“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.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Century Of The Self

Play "spot the Jews."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Regarding Anything Written on Tarot Symbolism Here

There is nothing especially “mystical” about the origins of the Tarot, at least no more than Chess, or Lot Books, or allegorical artwork of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in general. I have never asserted otherwise. The late 18th-to-20th century speculations of the occultists on the origins of the Tarot are just that. They do not even qualify as Tradition or authentic folklore, any more than the most bizarre excesses of the 19th century Theosophical Society literature qualify as authentic Vedic or Hindu teachings.

The most substantial research into the actual history and development of the Tarot deck has been done by Michael Dummett, better known to the world as an analytical philosopher. Dummett has written that the various forms of early tarot packs developed since the 15th century range in number from 97 to 42 cards, but with reason to believe they sprung from a more-or-less standard model of the 78 card deck of which the Visconti-Sforza pack is a good example. While this may not have been the exact form of the deck initially, it quickly became the standard. This is the form of the 56 suit cards and 22 trump cards. The suit cards are divided into groups as batons, cups, swords, and coins. The court cards are divided according to type (baton, cup, sword, and coin) and rank (king, queen, knight, page).

The word “Tarot” likewise had no particularly mystical origins, being borrowed from the French “tarau”, which was in turn simply the French adaptation of the Italian “tarocco” (plural, “tarocci”). Throughout the 15th century, the Tarot was known simply as “carte da frionfi” which means nothing more than “cards with trumps.” The word “tarocchi” did not widely apply to the game until the 16th century. The word itself is of unknown origin, and a 16th century writer, Alberto Lollio refers to it as being “without an etymology.”

The names and symbols of the suits have varied over time. The spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds of the familiar card decks were invented by French cardmakers circa 1470s, while the earliest reference to tarot cards comes from a Ferrarese court account book dating 1442. In Italy, Iberia, and most of France, the suit signs were the same as ordinarily used for the regular pack of cards. On Spanish cards, and those used in southern Italy, the appearance of the suit designs differ from other indigenous Italian cards, notably by the separate placement of swords and batons rather than intersected as in the Italian type. Dummett relates that until c.1750 tarot cards everywhere outside of Italy carried the suit signs of the Italian type, therefore an indication that Italy is where they were invented. The four court cards of each suit is also not an anomaly of the tarot. There are regular card decks from 15th century Germany that also include four court cards for each suit. Therefore the outstanding feature setting the tarot, or tarocchi decks apart from regular decks was the additional suit of trumps or “triumphs”.

There is no evidence of the Tarot being used for occult or fortune telling purposes until the 18th century. A 15th century Dominican preacher wrote a vehement condemnation of gambling and gaming, including a mention of tarot cards alongside dice and regular playing cards as instruments of gaming – surely if there were a widespread practice of using the tarot for “occult” purposes, it would have been mentioned and condemned. The Tarot therefore was invented to play specific types of card games, for which a substantial amount of literature exists.

If there is “esoteric” content to the Tarot, it is not automatically intentional in every respect, except insofar as symbolic and allegorical content common to the culture of the time served as the subject matter for the Trump cards. In which case it is as open to interpretation as any other allegorical or symbolic material from any other device of any other culture, as well as is the numerical structure of the deck itself.

The symbolic and allegorical subject matter of the Trump cards led Guenon to recognize the Tarot as a substantial example of vestigial survival of Traditional symbols in mainstream cultural artifacts. If one chooses to take the Traditionalist line of interpretation of the Tarot, as we do here, it should be along the lines outlined by Evola (The Mystery of the Grail, p.9-10), "The characteristic feature of the method that I call 'traditional' (in opposition to the profane, empirical, and critical-intellectual method of modern research), consists in emphasizing the universal character of a symbol or teaching, and in relating it to corresponding symbols found in other traditions, thus establishing the presence of something that is both superior and antecedent to each of these formulations, which are different from and yet equivalent to each other. Since anyone tradition may have given to a common meaning a more complete, typical, and transparent expression than have the others, seeking to establish correspondences is consequently one of the most fruitful ways to understand and integrate what in other cases is found in a more obscure or fragmentary form."

It is the actual pictorial content of the Tarot, its symbolism and allegories, numerical structures, and even its aristocratic origins that validate a Traditionalist line of interpretation (as well as other factors that will be apparent to anyone familiar with the literature), not the absurd latter-day 18th-20th century occultist fabrications regarding its origins in ancient Egypt or among Gypsies, or other fantastical nonsense. A perrenialist or Traditionalist interpretation of the Tarot, along the methodical lines advocated by Evola, or the widely recognized Traditionalist art historian Coomaraswamy for example, is just as valid as the Traditionalist interpretation of any artifact, artistic or religious, of any culture.


See also: http://cosmodromium.blogspot.com/2010/11/tarot-history-information-sheet.html

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Onion: "Overcome Stress By Visualizing It As A Greedy, Hook-Nosed Race Of Creatures"

Historical Numerology for the Tarot Pips

I have a backlog of interesting questions received via email regarding the Tarot going back to a blog I posted a few months ago, and a few more pertaining to the photos of my favorite decks in the previous blog entry, that I intend to reply to here eventually, along with some questions on the blog regarding Traditionalism and Western Esotericism/Occultism that I will also reply to in the near future.

