Tarot 18. The Moon

18. The Moon

The symbolism of tarot card number 18 The Moon refers to the alchemical marriage of the sun and the moon; a metaphor for the spiritual process in which the inner duality merges into divine unity. What do barking dogs and a crayfish have to do with this? Read it in this article!

The Moon in the 15th century

The theme of alchemical marriage (the fusion of opposites), with a central role for the sun and the moon, is communicated in different ways by the 15th century tarot decks that have been preserved.

The woman on the Visconti-Sforza card is holding a crescent moon in her hand. She is the “Moon Goddess”, that we can find in almost all spiritual traditions, and who is a personification of the kundalini energy (Isis, Inanna, Diana, Artemis, etc.). The golden hair of the woman reaches her pelvis, the abode of the kundalini in man.

The colors of her dress – red (the masculine) and blue (the feminine) – represent the polarities that have merged. The two ends of the cord around her waist refer to the caduceus: the staff of the Greek god Hermes, that symbolizes a kundalini awakening.

The hand with which the woman holds these two ends makes the sign of the sacred (alchemical) marriage: two fingers together (2 = 1).

The two mountains in the background, left and right of the woman, reinforce the symbolism. On our retina appear the three energy channels involved in a kundalini awakening: the polar energy channels ida-nadi and pingala-nadi, and in the middle the sushumna-nadi, with the kundalini energy.

The crescent moon has an unnatural shape and looks more like an eclipse (coinciding of sun and moon). We may see this as a confirmation of our interpretation of the other symbolism on the card.

Visconti-Sforza Tarot (15th century)

Caduceus

The caduceus, the staff of the god Hermes. The two serpents represent the polar energy channels. The staff itself represents the spine with the kundalini energy.

Two fingers together is the sign of the sacred marriage (2 = 1), the fusion of the polarities.

Charles VI Tarot (late 15th century)

On the card of the Charles VI, or Estensi, deck (left), the union of the opposites is expressed by the compass pointing to the moon.

Esoteric traditions, like alchemy and the freemasonry, use the two-legged compass as a symbol for the polar energy channels that merge during a kundalini awakening. See examples on the right and below.

On this card also the crescent moon resembles an eclipse.

The alchemist’s Magnum Opus in symbols (18th century engraving).

Illustration from Freemasonry.

Depicted on this alchemical emblem is ‘the Philosopher’s Stone’; a metaphor for union with God. (Atalanta Fugiens, 1617)

The hexagram (six-pointed star), like the compass and the square, represents the fusion of the polarities. (Des Hermes Trismegists alter Naturweg, 1782)

The core (roots) of the spiritual process is located in the pelvis. The planets represent the chakras. (Cabala Chemica, 1659)

A second measuring instrument, with the same esoteric meaning as the compass, is the square. We find it on The Moon of the Rothschild Tarot (below), of which only uncoloured, uncut sheets have been preserved.

The symbolic meaning of the armillary (a three-dimensional representation of our universe), in the hand of the man on the Rothshild card, becomes clearer when we place the card from the Ercole I d’Este Tarot deck (far right) next to it.

The armillary on the d’Este card is placed on an unusually long stand. It symbolizes the spine. The man is holding a compass in line with the stand: the two polar energy channels are fused and the kundalini energy flows from the pelvis (the moon on the table) to the head, giving an experience of God / oneness (the armillary => being one with the universe).

The small, eight-pointed Morning Star, at the bottom left of the table (circled), confirms this interpretation: the Morning Star is also a symbol for the kundalini energy (see tarot card The Star). The colors of the clothing the man wears – red and blue – represent the polar energies.

Rothschild Tarot (circa 1500)

Ercole I d’Este Tarot (1473)

Hermes Trismegistus with an armillary. The kundalini fire is fusing the sun and moon. (Viridarium chymicum, D. Stolcius von Stolcenbeerg, 1624)

An androgyn ‘Rebis’: the final stage of the alchemist’s Magnum Opus.

A depiction of a kundalini awakening. Symbolism pointing at a fusion of the sun and moon is also used in eastern traditions.

The Tarot of Marseille

The Tarot of Marseilles seems to take a completely different course with regard to the Moon theme, but this is only an illusion. The symbolism on this card also refers to a kundalini awakening and the associated fusion of the polarities. The compass and square have been replaced by two dogs and two towers. The moon goddess has been replaced by a crayfish.

The “Cary Sheet” (right) is an uncut, uncoloured printing sheet from circa 1500. This is the earliest copy of The Moon in the Tarot of Marseille style.

On the bottom half of the card we see a pond with a huge crayfish in it. Water is a universal metaphor for the divine energy in our pelvis: the kundalini. A crayfish emerging from the water refers to an awakening of this energy.

There are a number of reasons for choosing a lobster. The lower part of a lobster resembles a human spine. Red is the color of (kundalini) fire, and of the first chakra, where the kundalini resides while she is still “sleeping”.

Furthermore, in order to grow, the lobster must ‘scale’ (shed its armor), similar to the molting of a serpent, the classic symbol for the kundalini. This ‘renewal’ is also an aspect of the kundalini energy.

Cary Sheet (circa 1500)

The lower part of the lobster resembles the human spine.

An alchemical image with a moon goddess sitting in a pool of water (the kundalini). The fire also refers to the kundalini. The god Hermes, with his staff the caduceus, is placed above the goddess, between the sun and the moon. (Seven Keys of Honoratus Marinier, late 18th century)

This mosaic, from Bulla Regia, Tunisia, depicts the birth of Aphrodite from the foam of the sea. This myth is a metaphor for the awakening of the kundalini. Aphrodite is lifted up from the sea by two centaurs, which appear to be connected. They represent the polar energy channels that merge during the kundalini awakening process. On their heads they have the legs, claws and feelers of a lobster.

On the right two beautiful illustrations from the tradition of alchemy of the process of spiritual awakening, with the lobster as a symbol for the kundalini energy.

Right: the crow and dove represent the polar energies. On the ground lie the polar sun and moon. The dog is on a leash; a reference to control over the animal/lower nature. (Rosarium Philosophorum, 1578)

Far right: both the lobster, and the ‘violin bow’ made of water, represents the kundalini energy. (Aurora Consurgens, 15th century)

Jean Noblet’s Tarot of Marseille card (below) includes some new elements. Flames have been added around the eclipse of the sun and moon. This is likely a reference to the “tongues of fire” that descended on the disciples of Jesus at Pentecost. This story is a metaphor for the awakening of the kundalini – which is called the Holy Spirit in the Bible – in the apostles.

When Pentecost arrived, they were all together. Suddenly there was a sound from heaven as if a strong wind were blowing, it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire: it divided and descended upon each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues, as the Spirit gave them to speak. (Acts 2: 1-4)

The tongues of the dogs confirm this interpretation. They resemble the flames / “tongues of fire” around the eclipse.

The three small hills at the bottom of the card represent the three energy channels involved in a kundalini awakening. The hill in the middle is the sushumna nadi, located in the spine, with the kundalini (the lobster) flowing in it.

The outer two hills represent the ida-nadi and pingala-nadi, which flow on both sides of the spine. The two dogs and two towers also symbolize the energetic polarity. This is confirmed by the colors of the dogs: red (the masculin) and blue (the feminine).

Tarot van Marseille,
by Jean Noblet (1659)

“Tongues of fire” descend on the apostles.

