facing East.

In preparation for the ritual to consecrate your Wand, close your eyes and imagine (or sense) the following scene building up around you. Imagine that you are facing East, the place of sunrise, the direction from which an energetic blessing will flow into the “magick circle” you will create around yourself when you actually come to perform the ritual. An imposing grey stone building is a short distance away, on your left. You stand in a wide, square, paved area that has a stone rectangular altar at its center. This altar stands upon the north/south axis of this courtyard; that is to say, one of the altar’s longer sides is towards you, its narrower sides pointing north and south.

It is daylight and you can see your surroundings clearly. Ahead, beyond the eastern end of the building, the land dips a little before turning into a spreading plain of grassland. You are aware of the grass waving in the breeze that plays across the plain. A long way off you can make out a low mountain range looming a misty purple in the distance. Two peaks of this range in particular catch your eye. It is as if they form a marker denoting due East, and that at dawn the sun would have risen between them.

Directing your attention to your right, you become aware of the land making a steep descent into a valley. On the far side of this valley rise the almost flat tops of barren ochre mountains. Several of these mountain tops house volcanoes and from the crater of one of these a plume of dark grey smoke issues, rising straight up into the heavens. In your imagination, turn right and keep turning until you are facing away from the grassy plain of the east, the altar now directly behind you. You find yourself looking over a low wall some distance ahead of you at the tops of fruit-bearing trees. You may be able to identify an apple orchard beyond the wall together with a fine display of pear trees and another of cherry trees. It is the end of summer and the tree branches hang heavy with fruit.

Turning right once more, you come to stand directly facing the grey stone building. It is three stories high and the side of the building you are looking at has many windows all with small unevenly shaped panes on all three floors. You can also make out a door with one large step in front of it; a wooden door with metal fittings, all painted black. Finally, you should complete the circuit of the courtyard by turning to your right one last time so that you are standing at the rectangular altar looking ahead toward the expanse of heath away to the east and the two far-off mountain peaks indicating the place of sunrise.

Build this picture up in your imagination several times before attempting the ritual of consecration.

BOTA Mag     Arcane-Arcana-01-bateleur-magician

The Layout of the Astral Temple

The action of this ritual takes place almost entirely on the astral plane. On the physical plane you will need a table to act as your altar; your Wand, cleansed of all astral impurities; a candle in a holder; and a lighter or box of matches. The Wand should be placed in the center of the altar, the candle to one side, preferably to your right, to make it easier for a right-handed person to light and douse the candle when required to do so. Also place upon the Altar the tarot cards of The Magician, The High Priestess and the Empress. Set the Empress down closest to you, that is to say near the western edge of your altar. The High Priestess goes higher up and to your left, in the north-east sector of the altar. The Magician is placed opposite the High Priestess so that the three cards form an equilateral triangle around the centrally sited Wand.

In the ritual you are going to imagine these tarot Trumps on their own altars, set out around the paved courtyard that is to act as your workspace. In the courtyard, the cards will be placed in the same configuration as they have on your physical altar. This will site the High Priestess card to the North-East of the courtyard, the Magician card to the South-East and the Empress card will be behind you in the West. To be clear: those will be the positions of the three cards on their respective altars around the “magick circle” that you are about to create to contain the OtherWorldly energy you are going to call upon to consecrate your Wand.

If you think of the magick circle in terms of time, the East point is the equivalent of the first day of Spring. In esoteric thought, the first day of Spring marks the dawn of the year. The Teutonic goddess of dawn and springtime was Ēostre. From her name comes the English term Easter. South is equivalent to the beginning of Summer, while the West represents the commencement of Autumn. This is the period of the year when the fruitfulness of the Earth is gathered in. It is when corn and other cereal crops are harvested and a little later the grape harvest occurs. The start of Autumn coincides with the celebration known in Christian circles in the UK as Harvest Festival. The North point on the magick circle is the equivalent of the beginning of Winter.

BOTA HPS    2t tdm

In the ritual of consecration I am about to describe, note that The High Priestess occupies the North-East, the mid-point between the onset of Winter and the promise of new life offered by the coming of Spring. In northern latitudes, many animals hibernate during this season. For humans, who do not physically hibernate, it is a time for reflection and the formulating of future plans. These are the months on the cycle of the year when the adepts and magi of the Western Mystery Tradition mentally organize and develop the work they intend to carry out over the course of the coming twelve months.

The Magician card, on his altar in the South-East, symbolizes the adept (of whatever gender) now past the planning stage, and actively striving to turn the plans constructed during the High Priestess stage of the year into a tangible reality. The Empress, at the Western point of the magick circle, represents the fruition of those plans, the harvest of all the effort lavished upon them over the preceding six-month period. Bear all this in mind as you walk around the magick circle at the start of the ritual of consecration.

Although your Wand will be consecrated to only one magickal path, you should bear in mind that the three magickal paths form a triad. They do not function alone. All three qualities – Will, Knowledge and Action – support one another and none ever works entirely alone but is always supported in a dozen subtle ways by the other two.

You may wear a robe when you come to perform the ritual. If, however, you do not possess a robe, no matter. Since the real work of magick is carried out in vision, it is enough that you imagine yourself robed. At this stage of your magickal career, your robe should be plain, and deep brown or buff, the same shade as a manila envelope. You can girdle yourself with either a black or a white cord.

In the course of this ritual, you will be asked to walk, in your imagination, around the courtyard where the activity takes place on the astral plane. If the directions require you to make a circumambulation that means you are to circle the courtyard once. Circumambulations always start in the East. As said, this is the direction from which power arises, and its symbol is the Sun breasting the horizon at dawn. Beginning your circumambulations in the East will also help you to tap into a ritual pattern that has been in use for millennia among adepts of the Western Esoteric Tradition and to draw energy from that ages-old tradition. From the East, a circumambulation proceeds to the South, then to the West, to the North, and finally back to the East. The pattern you create on the astral as you mentally circle the paved courtyard will resonate at the same frequency as the ancient ritual pattern thus forming a connection between the two. By means of that connection your magickal work will be energized, strengthened and enlivened.

BOTA Empress     3t tdm

The Ritual of Consecration

Set out your altar as directed. Then leave the room for a moment and mentally prepare yourself for the ritual you are about to perform.

When you re-enter the room, walk a full circle around the altar, going clockwise. Only after you have made one complete circuit of the room approach the central altar, continuing to travel in a clockwise direction, and stand at it facing East. If you are not physically wearing a robe, visualize yourself as wearing one. When you have done so to the best of your ability, return your attention to the physical plane and light the altar candle to mark the commencement of the ritual. Pause and still your mind.

When you feel ready, close your eyes and imagine yourself in the courtyard of the old, stone-built building, the rectangular stone altar in front of you. On this altar lies your Wand, a lit candle and a taper. (A taper is a long, ultra-slim version of a candle used to carry flame from one place to another.) Ahead of you and to your left, closer to the walls of the house, is another altar. On this, standing upright, is a large version of The High Priestess card. To your right, towards the southward perimeter of the courtyard, is a third altar on which stands a large representation of The Magician card. “In vision”, turn around clockwise so that you are facing West. Over toward to orchards, there is a fourth altar. On this, standing upright, is a large representation of The Empress card. Continue turning clockwise until you are facing the central altar again.

