Tarot and the Kabbalah: The Magician
The twenty-two Arcana (as has already been stated in the article titled Tarot and The Kabbalah), are esoteric, or hidden laws. They are symbols. So in the beginning we always begin with the number one. This article is about Arcanum one, which is the Magician.
Card number one of the Tarot is the Magician. But who is the Magician? We have to begin to understand that. This card is symbolic and imparts to us a vital understanding upon which the basis of the entire set of other Arcana rests.
The number one is the number which begins; unity. It is initiative, the beginning. But the number one emerges from nothing. Really, the number one comes from the zero.
When we study the Kabbalah and look at our map, we see that the Tree of Life unfolds from the Absolute, or from the womb of the Divine Mother. That Womb is the Zero. It is Primordial Potentiality.
Zero is a profound and ancient symbol. It is potentiality, creation, the ocean from which life emerges. The womb of the Divine Mother gives birth to One. So if we see a one and a zero, we see the beginning, the start. We also see the number ten – one and a zero. We also see ‘IO,’ which is the core component of the name of the Divine Mother.
The Masculine Principle
The one in this case is the projective force, the masculine principle, which initiates, which begins. And the one on the Tree of Life (in this context), is representing Kether, which is the first Sephira. That one, in its emerging from the womb, is truthfully the first Trinity, or Three in One, which is Kether, Chokmah, and Binah. The Three in One is the Cosmic Christ, the radiant force which illuminates all of life. He is one, but He is three, and He emerges from the zero, from nothing.
This manifestation we call Iod-Hevah, or in other words, the Tetragrammaton – four letters in Hebrew, which represent the Father-Mother with the characters Iod He Vau He. These four letters contain a vast amount of symbolism, but the emphasis that I want to place at this moment is a relationship that exists between the zero, the one, and the Iod, the first character of this Tetragrammaton.
Iod, as a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, is actually the tenth letter. So you see we have the number ten here—the one and the zero, the womb and the Father, the Mother and the Father. The Iod is the tenth character. The Iod in itself represents the man, masculine, the phallus, the creative force. It is indicating the number one in a very strong way. And if you Kabbalistically take the number of Iod, which is ten, and you reduce it with Kabbalistic numerology, it is a one, because one plus zero is one.
The Iod is the impulse, the masculine force which initiates, which drives, which pushes.
When this Three in One, the Trinity, the Cosmic Christ, unfolds itself in order to create, it divides itself. It does so in it’s third aspect: the sephirah Binah.
Within the sphere of Binah, we find the Holy Spirit, or this creative impulse, this fire, which wants to give rise to manifestation. Binah divides itself into male-female, into Abba-Aima, Shiva-Shakti, the masculine-feminine manifestation of the One. This is Iod-He-Vau-He, this is Iod-Hevah, Adam-Eve, the primordial couple, Shiva-Shakti of the Hindus, Osiris-Isis of the Egyptians, Abba-Aima of Judaism, the Yab-yum of Tantrism. Shiva-Shakti (Osiris-Isis), in their union, form Daath, the Tree of Knowledge.
Shiva, or Osiris, is the masculine manifestation of this first Trinity who is One. Shiva is the Three in One Himself, but polarised masculine.
Shakti, his wife, is the feminine polarisation of the Three in One.
These two polarisations, male and female, unify themselves; they join once again in order to create, and this is Daath, this is the Tree of Knowledge.
The Father and Mother Produce a Son
The creation that Daath unfolds (or in other words, that Shiva and Shakti unfold) is their son. Their son is called Horus in the Egyptian pantheon. Osiris and Isis join and produce a son, who is Horus in Egyptian symbolism. This son is Chesed on the Tree of Life, the fourth Sephira.
Chesed is the Magician. Arcanum One is Chesed. Chesed is called Atman in the Eastern traditions. He is our own, individual, personal Father. He has his own Father, who is Kether. So you can see that this Arcanum One, which is singular, which is one, which initiates, has depths, has levels, because our own intimate, inner Father has his Father. Our own Being has his Being.