The dogs also represent the animal / lower nature of humans: on an energetic level our belly (the first three chakras). When the kundalini (the crayfish) awakens in the pelvis, it must first pass the lower chakras (the dogs) to get to its final destination: the crown chakra.

Probably dogs were chosen – and not, for example, lions or pigs – because the moon goddesses Diana (Romans) and Artemis (Greeks) are often depicted with dogs. Below are two examples.

Right: The king (the alchemist) is eaten by the wolf (he is ‘consumed’ by his animal instincts, located in the belly). When the wolf is burned (the animal energies are purified by the kundalini fire), the king is brought back to life. (Atalanta Fugiens, 1617)

Left: the moon goddess Diana with her dog. The two serpents represent the fusion of the polar energies. The serpents touch two strands of Diana’s hair, confirming this interpretation. (Natalis Comitis Mythologiae, 1637)

Below: the goddess Artemis as “Potnia Theron”: “Mistress of the animals”. (Boeotian amphora, circa 680 BC)

Jacques Viéville Tarot (circa 1650)

Jacques Viéville’s Moon (left) is completely different from his Tarot of Marseille colleagues. No crayfish for him, but a woman spinning yarn. This, too, is a metaphor for a kundalini awakening.

The stick with a tuft of flax at the top represents the spine and the pineal gland. The thread running from the pelvis to the woman’s head represents the kundalini.

Her red and blue dress refers to the fusion of the polarities, just like the eclipse, above her head. With her right hand the woman confirms her inner oneness. The tree next to her is a classic symbol of the awakened kundalini.

Right: The metaphor of spun yarn has also been used by artists to communicate that Jesus went through a kundalini awakening. The upper hand of Mary makes the sign of the sacred marriage (2 = 1). Her lower hand brings the thread to the pelvis of the baby Jesus. Mary’s clothing is a combination of blue (the feminine) with red (the masculine). Her blue cloak suggests the spiral movement  of the kundalini towards the head.

The symbolism of tarot card The Moon has also been used in Christian art of the same era. In this way spiritual knowledge that went against the teachings of the Church was communicated in a veiled way. For example, there are paintings of the Last Supper with crayfish on the table, in addition to the usual fish, lamb and bread (see below). A remarkable deviation from tradition, that makes one wonder how the artist managed to get permission for this from his client (the church).

The Last Supper, Antonio Baschenis, Santo Stefano Church, Carisolo, Italy, 15th century. We can deduce from the enormous number of crayfish that they have a special meaning. It is also strange that they are not lying on plates, like the lamb and the fish. The rows of round loaves resemble the vertebrae of a spinal column.

In paintings of the crucifixion we often see an eclipse, which makes sense because in the Bible it says that a solar eclipse takes place at the moment Jesus dies:

And it was about the sixth hour, and darkness came over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the middle. And Jesus cried with a loud voice and said, Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit. And when He said that, He gave up the ghost. (Luke 23: 44-46)

The detail of the eclipse in this quote is intended to tell us that the death of Jesus, on the symbolic level, represents a spiritual transformation process. A complete solar eclipse can only occur at New Moon. However, it was Full Moon (Pesach) when Jesus was crucified. The sixth hour is a reference to the sixth chakra, the place where the fusion of the polarities (sun and moon) takes place. For the deeper meaning of the symbolism in the Bible, see my book John the Baptist who became Jesus the Christ.

We can deduce from the hand of Jesus who makes the sign of the sacred marriage (2 = 1), that the eclipse in the paintings below has an esoteric meaning.

Oswald Wirth Tarot (1889)

The Oswald Wirth Tarot

Oswald Wirth’s card (left) is almost identical to the Tarot of Marseille. His dogs have the colors white and gray, which, like red and blue, refers to the polar energies: light / dark, yin / yang.

The mosaic at Château des Avenières (right), which is based on Oswald Wirth’s tarot, has double pillars on both the left and right. This reinforces the theme of the card: the fusion of duality into divine oneness.

Château des Avenières (1917)

The Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) Tarot

Artist Pamela Colman-Smith has chosen a dog and a wolf (the tamed and untamed animal) to express the polarities. A choice inspired by alchemy. On the alchemy emblem below, next to the RWS card, we see a dog and a wolf fighting each other. They represent the inner duality of the alchemist. The animals, according to the accompanying text, will be “turned into one.”

The colors yellow and orange of the dogs probably refer to the abdominal chakras, the abode in man of the animal energies. The second (lower abdomen) chakra is orange and the third (navel) chakra is yellow.

Another subtle, but significant difference from all predecessors is that on the RWS card the caryfish crawls out of the water. This emphasizes the awakening of the kundalini.

Around the moon / eclipse, the RWS card has Yod’s (the Hebrew letter Y) instead of flames. The meaning is the same. As we saw with tarot card The Tower, the letter Yod – which resembles a flame – refers to the divine in mystical Judaism.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (1909)

“A WOLF AND A DOG ARE IN ONE HOUSE, AND THEN ARE TURNED INTO ONE.” (Lambspring, 1556)

The moon goddess Hecate with two dogs. The two serpents refer to the ida and pingala nadi.

Conclusion

In most traditions, the kundalini energy in our pelvis is personified by a goddess (Shakti, Isis, Artemis, Sophia, etc.). Images from nature are also common. The yogi sees the source of divine energy as a coiled serpent, which can be awakened and then spirales up the spine. To the alchemist, the same source of energy resembles a caryfish emerging from the water. In the Bible we find the metaphor of a (whale) fish, that swallows human beings alive.

In the case of this tarot card, it is not difficult to understand the choice of the moon, with its influence on the rise and fall of the sea level, as a symbol for the kundalini.

In the tarot we also find a deer, a tree, a sword and an hourglass. The list of symbols and metaphors for the kundalini energy is almost endless; just as long as man’s imagination.

Tarot card The Moon is a beautiful example of a road map in images to the Kingdom of God.

Arthurian Tarot ( Caitlin Matthews, John Matthews, Miranda Gray, 1991)

A (pink) salmon swimming against the current, back to its native soil, is a striking, original metaphor for the kundalini energy.

The Arto Tarot (Jane Estelle Trombley, 2008)

The moon goddess Diana / Artemis with her dogs.

Tarot de Mars (Quentin Faucompré, 2012)

When the kundalini awakens, one of its tasks is to transform and merge the animal energies.

Arcus Arcanum Tarot (Hansrudi Wascher, 1987)

The woman / goddess on this card invites us to follow this road.

This article was written by Anne-Marie Wegh. Copyright August 2020.

Anne-Marie Wegh is the author of the book
John the Baptist who became Jesus the Christ

Illustrations from the tarot decks, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Foto’s Châteaux de Avenières: http://hermetism.free.fr/Avenieres

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By |2021-01-16T21:11:04+00:00October 18th, 2020|Tarot, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Tarot 18. The Moon

Tarot 17. The Star

17. The Star

The eight-pointed star on this tarot card is a symbol of the Sumerian goddess Inanna and her Akkadian counterpart Ishtar. These goddesses were also associated with the planet Venus, which is called the Morning Star because, after the sun and moon, she is the brightest of all celestial bodies and is visible in the east shortly before sunrise. The light of Venus heralds the sun and because of this she is associated with the divine since ancient times.

We also have the word of the prophets as confirmed beyond doubt. And you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
(Bible quote 2 Peter 1:19)

In line with this, the eight-pointed Morning Star represents in various spiritual traditions the divine energy in the pelvis of man: the kundalini. Two examples on the right.

