This card represents the essence of the element of Fire in its inception. It is a solar-phallic outburst of flame from which spring lightnings in every direction.

These flames are Yods, arranged in the form of the Tree of Life. (For Yod, see Atu IX supra.)

It is the primordial Energy of the Divine manifesting in Matter, at so early a stage that it is not yet definitely formulated as Will.

Important: although these “small cards” are sympathetic with their Sephirotic origin, they are not identical; nor are they Divine Persons. These (and the Court Cards also) are primarily sub-Elements, parts of the “Blind Forces” under the Demiourgos, Tetragrammaton. Their rulers are the Intelligences, in the Yetziratic world, who go to form the Schemhamphorasch. Nor is even this Name, “Lord of the Universe” though it be, truly Divine, as are the Lords of the Atu in the Element of Spirit. Each Atu possesses its own private, personal and particular Universe, with Demiourgos (and all the rest) complete, just as every man and every woman does.

For example II’s or VI’s Three of Disks might represent the establishment of such an oracle as that of Delphi, or VIII’s might be the first formula of a Code such as Manu gave to Hindustan; V’s, a cathedral, XVI’s, a standing army; and so on. The great point is that all the Elemental Forces, however sublime, powerful, or intelligent, are Blind Forces and no more.


This card, pertaining to Chokmah in the suit of Fire, represents the Will in its most exalted form. It is an ideal Will, independent of any given object.

“For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.” AL. 1. 44.

The background of this card shows the power of the planet Mars in his own sign Aries, the first of the Signs. It there represents Energy initiating a Current of Force.

The pictorial representation is two Dorjes crossed. The Dorje is the Tibetan symbol of the thunderbolt, the emblem of celestial Power, but more in its destructive than its creative form.

More, that is, in its earlier rather than its later form. For destruction may be regarded as the first step in the creative process. The virgin ovum must be broken in order to fertilize it. Fear and repulsion are therefore the primary reaction to the assault. Then, with understanding of the complete plan, willing surrender rejoices to co-operate.

Six flames issue from the centre. This indicates the influence of the Sun, who is exalted in Aries. This is the creative Will.

Mars in Aries is the attribution of the Geomantic Figure Puer. The meaning of these figures is to be studied in the Handbook of that science: “The Equinox” Vol. I, No.2. Remember that the Geomantic Intelligences (see Liber 777 Cols. XLIX and CLXXVIII) are all primarily Gnomes.


This card refers to Binah in the suit of Fire, and so represents the establishment of primeval Energy. The Will has been transmitted to the Mother, who conceives, prepares, and gives birth to, its manifestation.

It refers to the Sun in Aries, the Sign in which he is exalted.

The meaning is harmonious, for this is the beginning of Spring. For this reason one sees the wand taking the form of the Lotus in blossom. The Sun has enkindled the Great Mother.

In the Yi King, Sol in Aries is represented by the 11th hexagram, Thai; its meaning is identical with the above description.


This card refers to Chesed in the suit of Fire. Being below the Abyss, it is the Lord of all manifested active Power. The original Will of the Two has been transmitted through the Three, and is now built up into a solid system:-Order, Law, Government. It is also referred to Venus in Aries, which indicates that one cannot establish one’s work without tact and gentleness.

The wands are headed by the Ram, sacred to Chesed, the Father-god Amoun-Ra, as also to Aries; but at the other end of the wands are the Doves of Venus.

In the symbol, the ends of the wands touch a circle, showing the completion and limitation of the original work. It is within this circle that the flames (four double, as if to assert the balance) of the Energy are seen to play, and there is no intention to increase the scope of the original Will. But this limitation bears in itself the seeds of disorder.


This card is referred to Geburah of the suit of Fire. Geburah itself being fiery, it is a purely active ,force. It is ruled also by Saturn and Leo. Leo shows the element of Fire at its strongest and most balanced. Saturn tends to weigh it down and to embitter it. There is no limit to the scope of this volcanic energy.

