THE VIRGIN UNIVERSE
The Vision and the Voice, 9th Aethyr]
"We are come unto a palace of which every stone is a separate jewel,
and is set with millions of moons.
'And this palace is nothing but the body of a woman, proud and
delicate, and beyond imagination fair. She is like a child of twelve
years old. She has very deep eyelids, and long lashes. Her eyes are
closed, or nearly closed. It is impossible to say anything about
her. She is naked; her whole body is covered with fine gold hairs,
that are the electric flames which are the spears of mighty and
terrible Angels whose breastplates are the scales of her skin. And
the hair of her head, that flows down to her feet, is the very light
of God himself. Of all the glories beheld by the Seer in the Aethyrs,
there is not one which is worthy to be compared with her littlest
finger-nail. For although he may not partake of the Aethyr, without
the ceremonial preparations, even the beholding of this Aethyr from
afar is like the par taking of all the former Aethyrs.
“The Seer is lost in wonder, which is Peace.
“And the ring of the horizon above her is a company of glorious
Archangels with joined hands, that stand and sing: This is the
daughter of BABALON the Beautiful, that she hath borne unto the
Father of All. And unto all hath she borne her.
“This is the Daughter of the King. This is the Virgin of Eternity.
This is she that the Holy One hath wrested from the Giant Time, and
the prize of them that have overcome Space. This is she that is set
upon the Throne of Understanding. Holy, Holy, Holy is her name, not
to be spoken among men. For Kore they have called her, and Malkah,
and Betulah, and Persephone.
“And the poets have feigned songs about her, and the prophets have
spoken vain things, and the young men have dreamed vain dreams: but
this is she, that immaculate, the name of whose name may not be
spoken. Thought cannot pierce the glory that defendeth her, for
thought is smitten dead before her presence. Memory is blank, and in
the most ancient books of Magick are neither words to conjure her,
nor adorations to praise her. Will bends like a reed in the tempests
that sweep the borders of her kingdom, and imagination cannot figure
so much as one petal of the lilies whereon she standeth in the lake
of crystal, in the sea of glass.
“This is she that hath bedecked her hair with seven stars, the seven
breaths of God that move and thrill its excellence. And she hath
tired her hair with seven combs, whereupon are written the seven
secret names of God that are not known even of the Angels, or of the
Archangels, or of the Leader of the armies of the Lord.
“Holy, Holy, Holy art thou, and blessed be thy name for ever, unto
whom the Aeons are but the pulsings of thy blood.”
These cards constitute a pictorial analysis of the powers of the
four letters of the Name and the four Elements. They are also
referred to the Zodiac; but instead of assigning the three decans of
each sign to one card, the influence begins with the last decan of
one Sign and continues to the second decan of the next. There is a
further difficulty. It might well be expected that the elemental
attribution would harmonize with the Zodiacal attribution; but it is
not so. For instance, one might anticipate that the fiery part of
Fire would refer to the most active of the fiery signs, namely,
Aries. On the contrary, it represents the last decan of Scorpio and
the first two of Sagittarius, which is the watery part of Fire in
the Zodiac, and the mildest in influence.
The reason for this is that in the realm of the Elements all things
are mixed and confused; or, as the apologist might say, counter
checked and counter-balanced. The convenience of these arrangements
is that these cards are suitable as being descriptive, in a rough
and empirical fashion, of divers types of men and women. One may say
briefly that any of these cards is a picture of the person whose
Sun, or whose rising Sign at his nativity, falls within the Zodiacal
attribution of the card. Thus, a person born on 12th October might
possess many of the qualities of the Queen of Swords; while, if he
were born shortly before midnight, he would add many of the
characteristics of the Prince of Wands.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FOUR DIGNITARIES
The Knights represent the powers of the letter Yod in the Name. They
are the most sublime, original, active part of the Energy of the
Element; for this reason they are represented on horseback and clad
in complete armour. Their action is swift and violent, but
transient. In the Element of Fire, for instance, the Knight
corresponds to the Lightning flash; in the Element of Water, to Rain
and Springs; in that of Air, to Wind; in that of Earth, to
Mountains. It is very important as a mental exercise to work out for
oneself these correspondences between the Symbol and the Natural
Forces which they represent; and it is essential to practical
Magical work to have assimilated this knowledge.
The Queens represent the letter Heh of the Name. They are the
complements of the Knights. They receive, ferment, and transmit the
original Energy of their Knight. Quick to receive that Energy, they
are also fitted to endure for the period of their function; but they
are not the final product. They represent the second stage in the
process of creation whose fourth and last state is material
realization. They are represented as seated upon thrones. This
emphasizes the fact that they are appointed to exercise definite
The Princes represent the Forces of the letter Vau in the Name. The
Prince is the Son
of the Queen (the old King’s daughter) by the Knight who has won
her; he is
therefore represented as in a chariot, going forth to carry out the
of his parents. He is the active issue of their union, and its
manifestation. He is the
intellectual image of their union. His action is consequently more
enduring than that
of his forbears. In one respect, indeed, he ac quires a relative
he is the published record of what has been done in secret. Also, he
is the “Dying God”, redeeming his Bride in the hour, and by the
virtue, of his murder.
The Princesses represent the He’ final of the Name. They represent
the ultimate issue of the original Energy in its completion, its
crystallization, its materialization. They also represent the
counter-balancing, the re-absorption of the Energy. They represent
the Silence into which all things return. They are thus at the same
time permanent and non-existent. An audit of the equation 0=2.
The Princesses have no Zodiacal attribution. Yet evidently they
represent four types of human being. They are those numerous
“elemental” people whom we recognize by their lack of all sense of
responsibility, whose moral qualities seem to lack “bite”. They are
sub-divided according to planetary predominance. Such types have
been repeatedly described in fiction. As Eliphaz Levi wrote: “The
love of the Magus for such creatures is insensate, and may destroy
The relations between these Four Elements of the Name are
extraordinarily complex, quite beyond the limits of any ordinary
treatise to discuss; they change with every application of thought
to their meaning.
For instance, no sooner has the Princess made her appearance than
the Prince wins her in marriage, and she is set upon the throne of
her Mother. She thus awakens the Eld of the original old King; who
thereupon becomes a young Knight, and so renews the cycle. The
Princess is not only the perfect Maiden, but, owing to the death of
the Prince, the forsaken and lamenting Widow. All this occurs in the
legends characteristic of the Aeon of Osiris. It is hardly possible
definitely to disentangle these complications, but for the student
it is sufficient if he will be content to work with one legend at a
It is natural that the Aeon of Osiris, the regimen of Air, of
strife, of intellect, should be thus confused; that its symbols and
formulas should overlap, should contradict each other. It is
impossible to harmonize the multitudinous fables or parables,
because each was invented to emphasize some formula that was
regarded as imperative to serve some local or temporal purpose.
Knight of Wands represents the fiery part of Fire; he rules from
the 21st degree of Scorpio to the 20th degree of Sagittarius. He is
a warrior in complete armour. On his helmet for a crest he wears a
black horse. In his hand he bears a flaming torch; a flame also in
his mantle; and upon the flames does he ride. His steed is a black
The moral qualities appropriate to this figure are activity,
generosity, fierceness, impetuosity, pride, impulsiveness, swiftness
in unpredictable actions. If wrongly energized, he is evil-minded,
cruel, bigoted and brutal. He is in either case ill-fitted to carry
on his action; he has no means of modifying it according to
circumstances. If he fails in his first effort, he has no resource.
In the Yi King, the fiery part of Fire is represented by the 51st
hexagram, Kan. The signification there given is entirely in
accordance with the doctrine of the Tarot, but great emphasis is
laid on the startling, perilous, and revolutionary character of the
events cognate. The Querent is advised to be apprehensive, yet cool,
resolute and energetic: to beware of untimely action, but to go
forward with tense confidence in his own ability.
All these correspondences of the Yi King are to be studied in that
book (S.B.E. vol. XVI) and reference is here made to the text when
important passages are too long to be conveniently quoted.