The Morning Star (Venus) is clearly visible just before sunrise.

An Old Babylonian plaque from 2000- 1600 BC. with the Star of Ishtar on the trunk of a palm tree (symbol for the spine).

Clavis Artis, a late 17th / early 18th century alchemical manuscript.

The Star in the 15th century

That the star on this tarot card already from the beginning referred to a kundalini awakening, is confirmed by the other symbolism. Both 15th century cards below include references to the fusion of the masculine and feminine energies. This fusion is part of the kundalini process.

Visconti-Sforza Tarot

Ercole I d’Este Tarot

The alchemist’s Magnum Opus (kundalini awakening): the masculine and feminine energies are fused. An eight-pointed star is depicted above the heads of the Rebis. (Compendium Alchymist, J. M. Faust, 1706)

The woman’s clothing on the Visconti-Sforza card is a combination of the colors blue and red. These are the classic colors for, respectively, the feminine and the masculine energies. To confirm this interpretation she makes the sign of the sacred marriage with her right hand (two fingers together, 2 = 1). This hand gesture is placed exactly where the colors red and blue meet.

The woman’s red cloak is covered with a pattern of eight-pointed stars. Red is a color that can also refer to the kundalini energy: it is the color of fire and also of the first chakra, the residence of the kundalini. The woman is standing between two mountains. These symbolize the polar energy channels ida nadi and pingala nadi, which flow on the left and right side of the spine.

The man and woman on the card of the Ercole I d’Este deck (above) also wear red and blue clothing. With their arms around each other, they point to the eight-pointed star: an obvious reference to the merging of the masculine and feminine energies.

Left: during a kundalini awakening, the polar energy channels ida nadi (blue) and pingala nadi (red) merge, at the level of the forehead (sixth chakra).

The Tarot of Marseille

The woman on the Tarot of Marseille cards stands not only between two hills, but also between two trees. The woman personifies the kundalini energy; the two trees and the two hills represent the ida nadi and pingala nadi. The nakedness of the woman communicates her divine nature.

The union of the masculine and feminine energies is symbolized on the Tarot of Marseille Star by the two vases from which water (energy) flows. One vase flows out onto the land, the other into the pool of water, as a confirmation to us that these are the polar energies.

So both the trees, the hills and the vases represent the polar energies. The woman and the eight-pointed star both represent the divine kundalini energy. We can also deduce this from the woman’s navel. On Jean Noblet’s card it is a six-pointed star (hexagram) and on Jean Dodal’s card a circle with a upward pointing triangle: the symbol of fire.

Another classic metaphor for the awakened kundalini is a tree. Jean Dodal’s card shows a bird on one of the trees. The bird refers to the completion of the kundalini process.

Tarot of Marseille
by Jean Noblet (1659)

Tarot of Marseille
by Jean Dodal (1715)

The seven smaller stars (hexagrams) on the card represent the seven chakras, which are purified and activated (‘shining’ like stars) by the kundalini energy. All elements on this card can also be found in the symbolism used in alchemy to depict a kundalini awakening, see the three examples below.

From: Compendium alchymist,
J. M. Faust, 1706.

The (kundalini) tree enables the soul to ascend to God. The Rosarium Philosophorum, 18th century.

Woodcut from Ritter-Krieg,
Johann Sternhals, 1580.

The theme of a god with two vases of water, to express the fusion of the polar energies, can also be found in Ancient Egypt. In the image on the right we see the androgynous god Hapi depicted in an identical way.

The meaning that Egyptologists give to this image is that the two vases of water represent the White and the Blue Nile, which flow together and form the, for the Egyptians, very important river Nile (see map on right). The god Hapi is a personification of the Nile.

Major rivers are often used in spiritual traditions as a metaphor for kundalini energy; for example, the Ganges in Hinduism, the Jordan in Judaism, and in Ancient Egypt it was the Nile.

The serpent around Hapi confirms us that this relief on a deeper level is also a representation of the three energy channels involved in a kundalini awakening, similar to the meaning of tarot card The Star.

Jacques Vieville Tarot, circa 1650.

The Tarot of Paris, 17th century.

Some Tarot de Marseille decks have opted for completely different imagery to express the same thing. On the cards of Jacques Vieville and the Tarot of Paris (left) we see a man with a compass in his hand. The compass is a symbol from Freemasonry and refers to the fusion of the polarities. The same meaning as the two vases on the other Tarot de Marseille decks.

The man on Jacques Viéville’s card points with the compass to a tower. This tower is a metaphor for the spine with the awakened kundalini flowing in it (see also tarot card The Tower). Instead of a clock, we see a (kundalini) star in the top of the tower. We may take this as a confirmation of our interpretation.

The hourglass, which the man is holding in his other hand, is also a symbol for the kundalini energy (see tarot card The Hermit).

The man on the Tarot of Paris card points with the compass at his hat, which is shaped like a pyramid. A pyramid has square base (the number four represents the physical dimensions / earth), with vertical lines that run to one point, the top (symbol for the divine). This symbolic meaning of the pyramid is comparable to that of the compass: the duality of our physical reality that merges into a divine unity.

The compass on this alchemical emblem with the ‘Magnum Opus’ / Rebis represents the fusion of the masculine and feminine. From: Theoria Philosophiae Hermeticae, Heinrich Nollius, 1617.

The fusion of the masculine and feminine (the sacred marriage) is symbolized on this engraving by the hand gestures (2 = 1) of the gods Mercury and Minerva, as well as the compass. Mercury’s staff, the caduceus, is the classic symbol for a kundalini awakening. (Crispijn van de Passe (I), circa 1611, Rijksmuseum)

Socrates holds up a compass with one hand and draws a Rebis with the other. Both stand for the fusion of the masculine and feminine. From: Symbolicarum Quaestionum, Achilles Bocchius, 1555.

The Oswald Wirth Tarot

The golden hair of the woman on Oswald Wirth’s card covers her whole back. This, too, is a classic metaphor for the kundalini energy, which flows from the pelvis to the crown.

Instead of a tree with a bird as a transformation symbol, Wirth has opted for a flower with a butterfly. The flower has five petals, which is probably a reference to the “Rose of Venus”. The orbit of Venus around the earth, during an eight-year cycle, has the pattern of a five-petaled flower (see illustration on right). This pattern is called the Rose (or Pentagram) of Venus. The five-petaled rose has been used as a symbol for the divine since ancient times. The butterfly on the flower is a classic symbol of transformation.

Oswald Wirth Tarot (1889)

The ‘Rose of Venus’

Château des Avenières (1917)

On this wooden panel (British Museum) we see a goddess in a (kundalini) tree who gives nourishment (energy) to a woman and her Ba (the bird).

The mosaic at Château des Avenières (above) is derived from the Oswald Wirth Tarot. An Egyptian Ba bird sits on the tree next to the goddess. In Ancient Egypt, the Ba bird represented the essence / soul of man. The two vases on the mosaic have different colors: gold and silver. These are colors associated with the sun and the moon and refer to polarity / duality.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The RWS Star is rather similar to the Tarot of Marseille and the Oswald Wirth Tarot. Artist Pamela Colman Smith has placed the goddess even more explicitly in the center of the two vases with outflowing water, which gives us even more clearly the image of the three energy channels involved in a kundalini awakening: the kundalini energy is located between the polar energy channels ida nadi and pingala nadi.

