Scope and Use of the Tarot
AMBLICHUS, a Neo-platonist of the fourth century and an initiate of The
Brotherhood of Light, has left us an important document entitled, "An
It contains an account of the trials of initiation, and of certain information given to the
neophyte while passing these tests, in the Mysteries of Ancient Egypt. The different
steps in this initiation as thus described, and what each step signifies, are set forth in
full detail in Chapter 9 of Course 2, Astrological Signatures.
At one point in his journey the candidate is stopped before 22 frescoed paintings
which picture the 22 Major Arcana of the tarot, and it becomes his duty to commit to
memory these pictures, as well as their symbolism, which is then explained to him.
As these pictures, together with such of their symbolism as is then explained to the
neophyte, are fully described by Iamblichus, his work affords an accurate description
of the Egyptian Tarot.
"An Egyptian Initiation" was translated from the original MS. into French by P.
Christian, and those who have written much of value concerning the tarot have drawn
heavily upon his translation. In 1901 it was translated into English, for private
circulation, by my friend Genevieve Stebbins. And I am indebted to her for
permission to use her translation of the description of the Egyptian Tarot.
In these lessons I have faithfully followed the description of the plates, the meaning
of the symbols found upon the Major Arcana, and the interpretation of the Arcana in
each of the three worlds, just as given in the translation of Genevieve Stebbins; and
also the admonition after each Arcanum which runs, "Remember, then, son of earth,"
--As to this admonition, although it probably will be used seldom by tarot students, I
have thought it better not merely to include it, but to preserve it without change. It is a
part of the old initiation ceremony, and may serve a more important function in the
future than can now be discerned.
Modern translators of the old square-formed alphabet have changed the numerical
value of some letters, and have transposed some letters. And modern astronomers,
thinking to be more scientific, have sought to abolish the pictured constellations in
the sky, using areas not identical in space and bounded by straight lines. Yet the
original connotation of each letter revealed its vibratory significance and astrological
relationship; and the original picture which each constellation presented revealed, as
fully set forth in Course 7, Spiritual Astrology, the spiritual teaching it was designed
to convey to later generations. Obeying an old Masonic command to "Alter not the
ancient landmarks," The Brotherhood of Light has preserved the original vibratory
significance of the letters, and here faithfully reproduces the Egyptian Tarot,
including the admonition associated with each Major Arcanum.
This admonition has a practical application both in card-reading and in astrology.
Usually in a tarot spread, there is one card which is the key to the situation, or which
indicates the individual for whom the reading is being given, or, perhaps, what this
individual should do. And in a birth-chart, or in a horary figure, some sign or planet
usually indicates the person for whom the reading is being given. When, therefore, it
is desired to give an admonition to this person, the admonition given below the
Arcanum which is the key influence in the spread, or indicates the person, may be
used. And the admonition given below the Arcanum which corresponds to the
dominant sign or planet in an astrological chart may be used in a like manner.
--The corresponding letter and number are a part of the translation of "An Egyptian
Initiation." But in order to handle the cards in the solution of any conceivable
problem, as wide a range of accurate correspondences to the principles depicted by
the Major Arcana as possible should be at hand. I have, therefore, given the
astrological correspondence of each Major Arcanum. In the past this has been
attempted in a desultory manner by one or two others, but those who attempted this
were quite ignorant of astrology. My own familiarity with astrology dates from the
year 1900, and by virtue of teaching it for years in class-work and writing courses of
lessons on its various branches, which have become standard works upon the subject,
I feel that I can speak in this matter with some authority. In these lessons the
astrological correspondences of the tarot cards are given correctly in writing for the
In addition, I have added the corresponding color, corresponding musical tone,
corresponding occult science, corresponding human function, corresponding natural
remedy and corresponding mineral, to each Arcanum.