The Queen of Wands represents the watery part of Fire, its fluidity
and colour. Also, she rules in the Zodiac from the 21st degree of
Pisces to the 20th degree of Aries. Her crown is topped with the
winged globe and rayed with flame. Her long red golden hair flows
down upon her armour of scaled mail. She is seated upon a throne of
flame, ordered into geometrical light by her material power. Beneath
the throne the surging flames are steady. She bears a wand in her
left hand; but it is topped with a cone suggestive of the mysteries
of Bacchus. She is attended by a couchant leopard upon whose head
she lays her hand. Her face expresses the ecstasy of one whose mind
is well in-drawn to the mystery borne beneath her bosom.
The characteristics of the Queen are adaptability, persistent
energy, calm authority which she knows how to use to enhance her
attractiveness. She is kindly and generous, but impatient of
opposition. She has immense capacity for friendship and for love,
but always on her own initiative.
There is as much pride in this card as in the Knight, but it lacks
the spontaneous nobility which excuses that error. It is not true
pride, but self-complacent vanity and even snobbery.
The other side of her character is that she may have a tendency to
brood, come to a wrong decision thereon, and react with great
savagery. She may be easily deceived; then she is likely to shew
herself stupid, obstinate, tyrannical. She may be quick to take
offence, and harbour revenge without good cause. She might turn and
snap at her best friends without intelligible excuse. Also, when she
misses her bite, she breaks her jaw!
In the YI King, the watery part of Fire is represented by the 17th
hexagram, Sui. It indicates reflection upon impulse, and the
consequently even flow of action. There is great capacity for lucid
conception and steady prosecution of work; but this is only at the
bidding, and under the guidance, of some creative mind. There is a
tendency to be fickle, even disloyal; the ideas which she obeys make
no deep or permanent impression. She will “cleave to the little boy
and let go the man of age and experience” or the reverse (lines 2
and 3) without realizing what she is doing. There is liability of
fits of melancholy, which she seeks to cure by bouts of
intoxication, or by panic-stricken outbursts of ill-considered fury.
Prince of Wands represents the airy part of Fire, with its
faculty of expanding and volatilising. He rules from the 21st degree
of Cancer to the 20th degree of Leo. He is a warrior in complete
armour of scale mail, but his arms are bare on account of his vigour
and activity. He wears a rayed crown surmounted by a lion’s head
winged, and from this crown depends a curtain of flame. On his
breast is the sigil of To Mega Therion. In his left hand he bears
the Phoenix wand of the Second Adept in the Ritual of 5°=6° of R.R.
at A.C.), the wand of Power and Energy, while with his other arm he
reins the lion which draws his chariot, the chariot which is
fortified by a wheel radiating flame. He rides upon a sea of flames,
both waved and salient.
The moral qualities appropriate to this figure are swiftness and
strength. But he is sometimes inclined to act on impulse; sometimes
easily led by external influences; sometimes, especially in trifles,
a prey to indecision. He is often violent, especially in the
expression of an opinion, but he does not necessarily hold the
opinion about which he is so emphatic. He states a vigorous
proposition for the sake of stating it.
He is in fact very slow to make up his mind thoroughly on any
subject, but always
sees both sides of every question. He is
essentially just, but always feels that justice is not to be
attained in the intellectual world. His character is intensely noble
and generous. He may be an extravagant boaster, while slyly laughing
both at the object of his boast and at himself for making it. He is
romantic, especially in matters of history and tradition, to the
point of folly, and may engineer “stunts” or play elaborate
practical jokes. He might select some inoffensive nobody, and pursue
him for years with every weapon of ridicule) as Swift tormented the
unhappy Partridge, all without the least animus, ready to give the
shirt off his back, should his victim be in need.
His sense of humour is omnivorous, and may make him a mysterious figure, dreaded
without reason by people who actually know nothing about him but his
name-as a symbol of Terror. This is due to the influence of the last
decan of Cancer upon this card. One of his greatest faults is pride;
meanness and pettiness of any kind he holds in infinite scorn. His
courage is fanatically strong, and his endurance indefatigable. He
is always fighting against odds, and always wins in the long-the
very long-run. This is principally due to his enormous capacity for
work, which he exercises for its own sake, “without lust of result”;
perhaps his haughty contempt for the world at large-which however
coexists with profound and ecstatic respect for “every man and every
woman” as “a star”-is responsible for this.
When this card is badly dignified, the character degenerates. Each
of the qualities mentioned above is found in its antithesis. There
is great cruelty in him, partly sadistic and partly due to
callousness arising from indifference-and, in a sense, laziness! So
too he may be intolerant, prejudiced and idle-principally because it
saves trouble. He may furthermore be an empty boaster and a great
In the YI King, the airy part of Fire is represented by the 42nd
Hexagram, Yi, which signifies addition, increase. Full of virtue,
and confident therein, he contemplates work of stupendous scope,
often with the idea expressed in line 5: “with sincere heart seeking
to benefit all below”. In this he may achieve immense success. But
this course is fraught with commensurate danger. “We see one to
whose in crease none will contribute, while many will seek to assail
him. He observes no regular rule in the ordering of his heart”.
(line 6) This peril avoided, there come “parties adding to the store
of its subject ten pairs of tortoise shells whose oracles cannot be
opposed-Let the King employ them in presenting his offerings to
God....” (line 2).
The Princess of Wands represents the earthy part of Fire; one might
say, she is the fuel of Fire. This expression implies the
irresistible chemical attraction of the combustible substance. She
rules the Heavens for one quadrant of the portion around the North
The Princess is therefore shewn with the plumes of justice streaming
from her brow; and she is unclothed,
shewing that chemical action
can only take
place when the element is perfectly free to combine with its
partner. She bears a
wand crowned with the disk of the Sun; and she is leaping in a
surging flame which
re-calls by its shape the letter Yod.
This card may be said to represent the dance of the virgin priestess
of the Lords of Fire, for she is in attendance upon the golden altar
ornamented with rams’ heads) symbolizing the fires of Spring.
The character of the Princess is extremely individual. She is
brilliant and daring. She creates her own beauty by her essential
vigour and energy. The force of her character imposes the impression
of beauty upon the beholder. In anger or love she is sudden,
violent, and implacable. She consumes all that comes into her
She is ambitious and aspiring, full of enthusiasm which is often
irrational. She never forgets an injury, and the only quality of
patience to be found in her is the patience with which she lies in
ambush to avenge.
Such a woman, ill-dignified, shews the defects of these qualities.
She is superficial and theatrical, completely shallow and false, yet
without suspecting that she is anything of the sort, for she
believes entirely in herself, even when it is apparent to the most
ordinary observer that she is merely in the spasm of mood. She is
cruel, unreliable, faithless and domineering.
In the Yi King, the earthy part of Fire is described by the 27th
hexagram, i. This shows a person omnivorous in passion of whatever
kind, entirely reckless in the means of obtaining gratification, and
insatiable. The Yi commentary is packed with alternate warning and
The Knight of Cups represents the fiery part of Water, the swift
passionate attack of rain and springs; more intimately, Water’s
power of solution. He rules the Heavens from the 21st degree of
Aquarius to the 20th degree of Pisces. He is clothed in black armour
furnished with bright wings which, together with the leaping
attitude of his white charger, indicates that he represents the most
active aspect of Water. In his right hand he bears a cup from which
issues a crab, the cardinal sign of Water, for aggressiveness. His
totem is the peacock, for one of the stigmata of water in its most
active form is brilliance. There is here also some reference to the
phenomena of fluorescence.
The characteristics of the person signified by this card are
nevertheless mostly passive, in accordance with the Zodiacal
attribution. He is graceful, dilettante, with the qualities of
Venus, or a weak Jupiter. He is amiable in a passive way. He is
quick to respond to attraction, and easily becomes enthusiastic
under such stimulus; but he is not very enduring. He is exceedingly
sensitive to external influence, but with no material depth in his
When the card is ill dignified, he is sensual, idle and untruthful.