In the meantime one reader writes, regarding my focus on the Marseille Tarots, that they have difficulty with the Pip Cards (called "Minor Arcana" by the 19th-20th century occult writers) of the Marseille decks because they lack the explicitly leading visual symbolism of the post-Golden Dawn decks. The Rider-Waite-Smith deck is especially over the top in providing allegorical illustrations for every card in the deck, and Crowley is almost nearly as explicit in his designs of the "Lesser Arcana" - the four suit cards numbered 1-10. Paul Foster Case, in his B.O.T.A. deck returns to the minimalist representations of the Marseille-style decks, even though all of the above decks basically follow the Golden Dawn schema of attributions to the four elements (aces) and 36 decanants of the Roman Zodiac in addition to the 10 Sephiroth of Athanasius Kircher's Cabalistic Tree of Life diagram as used by the Golden Dawn. This is one area where the Golden Dawn architects were not too far "out to lunch". Overall, with only a few exceptions, the Golden Dawn attributions for the "Minor Arcana" are not too far out of line in terms of historical (and Traditional) attributions and qualitive numerological associations. But in general it is best to question and second-guess the Golden Dawn (and most 19th-20th century "occultists") on just about every point.

For reading into the symbolism and qualitive numerical structure of the Marseille decks, we might ask ourselves what materials a contemporary might be working from in the period in which they were created (lets say from the Tarot of Jean Noblet to that of Nicholas Conver, 1650-1780). I would suggest familiarity with Platonism, Neo-Platonism, the surviving elements of Pythagoras, numerical symbolism (explicit and latent) in The Bible, and the works of late medieval and early renaissance thinkers such as Agrippa, Pico, Paracelsus, etc.

Of course there is too much material to post in one simple blog entry, but as an introductory example here we can pull passages from Agrippa's foundational Three Books of Occult Philosophy and Manly P. Hall's excellent paraphrase of the writings of Nicomachus, Theon of Smyrna, Proclus, Porphyry, Plutarch, Clement of Alexandria, Aristotle, and other early authorities in chapter 16 of his monumental Secret Teachings of All Ages. W.W. Westcott's monograph on Numbers is also a useful compendium of historical symbolism.

First, the Golden Dawn attribution of the four elements to the four suits of the Tarot are commonsense. I have laid out the four aces to complete novices who instinctively worked out the same attribution of elemental fire to the wands/batons, water to cups, air to swords, and earth to disks/coins.

The Tarot contrasts to the interesting Minchate decks that include trump cards for the four elements proper (albeit in a different order - Fire, Water, Earth, and Air):

Perhaps the best historical (and Traditional) outline and summary of the symbolism of the four elements and their nature can be found in Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Book I,  Chap. iii. "Of the four Elements, their qualities, and mutuall mixtions."

There are four Elements, and originall grounds of all corporeall things, Fire, Earth, Water, Aire, of which all elementated inferiour bodies are compounded; not by way of heaping them up together, but by transmutation, and union; and when they are destroyed, they are resolved into Elements. For there is none of the sensible Elements that is pure, but they are more or less mixed, and apt to be changed one into the other: Even as Earth becoming dirty, and being dissolved, becomes Water, and the same being made thick and hard, becometh Earth again; but being evaporated through heat, passeth into Aire, and that being kindled, passeth into Fire, and this being extinguished, returns back again into Aire, but being cooled again after its burning, becometh Earth, or Stone, or Sulphur, and this is manifested by Lightening [lightning]: Plato also was of that opinion, that Earth was wholly changeable, and that the rest of the Elements are changed, as into this, so into one another successively. But it is the opinion of the subtiller sort of Philosophers, that Earth is not changed, but relented and mixed with other Elements, which do dissolve it, and that it returns back into it self again. Now, every one of the Elements hath two specificall qualities, the former whereof it retains as proper to it self, in the other, as a mean, it agrees with that which comes next after it. For Fire is hot and dry, the Earth dry and cold, the Water cold and moist, the Aire moist and ot. And so after this manner the Elements, according to two contrary qualities, are contrary one to the other, as Fire to Water, and Earth to Aire. Moreover, the Elements are upon another account opposite one to the other: For some are heavy, as Earth and Water, and others are light, as Aire and Fire. Wherefore the Stoicks called the former passives, but the latter actives. And yet once again Plato distinguished them after another manner, and assigns to every one of them three qualities, viz. to the Fire brightness, thinness and motion, but to the Earth darkness, thickness and quietness. And according to these qualities the Elements of Fire and Earth are contrary. But the other Elements borrow their qualities from these, so that the Aire receives two qualities of the Fire, thinness and motion; and one of the Earth, viz. darkness. In like manner Water receives two qualities of the Earth, darkness and thickness, and one of Fire, viz. motion. But Fire is twice more thin then Aire, thrice more movable, and four times more bright: and the Aire is twice more bright, thrice more thin, and four times more moveable then Water. Wherefore Water is twice more bright then Earth, thrice more thin, and four times more movable. As therefore the Fire is to the Aire, so Aire is to the Water, and Water to the Earth; and again, as the Earth is to the Water, so is the Water to the Aire, and the Aire to the Fire. And this is the root and foundation of all bodies, natures, vertues, and wonderfull works; and he which shall know these qualities of the Elements, and their mixtions, shall easily bring to pass such things that are wonderfull, and astonishing, and shall be perfect in Magick.

