Tarot 21. The World

21. The World

The theme of this tarot card is called in alchemy ‘the crowning of nature’: the divine rules over matter; the perfection of creation. Translated to man, he has ‘overcome’ the world and the beast within himself.

The divine power active in the spiritual transformation process that is required for this, is personified in alchemy by, among others, Sophia (Wisdom) and the god Mercury with his serpent staff the caduceus. Christianity speaks of the Holy Spirit and the yogi calls it the kundalini-shakti.

From ‘The Crowning of Nature’ (Coronatio Naturae); an alchemical series of 67 illustrations, from the first half of the 17th century:

The dove of the Holy Spirit descends (the kundalini ascends) and begins a purification process in man.

The phase of the merger of the polarities. The (kundalini) serpent that bites its own tail (ouroboros) stands for this inner oneness.

The Magnum Opus is completed. The alchemist is crowned by Sophia.

The tarot in the 15th century

On both 15th century tarot cards below – from the Visconti Di Modrone deck and the Charles VI deck – we see Sophia ruling the world. How do we know this is Sophia? On the Visconti Di Modrone card (below left) we see a woman in the sky; this gives her a ‘heavenly’ status. In her left hand she has a crown and in her right hand a trumpet with wings. The previous tarot card Judgment taught us that a trumpet played by an angel or divine figure (Mercury, for example) is a metaphor for the flow of kundalini energy through the spine.

On the Visconti card, the trumpet is not only in the hands of a ‘celestial figure’, but also has wings. These represent the completion of the process of kundalini awakening, similar to the wings at the top of the staff of Mercury/Hermes (right).

Caduceus

The caduceus, the staff of the god Mercury/Hermes.

Visconti Di Modrone Tarot (15th century)

Above Sophia’s head hovers the dove of the Holy Spirit. The trumpet is made of silver and gold: a reference to the merger of the polarities. Illustration from David Joris’s Wonder Boeck, 1542.

Next to the Visconti card we see an alchemical image of Sophia (above right) with a number of attributes that refer to the activities of the kundalini energy, including a large S-shaped trumpet. The S shape ensures that the air flowing through it mimics the spiral movement of the kundalini. Sophia floats above a globe with a large serpent protruding it. This (kundalini) serpent rests also on the spine of the skeleton (the man who ‘died to himself’, the death of the ego) in the foreground.

The bottom half of the Visconti card features a rider on a horse. This man or woman wears a white tunic and red trousers. White and red are the colors that represent the polarities/duality in alchemy. The color white of the horse refers to the purification of animal nature.

Above the landscape with the horseman, castles, water and boats, a golden crown, symbol for ‘the crowning of creation’, stands out.

The card of the Charles VI, or Estensi, deck (right) contains an additional element that puts us on the trail of Sophia. The woman on the card has a black aureole, signifying that she represents one of the four cardinal virtues: Prudentia (Prudence, Wisdom), Justitia (Justice), Fortitudo (Strength), and Temperantia (Temperance).

The only one of the four virtues still missing from this tarot deck is Prudentia, wich is Latin for wisdom. The Greek word for wisdom is Sophia. In the Bible, Wisdom/Sophia is the name for the kundalini energy. For a substantiation of this statement, see my book.

In the past centuries when ‘heretical’ spirituality could not be communicated without repercussions, artists incorporated alchemical and other forbidden esoteric knowledge into their paintings. For those who have an eye for it, there are works of art in all museums and churches with references to the process of kundalini awakening. Below are two illustrations of Prudentia that incorporate kundalini symbolism. The serpent is a standard attribute of Prudentia.

Charles VI, or Estensi, deck, late 15th century.

Prudentia, Marcantonio Raimondi,
1510 – 1527, Rijksmuseum.

Prudentia, Jacob Matham, after Hendrick Goltzius,
1st half 17th century, Rijksmuseum.

Another element on the Charles VI card that refers to a kundalini awakening is the green circle around the landscape of mountains and buildings. The extra wide border is a reference to the double circle, which in alchemy, as we saw with card no. 19 The Sun and card no. 20 Judgement, symbolizes the merging of the polarities.

Right: The double circle is an alchemical symbol representing the fusion of polarities. (Depiction of the ‘Philosophers’ Stone’ from ‘The Tenth Key’, Basilius Valentinus, 1599)

The mountains on the Charles VI card represent expanded consciousness and the red castle-like buildings refer to the Kingdom of God. The color red in alchemy represents the completed Magnum Opus (process of God Realization). The circle with landscape and woman are situated in the clouds. A confirmation of the above interpretation.

This illustration from the Magnum Opus contains three references to the merging of the polarities: androgyny (both male and female), the white and red wings, and the double circle with one ring of gold and one of silver. In the middle of the circle we see a landscape, comparable to tarot card The World. (Splendor Solis, emblem 9, 1582.)

