“Two Gravitational Fields” (Pope Benedict XVI)

In one of our initial posts (Let the journey begin), we suggested that Meditations on the Tarot might be linked to Pope Benedict XVI through Robert Spaemann (the same Robert Spaemann who wrote the forward to the German edition of MOTT, Die großen Arcana des Tarot).  And just recently, additional evidence has come to our attention which also suggests that Benedict may have been familiar with our anonymous author.  Indeed, it is not at all farfetched to think that, in addition to the Fathers of the Church, Pope Benedict may also have had Letter VI and (especially) Letter XII of MOTT, in mind as he wrote the following lines for his 2011 Palm Sunday Homily:

“The Fathers of the Church maintained that human beings stand at the point of intersection between two gravitational fields. First, there is the force of gravity which pulls us down – towards selfishness, falsehood and evil; the gravity which diminishes us and distances us from the heights of God. On the other hand there is the gravitational force of God’s love: the fact that we are loved by God and respond in love attracts us upwards. Man finds himself betwixt this twofold gravitational force; everything depends on our escaping the gravitational field of evil and becoming free to be attracted completely by the gravitational force of God, which makes us authentic, elevates us and grants us true freedom.”

By way of comparison, consider the following paragraphs from Letter XII of MOTT:

Now, the domain of freedom— the spiritual life —is found placed between two gravitational fields with two different centres. The Gospel designates them as “heaven” and “this world”, or as the “kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of the prince of this world”. And it designates those whose will follows or is submitted to the gravitation of “this world” as “children of this world”, and those whose will follows the gravitation of “heaven” as the “children (or the sons) of light.
 The human being participates in these two gravitational fields, as the apostle Paul had in mind when he said:
<<< For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh: for these arc opposed to each other, to prevent vou from doing what you would. (Galatians v. 17) >>>
These “opposing desires” arc the tendencies through which the two gravitational fields manifest themselves. The man who lives in the grip of gravitation of “this world” at the expense of the gravitation of “heaven” is the “carnal man”; he who lives in equilibrium between the two gravitational fields is the “psychic man”; and. lastly, the one who lives under the sway of the gravitation of “heaven” is (he “spiritual man” (MOTT, Letter XII, “The Hanged Man”, 306-307).

 

Less explicit, but very helpful by way of background, in Letter VI, our anonymous author writes:

“The choice before which the young man of the sixth Arcanum finds himself placed is of greater significance that that between vice and virtue. It is a matter here of choice between on the one hand the way of obedience, poverty and chastity and on the other hand the way of power, richness and debauchery. The practical teaching of the Arcanum “The Lover” is to do with the three vows and the three corresponding temptations.
[…]
“The three vows are, in essence, memories of paradise, where man was united with God (obedience), where he possessed everything at once (poverty), and where his companion was at one and the same time his wife, his friend, his sister and his mother (chastity). For the real presence of God necessarily entails the action of prostrating oneself in the face of Him “who is more me than I myself am”— and here lies the root and source of the vow of obedience; the vision of the forces, substances and essences of the world in the guise of the “garden of divine symbols” (the garden of Eden) signifies the possession of everything without choosing, without laying hold of, or without appropriating any particular thing isolated from the whole —and here lies the root and source of the vow of poverty; lastly, total communion between two, between one and another, which comprises the entire range of all possible relationships of spirit, soul and body between two polarised beings necessarily constitutes the absolute wholeness of spiritual, psychic and physical being, in love —and here lies the root and source of the vow of chastity. One is chaste only when one loves with the totality of one’s being.
Chastity is not wholeness of being in indifference, but rather in the love which is “strong as death and whose flashes are flashes of fire, the flame of the Eternal”. It is living unity.
[…]
“The Christian doctrine and experience of grace expresses the very essence of chastity, just as it also contains the principles of poverty and obedience. It is the doctrine concerning chaste relationships between that which is below and that which is above. God is not an object and neither is he an object of knowledge. He is the source of iiluminatory and revelatory grace. He cannot be grasped, but he can certainly reveal himself.
“Here we have chastity, poverty and obedience underlying the Christian doctrine and experience of grace. Now, all Christian esotericism or Hermeticism, including here all its mysticism, gnosis and magic, is founded on the experience and doctrine of grace, one of the results of which is initiation. Initiation is an act of grace from above. It cannot be achieved or produced by any technical outer or inner procedures. One does not initiate oneself; one becomes initiated” (Letter VI, “The Lover”, pages 124, 133-134).

