Tuesday, August 4, 2009

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

Today I'll be covering the Emperor card and some of what Meditations has to say about it. The Emperor is naturally associated with authority, and that's the first thing the book talks about. The key concept given in the book is that authority is based on the consent of those governed. The Emperor never actually forces anyone to do anything himself, but the people who work for him do. This implies that free will is essential to authority, that without free will, there can only be power, of the type that you might have over your car. You press the gas pedal and it has to go faster if it can. In fact, according to the book, free will is so important that God sent his Son down here and put Him at our disposal, to do with him as we will, up to and including suffering physical death at our hands.

Now we as recovering materialists don't have the concept as God as being "the Old Man in the Sky," or in other words a more powerful version of ourselves as we know ourselves. Those who do have this concepts are really materialists in denial. So we don't necessarily need the Crucifixion story to be literal truth. The important thing is that we are in general left to our own devices here, and divine intervention isn't given to us unless we ask for it, or at least be open to receiving it. Being open to divine intervention is just another way of saying that our will is aligned to the divine will, which as you may remember from my last post is the essence of divine magic.

That brings me to the fourth step in the sequence: after mysticism (experience of essential unity), gnosis (setting up a model of that unity with ourselves) and divine magic (aligning our will with that of unity) comes what the book calls "Hermetic philosophy," or integrating the experience of the first three steps within ourselves. The book says that this kind of integration also can and should be done with the Gospels, by reading them as if you're living inside of them as an observer.

I'll go even farther than that and say that the technique can also be used with profit on certain fantasy novels. These novels have either explicit or implied references to mythology, qabalah and alchemy. The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Chronicles of Amber) would be a good place to start, as would On a Pale Horse (Incarnations of Immortality, Bk. 1). Try American Gods: A Novel if you'd like to get in touch with your shadow side. The point is that at some point we have to start living what we've learned, and these books provide examples (albeit fictional) of how to do that.

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