The symbol represents the wand of the Chief Adept, showing that the authority is derived from the superiors; were it not so, this card would be thoroughly disastrous. Moreover, there are also two wands of the Second, or Major Adept. They have the head of the Phoenix, which gives the idea of destruction (or rather purgation) through fire, and the resurrection of the energy from its ashes.

There is also a pair of wands of the Third, or Minor, Adept, which are daughters, so to speak, of the wands in the Three of Wands. In this card there is the mitigating influence of the Mother. One of the most difficult doctrines with regard to Geburah is that, while it represents all this tameless irrational energy and disturbance, yet it derives from the benign and gentle influence of the feminine.

The Egyptians understood this doctrine perfectly. Their Lion goddess, Pasht, was hailed as “saeva” and “ferox”, was even called “red in tooth and claw” by those fanatical devotees who wished to identify her with Nature. The idea of sexual cruelty is often inherent in the highest divine nature; compare Bhavani and Kali in the Hindu system, and observe the Shiva-Sakti coition portrayed on many Tibetan banners. See also Liber 418,4th, 3rd, and 2nd Aethyrs; and the description supra of Atu XI.


This card represents Tiphareth of the suit of Fire. This shows Energy in completely balanced manifestation. The Five has broken up the closed forces of the Four with revolutionary ardour, but a marriage has taken place between them; and the result is the Son, and the Sun.

The reference is also to Jupiter and Leo, which seems to imply a benediction on the harmony and beauty of this arrangement. It Will be seen that the Three Wands of the Three Adepts are now orderly arranged; and the flames themselves, instead of shooting out in all directions, burn steadily as in lamps. They are nine in number, in reference to Yesod and the Moon. This shows the stabilization of the Energy, and its reception and reflection by the Feminine. There is no circle to enclose the system. It is self-supporting, like the Sun.


This card derives from Netzach (Victory) in the suit of Fire. But the Seven is a weak, earthy, feminine number as regards the Tree of Life, and represents a departure from the balance so low down on the Tree that this implies a loss of confidence.

Fortunately, the card is also attributed to Mars in Leo. Leo is still the Sun in his full strength, but the marks of decadence are already to be seen. It is as if the wavering fire summoned the brutal energy of Mars to its support. But this is not enough to counter- act fully the degeneration of the initial energy, and the departure from equilibrium.

The army has been thrown into disorder; if victory is to be won, it will be by dint of individual valour-a “soldiers’ battle”.
The pictorial representation shows the fixed and balanced wands of the last card relegated to the background, diminished, and become commonplace.

In front is a large crude uneven club, the first weapon to hand; evidently unsatisfactory in ordered combat.

The flames are dispersed, and seem to attack in all directions without systematic purpose.


The remaining three cards of the suit belong to Sagittarius, which represents the subtilizing of the Fiery energy; and Mercury rules the card, thus bringing down from Chokmah the message of the original Will.

The card also refers to Hod, splendour, in the suit of Fire, whence it refers to the phenomena of speech, light, electricity.

The pictorial representation of the card shows the Light-wands turned into electrical rays, sustaining or even constituting Matter by their vibrating energy. Above this restored universe shines the rainbow; the division of pure light, which deals with maxima, into the seven colours of the spectrum, which exhibit interplay and correlation.

This card, therefore, represents energy of high velocity, such as furnishes the master-key to modern mathematical physics.
It will be noted that there are no flames; they have all been taken up into the wands to turn them into rays. On the other hand, the electric energy has created intelligible geometrical form.


This card is referred to Yesod, the Foundation; this brings the Energy back into balance. The Nine represents always the fullest development of the Force in its relation with the Forces above it. The Nine may be considered as the best that can be obtained from the type involved, regarded from a practical and material standpoint.

This card is also governed by the Moon in Sagittarius; so here is a double influence of the Moon on the Tree of Life. Hence the aphorism “Change is Stability”.