One leg of the goddess rests on water and one leg on land: a reinforcement of the symbolism of the two vases. The goddess represents the unity of the divine.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (1909)

The eight-pointed star has also been used in Christian art to communicate “heretical” spiritual knowledge. Here we see Saint Dominic with an eight-pointed star above his head. With his left hand he makes the (secret) sign of the sacred marriage (2 = 1) and with the other hand he points to his head, the place where this sacred marriage takes place. (Fra Angelico, circa 1440)

Wonder Woman with the eight-pointed Morning star on her forehead.

Conclusion

The eight-pointed star on this tarot card has been a symbol of the kundalini energy since ancient times. The woman on the card is a personification of this divine energy in the human pelvis. She is a goddess with many names and faces, including Ishtar, Inanna, Sophia, Isis, Hera and Shakti.

In the Bible, Jesus promises us the Morning Star – as the eight-pointed star is also called – if we overcome our ego and animal instincts:

And to the one who overcomes and continues in My work until the end … I will give him the morning star.
(Revelation 2:26,28)

Animal Totem Tarot (Eugene Smith, Leeza Robertson, 2016)

An oyster, with a pearl, and a lighthouse are apt symbols for the kundalini energy.

The Tarot of the Golden Serpent (Sebastian Haines, 2009)

The rose, the grail and the phoenix are wonderful additions to the other kundalini symbolism of this card.

D’Morte-Disney Tarot

Snow White is a personification of the kundalini energy. See my article on the deeper meaning of this fairy tale.

The Buddha Tarot (Robert M. Place, 2004)

The Buddha attained enlightenment (nirvana) after a kundalini awakening. Read more about this on this webpage.

This article was written by Anne-Marie Wegh. Copyright August 2020.

Anne-Marie Wegh is the author of the book
John the Baptist who became Jesus the Christ

Illustrations from the tarot decks, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Foto’s Châteaux de Avenières: http://hermetism.free.fr/Avenieres

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By |2021-01-06T12:22:38+00:00August 30th, 2020|Tarot, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Tarot 17. The Star

Tarot 16. The Tower

16. The Tower

In the 16th century, in France, tarot card The Tower was called “The House of God” (La Maison Dieu); a name where you expect a temple, or a church, rather than a tower. What is the connection between the tower on this card and God, and why is it being destroyed? Read it in this article!

The Tower in the 15th century

From the 15th century – the very first century that tarot cards came into circulation – only one hand-painted copy of The Tower (from the Charles VI deck) has been preserved, and a few uncut sheets from early printing, which have remained uncolored. Together, these cards show all the elements that still form the basis for card number 16 today: we see a tower collapsing, apparently caused by the fire of the sun. Two people are falling down from the tower.

Charles VI (Estensi) deck,
second half of 15th century.

Rosenwald deck,
circa 1500

Budapest-​Metropolitan deck,
circa 1500

Rothshild deck,
circa 1500

That the destructive fire comes from the sun, and not from thunderclouds, may already be an indication to us that this card has a deeper meaning. The sun is a universal symbol for God / the divine. A tower destroyed by God is reminiscent of the Tower of Babel from the Bible, a story that on a symbolic level takes place in man.

The Tower of Babel

Many Bible stories are not intended to be taken literally. They are metaphors for inner spiritual processes. Similarly, the story about man who wanted to build a tower up to heaven. The deeper meaning of Bible texts is hidden in subtle word choices and sentence structures.

The Tower of Babel is about man trying to awaken the kundalini energy, dormant in his pelvis, and bring it through the spine (the tower) to the seventh chakra (heaven). In other words, man wants to rise to the divine under the influence of the ego.

However, this gross self-overestimation has the opposite effect. Instead of ascending through the spine, the divine (the kundalini) descends. This is stated literally twice in the text: in response to the audacious act of man, God comes down (Genesis 11: 1-9).

Then God scatters the people and gives them different languages so that they no longer understand each other:… because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth, and from there the Lord spread them all over the earth (Genesis 11: 9).

Engraving of the Tower of Babel, by Jan Collaert I (16th century). Circled are hidden references to a kundalini process: the hands are making the sign of the sacred marriage (2 = 1), and in front of the tower is a man holding up a cloth from his pelvis to above his head.

This is a metaphor for an inner fragmentation of man. The energy that first flowed through the spine and created an experience of oneness, descends into the pelvis and subsequently is divided over the two energy channels ida-nadi and pingala-nadi. As a result, man no longer experiences God, but the polarities of duality: good and evil, male and female, and so on. We may interpret the distribution of man over the earth as an inner division into various aspects of ego. Man must now – internally divided – find his way in a dual world.

Kundalini symbols

There are many symbols and metaphors for the spine with the awakened kundalini energy flowing in it. Classic examples are: a serpent, a tree, a pillar, a ladder and a tower.

The card of the 15th century Budapest Metropolitan deck (above) contains a subtle indication that the Tower represents the kundalini energy. The two small trees on either side of the tower represent the two energy channels that keep man connected to duality: the ida nadi and pingala nadi.

Right: the three energy channels involved in a kundalini awakening.

Below: two aprons from the esoteric organisation Freemasonry, with symbols of the kundalini process, including trees, pillars and a tower.

Alchemy

Also in the spiritual tradition of alchemy we find the tower as a metaphor for the spine with the awakened kundalini. Below are three examples.

Left and above: Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit, Ms Vossianus Chym, 1522.

Right: these two alchemical ovens represent the energetic (left) and physical (right) aspect of an awakened spine. Annibal Barlet, Le Vray et Methodique Cours, 1651.

Tarot of Marseille by Jean Dodal (1715)

The Tarot of Marseille

The internal fragmentation of man, which is the result of the withdrawing of God (the kundalini), is expressed on the Tarot of Marseille cards by the little balls next to the tower. We can deduce from their round shape that these are not fragments of the tower. The different colors also indicate something other than pieces of stone. The three tower windows represent the three energy channels involved in a kundalini awakening. The top of the tower resembles a crown. This is a reference to the delusions of grandeur of the ego, that thinks it is king of the universe and the crown of creation.

The card now also has a title: The House of God. That this refers to the spine with the divine kundalini energy flowing in it, can also be found in the Bible. In the book of Genesis, patriarch Jacob has a vision in his sleep of angels climbing up and down a ladder (a metaphor of the kundalini flowing through his spine), and God speaking to him. When Jacob wakes up he says:

“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. He called the name of that place Bethel…  (Genesis 28:17-19)

The Hebrew Bethel means “house of God.” Jacob sets up the stone on which he slept as a pillar, and pours oil over it. The erected stone refers to Jacob’s awakened spine. The “anointing” with oil symbolizes the transformation of his cerebrospinal fluid into amrita (drink of immortality).

Jacob’s Ladder (Wenceslas Hollar, 17th century)

Jacob sets up a stone as a pillar and pours oil over it.

Some tarot decks from this period, such as the Belgian Vandenborre Bacchus Tarot (right), have opted for a tree that is struck by  lightning, instead of a tower. The card is then called ‘Lightening’ (La Foudre). A tree is also a classic metaphor for the awakened kundalini. The deeper meaning of the card remains the same.

In Italy the first cards appear called La Torre (The Tower). This will remain the definitive title of tarot card number 16. On the right the Ligurien-Piemont Tarot from 1840.

