Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily The Tarot The Greater Arcana 1 (Cards 0-10) The art of these cards changes with each generation, but the symbols are often similar. Discussion here goes with the figures on the Ryder pack by A.E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith. 0—The Fool This card represents the initiate just beginning his journey to enlightenment. One system of interpretation suggests that all the pictures of the Tarot deck face east, so the pictured sun has just risen. He represents Divine Potential, before it has been manifested in the material plane. He is carefree, happy-go-lucky, with a little dog yapping at his heels—and just about to step off a precipice. When he falls, things will change, but for just this moment out of time, he is all potential, before it manifests in the material world—the cosmic egg before it cracks. 1—The Magician The Magician stands as a mirror to the Fool, showing what can be accomplished once one moves responsibly into the material plane and begins to function as a co-creator with the Divine. In his garden are lilies and roses, suggesting that any action must come from purity of motive and sincerity of emotion. On the table are the symbols for the four elements, and he holds one hand up to receive the energy from on high, and the other pointed down, allowing the energy to manifest at his will whatever he chooses. He is a transformer for the energy that flows through, just as we all are at every moment. Over his head is an infinity sign, symbol of his infinite power .But most of us do not recognize our power or our responsibility for what we manifest. 2—The High Priestess She sits in the Temple of Solomon, a Kabbalistic Tree of Life blossoming on the tapestry behind her is pomegranite seeds. The two pillars represent polarity of the third dimension. She is Sophia, Holy Wisdom, the virgin mistress of the subconscious mind, and only through her can the Most High be reached. Her blue mantle flows down, becoming the water that surrounds her, the water of the subconscious. On her breast is the square cross, suggesting an intimacy with the four corners of the universe; on her lap is the scroll of the Torah, for whatever else she may be, she is the balancing mechanism of universal law. Know where she reaches, and you can know all. 3—The Empress In her verdant garden, the Empress sits with her foot on the crescent moon, symbol of feminine cycles and wisdom. She is Mother Earth, the great fructifier, like Demeter; and she is the sexual woman, Aphrodite/Venus, bidding all around her to make love, not war. She carries a heart-shaped shield with a dove, signifying peace and love. And the stars in her crown are the planets that control the personalities and fates of humans. 4—The Emperor Four is the number of the builder—four-square and solid. This figure, with his crossed legs forming a figure four (a figure sometimes seen in Templar burials), sits on a throne that’s a solid cube, demonstrating his power to build that which will last. With the mountains in the distance, this figure also represents clear seeing, the ability to see and to know what action to take to make his kingdom lasting. 5—The High Priest This figure represents the outer form of ritual, necessary to convince the subconscious of one’s intention. The two attendants wear lilies and roses, like those in the Magician’s garden, representing purity and emotion, both necessary to fulfilling mental intention. The figure has the keys to the kingdom, which can be used should intention match action. He also represents clear hearing, for it is to him that the voice of intuition speaks. 6—The Lovers Adam and Eve stand in the Garden of Eden, being blessed by an angelic presence probably the Archangel Michael, whose name means, “Who is like God?” If indeed this is the angel and the question, then the answer is “human beings,” made in the image of God at the very beginning of creation. Adam looks to Eve, who looks directly at the angel. This suggests that the masculine side of the individual, though it is the active principle in the world, can only reach Higher Consciousness by going through the feminine side. The two trees in the garden are like the two pillars of Solomon’s Temple, representing the dualistic polarities of the material world. This is Eden before the fall, but the colors and the energies represented in the picture certainly suggest that the fall will be a fortunate one—the beginning of a great adventure toward reunion. 7—The Chariot The figure sits on a chariot throne, reminiscent of the Merkavah of Ezekiel’s vision. He is drawn by black and white sphinxes, similar to the black and white pillars of the temple of the High Priestess, representing the polarities of the third dimension. He is taking action, getting things moving, but under the starry cover of the zodiac, which exerts a control over the minds and fates of all living things. The Chariot represents the physical body as well, the vehicle that carries the soul through its earthly incarnation. 8—Strength Dressed in white for purity, with an infinity sign over her head like that of the Magician, the woman holds the jaws of a lion apart. She symbolizes control over the lower passions, a necessary exercise if she would possess her heart’s desire, suggested by the roses in which the lion is wreathed and with which she is girdled. 9—The Hermit The figure of an old man, lantern in hand, stands on the height of the mountains. He has attained the peaks that were in the distance on the card of the Emperor, so a degree of wisdom has been attained. He is like Diogenes, looking for an honest man, but the place he looks is within. Inside the lamp with which he seeks to light his way is a Star of David, symbolizing the Hermetic truth that, “That which is above is as that which is below.” What we think and how we live determines what we manifest, so it is important to scrutinize every detail, and to do so, we need to rise above the hubbub of three-dimensional day-to-day existence. 10—The Wheel of Fortune Variations of this figure are very common in medieval artwork, being found in churches and literary texts as an indication that time brings all things full circle. Those who are low today will rise in fortune as the wheel turns; those who are kings will be brought low. The figures at the four corners of this card are the four fixed signs of the zodiac. At the top is the Sphinx of Egypt, a reminder of the wisdom of the ancient world; the red figure is identified as Hermanubis, a combination of Hermes and Anubis, both of whom are guides to the underworld or between dimensions. And the serpent is, of course, energy, the life force used on the three-dimensional plane. Hence, the figures among other things suggest the effects of time and space on human fortunes. In the center of the wheel are the symbols of alchemy—mercury, sulfur, salt, and water—suggesting that when one elevates the consciousness to the alchemical gold, one is no longer under the dominance of Fortune’s whims.