Following on from Part I, we continue with the second part of Piek Anéma’s proposed methodology of Tarot study.
Part II, section ii. Examples of Correspondences between the Cards, needs further explanation. While the differing structures proposed by various authors are usually based on – or conversely, serve to prop up – mystical theories, here, Anéma is suggesting that these structural elaborations can be used to find further connections between the cards in a given framework. This exercise will prove invaluable to those who seek to use the Tarot either for divination, or for narrative purposes, as well as the grey area where both these domains overlap (assuming that they are not, in fact, identical).
Naturally, one need not wholeheartedly believe or follow a given interpretation or structural arrangement, but the logic behind the organisation will provide further insights into how the cards might be arranged in such a manner, which will in turn enrich a divinatory reading if and when a particular combination of cards should turn up.
While the method of meditation suggested has also been formulated by A. Jodorowsky, Tchalaï Unger, J.-C. Flornoy, among others, Tchalaï is the only one to have proposed a serious rational and empirical method of investigation.
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II. The Study of the Tarot
There are two methods of tackling the Tarot: either intellectually, or intuitively. These two methods are not incompatible and may be pursued simultaneously.
The first, also known as the empiric method, follows the method of classical study. The second, or analogical method, is based on meditation. The latter may raise a problem to the adepts of empiricism because they will have to adapt to a different mode of thinking and of reasoning. The more one has been scientifically trained, the more difficult it will be to adapt to the analogical method which relies on meditation in order to acquire knowledge.
The majority of writers who have dwelt on the question say that the first thing is to know and to memorise the cards in their tiniest details, which demands a an almost inhuman capacity for concentration. For St Bonnet, the Tarot may be used for the exploration of the personal and collective subconscious, and for the stimulation of the intuition. To each his own interpretation and each system only serves to shore up the flow from the source.
Goal of the Study:
On the empirical plane:
- The exercise of the mind;
- The acquisition of vaster and deeper knowledge on the physical plane.
- The development of the world of thought, for example: the study of the Juggler I helps to develop the capacity for concentration; that of the Popess II the capacity of memory; that of the Empress III, the creative imagination, etc.
On the analogical plane:
- The exercise of the mind, for Crowley, all symbols exist beyond reason, and the most important goal is to train the mind in clear and coherent thinking.
- The acquisition of vaster and deeper knowledge. This, for Ouspensky, is the development of the capacity to combine and to comprehend symbols and higher dimensions.
- The acquisition of wisdom.
- The acquisition of knowledge of the higher realms.
- Developing an awareness of the hidden properties of nature, in the widest sense. (Paul Foster Case)
Beyond the scope of this book, there are works dealing specifically with the Tarot, iconography, history, etc.
- Research in the domain of vibration;
- Research in the domain of the mind;
- Divination based on the cards;
- Divination based on the numbers.
For these authors, these are fundamentally different methods: the first two are positive, esoteric, and scientifically-founded. The first is the path of study by vibrations, of which the number provides the key. This is not the path of numerology though, it belongs rather to physics. It determines the vibrations of thought in the astral substance [presumably ether] and its influences are measured by its volume and is pronounced, but it is not the sound which is the most important thing, but the resulting vibrations.
The second path is philosophical, leading to a complete system which gives the base of an awareness of the essentials of human relations: it is the esotericism of material life, and the esotericism of the essence of the soul and of its life after death.
The last two methods are negative and exoteric. Doane, Keyes and Zain even indicate the Tetragrammaton as the basis of this division:
- I: Leo, fire, vibration.
- H: Scorpio, water, divination by the cards.
- V: Taurus, earth, divination by the numbers.
- H: Aquarius, air, spiritual study.
- Nonetheless, this theory does seem quite arbitrary.
To go deeper into the study of the Tarot, it is recommended to consult the works of authors which seem to best correspond to one’s personality, if possible, referring to the decks which they describe. Those who follow the method of meditation should note down any new insights and understandings, or what appears to be such, with the date and atmosphere of the moment; familial, professional, or other, for new understandings may appear by reconsidering, combining and refocusing these notes. Eerens goes so far as to propose making a sort of rosary with a larger bead for the Mat (0) and 21 smaller ones for the numbered trumps.
This follows the fundamental lines of all scientific study.
Paul Foster Case writes that this is the only method that is both certain and regenerating, because it draws its strength from the genital organs without becoming fixated thereto.