A Perfect Magician
The Being of our Being is, of course, the Cosmic Christ. The Being of our Being is Kether, but Kether is Three in One. Our Intimate, our Innermost, Chesed, is manifested in order to perform a certain duty, in order to become a perfect magician. Now it is necessary for us to understand what is a magician, what is magic.
What is Magic?
The term ‘magician’ has been grossly degenerated in our modern time. It actually comes from a very ancient root. When I pointed out this term ‘Atman,’ this has a relationship with the term ‘magician,’ with its roots. You’ve probably heard of a Mahatma: this is a compound word. It is Maha-atman. Atman, of course, is our own Inner Father, our own Inner Spirit. ‘Maha’ means ‘great’ in Sanskrit: Maha-atman — great spirit, great soul.
The Inner Father
In Sanskrit, an H can also be a G: so maha can also be read as maga, mage, magi. A magi is a priest. We know the three magi from the stories of the Bible, the New Testament, which were three kings, or three priests, who came from the east to worship the Christ. But the term magi, or mage, actually comes from ancient Sanskrit and an Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian term, from ‘mag’ or ‘maha,’ and the magi were worshipers of the sun, priests. The sun, of course we know, is a symbol of the Christ. So the real magician is a priest. And working with magic, real magic, is actually a sacred priesthood, a sacred office. Most importantly, the real magician is not the terrestrial person. The one who really works with magic is our own Inner Father, our inner maha-atman.
Mastery and Power
When we look at the symbol of the card, the image of the magician, we are looking at a symbol of our own Inner Being, our own Inner Father. We see the magician with a serpent on his forehead. The serpent is a symbol of mastery, a symbol of illumination. He carries in his hand a staff, or a rod, which symbolises power, and that rod, that vertical column is the spinal column. He has one hand up and one hand down. The one hand up is raising the rod, pointing to heaven. The hand down is pointing to the waters beneath his feet, which is an instruction to his son, to his child, which we’ll come to. But the form of his figure, one up, one down, and his body between, forms the character Aleph, which is the first character of the Hebrew alphabet.
Aleph, of course, is number one. It is that first character which initiates, which begins. He is, in himself, that character Aleph. The Being is the Aleph, the Alpha, the first. As far as we are concerned, He is our number one. We are in suffering because we have forgotten Him. We are in pain because we neglect our duty to Him. When our Being becomes once again our number one, first, and we perform our duty in accordance with his directive, we achieve religion, religare.
The Importance of Four
Before the magician is a table. The table has four sides, it forms a cubic shape. The four here represents a number of things. It represents the four elements that the magician has to command. Anyone who has studied anything of what we call magic knows that the magician works with the elements of nature: fire, water, air, and earth. And the great magician is the one who commands those elements in order to perform his will.
The Power Comes from The Father
Moses, for example, was a great magician. Jesus was a great magician. These were initiates who developed the capacity to command the elements of nature, to calm storms, to raise tempests, to rattle the earth, to have power of the forces of life and death. The terrestrial person is not the one who can do those things, it is the Inner Being, God. But God, that Father, works through the Initiate, works through His son, His child.
The Unified Soul
The four sides of the table also represent the vehicles through which the Being works. So returning to the Tree of Life, we see the sphere of Chesed, who is one part of a trinity with three spheres, Chesed being the first, or highest part. Next to that is Buddhi, Geburah, which is our Divine Soul, Divine Consciousness, which is a feminine aspect of the Being. And next to her is Tiphereth, or Manas, which is a masculine aspect of the Being. So our Innermost, our Atman, our Chesed, has two souls, one masculine and one feminine. But these three are one. The Magician perfected is these three aspects perfectly unified. The number one is unity. That is the goal of the Magician: unity. But that unity is in the soul.
The Four Vehicles
Below this trinity of the Monad, we have the four vehicles that the Monad will work through. The first, in descending order, is Netzach, or the mind, the mental body. The next is Hod, emotion, or the emotional body. The third is Yesod, the energetic body, the vital body, the etheric body. And last is Malkuth, the physical body. These are the four bodies of sin — the four bodies with which we either create problems or create the soul. These four bodies are the laboratory of the Magician. The Magician works with these four aspects of Himself in order to command the elements and reach perfection.