Left and above (detail): in this alchemical illustration of Sophia we see the divine child (‘figura divina’) in her belly. This is the reborn self of the alchemist. (From: Gemma Sapientiae et Prudentiae, 18th century)

The first printed tarot cards

Of the very first printed tarot decks, only a few uncoloured, uncut printed sheets have survived. One is the Rothshield sheet from circa 1500 (right). Sophia is replaced by the god Mercury. The scepter and orb in his hands must tell us that he rules the world, which is here represented by a double circle with a victory wreath and the four elements in it.

These four elements can also be translated to the four aspects of man. The element earth then stands for the body with the animal instincts; the element of water for the emotions; the element of air for the mind, and the element of fire for our spiritual core, or soul.

The choice of Mercury for the Rothshield deck was apparently not a one-off whim, as a century later we find the same scene on the Tarot of Bologna (far right). The scepter has now been replaced by Mercury’s standard attribute: the caduceus.

Rothshild sheet, circa 1500.

Tarot of Bologna, 1600.

In alchemy, Sophia and Mercury represent respectively the female and male pole of the divine. Together they are responsible for the transforming (kundalini) fire in the process of the Magnum Opus. In the lower left illustration, Mercury and Sophia both hold a torch under the alchemist’s flask (which represents the alchemist himself).

Les Rudiments de la Philosophie Naturelle, Nicolas de Locques, 1665.

An alchemical illustration of Sophia/Wisdom. On the crown worn by ‘Jungfrau’ Sophia we see the chemical symbol for Mercury, which in this image is called the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ (‘Der Stein der Weisen‘) coveted by the alchemists. (Secret Figures of the Rosenkreuzer, before 1785)

De Tarot of Marseille

The Tarot of Marseille is a collective term for tarot decks from a certain area in a certain time period. The cards are recognizable by a common style, but each designer was free to work out the details of a card in his own way. It is precisely these differences that can often help to interpret the symbolism of the cards.

On the right we see the (probably) oldest Tarot de Marseille card of The World. The age is estimated at about 1600. We see a naked woman (one breast is still visible) wearing a cloak, and an almond-shaped garland around her. In the corners of the card are depicted, clockwise: an angel, an eagle, a lion and a bull. They originate from the vision of the prophet Ezekiel in the Old Testament, in which four living creatures are described with four faces: a man, an eagle, a lion, and an ox. (Ezekiel 1:5-15)

In the book of Revelation, the apostle John sees in his vision the same beings around the throne of God:

And before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within…” (Rev. 4:6-8)

Tarot of Marseille, circa 1600.

The four-faced creature from Ezekiel’s vision.

In the Christian tradition, these animals have come to symbolize the four evangelists, and that is how they are usually interpreted on tarot card The World. However, their meaning goes much deeper. Ezekiel gives an important clue: what he sees are creatures with four faces. These four faces represent the four aspects of man: the mind (eagle), the feelings/emotions (lion), the body with animal instincts (ox), and the soul (human face). It is these “layers” of man that are transformed during the process of spiritual awakening. Head (thinking), heart (feelings) and belly (instincts) must be freed from the animal drives that every human being possesses.

On a side note, both prophets see a face of a man and not of an angel. The fact that in the iconography, and also on this tarot card, usually an angel is depicted, next to an eagle, a bull, and a lion, is probably because of the wings that the creatures in the two visions all have.

The almond shape of the victory wreath on the Tarot of Marseilles card is a reference to the vesica piscis: a universal symbol for the merger of the opposites/duality. The almond shape has also been used in Christian art to communicate that Jesus had gone through a kundalini awakening.

In the fresco below, Jesus makes the sign of the sacred marriage (2 fingers together, 2=1). It is exactly placed on the almond-shaped lines. The eight-pointed stars around Jesus are also a symbol for the kundalini energy. Click here for more paintings in which the vesica piscis is concealed.

Vesica Piscis

Christ in Majesty, fresco from Santa Maria de Mur, Spain, mid-12th century.

Tarot of Marseille, by Jacques Viéville, 1650.

Jacques Viéville (left) has placed a male figure at the center of his card. The scepter in his hand, which symbolizes the spine with the kundalini energy flowing through it, is appropriately placed at the level of his crotch/pelvis.

The colors red and blue of his cloak are the classic colors for the masculine and feminine respectively, and refer to the fusion of opposites. The aureole represents an open crown chakra: the kundalini process is completed. His nakedness symbolizes devineness.

That the animals around him refer to the overcoming of his animal drives becomes even clearer when we place the card from the Etteilla III deck, from 1870, next to it (bottom left).

The man on the Etteilla card has a bat instead of a scepter in his hand. We can safely assume that he has used it to conquer the four animals on this card, that are part of his inner world. The ouroboros around him is a symbol of inner oneness, just like the vesica piscis.

Etteilla III Tarot, 1870.
Etteilla used different names and a different numbering for his deck.

The Most Holy Trinity, Maarten van Heemskerck,
Rijksmuseum, 1550-1599.

