The Tarot and the Temple(s) of Solomon

On a number of Tarot cards, the figures are depicted between two pillars. The most obvious is Tarot Card II The High Priestess; According to Waite, she sits between the pillars ‘Boaz’ and ‘Jachin’ that belong to ‘the Mystical Temple’. But what exactly is this Mystical Temple? And where does the symbolism come from? Did the temple really exist? The key, according to many myths and mysteries, is  the legend of King Solomon who had a temple built on a mountain in Jerusalem sometime in the year 1000 B.C. This temple has been the motivation and inspiration for many people ever since – to do both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ things. To unravel the mystery, we have to delve a bit into (biblical) history…

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5 of Pentacles and the Lesson of Dependence

Half a year ago I wrote a blog post about pentacles 5 and the choice to sometimes place yourself ‘outside the group’ and go your own way, even if it means that it is often difficult and lonely. Just recently, I’ve read an article on a New Age website that was about experiencing gratitude and the ability to accept help from others. Immediately, Tarot card Pentacles 5 popped into my mind and I thought about how I could add this to the interpretation of this card. And when I was figuring this out, the tarot cards Justice and the Hermit also came along 😉

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Tarotcard 4 of cups: Spoiled or Neglected?

Tarotcard Four of Cups is a card that I always thought was a bit “out of place”. I never really thought about why I had that feeling. The meaning of the card was clear to me. However, something was always gnawing at me somewhere inside, but I never had the time or patience to investigate this. Cups aren’t really my suit anyway ;-). But the other day something happened that reminded me of this card. So I dived in and tried to look at the four of cups with a pair of ‘fresh eyes’.  

The keywords and meanings that are generally assigned to this card are (among others):

  • Not wanting to see what you’re offered
  • Wanting something that isn’t available
  • Being dissatisfied
  • Acting Spoiled, ‘adolescent’ behaviour

Waite also mentions “Aversion” and “disgust.” Literally, he writes in ‘Pictorial Key’:

“A Young man is seated under a tree and contemplates three cups set on the grass before him; An arm issuing from a loud offers him another up. His expression notwithstanding is one discontent with his envronment. Divinatory meanings: Weariness, disgust, aversion, imaginary vexations, as if the wine of this world had caused satiety only; another wine, as if a fairy gift, is now offered the wastrel, but he sees no consolation therein. This is also a card of blended pleasure. Reversed: Novelty, presage, new instruction, new relations”

A.E. Waite – The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (1911)

What does Waite mean by “blended” pleasure? Does he mean that you have too much of something that makes you ‘fed up’? The inverted meaning – which I never see as ‘reversed’ but more as the other end of the spectrum – doesn’t seem to make any sense to me.

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Tarotcard The Star and Jung’s Personae

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the Stars”

Oscar Wilde

The Star is the Tarot card that has number 17 in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. It is preceded by The Tower and followed by The Moon. The ‘mainstream’ meanings assigned to this card are generally:

  1. Hope
  2. Daring to be vulnerable
  3. Showing yourself as you really are, taking off your mask
  4. You are good just the way you are (and so is the other person)
  5. ”To be naked” (to have nothing left), to start over
  6. Afraid to show your true self, pretending to be something other than you are

The phrase “taking off your mask” and being “naked” almost always recurs in the descriptions. In this blog article I want to eloborate on these meanings; Apparently, we don’t think it’s good to wear a mask. We also like it when other people show themselves without a mask. But is that really a good thing? Of course, there is much more to it.

When you look at this tarotcard in a Jungian way and draw a comparison with the concept of Jung’s ‘Persona’, you will see that there are some nuances to be made. These nuances can make a big difference when The Star shows up in your readings.  

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Tarot card The Hermit and the ‘Aleister Crowley’ of the Philosophers

Tarot card ‘The Hermit’ used to be my ‘favorite’ tarotcard when I was young and started learning the Tarot. I imagined that – when I was old – I would live in a super cute little house in the woods/on the moors/on a mountain and that everyone would see me as a lovely old and wise woman. I would help all people and provide them with (good) advice.

Unfortunately, as the years have gone by, I’ve turned more into a Swamp Witch than into a sage and I don’t have a cute little house in the mountains either. But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about Tarot card The Hermit and the comparison with the Greek Philosopher Diogenes. It is Antoine Court de Gebéllin who makes this comparison in his description of this Tarot card (see his essay on the Tarot that appeared in volume 8 of his book ‘Le Monde Primitif’). And it’s super interesting!

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About New Wine and Old Farts in the Tarot

Credo quia Absurdum (I believe because it is absurd / impossible / irrational)

The company name of Ana Fragateiro en Tiago Pimentel

I follow a lot of Tarot blogs because I’m always curious about the insights of other tarotists. One of those blogs is written by a man who is very passionate about the Tarot. He has been working with the Tarot for almost 50 years and he is a well known Tarot tutor and mentor in the US. He sometimes posts 2 blogs a day, all very extensive and also very educational. His specialty is the Crowley Tarot and I always enjoy reading his articles.

However, in a recent post, he went on a kind of rant against “all those young people who just think they can do something with the Tarot.” Whether it was creating a new deck, writing blogs or giving courses and consultations. “Those young people didn’t know anything because they hadn’t studied anything and they didn’t stick to ‘the original symbolism’. But in the meantime they try to earn money by using the Tarot and/or put themselves in the spotlights by writing articles or workshops…

I was a little disappointed. But also annoyed. For the following reasons:

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History of the Tarot: Myths and Mysteries Unraveled

“Where did the Tarot come from?” Thanks to the efforts of authors, scholars and tarot enthusiasts such as Stuart Kaplan, Franco Pratesi, Michael Dummett, Paul Huson, Mary K. Greer and many others, we have a very good and comprehensive overview of the history of the Tarot as a card game and divination method. In the blog article about the very first Tarot deck you can read how Stuart Kaplan found evidence for this very first Tarot deck (dating from 1424) in the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris in the 70s. However, in the centuries before us, there were many myths and mysteries about the origin of the Tarot; The Tarot is said to have been ‘invented’ or ‘passed on’ through:

  • The Ancient Egyptians
  • The Roma and Sinti (formerly: Gypsies)
  • A Mysterious Alchemist (The Count of St. Germain)
  • The Knights Templar
  • The founder of the secret society ‘The Rosicrucians’ (Christian Rosenkreuz)

But even today there are authors who believe that they are on to something, such as Robert Swiryn who has written a – very good and fascinating – book – in which he explains that the origin of the Tarot can be traced back to the history of the Cathars.

Ever since I started studying the Tarot I have been interested in (hmm maybe obsessed with) the history of the Tarot and especially the origin of the symbolism. The Tarot deck may have originated in Renaissance Italy in the 15th century, but the esoteric symbolism that was later added to it by the various occultists must also be traceable in one way or another to various religious, philosophical, occult and cultural eras and movements. And herein lies the answer to the question of why the above myths and mysteries that surround the Tarot remain alive to this day.

When delving into the history of the Tarot, it is important to distinguish between the actual physical cards of the Tarot and the symbolism of the images. It should be clear to everyone that the archetypal and esoteric symbols on the cards (or linked to the cards) have already appeared on the scene before the physical Tarot.

When I give a course or workshop, I am sometimes asked why the history of wisdom in the Tarot would be so interesting. After all, the Tarot as we know it today can be used by anyone and most people are mainly interested in the practical side: giving consultations, interpreting the cards and training ones ‘intuition’.

My personal answer is that my motivation always comes from the urge to understand something. Knowing where something comes from provides more insight. When I understand where a certain symbol comes from and how it came to be in a card, the card comes more alive for me. I can also be more creative with it. Without this knowledge or understanding, I would just rattle off ‘meanings’ and that, in my opinion, is not the purpose of the Tarot. However, this is something that suits my personal style and the way I learn new things. It’s a style that’s also used by other – especially introvert – people; First, you want to know the ins and outs before you can get started applying this knowledge. Of course, there are many more styles and there is nothing right or wrong in this regard.

Another answer is that it’s just a lot of fun to dive into things and know a lot about something that is your passion. And especially if that something already has a mysterious touch. Add to that all the intrigues, the ‘crazy’ conspiracy theories and the juicy details from the biographies of those who have involved themselves in Tarot and related esoteric topics over the centuries… Then you have found a study object that you can study for the rest of your live without ever getting bored

In a series of blog articles about the history of the Tarot I would like to share what I have found in my search for ‘the origin of wisdom in the Tarot’. In some of them I have tried to explain where the myths surrounding the origin of the Tarot come from. Most of them don’t just come out of the blue and still have some kind of ‘credible’ – or at least ‘logical’ – link somewhere; After all, where there’s smoke, there’s fire!

Tarot card Pentacles 5 and the Friars Minor

Sometimes a tarot card is clear to you and ‘easy’ to interpret. Those are the cards that I don’t have to think so hard about and so I spend less time delving into the origins of the symbolism and meanings. For me, one of those cards is 5 of Pentacles. I’ve assigned my own meanings and theories to this tarotcard ages ago and I’m always secure  when it pops up in readings.

But recently I was – as it always happens: by coincedence – triggered again to take a look at the basic meanings of this card. And that led to a fascinating historical deepdive and some old new insights that I would like to share.

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To Yod or Not?

On a number of Tarot cards in the RWS deck you can see drop-like things. On the Tower and on three of the aces (Cups, Swords, Wands) they are very visible. With the Cups they look like drops of water, with the Wands they look like leaves. But what are they about the in the  Swords suit? What do these drops symbolize and why was the Ace of Pentacles skipped?

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The Life and Times of Madamoiselle Lenormand

Although Madamoiselle Lenormand was famous (and infamous) in her time, many things about her life are shrouded in mystery. A number of biographies have been written but it is not certain whether they are reliable. She is mentioned in historical works about other “celebrities” of her time in which “The Sibyl of Paris” is either applauded or reviled. Mlle lenormand has also written a number of books herself, (of which only a few have been translated into English) and which unfortunately are not about her divination methods but, among other things, about the life and secrets of her famous clients… uhum… we will discuss ethics later.

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