Imagine yourself lighting the taper from the candle on the central altar. Proceed clockwise around the central altar and past the altar in the North-East. Pass by the East and come to the altar in the South-East, on which stands the tarot card The Magician. There is a candle in a holder on this altar, placed in front of the Magician card. Light this candle from your taper. Continue in a clockwise direction until you come to the altar in the West, upon which stands the tarot card The Empress. Light the candle on that altar from your taper also. Continue walking clockwise until you come again to the altar in the North-East, on which stands the tarot card the High Priestess. Light the candle on that altar from your taper before continuing on to the East and around past the altar in the South-East so that you can the approach the central altar from the western portion of the courtyard and finish, facing East, with the altar, with your Wand on it, in front of you. Blow out the flame at the end of your taper and lay the taper back on the stone altar.

In vision, pick up your Wand and carry it to the appropriate altar – to the South-East if you have been directed onto the Path of Power, to the North-East if you have been directed onto the Path of Knowledge, to the West if you have been directed onto the Path of Informed Action. Hold your Wand above the flame of the candle on the altar you stand at and wait.

An inner contact will place a hand over the Wand; or it may take the Wand from you and perform some action with it: the inner contact might, for instance, point with the Wand, or simply grasp it in the middle and hold it upright. If the inner contact places a hand on the Wand, set your hand “in vision” over the inner contact’s hand. When you do so you will feel a flow of energy passing through the inner contact and then through you and also into the Wand. The process of instilling OtherWorldly energy into the Wand may take a long time or it may last only a brief moment. The experience will be different for everyone. Once the inner contact has finished charging the Wand with energy, or has ceased performing an action with it, leave the altar you are at and return, walking clockwise, to the central altar. Place the now charged and consecrated Wand back on the central altar.

Take a moment to compose your emotions, then open your eyes and leave the room, travelling as always in a clockwise direction. The inner contact needs to focus intently upon the physical Wand at this point in order to complete the transfer of numinous power from it to the Wand. This process will proceed more smoothly and with greater efficacy if there is no human present in the room while this transfer is made.

At the end of fifteen minutes, go back in and walk in a clockwise direction to the altar. Once there, close your eyes and, in vision, go around the magick circle, passing by the East until you reach the altar in the South-East. Blow out the candle on that altar. Proceed to the Western altar and blow out the candle in front of the large card depicting the Empress that stands upon the altar there. Then pass on to the North-East, to the altar dedicated to the High Priestess, and blow out that candle. Travelling on to the East and then the South, return to the central altar and blow out the flame on that altar’s candle too. Open your eyes and blow out the flame of the candle standing on your physical altar. This acts as a signal to your unconscious mind that the ritual has concluded. Now you can wrap your consecrated Wand in the material in which you intend to store it, and afterwards you should set the Wand aside somewhere safe until you are ready to use it.

BOTA Emperor      4 II

Although you have performed this ceremony of consecration entirely in vision, handling an imagined Wand, while the actual Wand remained on a table in a room of your home, you will find that your Wand has, nonetheless, been invested with OtherWorldly energy. When you grasp the Wand in your fingers, you should, with a little practice, be able to feel an energetic charge running through it.

Slip the three tarot cards back into the deck and clear away the candle, its holder, and any other paraphernalia you have used in the course of the ritual. Exit the room again and stay out of it for ten to fifteen minutes to allow the atmosphere within to return to normal.

If, previously to carrying out this consecration, you have read up on occult procedures, you may be aware that, at the end of most magickal ceremonies there is performed a reverse circumambulation, or a banishing or dismissal of the energies invoked during the course of the ritual. This is not the case following a consecration. Energy has been called into the magick circle (invoke literally means “to call in”) and then deposited within the consecrated object (in this instance your Wand). A banishing operation would be counter-productive under these conditions as it could have the result of drawing energy back out of the Wand, thus rendering it less potent and consequently making it a less effective magickal tool.

The Fourth Principle, Part I

by Tony Willis    

The Force known to students of the Occult Tarot as The Empress mediates the principle of multiplication or fecundity, as described in the previous article. In that role, and in line with her association with the number Three, she creates a triad of Qualities to aid her in her function. In the East, these Qualities are known as the Three Gunas and are named Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Guna simply means ‘quality’ or ‘attribute’. Sattva describes a state of harmony, balance, joy, and intelligence. Rajas describes a state of energy, action, change, and movement while Tamas describes an opposite a state of darkness, inertia, inactivity, and materiality. The Gunas represent two opposing states plus a third state that seeks ever to harmonize or balance out the other two. All three Gunas are in constant flux, participating in a never-ending dance of interaction with each other.

This continual state of flux needs to be stabilized if anything concrete is ever to be manifested. Enter the Force known to students of the Occult Tarot as The Emperor, embodying the principle of organization. His attribute is Form and his corresponding Element is Earth. His symbol is the Philosophers’ Cross, or the Cross of the Wise, a reference to the four directions and what is sometimes poetically referred to as “the Four Corners of the Earth”. Consideration of these associations enables one to see that the Emperor rules over, not only the Element of Earth, but the planet Earth itself, and by extension, the ‘plane of Earth’, meaning the material plane.

emperor card-s

The Emperor’s chief quality is given as Authority, for to him has been delegated the power to shape the immaterial qualities of the Gunas as they proceed with their unending dance, Sattva pirouetting with Tamas, Tamas performing a pas de deux with Rajas, and, it may be, Rajas, Tamas, and Sattva all dancing together. The Emperor’s first act of shaping is to create those forces know to occultists as the Elements of the Wise, namely Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. At an intellectual level, these represent, working backwards, the solid state, the liquid state, the gaseous state, and electro-magnetic state, all of which are present in the material world. Water, H2O, is ice in its solid state, water in its liquid state, and humidity in its gaseous state. The electro-magnetic state can be detected in the material world in the subtle energy running through animals and even plants, where certain species react to the Sun’s ray by turning their petals in that direction during daylight hours in an effort to absorb solar energy.

Another quality ascribed to The Emperor is Adaptation. (These titles and associations can be checked by consulting books dealing with the philosophical aspect of the tarot, such as The Tarot of the Bohemians. At the same time, many of the attributes can be found written on the tarot cards designed by Gabriel Goulinat or listed in Mouni Sadhu’s book The Tarot: A Contemporary Course of the Quintessence of Hermetic Occultism.) The Emperor was awarded the quality of Adaptation by our predecessor adepts on account of the role he plays in connection with the Gunas, adapting their combinations, and giving them form; giving them, at one point in history, such and such a form, and at another, a different form, so that carbon can manifest as wood – the trunk of a tree – in one era, as coal in another, and as a diamond in another. The Emperor rules over ‘elements’ as science thinks of them – hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, and all the rest of the periodic table.


In the process known as Creation, the Emperor represents the coming into being of the material universe. The Force mediated by the card springs into action with the event referred to by physicists as the Big Bang, that mysterious explosion, emerging apparently out of nothing, and marking the advent of the Cosmos as a tangible, measurable thing. This adaptive, organizing Force continues to work in the world today. Wherever you can see organization going on – in the running of a hotel, on a building site, somebody packing belongings into the trunk of a car – the Emperor Force is at work. By the same token, whenever you see adaptation going on – from the branches of a tree growing around, and at times encompassing, some obstacle in their path to such recent inventions improving on something that already existed, like Electric and Plug-In Hybrid automobiles – you are witnessing the Emperor Force at work.

4 II      BOTA Emperor

It is this Force that you will need to contact and form a relationship with in order to consecrate your Wand. Before we move to the consecration stage, however, the Wand needs to be cleansed of whatever energies it currently carries. Only when it has been ritually purified will it be safe to infuse it with a quantity of Emperor Force.

