Monday, April 16, 2012


Expanding awareness that the greatest function of the personality is to serve as a vehicle for the expression of higher ideals.

 By Judy Jennings    © Copyright 2012

Our last post left off with a mention of the seven stages of spiritual enlightenment that are presented in the final seven major arcana, cards 15-21.  Let’s take a closer look at those.  Isn’t it a bit ominous that enlightenment begins with the Devil?  It’s easy to have that thought.

Think of the Devil as a symbol for irony and mirth.  Every aspect of the illustration is a caricature of other cards and a mockery of the forces found in them.  The Devil is a symbol for a promiscuous celebration of the senses, and a state of mind that believes what we see is all that exists.  Yet, laughter is undeniably a healing force, and there is no humor without irony.  By this we know that there are two sides of meaning to The Devil.  This card also represents the first stage of spiritual enlightenment, where the seeker begins to realize that the idea we are each separate, isolated beings is false.  The human figures are slowly becoming aware that their limitations are self-imposed, and that they need only to lift off their chains to be free.

The lightening-struck Tower represents the second stage of enlightenment, where the seeker of wisdom is confronted by the sudden destruction of former philosophy.  The Tower celebrates the dissolution of the superficial idea that we are each isolated beings, and brings flashes of illumination that lead to a changed and deeper understanding.  This card is an expression of forces that are constantly developing and transforming, minute by minute.  Think of The Tower not as a static presence, but rather a dynamic, ever-changing eternal force.

The Quest For Truth is the third stage of enlightenment, and it is the ancient earth goddess Hathor who fishes in the waters of the subconscious for the unknown.  Previously seen in The Empress, Strength and Justice, Hathor’s name is also inscribed on The Wheel Of Fortune.  In The Star, Earth Mother stirs the pool of universal consciousness and creates vibrations that are the beginnings of new patterns of thought.

The knowledge that is gained in The Star is incorporated into the personality in The Moon.  The fourth stage of spiritual enlightenment is a time of extreme influence from the subconscious mind.  The Moon represents an expanding awareness that the greatest function of the personality is to serve as a vehicle for the expression of higher ideals.

In The Sun, we see the fifth stage of enlightenment, where the seeker has consciously identified with the Universal Mind and walks in a state of grace.  While there is still a sense of separate identity, there is a strong, direct connection with Higher Power. In the state of mind represented here, the qualities of all preceding cards have been integrated into the personality.

As consciousness moves into the state of mind represented by Judgement, ordinary conditions and typical understandings are reversed.  This is a state where limitations of the personality and the false notion of separate identity are completely overcome, and replaced with a higher universal consciousness.  In the card of Judgement, one manner of thought gives way so that another may be brought to life.

The World embodies the ultimate stage of spiritual enlightenment, a transcendent state where suffering and sense of self no longer exist.  In this state the seeker is released from the effects of Karma.  The World symbolizes Nirvana, widely known as the final goal of Buddhism.  This card represents the merging of self-consciousness, subconsciousness, and super-consciousness.  The forces at work in The World are those through which a person gives up the misconceptions that prevent true inner freedom.  The World represents a state of depersonalization of the Self, where the importance of personality gives way to the exaltation of the Spirit. 

Our discussion today has taken a metaphysical perspective and a very contemplative approach to the Tarot.  That kind of contemplation is one of the finest and most important uses to which the Tarot may be put.  Still, let’s plan on bringing it back down to earth a notch for our next topic, and dwelling in more practical terms.  The next discussion will focus on the same seven cards, but from a different angle, for this group also represents The World of Circumstances and Events.

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