The overcoming of the animalistic urges is also incorporated in a remarkable and revealing painting of Christ (above right). He sits on top of the animals that represent the evangelists in the iconography. An unusual scene. The bull, which of the three animals specifically symbolizes the sexual urges, has been placed by the artist between the legs of Jesus. The color red of the bull enhances its symbolic significance. An angel holds two fingers of the left hand of Jesus: the sign of the sacred marriage that represents the fusion of opposites.

Francois Chosson chose a woman for his card The World (right), and this has remained the image for most decks in the centuries that followed.

This woman can be interpreted on two levels. You can see her as a personification of the soul (usually seen as feminine) of the person who has conquered the world and him-/herself. She is also Sophia, God the Mother, the kundalini-shakti; the active force that has brought about the transformation process in man.

The woman has a stick in both hands. These are the two opposites from which all creation is built (good/evil, light/dark, male/female, etc). This interpretation is confirmed by the alchemical illustration below in which Sophia is also depicted with two sticks. In line with the sticks we see two trees with dualistic characteristics: the sun and the moon, and the colors red and white, which in alchemy represent the opposites. The gold-colored phoenixes on both trees symbolize spiritual rebirth.

In four different ways, Francois Chosson communicates that the opposites have fused on his tarot card: the vesica piscis shape of the wreath of victory; the infinity sign that fastens the two halves of the wreath together; the colors blue and red of the scarf around the woman’s body, and her posture: she stands on one leg.

The symbolism of one leg (sitting, standing, or hanging) as a reference to inner oneness we also saw in tarot card nr 4  The Emperor, nr 11 Strength, and nr 12 The Hanged Man. This symbolism has also been used extensively in Christian painting to communicate in a veiled way that Jesus had experienced a kundalini awakening. An example below right.

Tarot of Marseille, by Francois Chosson, 1736.

Miniature from an anonymous alchemical manuscript, 1499.

Giuseppe Cesari, early 17th century.

The Oswald Wirth Tarot

Oswald Wirth’s card (right) contains few new elements. The woman now holds the two sticks in one hand, enhancing the image of a fusion. The sticks have a red and a blue button, the classic colors of the masculine and the feminine. This confirms that the sticks represent the polarities.

The mosaics of Château des Avenières (below) are largely based on Oswald Wirth’s deck. The designer has placed back the aureole above the animals that Oswald Wirth had left out. You can see this aureole as a reference to the four evangelists. You could also interpret it as a sublimation/deification of the animal drives.

The woman’s long reddish-brown hair is often seen in images of Sophia and is a reference to the kundalini energy.

The sun above the wreath of victory has a red core and a yellow/gold border. This is a reference to the double circle (unification) and the Magnum Opus (the color red). Click here for more paintings in which the alchemical symbol of the double circle is concealed.

Château des Avenières (1917)

Oswald Wirth Tarot (1889)

Gaining mastery over our animal instincts is an important theme in almost all spiritual traditions. A lion often stands for our emotions and a bull for our sexual urges. Below are two examples. On the left we see the Hindu goddess Durga, sitting on her mount, a lion, and with her feet on a demon with the appearance of a bull. She is a complete master of both. On the right we see the Egyptian god Horus, sitting on a cow, or bull, and two lions, and around him an ouroboros, the symbol of oneness.

The hindu goddess Durga

Dama Heroub Papyrus, 11th-10th century BC,
Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (1909)

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

Designer Pamela Colman-Smith testifies to Bible knowledge with her card, because in the top left corner we see the head of a human and not an angel. She also understood well what the woman in the wreath stands for. The scarf that is wrapped around her body is extra long and thus evokes associations with a snake.

The alchemist similarly used a long scarf in illustrations to refer to the kundalini energy. In the image below we see Sophia showing an alchemist the way to the inner fire. The fluttering scarf she wears is an accessory that is not a necessary part of the rest of her clothing and has a purely symbolic function.

Illustration from: Freymaurerische Versammlungsreden der Gold und Rosenkreutzer des alten Systems, 1779.

Conclusion

Mankind sees itself as the crown of creation, but in the eyes of God we are not finished yet. The spiritually unconscious living person is seen as ‘sleeping’ or ‘dead’ in the Bible, and many other sacred scriptures.

In our pelvis dwells a divine potential that can make us take the next step in evolution. An energy source that, once awakened, initiates a process of purification and healing, as a preparation for a spiritual rebirth and union with our Creator.

We are called to overcome our animalistic, lower nature, in order to realize our higher nature. This is beautifully depicted on the alchemical emblem on the right. The temptations of the world and our desires (lust) are like a burning fire that can consume us and make us slaves to our senses and lower belly.

In the illustration, Sophia urges the warrior (the alchemist) to fight against this fire, which can only make us happy temporarely. She gestures with her hands that we should raise the divine fire, which she stands for, from our sacrum to the crown.

Atalanta Fugiens, Michael Maier, embleem 20, 1618.