Yet with all this he possesses an innocence and purity which are the
essence of his nature. But he is, on the whole, so superficial that
it is hard to reach this depth. “His name is writ in water.”
In the Yi King, the fiery part of Water is represented by the 54th
Hexagram, Kwei Mei. The commentary is singularly obscure, and
somewhat sinister. It deals with the difficulties of rightly mating
such opposites as fire and water (compare the Queen of Wands; but in
that case Water is the calming and modulating influence, while here
it is Fire which creates trouble.) Swiftness and violence ill suit a
character naturally placid; it is rare indeed to meet with a person
who has succeeded in harmonizing these conflicting elements. He
tends to mismanage all his affairs; and unless sheer good fortune
attend him, his whole career will be an unbroken record of failure
and disaster. Often his mental “civil war” ends in schizophrenia or
melancholy madness. The abuse of stimulants and narcotics may
precipitate the catastrophe.
The Queen of Cups represents the watery part of Water, its power of
reception and reflection. In the Zodiac it rules from the 21St
degree of Gemini to the 20th degree of Cancer Her image is of
extreme purity and beauty, with infinite subtlety; to see the Truth
of her is hardly possible, for she reflects the nature of the
observer in great perfection.
She is represented as enthroned upon still water. In her hand she
bears a shell-like cup, from which issues a crayfish, and she bears
also the Lotus of Isis, of the Great Mother. She is robed in, and
veiled by, endless curves of light, and the sea upon which she is
enthroned conveys the almost unbroken images of the image which she
The characteristics associated with this card are principally
dreaminess, illusion and tranquillity. She is the perfect agent and
patient, able to receive and transmit everything without herself
being affected thereby. If ill-dignified, all these qualities are
Everything that passes through her is refracted and distorted.
But, speaking generally, her characteristics depend mostly upon the
influences which affect her.
In the Yi King, the watery part of Water is represented by the 8th
hexagram, Tui. The commentary is as colourless as the card; it
consists of mild exhortations on the subject of pleasure. It may
really be said that, normally, people of this type have no character
at all of their own, unless it can be called a characteristic to be
at the disposition of every impact or impression.
There is, however, a hint (line 6) that the chief pleasure of people
of this type is to lead and attract others. Such are accordingly
(often enough) exceedingly popular.
The Prince of Cups represents the airy part of Water. On the one
hand, elasticity, volatility, hydrostatic equilibrium; on the other
hand, the catalytic faculty and the energy of steam. He rules from
the 21st degree of Libra to the 20th degree of Scorpio.
He is a warrior partly clad in armour, which seems, however, rather
a growth than a covering. His helmet is surmounted by an eagle, and
his chariot, which resembles a shell, is also drawn by an eagle. His
wings are tenuous, almost of gas. This is a reference to his power
of volatilization understood in the spiritual sense.
In his right hand he bears a Lotus flower, sacred to the element of
Water, and in his left hand is a cup from which issues a serpent.
The third totem, the scorpion, is not shewn in the picture, for the
putrefaction which it represents is an extremely secret process.
Beneath his chariot is the calm and stagnant water of a lake upon
which rain falls heavily.
The whole symbolism of this card is exceedingly complicated, for
Scorpio is the most mysterious of the Signs, and the manifested
portion of it symbolized by the eagle is in reality the least
important part of his nature.
The moral characteristics of the person pictured in this card are
subtlety, secret violence, and craft. He is intensely secret, an
artist in all his ways. On the surface he appears calm and
imperturbable, but this is a mask of the most intense passion. He is
on the surface susceptible to external influences, but he accepts
them only to transmute them to the advantage of his secret designs.
He is thus completely without conscience in the ordinary sense of
the word, and is therefore usually distrusted by his neighbours.
They feel they do not, and can never, understand him. Thus he
inspires unreasonable fear. He is in fact perfectly ruthless. He
cares intensely for power, wisdom, and his own aims. He feels no
responsibility to others, and although his abilities are so immense,
he cannot be relied upon to work in harness.
In the Yi King, the airy part of Water is represented by the 61st
hexagram, Kung Fu.
This is one of the most important figures in the Yi: it “moves even
pigs and fish, and
leads to great good fortune”. Its dignities and correspondences are
great; for it is also a “big Li”, the trigram of Sol formed by
doubling the lines. By
shape it suggests a boat, but also the geomantic figure of Cancer,
Saturn in Capricornus.
This card is in consequence one of great power; Libra going over
into Scorpio is of tremendous, active, critical energy and weight.
To such people good will, sincerity, and right mating are the
essentials of success; their danger is overweening ambition.
The Princess of Cups represents the earthy part of Water; in
particular, the faculty of crystallization. She represents the power
of Water to give substance to idea, to support life, and to form the
basis of chemical combination. She is represented as a dancing
figure, robed in a flowing garment on whose edges crystals are seen
For her crest she wears a swan with open wings. The symbolism of
this swan reminds one of the swan in oriental philosophy which is
the word AUM or AUMGN, which is the symbol of the entire process of
creation. [See, for a full analysis and explanation of this Word,
Magick, pp. 45.]
She bears a covered cup from which issues a tortoise. This is again
the tortoise which in Hindu philosophy supports the elephant on
whose back is the Universe. She is dancing upon a foaming sea in
which disports himself a dolphin, the royal fish, which symbolizes
the power of Creation.
The character of the Princess is infinitely gracious. All sweetness,
all voluptuousness, gentleness, kindness and tenderness are in her
character. She lives in the world of Romance, in the perpetual dream
of rapture. On a superficial examination she might be thought
selfish and indolent, but this is a quite false impression; silently
and effortlessly she goes about her work.
In the Yi King, the earthy part of Water is represented by the 41st
Hexagram, Sun. This means diminution, the dissolution of all
solidity. People described by this card are very dependent on
others, but at the same time helpful to them. Rarely, at the best,
are they of individual importance. As helpmeets, they are
Knight of Swords represents the fiery part of Air; he is the
wind, the storm. He represents the violent power of motion applied
to an apparently manageable element. He rules from the 21st degree
of Taurus to the 20th degree of Gemini. He is a warrior helmed, and
for his crest he bears a revolving wing. Mounted upon a maddened
steed, he drives down the Heavens, the Spirit of the Tempest. In one
hand is a sword, in the other a poniard. He represents the idea of
The moral qualities of a person thus indicated are activity and
skill, subtlety and cleverness. He is fierce, delicate and
courageous, but altogether the prey of his idea, which comes to him
as an inspiration without reflection.
If ill-dignified, the vigour in all these qualities being absent, he
is incapable of decision or purpose. Any action that he takes is
easily brushed aside by opposition. Inadequate violence spells
futility. “Chimaera bombinans in vacuo”.
In the Yi King, the fiery part of Air is represented by the 32nd
hexagram, Hang. This is the first occasion on which it has been
simple to demonstrate the close technical parallelism which
identifies Chinese thought and experience with that of the West.
For the meaning is long continuance: “perseverance in well-doing, or
acting out the law of one’s being”, as Legge puts it in his note on
the hexagram; and
this seems incongruous with the Qabalistic idea of violent energy
applied to the least
stable of the elements. But the trigram of Air also indicates wood;
and the hexagram
may have Suggested the irresistible flow of the sap, and its effect
in strengthening the tree. This conjecture is supported by the
warning in line 6: “The topmost line, divided, shows its subject
exciting himself to long continuance. There will be evil.”
Allowing this, the image of “the extended flame of mind”, as
Zoroaster calls it, may well be subjoined to the former description.
It is the True Will exploding the mind spontaneously. The influence
of Taurus makes for steadiness, and that of the first decanate of
Gemini for inspiration. So let us picture him, “integer vitae
scelerisque purus”, a light-shaft of the Ideal absorbing the entire
life in concentrated aspiration, passing from earthy Taurus to
exalted Gemini. Here, too, is shewn (as in the Yi) the danger to the
subject of this symbol; for the first decan is the card called
“Interference”; or, in the old pack, “Shortened Force”.