The System of Presentation
--In order that the student shall have at hand concrete explanations of the application
of the tarot, examples which he can use as models to follow in his own researches,
after each Major Arcanum I have given some application of the principle which the
arcanum represents in ten different domains as follows:
1. Number: The numerical significance of the principle is stated.
2. Astrology: It is shown why the principle pictured by the arcanum inevitably corresponds to a
certain planet or zodiacal sign.
3. Human Function: It is pointed out which one of man's various forms and activities are
expressions of the principle.
4. Alchemy: How this principle, indicated by the arcanum, operates in alchemical procedure.
5. Bible: As an aid to Bible studies, and the interpretation of allegories by means of the tarot,
Bible passages are quoted which are exemplifications of the principle pictured in the
6. Masonry: To aid the Masonic student to use the tarot to gain the esoteric meaning of his
rituals, it is shown what Masonic teaching is conveyed by the arcanum.
7. Magic: In magic, also, the tarot is a valuable aid; and some magical principle corresponding to
the arcanum being considered is set forth.
8. Initiation: If I were to omit examples of the use of the tarot in pointing out the steps in the
soul's pilgrimage, it would be sadly remiss. This most valuable application is
illustrated in connection with each arcanum.
9. Occult Science: For those who desire to use the tarot in special occult studies, the
correspondence to some occult science is given under each arcanum.
10. Minor Arcana and Court Arcana: As a transition function, it is shown why the exoteric
divinatory significance of the Minor Arcana are derived from their numerical relation to
the Major Arcana, and how their esoteric and more spiritual significance derives from a
corresponding decanate-division of the zodiac; also how the Court Arcana acquire their
significance from the zodiacal signs.
And in addition to these examples of the use of the tarot, the lessons give instructions
in the science of vibration, in divination by numbers, and after each second Major
Arcanum there is given a different method of spreading and reading the cards.
If, however, the student goes no further than what is explained in these lessons, he has
merely learned the fundamentals of the use of the tarot; for in the treatment here the
attempt is to give accurate information, and to set forth examples, to the end of
establishing proper methods of procedure which the student can apply at greater
length in his own researches.
--The Egyptian Tarot pictures illustrated and described in these lessons, teach in still
greater detail the same spiritual ideas that are taught by the constellations. Both
constellations in the sky--the stars of which usually offer not the slightest suggestion
of the design pictured--and the Tarot pictures adorning the walls of the ancient
Egyptian initiation chamber, make use of primitive symbolical pictograph writing to
convey the most important things the ancient wise ones had found out about the
human soul. The Egyptian Tarot, then, portrays the spiritual conceptions of the
Egyptian initiates, as derived from a still more remote past. There is a peculiar
sympathy, however, between the thoughts of man and actions for which he finds no
rational motive. That is, the same sympathy that exists between the happenings on
earth and the positions of the planets in the sky also manifests through the
If we but analyze our dreams we shall find that symbolism is the common language
of the unconscious mind. And the successful use of the tarot cards as instruments of
divination depends upon their sympathetic response to invisible factors of
intelligence. So it would be indeed strange if they responded merely in the transitory
laying of the spread, and not also in their symbolism to the minds of those who handle
When, therefore, the Tarot cards came into the hands of a people with a different
conception of life, it would be remarkable if, at least in those tenets wherein they felt
most strongly, the pictures on the cards were not changed sufficiently to portray these
Gypsy fortune-telling cards differ markedly from the Egyptian Tarot pack, but I am
sure their symbolism is more correct in portraying the Gypsy philosophy and the
Gypsy mode of life.
English, German, Italian and French packs differ from each other, because of
national characteristics, and from the Egyptian and Gypsy cards because Christianity
has made its impress upon them. But each pack, through that sympathetic response to
the minds of those who use it, more correctly than the others, portrays in symbolical
pictograph the deeper convictions of those who have thus somewhat altered its
Even the playing cards, which are derived from the Tarot, show variations from the
Tarot quite characteristic of their constant use as instruments of gambling.