Second Exercise

To recapitulate: If you have been directed to one of the Three Paths of Magick through the use of the visualization technique shown you in the previous article, you are ready to consecrate your own personal magick Wand. I will assume that you have made yourself a Wand, or had one made for you. The next step is the cleanse the Wand of any energetic detritus it may have picked up on its journey from being a humble piece of wood to becoming an intentionally crafted magickal implement.

This exercise is carried out mainly on the physical plane, although there is, as you would expect, an astral plane dimension to the rite. At this stage it is not vitally necessary that you are aware of what is going on “in vision”. If you are able to see or to sense the movement of astral plane energies, so much the better; but, as said, it is not a requirement, and the rite will work perfectly successfully whether you are aware of the Inner Plane forces or not.

Before going any further, buy a piece of material in which to wrap your Wand once it has been cleansed. The material can be of any kind, although silk is best since it is endowed with properties that prevent magickally charged energies leaking out into the wider world. It can be of any color. A shade of red is appropriate for the Red Wand, a green hue for the Green Wand, and a clear white for the White Wand.

Cleansing of the Wand prior to Consecration

To carry out this rite you will need: a candle in a holder and a lighter or box of matches; a saucer holding a small quantity of salt; and a cup containing water. Place the candle in its holder, the saucer and the cup along with your unconsecrated Wand on the table you intend to use as your altar. Light the candle as a signal to your unconscious mind that you are about to begin a serious magickal working. Pause and steady your mind.

Point to the salt using the first two fingers of your active hand. If you are right-handed, your active hand is your right hand; if you are left-handed then your active hand is your left hand. While pointing at the salt as directed say out loud:

“I exorcise you, creature of Earth, by the power of the Eternal Parent [as you say this, make a small equal-armed cross with your extended fingers over the salt], so that you may be purified of all evil and negative influences.”

Then hold your active hand flat over the salt, about three or four inches above it, and say:

“Creature of Earth, adore your Creator! In the name of the Eternal Parent, I consecrate you exclusively to the service of evolutionary good. Amen.”

After a small pause, point to the water using the first two fingers of your active hand, and say:

“I exorcise you, creature of Water, by the power of the Eternal Parent [make a small equal-armed cross with your extended fingers over the water], so that you may be purified of all evil and negative influences.”

Hold your active hand flat over the water and say:

“Creature of Water, adore your Creator! In the name of the Eternal Parent, I consecrate you exclusively to the service of evolutionary good. Amen.”

Tip the salt into the water and say:

“I ask You, Eternal Parent, Creator of Heaven and Earth and of all that is in them, both visible and invisible, that you stretch out your right hand of power upon these creatures of the Elements and bless them in your Sacred Name. Grant that this salt may make for health of the body and this water for health of the soul, and that there may be banished from the place where they are used every power of adversity and every illusion and artifice of evil. Amen.”

Now sprinkle the Wand with the blessed water while saying:

“In the Sacred Name which is above every other name, and in the power of the Eternal Parent of All, I exorcise all influences and seeds of evil from this Wand, that they may be bound fast as if with chains of steel and cast into outer darkness from where they shall not be able to trouble me as I carry out my function as a servant of the Sacred Mysteries.”

Wait a moment and then dab the Wand dry with a soft cloth. The salt and water should be returned to Nature. This is best done by pouring the salt-infused water on to a lawn. If you don’t have a lawn, throw the water into a neighbor’s garden or distribute it on plants in a park, since most city-dwellers have access to someone else’s garden or some communal green area.

Wrap the Wand in the material you have bought to store it in. Blow out the candle flame so as to signify to your unconscious mind that the ritual has concluded. Put the Wand aside until you are ready to consecrate it.

In Part II of this article, I will give instructions as to how the ritual of consecration is to be carried out.

Working ‘In Vision’

by Tony Willis     
Basic Instruction on Working ‘In Vision’

The main tool the magician employs when working ‘in vision’ is their Imagination. In books on magickal technique you will find it called the Active Imagination or the Creative Imagination, and the process associated with it is called Creative Visualization. Magicians use Creative Visualization to gain access to the various aspects or levels of the Astral Plane, or as it is sometimes known, the OtherWorld, the Invisible Universe that is the twin of the Visible Universe, our physical world. The use of creative visualization is one of the most powerful and ancient ways of performing magick. Creative visualization occurs when a mental picture is deliberately built up in the magician’s mind. The contents of that mental picture are carefully delineated and many of the images made use of by the higher adepts are kept secret because they are extremely potent.

At the outset, when working with any of the exercises I am going to give you, it can be enormously difficult to discern what is real on the Astral Plane and what the student magician has invented for themselves as a form of wish-fulfilment. Do not, at this early stage, concern yourself with any of that. Just work at today’s exercise and let your active imagination create a doorway into the OtherWorld. You will know for certain when you have genuinely made the transition from this world to the OtherWorld because you will feel drained of energy for some time after the exercise has finished. To make the transition successfully and to link up with your tutelary deity is hard work; naturally, after working so hard, you will subsequently experience some degree of exhaustion.

Those who have made the journey to the OtherWorld are advised to eat something or have a hot drink on their return to physical reality. Books of instruction in such matters say that this is form of grounding, of re-focusing the mind on the material plane; and so it is, but it is also fulfils the need for sustenance the body experiences after physical exertion. Activity on the Astral Planes functions no differently to activity on the physical plane – after an output of energy, an input of some sort is required to maintain balance in the human organism, which is composed of body, mind and spirit. If your mind and spirit have been at work, they will need “feeding” in exactly the same way as the body needs to be fed at the end of an eight-hour shift in a factory.

Despite the constant use of “imagination” to describe the activity, suggesting that images play the most important part in the procedure, in fact all the senses are used in vision work. To see in vision is called clairvoyance, to hear in vision is called clairaudience, to feel in vision is called clairsentience, and so on for the other two senses. Some students are very clairvoyant, but you may not be. In any case, clairvoyant sight isn’t anything like normal vision. When astral viewing, the person can usually see only what they are looking at directly, there is little or no peripheral vision. In vision work the most useful sense is often feeling, not in the tactile sense, but in the sense of “feeling something is right”, or alternatively “feeling that something is wrong.” The Astral Plane is a malleable world: the Energies that dwell there can and do take on Form so as to communicate with humans, but they can choose the Form they assume, and a Dark Energy can, with consummate ease, put on a Body of Light. Fortunately, the type of Energy that has clothed itself in an attractive Form can be detected by the student’s Sixth Sense. Rule number one of working in vision is: If you sense that something is wrong, make an immediate return to your physical body and the safety of the material plane.

The first exercise I am going to give you will help you to develop your psychic sensitivity to the veil between the worlds. In later exercises, you will become able to feel (sense) Energies flowing to and fro within the invisible world. You will start to become aware of those places where the invisible world overlaps or intersects with the physical world, places where the veil between the worlds is thin, and where it is easier to step between one world and the other. The only requirement is that you follow my instructions to the letter. I cannot be responsible for what happens to any student who goes off-message or attempts to explore the OtherWorld on their own account without having mastered the basics of working in vision.

For you must first learn how to open a gateway to the OtherWorld so as to enable an Inner Plane Being to come through it into our world, or so that may you to pass through the gateway and set about exploring the landscape you find on the other side. This facility will not be working perfectly for you straightaway; it is a skill that has to be worked at, repeated over and over until its use becomes second nature. Understand, therefore, that it may take several attempts before you “feel” that your inner vision is functioning properly.