Vandenborre Bacchus Tarot
(Belgium, 1780)

Ligurien-Piemont Tarot
(Italy, 1840)

The Oswald Wirth Tarot

Oswald Wirth named his card Le Feu du Ciel (The Fire from Heaven), a title that could refer to both lightning and the kundalini energy. One of the falling figures has a crown on his head, a reference to a “dethroning” of the ego.

The figures on the mosaic of Château des Avenières (far right), which is based on the Tower of Wirth, are dressed in red and blue. These are the classic colors for the male and female energies. They refer on this card to the disintegration of the inner oneness into opposites / duality. The striped sash around the front man’s waist, with the two flying ends, also refers to this.

The tower stands on a globe, creating the image of a “fall” of man (back) in matter.

Oswald Wirth Tarot (1889)

Château des Avenières (1917)

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (1909)

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The two figures on the RWS card are also dressed in a combination of the colors red (male) and blue (female). A new element is that it is not two men who fall, as on all previous cards, but a man and a woman. We may take this as a confirmation of our interpretation of the colors red and blue.

In the sky are floating 22 Yods. The Yod is the Hebrew Y. This flame-like character is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. All other letters have a Yod in them. It is the first letter of YHWH (God). In mystical Judaism, the Yod represents the ubiquity of God. In ancient Hebrew, the Yod was written as a forearm with a hand. No sun can be seen on the RWS card; instead, the Yod refers to “the Hand of God.”

Modern Hebrew

Ancient Hebrew

The Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 letters. The exact number of 22 Yods on this card is a reference to the breaking up of man’s inner unity into ego fragments.

Conclusion

The major arcana of the tarot consists of miniatures that highlight aspects of a kundalini awakening. The card The Tower is a warning addressed to people who think they can master the divine. God will not let Himself be used by the ego.Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

This card is based on the Bible story about the Tower of Babel, in which the tower is a metaphor for the spine with the awakened kundalini energy flowing in it. This story teaches us why the knowledge of the kundalini energy has been so cautiously guarded in all these centuries and can only be found hidden in sacred texts. In the wrong hands it can lead to people insufficiently prepared and with the wrong motives forcing an access to this sacred energy source. Jesus also notes this in the gospel of Matthew (11:12):

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.

This path can only be followed succesfully with a heart purified from the ego’s desires for grandeur. Only for a person who is willing to die to himself does the door to God open.

Read also my article: Kundalini en the Tower of Babel.

In the foreground we see a pillar (awakened spine), with a snail on the way up, and a wreath of victory. The pillar rests on four lions (symbol of the animal energies in man). In the background we see the Tower of Babel. All this symbolism refers (concealed) to the process of kundalini awakening. The way to God requires patience and endurance. (Jacob Bruck, Emblemata moralia et bellica, 1615)

Chrysalis Tarot (Holly Sierra, Toney Brooks, 2014)

The Hindu goddess Kali personifies the purifying effect of the kundalini energy. She is responsible for the “death” of the ego.

De Egipcios Kier Tarot (Margarita Arnal Moscardo, 1988)

In Ancient Egypt, the obelisk, and the three attributes of the Pharaoh at the bottom of the card (crook, flail, and was scepter), represented the spine with the kundalini energy flowing in it.

Le Tarot des Alchimistes (Jean Beauchard, 2006)

Visible in the vessel is the alchemist’s completed Magnum Opus (kundalini awakening) in symbols. Next to the vessel we see Icarus in a free fall. The Greek myth about Icarus and Daedalus is about the disastrous consequences of pride.

The Arthurian Tarot (Caitlin and John Matthews, 1990)

The owl (Wisdom, Sophia) is also a classic symbol for the kundalini.

This article was written by Anne-Marie Wegh. Copyright April 2020.

Anne-Marie Wegh is the author of the book
John the Baptist who became Jesus the Christ

Illustrations from the tarot decks, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Foto’s Châteaux de Avenières: http://hermetism.free.fr/Avenieres

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By |2021-01-06T12:21:46+00:00August 2nd, 2020|Tarot|Comments Off on Tarot 16. The Tower

Tarot 15. The Devil

15. The Devil

The devil is an interesting archetype that can help us with self-understanding and spiritual growth. The demonic being staring at us from tarot card number 15 is a representation of our own animal urges; an aspect that is inextricably linked to our body. Denial of your inner devil causes these forces to lead a life of their own in our subconscious, and makes us behave in ways that we do not want. Recognition and insight, on the other hand, create a expansion of consciousness in which choices arise.

The Devil in the 15th Century

Unfortunately, no 15th century hand-painted tarot cards of the Devil have been preserved. We can, however, find in museums a number of sheets from early printing that have never been finished. From these cards we can deduce that the devil in the tarot was depicted according to the common characteristics at the time: a fearful creature with horns, bird’s legs, a lot of hair and a large fork (see also the painting by Hans Memling from 1485, below right).

Rosenwald deck

Rothschild-Beaux-Arts deck

Budapest-​Metropolitan deck

Hell (detail),
Hans Memling, 1485.

In our inner world a constant battle takes place between the impulses of our lower, animal nature and our higher, divine nature. Animal tendencies include aggression, greed, jealousy, lust and selfishness. Attributes that arise from our higher nature are love, forgiveness, compassion and altruism. The Devil not only represents the beast in man, but also one-sided focus on the physical dimensions (materialism). And on an even deeper level, the Devil also stands for duality.

Energetically, the Devil represents the two energy channels that flow along the spine and make us experience duality. The yoga tradition calls these energy channels the ida nadi and the pingala nadi. The divine is characterized by oneness. In the person who has realized the divine, the energy flows through one channel: the sushumna nadi, which runs through the spine.

On the card of the Budapest Metropolitan deck (above) – the only 15th century card with clear esoteric symbolism – the Devil stands between two small trees. These trees represent the ida and pingala nadi: the Devil is rooted in duality.

The three energy channels involved in a spiritual awakening.

19th century miniature of a yogi

Right: the Ancient Greeks used the beautiful metaphor of a double flute to express the energy flowing through the ida and pingala nadi. On the right are two examples of a satyr – who, like the devil, also stands for the beast in man – with such a double flute. (Pottery from circa 530 BC.)

Often the devil is depicted with a face on his belly. A 15th century example is the Rothschild-Beaux-Arts deck (above). This represents focusing on the desires of the (lower) abdomen; pursuing sensory pleasure and sexual gratification.

The Tarot of Marseille

The Devil of the Tarot of Marseille has additional elements that refer to duality. First, he has both male (genitals) and female (breasts) features. Note that this is different from androgyny, which is a characteristic of the person who has realized the divine. In that case the inner male and female energies have merged into oneness. In the Devil these polar energies are both present (as in any unenlightened person).

Tarot of Marseille,
by Jean Noblet (1659)

Tarot of Marseille,
by Payen-Webb (18th century)

The Devil’s staff also refers to duality. It is a bident on Jean Noblet’s card and on Payen-Webb’s card two flames are burning on the staff. The Devil’s two horns are not only a reference to the animal instincts, but also to duality. In addition, Jean Noblet uses the combination of the colors red (male) and blue (female) to express the polarities / duality.

The bat wings of the Marseille Devil symbolize spiritual unconsciousness: a bat lives at night, in the (spiritual) darkness. Jean Noblet’s card has two dots on the left wing and three dots on the right wing. This is probably another reference to duality. In Pythagoras’ teaching about the opposites, the even numbers are female and the odd numbers are male.

The two Devil-like creatures tied to the pedestal represent man “trapped” in matter and guided by his lower nature.