For the Magician to accomplish this goal, for our Inner Being to fulfill His own duty, He needs these four vehicles to be perfected, to be perfect vehicles for His purposes. In other words, the terrestrial person has to work. We, of course, inhabit our physical body. The physical body that we have is made possible, and is alive, because of the Being, because of our own Inner God. We have this physical body because He gave it to us to serve Him.
The body is able to live, digest, function, perceive, and act because of these other vehicles which reside within it. The etheric, or vital, body is the basis of our digestion, all chemical processes, all of the energetic processes. Everything that occurs inside of us that gives us life is based upon the vital body, Yesod. That is one reason why Yesod, or the Ninth Sphere, is called ‘The Foundation.’ It is the foundation of life.
Our Astral Body
We also have the astral body, which is related to our emotions, and this is the body we use when we dream. When we have a dream, when we fall asleep physically, we begin dreaming, we are actually traveling in our astral body. The physical body rests, the vital body gathers energy in order to restore the physical body, and the rest of us escapes and begins to wander within our own mind. But that wandering is occurring with a vehicle, a vessel. That is the astral body.
Our Mental Body
We also have the mental body, related to our intellect, or mind, the process of cognition, thought, reasoning. These four parts are the four wheels of the chariot, the four horses of the chariot, the four aspects of the soul that the Magician needs to command.
Who or What is In Control?
But what is commanding our intellect now? What is it that is driving our emotional well-being now? Who is in control of our emotions? Am I in control of my thoughts; if not, who is? Who is in control of my actions – am I? Why is it that when we do something wrong, we always say, “Oh, that wasn’t me”? When we lie, when we steal, when we cheat, and we get caught, we say, “Oh, I don’t know why I did that. That just wasn’t me. I’m not like that. I’m not that kind of person.” Then who did it? Who is it that is bringing up all the thoughts and feelings that we are having now?
Begin the Work
The last time we got really angry, who was in charge of that anger? Who was driving and bringing that anger? Was it your Being? Of course not. This is where the work begins. Anger is related to the element fire: if we cannot dominate our own anger, then we cannot dominate the element fire. We need to be Kings and Queens of nature, controlling all the elements in ourselves.
Gaining Control Over Ourselves
We, as an essence, as a consciousness, as the son of that Father, as the child of that Father, have to gain control over ourselves. Our consciousness is a portion of the Being. It is a spark, it is an embryo, that He can work through, but we have to control it. We are a spark of this Monad, called the “essence.” The spark is that little bit of conscious will that we have. Sometimes we call it conscience. It is that part of us that knows what is right and what is wrong — just knows it, does not reason, does not rationalise, does not need anyone to tell it, “Yes, this is right; no, this is wrong.” We just know. That is part of the Being. The Being speaks through that voice of the conscience.
The Effort of Will
Our job, in order to comprehend and enter into the science of the twenty-two Arcana, is to make that conscience strong. It is made strong by listening to it; by doing what is right; by stopping wrong actions, wrong thoughts, wrong feelings. This is an effort of will.
In the Kabbalah, in the Tree of Life, we look at the trinity of the Monad, we see this sphere Tiphereth, which is previously mentioned as Manas, the human soul. Really, Tiphereth is the center of will for us. Tiphereth is the knight, the warrior, who fights on behalf of the Magician-King.
We Must Be Perfect
The Master Jesus said, “Ye must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” We are not perfect. Many people nowadays believe that this was a symbolic thing that He said, that we become perfect by believing in Him. But it is not said that way. It is said very clearly, “Ye must be perfect.” This is a very direct statement, and part of a talk in which He is discussing, anyone who has adultery cannot enter heaven; anyone who criticises, who kills with their words, cannot enter heaven; murderers, fornicators, adulterers, cannot. The reason is heaven is, in levels, the realm of perfection, of perfected beings. How can we, who are imperfect, enter there? We cannot. We enter there by becoming like them, perfected in ourselves, which is a work of will.