Another thing you need to know is that the Beings attracted by the exercise I am about to give are specific Energies that are safe to work with and educative in nature. In magickal parlance they are called tutelary deities. The exercise uses visionary techniques to establish contact with one of these tutelary deities; first to forge it and then to anchor it.

What comes next, Reader, apprentice magician, is a simple exercise that will train you in the basic methods of working “in vision”, and will prepare you for the acquisition of deeper visionary skills. First, however, some ground rules.

Ensure that you have excluded all distractions. Turn off phones, the radio, the television, and so forth, and close the door of the room you are in so that you will not be disturbed. Mark the beginning of the exercise by lighting a candle and taking a moment to still your mind. Then sit in a straight-backed chair, both feet on the floor. Do not lie down to do these exercises. Sit upright so that you do not fall asleep. When you have completed the exercise, open your eyes, stand up, and blow out the candle. Walk around a little to ground yourself in the physical world, and go and make yourself a hot drink and eat a biscuit or a slice of toast, as eating and drinking will help ground you too.

The First Exercise

Now that you are aware of the name of the High Priestess of the Tarot, you have a decision to make: Will you start out along the path that, if you remain upon it, will result in you learning the secrets of occult Knowledge?

Think the matter over before answering that question. Your decision will have repercussions. As we learn, we grow. As we grow, we become better fitted for more testing experiences. Consider that well.

Also, if you decide to tread this path, it would be unwise to do so unless you are already carrying out the exercise of sending out love to humanity on a daily basis as described in my article on The Magician that proceeded the one on The High Priestess. You should either be performing this exercise or be carrying out the three daily salutations in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. The latter exercise is described by the British occultist W.E. Butler among others. You may have come across it – you may already be performing it daily for all I know. But you must be making this connection either through the sending of love exercise or by making the three daily salutations before starting off upon the path to higher knowledge.

If you determine to pursue this path, your next action is this:

Give yourself some free time when you will not be disturbed. Sit, as described above, close your eyes, and imagine yourself standing before the Two Pillars as they are shown on the Waite-Smith High Priestess card – the Black Pillar on your left, the White Pillar on your right. You may imagine that you stand in a vestibule or open space in front of the Pillars, but there is no need to visualize the High Priestess herself.

On the other side of the Pillars, imagine a darkened space. From where you stand, you can make out nothing beyond the Pillars; you are only aware that there is a room, a hall perhaps, the size of a concert hall but seemingly empty, no seats, no stage for an orchestra.

When you feel ready, imagine yourself stepping forward between the Pillars and pausing there, at the entrance to the home of the Sacred Mysteries. Hold your arms out wide, stretching towards the White Pillar on one side of you and towards the Black Pillar on the other. Say (silently, in your head, if necessary), “The name of the Tarot’s High Priestess is ⸺⸺, and in that Name I humbly request to be permitted to cross the threshold of the Temple of the Mysteries.”

Wait. Do not move forward yourself. You will feel your body gradually drawn forward into the area on the other side of the Pillars. As you are propelled forward, the space into which you are drawn will lighten and you will be able to see more of the interior of the Temple into which you are about to be inducted. You will either find yourself in the presence of a Being – a deity from an ancient pantheon – or you will be met by the keepers of the Temple gates and led into the presence of such a Being. I cannot predict which Being you will be taken to meet. Everyone who undertakes this exercise will have her or his own tutelary deity.

If the Being in an Earth goddess such as Cybele, Gaia, or Demeter, the Green Path of Love is being offered you. This is love in the higher sense, the kind of love a mother has for her children; the kind of love the Bible has in mind when it says, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.” If you accept what is being offered, you are entitled to wield the Green Wand of the Goddess of Nature.

If the Being you are presented to is a Sun god, a war god, or ruler god, like Zeus, then the Red Path of Will-Power is being offered to you. If you consent to travel this path then you are entitled to wield the Red Wand of the Gods of Action and Decisiveness.

If the Being is a deity associated with magick – Isis and Thoth from the Egyptian pantheon, Mercury and Hecate from the Roman – or with the Mysteries – Isis and Thoth again, but Persephone and Orpheus from the Greco-Roman pantheon – then the White Path of Wisdom is being offered you. And if you consent to travel this path then you are entitled to wield the White Wand of the Deities of Learning, and more importantly, of Understanding, as the Bible tells us, “Get wisdom; and with all your getting, get understanding.”

After you have been introduced to your tutelary deity, the Being will fade away and you will be left alone with your thoughts in the astral Temple of the Mysteries.

When the exercise is over, it will be made plain that you are to return your consciousness to the material plane and to your physical body. One generally feels the energy of the astral Temple retreating, ebbing away, as it were, and one is left alone in the sacred space with no task to carry out there: the meeting with your tutelary deity is concluded. For now. When you have that feeling, transfer your consciousness to the physical plane, open your eyes, stand, blow out the candle and walk around as instructed above.


Understand that whatever you see during the course of this exercise is what you see. It will be your vision and no one else’s. I cannot predict exactly what will happen. The experience will be largely personal to you. That is to say, the interior of your Temple of the Sacred Mysteries will probably not look anything like the interior of my Temple of the Mysteries. The symbolism you find there will depend upon the attributes of the deity assigned to be your mentor and instructor.


If you choose to go no further now that you have realized what the name of the High Priestess is, you will not be penalized in any way. All will remain for you as it was. You will be neither worse off nor better off than you are at this moment.

Think well on what I have said. When you are ready, make you decision.


However, if you do undertake the exercise and are received by your tutelary deity within the astral Temple of the Sacred Mysteries, then you should make yourself a wand and paint it with the correct colors, or have one made for you. There are artisans advertising their products on the Internet; you can search for them. If you are a UK resident, I can recommend the following craftsperson, who has experience in creating this type of short wand:, We will consecrate the wand at a later date.

The Third Principle

by Tony Willis    

The Empress represents the occult principle sometimes called multiplication. Various schools of magick name it in other ways. On the Gabriel Goulinat Empress card, right at the bottom, you will see the word “Generation” in French. It is a reference to the power of generation mediated by this Trump in any magickally charged tarot. In Mouni Sadhu’s The Tarot: A Contemporary Course of the Quintessence of Hermetic Occultism, again the last word written under the picture of the Empress is “Generatis”, having the same meaning as “La Generation” from the Goulinat card. Above “Generatis” is the word “Partus”, birth. All these words – multiplication, generation, parturition – steer the mind in a certain direction, towards ideas of growth, increase, fertility, coming into being, and abundance. In books dealing with the divinatory meanings of the cards, the Empress is regularly assigned significances such as Creativity and Pregnancy (or Conception) and the empress herself is often times depicted as a pregnant female.

Arcane-Arcana-03-imperatrice-empress    3t clean

In occult tarots, the image on the Empress card is a visual representation of the creative force that animates the physical world. This force does not operate alone but in concert with the forces represented by the Magician and the High Priestess. Above the Mouni Sadhu Empress are the words “Phisis” and “Nature”. Physis is a Greek goddess who, the ancient texts declare, gave birth “by her own breeding”, begat “without bridal, without wedding,” that is to say, of herself. From her Greek name we get the English words “physical” and “physics”, the study of the natural world. The Roman equivalent of Physis is Natura, Nature, frequently spoken of as Mother Nature, a personification of the forces lying in back of observable natural cycles such as the planting, shooting up, ripening and gathering in of corn.