Place and Method of Meditation:
Insofar as possible, one should choose a quiet room, calm and without outside noise or anything which might distract one’s attention and concentration inside. The lighting should be soothing, extending to total obscurity. The seat should be comfortable without being too comfortable because one should not run the risk of falling asleep, especially if one is sitting in darkness or with eyes closed. One should wear loose and comfortable clothing which will not get in the way.
Before beginning, physically relax, empty one’s thoughts from one’s mind. For this purpose, all serious esoteric methods are suitable, for example, systematic conscious relaxation of each limb and each muscle, rhythmic breathing. To empty the mind, repeat an invocation one has already learned in the beginning, and eventually one will arrive at one’s own invocation when one penetrates deeper into esotericism. Here are two examples of invocation:
- a): A Rosicrucian formula, partially derived from Gnostic sources (and taken up by English and American authors), based on the expression Heru or Horus:
“I invoke thee, IAO, that thou wilt send HRU, the great Angel that is set over the operations of this Secret Wisdom, to lay his hand invisibly upon these consecrated cards of art, that thereby we may obtain true knowledge of hidden things, to the glory of thine ineffable Name. Amen.”
- b): A more practical formula is that proposed by Papus in his Tarot of the Bohemians: it follows the coherent explanation of the sequence of the cards. Having repeated the invocation out loud, if possible, sit oneself down comfortably on the seat facing East – ex Oriente lux –, feet firmly on the ground, back straight, hands on the knees. Look at or visualise the cards to be contemplated by allowing thoughts to arrive, then attempting to retain them and make a note of them after the session.
Benn suggests beginning with the card which corresponds best to one’s own personality, then continuing on with those which correspond to one’s entourage. In the beginning, this meditation should be no longer than 5-10 minutes, and a certain period of time will be necessary before results appear. This period of time depends both on one’s aptitude to practice the contemplative method, as well as any blockages that may occur in the communication between the supraconscious, the subconscious, and the conscious minds. One may meditate on whichever suit of cards one wishes, but it is recommended to begin with the Majors. Some authors even think that meditation on the Minors is useless because they view them as only being capable of describing material life. This is logical for those numbered cards only if they are unillustrated: Waite’s deck [i.e. RWS] offers enough symbolism worthy of meditation. The same goes for all those decks as far as the Horseman is concerned, as it represents thought, and the other court cards evoke precisely-defined characters.
Too much passivity is ill-advised: instead of waiting for thoughts to form, one must consciously invoke the force corresponding to the card to make it emerge from the unconscious. The majority of authors are in agreement for a regular and daily meditation, for the unconscious adapts itself to a given rhythm. Among others, Bennett indicates for each card the most favourable times and places [for meditation].
Methods of Study:
Their goal is to direct one’s attention towards the correspondences between the cards, then between the cards and other systems, or between the cards and other subjects.
i. General Remarks:
Papus, in his Traité Élémentaire de Science Occulte, proposes a study plan of the esoteric aspect of the Tarot. This plan is found in the section on mathematical Adaptation and includes:
- The Tarot and its elaboration;
- The keys of 4, 7, 10, 16 and 22;
- The Major and Minor Arcana;
- Detailed study of the Majors;
- Detailed study of the Minors.
Papus states that it is enough to take the third card preceding and the third card following a particular Major to find its originating and derived cards. It follows that when two cards added together give an even number then half of the resulting number will indicate the card connecting both of the cards involved. Moreover, each Major has a complementary card whose number added to its own gives 22.
If we study a number of cards together, Eerens advises to calculate the total figure by theosophic reduction as this resulting number will contain the essence of their combined significations.
ii. Examples of Correspondences between the Cards
[Follows a succinct discussion of the structures of the Tarot proposed by various authors.]
The method of meditation proposed by Glahn is interesting, it follows the Jesuit method which consists of reliving intensely, within oneself, in the most minute details, physical and psychic [i.e. mental and emotional], the life of Christ, that is, to penetrate into a card and to relive it within oneself. Next, one must integrate the card within oneself and attempt to bring it alive and make it talk: the result will be such that the cards will become part of oneself. In order to achieve this, it is recommended to set up a dim light behind oneself, to place the card on a black background in front of oneself and to gaze at it intensely and to live it. Then turn off the light all the while keeping the image of the card in mind. Switch the light back on keeping the image of the card within oneself for as long as possible.
[Follows a further discussion of the structures of the Tarot proposed by various authors.]
Zain recommends studying the correspondences between the cards as though they were algebraic equations, with numbers and letters.
There is also a method linked to numerology, starting from magic squares. But this is relatively difficult to undertake in its highest form because one must first construct one’s own square: we here find ourselves on a purely personal path.
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