Also See:
Chap. 4. Of a Three-fold Consideration of the Elements.
Chap. 5. Of the Wonderful Natures of Fire and Earth.
Chap. 6. Of the Wonderful Natures of Water, Air and Winds.

For the historical Tarot suits we must fall back on Traditional practice of correspondence rather than direct obvious representation such as found in the Minchiate trumps. Here we have the Tarot suits: Batons (Fire); Cups (Water); Swords/Daggers (Air); and Discs/Coins (Earth):

Above we have picture the four aces, attributed to the monad, unitary concept, the numeral 1. In Manly P. Hall's summary of classical sources we read:

Monad--1--is so called because it remains always in the same condition--that is, separate from multitude. Its attributes are as follows: It is called mind, because the mind is stable and has preeminence; hermaphrodism, because it is both male and female; odd and even, for being added to the even it makes odd, and to the odd, even; God, because it is the beginning and end of all, but itself has neither beginning nor end; good, for such is the nature of God; the receptacle of matter, because it produces the duad, which is essentially material.

By the Pythagoreans monad was called chaos, obscurity, chasm, Tartarus, Styx, abyss, Lethe, Atlas, Axis, Morpho (a name for Venus), and Tower or Throne of Jupiter, because of the great power which abides in the center of the universe and controls the circular motion of the planers about itself. Monad is also called germinal reason, because it is the origin of all the thoughts in the universe. Other names given to it were: Apollo, because of its relation to the sun; Prometheus, because he brought man light; Pyralios, one who exists in fire; geniture, because without it no number can exist; substance, because substance is primary; cause of truth; and constitution of symphony: all these because it is the primordial one.

Between greater and lesser the monad is equal; between intention and remission it is middle; in multitude it is mean; and in time it is now, because eternity knows neither past nor future. It is called Jupiter, because he is Father and head of the gods; Vesta, the fire of the home, because it is located in the midst of the universe and remains there inclining to no side as a dot in a circle; form, because it circumscribes, comprehends, and terminates; love, concord, and piety, because it is indivisible. Other symbolic names for the monad are ship, chariot, Proteus (a god capable of changing his form), Mnemosyne, and Polyonymous (having many names).

See also:
Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Book II, Chap. iv.  Of Unity, and the Scale thereof 
W.W. Westcott's Numbers, Their Occult Power and Mystic Virtues, The Monad. 1.

Above are pictured the four deuces, reflecting duality and the number 2. Again, from Hall:

The following symbolic names were given to the duad--2--because it has been divided, and is two rather than one; and when there are two, each is opposed to the other: genius, evil, darkness, inequality, instability, movability, boldness, fortitude, contention, matter, dissimilarity, partition between multitude and monad, defect, shapelessness, indefiniteness, indeterminate ness, harmony, tolerance, root, feet of fountain-abounding idea, top, Phanes, opinion, fallacy, alterity, diffidence, impulse, death, motion, generation, mutation, division, longitude, augmentation, composition, communion, misfortune, sustentation, imposition, marriage, soul, and science.

In his book, Numbers, W. Wynn Westcott says of the duad: "it was called 'Audacity,' from its being the earliest number to separate itself from the Divine One; from the 'Adytum of God-nourished Silence,' as the Chaldean oracles say."
As the monad is the father, so the duad is the mother; therefore, the duad has certain points in common with the goddesses Isis, Rhea (Jove's mother), Phrygia, Lydia, Dindymene (Cybele), and Ceres; Erato (one of the Muses); Diana, because the moon is forked; Dictynna, Venus, Dione, Cytherea; Juno, because she is both wife and sister of Jupiter; and Maia, the mother of Mercury.

While the monad is the symbol of wisdom, the duad is the symbol of ignorance, for in it exists the sense of separateness--which sense is the beginning of ignorance. The duad, however, is also the mother of wisdom, for ignorance--out of the nature of itself--invariably gives birth to wisdom.

The Pythagoreans revered the monad but despised the duad, because it was the symbol of polarity. By the power of the duad the deep was created in contradistinction to the heavens. The deep mirrored the heavens and became the symbol of illusion, for the below was merely a reflection of the above. The below was called maya, the illusion, the sea, the Great Void, and to symbolize it the Magi of Persia carried mirrors. From the duad arose disputes and contentions, until by bringing the monad between the duad, equilibrium was reestablished by the Savior-God, who took upon Himself the form of a number and was crucified between two thieves for the sins of men.

See also:
Agrippa, Book II, Chap. v.  Of the Number of Two, and the Scale thereof.
Westcott, The Dyad. 2. http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/nop/nop08.htm

M.P. Hall's summary:

The triad--3--is the first number actually odd (monad not always being considered a number). It is the first equilibrium of unities; therefore, Pythagoras said that Apollo gave oracles from a tripod, and advised offer of libation three times. The keywords to the qualities of the triad are friendship, peace, justice, prudence, piety, temperance, and virtue. The following deities partake of the principles of the triad: Saturn (ruler of time), Latona, Cornucopiæ, Ophion (the great serpent), Thetis, Hecate, Polyhymnia (a Muse), Pluto, Triton, President of the Sea, Tritogenia, Achelous, and the Faces, Furies, and Graces. This number is called wisdom, because men organize the present, foresee the future, and benefit by the experiences of the fast. It is cause of wisdom and understanding. The triad is the number of knowledge--music, geometry, and astronomy, and the science of the celestials and terrestrials. Pythagoras taught that the cube of this number had the power of the lunar circle.