The Queen of Swords represents the watery part of Air, the
elasticity of that element, and its power of transmission. She rules
from the 21St degree of Virgo to the 20th degree of Libra. She is
enthroned upon the clouds. The upper part of her body is naked, but
she wears a gleaming belt and a sarong. Her helmet is crested by the
head of a child, and from it stream sharp rays of light,
illuminating her empire of celestial dew. In her right hand, she
bears a sword; in her left hand, the newly severed head of a bearded
man. She is the clear, conscious perception of Idea, the Liberator
of the Mind.
The person symbolized by this card should be intensely perceptive, a
keen observer, a subtle interpreter, an intense individualist, swift
and accurate at recording ideas; in action confident, in spirit
gracious and just. Her movements will be graceful, and her ability
in dancing and balancing exceptional.
If ill-dignified, these qualities will all be turned to unworthy
purposes. She will be cruel, sly, deceitful and unreliable; in this
way, very dangerous, on account of the superficial beauty and
attractiveness which distinguish her.
In the Yi King, the watery part of Air is represented by the 28th
hexagram, Ta Kwo.
The Shape suggests a weak beam.
The character, excellent in itself, cannot support interference.
Foresight and prudence, care in preparation of action, are a
safeguard (line i.) Advantage is to be won, moreover, by reliance on
help from apparently unsuitable comrades (lines 2 and 5). This alien
strength often supplies the defeat of inherent weakness, and may
even create definite superiority to circumstance (line 4). In such
an event, there may be temptation to undertake rash adventures,
foredoomed to failure. But even so, no blame is incurred (line 6);
the conditions of True Will have been satisfied, and the issue is
compensated by the feeling that the right (however unfortunate)
course has been adopted.
Such people acquire intense love and devotion from the most
This card represents the airy part of Air. With its particular
interpretation, it is intellectual, it is a picture of the Mind as
such. He rules from the 21st degree of Capricornus to the 20th
degree of Aquarius.
The figure of this Prince is clothed with closely woven armour
adorned with definite device, and the chariot which bears him
suggests (even more closely) geometrical ideas. This chariot is
drawn by winged children, looking and leaping irresponsibly in any
direction that takes their fancy; they are not reined, but perfectly
The chariot consequently is easy enough to move, but quite unable to
progress in any definite direction except by accident. This is a
perfect picture of the Mind.
On the head of this Prince is, nevertheless, a child’s head radiant,
for there is a secret crown in the nature of this card; if
concentrated, it is exactly Tiphareth.
The operation of his logical mental processes have reduced the Air,
which is his element, to many diverse geometrical patterns, but in
these there is no real plan; they are demonstrations of the powers
of the Mind without definite purpose. In his right hand is a lifted
sword wherewith to create, but in his left hand a sickle, so that
what he creates he instantly destroys.
A person thus symbolized is purely intellectual. He is full of ideas
and designs which tumble over each other. He is a mass of fine
ideals unrelated to practical effort. He has all the apparatus of
Thought in the highest degree, intensely clever, admirably rational,
but unstable of purpose, and in reality indifferent even to his own
ideas, as knowing that any one of them is just as good as any other.
He reduces everything to unreality by removing its substance and
transmuting it to an ideal world of ratiocination which is purely
formal and out of relation to any facts, even those upon which it is
In the Yi King, the airy part of Air is represented by the 57th
hexagram, Sun. This is one of the most difficult figures in the
book, on account of its ambivalence: it means both flexibility and
Immensely powerful because of its complete freedom from settled
principles, capable of maintaining and putting forward any
conceivable argument, insusceptible of regret or remorse, glib to
“quote Scripture” aptly and cunningly to support any thesis soever,
indifferent to the fate of a contrary argument advanced two minutes
earlier, impossible to defeat because any position is as good as any
other, ready to enter into combination with the nearest element
available, these elusive and elastic people are of value only when
firmly mastered by creative will fortified by an intelligence
superior to their own. In practice, this is rarely possible: there
is no purchase to be had upon them, not even by pandering to their
appetites. These may nevertheless be stormy, even uncontrollable.
Faddists, devotees of drink, drugs, humanitarianism, music or
religion, are often in this class; but when this is the case, there
is still no stability. They wander from one cult or one vice to
another, always brilliantly supporting with the fanaticism of a
fixed conviction what is actually no more than the whim of the
It is easy to be deceived by such people; for the manifestation
itself has enormous potency: it is as if an imbecile offered one the
dialogues of Plato. They may in this way acquire a great reputation
both for depth and breadth of mind.
The Princess of Swords represents the earthy part of Air, the
fixation of the volatile. She brings about the materialization of
Idea. She represents the influence of Heaven upon Earth. She
partakes of the characteristics of Minerva and Artemis, and there is
some suggestion of the Valkyrie. She represents to some extent the
anger of the Gods, and she appears helmed, with serpent-haired
Medusa for her crest. She stands in front of a barren altar as if to
avenge its profanation, and she stabs downward with her sword. The
heaven and the clouds, which are her home, seem angry.
The character of the Princess is stern and revengeful. Her logic is
destructive. She is firm and aggressive, with great practical wisdom
and subtlety in material things. She shews great cleverness and
dexterity in the management of practical affairs, especially where
they are of a controversial nature. She is very adroit in the
settlement of controversies.
If ill-dignified, all these qualities are dispersed; she becomes
incoherent, and all her gifts tend to combine to form a species of
low cunning whose object is unworthy of the means.
In the Yi King, the earthy part of Air is represented by the 18th
hexagram, Ku. This means “troubles”; it is, for all practical and
material matters. The most unhappy symbol in the book. All the fine
qualities of Air are weighed down, suppressed, suffocated.
People thus characterized are slow mentally, the prey of constant
anxiety, crushed by every kind of responsibility, but especially in
family affairs. One of both of the parents will usually be found in
It is hard to understand line 6, which “shows us one who does not
serve either king or feudal lord, but in a lofty spirit prefers to
follow his own bent”. The explanation is that a Princess as such,
being “the throne of Spirit”, may always have the option of throwing
everything overboard, “blowing everything sky high”. Such action
would account for the characteristics above given for the card when
well dignified. Such people are exceedingly rare; and, naturally
enough, they appear often as “Children of misfortune”. Nevertheless,
they have chosen aright, and in due season gain their reward.
The Knight of Disks represents the fiery part of Earth, and refers
in particular to the phenomena of mountains, earthquakes, and
gravitation; but it also represents the activity of Earth regarded
as the producer of Life. He rules from the 21st degree of Leo to the
20th degree of Virgo, and is thus concerned greatly with
agriculture. This warrior is short and sturdy in type. He is clothed
in great solidity of plate armour; but his helmet, which is crested
with the head of a stag, is thrown back, for at the moment his
function is entirely con- fined to the production of food. For this
reason he is armed with a flail. The disk which he bears, moreover,
is very solid; it represents nutrition. These characteristics are
borne out by his horse; a shire horse, solidly planted on all four
feet, as was not the case with the other Knights. He rides through
the fertile land; even the distant hills are cultivated fields.
Those whom he symbolizes tend to be dull, heavy and preoccupied with
material things. They are laborious and patient, but would have
little intellectual grasp even of matters which concern them most
closely. Their success in these is due to instinct, to imitation of
Nature. They lack initiative; their fire is the smouldering fire of
the process of growth.
If ill-dignified, these people are hopelessly stupid, slavish, quite
incapable of foresight even in their own affairs, or of taking an
intelligent interest in anything outside them. They are churlish,
surly, and jealous (in a dull sort of way) of what they
instinctively realize is the superior state of others; but they have
not the courage or intelligence to better themselves. Yet they are
always irritably meddling about petty matters; they interfere with,
and inevitably spoil, whatever comes their way.