This is the theme of the entire Major Arcana of the tarot, already as far back as the 15th century, and this last card The World represents the completion of this process of spiritual rebirth. It is a long, hard road, but you are assisted by God and his angels. In the Bible, Jesus, who himself also experienced a kundalini awakening, says to his disciples:

“You shall have suffering in the world, but take heart,
I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33)

The Green Witch Tarot (Kiri Leonard, 2014)

The world tree, or tree of life, is an archetype found in many spiritual traditions and is a metaphor for a kundalini awakening. According to the Norse myths, between the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil the (kundalini) serpent Nidhogg resides. The Ibis was a sacred bird in Ancient Egypt and was associated with wisdom.

Tarot of the 78 Doors (Antonella Platano, Pietro Alligo, 2005)

In alchemy, red is the color of the completed Magnum Opus. So the color red of the bloodied baby is very appropriate.

Tarot of Musterberg (Cesare Asaro, 2015)

The paper with text on it refers to Sophia (Wisdom). The two water streams represent the polar energy channels. Sophia is the energy channel in the middle that flows up through the spine. The eight-pointed star is also a kundalini symbol, see tarot card The Star.no. 17

Tarot of Jane Austen (Diane Wilkes, Lola Airaghi, 2006)

The Sacred Marriage and the Divine Child. Flowers in the colors red and white, the colors of the opposites in alchemy.

This article was written by Anne-Marie Wegh. Copyright August 2021.

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 |2021-09-06T11:05:34+00:00August 7th, 2021|Tarot|Comments Off on Tarot 21. The World

Tarot 20. Judgement

20. Judgement

Tarot card Judgement seems to refer to the ‘Day of Judgment’ in many ways. A day mentioned in Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious scriptures alike and feared by many believers. On this day, sometime in the future, all people will be judged by God. Studying the symbolism in this card, however, shows that the (hidden) esoteric message is about something quite different, namely the joyous moment when we awaken spiritually, after a long process of diligent, inner work.

The Day of Judgment is mentioned in several places in the New Testament and is usually accompanied by a threatening warning to live ‘righteously’ or else…! So it is not so strange that believers fear this day. Tarot card number 20, however, refers to an entirely different Bible passage. In his letter to the Christians of Corinth, the apostle Paul predicts:

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all die, but we shall all be changed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised as incorruptible men, and we also shall be changed.” (1 Cor. 15:51-52)

What is remarkable about this quote is that Paul says that for this change into ‘an imperishable man’, you do not necessarily have to die first. With this Paul is referring to a process that he himself also went through: a kundalini awakening, in which not only an expansion of consciousness takes place, but also a light body is formed that is immortal. The last trumpet is a reference to the opening of the last of the seven chakras, which are purified and activated by the kundalini: the crown chakra.

De Viconti-Sforza Tarot

What indications are there that we may interpret the very first tarot cards as a spiritual resurrection as a result of a kundalini awakening? On the 15th century Visconti-Sforza map (right) we see a tomb with, oddly enough, no fewer than three people in it, who are brought to life by the sound of two angels.

The man (left) and the woman (right) represent the two polar energy channels that merge during a kundalini awakening (the two serpents of the staff of the god Hermes/Mercury, illustration on the far right). The old man in the middle is the one who is actually resurrected from his ‘death’: the state of spiritual unconsciousness of most of humanity.

Visconti-Sforza Tarot (15th century)

The Roman god Mercury (Hermes among the Greeks). His staff the caduceus is the classic symbol for a kundalini awakening. He blows a trumpet in this image to represent the flowing of the divine energy (the rising of the kundalini serpent), which he represents. (Johann Theodor de Bry, c. 1570-1598)

Incidentally, this spiritual unconsciousness is also the ‘death’ from which Jesus awakens various people in the Bible to ‘life’, including Lazarus. About Lazarus, Jesus says clearly in the Gospel of John: He is not dead, he is asleep (John 11:11). For more symbolism in the Bible see also my book.

The fusion of the two polar energy channels is also symbolized on the Visconti-Sforza chart by the crossed trumpets of the angels, and by the cross on the banner attached to the trumpets. The banners also feature a sun, one of the classic symbols of kundalini energy. The color red of the tomb refers to the completion of the alchemist’s Magnum Opus (the process of God realization).

Also classical is blowing on a trumpet or flute as a metaphor for the working of God in our spine. The Bible also uses this metaphor. In the Old Testament, for example, in the story of the fall of Jericho, we read that God commanded the seven priests of Joshua to blow their seven trumpets of rams’ horns (Joshua 6:4). The swirling air flowing through the horn of the ram mimics the spiraling movement of the kundalini energy. The number seven in this quote refers to the seven chakras that are opened and activated by the kundalini. A ram’s horn, or shofar, is still blown on certain Jewish holidays (illustration below right).

