VII. The Chariot

“Then the devil left him, and behold. Angels came and ministered to him.” (Matthew iv, 11)

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says: I will return to my house from whence I came. And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first ” (Luke xi, 24-26).

“I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive” (John v, 43).smalll7.2 The Chariot

Whereas Jesus comes in the father’s name and does the will of the Father, there is always a temptation to “mastership in one’s own name” (151).   Letter VII explores this two-fold aspect of The Chariot:  1) The triumph of the faithful who remain faithful, on the one hand, and 2) the danger of the fourth temptation: “to act in one’s own name…” (147)

Mastership is “A Setting in Motion” . . .  To resist or renounce a desire, below, is to set in motion an action above (ratio 3 to 7 — for example, in the gospel of John, 7 miracles follow Jesus’ resistance of 3 temptations).

“It is not desire which bears magical realisation, but rather the renunciation of desire…

“It is necessary therefore to understand once and for all that there is no true sacred magic — nor mysticism, gnosis or Hermeticism — outside of the three sacred vows, and that true magical training is essentially only the practice of the three vows. Is this hard? No. it is easy—it is the “concentration without effort” which was considered in the first of these Letters” (Letter VII, “The Chariot”, page 148).

The presence of the Devil/demons is suffocating to angels. They can draw near only after the temptation has been endured and the devil(s) leave. See also the additional discussion of the importance of temples and holy places (149).

In the narrative of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, the angels reward him for resisting temptation. Their gifts were analogous to the gifts of the magi–gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Moreover, 7 miracles and 7 revelations of the master’s name (the “I Am” sayings) follow in the wake of Jesus’ 3 renunciations. Seven is the number of fullness (pleroma). [149-150]

  1. turning water into wine during the wedding at Cana
  2. healing the nobleman’s son
  3. healing the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda
  4. feeding the 5000
  5. walking on the water
  6. healing the man born blind
  7. the raising of Lazarus at Bethany

And corresponding to these are the 7 “I Am” sayings which reveal seven aspects of the name of the Master:

  1. I AM …the true vine
  2. …the way, the truth, and the life
  3. …the door
  4. …the bread of life
  5. …the good shepherd
  6. …the light of the world
  7. …the resurrection and the life

In contrast to the example of Jesus, the possibility of mastership in one’s own name also exists. This possibility is manifest, for example, in the preference to prophets and teachers of other faiths in far away lands; and in the desire for a career of increasing power rather than foot-washing. Our anonymous author is expressing no disrespect toward other prophets and teachers, but is just questioning this psychological tendency (151).  Moreover, he acknowledges that there is also significant opposition to this tendency which is more or less effective; more or less reflective of the general will of this or that group (152).

The mastership of the Chariot is acquired in solitude.  It is said that he owes nothing to anyone or anything outside himself –meaning, apparently, that nothing is owed to angels or fellow servants, while much is no doubt owed to the grace of God and the power of the Spirit.  In any event, this solitary victory gives rise to the fourth temptation–that of pride and vainglory which gives rise to a kind of mystical megalomania (152).

The one who succumbs to this fourth temptation experiences the higher Self as the supreme and unique Self of the world rather than merely being relatively higher–in relation, that is, to the ordinary or empirical self (152).

C.G. Jung, after having explored the Freudian (sexual) layer of human psychology– and the Adlerian layer (will to power) –discovered and explored the process of individuation (of second birth) of the “Self” (higher than the “self” or “ordinary ego”). He went on to describe the dangers that accompany the way of initiation and the process of individuation that corresponds to it (152).

These dangers are those of “inflation” and “megalomania”:

“…here we are concerned with a range of psychic phenomena, which to begin with show up in relatively innocent forms —such as a high opinion of oneself which is not entirely justified, or the somewhat exaggerated desire to have one’s own way—which become quite dangerous when they manifest as a disparaging negativity towards everyone. .. the faculties of appreciation, gratitude and worship being concentrated upon oneself; and which eventually signify a catastrophe that is rarely curable, when they reveal themselves as obsession with easily recognisable illusions, or megalomania, pure and simple. Here, then, are the principal dangers of inflation: exaggerated importance attached to oneself, superiority complex tending towards obsession and, lastly, megalomania. The first degree signifies a practical task for work upon oneself; the second degree is a serious trial; whilst the third is a catastrophe” (153).

Jung says:

  • the “superordinate pesonality” is the total man…
  • the unconscious psyche belongs to this wholeness…
  • I distinguish between self and ego (ego being merely conscious).
  • ego is related to self as part to the whole…
  • the self is, to that extent, superordinate…
  • the self is felt as object by way of its unconscious component…
  • the unconscious component comes to consciousness through projection…

The way of projection indicated is living symbolism (traditional symbols; dreams; active imagination; visions). A series of dreams seem to obey a plan and have a common goal (153).