The Wands have now become arrows. There are eight of them in the background, and in front of them one master arrow. This has the Moon for its point, and the Sun for the driving Force above it; for the path of Sagittarius on the Tree of Life joins the Sun and Moon. The flames in the card are tenfold, implying that the Energy is directed downwards.


The number Ten refers to Malkuth, which depends from the other nine Sephiroth, but is not directly in communication with them. It shows the Force detached from its spiritual sources. It is become a blind Force; so, the most violent form of that particular energy, without any modifying influences. The flames in the background of the card have run wild. It is Fire in its most destructive aspect.

The card also refers to the influence of Saturn in Sagittarius. Here is the greatest antipathy. Sagittarius is spiritual, swift, light, elusive, and luminous; Saturn is material, slow, heavy, obstinate, and obscure.

The eight Wands are still crossed, showing the enormous power of the completed energies of Fire; but they have lost their patents of nobility. Their ends seem more like claws; they lack the authority and intelligence shown in the earlier cards; and in front are the two formidable Dorjes of the Two of Wands, but lengthened to bars.

The whole picture suggests Oppression and repression. It is a stupid and obstinate cruelty from which there is no escape. It is a Will which has not understood anything beyond its du]l purpose, its “lust of result”, and will devour itself in the conflagrations it has evoked.


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This card represents the element of Water in its most secret and original form. It is the feminine complement of the Ace of Wands, and is derived from the Yoni and the Moon exactly as that is from the Lingam and the Sun. The third in the Hierarchy. This accordingly represents the essential form of the Holy Grail. Upon the dark sea of Binah, the Great Mother, are Lotuses, two in one, which fill the cup with the Life-fluid, symbolically represented either as Water, as Blood, or as Wine, according to the selected purpose of the symbolism. This being a primordial card, the liquid is shown as water; it can be transformed into Wine or Blood as may be required.

Above the Cup, descending upon it, is the Dove of the Holy Ghost, thus consecrating the element.

At the base of the Cup is the Moon, for it is the virtue of this card to conceive and to produce the second form of its Nature.


The Two always represents the Word and the Will. It is the first manifestation. Therefore, in the suit of Water, it must refer to Love, which recovers unity from dividuality by mutual annihilation.

The card also refers to Venus in Cancer. Cancer is, more than any other, the receptive Sign; it is the House of the Moon, and in that Sign Jupiter is exalted. These are, superficially, the three most friendly of the planets.

The hieroglyph of the card represents two cups in the foreground, overflowing upon a calm sea. They are fed with lucent water from a lotus floating upon the sea, from which rises another lotus around whose stem are entwined twin dolphins. The symbolism of the dolphin is very complicated, and must be studied in books of reference; but the general idea is that of the “Royal Art”. The dolphin is peculiarly sacred to Alchemy.

The number Two referring to Will, this card might really be renamed the Lord of Love under Will, for that is its full and true meaning. It shows the harmony of the male and the female: interpreted in the largest sense. It is perfect and placid harmony, radiating an intensity of joy and ecstasy.

Of necessity, the realization of the idea in the Four (as the suit develops) will gradually diminish the purity of its perfection.


This card refers to Binah in the suit of Water. This is the card of Demeter or Persephone. The Cups are pomegranates: they are filled bountifully to overflowing from a single lotus, arising from the dark calm sea characteristic of Binah. There is here the fulifilment of the Will of Love in abounding joy. It is the spiritual basis of fertility.

The card is referred to the influence of Mercury in Cancer; this carries further the above thesis. Mercury is the Will or Word of the All-Father; here its influence descends upon the most receptive of the Signs.

At the same time, the combination of these forms of energy brings in the possibility of somewhat mysterious ideas. Binah, the Great Sea, is the Moon in one aspect, but Saturn in another; and Mercury, besides being the Word or Will of the All-One, is the guide of the souls of the Dead. This card requires great subtlety of interpretation.