 

To meditate on these themes more profoundly, let us re-read Letters VI and XII in their entirety and meditate on the image below.  Our study guides should also be helpful, but are no substitute for a close reading of the primary text.

–>  See Study Guides VI. The Lover and XII.  The Hanged Man

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Why Meditate on the Tarot?

Cultivate the Seed of Self-Transcendence:

  • The Self is a relation that relates to
    itself and to the power which grounds
    it
    (cf. Kierkegaard).
  • The idea of “the separate self” is an
    illusion to be transcended.

Serious Students May Reasonably Aspire To:

  • Enhanced Self-Knowledge
  • Authentic Inspiration and Creativity
  • Clarity and Grace in Thought and Action
  • More Effective Communication and Better Interpersonal Relationship Skills

Students May also Come to Recognize and Honor their Eternal Life NOW:                                                      

  • Each of us participates in the magic, eternal life that NOW IS.
  • The Tarot provides a context for concentration and mindful introspection.
  • Fear, desire, resentment, and wishful thinking are observed–not served.
  • Courage, Courtesy, and Self-Reliance are cultivated in the process.
  • If and when conditions are right, the “separate self” will be seen through.

Students Who So Desire May Explore “The Four Precepts” as an Initial or Supplemental Approach to Self-Inquiry:

  • Remember Your Divine Essence
    (Remember your essential Self—”Christ-in-you, the hope of glory…”)
  • Say Yes to Life Unconditionally
    (Harbor no regrets, no “if onlys”…  Rather, “take up your cross…”)
  • Overcome the Spirit of Resentment and Revenge
    (“Love your neighbor…”  “Love your enemies…”
    Don’t blame “them”…  “We are members, one of another…”)
  • Follow Your Bliss
    (“Love and do what you will…”  Discover your real will…)       

Quoting P.D. Ouspensky:  “If we imagine [the] twenty-one [numbered Tarot  Trumps] disposed in the shape of a triangle, seven cards on each side, a point in the centre of the triangle represented by the zero card [the Fool], and a square round the triangle (the square consisting of fifty-six cards, fourteen on each side), we shall have a representation of the relation between God, Man and the Universe, or the relation between the world of ideas, the consciousness of man and the physical world.  The triangle is God (the Trinity) or the world of ideas, or the noumenal world.  The point is man’s soul.  The square is the visible, physical or phenomenal world.  Potentially, the point is equal to the square, which means that all the visible world is contained in man’s consciousness, is created in man’s soul.  And the soul itself is a point having no dimension in the world of the spirit, symbolized by the triangle.  It is clear that such an idea could not have originated with ignorant people and clear also that the Tarot is something more than a pack of playing or fortune-telling cards” (The Symbolism of the Tarot).

Questions?  Email:  CMOTT@TeenyTinyTarot.Com

–> Download Contemplative Tarot Brochure  (PDF File)

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The Hanged Man — Again!!!

Don’t be surprised if we return again and again to this arrangement of images with our primary focus, perhaps, remaining on The Hanged Man.   In any event, consider, for a moment, that Christianity, construed as an exoteric tradition, is designed for us as apparent individuals (playing The Wheel of Fortune) whose understanding is darkened (cf. The Moon) and who, as such, have nothing to look forward to but death and destruction (The Tower).

tower-wheel-moon-cbd

Biblical narratives– insofar as we find them in some sense captivating or compelling –remind us that there is more to us than meets the eye; that the operations of our minds shine in a borrowed light; that we are, in fact, chosen/created in Christ before the foundation of the apparent world; and that we would do well to wake up and turn our hearts and our minds toward home.