The Innermost, the Magician, needs to dominate nature, to control nature, to be a king, to be a priest, who dominates the elements. But in order for Him to do that, he has to arrange the elements on the table in front of Him.
The sword is a symbol of will. The sword is the weapon that the initiate must use in order to conquer himself. The vase, the jar, the chalice, has two aspects. It symbolises the mind, which must be cleansed. It also symbolises the feminine sexual organ, the yoni. In like manner, the sword represents the masculine sexual organ.
Convert the Moon into The Sun
And third on the table is a moon. The moon has to be converted into a sun. What this means is that our lunar psychology, lunar being mechanical and belonging to nature, belonging to the realm of the animal, has to be converted into solar, being part of the kingdom of the sun, Christic. The moon in us, the lunar forces, have to be conquered and transformed into solar forces. These are the works that are performed on the table. All of this is empowered, and made possible, by the Holy Spirit, who is symbolised in the card by a bird under the table.
Perfecting the Stone
Now all of this work is occurring on top of the waters, the lowest aspect of the card. And inside the waters, we see a perfect stone, a perfect cube. This is pointing to masonry, and the work of the mason is to perfect the stone. The stone resides in the water; it is the Sophic Hydrolith, the Water Stone of Wisdom.
What is a stone and a liquid? What is both stone and liquid? Mercury. Mercury is the symbol of alchemy which indicates the sexual energy. The stone that we have to perfect is our own sexual matter, it is the foundation stone of the temple. Those columns of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge are founded upon this stone, the foundation stone, which the whole temple is built upon. The foundation stone is here in the waters, the lowest part of this card. This corresponds to the Ninth Sphere, Yesod, which is of courses related to our vital, etheric body.
If we place the Tree of Life as a diagram over our physical body, Yesod points to and indicates the sexual organs. Yesod, the Ninth Sphere, is the root of the Tree of Knowledge. It is where we work with the science of alchemy, learning how to transmute our sexual matter, to transform our animal, instinctive sexual forces, lunar forces into solar, perfected, divine, and heavenly sexual forces.
Sex is natural to the human being — part of the creation of God — but sex performed under divine will, under the auspices of the Magician, who needs to manage those forces in order to realise Himself. The Magician, then, standing in the form of the Aleph, this Hebrew character, is that force which initiates. He has the prayer to become that perfect Aleph.
When we analyse this character of Aleph, and we disarrange its parts in order to understand it, we see it is actually made of three primary aspects. And of course, when we see that it has three aspects, we are reminded immediately of the Trinity, three in one, the Trinity which is the basis of the Being. These three aspects are in fact two Iod’s and a Vau, Hebrew characters.
The Iod is the masculine, projective, creative principle.
The Vau is the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. When we count the spheres, we see that the sixth sphere is Tiphereth, the human soul.
Create and Manifest
The Magician has to work with the two Iod’s and the Vau in order to form the perfect Aleph. When we understand that, then we can see how He does it. The first Iod, we understood, to be in Daath, that hidden sphere between Binah and Chesed. That first Iod is the upper Eden. It is Daath, but related to the Being. It is the potential for the Being to create and manifest. This is that first Iod, the upper Eden. The second Iod is in the lower Eden, in Yesod, in our own sexual waters. So we see that the Iod, this masculine, projective force, is the fire, or the potentiality, which exists within the waters.
In the Book of Genesis we read that the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters. These waters represent the upper Eden, in Daath. These are the waters of Genesis from which creation emerges as an act of magic. This magical creation in Daath is a creation that our own Being performs in order to begin His manifestation. The Inner Christ, manifest as Shiva-Shakti, works in these waters of Genesis. This is that first Iod, the Iod of Iod-He-Vau-He. The creation that emerges from that is Vau. Vau, we know is related to the human soul. That Vau is the spinal column, the human soul. And the last, or the second, Iod, is in Yesod, in the waters of sexuality.