The sacredness of the triad and its symbol--the triangle--is derived from the fact that it is made up of the monad and the duad. The monad is the symbol of the Divine Father and the duad of the Great Mother. The triad being made of these two is therefore androgynous and is symbolic of the fact that God gave birth to His worlds out of Himself, who in His creative aspect is always symbolized by the triangle. The monad passing into the duad was thus capable of becoming the parent of progeny, for the duad was the womb of Meru, within which the world was incubated and within which it still exists in embryo.

See also:
Agrippa: http://www.esotericarchives.com/agrippa/agrippa2.htm#chap6
Westcott:   http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/nop/nop09.htm

Manly P. Hall's summary:

The tetrad--4--was esteemed by the Pythagoreans as the primogenial number, the root of all things, the fountain of Nature and the most perfect number. All tetrads are intellectual; they have an emergent order and encircle the world as the Empyreum passes through it. Why the Pythagoreans expressed God as a tetrad is explained in a sacred discourse ascribed to Pythagoras, wherein God is called the Number of Numbers. This is because the decad, or 10, is composed of 1, 2, 3, and 4. The number 4 is symbolic of God because it is symbolic of the first four numbers. Moreover, the tetrad is the center of the week, being halfway between 1 and 7. The tetrad is also the first geometric solid.

Pythagoras maintained that the soul of man consists of a tetrad, the four powers of the soul being mind, science, opinion, and sense. The tetrad connects all beings, elements, numbers, and seasons; nor can anything be named which does not depend upon the tetractys. It is the Cause and Maker of all things, the intelligible God, Author of celestial and sensible good, Plutarch interprets this tetractys, which he said was also called the world, to be 36, consisting of the first four odd numbers added to the first four even numbers, thus:

1 + 3 +5 +7 = 16
2 + 4 + 6 + 8= 20
16+20 =  36

Keywords given to the tetrad are impetuosity, strength, virility, two-mothered, and the key keeper of Nature, because the universal constitution cannot be without it. It is also called harmony and the first profundity. The following deities partook of the nature of the tetrad: Hercules, Mercury, Vulcan, Bacchus, and Urania (one of the Muses).

The triad represents the primary colors and the major planets, while the tetrad represents the secondary colors and the minor planets. From the first triangle come forth the seven spirits, symbolized by a triangle and a square. These together form the Masonic apron.

See also:
Agrippa: http://www.esotericarchives.com/agrippa/agrippa2.htm#chap7
Westcott: http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/nop/nop11.htm

From M.P. Hall:

The pentad--5--is the union of an odd and an even number (3 and 2). Among the Greeks, the pentagram was a sacred symbol of light, health, and vitality. It also symbolized the fifth element--ether--because it is free from the disturbances of the four lower elements. It is called equilibrium, because it divides the perfect number 10 into two equal parts.

The pentad is symbolic of Nature, for, when multiplied by itself it returns into itself, just as grains of wheat, starting in the form of seed, pass through Nature's processes and reproduce the seed of the wheat as the ultimate form of their own growth. Other numbers multiplied by themselves produce other numbers, but only 5 and 6 multiplied by themselves represent and retain their original number as the last figure in their products.

The pentad represents all the superior and inferior beings. It is sometimes referred to as the hierophant, or the priest of the Mysteries, because of its connection with the spiritual ethers, by means of which mystic development is attained. Keywords of the pentad are reconciliation, alternation, marriage, immortality, cordiality, Providence, and sound. Among the deities who partook of the nature of the pentad were Pallas, Nemesis, Bubastia (Bast), Venus, Androgynia, Cytherea, and the messengers of Jupiter.

The tetrad (the elements) plus the monad equals the pentad. The Pythagoreans taught that the elements of earth, fire, air, and water were permeated by a substance called ether--the basis of vitality and life. Therefore, they chose the five-pointed star, or pentagram, as the symbol of vitality, health, and interpenetration.

It was customary for the philosophers to conceal the element of earth under the symbol of a dragon, and many of the heroes of antiquity were told to go forth and slay the dragon. Hence, they drove their sword (the monad) into the body of the dragon (the tetrad). This resulted in the formation of the pentad, a symbol of the victory of the spiritual nature over the material nature. The four elements are symbolized in the early Biblical writings as the four rivers that poured out of Garden of Eden. The elements themselves are under the control of the composite Cherubim of Ezekiel.

From M.P. Hall:

The Pythagoreans held the hexad--6--to represent, as Clement of Alexandria conceived, the creation of the world according to both the prophets and the ancient Mysteries. It was called by the Pythagoreans the perfection of all the parts. This number was particularly sacred to Orpheus, and also to the Fate, Lachesis, and the Muse, Thalia. It was called the form of forms, the articulation of the universe, and the maker of the soul.