In the Yi King, the fiery part of Earth is represented by the 62nd
hexagram, Hsiao Kwo. This is as important as its complement, Kung Fu
(see under Prince of Cups); it is a “big Khan”, the trigram of Luna
with each line doubled. But it is also suggestive of the Geomantic
figure Conjunctio, Mercury in Virgo, corresponding very closely
indeed with the Fire of Earth attribution in the Qabalistic system.
To the Chinese sages, moreover, the shape of the figure gave the
idea of a bird. The meaning is, accordingly, modified by human
influence of the more frivolous and irresponsible kind,
Shakespeare’s “little wanton harlotry”, the French cynic’s “Souvent
femme vane”, and the fickle mob of Coriolanus; indeed, of History
But Mercury in Virgo symbolizes Intelligence (and even creative
Idea) applied to Agriculture; and this (once more!) harmonizes
perfectly with the Ten of Disks, which is ruled by this Planet and
this Sign. This adds to the superabundant mass of proof that this
whole system of symbolism is based upon Realities of Nature, as
understood by the materialist School of Science-if such a school
survives in some obscure and obsolescent University! Such coherence,
such introverted exfoliation, cannot be the chance parallelism of
the dreams of nebulous philosophies.
The character described by this card is therefore exceeding complex
yet admirably well-knit; but its dangers are indicated by the
symbols of Luna and the bird. In the happiest cases, the qualities
thus indicated will be romance and imagination; but overweening
ambition, the pursuit of Ignis Fatuus, superstition, and the
tendency to waste time in idle dreaming, are perils all too
frequently found in such sons of the soil. Thomas Hardy has painted
many admirable portraits of the type. Ill-starred indeed and black
with bile are those who have profaned the Sacred Fire, not
enkindling Earth to new, more copious, more varied life, but peering
in deceptive moonlight, turning their faces from their mother Earth.
The Queen of Disks represents the watery part of Earth, the function
of that element as Mother. She rules from the 21st degree of
Sagittarius to the 20th degree of Capricornus. She represents
passivity, usually in its highest aspect.
The Queen of Disks is throned upon the life of vegetation. She
contemplates the background, where a calm river winds through a
sandy desert to bring to it fertility. Oases are beginning to shew
themselves amid the wastes. Before her stands a goat upon a sphere.
There is here a reference to the dogma that the Great Work is
fertility. Her armour is composed of small scales or coins, and her
helmet is adorned with the great spiral horns of the markhor. In her
right hand she bears a sceptre surmounted by a cube, within which is
a three- dimensional Hexagram, and in her left arm is curved her
proper disk, a sphere of loops and circles interlaced. She thus
represents the ambition of matter to take part in the great work of
Persons signified by this card possess the finest of the quieter
qualities. They are ambitious, but only in useful directions. They
possess immense funds of affection, kindness, and greatness of
heart. They are not intellectual, and not particularly intelligent;
but instinct and intuition are more than adequate for their needs.
These people are quiet, hard-working, practical, sensible,
domesticated, often (in a reticent and unassuming fashion) lustful
and even debauched. They are inclined to the abuse of alcohol and of
drugs. It is as if they could only realize their essential happiness
by getting outside themselves.
If ill dignified, they are dull, servile, foolish; they are drudges
rather than workers. Life for them is purely mechanical; and they
cannot rise, or even seek to rise, above their appointed lot.
In the Yi King, the watery part of Earth is represented by the 31st
hexagram, Hsien. This has the meaning: Influence. The commentary
describes the effect of moving various parts of the body, from the
toes to the jaws and tongue. This is rather an amplification of what
has been said above than an exact correspondence; yet there is no
discordance. The general advice is to go forward quietly without
overt attack upon existing situations.
Prince of Disks represents the airy part of Earth, indicating
the florescence and fructification of that element. He rules from
the 21st degree of Aries to the 20th degree of Taurus.
The figure of this Prince is meditative. He is the element of Earth
become intelligible. Clothed in light armour, his helmet is crowned
with the head of a bull; and his chariot is drawn by an ox, this
animal being peculiarly sacred to the Element of Earth. In his left
hand he holds his disk, which is an orb resembling a globe, marked
with mathematical symbols as if to imply the planning involved in
agriculture. In his right hand he bears an orbed sceptre surmounted
by a cross, a symbol of the Great Work accomplished; for it is his
function to bring forth from the material of the element that
vegetation which is the sustenance of the Spirit itself.
The character denoted by this card is that of great energy brought
to bear upon the most solid of practical matters. He is energetic
and enduring, a capable manager, a steadfast and per severing
worker. He is competent, ingenious, thoughtful, cautious,
‘trustworthy, imperturbable; he constantly seeks new uses for common
things, and adapts his circumstances to his purposes in a slow,
steady, well-thought out plan.
He is lacking almost entirely in emotion. He is somewhat in
sensitive, and may appear dull, but he is not; it so appears because
he makes no effort to understand ideas which are beyond his scope.
He may often appear stupid, and is inclined to be resentful of more
spiritual types. He is slow to anger, but, if driven, becomes
implacable. It is not very practicable to distinguish between the
good and evil dignities in this card; one can merely say that, in
case of his being ill-dignified, both the quality and quantity of
his characteristics are somewhat degraded. The reaction of others to
him will depend almost entirely upon their own temperaments.
In the Yi King, the airy part of Earth is represented by the 53rd
hexagram, Kien. The commentary concerns the flight of wild geese,
“gradually approaching the shore”, then “the large rocks”, then
“advanced to the dry plains-the trees-the high ~ finally, to “the
large heights”. It thus symbolizes slow, steady emancipation from
The description is even happier than that given by the Qabalah,
although in every way congruous with it. Practical considerations
are never absent from Chinese thought, even at its most abstruse and
metaphysical. The fundamental heresy of the Black Lodge is con tempt
for “the world, the flesh, and the devil”, all which are essential
to the plan of the Universe; it is cardinal to the Great Work for
the Adept so to order affairs that “even the evil germs of Matter
shall alike become useful and good”.
The error of Christian Mystics on this point has been responsible
for more cruelty, misery, and collective insanity than all others
put together; its poison can be traced even in the teaching of
Freud, who assumed that the Unconscious was “the devil”, whereas in
fact it is the instinct which expresses, beneath a veil, the
inherent Point-of- View of each, and, properly understood, is the
key to Initiation, and a hint of what seed may blossom and fructify
as the “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel”. For
“Every man and every woman is a star”.
But no doubt the judgment of the Adepts Exempt (for it is they who
determine, under the guidance of the Masters of the Temple, all such
details of doctrine) in respect of this card has been influenced by
its transition from Aries to Taurus. It is too often forgotten that
Taurus is the House of Venus, and that Luna is exalted therein. The
new doctrine set forth in this present Essay makes the primary
colour of Earth not black, but green; it insists that every Disk is
a living and revolving symbol.
The central thesis of the Book of the Law asserts the Perfection of
the Universe. In
its pantheistic conception all possibilities are equal in value;
each and every Point-Event is “a play of Nuit”, as it is written in the Book of Wisdom or
nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one
thing & any
other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt. But whose availeth in
this, let him be the chief of all!” Liber Al. 1. 22. Or, yet more
comprehensively and simply: “Every number is infinite; there is no
difference.” Ib I.4.
The Princess of Disks,
the last of the Court cards, represents the earthy part of Earth.
She is consequently on the brink of transfiguration. She is strong
and beautiful, with an expression of intense brooding, as if about
to become aware of secret wonder.
Her crest is the head of the ram, and her sceptre descends into the
earth. There its head becomes a diamond, the precious stone of
Kether, thus symbolizing the birth of the highest and purest light
in the deepest and darkest of the Elements. She stands within a
grove of sacred trees before an altar suggesting a wheatsheaf, for
she is a priestess of Demeter. She bears within her body the secret
of the future. Her sublimity is further emphasized by the disk which
she bears; for in the centre thereof is the Chinese ideogram
denoting the twin spiral force of Creation in perfect equilibrium;
from this is born the rose of Isis, the great fertile Mother.