Thus we are invited to repent (cf. The Lover) to take up our cross (cf. The Hanged Man), to become like little children (to walk in the light as He is in the light–cf. The Sun); and to enter into the life of the Spirit NOW (cf.  Le Monde); with our hearts wide open to the Spirit and Word of God (cf. The Ace of Chalices and Batons).

The Spirit and the bride say, Come.  And let him that hears say, Come.  And let him that is thirsty come.  And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17).

–> XII. The Hanged Man

tarot-hermeneutics-pauls-suggestion-two-ways

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TTTarot Hermeneutics

One of my fantasies is to open a little brick and mortar meeting place called The TeenyTinyTarot © Cafe and Community Center with a study area devoted to Tarot Hermeneutics.  With regard to the Tarot Hermeneutics study area, I would designate it by that name for couple of reasons–partly in honor of my friend, Paul Nagy, who happens to host a website by that name…

tarot-hermeneutics-banner2
…and partly because the expression so brilliantly captures (what our anonymous author refers to on page 7 as) the game of tarot, while at the same time subtly  suggesting how much light an understanding of the history and usage of the Tarot can shed on the subject of hermeneutics in general!

But this post is not really about my (imagined) TeenyTinyTarot © Cafe and Community Center with its (imagined) Tarot Hermeneutics study area– nor is it about the kind of light which an understanding of the Tarot can shed on our understanding of hermeneutics in general –rather, it is about a concrete example of tarot hermeneutics involving myself, Paul Nagy, and my little booklet, A Metaphysical Reading of the Tarot Suits.  It’s a bit tedious at times, but it accurately reflects several aspects of my thinking about The Hanged Man  and The Soul’s Choice as it has developed, here, over the last 4 or 5 years.   Follow the link and scroll down if you’d like to continue…  [updated 10/27/2018]

—> Tarot Heremeneutics

 

 

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New “RWS Style” Tarot Trumps

RWS Bookmark 1.16 gold.jpg

150px-ArthurEdwardWaite~1880pamela-colman-smith“TeenyTinyTarot” © is proud to introduce this new set of Waite Smith style tarot trumps based on the original Waite Smith design, first published in 1910 (or 1909, depending on who you talk to).  As you may have already guessed, RWS in the title of this article –refers, respectively, to the original publisher, “William Rider & Son” (London); to the author, designer, and project originator, “Arthur Edward Waite“; and to the artist and collaborator, “Pamela Coleman Smith“.

rws-00-10-scan0268-croppedOur goal is to share Meditations on the Tarot and the path of Christian Hermeticism more widely by offering this more colorful, more popular set of tarot trumps in addition to the more traditional “Marseille style” trumps that we have been offering since 2014.

Despite the significant differences between the two sets of trumps, the Waite-Smith design retains much of the same imagery as the Tarot of Marseille while at the same time (it seems) appealing to a wider audience.  In any event– since its initial publication here in 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. –it appears to have provided the primary point of entry into the Tarot tradition for the majority of people in the United State and it continues to have a broad appeal.   Indeed, if its popularity has waned over the last 2 or 3 decades, that is only because of the competition from hundreds of new decks which it has served to inspire.

–> “TeenyTinyTarot” © “Waite Smith” Style Trumps

rws-11-21-scan0269-cropped

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Study Guide VII. The Chariot

smalll7.2 The Chariotjung four fold mandela.pngA new “study guide” for  Letter VII on The Chariot has just been posted.  While reading this summary is obviously no substitute for reading the original, it should offer a good review for those already familiar the text and may help to focus the new student’s attention on the core issue(s) being discussed.