Among the Greeks, harmony and the soul were considered to be similar in nature, because all souls are harmonic. The hexad is also the symbol of marriage, because it is formed by the union of two triangles, one masculine and the other feminine. Among the keywords given to the hexad are: time, for it is the measure of duration; panacea, because health is equilibrium, and the hexad is a balance number; the world, because the world, like the hexad, is often seen to consist of contraries by harmony; omnisufficient, because its parts are sufficient for totality (3 +2 + 1 = 6); unwearied, because it contains the elements of immortality.

Manly P. Hall:

By the Pythagoreans the heptad--7--was called "worthy of veneration." It was held to be the number of religion, because man is controlled by seven celestial spirits to whom it is proper for him to make offerings. It was called the number of life, because it was believed that human creatures born in the seventh month of embryonic life usually lived, but those born in the eighth month often died. One author called it the Motherless Virgin, Minerva, because it was nor born of a mother but out of the crown, or the head of the Father, the monad. Keywords of the heptad are fortune, occasion, custody, control, government, judgment, dreams, voices, sounds, and that which leads all things to their end. Deities whose attributes were expressed by the heptad were Ægis, Osiris, Mars, and Cleo (one of the Muses).

Among many ancient nations the heptad is a sacred number. The Elohim of the Jews were supposedly seven in number. They were the Spirits of the Dawn, more commonly known as the Archangels controlling the planets. The seven Archangels, with the three spirits controlling the sun in its threefold aspect, constitute the 10, the sacred Pythagorean decad. The mysterious Pythagorean tetractys, or four rows of dots, increasing from 1 to 4, was symbolic of the stages of creation. The great Pythagorean truth that all things in Nature are regenerated through the decad, or 10, is subtly preserved in Freemasonry through these grips being effected by the uniting of 10 fingers, five on the hand of each person.

The 3 (spirit, mind, and soul) descend into the 4 (the world), the sum being the 7, or the mystic nature of man, consisting of a threefold spiritual body and a fourfold material form. These are symbolized by the cube, which has six surfaces and a mysterious seventh point within. The six surfaces are the directions: north, east, south, west, up, and down; or, front, back, right, left, above, and below; or again, earth, fire, air, water, spirit, and matter. In the midst of these stands the 1, which is the upright figure of man, from whose center in the cube radiate six pyramids. From this comes the great occult axiom: "The center is the father of the directions, the dimensions, and the distances."

The heptad is the number of the law, because it is the number of the Makers of Cosmic law, the Seven Spirits before the Throne.


M.P. Hall:

The ogdoad--8--was sacred because it was the number of the first cube, which form had eight corners, and was the only evenly-even number under 10 (1-2-4-8-4-2-1). Thus, the 8 is divided into two 4's, each 4 is divided into two 2's, and each 2 is divided into two 1's, thereby reestablishing the monad. Among the keywords of the ogdoad are love, counsel, prudence, law, and convenience. Among the divinities partaking of its nature were Panarmonia, Rhea, Cibele, Cadmæa, Dindymene, Orcia, Neptune, Themis, and Euterpe (a Muse).

The ogdoad was a mysterious number associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece and the Cabiri. It was called the little holy number. It derived its form partly from the twisted snakes on the Caduceus of Hermes and partly from the serpentine motion of the celestial bodies; possibly also from the moon's nodes.

M.P. Hall's summary:

The ennead--9--was the first square of an odd number (3x3). It was associated with failure and shortcoming because it fell short of the perfect number 10 by one. It was called the called the number of man, because of the nine months of his embryonic life. Among its keywords are ocean and horizon, because to the ancients these were boundless. The ennead is the limitless number because there is nothing beyond it but the infinite 10. It was called boundary and limitation, because it gathered all numbers within itself. It was called the sphere of the air, because it surrounded the numbers as air surrounds the earth, Among the gods and goddesses who partook in greater or less degree of its nature were Prometheus, Vulcan, Juno, the sister and wife of Jupiter, Pæan, and Aglaia, Tritogenia, Curetes, Proserpine, Hyperion, and Terpsichore (a Muse).

The 9 was looked upon as evil, because it was an inverted 6. According to the Eleusinian Mysteries, it was the number of the spheres through which the consciousness passed on its way to birth. Because of its close resemblance to the spermatozoon, the 9 has been associated with germinal life.

From M.P. Hall:

The decad--10--according to the Pythagoreans, is the greatest of numbers, not only because it is the tetractys (the 10 dots) but because it comprehends all arithmetic and harmonic proportions. Pythagoras said that 10 is the nature of number, because all nations reckon to it and when they arrive at it they return to the monad. The decad was called both heaven and the world, because the former includes the latter. Being a perfect number, the decad was applied by the Pythagoreans to those things relating to age, power, faith, necessity, and the power of memory. It was also called unwearied, because, like God, it was tireless. The Pythagoreans divided the heavenly bodies into ten orders. They also stated that the decad perfected all numbers and comprehended within itself the nature of odd and even, moved and unmoved, good and ill. They associated its power with the following deities: Atlas (for it carried the numbers on its shoulders), Urania, Mnemosyne, the Sun, Phanes, and the One God.