An important theme, visualised on several tarot decks, is dealing with the sexual energies. Lust is a primal force that can keep man imprisoned in the world of the animal urges, and thus keep him away from the divine.

The card on the right from the Swiss 1JJ tarot deck (19th century) addresses this theme with clear symbolism. The Devil’s tail is bent forward, evoking associations with a phallus. The tip of the tail touches the bident, which represents the two energy channels that make us experience duality.

Duality and the animal instincts are part of God’s creation and not necessarily “bad” in this respect. However, if we want to experience the oneness of the divine, we must let go of the world of the senses. The Tarot of Marseille card by Payen-Webb (above) emphasizes this by naming the card L’Antechrist (the antichrist) instead of Le Diable: the Devil is the polar opposite of the divine (Christ) in our dual world.

1JJ deck from Switzerland
(Johann Georg Rauch, circa 1830)

The Oswald Wirth Tarot

Oswald Wirth’s version of the Devil is heavily influenced by the Baphomet figure of the occultist Eliphas Levi, and this creates confusion. Baphomet is seen by historians as an idol, of which the exact origin and meaning is unknown. The Knights Templar – a Christian knighthood from the 12th and 13th centuries – were said to have worshiped him instead of Christ, and were burned at the stake for this reason.

Eliphas Levi came to the conclusion that Baphomet represents the Gnostic principle of perfect equilibrium between the opposites, and he created an image that reflected this (see right). His Baphomet includes alchemical principles (“solve et coagula”), the four elements and the caduceus of the god Hermes.

Levi’s Baphomet hereby represents positive, spiritual principles, worth of pursuing. For example, the flame on the goat’s head represents the human intellect that rules over the animal instincts. Using elements of Baphomet for the Devil, as Oswald Wirth did, could mislead someone as to the meaning of the card.

Oswald Wirth Tarot (1889)

Baphomet, by Eliphas Levi (1854-1856).

Château des Avenières (1917)

The designer of the mosaics at Château des Avenières (left) even took Levi’s Baphomet in its entirety for the Devil. The man and woman who are trapped in matter (the big circle, earth), could easily free themselves if they wanted to. The mosaic therefore presents their captivity as a choice.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

Artist Pamela Colman-Smith has the card refer unambiguously to the opposite of the divine again. Her Devil is corpulent (gluttony) and sinister. His horns are curved towards the earth. The upside-down torch in his hands refers to the kundalini fire, which flows down instead of up. This is also the meaning of the two tails of the naked man and woman. The grapes (wine) and the fire both refer to the divine kundalini that feeds on this card the lower, rather than the higher, chakras.

The pentagram, which is shown pointing up with Levi’s Baphomet and on the mosaic of Château des Avenières, has been turned downwards on the RWS card. In occult circles, the pentagram pointed upwards refers to God-realization. The fifth point of the star represents the Spirit, which rules the other four points, which represent the four elements (matter). Pointing down, matter (the beast) rules over the Spirit (the divine).

On the upper hand of the Devil is written the sign for Jupiter: of the seven planets of classical astronomy, the planet furthest away from the sun, and (thus) in alchemy symbolizing the first / bottom chakra. The hand gesture itself refers to duality (“split in two”).

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (1909)

The naked man and woman evoke associations with Adam and Eve, especially if you place the RWS card The Lovers next to it. Arthur E. Waite and Pamela Colman-Smith were connected to esoteric circles that knew that at the symbolic level the Bible story of Adam and Eve is about man choosing to use the kundalini energy (the serpent) for the lower chakras (sexual activity) and, as a result, losing paradise (connection with the divine). This esoteric knowledge has also been incorporated in countless paintings, see three examples below.

Adam holds Eve’s breast: the forbidden fruit is sexuality (Hans Baldung Grien, 1511)

God tells Adam and Eve not to eat the forbidden fruits. What these forbidden fruits are is symbolized by the branches with leaves, in the form of a phallus, in the left hand of Adam. (Grabower Altar Panel, Bertram van Minden, 1375-1383)

The twig in Adam’s hand refers to a phallus: the forbidden fruit is sexuality. (Lucas van Leyden, 1529, Rijksmuseum)

Conclusion

In the field of the dual forces, the devil is the polar opposite of the divine. Where the divine stands for oneness, the devil represents duality. In man, the devil represents our lower, animal nature, which is the opposite of our higher, divine nature.

In the tarot, the Devil is the counterpart of the Emperor, the Hierophant, and the Chariot. The men on these three cards have conquered matter and the animal instincts (the devil).

Right: the rider of the Chariot (tarot card nr. 7) has conquered his lower nature (the devil) and realized the divine (YHWH in Hebrew letters). The figure at the bottom of the screen is the Fool (tarot card no. 0) who does not believe in God. Illustration by Oswald Wirth from La Clef de la Magie Noir (Stanislas De Guaita, 1897).

Recommended reading: Paul Solomon on our lower and higher nature
(from: “The Wisdom of Solomon“)

Golden Botticelli Tarot (Atanas Alexandrov Atanassov, 2007)

The trident represents the three energy channels involved in a spiritual awakening. The inverted trident on this card symbolizes that the energies are flowing downward, to the lower chakras, rather than up, to the higher chakras.

The Buddha Tarot (Robert M. Place, 2004)

In Buddhism, Mara is the demon who tried to prevent the Buddha from attaining enlightenment.

Ramses – Tarot of Eternity (Severino Baraldi, 2003)

The god Set represented in ancient Egypt the lower nature / animal consciousness.

Tarot of Atlantis (Bepi Vigna, Massimo Rotundo, 2004)

The Hydra from Greek mythology is the dragon-like monster that the demigod Hercules had to defeat. Every time he chopped off one head of the beast, two new ones grew. The Hydra stands for our (animal) desires, which are difficult to overcome.

This article was written by Anne-Marie Wegh. Copyright April 2020.

Anne-Marie Wegh is the author of the book
John the Baptist who became Jesus the Christ

Illustrations from the tarot decks, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Foto’s Châteaux de Avenières: http://hermetism.free.fr/Avenieres

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By |2021-01-06T12:21:05+00:00June 15th, 2020|Tarot, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Tarot 15. The Devil

Tarot 14. Temperance

14. Temperance

Temperance is one of the four so-called “cardinal virtues”. We have seen that two other cardinal virtues, 8. Justice and 11. Strength, represent in the tarot aspects of a kundalini awakening. Does this also apply to Temperance? Is there a hidden, esoteric meaning behind the two vases with which the woman adds water to the wine?

Traditionally, the virtue temperance stands for self-control and balance, especially with regard to physical pleasures, such as eating, drinking and sex. Allegorically (as a symbolic representation), this virtue is usually depicted by a woman pouring liquid from one jug into another. Other attributes also occur, for example a bit (“curbing” the animal drives), a clock, and other measuring instruments (“regulating” behavior).

In the case of a liquid, this is usually interpreted as adding water to wine (to prevent drunkenness). But other interpretations are also possible, for instance adding cold to hot liquid, to lower the temperature.

Temperance in the 15th century

In the tarot, the flowing liquid refers to the kundalini energy, that flows from the pelvis to the head. A first indication that this card means something more than adding water to wine is the physical impossibility of the path the liquid travels. Not only on the 15th century tarot cards, also in the centuries that follow, the liquid defies the laws of gravity.

A schematic representation of the three energy channels involved in a kundalini awakening.