The pomegranate was the fruit which Persephone ate in the realms of Pluto, thereby enabling him to hold her in the lower world, even after the most powerful influence had been brought to bear. The lesson seems to be that the good things of life, although enjoyed, should be distrusted.


This card refers to Chesed in the sphere of Water. Here, below the Abyss, the energy of this element, although ordered, balanced and (for the moment) stabilized, has lost the original purity of the conception.

The card refers to the Moon in Cancer, which is her own house; but Cancer itself is so placed that this implies a certain weakness, an abandonment to desire. This tends to introduce the seeds of decay into the fruit of pleasure.

The sea is still shown, but its surface is ruffled, and the four Cups which stand upon it are no longer so stable. The Lotus from which the water Springs has a multiple stem, as if to show that the influence of the Dyad has gathered strength. For although the number Four is the manifestation and consolidation of the dyad, it is also secretly preparing catastrophe by emphasizing individuality.

There is a certain parallelism between this card and the Geomantic figures Via and Populus, which are attributed to the Moon in her decrease and increase respectively. The link is primarily the “Change=Stability” equation, already familiar to readers of this essay. Four is an “awkward” number; alone among the natural numbers, it is impossible to construct a “Magic Square” of four cells. Even in the Naples Arrangement, Four is a dead stop, a blind alley. An idea of a totally different Order is necessary to carry on the series. Note also the refolding-in-upon-itself suggested by the “Magic Number” of Four 1+2 + 3+4 which is Ten. Four is the number of the Curse of Limitation, of Restriction. It is the blind and barren Cross of equal arms, Tetragrammaton in his fatal aspect of finality, as the Qabalists knew him before the discovery of the Revolving Formula whereby the Daughter, seated upon the Throne of the Mother, “awakens the Eld of the All-Father”.

For the meanings of Via and Populus, refer to the “Handbook of Geomancy” (Equinox Vol. I, No.2).


This card is ruled by Geburah in the suit of Water. Geburah being fiery, there is a natural antipathy. Hence arises the idea of disturbance, just when least expected, in a time of ease.

The attribution is also to Mars in Scorpio, which is his own house; and Mars is the manifestation on the lowest plane of Geburah, while Scorpio, in its worst aspect, suggests the putrefying power of Water. Yet the powerful male influences do not show actual decay, only the beginning of destruction; hence, the anticipated pleasure is frustrated. The Lotuses have their petals torn by fiery winds; the sea is arid and stagnant, a dead sea, like a “chott” in North Africa. No water flows into the cups.

Moreover, these cups are arranged in the form of an inverted pentagram, symbolizing the triumph of matter over spirit.
Mars in Scorpio, moreover, is the attribution of the Geomantic figure Rubeus. This is of such evil omen that certain schools of Geomancy destroy the Map, and postpone the question for two hours or more, when Rubeus appears in the Ascendant. Its meaning is to be studied in the “Handbook of Geomancy” (Equinox Vol. I, No.2).


This card shows the influence of the number Six, Tiphareth, in the suit of Water. This influence is fortified by that of the Sun, who also represents the Six. The whole image is that of the influence of the Sun on Water. His fierce, but balanced power operates that type of putrefaction-he is in the Sign of Scorpio-which is the basis of all fertility, all life.

The lotus stems are grouped in an elaborate dancing movement. From their blossoms water gushes into the Cups, but they are not yet full to overflowing, as they are in the corresponding card below; the Nine.

Pleasure, in the title of this card, must be understood in its highest sense: it implies well-being, harmony of natural forces without effort or strain, ease, satisfaction. Foreign to the idea of the card is the gratification of natural or artificial desires. Yet it does represent emphatically the fulfilment of the sexual Will, as shown by the ruling Sephira, planet, element, and sign.
In the Yi King, Sol in Scorpio is represented by the 20th Hexagram, Kwan, which is also “Big Earth”, being the Earth Trigram with doubled lines. Kwan means “manifesting”, but also “contemplating”.


