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Hermetic Symbols and Meditations On The Tarot

"All emblems are symbols, tokens, or signs,

but all symbols are not emblems:

the two possess affinity indeed

but not identity."

Claude Mignault    1574

"Naturally and easily the term emblem became  applicable

to any painting, drawing, or print that was representative

of an action, of a quality of mind, or of any peculiarity

or attribute of character. Emblems in fact were, and are

a species of hieroglyphics, in figures or pictures, besides

denoting the natural object to which they bear resemblances,

were employed to express properties of the mind and abstract

ideas, and all the operations of the soul."

Henry Green    1586

Hermetic Tarot

Hermetic Tarot utilizes the tarot imagery to function as a textbook and mnemonic device for teaching and revealing the gnosis of alchemical symbolical language and its profound and philosophical meanings. An example of this practice is found in the rituals of the 19th Century Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In the 20th Century Hermetic use of the tarot imagery as a handbook and revealer of perennial wisdom was further developed in the work of Carl Gustav Jung and his exploration into the psyche and active imagination.


"The Cards of the Tarot are Living Beings..."

Aleister Crowley

"The Tarot is the hieroglyphic key to stages of evolution."

Timothy Leary

"As in the Tarot the Holy Qabalah is a system of classifying

the Beings, By-comings, Thoughts, Monads, Atoms, Waves, 

Packets of Energy, Ideas, or whatever one chooses to call them;

of memorizing, discussing and manipulating the Relations between them."

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The Fool










"In spiritual matters, the Fool means idea, thought , spirituality

that which endeavours to transcend earth.

In material matters, it may, if badly dignified, mean folly,

eccentricity, or even mania.

But the essential of this card is that it represents an original'

subtle, sudden impulse or impact, coming from a completely strange quarter.

All such impulses are right, if rightly received; and the good or the ill

interptation of the card depends entirely on the right attitude of the Querent."



Aleister Crowley



The Royal Road

The sublime purity of ineffable essence is present within my

being. I recognize myself as an essence without form, without

qualities and limitations. I am all in all. I am no thing, but I am 

present in all things. I am the terminal point of all, and the first 

origination of beginning. I was and was not: I am and am not:

I shall be, yet am utterly without a future. I am a circle with it's

center everywhere and it's circumference nowhere. Childlike and ancient:

Young and old: new and aged am I. Purer than the snow, more radiant

than the sun, smaller than the smallest atom, greater than the vastness

of space: all these I am. I am the all and the naught: I am free.

So I am, and was and shall be, within being and in non-being,

within time and out of time, ever and never. Amen.

A Manual of Kalalistic Meditations on the Tarot

Stephan A Hoeller

Crowley correlates this card with such mythic Jungian archetypes

as the ""April Fool" or the spirit of Spring in the Frazerian vegetation cults:

nature's new born child, raising again after death(winter). The Holy Ghost,

he says, is the Christian equivalent and Hoor-par-kraat the Egyptian.

The meaning again given in the New Testament:

"Unless ye become as a little child'  

Ye shall in no wise enter the kingdom of Earth."

The Game of Life


Timothy Leary

The Fool is Air or Vacuum or Pure Innocence.

"He holds in his hand the element of fire

the female element of water

the sword of air

and the disk of the earth.

He is the Green Man of Spring, the great fool of the Celts,

Daluah and Parsifal.

He is also Zeus, Dionysus, Bacchus and Baphomet.

Aleister Crowley

This card as usually presented shows a man in motley striding along, heedless of the dog which tears his garments and threatens to attack him. In this is seen only the lower aspect of the card, giving no hint to the Divine Folly of which St. Paul speaks. But in the Order pack, an effort is made to reveal the deeper meaning. A naked child stands beneath a rose-tree bearing yellow roses - the golden Rose of Joy as well as the Rose of Silence. While reaching up to the Roses, he yet holds in leash a gray wolf, worldly wisdom held in check by perfect innocence. The colors are pale yellow, pale blue, greenish yellow - suggestive of the early dawn of a spring day.

The Divine Folly of which St. Paul speaks:
1 Corinthians (King James Version)
3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 
3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 
2 Corinthians (King James Version)
12:11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

See here to pursue this biblical line of thought.

Book of Thoth 24
The design of the present card resumes the principal ideas of the above essays. The Fool is of the gold of air. He has the horns of Dionysus Zagreus, and between them is the phallic cone of white light representing the influence from the Crown [Kether: see the position of the Path of Aleph on the Tree of Life.] upon him. He is shown against the background of air, dawning from space; and his attitude is that of one bursting unexpectedly upon the world.

He is clad in green, according to the tradition of Spring; but his shoes are of the phallic gold of the sun.