Visconti-Sforza Tarot (15th century)

Ercole d’Este Tarot (15th century)

A second clue is that on many tarot cards the liquid flows from the woman’s head to her pelvis: the (reverse) path the kundalini energy travels. But there are more details that refer to a kundalini awakening process. The combination of the colors red and blue of the woman’s clothing, on both the Visconti-Sforza card and the Ercole d’Este card, refers to sacred marriage: the fusion of the masculine (red) and the feminine (blue) energies.

The spiral pattern on the woman’s clothing on the Ercole d’Este card refers to the spiraling upward movement of the three energy channels involved in a kundalini awakening. Her crossed legs symbolize the fusion of the inner duality into (divine) oneness.

On the dress of the Visconti-Sforza woman we see a pattern of eight-pointed stars. As we will see when discussing tarot card The Star, the eight-pointed star (the “Star of Venus”) is an ancient and widely used symbol of the kundalini energy.

Something strange is going on with the jug on the Visconti-Sforza card. The liquid does not pour from the spout, but from the top of the jug. This incongruity has to make us aware of the deeper meaning of the spout: it’s value is not practical but symbolic. The S shape refers to the kundalini serpent.

The two ends of the cord around the woman’s dress have the same S shape. They represent the two energy channels that merge in the head, during the kundalini process. The loop on the cord refers to the pineal gland, which is activated during this fusion.

Venus (the planet) with eight pointed star
(The Sphaera Mundi, circa 1450)

Not only in the tarot have the allegories of the cardinal virtues been used to communicate forbidden esoteric knowledge. Hidden references to the kundalini energy can be found everywhere. On the right three examples.

The woman’s bare back is a reference to the spine / kundalini. (Hendrick Goltzius, circa 1600, Rijksmuseum, The Netherlands)

The outstretched middle finger is a reference to the spine / kundalini (the “center” of the body). The scarf from head to pelvis has the same symbolic meaning as the liquid: the flowing kundalini energy. (Jacques de Gheyn, 1593, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, The Netherlands)

The scarf from head to pelvis is a reference to the kundalini energy.
(Fresco Parz castle, Austria, 1580)

The tradition of alchemy also uses the metaphor of a liquid, or vapor, that travels between two flasks / pots, to express a kundalini awakening. See below.

Above: the kundalini fire purifies the first five chakras, symbolized by the five flowers. From: Symbola aurea mensae, Michael Maier (1617).

Below the same message with different symbolism.

Right: the dove of the Holy Spirit (= the kundalini) cleanses the first five chakras. From: Rosarium Philosophorum, 1578.

The flasks with the red liquid on the right are a metaphor for the kundalini energy. The pliers the alchemist holds represent the two energy channels that merge during a kundalini awakening. From: Pyrotechnia or fire-firing science (1687)

The five flasks on top of each other (left) represent the first five chakras transformed by the kundalini. The crossed flasks and crossed “horns of plenty” represent the two energy channels that merge. So do the two pliers (bottom). From: Chimischer Wegweiser, 1710.

The Alessandro Sforza Tarot

We can also deduce that the Temperance card in the 15th century represented more than just a cardinal virtue, from the Alessandro Sforza Tarot, which is very different from his contemporaries. It is a card that raises many questions among tarot connoisseurs and historians. What is the meaning of the deer on this card and why is the woman with the two vases sitting on top of it?

The answer we find – again – in the tradition of alchemy and the Greek myths of the gods. In both, the deer symbolizes the kundalini energy. Probably because of its red-brown color (the color of fire) and its antlers, which grow toward “heaven”.

One of the twelve “labors” that the Greek demigod Heracles (Hercules) has to carry out on behalf of King Eurystheus is to bring him the Hind of Keryneia with the golden antlers. When the animal is captured by Heracles, one of the antlers breaks off. The deeper meaning of this myth is the mission of a spiritual seeker to awaken the kundalini (catch the hind) and merge the two energy channels that represent the inner duality (the two antlers become one).

The woman on the Alessandro Sforza card is sitting with her spine against the spine of the deer. This may be taken as confirmation that the deer refers to a kundalini awakening. The woman has raised one leg to indicate that duality has merged into (divine) oneness (see also the painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, below). The red coral necklace that she wears is also a metaphor from alchemy and also represents the kundalini energy.

Alessandro Sforza Tarot (15th century)

The deer and the unicorn on this alchemical emblem (Book of Lambspring, 16th century) both refer to the kundalini process. The unicorn’s horn represents the kundalini energy, which has ascended to the sixth chakra (the forehead). The deer’s antlers represent the two energy channels that merge at the sixth chakra.

The alchemist fishes coral (the kundalini) out of the water (his unconscious). From: Atalanta Fugiens, 1617.

While capturing the Hind of Keryneia, one of the golden antlers breaks off. (An amphora from circa 540 BC.)

This Roman mosaic (ca. 175 AD) uses alternative symbolism to communicate that Hercules made two antlers into one (the kundalini process).

Apollo and Diana, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1525. The hand of the goddess Diana lies between the two antlers of the deer. This has the same meaning as the bent leg of Diana and the bent foreleg of the deer: the inner duality is transformed into divine oneness during a kundalini awakening.

The Tarot of Marseille

The most important addition to the card in the 17th century are the wings. This new element underlines that the woman represents the feminine pole of the divine. She has many names, including Isis, Hera, Diana, Venus, Iris, and Shakti (the kundalini). Other elements on the card that refer to her divine status are the symbol of the sun on her head (Tarot of Marseille, by Jean Dodal) and the five-petalled flower, the so-called ‘Rose of Venus’ (Tarot of Marseille, by Pierre Madenié), also on her head. On these two Marseille cards we also see the color combination of blue and red in the clothing of the goddess: the fusion of the masculine and feminine energies.

Jean Dodal’s card accentuates the woman’s breasts. This refers to the “nourishing” character of “God the Mother”. This nourishing / giving aspect is also expressed in general iconography by depicting goddesses with a large amount of breasts. Sometimes liquid flows from the breasts. See the alchemy emblem below. This liquid is a reference to the kundalini energy, but also to the transformed brain fluid of man, which under the influence of a kundalini awakening has turned into amrita (drink of immortality), or ambrosia (the “nectar of the gods”).

Tarot of Marseille,
by Pierre Madenié (1709)

Tarot of Marseille,
by Jean Dodal (1701-1715)

On this alchemical emblem from Das Blut der Natur (1767), the kundalini energy is personified by both the goddess with the flowing breasts and by the god Hermes with his staff the caduceus. Below them the (inner) resurrection of the (spiritually dead) alchemist takes place.

The deeper meaning of the Temperance card becomes even more clear when we look at Tarot de Marseille cards with deviating elements, such as that of Jacques Viéville, from 1650 (right). On the card of Viéville, the woman has a large staff with wings in her hand. Derived from the caduceus of Hermes, this staff represents the spine, with the pineal gland at the top, and is a wonderful addition to the symbolism of the jug with liquid in her other hand.

The enigmatic Latin text SOL FAMA is also a reference to the divine. Sol means sun and Fama means fame. The words are written in mirror image. I think this is a clue that we need to turn around not only the words, but also the flow of liquid to understand its meaning: the kundalini energy flows from bottom to top!