A schematic representation of a kundalini awakening

The alchemist has completed the Magnum Opus and rises from the grave of spiritual ‘death’ (unconsciousness). Philosophia reformata, J.D Mylius, 1622.

Blowing a ram’s horn symbolizes the spiraling movement of the kundalini energy in the Bible.

An angel with a trumpet further enhances the image of divine energy flowing into man. Alchemy, which had a lot of influence on the very first tarot cards, also makes use of this metaphor. Below are two examples of alchemical emblems of the Great Work (Magnum Opus) of the alchemist. On both emblems we see the alchemist sowing (one’s own efforts) and an angel blowing a trumpet (God/the kundalini doing His work in us). The staff in the angel’s hand represents the spine.

On the earth lie the two polar energy channels (sun and moon) that merge during the kundalini process/Magnum Opus. (Philosophia Reformata, J.D. Mylius, 1622)

In the center the ‘resurrection’ of the alchemist from spiritual death takes place. (The Twelve Keys of Basil Valentine, key VIII, 1599)

The first printed tarot cards

Of the very first printed tarot decks, only a few uncoloured, uncut printed sheets have survived. On both the Rothshield card and the Budapest-Metropolitan card (right), God is gone and only one angel is blowing his trumpet.

The card still refers to a kundalini awakening. We can deduce this from the esoteric sign of the sacred marriage (the fusion of the masculine and feminine) that the angel makes on both cards with one hand (two fingers together: 2=1).

Rothshild sheet, circa 1500.

Budapest-Metropolitan sheet, 16th century.

The Tarot of Marseille and family

The card of the Tarot of Marseille (on the right the version by Jean Dodal) contains two new elements that have to make it clear to us that this card is about a kundalini awakening, or in the words of alchemy: the Magnum Opus. The person in the middle, whose resurrection is concerned, is now blue in color and has a bald spot on the back of his head. Both refer to spiritual completion.

Blue is the color of heaven, of the divine. The flesh-colored man and woman, left and right of him, still represent the polar energy channels.

The bald spot on the back of the man’s head gives the image of two concentric circles; a symbol from alchemy that, like the cross on the angel’s banner, represents the merging of the masculine and the feminine (the polar energy channels). This element was central to the previous card: The Sun. For more information about the double circle as a symbol, click here.

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

The Magnum Opus of the Alchemist. The compass, which rests on the large and the small circle, represents the fusion of both. (Atalanta Fugiens, 1617)

The ‘Philosophers’ Stone’. (The Tenth Key, Basil Valentine, 1599)

Tarot of Paris, 17th century.

The influence of alchemy on the tarot can also be found in the card of the Tarot of Paris (left). At the end of the trumpet (spine) on which the angel blows, we see three colors: black, white and red. These are the colors of the three phases of the Magnum Opus: nigredo, albedo and rubedo – decomposition, purification and completion – which are initiated by the kundalini energy (the angel).

Also worth mentioning is the card from the Etteilla deck (right). The angel, as he blows his trumpet, holds two other trumpets crossed in his hands. A confirmation for us that the trumpets on the Visconti-Sforza card (above) are crossed deliberately.

Etteilla Tarot (1789)

The Oswald Wirth Tarot

Oswald Wirth’s card contains few new elements. The symbol of the double circle has moved from the back of the risen man’s head to the angel’s forehead. On this card, even more clearly than in the Tarot of Marseilles, the man and the woman are not in the tomb itself, but rise from the grass, to make clear that they have a different (symbolic) meaning than the person in the tomb.

The fusion of polarities is also expressed in Wirth’s card in the angel’s clothing: red and blue, the classic colors for the masculine and feminine.

The mosaics of Château des Avenières (below) are largely based on Oswald Wirth’s deck. This time, however, the designer was also inspired by Luca Signorelli’s fresco The Last Judgment (below right). The three resurrected persons in the mosaic are exactly copied from the painting.

Oswald Wirth Tarot (1889)

Château des Avenières (1917)

Resurrection of the Flesh, Last Judgment, fresco cycle by Luca Signorelli, 1499-1502.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (1909)

Right: On the left of this alchemical emblem of the Magnum Opus we see a man (the alchemist) emerging from the waters of spiritual unconsciousness. On the right we see in a cave (symbol for the inner self of the alchemist) the fusion of the polarities (man/woman, sun/moon). Above, in the clouds, a woman with a moon for her head is given birth to the alchemist’s new self. She is the universal moon goddess, or the kundalini-shakti. (Atalanta Fugiens, Michael Maier, emblem 34, 1618)

The Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) Tarot

On Rider-Waite-Smith’s card, the open coffins float in the water. The sea is a symbol for the subconscious. This new element reinforces the symbolism of awakening from a state of spiritual unconsciousness. The people rising from the grave are gray in color, to tell us that it is a spiritual resurrection, not a dead body of flesh and blood coming back to life. The mountains in the background represent the expanded consciousness of the awakened human beings.