Thus he designates this as the “individuation process” — the spontaneous realization of the whole man (154).

“psyche = ego + unconscious” (154)

In the child, the consciousness grows out of the unconscious — the latter is present throughout and assures continuity of being, while the former is temporary:

“…the process of individuation is that of the harmonisation of the conscious self and the unconscious in the psyche. But the “conscious and unconscious do not make a whole when one of them is suppressed and injured by the other.” (C. G.Jung, Conscious, Unconscious and Individuation; trsl. R. F. C Hull. The Collected Works of C. G Jung, vol. 9, part VI, London, 1959, p. 288). It is a matter of a harmonisation which is only realisable by way of the re-centering of the personality, i.e. the birth of a new centre of the personality, which participates in the nature of the unconscious as well as in the conscious self—a centre, in other words, where the unconscious is perpetually in transformation into consciousness. This is the aim of the process of individuation, which is at the same time a stage of initiation” (154).

The domain of symbols allow for the process of collaboration between the unconscious and conscious which is necessary to the process of individuation. Symbols mediate between the conscious mind and the symbol forces (archetypes) of the unconscious (154).

The archetypes are “psychic organs” present in all of us. The symbols allow us to interpret these organs/forces in a way that establishes and adequate and appropriate relationship between the conscious mind and the archetype (154-155).

Formidable psychic forces innundate consciousness when it identifies with archetypes resulting (among other things) in conscious megalomania, unconscious inferiority AND vise versa

“Once the reef of the second identification has been successfully circumnavigated, conscious processes can be cleanly separated from the unconscious, and the latter observed objectively. This leads to the possibility of an accommodation with the unconscious, and thus to a possible synthesis of the conscious and unconscious elements of knowledge and action. This in turn leads to a shifting of the centre of personality from the ego to the self, (ibid., pp. 137-138) [155]

[cf. “…the self is felt empirically not as subject but as object, and this by reason of its unconscious component, which can only come to consciousness indirectly, by way of projection” (153)]

Inflation is the principle risk of the seeker as monasteries and spiritual orders have long known. Several examples are discussed:

  •  Sabbatai Zevi (1625-1676)
  • some Rosicrucians–as evaluated by Hargrave Jennings (156)
  • the program (and/or experience?) from a 16th century Hebrew manuscript summarized by Eliphas Levi (157)
  • the case of John Custance (158)
  • Our anonymous author’s acquaintance at the YMCA

Spiritual megalomania is as old as the world — cf. the discussion of “Lucifer” [allegedly] in Ezekiel 28:12-17. This is the celestial (higher) origin of inflation, superiority complex, and megalomania. The principle, “as above, so below” applies… Every seeker of an enlarged horizon (height, breadth, or depth–but especially depth) in every generation must negotiate this hazard:

  • The abstract metaphysicians can lose interest in the particular and for the individual (159).
  • The social reformer/activist feels superior to the mass of humanity conceived of as passive…
  • The practicing occultist either worships on his knees or runs the risk of identifying with the higher forces he comes into contact with.

Not black magic… Not nervous disorders… No, these are not the principle danger… (160).  The principle danger of the occultists is designated by three terms:

1) superiority complex, 2) inflation, and 3) megalomania  They manifests on many levels:

  • self-assurance and informality when speaking of higher things
  • knowing better and knowing all (adopting the attitude of a master toward everyone)
  • implicit or explicit [pretense of] infallibility

The best defense against this danger is ora et labora — “work and pray” — Worship and work (161)

“It is necessary to worship what is above us and it is necessary to participate in human effort in the domain of objective facts in order to be able to hold in check the illusions concerning what one is and what one is capable of. For whoever is aware of raising his prayer and meditation to the level of pure worship will always be conscious of the distance which separates (and at the same time unites) the worshipper and the worshipped. Therefore he will not be tempted to worship himself, which is in the last analysis the cause of megalomania. He will always have in sight the difference between himself and the worshipped. He will not confuse what he is with what the worshipped being is.

“On the other hand, he who works, i.e. who takes part in human effort, with a view to objective and verifiable results, will not easily fall prey to illusion with respect to what he is capable of. Thus, for example, a practising doctor inclined to overestimate his power of healing will soon learn to know the real limits of his ability through experience of his failures” (Letter 7, 161-162).

Jacob Boehme is good example… Continuing to work in his chosen profession, under God, kept him grounded…

“Worship and work— ‘ora et labora’ — therefore constitute the ‘conditio sine qua non’ for practical esotericism in order to hold in check the tendency towards megalomania. This is in order to hold it in check, yet in order ro obtain immunity from rhis moral illness, more than this is necessary. One has to have the real experience of concretely meeting a being higher than oneself” (162).