Mother Nature receives the energies that Chinese philosophers called Yin and Yang and blends them in a thousand diverse ways to bring into being the natural world, the physical universe in which humankind live and move and function. She then continues to work upon the two opposites in such a way as to sustain and perpetuate the physical universe. The occultist remains ever aware that Mother Nature is the visible, apprehendable aspect of a triumvirate, a Triad of forces: the male, Yang, force symbolized in the occult tarot by the Magician; the female, Yin, force symbolized by the High Priestess; and the force that unites these two in an unending variety of ways, creating the glorious multiplicity that is physical life on planet Earth.

On the Goulinat card you will see the phrase the Mercury of the Wise. Whenever “of the Wise” or “of the Philosophers” or some similar wording is added to a term, it signifies analogy. The Mercury of the Wise refers not to that unusual metal mercury which seems more like a liquid than a metal, but to something that cannot be described in any other way than by saying “it is like the metal Mercury whilst not actually being Mercury.” If you are puzzled by that remark it is because you are meant to be. Occultists of the past were careful to lift only the smallest corner of the veil hanging before the Holy of Holies in the Temple of the Greater Mysteries. They left it to seekers with sufficient wit and daring to attempt to raise that veil even higher. There were clues and hints aplenty scattered about, and one proved one’s worthiness to pass behind the veil by acting on those hints, by putting two and two together and making four.

At the present time, many things that were once held secret have been made public. That being so, I am able, without breaking any oaths of secrecy, to disclose the meaning of the Mercury of the Wise, in one aspect at least. (I could reveal its higher meaning; but, reader, unless you already hold the grade of Lesser Adept you would not understand my explanation.) The key to the phrase “the Mercury of the Wise” lies, as it so often does, in the sigil the magi of the past accorded to the planet Mercury. On the Magician card, we found the infinity sign, indicative of the Sun behind our physical sun. On the High Priestess card, we found a Sun and a Moon placed at the tmercury astro sigilop of her two pillars in some occult tarots; in other tarots, the pillars were black and white, the colors associated with Yin and Yang in the Far East, or they were red and blue, suggesting, to the observant student of the mysteries, Fire and Water, the elements traditionally assigned to the Sun and Moon respectively. The progression is: Sun – Sun and Moon. Logic ought to tell us that the next step forward will concern the Sun, the Moon and some third quality. The imagery revealing what that third quality is is not to be found on the card itself, but in the symbol magicians have attached to the card: the sigil for the planet Mercury. This sigil is built up around a solar disc; above this is a lunar crescent, and below it is a Cross, representing the Four Elements of the Wise, called the Cross of Matter. For matter, as human beings understand the word, only comes into existence along with the occult Force named by the occult tarot as the Empress.

As we have seen, the High Priestess is a symbol for the Prima Materia, the first embryonic manifestation of Matter, so basic in its constitution that it hardly warrants the name of “matter” at all. It is the primitive, formless basis of all matter that is to come. It has much in common with the Greek concept of chaos. Which is to say, it shares many of the characteristics attributed to Chaos in classical mythology. “A rude and undeveloped mass” is how the Roman poet Ovid described Chaos. The Prima Materia would remain in this rude, undeveloped state if it were not acted upon by another Force, a third Force brought into existence so as to stand beside the Power represented by the Magician and the Knowledge of how that Power can be put to good use represented by the High Priestess.

This third Force is generally named “Action” by occultists. The first five occult principles, corresponding to the Trumps 1 to 5 in the tarot, are emanated from the Void of All-Potential. When the third occult principle is so emanated, a Triad is formed. Now, not only do Power and the Knowledge of the ways in which Power can be directed exist; they are united by Action – knowledge activated. In the same way as the Prima Materia is the most primitive form of matter lying behind all manifestations of matter on the physical plane, so is the Empress represent the Action lying behind all subsequent Actions. The image of the Empress in any occult tarot presents a summation of the qualities of the Triad of which she herself is the summit. She is drawn so as to represent Physis, the goddess of Nature, crowned with twelve stars, denoting the zodiac signs mediating the power of Heaven, and seated at the edge of a wheat-field, signifying the fruitfulness of the Earth. Physis, however, is a goddess, just as Mother Nature is an intellectual concept. So far as humankind is concerned, She is immaterial; for in our progression through the tarot Trumps we have not yet arrived in the realm of Form as we understand it. We are almost there, but not quite. In the first two representations of the card towards the start of this article, Physis’s status as a divine being is denoted by the wings she has been endowed with in those designs.

03r_w   03 II   BOTA Empress

Returning to the Goulinat Empress card (the first image above), note the triangle at the top of the card, highlighting the idea of a Triad. Towards the bottom, preceding the phrase “The Mercury of the Wise”, there is the word “Water”. This is the Element associated with Trump 3. On the Waite-Smith Empress card, and on all versions of the Empress influenced by the Waite-Smith imagery, a waterfall is a prominent feature in the background. Also, the wheat depicted in the foreground of the card would not flourish if it were not adequately watered. There was much debate in pre-classical and classical Greece as to which of the four Elements of the Wise held primacy. The three candidates were Fire, Air and Water. The most popular of these was Water. It was favored precisely because of its perceived fertilizing properties; ancient peoples of Europe were well aware that, following rain, plant life flourished, and in more advanced cultures the principle of irrigation was recognized and made good use of. However, occultism teaches that, while the Water of the Wise has a fertilizing nature, it is not the first of the Elements. Indeed, the pattern of the tarot Trumps suggests that it is the third Element to come into being, since it is associated with Trump 3. Any of my readers who have delved into the mysteries of the Qabalah will be aware of a hierarchy of Elements which starts with Fire and proceeds to Water and then Air and finally Earth. This is not the sequence depicted on the tarot Trumps. There we find a hierarchy dictated by observation of the world around us. At its base lies Earth, obviously. Water, in the form of rivers, lakes and seas, lays upon the Earth. Above Earth and Water is the realm of Air, the atmosphere, and above that, it was supposed, lay the Heavens, home of the Sun by day and the stars by night. These celestial objects were recognized as fiery “beings” and the region they inhabited was associated with the Element of Fire.

Before moving on, I will say a few words about another Triad sometimes assigned to the first three Trumps. It is a set of designations relating to theology, a recondite area of study that not many today are drawn to. I am going to list the designations but I am not going attempt to explain them. They represent a highly rarified aspect of occult thought that most people today, even quite advanced adepts, find so detached from magickal theory and practice that they do not bother their heads thinking about it.

Look again at the Mouni Sadhu Empress. Above the word “Partus” you will see the phrase “Divina Natura”, Divine Nature. This phrase must be read in conjunction with the phrases Mouni Sadhu allocates to the two preceding Trumps. He associates the Magician with “Divina Essentia”, Divine Essence, and the High Priestess with “Divina Substantia”, Divine Substance. This is the theological Triad I referred to a moment ago: Divine Essence, Divine Substance (the Prima Materia), and Divine Nature – the essence of Divinity, the material aspect of Divinity (and again ‘material’ refers to something far removed from anything you or I would consider material), and the nature (i.e. the character) of Divinity. Having pointed students interested in such aspects of tarot lore in the right direction, I shall move on to the magickal implications of the Triad composed of Trumps 1, 2 and 3.

In the Occult Tarot, Trump 1 symbolizes the WILL to act; Trump 2 symbolizes the MEANS through which one may act; and Trump 3 is the ACT itself. In terms of ritual work, the first three principles manifest as power (Trump 1), the knowledge of how that power it can be safely used (Trump 2), and contact – contact with the gods, demi-gods, angels, archangels, and daemons that are personifications of a variety of Subtle Energies functioning within the Invisible World (Trump 3). Not until all three sides of this Triangle of Occult Power have been established can magick be performed.