The characteristics of an individual signified by this card are too
various to enumerate; one must summarize by saying that she is
Womanhood in its ultimate projection. She contains all the
characteristics of woman, and it would depend entirely upon the
influences to which she is subjected whether one or another becomes
manifest. But in every case her attributes will be pure in
themselves, and not necessarily connected with any other attributes
which in the normal way one regards as symbolic. In one sense, then,
her general reputation will be of bewildering inconsistency. It is
rather like a lottery wheel from which the extraction of any number
does not predict or influence the result of any subsequent
operation. The fruit of the Philosophy of Thelema is enjoyed, rare,
ripe, nourishing and vitalizing at its highest and fullest in this
meditation; for to the adept every turn of the wheel is equally
probable, and equally a prize; for every Event is “a play of Nuit”.
In the Yi King the earthy part of Earth is represented by the 52nd
hexagram, Kan. The meaning is “a mountain”; of how sublime a
significance is this Chinese doctrine of Balance, and how closely
congruous with that of the Holy Qabalah!
The mountain is the most sacred of all terrestrial symbols, stark,
rugged, and immoveable in its aspiration to the Highest, thrust up
as it is by the Titan energy of Hidden Fire. It is no less an
hieroglyph of the Inmost Godhead than the Phallus itself, even as
Capricornus, the sign of the New Year, is exalted in the Zodiac, its
deity autochthonous no less than the Most Holy Ancient One himself.
It is essential for the Student to trace this doctrine for himself
in every symbol: Air, the elastic and flexible, yet all-pervading
and the element of combustion; Water, fluid yet incompressible, the
most neutral and composed of all components of living matter, yet
destructive even of the hardest rocks by physical assault, and
irresistible in its burning power of solution; and Fire, so kin to
Spirit that it is not a substance at all, but a phenomenon, yet so
integral to Matter that it is the very heart and essence of all
The characteristic of Kan in the Yi King is rest; each line of the
comment describes repose in the parts of the body in turn, and their
effects; the toes, the calves, the loins, the spine, and the jaws.
This chapter is a close parallel in this respect, line by line, with
the 31st, Hsien, which begins the second section of the Yi.
The Rosicrucian doctrine of Tetragrammaton could hardly be more
adequately stated-to every ear that is to heavenly harmony attuned.
“There’s not a planet in the firmament
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim;
But while this muddy vesture of decay
Doth wrap us round, our nature cannot hear it.
Let every student of this Essay, and of this book of Tahuti, this
living Book that guides man through all Time, and leads him to
Eternity at every page, hold fast this simplest, most far-reaching
Doctrine in his heart and mind, inflaming the inmost of His Being,
that he also, having explored each recess of the Universe, may
therein find the Light of Truth, so come to the Knowledge and
Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, and accomplish the Great
Work, attain the Summum Bonum, true Wisdom and perfect Happiness!
The Aces represent the roots of the four elements. They are quite
above, and distinct from, the other small cards in the same way as Kether is said to be symbolized only by the topmost point of the Yod
of Tetragrammaton. In these cards is no real manifestation of the
element in its material form. They form a link between the small
cards and the Princesses, who rule the Heavens around the North
Pole. The Meridian is the Great Pyramid, and the Elements rule,
going Eastward, in the order of Tetragrammaton, Fire, Water, Air,
Earth. Thus, roughly, Aces-Princesses Wands cover Asia, Cups the
Pacific Ocean, Swords the Americas, Disks Europe and Africa. To make
this relationship clear, one may go a little into the symbol of the
pentagram, or Shield of David. It represents Spirit ruling the four
elements, and is thus a symbol of the Triumph of Man.
The idea of the element of Spirit is very difficult to grasp. The
letter Shin, which is the letter of Fire, has to do double duty by
representing Spirit as well. Generally speaking, the attributions of
Spirit are not clear and simple like those of the other elements. It
is very remarkable that the Tablet of Spirit in the Enochian system
is the key to all mischief; as, in the Hindu system, Akasha is the
Egg of Darkness.
On the other hand, Spirit represents Kether. Perhaps it was never in
the mind of the Exempt Adept or Adepts who invented the Tarot to go
so far into this matter. The point to remember is that, both in
their appearance and in their meaning, the Aces are not the elements
themselves, but the seeds of those elements.
These cards refer to Chokmah. From the point of view of the ordinary
person, Chokmah is really No. 1 and not No. 2, because he is the
first manifestation; Kether is completely concealed, so that nobody
knows anything about it at all. Hence, only on reaching the Deuces
does an element appear as the element itself. Chokmah is
uncontaminated by any influence; therefore the elements here appear
in their original harmonious condition.
The Two of Wands is called the Lord of Dominion, and represents the
energy of fire; fire in its best and highest form.
The Two of Cups is the Lord of Love, which performs a similar office
The Two of Swords was formerly called the Lord of Peace Restored;
but this word “restored” is incorrect, because there has been no
disturbance. The Lord of Peace is therefore a better title: but it
needs thinking hard to work this out, since the Sword is so
intensely active. It may be helpful to study the Essay on Silence
(p. 120) for a parallel: the Negative Form of the Positive Idea. See
also the Essay on Chastity (Little Essays toward Truth, pp. 70-74)
which concludes: Sir Knights, be vigilant:
watch by your arms and renew your oath; for that day is of sinister
augury and deadly charged with danger which ye fill not to
overflowing with gay deeds and bold of masterful, of manful
Witness also Catullus: domi maneas paresque nobis Novem continuas
Nor does he misunderstand the gesture of Harpocrates; Silence and
Chastity are isomers.
It is all one case of the general proposition that the sum of the
infinite Energy of the Universe is Zero.
The Two of Pentacles was of old time called the Lord of Harmonious
Change. Now, more simply, Change; and here the doctrine must be
stated a little more clearly. This suit being of Earth, there is a
connection with the Princesses, and therefore with the final Heh of
Tetragrammaton. Earth is the throne of Spirit; having got to the
bottom, one immediately comes out again at the top. Hence, the card
manifests the symbolism of the serpent of the endless band.
These cards are referred to Binah; in each of them is expressed the
symbolism of Understanding. The idea has become fertilized; the
triangle has been formulated. In each case, the idea is of a certain
stability which can never be upset, but from which a child can
The Three of Wands is accordingly the Lord of Virtue. The idea of
will and dominion has become interpreted in Character.
The Three of Cups is called the Lord of Abundance. The idea of love
has come to fruition; but this is now sufficiently far down the Tree
to introduce a very definite differentiation between the suits,
which was not previously possible.
The idea of division, of mutability, the idea of the airy quality of
things, manifests itself in the Three of Swords, the Lord of Sorrow.
Here one is reminded of the darkness of Binah, of the mourning of
Isis; but this is not any vulgar sorrow dependent upon any
individual disappointment or discontent. It is Weltschmerz, the
universal sorrow; it is the quality of melancholy.
The Three of Pentacles, in a similar manner, exhibits the result of
the idea of Earth, of the crystallization of forces; and so the
Three of Pentacles is called the Lord of Work. Something has
definitely been done.
These cards are attributed to Chesed. The connection between the
number Four and the number Three is extremely complex. The important
characteristic is that Four is “below the Abyss”; therefore, in
practice, it means solidification, materialization. Things have
become manifest. The essential point is that it expresses the Rule
In the Wand suit, the card is called Completion. The manifestation
promised by Binah has now taken place. This number must be very
solid, because it is the actual dominating influence on all the
following cards. Chesed, Jupiter-Ammon, the Father, the first below
the Abyss, is the highest idea which can be understood in an
intellectual way, and that is why the Sephira is attributed to
Jupiter, who is the Demiurge.
The Four of Cups is called Luxury.
The masculine nature of fire permits the Four of Wands to appear as
a very positive and clear-cut conception. The weakness in the
element of water threatens its purity;
it is not quite strong enough to control itself properly; so the
Lord of Pleasure is a little unstable. Purity has somehow been lost
in the process of satisfaction.