The Force of Your Will
So the Magician, the Innermost, has to work with the will of his human soul to bring together the two Iod’s, the lower Eden and upper Eden, in order to reach perfection. The combination of those elements produces the Aleph, which is the perfect Magician, and this is all an act of will. This can only be done when we as the terrestrial person cooperate. We have to work with the waters of Genesis. Then we have to work with the two trees. Along with that we have to transmute the waters of the lower Eden. Then we have to comprehend the waters of the upper Eden.
Managing the Forces
The Magician performs his ritual, his priestly duty, by managing the forces arranged on the table, these four elements. He performs his magic, or his works, upon this altar. And these works are Hermetic Magic, which are works related to the mind in Netzach; He performs his works of Natural Magic, or ritualistic magic in the sphere of Hod, related to the astral plane, or the emotional body; and to unify them and empower them, He works with the process of Sexual Magic in Yesod. You can say in other terms the Hermetic Priesthood, the Natural Priesthood, and the Sexual Priesthood. These are sacred duties — sacred duties that the terrestrial person performs on behalf of the Intimate, the Innermost, empowered by the Innermost, for the benefit of the Innermost.
What this means for us, we have to begin to enforce will, to develop our own willpower, to have the capacity to command our own inner nature. And this begins right now. This is not some theoretical or extremely complicated numerical idea. In order for your own Being, your own inner Magician, to arrange the items on the table and to achieve religion, He has to have a vehicle through which He can work.
Get Out of Being Trapped
If our own will is trapped in our pride, is trapped in our anger, is trapped in our lust, the connection to our Innermost is lost. It is not present. When we remain a slave of our envy, we are not serving the Being. The Gospels state very clearly you cannot serve two masters. We have to analyse ourselves. With each action that we perform, we need to analyse. On whose behalf am I doing this? On whose behalf am I acting?
When we feel the impulse to speak to another person, do we consider why we must speak? On whose behalf? Is it because we are angry and we want to express our anger? Is it because our feelings are hurt and we want revenge? We have to question and analyse our every activity in every moment. This is a work of will, conscious will, exercised over our three brains: our intellect, our emotion, and our motor-instinctive and sexual aspect.
This work of will is a work of attention. In synthesis you can say the work of the twenty-two Arcana is a work to perfect attention, to perfect consciousness, to perfect conscience. The work of the Magician is to perfect Himself. But He can’t do that if we remain enslaved, enslaved by our own pride, our own self-justifications, our attachments, our desires.
The Father Needs Us
The Innermost, to become that perfect Aleph, to become that Maha-Atman, that perfect Magician, needs us. Some say that this sounds strange, that God needs us, but it is true. Humans are a part of Him. You and I do not exist here just by chance, or just for entertainment. We exist to fulfill a specific role, a defined duty, towards our own Innermost, our own Inner Father. And He in turn has His duty. For Him to perform His work, we have to do ours, and ours is to become His will. That is why in the Lord’s Prayer, we see Jesus gives us this great example, great prayer of tremendous power, “Thy will be done.” “Thy” — my Inner Father. May the will of my Inner Being be done on earth (in me in my physical body) as it is in heaven.
That is a process of conquering all of the wills that we have inside which are opposed to the will of the Innermost. Say to yourself, my lust does not want what my being wants. My pride wants to be noticed, wants to be admired, or envied. But the truth is, my Being does not want that.
So in moment to moment analysis of ourselves, we conquer and comprehend each discursive will that we have inside. Every ego that we have, every psychological aggregate, has its own will, and all of these different wills are not the will of the Innermost. To know the will of the Innermost, we have to separate ourselves from the ego.
Our Father Watches Us
When we look back at this card of the First Arcanum, we see in the superior portion a pair of eyes, always watching, always looking. These are the eyes of the Father. Every action we perform, every thought we think, every feeling that we entertain, is not just ours to observe. Our Being is inside of us. Your own Inner Father is the root of your existence. He knows every atom that you inhabit. So obviously He knows your thoughts and feelings as well.
How is it that we can allow negative thoughts and negative emotions to flourish in our mind? How is it that we can allow them to continue to express themselves, with their resentment, their criticism, their desires, their accounts against other people. “So and so did this to me. So and so did that to me. I didn’t deserve that.” We allow all of that to persist in our interior, and from time to time we take a little break from our inner song to pray.