For the student of Occult Tarot who has been following the instructions laid out in this series of articles, the pattern of events invariably runs as follows. The student first takes up the daily practice of sending out love to the whole of humanity (or makes a daily salutation to the Original Energy/God). Next, she is gifted with the realization of the ‘name’ by which the High Priestess is known to the Wise. The student is thereafter taken, in vision, between the pillars of the Temple of the Mysteries so as to be introduced to her tutelary deity, the OtherWorld being who will be her mentor and guide through a series of experiences intended to train and cleanse her soul. The final stage of this initiation (which allows the aspirant to adepthood to call herself a Junior member of the Temple of the Mysteries) is that she is presented with the name of the Path the Higher Powers desire her to follow in the initial stages of her magickal education.

There are three Paths the Junior initiate may be called upon to follow at this juncture. These are the Red Path, the White Path, and the Green Path. They correspond to the first three tarot Trumps. The Red Path is governed by the Magician card, the White Path by the High Priestess card, and the Green Path by the Empress card, for it represents contact with the multiform energies of Mother Nature – the powers of increase and decrease, of growth, fruition, and decay leading to new growth. The visible symbol that the student has been accepted as an apprentice on the Magician, the High Priestess, or the Empress Path to magickal attainment is the short Wand they are allowed to own as a symbol of the Road they are following. The wand is either red, white, or green according to the Principle to which the student has been dedicated. The short wand is about 9 inches (23 cm) long, and takes the form of a straight piece of wood having a bulbous protrusion at the top ending in a point. It is all one color, except that the protrusion is painted with a swirl effect, yellow in the case of the Red wand, cream for the White wand, and leaf green for the Green wand.

I include a rough drawing of the red wand, executed by myself, plus a more detailed view of its tip giving an idea of the swirling yellow lines with which it is decorated.

rWand4Publication          4 blog

In the next article, I will explain a method of working magickally ‘in vision’, and give instructions as to how the short Wand can be incorporated into magickal operations carried out ‘in vision’. At the present time, with social distancing in force in most countries around the globe, opportunities for magicians to gather together to practice magick are limited, and in some cases those opportunities are non-existent. Under conditions such as these, working magick in the mind, or as it is sometimes called ‘in vision’, has become far more normal practice than once it was. Until now, working in vision has been considered to be a form of magick appropriate only for the most advanced magi to engage in. But circumstances alter cases, and today the method of working in vision is being taught to students even of the lesser grades of Neophyte and Junior. It is in that spirit that I will be providing instruction on the blog as to how to carry out magickal workings ‘in vision’ and giving novices in this area of practice a few tips and general guidelines that will hopefully make their efforts more effective.

The High Priestess, Bisbee Tarot

One reader of the blog, Giovanni, has come back to me with the information that the Tarot Trump I wanted more information on is from the Bisbee Tarot. More about the deck can be found here:

Many thanks to Giovanni.

                                Tony Willis

The Second Principle, Part 2

by Tony Willis

At this stage of our exploration of the Occult Tarot, it is worth pausing for a moment to plot the changes made to the image on Trump 2 from the Popesses of the Milanese Visconti-Sforza decks of the early fifteenth-century to the Waite-Smith-High-Priestess clones found in so many twenty-first-century tarots.

2_papessa_fournier      2t tdm

My first illustration is the Popess from the Sforza-Fournier deck. The figure is indisputably a female Pope – a woman in nun-like robes, wearing the distinctive papal triple-tiara over a white wimple. She is seated on a dais, a tapestry or patterned wall behind her. In her right hand she holds a long staff topped by an equal-armed cross. With her left hand she clasps a closed book. There is nothing written on the cover of the book; for all we know it could be a bible. This is a far cry from the Waite-Smith High Priestess. It is instructive to track down how the transformation came about.

The French occultists who took up the tarot worked with the Tarot de Marseille as their model. They accepted Court de Gébelin’s proposition that the Marseille deck was a direct descendant of the Egyptian Book of Thoth. Over the passage of almost two millennia, so they believed, the loose leaves of this pharaonic tome had survived with its images relatively intact but misunderstood and misinterpreted by the masses who were using them to play games of chance with. Our next object of study must, therefore, be the Tarot de Marseille Popess.

Again we have a straightforward representation of a female pope crowned with a papal tiara. Like the Sforza-Fournier Popess, she is not veiled. On the Marseille card, however, her book lies open on her lap. Behind her hangs a piece of cloth that would appear to be held in place by two clasps or nails high above her and outside the scope of the illustration.

Eliphas Levi, prime mover of the French occult revival, accepted the Tarot de Marseille cards as a starting point for further investigation into the tarot’s esoteric dimensions. Accordingly, he ‘revised’ or ‘improved’ the designs of one or two Trumps but, as he didn’t ‘rectify’ the image on Trump 2, his opinions need not detain us at this juncture. When Papus published his Tarot of the Bohemians, he included two versions of each Trump. One was the appropriate card from the Marseille tarot, the other a re-drawing of the Marseille illustration done by Oswald Wirth. Wirth made significant, if subtle, changes to the design of the Popess card. While she remains a recognizable female Pope, Wirth draws a lunar crescent at the summit of her tiara. Drapery falls from the tiara on either side of her face. This detail is present in the Sforza-Fournier and Marseille cards but is not as noticeable there as it is in Wirth’s design. His Popess wears two sashes that cross on her chest, a little below the breasts, though you may have to look closely to see them.

PapusWirth02     Arcane-Arcana-02-papesse-high-priestess

Wirth’s Popess holds a book in her left hand. It is partly open and she seems to mark her place in it by the insertion of finger. In her other hand are two keys, crossed, though not in the broad ‘X’ formation usual for two keys when presented as the insignia of St Peter, who, according to legend, was the first Pope. Wirth’s Popess sits between two pillars, a veil stretched between them, held up by two rings attached to the capitals of the pillars. At her feet is a chequered pavement, resembling a chess board.

Later on, Wirth further revised his designs, making them more explicitly esoteric. In the more recent colored rendering of Trump 2, one of the Popess’s pillars is red, the other blue, the veil between them being white. One of her keys is gold and the other silver. The Yin-Yang symbol is imprinted on the cover of the book she holds. The introduction of the pillars and chequer-work floor onto this card are suggestive of Freemasonry. The furniture of a Masonic Lodge include a pair of pillars and a carpet or floor-cloth marked with black and white squares and said to represent the paved interior of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, usually referred to as the First Temple.

2t Egyptian Tarot       2 b of light

Seven years after the publication of The Tarot of the Bohemians, in 1896 the first ‘Egyptian tarot’ was published: the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana redrawn in a quasi-Egyptian style. The ‘reforms’, along with a set of new names for the Trumps, were taken from works be a one-time student of Eliphas Levi who used the nom de plume Paul Christian. In M. Christian’s opinion, Trump 2 was known to the Egyptians as The Gate of the Sanctuary and the seated female figure is guardian of that gateway. She is no longer a female Pope but has become a Priestess. However, she continues to be crowned with a papal tiara, though now there is a crescent moon at its top. One text explains the symbolism in this way: “The tiara upon her head is the emblem of the power of intelligence lighted up by wisdom represented by the crescent.” The motif of intelligence is adverted to again by the sigil for Mercury on the priestess’s chest, evidently affixed to her robe. A veil covers the upper portion of her face and a patterned cloak is draped over her right shoulder. The scroll spread out on her lap is partly obscured by her cloak which falls across it. She sits between two pillars, necessarily so as she is now vaunted as the guardian of the gate to the sanctuary: the Sforza-Fournier and Marseille Popesses do not have pillars at their backs, but the priestess of the ‘Egyptian’ tarot must, so as to underscore the function Paul Christian has assigned to her. In one colored version of the card, the pillars are painted red and white. In penny-pain versions, the pillars are presented in simple black and white. No veil is suspended between the pillars.