The Kwan refers directly to an High Priest, ceremonially purified, about to present his offerings. The idea of Pleasure-Putrefaction as a Sacrament is therefore implicit in this Hexagram as in this card; while the comments on the separate lines by the Duke of Chau indicate the analytical value of this Eucharist. It is one of the master-keys to the Gate of Initiation. To realize and to enjoy this fully it is necessary to know, to understand, and to experience, the Secret of the Ninth Degree of the O.T.O.


This card refers to the Seven, Netzach, in the suit of Water. Here recurs the invariable weakness arising from lack of balance; also, the card is governed by Venus in Scorpio. Her dignity is not good in this Sign; one is reminded that Venus is the planet of Copper, “external splendour and internal corruption”. The Lotuses have become poisonous, looking like tiger-lilies; and, instead of water, green slime issues from them and overflows, making the Sea a malarious morass. Venus redoubles the influence of the number Seven.

The cups are iridescent, carrying out the same idea.

They are arranged as two descending triangles interlaced above the lowest cup, which is very much larger than the rest.
This card is almost the “evil and averse” image of the Six; it is a wholesome reminder of the fatal ease with which a Sacrament may be profaned and prostituted.

Lose direct touch with Kether, the Highest; diverge never so little from the delicate balance of the Middle Pillar; at once the holiest mysteries of Nature become the obscene and shameful secrets of a guilty conscience.


The Eight, Hod, in the suit of Water, governs this card. It shows the influence of Mercury, but this is overpowered by the reference of the card to Saturn in Pisces. Pisces is calm but stagnant water; and Saturn deadens it completely. Water appears no longer as the Sea but as pools; and there is no florescence in this card as there was in the last. The Lotuses droop for lack of sun and rain, and the soil is poison to them; only two of the stems show blossoms at all. The cups are shallow, old and broken.


They are arranged in three rows; of these the upper row of three is quite empty. Water trickles from the two flowers into the two central cups, and they drip into the two lowest without filling them. The background of the card shows pools, or lagoons, in very extensive country, incapable of cultivation; only disease and miasmatic poison can flourish in those vast Bad Lands.

The water is dark and muddy. On the horizon is a pallid, yellowish light, weighed down by leaden clouds of indigo.
Compare with the last card; it represents the opposite and complementary error. The one is the Garden of Kundry, the other the Palace of Klingsor.

In the psychopathology of The Path, this card is the German Measles of Christian Mysticism.


The Number Nine, Yesod, in the suit of Water, restores the stability lost by the excursions of Netzach and Hod from the Middle Pillar. It is also the number of the Moon, thus strengthening the idea of Water.

In this card is the pageant of the culmination and perfection of the original force of Water.

The Ruler is Jupiter in Pisces. This influence is more than sympathetic; it is a definite benediction, for Jupiter is the planet of Chesed which represents Water in its highest material manifestation, and Pisces brings out the placid qualities of Water.
In the symbol are nine cups perfectly arranged in a square; all are filled and overflowing with Water. It is the most complete and most beneficent aspect of the force of Water.

The Geomantic Figure Laetitia is ruled by Jupiter in Pisces. For its meaning consult the “Handbook of Geomancy” (Equinox Vol I, No.2). Laetitia, Joy, gladness, is one of the best and most powerful of the sixteen figures; for the Solar, Lunar, and Mercurial symbols are, at the best, ambiguous and treacherously ambivalent; those of Venus portend rather relief than positive beneficence; Saturn and Mars are seen at their worst; and even the stable-companion of Laetitia, Acquisitio, has its unpleasant aspects, and even its dangers. But the consonance of Laetitia with this card amounts to little less than an identity; the wine is poured by Ganymede himself, unstinted vintage of true nectar of the Gods, brimful and running over, an ordered banquet of delight, True Wisdom self-fulfilled in Perfect Happiness.


This card represents a conflicting element. On the one hand, it receives the influence of the Ten, Malkah the Virgin. The arrangement of the cups is that of the Tree of Life. But, on the other hand, they are themselves unstable. They are tilted; they spill the water from the great Lotus which overhangs the whole system from one into the other.