Both in the foreground and in the background are a man and a woman, with a child in their midst. This child symbolizes the new self, and represents the wholeness and egolessness of the ‘risen’ person.

The seven stripes on the angel’s trumpet represent the seven chakras along the spine that open and purify the kundalini.

The Hindu god Krishna with his wife Radha.

Conclusion

Contrary to what the title and images suggest, this tarot card is not about God making a final judgment on how a person has lived. Nor about a Biblical resurrection of an already buried body. Tarot card The Judgment represents a spiritual awakening; for a ‘resurrection’ from the ‘grave’ of spiritual death/unconsciousness. The end result of a kundalini process.

The angel on this card blowing a trumpet is a metaphor for the flow of divine energy in our spine. Similar symbolism can be seen in alchemy, but also in other spiritual traditions. For example, the Hindu god Krishna, who is recognizable in the iconography by his flute. On the left he is depicted with his wife Radha.

Together they represent the merging of the polarities in man: an important theme of this tarot card. In fact, it is a major theme of the entire Major Arcana. On almost every tarot card there is an element that refers to this so-called ‘sacred marriage. The next and final card of the series, The World, is no exception!

Tarot Maçonnique (Jean Beauchard, 1987)

The angel sits at the top of a ‘kundalini tree’. The staircase symbolizes the chakras that the kundalini purifies and activates. The inner wholeness is symbolized by the ouroboros (the serpent that bites its own tail) in the tree. The triangle pointing downward represents the pelvis/sacrum, the abode of the kundalini.

Nature Spirit Tarot (Paul Struck, 1981)

The lily is a symbol of a kundalini awakening in Ancient Egypt, Judaism and Christianity, among others. Dragonflies spend most of their lives underwater as larvae. Only in the final stage dragonflies become winged insects that live on land and in the air.

Brady Tarot (Emi Brady, 2018)

The eagle, symbol of spiritual completion, brings a (kundalini) serpent up from the earth (pelvis) towards heaven (crown). The bats wake up and fly out of the dark cave they are in, out into the light.

Light Seer’s Tarot (Chris-Anne, 2019)

This article was written by Anne-Marie Wegh. Copyright July 2021.

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 |2021-09-06T11:05:16+00:00July 29th, 2021|Tarot|Comments Off on Tarot 20. Judgement

Tarot 19. The Sun

19. The Sun

The ever-shining sun, which with its light and warmth makes life on earth possible, has been a symbol of the divine since ancient times. Tarot card number 19 represents spiritual completion, telling us how man can realize the sun / divine within himself. The very first tarot decks used symbolism from alchemy for this.

The Viconti-Sforza Tarot

All elements on the Visconti-Sforza card (right) refer to a spiritual rebirth, as a result of a kundalini awakening. The angelic figure on a cloud in the sky represents the human being who has detached himself from the world and has discarded the ego. The wings represent spiritualization / deification of the material. The three mountains represent the three energy channels involved in a kundalini awakening.

Through an intensive purification and healing process, this person has returned to the pure, undamaged (whole) state of a child; in alchemy called Filius Philosophorum (Philosopher’s Child), or Infans Solaris (Sun Child).

Both the red coral necklace and the red ribbon refer to the kundalini energy. Red is the color of (kundalini) fire and of the first chakra, the abode of this divine energy before awakening. The two flying ends of the ribbon represent the inner duality, which merges into divine unity.

A severed head is a universal metaphor for the discarding, or death, of the ego. The color red of the head in this case refers to the Magnum Opus (completed spiritual process) of the alchemist. Both the color red and gold are used for the Magnum Opus. In the illustration below from the alchemical work Splendor Solis, the severed head is golden.

Visconti-Sforza Tarot (15th century)

The white, dismembered body refers to the purification process that the alchemist went through. The golden head symbolizes that he has discarded his ego. The man with the sword represents the kundalini process itself. The colors black, white and red represent the three alchemical phases: nigredo, albedo and rubedo. The three strands of curling hair, flying in the air, represent the three energy channels involved in this process. (Splendor Solis, emblem 10, 1535).

Before the alchemist stands the Filius Philosophorum, his reborn self. On the right a phoenix rising from its ashes, and on the left two trees joined together and bearing fruit; a metaphor for a completed kundalini process. (Testamentum Der Fraternitet Rosae et Aurae Crucis, early 17th century)

The alchemist fishes red coral (the kundalini) from the water (his subconscious). The angel blowing air (top left) must tell us that the coral represents something divine. (Atalanta Fugiens, 1617)

The last illustration from the alchemical manuscript Splendor Solis (1535). The red sun rising over the city represents the completion of the Great Work (Magnum Opus).

The Filius Philosophorum (the child with wings) is the result of the union of king and queen (the duality) in the alchemist (the flask). The three flowers represent the three energy channels involved in this process.