Hall concludes his summary with the comment, "The decimal system can probably be traced back to the time when it was customary to reckon on the fingers, these being among the most primitive of calculating devices and still in use among many aboriginal peoples." This hints at one of the diverse ways the Tarot reflects directly the primordial symbolism of human anatomy and how it relates from Microcosm to Macrocosm in the Traditional Hermetic sense.

The foundational symbolism of the four elements combined with the traditional meanings of the numbers 1-10 are just two factors in the potential interpretation of the 40 minor suit cards of the Tarot. There are also Cabalistic and Astrological attributions worth considering insofar as they coherently align with the underlying numerical structure of the Tarot, which will probably be the subject of future blog entries. There is also a substantial body of material derived from the Bible bearing on the interpretation of the numbers 1-10, enough to warrant a separate essay.

None of this is fluidly self-evident at first encounter, only through prolonged consideration and personal elaboration does any of this become meaningful or coherent. In any event, this traditional method of correlating the various manifestations of these symbolic structures is rewarding in itself to anyone inclined to the study of symbols even at the superficial level of humanistic "psychology", and building from the ground up, by way of working from the ancient and traditional sources is much deeper and substantial than the pre-masticated over-cooked "what does it mean" quick-fix offered in the pulp paper mill of mainstream "occult" and "spiritual" books on the Tarot. Just this quick blog post drawing on publicly available material online offers something more substantial than the contents of most books on the subject, at least for anyone of intelligence willing to work through the arcane and archaic original source materials on their own.

More in the future.


Recommended reading:
Agrippa, H.C. Three Books of Occult Philosophy. (Cthonios Books).
Anon. Meditations on the Tarot.
Cirlot, E.J. Dictionary of Symbols.
Decker, R. and Dummett, M. A Wicked Pack of Cards, A History of the Occult Tarot.
Evola, Julius. The Hermetic Tradition, Revolt Against the Modern World, Mysteries of the Grail.
Guenon, Rene. Crisis of the Modern World, Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, Symbols of Sacred Science, The Esotericism of Dante.
Hall, M.P. The Secret Teachings of All Ages. (Dover Books).
Huson, Paul. The Mystical Origins of the Tarot.
Jodorowsky, Alejandro. The Tarot.
Kaplan, S. Encyclopedia of the Tarot (4 vols).
Place, Robert. The Tarot.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A few Tarot decks from my collection.

I keep some of my favorite decks in this antique reliquary given to me by a friend. The decks pictured here are mostly Marseille-style Tarots. The cards in the upper right of the open case with XIII. LA MORT on top are the trumps from my first deck, The "Swiss" Deck, that I've had since I was probably 7 or 8 years old. Somewhere back then I read that the trumps were the only cards needed so I discarded the others. The decks pictured here constitute probably one-fifth of my Tarot collection.

Pictured above, right to left from top to bottom: The B.O.T.A. Deck, spare cards from the Flornoy restoration of the Jean Dodal deck, trumps from the IJJ Swiss Deck (all of the above are resting on a box containing the reproduction of the original Rider-Waite-Smith deck and the Hermetic Tarot deck, beneath that (unseen in photo) is the Giant Rider-Waite deck, below these are the mini-deck of Claude Burdel, the mini-deck of the Camoin-Jodorowsky "restoration" Marseille deck, in the brown paper envelope is a reproduction of the Nicholas Conver Marseille deck and the Angelo Valla Marseille deck (both 18th century), below that in the burgundy bag is the 1930's Paul Marteau Marseille Tarot published by Grimaud from the early 1960's with the thick card stock, the Aleister Crowley "Book of Thoth" deck, a Spanish reproduction of another 18th century Marseille deck, the Golden Dawn Tarot deck, a reproduction of the Tarot Besancon (18th century) deck, a poorly-recolored version of the 18th century Claude Burdel Marseille deck, the University Books printing of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck from the 60's (that I have also had since I was a child, below that are the Kris Hadar Marseille restoration deck, the Flornoy restoration of the 18th century Jean Dodal Marseille deck, the very interesting and unusual 18th century Jacques Veiville deck (one of my all-time favorites), the Flornoy restoration of the 17th century Jean Noblet Marseille Tarot, the full-size Camoin-Jodorowsky Marseille Tarot (probably my favorite modern "restoration" effort), and the 18th century Ignaz Krebs Marseille deck (another favorite).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cosmodromium, Traditionalism, and Western Esotericism

As Nietzsche was the most important reading experience and philosophical encounter of my teens and twenties, Heidegger and Spengler in my twenties and thirties, so Julius Evola and René Guénon are proving to be in my forties. Although a lifelong student of Western Esotericism, it fascinates me that my interest in politics, specifically Italian Fascism (and the esoteric undercurrents of international Fascism and German National Socialism in general) led me to a close study of Evola, and therefore Guénon (and a select few other “Traditionalists”), and thereby back to a close study of Western Esotericism, particularly older material, alongside the primary texts of the various ancient world religions (particularly of the east – although not excluding the Bible and esoteric Islam).