The work proper to water is complete: and disturbance is due.

This comes from the influence of Mars in Pisces. Mars is the gross, violent and disruptive force which inevitably attacks every supposed perfection. His energy displays the greatest possible contrast with that of Pisces, which is both peaceful and spiritualized.


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The Ace of Swords is the primordial Energy of Air, the Essence of the Vau of Tetragrammaton, the integration of the Ruach. Air is the result of the conjunction of Fire and Water; thus it lacks the purity of its superiors in the male hierarchy, Fire, Sol and the Phallus. But for this same reason it is the first card directly to be apprehended by the normal consciousness of Mankind. The errors of such cards as the 7 and 10 of Cups are yet of an Order altogether higher than the apparently much milder 4 of Swords. The study of the subtle and gradual degradation of the planes is excessively difficult.

In nature, the obvious symbol of Air is the Wind “which bloweth whithersoever it listeth”. It lacks the concentrated Will of Fire to unite with Water: it has no corresponding passion for its Twin Element, Earth. There is indeed, a notable passivity in its nature; evidently, it has no self-generated impulse. But, set in motion by its Father and Mother, its power is manifestly terrific. It visibly attacks its objective, as they, being of subtler and more tenuous character, can never do. Its “all-embracing, all-wandering, all-penetrating, all-consuming” qualities have been described by many admirable writers, and its analogies are for the most part patent to quite ordinary observers.

But, it will instantly be asked, what of the status of this Element in the light of other attributions? In the Yetziratic World, is not Air the first element to follow Spirit? Is not Vayu the first emergence of the phenomenal from the arcane obscurity of Akasha? How may one reconcile the doctrine of Mind with the fact that Ruh, or Ruach, actually means Spirit itself? “Achath Ruach Elohim Chiim” (777) means “One is the Spirit (not Air) of the Gods of the Living”? And is not Air, the element attributed to Mercury, also most properly the Breath of Life, the Word, the Logos itself?

The student must be referred to some less raw, cursory, elementary and superficial Treatise than this present bat-eyed, penguin- winged, bluebottle-brained buzzing. Nevertheless, although Air is in no system the lowest, and so cannot claim benefit of clergy from the doctrine that Malkuth automatically resolves into Kether, the following reference seems not wholly to lack either cogency or pertinence.

The Ruach is centred in the airy Sephira, Tiphareth, who is the Son, the first-born of the Father, and the Sun, the first emanation of the creative Phallus. He derives directly from his mother Binah through the Path of Zain, the sublime intuitive sense, so that he partakes absolutely of the nature of Neschamah. From his father, Chokmah, he is informed though the Path of Heh’, the Great Mother, the Star, our Lady Nuit, so that the creative impulse is communicated to him by all possibilities soever. [How strikingly this fact confirms the counterchange of IV and XVII, above fully expounded: as a link between Chokmah and Tiphareth, the Emperor would have no great significance, and this exquisite doctrine of the Three Mothers would be lost.]

Finally, from Kether, the supreme, descends directly upon him, though the Path of Gimel, the High Priestess, the triune light of Initiation. The Three- in-One, the Secret Mother in her polymorphous plenitude; these, these alone, hail him thrice blessed of the Supernals!

The card represents the Sword of the Magus (see Book 4, Part II) crowned with the twenty-two rayed diadem of pure Light. The number refers to the Atu; also 22=2 X II, the Magical manifestation of Chokmah, Wisdom, the Logos. Upon the blade, accordingly, is inscribed the Word of the Law, This Word sends forth a blaze of Light, dispersing the dark clouds of the Mind.


This card is ruled by Chokmah in the Element of Air. This suit, governing all intellectual manifestations, is always complicated and disordered. It is subject to change as is no other suit. It represents a general shaking-up, resulting from the conflict of Fire and Water in their marriage; and proceeds, when Earth appears, to crystallization. But the purity and exaltation of Chokmah are such that this card manifests the very best idea possible to the suit. The energy abides above the onslaught of disruption. This comparative calm is emphasized by the celestial attribution: the Moon in Libra.