In 1910, Papus published Le Tarot Divinatoire (known in English as The Tarot of Divination) illustrated with tarot card designs executed by Gabriel Goulinat. While Goulinat’s Trump 2 is named La Papesse, she no longer bears any resemblance to a female pope. She wears a headdress emphasizing three lunar phases, waxing, full, and waning, and a veil falls over the top half of her face. Her robe is pale violet. There is a symbol on her chest colored yellow or gold. It is difficult to make out what the symbol is. It is possibly a solar cross, another addition suggested by Paul Christian. One text informs us that the solar cross is “emblematic of universal generation”. The scroll on the knees of this popess/priestess is partly unrolled and also partly obscured by the sleeve of her robe. The pillars before which she is seated are red and blue in the colored version of the card. There is a white veil stretched between the pillars. Goulinat’s card is a model for all Popesses, Priestesses and High Priestesses that follow.

Arcane-Arcana-02-papesse-high-priestess         2 knapp hall

The Revised New Art Tarot created by J. Augustus Knapp under the direction of Manly Palmer Hall was published in 1929. It was later reissued as the Knapp-Hall Tarot and it is by that name that the deck is best known today. The card continues to bear the name La Papesse but the design has more in common with the Waite-Smith interpretation of Trump 2 than it does the Tarot de Marseille’s Popess. Given the date of publication, it is possible that Hall had seen the Waite-Smith cards, which came out in 1910. However, as is apparent from Gabriel Goulinat’s design, French occult tarots were at this time moving away from depictions of a Popess and favoring symbolism more suitable to a Priestess of a pagan pantheon.

Like the Goulinat representation, the Knapp-Hall Popess is kitted out with a papal tiara surmounted by a lunar crescent. A white veil covers half her face. On her pale blue robe there is the sigil for Mercury at chest height. Her cloak is white, trimmed with gold. White and blue, be it noted, become almost the de rigueur colors for High Priestess’s vestments in tarots following the Waite-Smith tradition. On the Knapp-Hall card the pillars are dark and light grey in color. The veil between them is red and opaque. The book the Popess holds in her left hand is closed. In her right hand she carries the two keys we have become familiar with, one gold, one silver. As on the Wirth card, the keys are crossed but not as the keys of St Peter’s insignia are. Also in keeping with Wirth’s symbolism, there is a chequered floor at the Popess’s feet. The finials on her throne are in the form of owls, the bird sacred to Athena, goddess of wisdom.

The Waite-Smith tarot, first published in 1910, names Trump 2 The High Priestess. The woman on the card wears a headdress representing the three lunar phases, as on Goulinat’s Papesse card (see above). True to her new title, she is very much a priestess and can in no way be construed as a female Pope. In Pamela Coleman Smith’s illustration, the High Priestess’s face is not covered, as the woman’s face on the ‘Egyptian’ tarot card is. Instead, a white veil falls from her crown either side of her face. Her robe is white, her cloak pale blue. At her feet, the robe might be dissolving into water. She bears a white equal-armed cross on her chest and she is seated on a stone cube. There is a crescent moon at her feet on her left, the viewer’s right. At her back are two pillars. The one to her right is black with the letter B painted on it in white. The one on her left is white and has a black letter J painted on it. A veil is hung between the pillars bearing an arrangement of green palm leaves and red pomegranates, the latter distributed so as to hint that they are describing the layout of the spheres of the Qabalistic Tree of Life, the lower part of the veil being obscured by the High Priestess’s body. The scroll on her lap is partly unrolled and in part it is covered over by a portion of her cloak. It has the word TORA on it in capital letters. This word has been interpreted as a reference to the first five books of the Old Testament, known in Judaism as the Torah, and as an anagram of Taro, or Tarot, if one is allowed to use the letter T twice.

r-w priestess 2        mouni-02

The pictures of tarot Trumps used to illustrate Mouni Sadhu’s book The Tarot: A Contemporary Course of the Quintessence of Hermetic Occultism were drawn by Eva G. Lucas some time between 1948 and 1962. They are a fusion of elements found in the Oswald Wirth and the Waite-Smith tarots with the occasional additions of features suggested by Paul Christian.

Mouni Sadhu tells us that “the vulgar name” for the card “is ‘the Priestess’,” and that is how the illustration presents her. As on the Waite-Smith card, Mouni Sadhu’s Priestess wears a headdress referencing the three lunar phases of waxing, full, and waning. As on the Wirth card, the upper half of her face is veiled. A broach in the form of a solar cross acts as the clasp to her cloak, a detail taken from Paul Christian, as previously noted. She holds a partly open book in her right hand as she does in the Wirth tarot. Her left hand is empty. The pillars to her rear are colored red and blue in one version of the image. There is a Sun on top of the one pillar and a Moon above the other. As with the ‘Egyptian’ tarot, there is no veil between the pillars. At the priestess feet is a tessellated floor, all its squares white, not decorated so as to resemble a chess board.

The High Priestess from the B.O.T.A. tarot (drawn under the supervision of Paul Foster Case) is a re-envisioning of the Waite-Smith illustration with a few minor adjustments. The crescent moon placed by Pamela Coleman Smith at the High Priestess’s feet has disappeared and her headdress is presented somewhat differently. The capitals of the pillars on the B.O.T.A. card have the form of lotus buds and their bases are cubes, which on the Waite card they are not. While the letters on the pillars remain B and J, they are now in Hebrew rather than in the Latin alphabet.

The main facts for the student to take on board at this juncture are that the woman on Trump 2 has been transformed from a female Pope into a pagan priestess and that, rather incongruously, the space around her is now firmly identified as the entrance to King Solomon’s Temple. On the continent, where in some areas the game of tarot continues to be played using Tarot de Marseille-type decks, tarots still have a Popess in the pack, but elsewhere in the world it is the High Priestess, under that name or some other, who reigns supreme.

BOTA HPS       mmTarot 02

The Trump cards of the B.O.T.A. deck were used as illustrations for Paul Foster Case’s The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages (Macoy Publishing Co.) when the book was published in 1947. A little prior to that, in 1935, the Thomson-Leng tarot was issued in the UK. The designs for this pack represent a fusion of ideas taken from the Waite-Smith cards on the one hand and from the French occultist Eudes Picard on the other. In this deck, Trump 2 is named The Great Priestess, suggesting that the artist, who was plainly also an esotericist, had studied tarot from the perspective of the French occultism, for in French the card is sometimes called La Grandpretresse, literally ‘Great Priestess’. The picture on the Thomson-Leng card resembles the Waite-Smith High Priestess; her headdress has been redrawn and the symbolism of the veil between the pillars distorted (the artist was evidently no Qabalist), but the close relationship between the two images is obvious. The two pillars of the Thomson-Leng card are not differentiated in any way. However, the Priestess has a scroll on her lap with the letters TORA written on it, although the word is hardly discernable, and the scroll is partly unrolled and partly hidden by the High Priestess’s robe, exactly as depicted on the Waite-Smith image for Trump 2. The Thomson-Leng deck is printed using a limited palette of colors; this may account for its Great Priestess wearing a red, rather than a blue, cloak, although it appears to have been the artist’s decision to color the solar cross on the lady’s breast, which on the Waite-Smith card is white. The half-hidden scroll with the word TORA on it and the cross on the Priestess’s chest both come from the Waite-Smith tarot.