In the process of revisiting this letter, a review of Jungian psychology also seemed in order.  Here are some resources that were helpful:

Introduction to Carl Jung – The Psyche, Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious:

Introduction to Carl Jung – Individuation, the Persona, the Shadow, and the Self:


Carl Jung Depth Psychology: Jung on the “Self” – Anthology

http://carljungdepthpsychology.blogspot.com/2013/08/jung-on-archetype-of-self.html

–>  VII. The Chariot

totality of self vs ego.jpg

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A Metaphysical Reading of the Tarot Suits

[Editor’s Note:  The PDF of this material has been significantly revised (at least twice!), but it may not have been completely revised in the article, below (Download PDF).  More recently, however, it taken on another form:  Neoplatonic Symbolism in the Tarot SuitsOriginally– and below –this approach to the Tarot suits was said to be generally consistent with the work of our anonymous author.  And while that is probably a fair characterization, there are also differences between the two approaches that have since become more apparent to me and which can be summarized as follows:  Our anonymous author offers a Kabbalistic interpretation of the Tarot suits and does not refer to the Aces, per se.  In contrast, the approach presented here is best characterized as Neoplatonic and treats the Tarot Aces as archetypes in their own right, the importance of which are roughly equivalent to that of the 22 Major Arcana This should not be construed as a criticism of our anonymous author–indeed, if anything, it is a reflection of my own limitations (my Neoplatonic comfort zone, on the one hand, together with my lingering ignorance of many aspects of Kabbalah and Kabbalistic Tarot, on the other).  Please take what you can use and leave the rest.]


A Metaphysical Reading of the Tarot Suits

Please note that, while the Anonymous Author of Meditations on the Tarot cannot necessarily be appealed to as the authority for (or even the primary inspiration behind) this approach to the tarot suits, it is nonetheless generally consistent with his work— see, for example, the beginning of Letter II, “The High Priestess”, pages 29-31 —and also this brief discussion in Letter XXII:

“Concerning the four “suits”—pentacles, swords, cups and wands —they correspond exactly to the structure of the sacred name YHVH and, consequently, to the four elements. Wands represent the emanating principle, the YOD of the divine name; cups represent the conceiving principle, the first HE of the divine name; swords represent the formative principle,the VAU of the divine name; and pentacles symbolise the principle of form, the second HE of the divine name” (Letter XXII, “The World”, page 654; cf. “Figure 1 below).

yhvh

Figure 1 The information on the Tetragrammaton (YHVH, IHVH), above, is a screen shot from: http://symboldictionary.net/?p=1355

It is also worth noting that this is a work in progress which has been kept intentionally brief (and very dense) for ease of printing in these few, short pages. Additional clarification and elaboration is definitely in order. In the meantime, suffice it to say that the activity of Spirit cannot be grasped conceptually and cannot be used as a means to some merely personal/egoic end. It is nevertheless the case that the realization of Spirit does indeed constitute the true meaning and purpose of our lives and that such realization does have a practical impact on the apparent world. Moreover, we become more attuned to Spirit, 1) as we learn to distinguish between “awareness”, as such, and the incessant “mental chatter” which tends to accompany most of our perceptions (i.e. the habitual, usually unconscious “self-talk” which continuously expresses and reinforces our personal fears, desires, judgments); 2) as we begin to practice breath awareness and inner-body awareness as an aid to meditation; and 3) as we begin to anchor lives in “aware presence” or “alert stillness” — the pristine, lucid Way of Truth and Life which leaves unnecessary mental commentary and distracted, ineffective action beneath itself. Honest and sustained self-observation is essential to this work—discursive thought or dialectic is merely preparatory (see the discussion of “concentration without effort” in Letter I of Meditations on the Tarot, page 8).

A Metaphysical Reading of the Tarot Suits
(Tarot images from cbdtarot.com ~ CBD Tarot de Marseille by Dr. Yoav Ben-Dov)

Wands/Batons           Element = Fire           Symbolizes:  Spirit (Creative Mind)

  • CBD Ace of Wands* Spirit (pneuma) ≈ Divine Intelligence (cf. Nous, Logos, or Intellectus) / Transcendental Awareness / God’s Will / Divine Presence / Authentic Life / Pure Activity / Our Real Will / True Nature.
  • * Spirit is our Transcendent Aspect / Our Eternal Life / The Source of Meaning and Purpose; Authentic Inspiration; and True Vocation / The Dynamic Ground of Creative Manifestation.
  • * Spirit is reflected in and through the medium of the material world (including our apparent bodies and our material circumstances and resources)

