For the most part, the symbols we’ve examined so far in this series have focused on the subconscious mind as a medium for the expression of universal forces. With the mountain, however, the eye of symbology turns to our actions. Representing the Great Work itself, the mountain is first seen in The Lovers and found again in another eight cards, making it one of the most prevalent symbols in the deck, along with water and stonework. But what is this Great Work, exactly?
Different for all of us, the Great Work is an opportunity. In it is found the sense of a higher purpose, and the satisfaction of a meaningful life. It is your calling, whatever that might be. That doesn’t imply it will be grandiose, or even particularly obvious to the world. The Great Work thrives on good decisions and healthy choices, and offers moments of happiness along the way as its reward. More importantly, the person on the path of their own Great Work adds positive vibrational energy to the world every day, in a personal way.
In The Lovers, we learn that a harmonious exchange between the conscious and subconscious minds is the basis for the beginning of the Great Work. Next seen in Strength and The Hermit, the presence of the mountain suggests that compassion and self-discipline are vital qualities to bring to the Work. The icy peaks of The Hermit represent forces that exceed the boundaries of the personal, and a strong sense of connection with higher power.
Death and Temperance exhibit the mountain, again consecutively. It sits in the background of Death, an assurance that we’re on the right path, even though it leads through upheaval and transformation. The forces found In Temperance are those of the positive vibrational energies mentioned earlier. Temperance contains a clear message that that we are most in tune with the flow of universal forces when following our Great Work.
The mountain presents alongside the pools of The Star and Moon. The former indicates that meditation is a state that has the ability to greatly enhance our Work. In The Moon, a card that represents the evolution of consciousness, we find a path that leads to the mountain. This path travels from the pool of the unknown past the boundaries of that which is already known, and then undulates in the distance as it slowly ascends the heights. That undulation represents the states of trance and dreamless sleep.
Icy peaks surround the lake of Judgement, signifying that eventually our Works will exceed this realm and join completely with universal forces.
Last, we find the mountainous precipice on which teeters The Fool. Representing all possibility prior to manifestation, The Fool is also the first, for it is here that the potential of the human experience begins again.
Finding one’s own Great Work is a very personal matter, but the Tarot contains some guidance. The qualities expressed in The Lovers point the way. You might say it’s a matter of an open mind, and a willing heart.