To indicate more clearly what I mean, consider that in one of the best English packs
the knight (horseman) of swords is an armored crusader, dashing across the frontier
into another's domain in the well-known effort to spread enlightenment by means of
the sword. The picture suggests instantly the conquest of far-flung empires and the
forceful dissemination of Christian creeds among the benighted heathens thus
Variations of quite as important significance are to be found on almost every card in
the different tarot packs; but I shall be content with indicating one more, which is,
perhaps, the most striking of all.
The Egyptian Initiates believed justice to be the operation of an undeviating natural
law. The number 8, by its two loops, is a symbolical pictograph of the two pans of the
scales. The number 8 also represents an equal division; two realizations (4's) in
equilibrium. In the Egyptian pack, the number 8 is attached to the Major Arcanum
picturing the Goddess of Justice holding the balances in her hand, and, even as in the
picture adorning the front of our court houses, Justice is pictured blindfolded, to
signify that she is unprejudiced and not subject to bribery.
The Jews, however, believed that they were a chosen people; that Jehovah was a God
of favoritism who could be cajoled into granting unmerited rewards to those who
gained His good graces. Christianity inherited the same idea. In many Christian
packs, therefore, we find Justice, although holding the balances, not associated with
8, but with 11. Because the scale of digits is complete with 9; and 10, by adding the
circle of spirit, commences a new gamut on a higher plane, we have no difficulty in
conceiving 11 as a force operating from the spiritual plane. But as the digits of 11 can
never be equally divided, rewards, according to this Christian conception, are never
exactly according to merit. They are meted out from above, not according to the
Egyptian belief in an undeviating and blind law, but according to the whim of some
To make this conception of Divine Justice even more obvious, which seems to be
patterned after the kind prevalent in some courts of earth, in these various Christian
packs the eyes of Justice are not blindfolded, but wide open to prejudice.
It is not that one pack is better or worse than another, but that each pack of tarot cards
has been unconsciously modified by the philosophy of life of those who designed it.
--Letter: Egyptian, Athoim; Hebrew, Aleph; English, A. Number I. Astrologically,
the planet Mercury. Color, violet. Tone, B. Occult science, esoteric psychology.
Human function, the spiritual body. Natural remedy, mental treatments. Mineral, the
A--I expresses in the spiritual world, Absolute Being, which contains, and from
which emanates, the infinity of possibilities.
In the intellectual world, unity, principle and synthesis of numbers, and the will
principle of acts.
In the physical world, man the highest placed of relative being, who is called upon to
raise himself by a perpetual expansion of his faculties in the concentric spheres of the
Remember, then, son of earth, that man should, like God, act without ceasing. To will
nothing and do nothing is more fatal than to will and do ill. If the Magus should
appear in the prophetic signs of thy horoscope, it announces that a firm will and faith
in yourself, guided by reason and a love of justice will conduct you to the end that you
wish to attain and will preserve you from the perils of the way.
In Divination, Arcanum I may be read briefly as Will or Dexterity.
Arcanum I is pictured by a Magus, type of the perfect man, that is to say, in full
possession of his moral and physical faculties. He is represented standing; it is the
attitude of will which precedes action. His robe is white, image of purity, original or
regained. A serpent biting its own tail serves him for a girdle; it is the symbol of
eternity which alone circumscribes his endeavors. His forehead is girt with a circle of
gold. Gold signifies light, and the circle expresses the universal circumference in
which gravitate all created things.
The right hand of the Magus holds a scepter of gold, surmounted by a circle
representing spirit; symbol of the authority conferred by spiritual attainment. He
raises it toward heaven in the sign of aspiration to science, wisdom and force.
Above is a four-pointed star, its rays extending heavenward; it is the over-shadowing
genius of his spiritual master directing his efforts and counseling him in his upward
struggles. The left hand extends the index finger to the earth to show that the mission
of the perfect man is to reign over the material world. This double gesture also
expresses that the human will should reflect the Divine Will in order to procure good
and prevent evil.