In his right hand he bears the wand, tipped with a pyramid of white, of the All-Father. In his left hand he bears the flaming pine-cone, of similar significance, but more definitely indicating vegetable growth; and from his left shoulder hangs a bunch of purple grapes. Grapes represent fertility, sweetness, and the basis of ecstasy. This ecstasy is shown by the stem of the grapes developing into rainbow - hued spirals. The Form of the Universe. This suggests the Threefold Veil of the Negative manifesting, by his intervention, in divided light. Upon this spiral whorl are other attributions of godhead; the vulture of Maut, the dove of Venus (Isis or Mary), and the ivy sacred to his devotees. There is also the butterfly of many-coloured air and the winged globe with its twin serpents, a symbol which is echoed and fortified by the twin infants embracing on the middle spiral. Above them hangs the benediction of three flowers in one. Fawning upon him is the tiger; and beneath his feet in the Nile with its lotus stems crouches the crocodile. Resuming all his many forms and many-coloured images in the centre of the figure, the focus of the microcosm is the radiant sun. The whole picture is a glyph of the creative light.

Waite - Pictorial Key 25
With light step, as if earth and its trammels had little power to restrain him, a young man in gorgeous vestments pauses at the brink of a precipice among the great heights of the world; he surveys the blue distance before him-its expanse of sky rather than the prospect below. His act of eager walking is still indicated, though he is stationary at the given moment; his dog is still bounding. The edge which opens on the depth has no terror; it is as if angels were waiting to uphold him, if it came about that he leaped from the height. His countenance is full of intelligence and expectant dream. He has a rose in one hand and in the other a costly wand, from which depends over his right shoulder a wallet curiously embroidered. He is a prince of the other world on his travels through this one-all amidst the morning glory, in the keen air. The sun, which shines behind him, knows whence he came, whither he is going, and how he will return by another path after many days. He is the spirit in search of experience. Many symbols of the Instituted Mysteries are summarized in this card, which reverses, under high warrants, all the confusions that have preceded it.



We see from our preceding work that if we know the exact meaning of the first card of the Tarot we can, from that, discover the signification of all the others.

We cannot approach this subject without great hesitation. The hope of ascertaining the truth is, in fact, troubled by the possibility of making a mistake which might have very serious results.

The work which we have already accomplished will, however, enable us to decipher the meaning of the symbolism of the first card of the Tarot almost mathematically, but the general meaning only; whilst we know that each card must have not one, but three meanings.

We must discover three sufficiently general principles to be applied to every order of human knowledge; for this should be the object of the Tarot.

In this case we will, as usual, resort to those eminent authors who have treated these questions from different points of view, and the agreement between their teachings will give us new light to illuminate our path.

The Pole HŒNÉ WRONSKI, 1 who died of hunger in the suburbs of Paris, was perhaps one of the most powerful intellects produced by the 19th century. He asserted that he had discovered the formula of the absolute, and his works are unquestionably a summary of one of the most elevated syntheses that we have ever seen. We need not discuss the doctrines of Wronski, but will only say a few words upon the three primitive elements which enter into his law of creation.

p. 101

Wronski places at the origin of all creation three elements, which he designates by the names--

Of Neuter Element (E. N.)
Of Element of Being (E. B.)
Of Element of Wisdom (E. W.)

The Neuter Element represents the Absolute, Reality resulting from the total neutralization of the two other elements by each other.

The Element of Wisdom represents the CREATIVE FACULTY with its especial characteristics, autogeny and spontaneity.

The Element of Being represents the PERMANENT FACULTY with its characteristics, autothesis and inertia.

Principle of the Creation or Element of Wisdom.
Principle of Preservation or Element of Being.
Principle of Neutralization or Neuter Element.

These are the three terms upon which Wronski establishes the foundations of Reality, and, consequently, of all the systems of creation. We must remember these conclusions.

FABRE D'OLIVET, in his researches upon the first principles which direct everything, 1 determines the existence of three elements, which he names Providence, Destiny, and Human Will.

Providence is the principle of ABSOLUTE LIBERTY, of the creation of beings and things.

Destiny is the principle of ABSOLUTE NECESSITY, of the preservation of beings and of things.

Lastly, the Human Will is a neuter principle intermediate between the two: the principle of mobility and CHANGE, in all their forms. Now it is not necessary to be

p. 102

very learned to perceive the absolute agreement which exists between the two authors; the one, Wronski, reached his conclusions by mathematics, the other, d'Olivet, attained his by profound study of antiquity and its mysteries. The words used may vary, but the idea is fundamentally the same.

Wronski's Element of Wisdom (E. W.), the principle of the creation, is the same thing as the Providence of d'Olivet, who thus places it as the principle of the creation.

Wronski's Element of Being (E. B.), the principle of the permanent faculty, exactly represents what d'Olivet calls Destiny, and which he concludes to be the principle of preservation.

Lastly, d'Olivet's human Will corresponds in all points with Wronski's Neuter Element.

Here then are two very different systems, which lead to the same signification. But our conclusions do not stop here.

If we study these three primitive principles more attentively we shall find in the first: Providence or the Element of Wisdom, represented in philosophy by the word God.

Destiny or Being shows us its identity with the immutable laws which govern the Universe.

Lastly, it does not require much study to prove to its that the human Will responds to Man.


