Monday, July 27, 2009

Larry's Notes: Meditations on the Tarot - The Empress

If you've been following along with this series, you will remember that we stepped out of conventional belief systems, saw the Big Picture, and got a copy for ourselves. So what's the next step, according to Meditations on the Tarot? Doing something with what we've experienced so far by what the book calls "divine magic", more commonly referred to as "miracles."

Now A Course in Miracles says that miracles are natural, and that if we don't experience them on a regular basis, something is wrong. The Course has a slightly more expansive definition of miracle than the rest of us; a sudden change in how a situation is seen is just as much of a miracle as curing disease. So what's wrong if you don't see any miracles? As Maryanne Williamson puts it in Everyday Grace, "thoughts of judgement block the light." This is really saying the same thing as Meditations, which says that divine magic requires the union of divine will and human will. More on that later.

Meditations distinguishes divine magic, which has its source in the Divine, from personal magic, which uses the magician's own power, or sorcery, which uses elemental or unconscious sources. Naturally divine magic is superior. Just so it's clear exactly what is meant by divine magic, the book gives an example (Acts 9:32-34):
Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints that lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him: Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed. And immediately he rose.
The book goes on to say that the power behind the cure came from the Divine Will, but was enabled to act through the will of Peter. In other words, God works through us to the extent that we let Him. More on this next time.

So what does this mean for us? The New Testament is also meant in my opinion to serve as an example. Meditations puts divine magic forth as just another part of the program. We're supposed to be doing this too, at least on the small scale of enabling changes in how situations are perceived. But that's only the beginning.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Larry's Notes: Meditations on the Tarot - The High Priestess

Next in the series of Tarot meditations is the High Priestess. The High Priestess is number two in the series, and a key concept associated with the number two in the book is reflection. In the discussion of the Magician, the essential unity of all things was given as a key concept, and it was implied that the experience was only the first step. The next step is to hold a mirror up to the first. The mirror is you, and the result is called gnosis in the book. This also allows for the experience of love, which inherently requires two parties.

Christ-consciousness allows for this experience of love, which is why the book says it is superior to the Nirvana experience. The book quotes Jesus as saying "All those who came before me are as robbers and thieves," and this is because, according to the book, the prior esoteric philosophies all aimed at the experience of unity, which did not allow for love because there was only the one thing. And that's the problem with non-duality.

On the other hand, if we retain our individuality, we will be able to make this experience part of our daily lives, which allows us to progress further along the path. Christ-consciousness is what I think is meant when Jesus said: "If a man believes in me, then the things that I have done, he will also do, and greater things than these will he do." I think it's better translated as: "If a man believes with me," meaning that he shares the same level of consciousness, but that's for the next installment in the series.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: Paths of Wisdom

The Mystical Qabalah is the canonical textbook for anyone on the Hermetic Path. Unfortunately, the book isn't very accessible to newbies. To be honest, Paths of Light: A Guide to the Magical Cabala by John Michael Greer, isn't much more accessible, but it's more modern, and could make a nice stepping stone after reading something like The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford: Dilettante's Guide to What You Do and Do Not Need to Know to Become a Qabalist.

As you may expect, the book focuses on the Tree of Life. (If all you know about the Tree of Life is that it was in the Garden of Eden, read The Chicken Qabalah first.) One difference in the treatment of the Tree of Life is the use of the Hebrew letters that spell the name of God associated with each sphere. Each letter is explained in terms of the associated Tarot card, but this isn't a Tarot book, so the associations aren't made explicit. There's also a nice explanation of the Veil of Paroketh, which separates our mundane life from the higher levels of the Tree. The key concept is that the Veil is at least partially composed of our belief systems.

The treatment of the Tree is quite thorough, including even the four color scales and magical images. An instructive exercise for the artistically inclined would be to paint or draw the magical images. The Yeziratic Texts (an obscure description for each of the spheres and paths) are covered, and these can be hard to make sense of, but the book provides good explanations. The Golden Dawn models of the Garden of Eden before and after the fall are also included and explained.

So what's the bottom line? I recommend this book for serious Hermeticists who have read at least one (preferably three or more) books on the subject already. But you still need The Mystical Qabalah.

Monday, July 6, 2009

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

Continuing my series about the chapters of Meditations on the Tarot, tonight I want to talk about the Fool. Meditations has the Fool as next-to-last in the series, so why is he the second installment in my series? Because he should have been first, but I wasn't really sure about it until I finished reading the book for the second time. And it's not just because the Fool is numbered zero.

To really understand why the Fool should be first, let's look at two literary figures Meditations refers to in its discussion of the fool: Don Quixote and Dr. Faust. I started reading Don Quixote again a couple of months ago, and stopped about halfway through because it was like watching the Detroit Lions play football. Now if Don Quixote's problem is self-deception, Dr. Faust suffered from deception at the hands of the demon he summoned, which really amounts to the same thing.

I apologize in advance because this will sound trite, but these two literary figures are important because they are metaphors for the human condition. We deceive ourselves and have been deceived by others, and deceive them in turn. The road to recovery involves recognizing the deception and stopping it. This brings me to a third literary figure discussed in this chapter of the Meditations: Arjuna from the Bhagavad-Gita. For those of you who don't know the story, it's set in ancient India on a battleground. Arjuna is about to lead his army into battle, but is somewhat reluctant. Krishna, a god who for some reason is acting as Arjuna's chariot driver, explains to Arjuna why he must fight, along with a bunch of other things. My take on the story is this: Arjuna represents the ego, Krishna the higher self, and the assembled soldiers are the components of Arjuna's belief systems. All of the belief system must be slain for Arjuna to be left with his higher self.

So how does this all relate to the Fool? Remember what I said above about deception, and in the prior paragraph about destroying our belief systems. The word "our" is key, because these belief systems are shared. Stepping outside of them will make us appear to be fools to those not on the journey. And that's exactly why being willing to do so must be the first step.