Before the Magus, upon a cubic stone, are placed a cup, a sword, and a piece of gold
money in the center of which is engraved a cross. The cup signifies the mixture of the
passions which contribute to happiness and unhappiness according as we are their
masters or their slaves. The sword signifies the work, the struggle which traverses
obstacles, and the trials which sorrow submits us to. The coin, sign of determined
value, is the symbol of realized aspirations, of work accomplished; and shows the
sun of power conquered by the perseverance and efficacy of the will. The cross, seal
of the infinite, by which the coin is marked, announces the ascension of that power in
the spheres of the future. The cube upon which these symbols rest typifies the
physical world; and has graven on its side an ibis, to indicate that eternal vigilance is a
necessity if physical limitations are to be surmounted.
--Numerically, I expresses the absolute. It is also the starting point of all
measurements, and suggests infinite possibilities. All that is proceeds from one
cosmos, which contains all, and to which all ultimately must return.
One is a synthesis, for nothing can be thought of without parts. It is the universal
principle of existence, the creative intelligence of Deity, the motive force of the
universe, which in man becomes will. In the macrocosm it stands for unlimited
potentiality, and in man for relative potency. It expresses the law of the conservation
of energy and the indestructibility of matter.
--The commencement of all work is its formulation, and this is a mental activity.
Before the universe became manifest it was conceived within the spaces of the
Divine Mind, from whence it was launched into objective evolution by the power of
creative thought. Thus does mental activity correspond to number I.
A Magus is one skilled in magic. And magic is performed chiefly through the
creation and vitalization of mental images. The Magus, therefore, is one in whom the
power of the mind has been highly developed, and as in astrology mental ability
comes under the rulership of the planet Mercury, this planet must correspond to both
I and the Magus of Arcanum I.
Thus does Arcanum I represent the creative energy being directed intelligently, in
distinction to the 2nd decave of I, which is pictured by Arcanum X, the planet
Uranus, representing the one universal force unrestrained. It also differs markedly
from the 3rd decave of I, pictured by Arcanum XIX, corresponding to the zodiacal
sign Leo, representing the application of this energy to the attainment of happiness
and the elaboration of domestic bliss.
In these three Arcana, each picturing the one universal virile force being used on a
different plane, we have a complete commentary on the necessity of using the
creative energies properly if any high degree of spirituality is to be attained. Without
virility, without an abundance of creative power, nothing of importance can be
accomplished in any field. Yet if this creative energy is generated in abundance and
is permitted to act without proper guidance, it brings many abrupt changes in fortune,
and through instability prevents little worth while being accomplished. If it is
directed into mental channels alone it yields intellectual power. But when diverted
into refined emotions such as true love and holy aspirations, it furnishes a power
which attracts to the soul the highest spiritual bliss.
--The spiritual body of man is constructed by states of consciousness having
intensity enough to affect spiritual substance. Man does not possess a spiritual body
merely by virtue of being man. He possesses it when, through the refinement of his
thoughts and aspirations he has provided energy of a proper quality to build it. And
only when the creative energies are active is there generated enough power, if it can
be directed by ecstatic emotions, quickly to build anything on any plane. By a proper
mental attitude toward them, all experiences may be made to contribute to this finer
form. But to build anything on any plane quickly, there must be an abundance of the
proper kind of energy, and this applies to the building of a spiritual body as well as to
more material things.
--In alchemy, Arcanum I represents the most important of all discoveries, the
philosopher's stone. Tradition informs us that any object touched with this stone is
converted into gold.
This touchstone of alchemy is Truth; for when truth is pressed against anything its
eternal principles are revealed, and these all-enduring qualities thus obtained
constitute the gold of their underlying nature. Truth is correct knowledge, and this
correct knowledge, if comprehensive, embraces the proper relation of souls and
things to all other entities and forces. Thus truth is a freeing and transmuting power, a
feeling as well as an intellectual perception. And when fully realized it results in deep
aspiration, and in an unutterable longing and determination for a more perfect life.