The red coral necklace, which runs from the pelvis to the head of the baby Jesus, is a (disguised) reference to a kundalini process. The same goes for the transparent scarf that Maria is holding. Mary subtly makes the sign of the secret marriage with both hands (2 = 1). (Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli, circa 1500)

The Tarot of Marseille and family

The Tarot of Marseille uses different elements to tell the same thing. Francois Chosson’s card (below) shows two identical boys holding each other. This symbolizes that they are connected. The two boys represent the duality that merges into divine unity in the spiritual aspirant. Together they stand for the born again human. The wall around the boys tells us that this is an inner experience.

The red collar around their necks is the red coral necklace from the Visconti-Sforza card (above), which refers to a kundalini awakening. The vertical stripes on the boys’ torso refers to the spine. The boy on the left touches the boy on the right in this place with his hand. This is an indication to us that the working force is the kundalini energy, which is also symbolized by the drops coming from the sun.

On the Italian Piedmontese card (far right), from more than a century later, both boys stand on one leg. This element also refers to the (divine) unity they form together.

We also find similar elements on the three alchemical emblems below from the same time period, with (phases of) the Magnum Opus.

Tarot of Marseille
by Francois Chosson (1736)

Piedmontese deck (1865)

On the above tarot cards the sun’s energy is manifested as light and heat (straight and curved rays). The number of red and yellow rays on both cards is exactly eight. This is a reference to the Morning Star, which has been a symbol for the kundalini energy since ancient times (see tarot card The Star). The sun is an apt symbol for the Morning Star since it is a star herself.

The kundalini fire purifies the alchemist, and his inner duality fuses into oneness. (Atalanta Fugiens, 1617)

The alchemist has completed the Magnum Opus. The three flowers represent the three energy channels involved in the kundalini awakening process. He presses his knees together. Like two fingers together, this symbolizes his inner oneness. (Clavis Artis, 1738)

The Magnum Opus in symbols. At the bottom of the flask the alchemist is lying down and purified by (kundalini) fire. The water drops around him also symbolize cleansing. The phoenix above him symbolizes rebirth. Sitting above the bird is the Filius Philosophorum: the alchemist reborn. The man and woman, who are connected via a stick (the spine), represent the fusion of the inner duality. (Illustration from Circle of the Gold and Rosicrucians)

This illustration makes it clear that the path of purification, which the alchemist chooses, leads to rejuvenation (return to the egoless state of a child) and spiritualization (the wings). (Cabala Mineralis, 17th century)

On the Tarot of Marseille card by Jacques Viéville(right), the Filius Philosophorum, or Sun Child, is sitting on a horse. This symbolizes overcoming the emotions and animal drives; an important aspect of the Magnum Opus, that one might regard as part of the purification process.

The banner is an element that expresses victory. The two different colors of the banner refer to the fusion of duality, just like the red cross on the horse’s hindquarters. On Nicolas Bodet’s card (bottom right), a derivative of Jacques Viéville’s card, the banner itself has a cross.

Certainly at that time, a banner with a cross was associated with the resurrection of Christ. On the symbolic level, the Bible story of Jesus rising from the dead is about a spiritual rebirth.

The Filius Philosophorum, or Sun Child, is sitting on a hobby horse; symbol for mastery over the emotions and animal drives. The boy carries the banner the resurrected Christ is depicted with in iconografy, which stands for victory over (spiritual) death. The wall communicates that we get a view into the interior of the alchemist. Around the wall are personifications of the planets. These represent the seven chakras that have been purified and activated. The angel with Bible refers to Wisdom = Sophia = the kundalini energy. (Traité d’Astrologie, Johannes Hartlieb, circa 1540)

Jacques Viéville Tarot (circa 1650)

Nicolas Bodet Tarot (Angers, 1739)

Throughout the centuries there has always been a group of people who knew that most Bible stories can also be read as symbolism, that want to tell us how we can realize the ‘Kingdom of God’ in ourselves: through a kundalini awakening, just like Jesus. This knowledge, which went against the teachings of the church, is communicated by artists in a concealed way in their paintings. Below are three examples where the banner of resurrection has been used to tell us that a fusion of duality has taken place in the head of Jesus.

Artist Bernardo Bitti (below left) has even dared to deviate from the traditional white flag with a red cross, opting for a flag with two colors: red and white. In alchemy, these colors represent the duality (red king and white queen), which merges during the Magnum Opus.

Bernardo Bitti (1603)

Giulio Campi (1547)

Bernardino Butinone (circa 1500)

The Oswald Wirth Tarot

Oswald Wirth has chosen a boy and a girl instead of two identical boys to express duality. The color of their loincloths confirms that they represent duality: red and blue are the classic colors of the masculine and feminine respectively.

The two concentric circles in the grass are a new element. This symbol comes from alchemy and refers to the fusion of duality (two circles). Below you find three examples of alchemical illustrations with a double circle.

Our interpretation is confirmed by the way in which the feet of the boy and the girl are placed. Both stand with one foot in the large circle and one foot in the smaller circle.