In the recent modern tarot designed by Theofanus Abba, the representation of the t2 alk trtHigh Priestess is named ‘Isis’. Abba’s Alchemical Tarot is an occult tarot in the continental tradition. His Trump 2 is essentially the earlier Wirth image redrawn apart from the way Abba has elected to depict the veil between the pillars. The Priestess’s robe is blue and spangled with stars. She wears no cloak and while folds of red material fall from her triple tiara, they do not cover her face, although a white, sheer veil does, obscuring it completely. An owl, the totem of Athena, is perched on her left wrist. On the arm of her throne is the carving of a face possibly representing a bewigged judge or lawyer. (English barristers and judges wear such wigs to this day.) As already remarked, the main difference between this image and Wirth’s is that the veil between the pillars is here patterned with a series of concentric circles in an array of colors.

Occult tarots of the twenty-first-century continue to depict the woman on Trump 2 as a Priestess figure, the Popess of the early tarots all but forgotten now in esoteric circles. A faint echo of the Popess’s presence sometimes remains, as it does in Abba’s illustration, when the Priestess is depicted wearing a papal tiara, but otherwise the fact that she once existence is all but erased from modern occult tarots.

It seems as though at least one new tarot deck comes out every year nowadays. But for a long time now I haven’t seen any that I would consider an Occult Tarot. Some of these decks are works of art – I call them Art Tarots – but they add nothing to the tarot student’s understanding of the esoteric tarot. Even the most inventive packs tend to have illustrations that are essentially restatements of the divinatory meanings that have been assigned to the cards, particularly the spots, by common consent as a result of study of the Waite-Smith designs.

old english trt 3 coins        pentacles 3

Take the Old English Tarot’s 3 of Coins, for instance. In the foreground, if you look hard enough, you can see a man laboring in an orchard. He looks to be pruning one of the trees. This image is just another way representing the ‘story’ told on the Waite-Smith 3 of Pentacles, where a stone-mason is working on the arch of some palatial or ecclesiastical building. A quick check on the Net leads me to these attributes for the 3 of Pentacles: hard work, determination, dedication and commitment. Another website gives the significance of the card as: Excellence and success acquired through productive teamwork or simply by being industrious. “It relates directly to being a master of your trade and great career accomplishments,” this text continues. Most of the meanings quoted for the 3 of Pentacles could be applied to the Old English Tarot’s 3 of Coins if one is “reading the picture on the card”. The one meaning that cannot be extracted from the OET design is “teamwork”. It is a meaning that crops up a lot on other websites I consulted. It comes about because people have “read the picture” on the Waite-Smith card, observed that it depicts a workman and two other men apparently holding the plans of the building, and interpreted this image as a symbolic representation of teamwork. The OET’s card is the depiction of a lone worker. Those tarotists who “read the picture” therefore lose the meaning “teamwork” when using the Old English Tarot deck, it becomes inaccessible to them; but they get to hang on to “hard work, determination, commitment, etc.” Here, once again, we see demonstrated one of the prime rules of Occult Tarot: If you change the picture on a card you will alter the way people interpret that card.

Modern versions of the High Priestess are often, to my mind, of great artistic merit but superficial in their symbolisms. Key points are omitted from the design while others, though present, are downgraded in importance. Below are examples of the Trump 2 card from three Steampunk tarots.

2t steampunk1  2t steampunk2  2t steampunk3

In the first, the pillars are depicted as cogs and gears affixed to metal shafts. The symbolism of the High Priestess’s headdress has been relocated to the foot of a crystal ball near the bottom of the card. Tarot cards replace the TARO scroll and a stray lock of hair, rather than a veil, falls over part of the lady cartomancer’s pretty face. This card is a re-envisioning of the Waite-Smith High Priestess design, but the second example card has been given the minimalist treatment. In it the High Priestess has become a robotic nun and renamed “Samaritan”.

The third card in the set has been endowed with the most inventive symbolism. Behind the female figure is a gigantic crescent moon “laying on its back”, in the form it has when placed atop the Popess’s tiara in continental Occult Tarots. The two keys that so often feature on continental versions of the card have made a comeback and double as the pillars, the letters ‘B’ and ‘J’ visible in the hoops of their handles. The mechanism that is almost obligatory on Steampunk tarots has been relegated to the foot of the image. The veil of the Temple has gone, the TORA scroll has gone, the symbolism of the Priestess’s robe turning to water has gone, and the figure on the card is standing, not sitting.

The simplicity of the High Priestess from the Whimsical Tarot (the first card below) is to be admired as is the ingenuity of the design on the card lying next to it. I don’t know which tarot this card is from. If anyone could enlighten me, I would be most grateful. I assume the High Priestess on this card is modeled on the actress Angela Lansbury in her role as amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher, an appropriate embodiment of what Trump 2 represents: a woman of knowledge and insight able to ferret out the secrets of others. This illustration, like that of the first of the Steampunk High Priestesses above, is Pamela Coleman Smith’s design redrawn. As with the second and third Steampunk High Priestesses, the woman in the final example card is standing, and in making that change the artist loses a detail that was of vital importance to the first generation of occultists to study the tarot.

2t plain simple2        2t modern trt

French occultists of the nineteenth-century occult revival made use of the symbolism of the Tarot de Marseille deck, the only tarot deck of which they were aware, drawing conclusions from the imagery they found there. Thus the pictures on Trumps 1 and 2 were thought to highlight the distinctions between the potencies of the numbers One (Unity) and Two (Duality). It was quickly noticed that The Popess of the Marseille Tarot is a seated, female, sacerdotal figure in stark contrast with that deck’s representation of the preceding card, there called The Juggler (Bateleur in French). He is the antithesis of the Popess, seeing that he is depicted as a standing, male, secular figure, the opposite in every sense of the lady depicted on Trump 2.

1t tdm          2t tdm

I have spoken at length about the Popess/High Priestess card for the simple reason that it is not possible to properly comprehend the principle of the Dyad without comparing it with the Monad. We learn more about both the Monad and the Dyad by comparing them to one another than we would learn from studying each of them separately. The Popess from the Occult Tarots, and even more so Waite and Case’s High Priestesses, are unmistakably lunar cards. If Trump 2 is the symbolic mate of Trump 1, then it follows that the Magician/Juggler must have some kind of solar connection. However, the Sun in not represented overtly on Trump 1. In place of a solar sigil, or an image of the actual sun, we find the infinity sign. The mystic meaning of this symbol is that it references “the Sun behind the Sun”, a term implying God, or the Original Energy that existed before the Created universe as we experience it came into being. As Paracelsus wrote:

“There is an earthly sun, which is the cause of all heat, and all who are able to see may see the sun; and those who are blind and cannot see him may feel his heat. There is [also] an Eternal Sun, which is the source of all wisdom, and those whose spiritual sense have awakened to life will see that sun and be conscious of His existence; but those who have not attained spiritual consciousness may yet feel His power by an inner faculty which is called Intuition.”

Quoted by Manly P. Hall in The Secret Teachings of All Ages, 1928, p. 51.

Artists who present the High Priestess as standing are losing one of the points of contrast between Trumps 1 and 2 that were of great importance to occultists of the nineteenth-century. I am saddened by such changes of symbolism, although I recognized that, in today’s tarot community, I am in the minority – and that it might be a minority of one!