The Four of Swords is called Truce. This seems rather on the lines
of “the strong man armed, keeping his house in peace”. The masculine
nature of air makes it dominant. The card is almost a picture of the
formation of the military clan system of society.
As to the Disks, the heaviness of the symbol rather outweighs any
considerations of its weakness. The card is called Power. It is the
power which dominates and stabilizes everything, but manages its
affairs more by negotiation, by pacific methods, than by any
assertion of itself. It is Law, the Constitution, with no aggressive
In the “Naples arrangement”, the introduction of the number Five
shows the idea of motion coming to the aid of that of matter. This
is quite a revolutionary conception; the result is a complete upset
of the statically stabilized system. Now appear storm and stress.
This must not be regarded as something “evil”. The natural feeling
about it is really a little more than the reluctance of people to
get up from lunch and go back to the job. In the Buddhist doctrine
of Sorrow this idea is implicit, that inertia and insensitiveness
must characterize peace. The climate of India is perhaps partly
responsible for this notion. The Adepts of the White School, of
which the Tarot is the sacred book, cannot agree to such a
simplification of existence. Every phenomenon is a sacrament. For
all that, a disturbance is a disturbance; the five of Wands is
On the other hand, the Five of Cups is called Disappointment, as is
only natural, because Fire delights in superabundant energy, whereas
the water of Pleasure is naturally placid, and any disturbance of
ease can only be regarded as misfortune.
The Five of Swords is similarly troublesome; the card is called
Defeat. There has been insufficient power to maintain the armed
peace of the Four. The quarrel has actually broken out. This must
mean defeat, for the original idea of the Sword was a manifestation
of the result of the love between the Wand and the Cup. It is
because the birth had to express itself in the duality of the Sword
and the Disk that the nature of each appears so imperfect.
The Five of Disks is in equally evil case. The soft quiet of the
Four has been completely overthrown; the card is called Worry. [See
Skeat, Etymological Dictionary. The idea is of strangling, as dogs
worry sheep. Note the identity with Sphinx.] The economic system has
broken down; there is no more balance between the social orders.
Disks being as they are, stolid and obstinate, as compared with the
other weapons, for their revolution serves t9 stabilize them, there
is no action, at least not in its own ambit, that can affect the
These cards are attributed to Tiphareth. This Sephira is in some
respects the most
important of all. It is the centre of the whole system; it is the
only Sephira below the
Abyss which communicates directly with Kether. It is fed directly
from Chokmah and
Binah; also from Chesed and Geburah. It is thus admirably fitted to
lower Sephiroth; it is balanced both vertically and horizontally. In
system it represents the Sun; in the system of Tetragrammaton it
Son. The entire geometrical complex of the Ruach may be regarded as
from Tiphareth. It represents consciousness in its most harmonized
and balanced form; definitely in form, not only in idea, as in the
case of the number Two. In other words, the Son is an interpretation
of the Father in terms of the mind.
The four Sixes are thus representative of their respective elements
at their practical best.
The Six of Wands is called Victory. The outburst of energy in the
Five of Wands, which was so sudden and violent that it even gave the
idea of strife, has now completely won success. The rule, or
lordship, in the suit of Wands is not quite as stable as it might
have been if there had been less energy displayed. So, from this
point, as soon as the current leaves the middle pillar, the inherent
weakness in the element of Fire (which is this: that, for all its
purity, it is not completely balanced) leads to very undesirable
The Six of Cups is called Pleasure. This pleasure is a kind of
pleasure which is completely harmonized. The zodiacal sign governing
the card being Scorpio, pleasure is here rooted in its most
convenient soil. This is pre-eminently a fertile card; it is one of
the best in the pack.
The Six of Swords is called Science. Its ruler is Mercury, so that
the element of success turns away from the idea of division and
quarrel; it is intelligence which has won to the goal.
The Six of Disks is called Success; the ruler is the Moon. This is a
card of settling down; it is very heavy, wholly lacking in
imagination, yet somewhat dreamy. Change is soon coming upon it; the
weight of earth will ultimately drag the current down to a mere
eventuation of material things. Yet the Moon, being in Taurus, the
sign of her exaltation, the best of the Lunar qualities are
inherent. Moreover, being a Six, the solar Energy has fertilized
her, creating a balanced system for the time being. The card is
worthy of the name Success. Remember only that all success is
temporary; how brief a halt upon the Path of Labour.
These cards are attributed to Netzach. The position is doubly
unbalanced; off the middle pillar, and very low down on the Tree. It
is taking a very great risk to descend so far into illusion, and,
above all, to do it by frantic struggle. Netzach pertains to Venus;
Netzach pertains to Earth; and the greatest catastrophe that can
befall Venus is to lose her Heavenly origin. The four Sevens are not
capable of bringing any comfort; each one represents the
degeneration of the element. Its utmost weakness is exposed in every
The Seven of Wands is called Valour. Energy feels itself at its last
gasp; it struggles desperately, and may be overcome. This card
brings out the defect inherent in the idea of Mars. Patriotism, so
to speak, is not enough.
The Seven of Cups is called Debauch. This is one of the worst ideas
that one can have; its mode is poison, its goal madness. It
represents the delusion of Delirium Tremens and drug addiction; it
represents the sinking into the mire of false pleasure. There is
something almost suicidal in this card. It is particularly bad
because there is nothing whatever to balance it-no strong planet to
hold it up. Venus goes after Venus, and Earth is churned into the
The Seven of Swords is called Futility. This is a yet weaker card
than the Seven of Wands. It has a passive sign instead of an active
one, a passive planet instead of an active one. It is like a
rheumatic boxer trying to “come back” after being out of the ring
for years. Its ruler is the Moon. The little energy that it
possesses is no more than dream-work; it is quite incapable of the
sustained labour which alone, bar miracles, can bring any endeavour
to fruition. The comparison with the Seven of Wands is most
The Seven of Disks is called Failure. This suit gives the extreme of
passivity; there is no positive virtue in it below the Abyss. This
card is ruled by Saturn. Compare it with the three other Sevens;
there is no effort here; not even dream; the stake has been thrown
down, and it is lost. That is all. Labour itself is abandoned; every
thing is sunk in sloth.
The four Eights are attributed to Hod. Being in the same plane as
the Sevens on the Tree of Life, but on the other side, the same
inherent defects as are found in the Sevens will apply.
Yet one may perhaps urge this alleviation, that the Eights come as
(in a sense) a remedy for the error of the Sevens. The mischief has
been done; and there is now a reaction against it. One may,
therefore, expect to find that, while there is no possibility of
perfection in the cards of this number, they are free from such
essential and original errors as in the Lower case.
The Eight of Wands is called Swiftness, as one might expect from its
attribution to Mercury and Sagittarius. This is an etherealization
of the idea of fire; all gross elements have disappeared.
(Let there be a short digression with regard to the signs of the
Zodiac. In the case of each element, the Cardinal sign represents
the swift, impulsive onrush of the idea. In the Kerubic sign, the
element has come to its full balance of power; and in the other
signs the force is fading away. Thus, Aries represents the rush of
fire, Lightning; Leo, its power, the Sun; and Sagittarius, the
rainbow its sublimation. Similar considerations apply to the other
elements. See the Attributions section: The Triplicities of the
In the Eight of Wands, fire is no longer conjoined with the ideas of
combustion and destruction. It represents energy in its most exalted
and tenuous sense; this suggests such forms thereof as the electric
current; one might almost say pure light in the material sense of
The Eight of Cups is called Indolence. This card is the very apex of
unpleasantness. It is ruled by the planet Saturn; time, sorrow, have
descended upon pleasure, and there is no strength in the element of
water which can react against it. This card is not exactly “the
morning after the night before”; but it is very nearly that. The
difference is that the “night before” has not happened! This card
represents a party for which all preparations have been made; but
the host has forgotten to invite the guests; or, the caterers have
not delivered the good cheer. There is this difference, though, that
it is in some way or other the host’s own fault. The party that he
planned was just a little bit above his capacity; perhaps he lost
heart at the last moment.