Tarot of Marseille by Jacques Vieville (1650)

Tarot of the Master, by Giovanni Vacchetta, a 2002 reproduction of the 1893 original

Also worth mentioning is the Temperance card of the Italian Giovanni Vacchetta (Tarot of the Master, above), from a somewhat later period. The flying ribbons on the woman’s back and head symbolize the two fusing energy channels. The loop represents the pineal gland. The two vases are decorated with a pinecone pattern; this is also a reference to the pineal gland, which is so called because it has the shape of a pinecone. The side seams of the woman’s skirt refer to the caduceus.

The Oswald Wirth Tarot

Oswald Wirth (1889) has not added any new elements to the Temperance card. On the mosaic of Château des Avenières, which is derived from the tarot of Wirth, the vases have different colors: gold and silver. Just like the colors red and blue in the women’s clothing, gold and silver (representing the sun and the moon) refer to the (melting) polar energies.

Oswald Wirth Tarot (1889)

Château des Avenières (1917)

The kundalini, here personified by a woman wearing a crown with seven stars (chakras), stands on two fountains: one with a golden and one with a silver liquid. From: Alchemical Notebook, Johann Grasshoff, 1620.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (1909)

Right: Ottheinrich-Bibel, Matthias Gerung, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 1530. This illustration also includes kundalini symbolism: the color combination red-blue of the angel and the sign of the sacred marriage (2 = 1 with the fingers).

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

Pamela Colman-Smith has chosen yet another way to express the polarities: her goddess has one foot on land and one foot in the water. This symbolism is probably ispirered by a vision of the apostle John, which is described in the Book of Revelation (10: 1-2):

“I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land…”

This vision are inner images of a kundalini awakening. The angel personifies the divine kundalini energy.

The kundalini energy, which flows from one chalice to another on the RWS card, is also represented by the narrow stream (or is it a small road?) that runs between the pond in the foreground to the sun, in the distance. The triangle placed in a square, on the chest of the angel, probably represents fire (triangle) in earth (square), in other words: the kundalini fire in man. Above this symbol is written in Hebrew letters: YHWH (God).

The irises are an esoteric symbol for the pineal gland and the kundalini process. In Christian painting, the iris has been used extensively to (secretly) refer to the kundalini awakening that Jesus experienced. See three examples below, as well as my book John the Baptist who became Jesus the Christ.

The appearance of Christ on Lake Tiberias, Albert Bouts, early 16th century.

The Resurrection of Christ, Pietro Perugino, circa 1495, Cathedral of Sansepolcro, Italy.

The Last Judgment (detail), Ambrosius Benson, 1540, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.

The Greek pantheon also has a goddess Iris: the personal messenger of Hera. Iris is the female counterpart of Hermes in terms of tasks. Like Hermes, she is often depicted with a caduceus.

On the right we see Iris pouring a libation: a ritual in which a liquid is poured as a sacrifice for, or by, the gods. In the iconography of the Ancient Greeks, libations were used to refer, in a disguised way, to the kundalini energy. This vase from the 5th century BC is an example.

The vase beautifully combines the various kundalini metaphors that have also been incorporated in the Temperance card. Iris pours liquid into a bowl held by the god Apollo. They represent the male and female energies (polarities). Just below the jug and the bowl is a deer (the kundalini). Iris holds a caduceus in her hand.

The gods Iris and Apollo

Conclusion

Since the first decks in the 15th century, the tarot card of the cardinal virtue temperance has been used to communicate forbidden knowledge about the kundalini energy. Numerous examples show that not only the tarot, and not just the cardinal virtues, were used for this “heresy.” Wherever you look in museums and churches, everywhere you see creative attempts by artists to refer to the source of divine energy in our pelvis. Even on illustrations in old Bibles!

This powerful energy source awakens when we live a “virtuous” life, in which self-control (temperance) with regard to the sensory pleasures is an important factor. If you want to experience the divine, you have to let go of the physical dimensions.

Right: the goddess Venus makes her son Aeneas immortal. We can deduce that this refers to a kundalini awakening from their hands that make the sign of the sacred marriage (2 = 1)

Left: the grave of Pope Clement II (Bamberger Dom, circa 1240) depicts, along with the four cardinal virtues, a fifth woman, seen from her back, pouring out a large vase of liquid (right). The meaning of this is unknown. It is called “Paradiesfluss” (River of Paradise). The reader of this article will have no trouble interpreting this enigmatic fifth woman…?

Silvia Ritter’s Tarot Deck(Work in progress)

Legacy of the Divine Tarot (Ciro Marchetti, 2008)

The Gill Tarot (Elizabeth Gill, US Games, 1991)

Medieval Scapini Tarot ( Luigi Scapini, 2005)

The artist connects the Temperance card with the descent of the Holy Spirit during the baptism of Jesus (an event that is a metaphor for a kundalini awakening). See also my book John the Baptist who became Jesus the Christ.

This article was written by Anne-Marie Wegh. Copyright April 2020.

Anne-Marie Wegh is the author of the book
John the Baptist who became Jesus the Christ

Illustrations from the tarot decks, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Foto’s Châteaux de Avenières: http://hermetism.free.fr/Avenieres

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By |2021-01-06T12:20:10+00:00June 15th, 2020|Tarot|Comments Off on Tarot 14. Temperance

Tarot 13. Death

13. Death

Death is a positive card in the tarot. It stands for transformation; for leaving the old behind and making a new beginning. On a spiritual level, Death is about dying and being born again. A process that, according to this card with number 13, has everything to do with our spine!

Four 15th century cards

Four Death cards from the 15th century have been preserved, containing clear symbolism of its significance in the tarot. The Visconti-Sforza card has only a skeleton – symbol of Death – with a bow and arrow in his hands

The bow is large, the same size as Death itself, and its shape is twice a spine. We can deduce from the notches on the bow, that look like ‘vertebrae’, that the spinal shape is no coincidence. The card refers to the “mystical death” (dying of the ego), that is the result of a kundalini awakening.

The Visconti-Sforza Death (15th century)

Sola Busca Tarot (circa 1491)

The esoteric meaning of the arrow, which is barely visible on the Visconti card, becomes clear when we put the card of the Sola Busca Tarot next to it. The arrow is a symbol of the kundalini energy. On the Sola Busca card, the arrow – which has the same length as the man holding it – has pierced the left eye of the severed head on the floor. A gruesome image, but with a beautiful message!

Decapitation is a universal metaphor for the death of the ego. The pierced eye refers to the opening of “the third eye” as a result of the kundalini process. The man on this card has a laurel wreath on his head; this represents a spiritual victory. His armor is on the floor; a reference to the inner battle he had to fight. The eight-pointed star in the upper right corner of the card symbolizes – as we will also see when discussing the tarot card The Star – the feminine aspect of God, or the kundalini energy.

A cloth is tied around the head of the Visconti-Death. The two ends fly in the air and one of them touches the bow. This is no coincidence either. The two ribbons represent the two polar energy channels that flow along the spine, and merge at the sixth chakra (in the head) during a kundalini awakening. On two other 15th century Death cards (below) we also see these flying ribbons, including a knot. Their symbolism is rooted in the so-called ‘Knot of Isis’, from Ancient Egypt, which represents the two polar energy channels and the pineal gland, which is activated during the merger.

The Egyptian goddess Isis.

The coffin of Ta-mit
(Toledo Museum of Art)

The Holy Family, Giovanni Agostino da Lodi (circa 1500)

The Baptism of Jesus, Martin Schongauer (circa 1480). John the Baptist makes the sign of the sacred marriage (2=1) that is taking place in Jesus.