www.krishadar.com – Tarology section – used with permission
(abridged and slightly modified by Jean-Michel David, ed.)
Introduction: What we should know about the Tarot before starting divination
This first lesson will help us place the Tarot and give keys which will unlock and decode the arcana in the Tarot. It will also be an opportunity to discover a little about the structure of the Tarot and why it is considered one of the treasures of humanity.
If we can just touch upon the relationship of the Tarot with the sacred, it will be with even greater respect that you will use it.
The Tarot is a picture book created in the Middle Ages and more specifically in the XII century, when most people did not know how to read or write. It is by the development of the image that the Church tried to educate the people.
By participating in the courses given on the site, you will realize that, by following a rigorous method, you will be able to read the Tarot cards better than any professional! But beware, to want to learn the Tarot is one thing and to learn the method is something else. Nothing is easy by itself. The Occitan Raimon Vidal de Besalu, wrote in the XII century:
There are some lazy individuals who proclaim with arrogance and absurdity when they are ruined, that those born under a good star do not have to get up in the morning. Do not think as such, and do not rely on such opinions, because everything happens at the cost of research and an effort of conquest.
One should avoid simply memorizing the definitions of the Tarot. A thing understood is easily remembered. A definition learnt by heart does not necessarily mean that it has been integrated. It is important that the picture reminds you of what you should remember. That is why the Tarot should never be learned without having the cards in front of you. It is the image of the arcana that must crystallize that which is known, and become your memory.
The concepts symbolized by each arcana are simple. A child can easily retain them. It is their continuation that can become complex. So let us say, that at this initial stage, it is better not to memorize tons of text, because it would create confusion.
Do you think you will enjoy doing the Tarot if the card is hard to understand? Of course not! So we urge you to set aside all you have initially learned. It is not because what you know is wrong, but as Descartes said :
To reach truth, it is sometimes necessary to undo all prior opinions and rebuild new ones, and from the base, the entire system of knowledge.
Accept that you will have to start from zero. Further along the way, you will adjust what you know with what you will have acquired.
We shall focus in the first lessons on learning the tarological alphabet. But before we do that, some adjustments must be made.
Configuration of a Deck
The Tarot deck is composed of 78 arcana, subdivided into two major sections:
- The major arcana [Atouts]
- The minor arcana
The Major Arcana, [Atouts] or Triumphs is made up of 22 cards. These arcana represent 22 energies that govern the universe as a whole, on the material as well as the spiritual and divine planes. They are the arcanas numbered 1 to 21, plus the arcana with no number: THE FOOL, which is the 22nd arcana.
The following explains why this arcana has no number.
THE FOOL as 0 symbolizes on the divine plane, the void from which all Creation occurred, and which gave birth in the Tarot, to the first arcana represented by THE MAGICIAN (arcana 1). But on the material plane, void has no meaning. The moment you think, you immediately “create” and the process possesses a tangible reality. This is why another number must symbolize 0 in matter: number 22.
The arcana THE FOOL is not numbered, because if sometimes it is worth 0, it is also worth 22. THE FOOL would represent the origin of the 21 energies that follow (0), and also the finality that will enclose them all (22).
A note about the word Tarot: it is the anagram of the word ROTA, which is Latin WHEEL. It is interesting to note that by putting the word TAROT in a circle and reading it in the Hebraic mode (from right to left), a funny coincidence occurs: we have the word TORA. The Jewish TORAH forms the ancient testament made of the 5 books of Moses, the basis of the Jewish Kabbalah.
In fact, the Tarot represents the eternal evolution of all things, which by cycles, returns to the same point but at different levels. When we progress from 0, we go from 1 to 21, and we find ourselves in 22, which, being equal to 0, will bring us back to a new sequence of 1 to 21.
This cyclic evolution finds itself in the alchemical symbol of Ouroboros, the snake that bites its tail. It shows the eternity included in a circle, but also the element of return, because the serpent turning on itself, invariably brings things back to their origin.
The energies that govern the universe of the Tarot are:
1 : THE MAGICIAN (LE BASTELEVR)
2 : THE PAPESS (LA PAPESSE)
3 : THE EMPRESS (L’IMPARATRICE)
4 : THE EMPEROR (L’EMPEREVR)
5 : THE POPE (LE PAPE)
6 : THE LOVER (L’AMOVREVX)
7 : THE CHARIOT (LE CHARIOT)
8 : THE JUSTICE (LA IVSTICE)
9 : THE HERMIT (L’HERMITE)
10 : THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE (LA ROVE DE FORTVNE)
11 : THE FORCE (LA FORCE)
12 : THE HANGED MAN (LE PENDV)
13 : THE NO NAME ARCANA (L’Arcane-Sans-Nom)
14 : TEMPERANCE (LA TEMPERANCE)
15 : THE DEVIL (LE DIABLE)
16 : THE TOWER OF GOD (LA MAISON DIEV)
17 : THE STAR (L’ESTOILLE)
18 : THE MOON (LA LVNE)
19 : THE SUN (LE SOLEIL)
20 : JUDGMENT (LE IVGEMENT)
21 : THE WORLD (LE MONDE)
22 : THE FOOL (LE FOL)
These 22 major arcanas direct and command the minor arcanas giving them lines of conduct and particular directions.