Cups/Chalices            Element = Water       Symbolizes:  HeartCBD Ace of Cups

  • Heart ≈ Openness / Receptivity / Attunement / Intuition / Contemplation.
  • The Heart is our Transcending Aspect—the “organ” through which we become attuned to Spirit, contemplate our authentic/eternal life, and receive the gift of joyous, creative wisdom.
  • As our hearts open (in contemplation) we naturally turn away from a life of self-indulgent inclination and toward our true vocation (whether that appears to be the life of a hermit or a healer; that of a poet, artist, or craftsman; or even that of a scientist, a priest, or a politician).

Swords/Blades    Element = Air            Symbolizes:  (Discursive) Mind
CBD Ace of Swords

  • * Psyche (soul/mind) ≈ Ego / The Egoic Mind / Instrumental Reasoning / Analysis / Calculation / Ratio / Conceptual Frameworks (“ideas”, “beliefs” and “worldviews” that constitute us as “separate selves”).
    • * The Egoic Mind can be a hindrance or a help— an adversary or an ally —in our Spiritual life.
    • On the one hand, “Ego” is that aspect of ourselves that must be Transcended — that is, we must transcend the mind-made sense of self (aka the “arbitrary personality” or “separate individual”) which tends to obstruct the intuition of our unity with or connection to God, Nature, and Humanity as a whole.
    • On the other hand, the practical operations of our lower mind begins to function better than ever once we realize that we are not what we think—i.e. when the egoic mind surrenders to the life of Spirit . . . (the egoic/analytic mind makes “a wonderful servant, but a terrible master”, as is sometimes said).
    • Transcending the ego does not mean fleeing our material existence—rather, from this point forward, we begin to relate properly to the material world for the very first time.

Coins/Pentacles       Element = Earth       Symbolizes:  The Material World

  • The Material World includes: Matter / Material Bodies, Forms, and Resources / Material Circumstances / The World of Sensation / The Medium of Manifestation, Creation, and Incarnation.
  • For the “separate self” (e.g. the power-hungry individualist or self-indulgent consumer), the material world is understood primarily in terms of fear and desire—a tempting, tormenting battleground of appetites and inclinations especially designed for those who insist on playing the wheel of fortune (see the illustration on page 4).
  • But for Spirit (and for the person/mind/psyche that is surrendered to Spirit), matter is a magical medium of artistic, poetic, religious, and political expression – ideal for those who fully and freely participate in “the respiration of eternity”—aka the One life, Divine (see the description of The Hanged Man and The Sun on page 5).

–>  Christianity, Platonism, and the Tarot of Marseille

Sermon on the Four Suits - revision1.2

The Tarot images on the outside margins of this graphic are from the CBD Tarot de Marseille by Dr. Yoav Ben-Dov.  The images on the inside are from the “Pocket Edition” of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck by US Games Systems, Inc.

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Marseille Montage On Instagram

Nice montage of Major Arcana from the Tarot of Marseille — can you find them all!?  Enjoy! 🙂

tarot of marseille instagram luizcarlos.tuca(posted on Instagram by Luiz Carlos Tuca Guimarães)

–>  The CBD Tarot of Marseille

luizcarlos.tuca

 

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The CBD Tarot de Marseille by Dr. Yoav Ben-Dov

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!

Click to enlarge... 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:

–>  CBD Tarot de Marseille by Dr. Yoav Ben-Dov

–>  Order TeenyTinyTarot © Trumps and Aces

Order the premium, 78 card "CBD Tarot de Marseille" by Dr. Yoav Ben-Dov.

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Christianity, Platonism, and the Tarot of Marseille

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…:

Christianity, Platonism, and the Tarot of MarseillePerhaps 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)

See also:  Neoplatonic Symbolism in the Tarot Suits and Primary Impressions from My Reading of Plotinus

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).

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