--Even as Arcanum I is the opening page of The Book of Thoth, as the Egyptians
sometimes called the tarot, so the Bible also opens with the principle of creative
activity: Gen. I:I; "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
It is a principle especially revered by the Jews, constantly referred to throughout the
Bible. Nor has it been entirely ignored in the New Testament, for the last chapter of
the last book contains a clear, even if brief, exposition of Arcanum I.
Rev. 22:13; "I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the
--The E.A. degree of Masonry is founded upon Arcanum I. This Arcanum
represents the candidate who has been admitted into the Lodge, presented with the
Masonic implements, and prepared to undergo initiation.
--Arcanum I indicates the importance of thorough preparation before any feat of
magic is attempted. Every principle involved, and every implement used, should also
be fully understood. The chief implements, including the magic wand, are depicted.
The scepter indicates that the virility of some intelligence, either on this plane or
another, is back of all magical phenomena. The star indicates the participation of an
intelligence from another plane in the work.
In magic there are four operations, which are here symbolized by the four
implements; the first operation, that of formulation, which means building the thing
clearly in the mind, is also represented by the arcanum as a whole.
--In the soul's pilgrimage Arcanum I represents the stage in which manhood has
been attained and self-consciousness realized. He has learned the transitory and
illusive nature of physical possessions, and has placed his feet once for all upon the
road leading ultimately to adeptship. He realizes that success depends entirely upon
his own efforts. In his aspirations he has raised his vibrations so that he tunes in on an
intelligence of the spiritual plane, as signified by the star, and at critical times asks
and receives guidance from this source. He moves forward henceforth with supreme
confidence and sustained by an unwavering determination.
--The science of esoteric psychology embraces the complete field of mental
activity; not merely on the physical plane, but on all planes where intelligence has
The ancients placed so great importance upon the development of will power that
they formulated a science of the will, the various phases of which each have a
correspondence to one of the Major Arcana of the tarot. In expressing this, the name
of each major card is taken as the emblem of some special principle involved. This
science of the will, as given in "An Egyptian Initiation", is as follows:
"In uniting successfully the twenty-two significations which emanate from these symbols, their
ensemble is summed up in the term,
"The human Will (1), enlightened by Science (2), and manifested by Action (3),
creates the Realization (4), of a power which it uses or abuses according to good or
bad Inspiration (5), in the circle which has been traced for it by the laws of universal
order. After having surmounted the Trial (6), which has been imposed by Divine
Wisdom, he will enter by his Victory (7), into possession of the work it has created,
and establishing his Equilibrium (8), upon the axis of Prudence (9), he will rule the
oscillations of Fortune (10).
"The Force (11), of man, sanctified by Sacrifice (12), which is the voluntary offer of
himself upon the altar of devotion or expiation, triumphs over death. This divine
Transformation (13), raises him beyond the tomb into the serene region of infinite
progress and opposes the reality of Initiative (14), to the eternal falsehood of Fatality
(15). The course of time is marked by Ruins (16), but beyond every ruin one sees
reappear the dawn of Hope (17), or the twilight of Deception (18).
"Unceasingly, man aspires to that which ever flees from him, and the Sun of
Happiness (19), will only rise for him beyond the Tomb (20), after the renewal of his
being by death, which opens to him a higher sphere of Will, Intelligence and Action.
"Every will that lets itself be governed by the instincts of the flesh abdicates its
liberty and is bound to the Expiation (22), of its errors. On the contrary, every will
which unites itself to Deity in order to manifest truth and work justice, enters even in
this life, into a participation of divine power over beings and things, Recompence
(21), eternal of Freed Spirits (0)."
I not only earnestly recommend to all students that they commit the above summary of
the Major Arcana to memory and meditate upon it frequently, but that they use it as a
mantram. It contains vastly more of truth and power than appears upon the surface, and
used as a mantram has been singularly potent in establishing self-confidence and in
building up positiveness and constructive power of will.