The Moon is change, but Nature is peaceful; moreover, Libra represents balance; between them, they regulate the energy of the Swords.

In the card appear two swords crossed; they are united by a blue rose with five petals. This rose represents the influence of the Mother, whose harmonizing influence compounds the latent antagonism native to the suit. The Rose emits white rays, producing a geometrical pattern that emphasizes the equilibrium of the symbol.


Binah, the Great Mother, here rules the realm of Air. This fact involves an extremely difficult doctrine which must be studied at length in The Vision and the Voice: Aethyr 14.

Binah is here not the beneficent Mother completing the Trinity with Kether and Chokmah. She represents the darkness of the Great Sea.

This is accentuated by the Celestial Lordship of Saturn in Libra.

This card is dark and heavy; it is, so to speak, the womb of Chaos. There is an intense lurking passion to create, but its children are monsters. This may mean the supreme transcendence of the natural order. Secrecy is here, and Perversion.
The symbol represents the great Sword of the Magician, point uppermost; it cuts the junction of two short curved swords. The impact has destroyed the rose. In the background, storm broods under implacable night.


The number Four, Chesed, is here manifested in the realm of the Intellect. Chesed refers to Jupiter who rules in Libra in this decanate. The sum of these symbols is therefore without opposition; hence the card proclaims the idea of authority in the intellectual world. It is the establishment of dogma, and law concerning it. It represents a refuge from mental chaos, chosen in an arbitrary manner. It argues for convention.

The hilts of the four Swords are at the corner of a St. Andrew’s cross. Their shape suggests fixation and rigidity. Their points are sheathed---in a rather large rose of forty-nine petals representing social harmony. Here, too, is compromise.

Minds too indolent or too cowardly to think out their own problems hail joyfully this policy of appeasement. As always, the Four is the term; as in this case there is no true justification for repose, its disturbance by the Five holds no promise of advance; its static shams go pell-mell into the melting-pot; the issue is mere mess, usually signalized by foetid stench. But it has to be done!


Geburah, as always, produces disruption; but as Venus here rules Aquarius, weakness rather than excess of strength seems the cause of disaster. The intellect has been enfeebled by sentiment. The defeat is due to pacifism. Treachery also may be implied.

The hilts of the swords form the inverted pentagram, always a symbol of somewhat sinister tendency. Here matters are even worse; none of the hilts resembles any of the others, and their blades are crooked or broken. They give the impression of drooping; only the lowest of the swords points upwards, and this is the least effective of the weapons. The rose of the previous card has been altogether disintegrated.

The historian is happy to observe two perfect illustrations of the mode of this card and the last in the birth of the Aeon of (1) Osiris, (2) Horus. He will note the decay of such Virtue as characterized Sparta and Rome, ending in the establishment of the Pax Romana. As Virtue declined, corruption disintegrated the Empire from within. Epicene cults, such as those of Dionysus (in its degraded form), of Attis, of Adonis, of Cybele, the false Demeter and the prostituted Isis, replaced the sterner rites of the true Solar- Phallic gods; until finally (the masters having lost the respect, and so the control, of the plebs, native and alien) the lowest of all the slave-cults, dressed up in the fables of the vilest of the parasitic races, swept over the known world, and drenched it in foul darkness for five hundred years. He will delight to draw close parallels with the cognate phenomena displayed before the present generation.


Tiphareth shows the full establishment and balance of the idea of the suit. This is particularly the case with this card, as the intellect itself is also referred to the number Six. Mercury, in Aquarius, represents the celestial Energy influencing the Kerub of the Man, thus showing intelligence and humanity.

