Nice montage of Major Arcana from the Tarot of Marseille — can you find them all!? Enjoy! 🙂
(posted on Instagram by Luiz Carlos Tuca Guimarães)
Nice montage of Major Arcana from the Tarot of Marseille — can you find them all!? Enjoy! 🙂
(posted on Instagram by Luiz Carlos Tuca Guimarães)
Introducing the CBD Tarot by Dr. Yoav Ben-Dov:
To be fair, our TeenyTinyTarot © Trumps are especially designed with Valentin Tomberg’s “Christian Hermeticism” in mind. They’re great for personal study, meditation, and contemplation–and they are very inexpensive! But for those who are looking for a complete set of full-sized cards, the CBD Tarot de Marseille by Dr. Yoav Ben-Dov are a really good buy! This premium Tarot deck is not only larger (2.5″ x 4.75″), it is also more colorful– more graphically and technically precise –top of the line in every respect!
The CBD Tarot is based on the standard 78 card deck published in Marseille by Nicholas Conver in 1760. A “Quick Reference Guide” (or “Little White Book”) is also included. To learn more about this Tarot deck, visit CBDTarot.Com. To purchase a set, follow the link below:
This document grew out of a student’s question. The student inquired as follows:
“…a couple of questions on the tarot card analogy that was discussed this past class. Do the tarot cards have a specific order in which they can be arranged in order to convey a particular meaning? How do the tarot cards relate to Plotinian thought or other ancient Greek philosophies?”
With regard to the Tarot cards, here is the series of images in question–a brief commentary will follow…:
Perhaps you have heard our conventional existence in time and space referred to as the horizontal dimension (or plane) — in contrast to the vertical dimension which is accessible to us if and only if our hearts are open to it. This distinction is key to understanding the universal symbolism of “The Lover” who is pulled in two directions (reminiscent of the myth of the soul in Plato’s Phaedrus). Those who choose the route of separation (seeking to secure their personal power, pleasure, and prestige on the horizontal plane) encounter mixed success, at best, and then face death and destruction; while those who “die before they die”— those who become attuned to deeper/higher levels of reality — realize their eternal life NOW (i.e. the vertical dimension).
Click on the link, below, to read additional commentary on these images:
–> Christianity, Platonism, and the Tarot of Marseille (Download PDF)
NOTE: The PDF file is designed to be printed as a booklet (i.e. to be printed on both sides, folded, and stapled in the middle).
My introduction to the Tarot came about quite unexpectedly through Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey Into Christian Hermeticism (hereafter “MOTT“–reputed to be among “100 best spiritual books” of the 20th century). Prior to reading MOTT, my evaluation of the Tarot was little different to that of most of my friends and colleagues in academia–or, for that matter, to my friends and family in the Bible belt. Indeed, my typical reaction to any mention of the Tarot would generally be comprised of about 2 parts of ridicule and 1 part of fear–with little or no energy left for open, honest engagement (much less meditation).
Over the past couple of years, however, however, I have become increasingly fascinated by this 600 year old text which comes down to us from 15th century Italy in the form of 78 cards (more on this below). Moreover, I have also discovered (through both observation and experience) that if they are approached in the right spirit, these cards can constitute a profoundly effective teaching tool. Indeed, when the circumstances are right, they can contribute substantially to the opening of hearts and minds to a deeper, more intimate relationship to Reality — i.e. to God, to other human beings, and to creation as a whole.
“The Hermit of the ninth Card is a man of heart,
a solitary man who is walking.”
“The Hermit is neither deep in meditation or study nor is he engaged in work or action. He is walking. This means to say that he manifests a third state beyond that of contemplation and action. . . . the term of synthesis, namely that of heart. For it is the heart where contemplation and action are united, where knowledge becomes will and where will becomes knowledge. The heart does not need to forget all contemplation in order to act, and does not need to suppress all action in order to contemplate. It is the heart which is simultaneously active and contemplative, untiringly and unceasingly. It walks. It walks day and night, and we listen day and night to the steps of its incessant walking. This is why, if we want to represent a man who lives the law of the heart, who is centred in the heart and is a visible expression of the heart — the “wise and good father”, or the Hermit — we present him as walking, steadily and without haste” (226).
“The Hermit of the ninth Card is a man of heart, a solitary man who is walking”
(“Meditations on the Tarot”, Letter IX, “The Hermit”).
O you who reads these lines,
Do you believe in my promise ?
Your heart answers “yes”
Why are you waiting to follow Me ?
Do you not feel that I am calling you ?
– But who is this I
who calls me ?
I am telling you :
This I that calls you
Is none other than yourself.