This is the basis of all the esoteric philosophy of the ancients, and not only Wronski and Fabre d'Olivet agree in their conclusions respecting this mysterious ternary;

p. 103

occult science itself proclaims its identity with these principles by the mouth of all its disciples. Hermes Trismegistus, the Holy KabbalahNeo-Platonicism, and the Alchemists through Pythagoras and all the Greek philosophers assert the division of the Great All into THREE ENTITIES OR WORLDS.

In less remote ages Guillaume Postel 1 gives the key of the Tarot without explaining it, and the basis of this key is formed by this mysterious entity--


Trithemie and his pupil Cornelius Agrippa 2 also give us this fecund and sublime trinity in all their analogical figures.

The Jesuit Kircher 3 describes this division into three worlds as the basis of the Egyptian mysteries.

Lastly, Claude de Saint-Martin has written a book entirely based upon the keys of the Tarot, and it is entitled--Tableau Naturel des rapports qui unissent DIEU, L'HOMME, ET L'UNIVERS.

Let us question India upon the law of the absolute, she replies--


Let us ask China for the great secret of her philosophy, and she will give us the Tri-grams of Fo-Hi.

Address ourselves to one of the ancient initiated Egyptians, he will tell us--

p. 104


The founder of Greek Cosmogony, the disciple of the science of Egypt, Hesiod, also transmits this law to us, and they all confirm Louis Lucas when he states: 1 "I feel that hidden beneath this mystical formula of the Trinity is one of the most important scientific laws that man has ever discovered."

God, Man, and the Universe, these are the most general principles that we can attain, and they constitute the three meanings of the first card of the Tarot.

It remains for us to ascertain first, whether these meanings respond to the primitive hieroglyphic, and then to determine bow far they extend through the whole Tarot.

Golden Dawn Title
Book "T" - The Titles of the Tarot Symbols 1
57. Fool. The Spirit of Ether
(0) The Foolish Man
Crowley: 0 - The Fool
Notes on the Tarot by Frater SRMD 2 O. Fool = The Crown of Wisdom, the Primum Mobile acting through the Air on the Zodiac.
Book of Thoth: The Atu: Mnemonics 3 Truth, laugher, lust: Wine's Holy Fool! Veil rent;
Lewd madness is sublime enlightenment.
Hebrew Letter Type 4 Mother
Hebrew Letter 5 Aleph meaning Ox
Eliphas Levi attribution: Shin meaning Tooth
Hebrew Letter Numerical Value5 1
Hebrew Letter Corresponding Path and Key Scale 5 Between Kether and Chokmah (#11)
Above center to above right; First motion to right
Kircher's Tree: 1 to 2 Proto-Tree: 4 to 5
Cube of Space Dimension 6 Height-Depth
Intelligence According to Sepher Yetzirah 7 Scintillating (or Fiery in some sources)
The Eleventh Path is the Scintillating Intelligence, because it is the essence of that curtain which is placed close to the order of the disposition, and this is a special dignity given to it that it may be able to stand before the Face of the Cause of Causes.
Traditional Image 8 A bearded ancient seen in profile
Suggestive Correspondences from the Hebrew Alphabet 1 Aleph - The Holy Ghost - Fool - Knight-Errant. Folly's doom is ruin.
Element (Mother Letter) 5 Air (Spirit or Life-Breath)
Color of Aleph 9 King Scale: Bright Pale Yellow
Queen Scale: Sky Blue

Prince Scale: Blue Emerald Green, Princess Scale: Emerald, flecked gold
Color of Kether 9 King Scale: Brilliance
Queen Scale: White Brilliance

Prince Scale: White Brilliance, Princess Scale: White flecked gold
Color of Chokmah 9 King Scale: Pure soft blue
Queen Scale: Grey

Prince Scale: Blue pearl grey (like mother of pearl), Princess Scale: White flecked red, blue and yellow
Supplemental Planet (Mother Letter) 10 Uranus
(which was known in the GD's time as Herschel)
Planetary Dignities for Uranus11 Rules Aquarius (with Saturn)
Exaltation: Scorpio, Detriment: Leo, Fall: Taurus
Kircher's Allocation for the Path as Gods 12 Infinity
Levi's Allocation for the Path as Magical Powers 12 To behod God face to face without dying
Part of the Body 13 Respiratory Organs
Speaking, Thought
Magical Weapons 14 The Dagger or Fan
Precious Stones 15 Topaz, Chalcedony
Perfume 16 Galbanum
Animals, Real and Imaginary 17 Eagle or Man (Cherub of Air) [Ox]
Plants, Real and Imaginary 18 Aspen
Herb 19 Ginseng
Egyptian Neters 20 Mout, Nu, [Hoor-pa-Kraat]
Greek Gods 21 Zeus
Roman Gods 22 Jupiter, [Bacchus, Juno, Aeolus]

"The True Self is the meaning of the True Will:

Know Thyself through 'Thy Way'

Calculate well the Formula of The Way.

Create freely; absorb joyously; divide intently;

Consolidate completely.

Work thou, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent

In and for Eternity."

The Book of THOTH



Aleister Crowley


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