But there is much more than this in the symbol. The perfect balance of all mental and moral faculties, hardly won, and almost impossible to hold in an ever-changing world, declares the idea of Science in its fullest interpretation.
The hilts of the Swords, which are very ornamental, are in the form of the hexagram. Their points touch the outer petals of a red rose upon a golden cross of six squares, thus showing the Rosy Cross as the central secret of scientific truth.


Netzach, in the suit of Swords, does not represent such catastrophe as in the other suits, for Netzach, the Sephira of Venus, means victory. There is, therefore, a modifying influence; and this is accentuated by the celestial rule of the Moon in Aquarius.

The intellectual wreckage of the card is thus not so vehement as in the Five. There is vacillation, a wish to compromise, a certain toleration. But, in certain circumstances, the results may be more disastrous than ever. This naturally depends upon the success of the policy. This is always in doubt as long as there exist violent, uncompromising forces which take it as a natural prey.

This card, like the Four, suggests the policy of appeasement.

The symbol shows six Swords with their hilts in crescent formation. Their points meet below the centre of the card, impinging upon a blade of a much larger up-thrusting sword, as if there were a contest between the many feeble and the one strong. He strives in vain.


The number Eight, Hod, here signifies lack of persistence in matters of the intellect and of contest. Good fortune, however, attends even these weakened efforts, thanks to the influence of Jupiter in Gemini, ruling the Decan. Yet the Will is constantly thwarted by accidental interference.

The centre of the card is occupied by two long Swords pointed downward. These are crossed by six small swords, three on each side. They remind one of weapons peculiar to their countries or their cults; we see here the Kriss, the Kukri, the Scramasax, the Dagger, the Machete and the Yataghan.


The number Nine, Yesod, brings back the Energy to the central pillar of the Tree of Life. The previous disorder is now rectified.

But the general idea of the suit has been constantly degenerating. The Swords no longer represent pure intellect so much as the automatic stirring of heartless passions. Consciousness has fallen into a realm unenlightened by reason. This is the world of the unconscious primitive instincts, of the psychopath, of the fanatic.

The celestial ruler is Mars in Gemini, crude rage of hunger operating without restraint; although its form is intellectual, it is the temper of the inquisitor.

The symbol shows nine swords of varying lengths, all striking downwards to a point.

They are jagged and rusty. Poison and blood drip from their blades.

There is, however, a way of dealing with this card: the way of passive resistance, resignation, the acceptance of martyrdom.
Nor is an alien formula that of implacable revenge.


The number Ten, Malkuth, as always, represents the culmination of the unmitigated energy of the idea. It shows reason run mad, ramshackle riot of soulless mechanism; it represents the logic of lunatics and (for the most part) of philosophers. It is reason divorced from reality.

The card is also ruled by the Sun in Gemini, but the mercurial airy quality of the Sign serves to disperse his rays; this card shows the disruption and disorder of harmonious and stable energy.

The hilts of the Swords occupy the positions of the Sephiroth, but the points One to Five and Seven to Nine touch and shatter the central Sword (six) which represents the Sun, the Heart, the child of Chokmah and Binah. The tenth Sword is also in splinters. It is the ruin of the Intellect, and even of all mental and moral qualities.

In the Yi King, Sol in Gemini is the virtue of the 43rd Hexagram, Kwai, the Watery modification of the Phallus; also, by the interlacing interpretation, the harmony of these two same Trigrams.

The signification is perfectly harmonious with that of the Ten of Swords It represents the damping down of the Creative impulse, weakness, corruption, or mirage affecting that principle itself. But, viewing the Hexagram as a weapon or method of procedure, it counsels the ruler to purge the state of unworthy officers. Curiously, the invention of written characters to replace knotted strings is ascribed among Chinese scholars to the use of this hexagram by the sages. Gemini is ruled by Thoth; 10 is the key of the Naples Arrangement; and Apollo (Sol) is the patron of literature and the arts: so his suggestion might appear at least no less suitable to the Qabalistic correspondences than to their double emphasis on Water and the Sun.

Apart from this, however, the parallelism is complete.


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