The Minor Arcanas or Honors are 56 in number, divided in 4 groups:
These four categories represent the four worlds of the Tree of Life of the Kabbalists :
- The Angel – distills the water contained by the Cup;
- The Eagle – flies in the air as the sword cuts the air;
- The Lion – burns with energy as the fire burns the rod;
- The Bull- works the earth from which the coin is taken.
- The world of Emanation = Angel = Water = CUPS ;
- The world of Creation = Eagle = Air= SWORDS ;
- The world of Formation = Lion= Fire = RODS ;
- The world of Action = Bull= Earth = COINS.
Each group or color is made of 14 arcanas split in the following manner:
- 10 arcanas symbolizing numbers 1 to 10.
- A JACK, a KNIGHT, a KING and a QUEEN.
The Kabbalah explains the complexity of the universe, by indicating that the Tree of Life can itself give birth to other Trees of Life. Hence, if the main tree brings forth four worlds – which are the worlds of Emanation, Creation, Formation and Action, symbolized by the CUPS, the SWORDS, the RODS and the COINS, the latter represent the hierarchy of the four worlds of this particular Tree of Life.
Thus, the first 10 arcana of each color [suit] represent the 10 Sephiroth of this particular new Tree of Life. As for the KNAVES, KNIGHTS, QUEENS and the KINGS, they personalize the hierarchy of the 4 worlds of this Tree of Life. For a neophyte, this might seem complex, but when we become familiar with this type of language, everything becomes simple. It is not necessary to know Kabbalah to practice the art of divination, but it is important to know that the composition of a Tarot deck is perfectly structured and is intelligible.
The minor arcana are at the source of the ordinary card game, used also for divination. Nevertheless, a little historical research shows that the Tarot, a tool of knowledge and meditation par excellence, very early, following the interdiction of the church, degenerated into a simple social game, which did not have the major arcana and the Knights. The French historic evolution had already retrieved and changed the minor arcana into diamonds (= the Rods), spade (= the Swords), hearts (= the Cups), and clubs (= the Coins). It was conclusive! Let us give thanks to Italy, who appropriated the French Tarot, to officially adopt the colors of the country. Even today, Italian playing cards are subdivided into swords, cups, rods and coins.
On the divinatory level, the game of the Tarot, with its 78 arcanas, can cause problems of coherence. The major arcana often are in contradiction with what the minor ones predict. For instance, THE SUN talks about a successful love story, but associated with the 8 of CUPS, indicates the loss of affection. One must know his game, so as not to be trapped. Hence it is strongly recommended that the beginner stick to the major arcana. The courses given on the site state techniques that have been used professionally, efficiently and with satisfactory results. Also, by avoiding conflicts between the two arcana, the mind is at rest and clairvoyance can express itself naturally.
A Hermetic Language Available for everyone’s comprehension
To talk about the worlds of Atziluth, Briah, Yezirah and Assiah may seem unintelligible for a beginner, and he is in the right to question if he must know all of that to learn the art of divination. The answer is, on a certain level: no, but on the level of decoding the concept of an arcana: yes.
- An angel symbolizes Atziluth. Each time we see an angel, we know we have access to divine thought, or essence.
- An eagle symbolizes Briah. Every time we see an eagle, we know God’s thought has just taken off: the forces of creation are in action.
- A lion symbolizes Yezirah. Each time we see a lion, we know the forces of formation shape what was thought.
- A bull symbolizes Assiah. Hence, each time we see a bull, and especially a horse, we know the forces of action act in conformity to the will of thought.
This is theoretic code, which helps us understand the arcana. This code is based on a simple idea that can be summarized by this hermetic phrase : 3 created 4.
If you read books on alchemy, and even astrology, four elements will always be mentioned: air, water, fire and earth. In the medieval concept, earth is the outcome. Hence, for instance, if you look at THE WORLD (arcana 21), you will see the angel, the eagle, and the lion all have a halo except for the bull. This shows that only three of the elements are consecrated and the fourth one is in evolution.
In fact, we read in the Sepher Yetzirah that God put in a balance, water, air and fire and kept them in equilibrium. It is not necessary to be a genius to understand that if you take fire and throw water on it, you will have vapour.
So air is between water and fire. But what is air? It is atmosphere. And air comes from the cold, symbolized by water, and heat symbolized by fire, themselves symbolized by the Ancient scholars by the moon and the sun. For them, air is life. This life is a function of two principles: the masculine, which symbolizes the active, a principle of fire, and the feminine, which symbolizes the passive, principle of water. This results in the conclusion: man is hot and dry, and woman is humid and cold. The union of these two principles allows for creation, but also allows God’s thought to be manifest.
The Ancient scholars looked at things through the eyes of a child. Actually, this child is the consequence of the union of man = fire, woman = water, and the expression of thought = divine air. And he becomes the fourth element, the manifest, which will itself symbolized by earth. This is why THE MAGICIAN has a table with three legs. It is held up by the three basic elements: water, air and fire. As long as earth = the fourth element, is not created (= THE EMPEROR), we will not be able to see the fourth leg.
We have given you what is called the theory of the basics. It is most abstract for those who are not familiar with these concepts. But you will see that it will allow us to understand the language of the medieval cards.
Many thanks to Kris Hadar & Ginette Bergeron for permission to include their work in this Newsletter.