The Eight of Swords is called Interference. At first sight, it would
seem easy to confuse it with the Eight of Cups; but the idea is, in
reality, quite different. The card is attributed to Jupiter and
Gemini; accordingly, there is no weighing down of the will by
internal or external stress. It is simply the error of being good-
natured when good-nature is disastrous. Gemini is an airy sign, an
intellectual sign; Jupiter is geniality and optimism. This will not
do in the world of Swords; if one must hit at all, a knock-out blow
is best. But there is another element in this card; that of
unexpected (the Eights, being at heart Mercurial, are always that)
interference, sheer unforeseen bad luck. Trivial incidents have
often altered the destiny of empires, brought to naught “the best
laid plans of mice and men”.
The Eight of Disks is called Prudence. This card is a great deal
better than the last
two, because, in purely material matters, especially those relating
to actual money,
there is a sort of strength in doing nothing at all. The problem of
every financier is, first of all, to gain time; if his resources are
sufficient, he always beats the market. This is the card of “putting
something away for a rainy day”.
Its attribution is Sol in Virgo; it is the card of the husband-man;
he can do little more than sow the seed, sit back, and wait for the
harvest. There is nothing noble about this aspect of the card; like
all the Eights, it represents an element of calculation, and
gambling is securely profitable if one has adjusted the cagnotte
There is yet another point which complicates this card. The Eight of
Disks represents the geomantic figure Populus, which is an
easy-going figure, and at the same time stable. One thinks of Queen
Victoria’s time, of a man who is “something in the City” rolling up
to Town with Albert the Good advertized by his watch- chain and his
frock-coat; on the surface he is very affable, but he is nobody’s
These cards are attributed to Yesod. After the double excursion into
misfortune, the current returns to the middle pillar. This Sephira
is the seat of the great crystallization of Energy. But it takes
place very far down the Tree, at the apex of the third descending
triangle, and a flat triangle at that. There is little help from
low, unbalanced spheres like Netzach and Hod. What saves Yesod is
the direct ray from Tiphareth; this Sephira is in the direct line of
succession. Each of these cards gives the full impact of the
elemental force, but in its most material sense; that is, of the
idea of the force, for Yesod is still in Yetzirah, the formative
world. Zoroaster says:
“The number Nine is sacred, and attains the summit of perfection.”
Egypt and Rome, also, had Nine Major Deities.
The Nine of Wands is called Strength. It is ruled by the Moon and
Yesod. In “The Vision and the Voice”, the eleventh Aethyr gives a
classical account of the resolution of this antinomy of Change and
Stability. The student should also consult the works of any of the
better mathematical physicists. Of all important doctrines
concerning equilibrium, this is the easiest to understand, that
change is stability; that stability is guaranteed by change; that if
anything should stop changing for the fraction of a split second, it
would go to pieces. It is the intense energy of the primal elements
of Nature, call them electrons, atoms, anything you will, it makes
no difference; change guarantees the order of Nature. This is why,
in learning to ride a bicycle, one falls in an extremely awkward and
ridiculous manner. Balance is made difficult by not going fast
enough. So also, one cannot draw a straight line if one’s hand
shakes. This card is a sort of elementary parable to illustrate the
meaning of this aphorism: “Change is Stability.”
Here the Moon, the weakest of the planets, is in Sagittarius, the
most elusive of the Signs; yet it dares call itself Strength.
Defence, to be effective, must be mobile.
The Nine of Cups is called Happiness. This is a peculiarly good
card, because happiness, as the word implies, is so much a matter of
luck: the card is ruled by Jupiter, and Jupiter is Fortune.
In all these watery cards, there is a certain element of illusion;
they begin by Love, and love is the greatest and most deadly of the
illusions. The sign of Pisces is the refinement, the fading away of
this instinct, which, begun with dreadful hunger and carried on with
passion, has now become “a dream within a dream”.
The card is ruled by Jupiter. Jupiter in Pisces is indeed good
fortune, but only in the sense of complete satiety. The fullest
satisfaction is merely the matrix of a further putrefaction; there
is no such thing as absolute rest. A cottage in the country with the
roses all around it? No, there is nothing permanent in this; there
is no rest from the Universe. Change guarantees stability. Stability
The Nine of Swords is called Cruelty. Here the original disruption
inherent in Swords is raised to its highest power. The card is ruled
by Mars in Gemini; it is agony of mind. The Ruach consumes itself in
this card; thought has gone through every possible stage, and the
conclusion is despair. This card has been very adequately drawn by
Thomson in “The City of Dreadful Night”. It is always a
cathedral---a cathedral of the damned. There is the acrimonious
taint of analysis; activity is inherent in the mind, yet there is
always the instinctive consciousness that nothing can lead anywhere.
The Nine of Disks is called Gain. The suit of Disks is much too dull
to care; it reckons up its winnings; it does not worry its head
about whether anything is won when all is won. This card is ruled by
Venus. It purrs with satisfaction at having harvested what it sowed;
it rubs its hands and sits at ease. As will be understood from the
consideration of the Tens, there is no reaction against satisfaction
as there is in the other three suits. One becomes more and more
stolid, and feels that “everything is for the best in the best of
all possible worlds”.
These cards are attributed to Malkuth. Here is the end of all
energy; it is away from the “formative world” altogether, where
things are elastic. There is now no planetary attribution to
consider. So far as the Sephira is concerned, it is right down in
the world of Assiah. By the mere fact of having devised four
elements, the current has derogated from the original perfection.
The Tens are a warning; see whither it leads-to take the first wrong
The Ten of Wands is called Oppression. This is what happens when one
uses force, force, and nothing else but force all the time. Here
looms the dull and heavy planet Saturn weighing down the fiery,
ethereal side of Sagittarius; it brings out all the worst in
Sagittarius. See the Archer, not shooting forth benign rays, but
dealing the sharp rain of death! The Wand has conquered; it has done
its work; it has done its work too well; it did not know when to
stop; Government has become Tyranny. One thinks of the Hydra when
one reflects that King Charles was beheaded in White hall!
The Ten of Cups is called Satiety. Its attribution is Mars in
Pisces. The watery sign has sunk into a stagnant dream, but in it
broods and breeds the violent quality of Mars, to putrefy it. As it
is written: “Until a dart strike through his liver.” The pursuit of
pleasure has been crowned with perfect success; and constantly it is
discovered that, having got everything that one wanted, one did not
want it after all; now one must pay.
The Ten of Swords is called Ruin. It teaches the lesson which
statesmen should have learned, and have not; that if one goes on
fighting long enough, all ends in destruction.
Yet this card is not entirely without hope. The Solar influence
rules; ruin can never be complete, because disaster is a sthenic
disease. As soon as things are bad enough, one begins to build up
again. When all the Governments have smashed each other, there still
remains the peasant. At the end of Candide’s misadventures, he could
still cultivate his garden.
The Ten of Disks is called Wealth. Here again is written this
constantly recurring doctrine, that as soon as one gets to the
bottom one finds oneself at the top; and Wealth is given to Mercury
in Virgo. When wealth accumulates beyond a certain point, it must
either become completely inert and cease to be wealth, or call in
the aid of intelligence to use it rightly. This must necessarily
happen in spheres which have nothing whatever to do with material
possessions, as such. In this way, Carnegie establishes a Library,
Rockefeller endows Research, simply because there is nothing else to
But all this doctrine lies behind the card; it is the inner meaning
of the card.
There is another view to consider, that this is the last of all the
cards, and therefore represents the sum total of all the work that
has been done from the beginning.
Therefore, in it is drawn the very figure of the Tree of Life
itself. This card, to the
other thirty-five small cards, is what the twenty-first Trump, The
Universe, is to the
rest of the Trumps.