Things come full circle. I still have books from my pre-teen and early teen years on various aspects of Western Occultism – so I could say without contradiction that it was the “religion” of my childhood (Christianity certainly was not) – So Evola and Guénon have brought me into intensive re-engagement with material I’ve been immersed in for most of my life, though having second-shelved it for quite awhile out of disgust with the mainstream squalor of “occultism” wallowed in by those who have relegated themselves to the intellectual ghetto of masturbatory post-Crowley Golden Dawn/OTO re-enactment. Not only was I prepared for Evola and René Guénon by having read Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Spengler – I found, especially when reading Evola, that his works consistently footnoted works almost completely represented in my private library – such as John Woodroffe, Evans-Wentz, the 51 volumes of The Sacred Books of the East, Agrippa, primary texts on ceremonial magic, astrology, alchemy, the Tarot, Holy Grail literature, mythology, etc. accumulated over the last three decades working in the field of antiquarian books engaged with an active interest in this specific subject matter.

Although Evola, and even René Guénon, concede in some respects that the 19th and early 20th century Anglophone “esoteric” orders adopted and retained some authentic shreds of Tradition – mostly in the form of symbolism, although jumbled into a pastiche of Victorian Egyptomania, Theosophy, and erroneous evolutionary and “New Age” ideas – it is safe to say that (with few exceptions) the post-Crowley “magicians” and “occultists” have drowned face-down in their own shallow incestuous excrement. My experience directly interacting with these types in nearly thirty years of dealing in esoteric books only confirms my bias. How many times have the various publishers of pulp-occultism – Llewellyn, Weiser, Falcon Press, etc. – republished basically the same information merely reformatted by unimaginative parrots regurgitating the material put out by Mathers, Westcott, Crowley, Fortune, etc., now over a century ago? Even worse, they repackage and re-sell the even later degeneration, cobbled together from the hideously contaminated backwash of late-1960’s American counterculture (read Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson), arguably the single worst thing to happen to Western Esotericism in its long history (essentially outward signs of its rotting from the inside). Anton LaVey was entirely warranted in exorcising the worthless hippy counterculture elements that had engulfed and polluted the study of Western Occultism and Eastern Religions in the 1960’s – although that is not to paint LaVey into unconditional sympathy with the primary material even when deloused of its insipid American countercultural refuse.

As I wrote in my book (very superficially, in “Satanism vs. Traditionalism”), the transcendent element is absolutely foundational to any “school” of authentic Traditionalism, therefore Satanism and Traditionalism are fundamentally irreconcilable (even though they may find certain points in common, especially with Evola, such as a contempt for egalitarianism) unless one is willing to question crude concepts of “materialism” (of relatively recent provenance in the history of ideas) and the assumed bifurcation of “spiritual” vs. “carnal” (which Evola deals with admirably in his Yoga of Power), but this does not address other areas of conflict such as reconciliation with “modernity”, heavily conflicting evaluations of “progress” and “evolution” etc. Traditionalism does not recognize any permutation of a “New Age” idea (however camouflaged in black) much less embracing devolved aspects of “culture” and human society.

This is not material for anyone lacking intellectual stamina, for those wearing ideas to impress others without doing the actual work required for authentic comprehension. At its best, this material demands a high level of comprehension and engagement, it does not lend itself to “popularization” (for very specific reasons) and is not remotely egalitarian or “for everyone.” My interest and enthusiasm does not extend to the expression of Americanized “Radical Traditionalism” manifest in various music and fashion-statement subcultures – a case of direct devolution in action – and arguably so from a Traditionalist perspective. Especially within the corrosive American sphere, it is a given that most elements huddled under the umbrella of “Tradition” – as another “ism” – are operating in complete or partial ignorance, or in direct conflict with Tradition. There is nothing safe or half-way about the René Guénon of Crisis of the Modern World or The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times and there is certainly nothing safe about Julius Evola, but they are only two, albeit foundational, figures of what is now called “The Traditionalist School.” Even the publishers of René Guénon’s works in English stoop to appeal by quoting popular Jazz singers to make a point. I had the recent misfortune to witness a discussion of so-called “Traditionalists” in which a consensus was reached that they were all in favor of it insofar as it recognized a kind of ecumenical egalitarian “truth” in “all” creeds, but stopped short where it veers into “creepy politics” – obviously a reference to Evola – so in other words they are only “Traditionalists” insofar as it is warm and comforting, with all the scary parts taken out, and only so long as it doesn’t threaten their precious ideals of democracy and equality.

Arguably the most important event in Western Esotericism over the last two-to-three decades, from the Anglo-American perspective, is the translation of the writings of Julius Evola and René Guénon into English, alongside the rise of serious (even when hostile) scholarly treatment of historical Western Esotericism by the likes of Jocelyn Godwin, Antoine Faivre, etc. embodied in various centers for the scholarly study of Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam, Sussex, etc., and scholarly publishing ventures such as the State University of New York press series in Western Esoteric Traditions, and the Mythos and Bollingen Series published by Princeton University Press (although some of these have been in print longer than the past 30 years), even where devoid of “insider” perspective most of this material is of use.

I intend to write more from this perspective in the future.

Secretum Templi

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Magic and War by Major-General J.F.C. Fuller

The name of Major-General J.F.C. Fuller should already be well-known to most readers of this blog. Aside from being one of the pre-eminent military historians in the English language, a well known occultist, occult artist, and associate of Aleister Crowley, Fuller was also “left hand man” and tactical advisor to British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley, and member of the Nordic League. If there was an occult faction within the BUF, without a doubt Major-General Fuller is the figure most indicative of their methods and ideas.

