Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily The Tarot The Greater Arcana 2 (Cards 11-21) Discussion here goes with the figures on the Ryder pack by A.E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith. 11—Justice Often associated with the sign of Libra, this card shows a woman with the balance scales, indicating that the justice of the universe is always operative. The card therefore represents the concept of karma, or the idea that, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” In the universal scheme of things, all debts will be repaid, all tallies completed, all lessons will be learned, and justice will be served. 12—The Hanged Man Somewhat reminiscent of Odin hanging on the tree in order to gain wisdom, this card suggests a scapegoat suffering so that others might benefit. But the man also represents the need to look at the vicissitudes of life “outside the box,” by turning one’s perspective upside down. The figure’s legs again are in the position sometimes seen in Templar burials or iconography, almost as if he is dancing a jig while upside down—but in this case it is the opposite leg from that of the Emperor. The nimbus around the head suggests the gaining of wisdom and higher consciousness from undergoing this experience—for death of the ego is often the result of suffering. 13—Death Here the skeleton with a scythe in his hand represents the Grim Reaper. This figure is sometimes seen in medieval iconography leading a group of people behind him in what is called the “Dance of Death.” All created forms must eventually die, so heads, hands, and feet litter the ground in this picture. But the sky is red, and the sun, which must set on each person’s life, also rises—indeed, if all the Tarot cards face east, then the sun is rising here. New life springs forth from the compost of the old, so in the sky is a seed, yet to be planted but the nucleus of what will come. Hence, Death always represents transformation, to new Life and a new way of being. 14—Temperance The angelic figure is usually identified as Raphael, whose name means, “God heals.” Again, dualism is represented, this time by water and fire, by the symbols for the signs of Scorpio and Leo, and the figure stands with one foot on the land and one in the water. The message is that healing requires balance between extremes, a tempering of opposites. 15—The Devil If you can remember that the name Satan is a corruption of the name Saturn, this card will make a great deal of sense. The Saturnian energy implies being “caught” in the material world of time and space, for the Roman Saturn was the Greek Chronos/Kronos. The figures, who here have morphed into creatures with horns and tails, are Adam and Eve from card 6—The Lovers. They’ve gotten themselves into quite a fine mess because they have allowed material concerns to overwhelm them and bring them low, indicating depression and degradation—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And they are chained to the cube of the space-time continuum for just as long as they continue to let themselves be caught. Sometimes the horned and hoofed figure is identified as the Archangel Uriel, whose name means, “God’s Light.” Since all the cards are paths to enlightenment, this suggests that the experience of reaching our lowest point, our “dark night of the soul,” is sometimes our moment of truth. For in his palm, the figure bears the astrological symbol of Saturn, but his fingers give a priest’s blessing—known in the modern world, thanks to Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock on Star Trek), who picked it up from a rabbi at his synagogue, as the Vulcan greeting: “Live long, and prosper.” 16—The Tower Somewhat reminiscent of the Tower of Babel, this card suggests that earthly objectives and prideful, ego-filled projects must eventually be destroyed, perhaps by a lightning bolt from on high. But the air is filled with the flame letters of Yod, said to be the letter of the Hebrew alphabet from which all the others are derived. Yod is the first letter of the Tetragrammaton, the unspeakable name of God, and here the letters form the Kabbalistic Tree of Life on the right, with 12 more on the left, possibly suggesting the zodiacal signs that control all human action. Hence, the card suggests that in all our actions, we must beware of vanity, while at the same time, we can acknowledge that no reversal of fortune is without its blessings, represented by the Yods. 17—The Star Here, eight stars fill the sky, suggesting that a level of enlightenment has been attained by the initiate, and that balance, harmony, and beauty are the result. Again the figure shows balance by kneeling on the ground, but with one foot in the water. The naked female figure is the Great Goddess, Isis unveiled, showing her beauty to those who persist in their efforts to learn, to bend their personal wills to whatever tasks are presented, and who “keep on keeping on.” 18—The Moon With a level of enlightenment comes a new awareness of the path ahead, which still leads off to distant places. The moon is a mirror of the sun’s light, suggesting that some of the places one must go will lead within, an idea reinforced by the crustacean coming up from the depths of the water, which is usually considered a symbol for the unconscious. A dog and a wolf—parts of the self that are tame and wild—bay at the moon, and the path leads away between the two towers of polarity into an unknown future. But again the sky is filled with Yods, signifying that all experience has its own special blessings inherent within it. Seeking within or without are all a part of the totality of experience in the third dimension. 19—The Sun Here children stand in a circle or a child sits astride a white horse while the sun beams its rays, again in the form of the ever-blessing Yods. The figures of children are reminiscent of the words of Jesus, “Lest ye become as a little child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” The initiate has reached a level of enlightenment where this suggestion is fulfilled—a return to innocence has been attained. The circle and the white horse both suggest the same idea—the reaching of perfection. 20—Judgement The angel in this figure, blowing a horn to awaken the dead from their coffins, is Gabriel, who will traditionally fulfill that role at the Last Judgment. The name means, “God is my strength.” Hence, the figures of the dead have been returned to strength and vigor and are rising from their coffins. And the three figures represent all parts of the self—masculine, feminine, and inner child, here balanced and returned to the innocence necessary to reunion with the Divine. Death is now an illusion, and in the final balancing, it will be overcome. For the initiated soul who has reached a level of enlightenment, there is no more need to fear anything, including death. The red cross on a white background is the square cross of the Templars, suggesting that those who build the inner temple will be those who resurrect. 21—The World In the final reckoning, all things come full circle, and the initiate who has become an adept can “have it all.” The figure carries two spiral wands, suggesting that time is a spiral, and that as those who are enlightened come around in the seasonal circle of time, it becomes a spiral on which they find they have moved upward in consciousness. Still, the figure is under the dominance of the four fixed signs of the zodiac, but s/he wears a purple drape, the color signifying having reached the higher consciousness associated with the crown chakra. S/he wears a wreath and dances in an oval, also suggestive of a laurel wreath of perfected creation/creativity. For those who are willing to accept, embrace, and take responsibility for the experiences of life, the whole world becomes available and accessible.