Somehow we think that the moment we stop to pray, then God is there. God is only there when we pray to Him, is what we think. So we are going all day long imagining scenes of lust, imagining scenes of getting vengeance against our enemies, real or otherwise, and then we take a little break and say, “Oh, God, I remember you.” And we think somehow that that is the only thing He sees, somehow that moment of prayer.
Every Moment Our Father is With Us
Well I’m sorry to point out to you, as painful as it might sound, that He is there all the time, so those twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes that you were lost in fantasies about the past and future, dreaming about making money, or dreaming about becoming famous, your Being is there too. These eyes are always watching inside of you.
Fight Your Animal Nature
Will needs to be there all the time in us, the will to change; the will to fight against our own, stubborn, animal nature. Never forget the presence of your Being inside. If you maintain the continuity of the awareness and remembrance of your own Inner God, you are establishing Self-Remembering, the remembrance of the Inner Self, the remembrance of the Being. This is to treat every moment as a moment spent inside of a temple, to feel within yourself that in each instant, you are in the presence of the most unimaginable divinity. And when you are confronted with the impulses of your own lust, your own fear, your own hate, recall and remember the presence of your own Inner God, and exercise the will of your consciousness to remember Him, and to observe yourself through His eyes, as He sees you.
The Being of the Being
That effort is the foundation of the entrance into the direct understanding of the twenty-two Arcana. These eyes are always watching, always present, always observing, and you see in their shape, the symbol of infinity, the symbol of the infinite. That infinite, of course, is the Being of the Being. When we look at the way nature unfolds on the Tree of Life, we see that this first triangle of Kether, Chokmah, and Binah is related to the infinite, that is the Being of the Being, the infinite manifestation which comes out of the unmanifest.
When the Being is working, when our own Innermost is working, to unify Himself as Aleph, to work in the waters of the upper Eden, which are the Akashic energies, the Akashic Tattwa, and working the lower Eden, in the waters of Genesis, of transmutation of sexual matter, the Innermost is doing that as a work of will as His son or daughter, the human soul, is entering into initiation. The process of initiation, as a soul, is a process of working with these waters, working with the psyche, and working with laws.
Understanding God Inside
In this process, the initiate is trying to work with these two waters directly. In relation to the upper, the initiate has to meditate in order to comprehend the Akashic Tattwa, the higher aspects of energy related to the Being. Meditation is how we become closer to God. By concentrating on God, by remembering God, by focusing on our Inner Being, we are working with forces to bring us closer to Him. If we forget Him, we will not become closer to Him. But the more we remain in Self-remembering, the more we meditate to comprehend the nature of the Being, the more we are working directly with the waters of the upper Eden to penetrate and comprehend Him, to understand Him who is inside.
At the same time, we have to work with the waters of transmutation through the magic of Yesod. And in this way by transmuting our sexual forces, we are gathering the energies and forces of the Holy Spirit, which brings us closer to God. When we reject that, when we fornicate, when we abuse our sexual forces, we become further and further from God, more and more emptiness in our hearts, more and more loneliness, more of a spiritual vacuum, this void, painful void that we feel in the heart when God does not fill us.
Transmutation and Meditation
To become closer to God, then, we work in these two ways: transmutation and meditation. This creates a dynamic exchange, the center of which is the human soul, as a work of will. That human soul is the Vau, that character Vau which symbolises the spinal column upon which those fires of Yesod must rise. That constant flow and exchange of energy produces a current fueled by meditation and transmutation, and that current is what draws together the two Iod’s to the Vau to create the perfect magician.
The waters of the upper and lower Edens merge in the perfected Vau, or the human soul. And that Aleph, or the Innermost, as the transformer of that energy, moves. The Aleph spins.
That spin is produced by will — will over desire, will over nature, will over the four elements. That is the work to arrange the elements on the table; that is the work to create the perfect Aleph.
Excerpt from an article at GnosticTeachings dot org.
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