– But then, I am two ?
No, my child, you are one.
One with me,
Who is the Christ in you.
~ Living Waters: Voice of the Heart
This work was originally written in French. A German translation with an introduction by Hans Urs von Balthasar appeared in 1972. A second revised German translation was published by Herder, Basel in 1983. The first French edition was published in 1980 and revised edition in 1984, both by Aubier Montaigne, Paris. The author wished the book to be published anonymously and posthumously.
In his foreword to the German edition, von Balthasar writes: “A thinking, praying Christian of unmistakable purity reveals to us to symbols of Christian Hermeticism in its various levels of mysticism, gnosis, and magic, taking in also the Cabbala and certain elements of astrology and alchemy. These symbols are summarized in the twenty-two so-called “Major Arcana” of the Tarot cards. By way of the Major Arcana the author seeks to lead meditatively into the deeper, all-embracing wisdom of the Catholic Mystery.”
This may be regarded as one of the great spiritual classics of this century. In the hands of this author of immense erudition and deep contemplation, the Tarot cards of ancient Egypt reveal their universal archetypal symbolic nature and become a school of objective insight. The meditations are, in the truest sense, a school of lectio divina requiring an activity more profound than that of study and intellectual explanation. The author gathers us into his own spiritual journey to the authentic Source of all true knowledge and compassion. This book in my view is the greatest contribution to date toward the rediscovery and renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition of the Fathers of the Church and the high Middle Ages. With its firm grasp of tradition, its balance, wisdom, profundity, openness to truth, and comprehensive approach to reality, it deserves to be the basis of a course in spirituality in every Christian institution of higher learning and what would be even better, the point of departure and unifying vision of the whole curriculum.
* Note: This review first appeared many years ago and has since been mirrored on a number of websites.
About the Author:
Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO, has written many books on contemplative prayer, especially Centering Prayer, which he is credited with popularizing in the United States. Among these are Open Mind, Open Heart, The Mystery of Christ, and Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit. He lives at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, and serves as an advisor to the Board of Directors of MID.
Here are 5 of the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot of Marseille–and below them, a couple more:
Why in God’s name would a Christian want to meditate on the Tarot–and what the devil is an arcanum, anyway?
To begin with, the word arcana is helpfully understood as follows:
arcana (n.) “hidden things, mysteries,” 1590s, a direct adoption of the Latin plural of arcanum “a secret, a mystery,” from neuter of adjective arcanus “secret, hidden, private, concealed” (see arcane).
But superficially, the Major Arcana of the Tarot may be little more than a formal designation serving to distinguish the 22 Tarot Trumps from the other 56 minor arcana or suit cards. Indeed, a rough analogy can be drawn between the major and minor arcana of the Tarot, on the one hand, and the jokers and the other 52 cards in a standard poker deck, on the other. In fact, the joker often resembles the Tarot Fool (to some extent) and was originally created to serve as a trump in the game of Euchre.
Less superficially, however, the designation of Major Arcana indicates the wide variety of deeper meanings that began to be attributed to these cards by the magicians and occultists of the 18th and 19th century (if not before). The actual phrase, Major Arcana, seems to have originated with Jean-Baptiste Pitois.
But much more to the point are these observations by our Anonymous Author who writes:
The Major Arcana of the Tarot are authentic symbols. They conceal and reveal their sense at one and the same time according to the depth of meditation. That which they reveal are not secrets, i.e. things hidden by human will, but are arcana, which is something quite different. An arcanum is that which it is necessary to “know” in order to be fruitful in a given domain of spiritual life. It is that which must be actively present in our consciousness —or even in our subconscious —in order to render us capable of making discoveries, engendering new ideas, conceiving of new artistic subjects. In a word, it makes us fertile in our creative pursuits, in whatever domain of spiritual life. An arcanum is a “ferment” or an “enzyme” whose presence stimulates the spiritual and the psychic life of man. And it is symbols which are the bearers of these “ferments” or “enzymes” and which communicate them —if the mentality and morality of the recipient is ready…” (Letter I, page 4).
In the afterword by Cardinal Han Urs von Balthasar, this use of the Tarot is further explained and qualified as follow:
By way of the Major Arcana the author seeks to lead meditatively into the deeper, all-embracing wisdom of the Catholic Mystery. . . . It is remarkable that the Meditations take the ancient symbolic pictures of the Tarot cards as their point of departure. Naturally the author knows about the magical-divinatory application of these cards. However, although he does not feel inhibited about using the multi-meaning word “magic”, in the Meditations, he is not at all interested in the practice of “laying the cards” (cartomancy). For him it is only the symbols or their essential meaning which are important — individually or in their mutual reference to one another. . . This “magical” capacity has nothing to do with the human being’s despotic nature — the commonplace, magical will-to-power, which seeks by way of world forces to gain dominion in the realm of knowledge and in the sphere of destiny. Rather it is something very different. One can only call it the “magic of grace”, the magic of which issues forth from the very heart of the mysteries of the Catholic faith (Afterword 659,661,663).