The Relation of Minor
Arcana to Major Arcana
--As previously indicated, the suit of Scepters, which in common playing cards is
the suit of Clubs, symbolizes the element fire. This in human life becomes
enthusiasm, ambition and enterprise. Consequently, this suit belongs to the
department of life having to do with business, occupation, station, honor and
profession. In astrology, it is represented by the M.C., where the sun appears at noon.
The suit of Cups, which in common playing cards becomes the suit of Hearts,
represents the element water, symbol of the emotions and typical of domestic and
affectional relations. It thus broadly corresponds to the western angle of a birth-chart,
where the sun sinks below the horizon.
The suit of Swords, which in common playing cards becomes the suit of Spades,
represents the element earth, symbol of struggle, allied to affliction and death. It thus
corresponds to the Nadir, where the sun is in its grave, or lowest point in the diurnal
The suit of Coins, which in common playing cards becomes the suit of Diamonds,
represents the element air, the breath of life. Air is merely one form of food, although the
most essential of all. The other foods may be purchased with money, and thus money has
become the symbol of life itself. It therefore corresponds to the Ascendant of a
birth-chart, where the new-born sun each day rises above the eastern horizon.
--In astrology, Mercury is general significator of study, writing, correspondence
and travel. As the Aces correspond numerically to Mercury, in their more common
divinatory significance they relate to one of these things, according to the particular
department of life signified by the suit. But in their application to higher planes, they
reveal the influence of, and can be interpreted by, the first decanate of each zodiacal
triplicity, starting, of course, with the movable signs.
The divinatory significance of the Ace of Scepters is news of a business opportunity;
its inner interpretation is ACTIVITY.
The divinatory significance of the Ace of Cups is a letter from a loved one; its inner
interpretation is MOODS.
The divinatory significance of the Ace of Coins is a short journey; its inner
significance is POLICY.
The divinatory significance of the Ace of Swords is news of sickness or death; its
inner interpretation is ORGANIZATION.
--Letter: Egyptian, Beinthin; Hebrew, Beth; English, B. Number 2. Astrologically, the
zodiacal sign Virgo. Color, the darker shades of violet. Tone, low B. Occult science, the
doctrine of signatures. Human function, clairvoyance. Natural remedy, such herbs as
barley, oats, rye, wheat, privet, succory, skullcap, woodbine, valerian, millet and endive.
Mineral, the talismanic gem Jasper, and among stones the flints.
B--2 expresses in the spiritual world, the consciousness of Absolute Being, which
embraces the three terms of all manifestation; the past, the present, and the future.
In the intellectual world, the binary, reflection of unity; and the perception of things
visible and invisible.
In the physical world, woman the mold of man, uniting herself with him in order to
accomplish an equal destiny.
Remember, then, son of earth, that the mind is enlightened in seeking God with the
eyes of the will. God has said, "Let there be Light," and light inundated space. Man
should say, "Let truth show itself and good come to me." And if man possesses a
healthy will, he will see the truth shine, and guided by it will attain all to which he
aspires. If Veiled Isis should appear in the prophetic signs of thy horoscope, strike
resolutely at the door of the future and it will open to you; but study for a long time the
door you should enter. Turn your face toward the sun of justice, and the knowledge of
the true will be given you. Keep silent in regard to your intentions, so as not to be
influenced by the contradictions of men.
In Divination, Arcanum II may briefly be read as Science.
Arcanum II is figured by a woman seated at the threshold of the Temple of Isis. She is
seated between two columns, the one on her right being red to signify pure spirit and
its luminous ascension over matter, and the one on her left being black to represent
the bondage of matter over the impure.
The woman is crowned by a tiara of three stories surmounted by a lunar crescent.
From the tiara a veil falls over her face. She wears upon her bosom the symbol of the
planet Mercury, and carries upon her knees an open book which she half covers with
her mantle. This symbolic ensemble personifies occult science, which awaits the
initiate at the threshold of the sanctuary of Isis in order to tell him the secrets of
universal nature. The symbol of Mercury (Hermes) upon the bosom of the Virgin,
signifies that matter is fecundated by spirit in order to evolve mind, or soul. The cross
below is matter, the circle is spirit. Together they figure the lingam of the Hindus,
representing the union of the sexes; and the crescent above the union of spirit and
matter represents the soul which is the evolved product of their union.
