Sunday, May 31, 2009

Larry's Notes: Meditations on the Tarot: The Magician

I started reading Meditations on the Tarot again recently, and realized that it was a course of study in itself. As such, it's a perfect candidate for a new series of posts called "Larry's Notes." It's not a summary like Cliffs Notes, but instead I'll talk about key points in books that are helpful to us as recovering materialists.

This book uses for discussion the twenty-two cards of the major arcana from the Marseilles Tarot deck. So first, let's talk about the word "arcana" and what it means. The dictionary lists it as the plural of "arcanum," which means "secret." This book, on the other hand, says that these arcana aren't secrets; they're tools. They are things you need to know to progress along the path. By the way, the path outlined in this book is called "Christian Hermeticism," which is, in fact, the hermetic path that some of us are on, but with Christian (and specifically Catholic) emphasis.

The first point from the chapter that I want to talk about is illustrated by this quote:
Now Hermeticism, the living Hermetic tradition, guards the communal soul of all true culture. I must add: Hermeticists listen to-- and now and then hear--the beating of the heart of the spiritual life of humanity. They cannot do otherwise than live as guardians of the life and communal soul of religion, science and art.

This quote calls to mind the Vestal Virgins, whose job it was to keep the flame in the temple lit at all times. They devoted their lives to the maintenance of the temple and the flame, and their function today has been taken over metaphorically by various writers and occultists. And, what's best of all, because you're sitting there reading this, you're also helping to keep the flame burning.

The next point is that some concept of the essential unity of all things is necessary to even take the first step on the path. The good news is that just holding this concept on an intellectual level is sufficient for starters. After all, if you had continual experience of essential unity, you wouldn't be starting on the path; you'd be close to the end. The essential unity is presented in this chapter in the form of a section of the Emerald Tablet: "That which is above is like that which is below, and that which is below is like that which is above, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing." Again, this is a good starting point, and if you're especially materialistic, you can interpret the "One Thing" as referring to the zero-point energy field, which is from where matter is thought to arise. There's also the "One Mind," but that's a topic for the next post in the series.

The final point is the attitude toward the work:
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!
The attitude should be one of adventure, wonder and discovery; if it's boring, you're doing it wrong. The example of a child at play is given in the text. Children at play can be very intense, but it's still not work to them. There's a lot we can learn from that.

Well, that's it for this installment. Next I'll be talking about the High Priestess. Stay tuned.

No comments: