“The so-called 'Left-Hand Path' - that of Kaulas, Siddhas and Viras - combines the... Tantric worldview with a doctrine of the Übermensch which would put Nietzsche to shame... The Vira - which is to say: the 'heroic' man of Tantrism - seeks to sever all bonds, to overcome all duality between good and evil, honor and shame, virtue and guilt. Tantrism is the supreme path of the absolute absence of law - of shvecchacarī, a word meaning 'he whose law is his own will'." ― Julius Evola, The Path of Cinnabar.

“It is necessary to have “watchers” at hand who will bear witness to the values of Tradition in ever more uncompromising and firm ways, as the anti-traditional forces grow in strength. Even though these values cannot be achieved, it does not mean that they amount to mere “ideas.” These are measures…. Let people of our time talk about these things with condescension as if they were anachronistic and anti-historical; we know that this is an alibi for their defeat. Let us leave modern men to their “truths” and let us only be concerned about one thing: to keep standing amid a world of ruins.” ― Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World: Politics, Religion, and Social Order in the Kali Yuga.

“We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who died at his post during the eruption of Vesuvius because someone forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one that can not be taken from a man.” ― Oswald Spengler, Man and Technics: A Contribution to a Philosophy of Life.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Triumph of Death, The Tarot, and The Fourth Horseman


Gertrude Moakley, in her book The Tarot Cards Painted by Bonifacio Bembo (1966) presents the theses that Renaissance Carnival processions depicting "Triumphs" of morality and specific virtues, concepts also embodied in the text and various illustrations to Petrarch's I Trionfi, provide the symbolic basis of the Tarot, which originates from the same basic milieu - a fusion of three traditions: the Roman triumphs, the religious processionals, and the knightly tournament processions of the Middle Ages. These ideas have an interesting history and visual legacy in Western art.

Below is an example of The Triumph of Death, from Bernard Quarich's edition of Works of The Italian Engravers of the Fifteenth Century:


Below: The Triumph of Death from the Predica dell'Arte del ben morire , Florence c1500.


And more familiar versions:


And various incarnations in the history of the Tarot:

Charles VI (or Gringonneur) Deck; Le tarot dit de Charles VI

The Cary-Yale Visconti-Sforza tarot trumps

A.E. Waite & Pamela Coleman Smith Tarot Deck (Rider/Waite)

Of course, in addition to the Roman traditions of triumphal processions, much of this symbolism is also derived from Revelation 6: 7-8: "When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hell was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth."

Albrecht Durer

William Blake

John Hamilton Mortimer

John Haynes after John Hamilton Mortimer

Benjamin West

Gustav Dore

1 comment:

Rex The Ninth said...

This has to be among your most handsome posts! Thanks for sharing all these gorgeous images!