The seal on the breast of Nature also expresses the thought that knowledge comes
from God and is as limitless as its source. The veil falling over the face announces
that Nature reveals her truths only to the pure in heart, and hides them from the
curious and profane. The book half hidden under the mantle signifies that but half of
the truth can be discerned by the physical senses, the exoteric side. The esoteric, or
other half, must be apprehended through the application of the psychic senses.
Reason, divorced from intuition, can discern only in the realm of effects; but re-wed
to intuition, can remove the obscuring mantle from Nature's most secret page and
pursue her mysteries at leisure.
These mysteries are revealed only in solitude, to the sage who meditates in silence in
the full and calm possession of himself. The tiara represents the power of the intellect
to penetrate the three realms of existence--physical, astral and spiritual--which are
signified by its stories. The lunar crescent, symbolizing the feminine attribute, is
above the tiara to indicate that in occult science the intellect should be guided by the
intuitional, or psychic powers. That is to say, in the occult sciences the feminine
qualities of the mind are often of superior value to the masculine, or rational. The
woman is seated to show that Will united to Science is Immovable.
--Numerically, 2 expresses polarity. It suggests night and day, inhalation and
exhalation, heat and cold. In fact, the most evident thing in existence is duality, truth
itself being dual, esoteric and exoteric, the truth of the real and the truth of
--Veiled Isis is none other than the immaculate Virgin who becomes a mother
through union with the Holy Spirit. She sits in the doorway of the temple of Nature,
veiling the knowledge that can only be gained through union, as depicted in Arcanum
III. Arcanum II represents science. This is the harvest of experiences which have
become assimilated as knowledge. Virgo is a scientific zodiacal sign, and it rules
both the harvest and the processes of assimilation.
--Mind implies perception, and chief among the perceptive faculties is the sense of
sight. Both the mind and sight are ruled by the planet Mercury, and Mercury also
rules two zodiacal signs. When the sun is shining physical sight becomes available,
but in the darkness of night the inner sight may be more effective. And as the night
sign of Mercury is Virgo, it indicates that both this sign and Arcanum II correspond to
the inner sense of sight, to clairvoyance.
--Alchemically, Arcanum II is the universal solvent which, when properly used, can
be made to reduce any metal to its first matter. Raymond Lully says in regard to this:
Metals can not be transmuted...in the minerals, unless they be reduced into their first
matter...Therefore I counsel you, O my friends, that you do not work but about Sol and Luna,
reducing them into their first matter, our Sulphur and Argent Vive.
This means, in plain English, that in smelting ores the lowest melting point is
obtained by mixing them so that the amount of acid is exactly equal to the amount of
alkali; and that in fluxing experiences, when the polar opposites are exactly equal
their vibratory rate is raised to a point in which transmutation is more readily
--The most notable mention of Arcanum II in the Bible is the story of the Virgin
Many nations of antiquity were familiar with the tradition of the immaculate
conception; and the Christian account was borrowed directly from Egypt, where the
Jews at one time were held captive and became familiar with traditional lore. For
thousands of years in Egypt it was taught that Isis, conceiving immaculately, gave
birth to Horus, the Sun God. The Egyptian Virgin is often depicted with a New Moon
in her arms, instead of the baby Jesus, which was substituted when Isis became an
object of Christian adoration.
The inner meaning of the immaculate conception is that matter, or the feminine
principle in nature, is impregnated by spirit, or the positive principle. The gestation
which follows is evolution, which finally results in the birth of man, who possesses
an immortal soul and the potentiality of becoming a god.
--The F. C. degree of Masonry is founded upon Arcanum II. The two Masonic
pillars, Jachin and Boaz, are prominently pictured at the entrance to Solomon's
--In magic, Arcanum II depicts the principle of reception, which is the polar
opposite of the principle indicated in Arcanum I. It is the feminine reaction of the
magical agent, and teaches us the androgyne nature of the astral light.