Let us keep these explanations in mind as we continue to immerse ourselves in the current of this living tradition.
One way to help familiarize yourself with the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot is by means of a simple game called Joy to the World (aka The Kingdom of Heaven). This is a variation on an earlier game called, Playing the Fool. The rules to Joy to the World are as follows:
Gently randomize the order of the cards– taking care not to bend them in the process –and lay them out, face down, in three rows of seven, as follows:
T T T T T T T
T T T T T T T
T T T T T T T
Turn the remaining card face up and play it in its proper position (esoterically speaking) based on the 22 Letters that make up Meditations on the Tarot (i.e. with the first 20 numbered cards in their corresponding numerical positions, but with the unnumbered Fool in position 21 and the World — card #21 — in position 22) as follows:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
As you play each card, turn the face-down card that was in that position face up and play it in its proper position, and so-on, until all the cards are face up in their proper positions (esoterically speaking) as indicated above.
If The World turns up before the last play of the game (as is usually the case), play it face down in the position of another face-down card of your choosing and continue the game as before, until the last card is played in place of The World (wherever it happens to have finally ended up). When the last numbered card is played and only The World remains, then (symbolically speaking) you may consciously enter into life— the eternal, joyful life of the kingdom –by playing the World to the right of the Fool — in position 22.
“The world is a work of art. It is animated by creative joy. The wisdom that it reveals is joyous wisdom — that of creative-artistic elan . . . . Happy is he who seeks wisdom in the first place, for he will find that wisdom is joyous! Unhappy is the one who seeks the joy of joyous wisdom in the first place, for he will fall prey to illusions! Seek first the creative wisdom of the world — and the joy of creativity will be given to you in addition” (Letter 22, page 644).
NOTE: It is considered by some to be very auspicious when The World does not turn up until the very last play of the game. This doesn’t happen often, but if you keep playing, chances are it will happen for you. Have fun, in any event, and remember– when all is said and done –the name of the game is to enter into life NOW! 🙂
VARIATION: If The World turns up early, it would not be inappropriate to go ahead and play it in position 21 (its exoteric numerical position) and then to save The Fool till last (instead of The World ). When the last numbered card is played and only the unnumbered Fool remains, the game may begin again:
What we call the beginning is often the end And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from… ~ T. S. Eliot
Best wishes, in any event, Dear Unknown Friend, as you continue immerse yourself in this current of the living tradition…
Quoting from Letter I on The Magician:
“The first Arcanum —the principle underlying all the other twenty-one Major Arcana of the Tarot — is that of the rapport of personal effort and of spiritual reality. . . . The first and fundamental principle of esotericism (i.e. of the way of experience of the reality of the spirit) can be rendered by the formula:
“Learn at first concentration without effort; transform work into play; make every yoke that you have accepted easy and every burden that you carry light!
“This counsel, or command, or even warning, however you wish to take it, is most serious; this is attested by its original source, namely the words of the Master Himself: “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew xi, 30)” [7-8].
“…it is a matter of transposing the centre of directing consciousness from the head to the chest —from the cerebral system to the rhythmic system. Concentration without effort is the transposition of the directing centre of the brain to the rhythmic system —from the domain of the mind and imagination to that of morality and the will.”
“The Magician therefore represents the state of concentration without effort, i.e. the state of consciousness where the centre directing the will has “descended” (in reality it is elevated) from the brain to the rhythmic system, where the “oscillations of the mental substance” are reduced to silence and to rest, no longer hindering concentration.
“Concentration without effort — that is to say where there is nothing to suppress and where contemplation becomes as natural as breathing and the beating of the heart —is the state of consciousness (i.e. thought, imagination, feeling and will) of perfect calm, accompanied by the complete relaxation of the nerves and the muscles of the body. It is the profound silence of desires, of preoccupations, of the imagination, of the memory and of discursive thought.
“To begin with there are moments, subsequently minutes, then “quarters of an hour” for which complete silence or “concentration without effort” lasts. With time, the silence or concentration without effort becomes a fundamental element always present in the life of the soul.
“This ‘zone of silence’ being once established, you can draw from it both for rest and for work. Then you will have not only concentration without effort, but also activity without effort” (10,11).
–> The Magician