Examples of this are St. Teresa of Avila’s meeting “the Master” (i.e. Jesus) and Papus, et al, meeting Monsieur Philip of Lyons.  Having “seen and heard” in this way, it is argued, no one will make an idol of oneself. Such meetings may be in spiritual visions, on the physical plane, nocturnally (consciously or unconsciously).  If the experience is authentic it will make one more humble.  Humility is always a grace–always a gift from above; and “concrete meetings, face to face” are always due to grace–being meetings where a higher being voluntarily draws near to a lower being.  Our part is to seek, knock and pray, but the decisive act comes from above. Such meetings are transformative — cf. Saul of Tarsus who is transformed into St. Paul (163).

Our anonymous author is inclined to see all the cards, including the Chariot, as having a double meaning–as giving both a warning and a positive lesson:

1) The Magician = warning against metaphysical jugglery and charlatanism while teaching concentration without effort…

2) The High Preistess = warning against the dangers of gnosticism while teaching true gnosis…

3) The Empress = evokes the dangers of mediumship and magic while teaching the mysteries of sacred magic…

4) The Emperor = warns against the will to power while teaching the power of the cross…

5) The Pope = warns against the cult of personality and the magical (inverted?) pentagram while teaching poverty, obedience, and the five wounds…

6) The Lover = warns us of the three temptations while teaching the 3 sacred vows…

7) The Chariot = warns us of the danger of megalomania while teaching us the real triumph achieved by the self (through humility in the presence of higher beings).

The real Triumphtriumph with a capital “T”, so to speak –is the successful outcome of individuation (a la Jung) aka true liberation (the fruit of cartharsis/purification) and which is followed by illumination and union, in that order (164).
[For more on the 3 stages of illumination, see pages 79, 154, 351-2, 366, 509]

“The personage on this seventh Card signifies at one and the same time the “triumpher” and the “Triumpher”— the megalomaniac and the integrated man, master of himself” (164-165).

The integrated man… master of himself… conqueror in all trials… creative… heartful… serene… mobile… firm… represents the four virtues expressed in many traditions:

  • Catholic: prudence, strength, temperance, and justice
  • Platonic: wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice
  • Sakaracharya: discernment, serenity, just conduct, desire for deliverance…

These are also known as the four elements or projections of the sacred name of the Tetragrammaton in human nature.

The canopy can represent splendid isolation, as in the megalomaniac, living in separation from heaven, OR spiritual well-being, as in in the case of the initiate who is conscious of the difference between himself and that which is above him (165).

The canopy is the “skin” that keeps the initiate from identifying ontologically with God– from saying “I am God” — but at the same time allowing him the relationship of breathing.  Love = coming together and separating; consciousness of non-identity… We may compare the canopies of those who Triumph in this way to tabernacles made of the skin of nonidentity which protect against the danger of killing love; against the danger of spiritual megalomania — i.e. from arrogating to themselves the being of God instead of his image (166).

There are three forms of mysticism:  1) union with nature, 2) union with the transcendental human Self, and 3) union with God.  The nature of the first is intoxication, the second is sobriety, and the nature of the third is a synthesis of the two (intoxication and sobriety). The beatific vision implies the duality of the seer and the seen on the one hand, and their union or intrinsic oneness on the other (167)
[cf. page 32 — essential unity/substantial duality].

The 3 forms of mystical experience have their hygienic laws (i.e. their tabernacles or skins), falling under the law of temperance or measure. These salutary measures are represented by

1) the breast-plate
2) the canopy
3) the crown

By virtue of these measures, the Triumpher of the seventh arcanum does not lose himself in nature, does not lose God in the presence of the higher Self, and does not lose the world in the experience of the love of God. He is sane–i.e. he holds in check rage, megalomania, and exaltation (168).

Anticipating an important aspect of the the discussion Force in Letter 11, it is said of the Triumpher that

“Instinctive forces . . . serve him voluntarily as he is their true master. He trusts them and they trust him — this is mastership according to Hermeticism. For in Hermeticism mastership does not signify the subjugation of the lower by the higher, but rather the alliance of superconsciousness, consciousness and instinctive — or sub-consciouness. This is the Hermetic ideal of peace in the microcosm — the prototype of peace within a humanity divided into races, nations, classes and beliefs. This peace is equilibrium or justice, where each particular force playing its part in the life of the microcosm is assigned its rightful place in the life of the entire psychic and physical organism” (168).

By means of Justice, the 8th Arcanum, he is master of the archetypes– the seven forces of the astral body –and master of the “self”, as well, above which is the “Self of Selves” or God (169).

MOTT Study Guides –> Justice

small8.1 JusticeSecond Tier Tarot Resources on the Chariot…


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