It is further exemplified in the production of physical phenomena by mental means; for in
order thus to move physical objects--a process now recognized by university scientists
as the PK (Psychokinetic) Effect--there must be organic electromagnetism present of
sufficient volume to make the contact and do the work. Organic electromagnetism tends
to take whatever form, and to do whatever work, it is directed to do by the mental energy
associated with it.
The ectoplasm of a materializing medium is an impressive example of this. The
electromagnetism present is employed by the directing intelligence to convert some of
the material of the medium's body temporarily into a plastic fluid outside the medium's
form. This plastic substance can then be molded into whatever image the directing
intelligence holds in mind. Electromagnetism is the magical agent which forms the
connecting link between mind and matter. And it must always be present in sufficient
volume whenever material conditions are affected by the action of mind.
--In the pilgrimage of the soul Arcanum II represents a definite point in both the
descending and the ascending arc of the cycle. In involution it represents the
differentiation of the twin souls of one ego into opposite polarities. This takes place
in the paradisiacal realm (highest spiritual state), just preceding their fall, as Adam
and Eve, into material conditions.
In the upward cycle it signifies that point in initiation where it is realized that man or
woman alone are not complete, but require another soul of opposite sex; and that
reason alone is not sufficient with the aid of the physical senses to solve the problems
of life, but that intuition and the psychic senses must be developed before adeptship
--Astrological Signatures is the science of the correspondences between celestial
influences and other things. The soul of each life-form had a point of differentiation
from which it departed on its cyclic journey, and this point of departure is within the
spiritual vortex of one of the seven planetary families. Thus the soul of any living
thing responds more strongly to the vibrations of one particular planet, which is its
ruler. And even things possessing no life, such as environments, also transmit the
influence of one planet or zodiacal sign stronger than they transmit that of others, and
thus the planet or zodiacal sign becomes their signature.
--The sign Virgo is general significator of science and labor, therefore the Deuces,
corresponding numerically to Virgo, in their more common divinatory significance
must relate to these things as applied to the department of life indicated by the suit.
But in their higher application they reveal the influence of, and can be interpreted by,
the second decanate of each zodiacal triplicity, starting with the pioneer, or movable,
The divinatory significance of the Deuce of Scepters is a business depending
upon scientific methods; its inner interpretation is EXALTATION.
The divinatory significance of the Deuce of Cups is a work of love; its inner
interpretation is REVELATION.
The divinatory significance of the Deuce of Coins is money acquired by hard labor;
its inner interpretation is INDEPENDENCE.
The divinatory significance of the Deuce of Swords is sickness through over-work;
its inner interpretation is MARTYRDOM.
--In using the pyramid spread, the cards are first shuffled and cut, and this repeated
three times, in the method employed for all the spreads.
Then they are dealt from the top of the deck, one by one, and laid face downward
from right to left in pyramid form as illustrated on page 40, 21 cards in all being thus
The spread may be used to answer a question, to solve a problem, or merely to give
the general run of events as they may be expected in some person's life. But before
shuffling, what is desired from them should be clearly formulated, and held in the
mind until the spread has been completed.
Starting at the lower right hand corner, and counting to the left, every fifth card is a
Key, and this key is counted as the first card in the next five, as shown in the
illustration. When a Major Arcanum falls upon one of the keys, it makes this key
To read, first turn over, from top to bottom, key I, which shows the present. The four
cards to the right indicate the past, the one farthest to the right as the more distant past,
and the cards nearer the key as more closely approaching the present.
Then key II represents the next turn in the wheel of circumstances, and the cards
between key I and key II represent the factors leading up to it.
Key III is read as the next circumstance of importance following this, and the cards
between as the lesser factors; key IV is still further in the future; and key V, which
crowns the pyramid, shows the ultimate of the thing, or the distant future.