I would like to thank “Falcon” – a New Right ally in Britain – for sending photocopies of the rare original via regular post.

From The Occult Review, April 1942
By Major-General J.F.C. Fuller

BOTH magic and war are coercive, propitiary and dynamic. Their purpose is to influence events, and though the means employed differ the end is identical – namely, transformation. When in his Manuals the soldier states that his object in war is to impose his will on his enemy, he enters into the realm of magic; and when the magician sets out to impose his will on his victim he steps into the kingdom of war.

Duality is the father of both. Not duality in harmony as depicted by the Yang and the Yin of the Taoists, or by the positive and negative poles of an electrical battery, but instead by the Ormuzd and Ahriman of the Magian religion, and more so still by the Light and Darkness of the Manichean. These cults of conflicting opposites are, among ourselves, symbolized in our patron saint – St. George and the Dragon: He represents light and the dragon darkness. Indra, the war god of the Aryans, was also a dragon-slayer.

“Here Ormuzd, there Ahriman!” is the beginning of all magic and of all war: the I and the You in contradistinction to the Taoist Us, or the Divine Us of Genesis I, 26.

Us is neither peace nor war: it represents harmony – that is duality in unity. Yet between I and You – the separated Yang and Yin of Us – there is everlasting conflict. The Us is real, as are day and night, light and darkness, male and female. They are real because they are relative and complementary, and they only become unreal when they are separated into unrelated absolutes. There is no such thing as absolute right and wrong or absolute peace and war, for only the relative is real. Therefore our true enemy is not what we consider evil; instead it is the fixing of what we call “good” in an imagined and non-existing absolute.

What we should realize is that perpetual peace can no more be gained through the elimination of war than perpetual war can be gained through the elimination of peace. Further, that these two terms are but synonyms of the I and the You, because life is the Us. It embraces and includes both. When Mars and Venus are united, life becomes creative, but when they are separated, sterility – that is, destruction – follows.

Lack of harmony or balance turns men into inert saints and active sinners. It creates a separation between the I and You; next strain and finally quarrel. Then emanate the magicians, whether equipped with want, pentacle and sword, or with cannon, tank and aeroplane. Madmen arise in high places, and impose their wills on their followers by forcing their heads not under the sands but into the newspapers. Such is propaganda, or the propitiatory magic, intellect is sacrificed on the altar of perverted imagination. Circe takes control, lycanthropy comes into play and men are changed into swine or wild animals. The wolf-man is no myth; in wartime he may be smelt in nearly every headline.

Coercion next follows, not only through the clash of arms but of ideas. In order morally to destroy the enemy an image is first made of him, not of wax but of words, into which nails of burning hatred are driven. He is Anti-Christ, Satan, Belial. He is smothered in verbal dirt until in image form he appears a monster. Thus is Ahriman invoked into being, and to keep the lie bright all truth is turned upside-down. Then a whole nation marches widdershins, and he who fails to keep in step is termed a traitor.

Is this an exaggeration? I do not think so. Look at the world as it is at this moment and at the war as it is being fought. What is it about?

We live in an age in which the main causes of war are economic, because the wealth of the world has been divided between the I and the You instead of having been allotted to the Us. There is sufficiency for all, more than enough for each separate nation; yet the more prosperous of the world has grown the more discontented it has become. Why is this? Is it because the nations are too many? No - the stars in the heavens are many, yet there is harmony between them. The reason is that their fundamental needs are so few. Deprive them of any one and at once their lives are imperiled.

What do the masses of mankind require? Food, shelter and warmth. Give them these and the foundations of their creative life are laid. Add to these truth, and intellectual freedom is granted to them; add to these justice, and a moral sense of security follows. Deprive them of these simple needs, and at once they are thrown back into the jungle.

Unless this triple path is followed, all nation planning can be nothing other than the magic of I and You – of Man and the Plan. It is not a monstrous blue-print of a new world that we are in need of; instead a return to the simple way – God’s way. He fashioned man out of the dust of the earth, and He breathed into that dust not peace and war but the spirit of life. As the perfect man is he who is fit in body, mind and soul, so is the perfect nation a people balanced economically, politically and culturally. So also is a perfect human world.

Magic may accomplish many things but it cannot master magic. War may accomplish many things, but war cannot end war. To believe that it can is to turn reason upside-down, and inverted reason is madness.

On the Tablet of Cebes may be read these words:

“There is only one Real Road to be Desired, and this is Wisdom; there is but One Evil to Fear, and it is Madness.”

The problem which faces the nations today is cloaked in these words. Nations who create in order to destroy, cultivate in order to starve and beget in order to slay, are nations entangled in the blackest magic. Their problem is to invert the Beast that is within them. For as St. James said: “From whence come wars and fighting among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” This, indeed, is wisdom.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Legacy of Dr. William Pierce

An excellent archive of writings and recorded speeches by William L. Pierce, founder of the original National Alliance, author of Hunter and The Turner Diaries: The Legacy of Dr. William Pierce

René Guénon - The Crisis of the Modern World