The divine unity is thus symbolized on this card by both the boy and the girl holding each other, as well as the two overlapping circles.

Oswald Wirth Tarot (1889)

Château des Avenières (1917)

The boy and girl in the mosaic of Château des Avenières (above, right) are naked. This emphasizes their (sexual) innocence and evokes associations with Adam and Eve before they were expelled from paradise by God. Part of the kundalini awakening process is the sublimation (transformation) of the sexual energies.

The girl in the mosaic of Château des Avenières has reddish hair with a length up to her pelvis. This refers to the kundalini fire, which flows from the pelvis to the crown.

The mythical figure Hermes Trismegistus shows the making of the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, the final product of the Magnum Opus. On the right page two suns (duality) merge into one. (De Chemia Seniores, 1566)

The Philosophers’ Stone. The double circle represents the ‘Egg of the Philosophers’: one of the many alchemical metaphors for God-Realization. (The Tenth Key, Basilius Valentinus, 1599)

The Magnum Opus of the Alchemist. The compass, which rests on the large and the small circle, indicates the fusion of both. (Atalanta Fugiens, 1617)

Below and right: hidden alchemy in two paintings of Mary Magdalene and her sister Martha. Click on the image to enlarge.

Both women make the sign of sacred marriage with their hands (2 = 1). The hand of Mary Magdalene rests on a mirror that has the shape of two concentric circles. The square shaped light reflection on the mirror refers to the alchemist’s adage: ‘Squaring the Circle’, a metaphor for the accomplishment of the Magnum Opus. (Caravaggio, 1598)

Mary Magdalene wears a piece of jewelry in the form of two concentric circles. The double spiral shape of the cord on the table, and Mary’s hair locks, refer to the caduceus, the classic symbol of a kundalini awakening. Martha points with one hand at the cord, which also resembles a (kundalini) serpent, and with her other hand up: the kundalini has been raised in Mary, to her crown. The reddish brown color of Mary’s hair – the color of fire – is also a reference to the kundalini. (Bernardino Luini, 1520)

The Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) Tarot

Pamela Colman-Smith’s card was inspired by Jacques Viéville (Tarot of Marseille). Her Sun-child sits without saddle and reins on a large white horse: the forces of the lower nature are fully at the disposal of the higher nature. The color white refers to the purification of the animal energies/instincts.

The red feather on the Sun Child’s head, and the large red-orange flag, are both a symbol of the kundalini energy that has reached the crown chakra. The red feather is also part of the symbolism (with the same meaning) of RWS card number 0 The Fool and card number 13 Death. The wreath on the child’s head is a universal symbol for an open crown chakra.

The wreath appears to be made from pomegranates. These fruits, full of seed, are also depicted on the Fool’s tunic and on the veil behind the High Priestess (card number 2), and are also a classic symbol for the kundalini.

The sunflowers are a new element and represent a completed process of God-realization. See the illustration below from Hermetism (a spiritual tradition related to alchemy).

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (1909)

The sunflower in this engraving receives water from the Hand of God and air/oxygen from an angel. The sunflower refers to the inner process of God-realization. (Die Lehren der Rosenkreuzer, 1785)

Right: St Rosa of Lima. Esoterically, a wreath of flowers around the head represents a fully opened crown chakra; the result of a fusion of the inner duality (2 = 1).

The big red banner is a reference to the kundalini energy, the active force in a spiritual resurrection / rebirth. The colors white and red represent duality in alchemy. (Simon de Vos, 17th century)

Conclusion

Tarot card The Sun represents spiritual rebirth. The “Sun Child” on this card represents the wholeness and egolessness of the new, or “risen”, human being. The purification and healing that is required for this process of rebirth, takes place through the action of God’s Holy Spirit (the kundalini energy), symbolized on this card by – among other things – the sun.

Jesus refers to this process with his enigmatic statement in the Bible that only those who become “as a child” will receive the Kingdom of God:

“Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” (Mark 10:14-15)

Emblemata Tarot (Morena Poltronieri, 2018)

The pentagram on this alchemical emblem represents the completed human. The three flowers represent the three energy channels involved in a kundalini awakening (the serpent)

Anasata Tarot (Paul Struck, 1981)

The zodiac is a symbol for wholeness. A tree is a universal symbol for the awakened kundalini. The white doves in the alchemical flasks represent the Holy Spirit; the Christian name for the kundalini energy.

Tarot of the Saints (Robert M. Place, 2001)

The colors red and white represent duality in alchemy.

El gran tarot esoterico (Luis Pena Longa, Maritxu Erlanz de Güle, 1976)

The three serpents are a symbol from alchemy. They stand for the purification of head (thinking), heart (feeling) and belly (body) by the kundalini.

Art Nouveau Tarot (Antonella Castelli, 2002)

The child represents the born-again self.

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 |2021-09-06T09:24:17+00:00January 16th, 2021|Tarot, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Tarot 19. The Sun

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 |2021-09-06T09:25:08+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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