A few months ago I introduced a small glimpse into the Pansophy of the Rosicrucians. A few of my good friends at S.O.M.A got to see for the first time an important switch I made between two tarot cards. By switching the ordering of the two cards in this way you also change their position on the Tree of Life and the paths they are associated to. The two cards being switched are the Star and Moon cards.
The switch was actually done due to words coming from my mentor in Germany, who urged me onto examining the associations and ensure that ‘the royal pair come together in Reconciliation.’
Yes he left me hanging with just that statement, though frustrating it was to become the key to unlocking a rich and yet hidden series of teachings that belong to an alchemical version of the kabbalah, hardly spoken of before outside the Rosicrucian circle that formed around Gustav Meyrink.
This circle is particularly interesting because not only did Westcott send Meyrink the Golden Dawn cipher manuscripts before the Golden Dawn schism, the letters also contained the G.D tarot associations to the Tree of Life. Westcott and Meyrink corresponded for some years, and though Meyrink had difficulties unraveling the G.D mystery, the people around him certainly thought the system worth further investigation and began implementing its content within their own order. Thus in Germany the development of a Rosicrucian Tarot tradition continued and took many interesting turns.
For those of you who don’t know about my teaching at the Mystica Aeterna, our ‘Pansophic Rosicrucian’ model follows three phases: Reconciliation, Reintegration and Regeneration. The actual switch under discussion here between the two cards of the Moon and the Star is aimed at bringing more clarity to western mysticism for those who have never read the German materials. For many this exposure will open up perspectives on viewing the tree not only as a model of harmony and the ten heavens, but also one of alchemical marriage. This is because the phases of alchemy can be seen to actually progress up the Tree of Life. This idea can be taken quite far given some serious meditation from the reader 😉
The most important thing to consider in the switch between the Star and Moon cards is that of a long standing assumption made in European occultism and alchemist. That principle assumption is that the Sun should marry with the Moon, often depicted as a wedding between a Lunar Queen and Solar King.
The first point to consider is that of the traditional role of the Solar King and Lunar Queen and what they represent. These mysterious beings are the mysterious pair featured in so many alchemical engravings.
According to Jacob Boehme the Universal Adam of the Cabalist broke into two beings: the Adam and Eve of the Bible. His story was both symbolic of history and as well represents our present condition and yet it also has its parallel in Egyptian mythology. In fact many Germans believed there were two falls of man. The first occurred when Adam was put to sleep and Eve was drawn out of him, formed form his rib, thus breaking the Universal Adam into two lesser beings, and the second fall happened at the actual expulsion from paradise. Sucks to be Adam. He was having a bad day.
We also find in the Hermetic tradition that Osiris had two falls. One to his brother Set upon being nailed inside the coffin he was tricked into entering, and then later after Isis found him Set and his followers tore poor old Osiris apart. They even cut off his manhood. Sucks to be Osiris too.
This breaking of Adam and Osiris is known in the Martinist tradition quite well, and is also viewed as the Adam and Osiris legend in our own order which views both myths side by side. Our fall is really that we are at strife with ourselves, and that strife is between two conflicting polarities we have within. These are our solar and lunar activities, be that the rational mind and the dream mind, the head against heart, the thought impulse against the intuitive impulse, these two sides constantly struggle with each other.
What the alchemist did was to symbolize that if we can somehow bring these two polarities together, then we would experience Reconciliation (later to be followed by Reintegration and Regeneration.) This is the Royal Wedding so often depicted in alchemical diagrams. Their union causes them to become one new being, which dies and then is reborn as the Mercury of the Philosophers. That Mercury represents a New Will of Tiphareth, which Jacob Boehme tells us ‘by merging the two the Second Adam is born.’
This diagram shows the correct associations of the Tarot to the Tree of Life, as according to the Mystica Aeterna. The Moon and Star cards have been switched. The careful observer will notice immediately that they have been invited to the chemical wedding! Normally in alchemy the union of the Sun and Moon occurs through a period of darkness which symbolized melancholy and despair. This passing through darkness is the putrefaction of alchemy, the rotting that leads towards fermentation. Alchemical text describe rotting, putrid stenches, appearances of foul best like apparitions, all of which symbolize the entering into the dark aspect of yourself, in order to create harmony in darkness.
If we look to the Tarot of the Tree of Life we find that the cards captured within the realm of putrefaction do in fact indicate such a process. The burning melancholy belongs to bold Mars, and the despair belongs to father Saturn. These planets correspond to the Tower and Universe cards, which if you look at their positioning on the Tree of Life actually form a cross. That is to say they form a cross when combined together with the path of Sahmek. The corresponding card to the path of Sahmek is none other than Temperance, which Crowley titled ‘The Alchemist.’
As a set of symbols they represent alchemical putrefaction quite well. Mars as a warrior symbol is needed as the sword or blade that cuts up the substance of transmutation. It is the Set against Osiris and it is the blade pointing out of Eden that cast out Adam. It is the knife of the alchemist cutting and dividing up the plant to be transmuted into medicine. When set upon by Saturn, shown by the Universe card, the matter of the plant is sealed up, like the zodiac egg surrounding the female figure. It is like the coffin of Osiris, which in alchemy is the vessel, in which the plant matter is shut up and left to rot. Inside it will turn black, smell rancid and ferment, and release demonic stenches worthy of my backyard homebrew.
All of this symbolizes the dark period of initiation which is the darkness of the first degrees of initiation. This is also the despair of the dying ego which struggles against itself in pain. The only way to rise through this period of Hades is through union, shown by the Temperance card.
Looking at the Temperance card, she appears to be combining two vases or substances. These are the two polarities inside the self, known as the Sun and Moon of alchemy that require wedlock. However if you take a look at the Universe card there the female figure holds two wands in her hands. These two wands are separate and held apart. They show the dual polarities not yet united. Though moving up the Tree of Life, we arrive to the Temperance card, where now she takes those two polarities and combines them into one. She mixes them inside the vessel of transmutation. Those are the waters of the deep self and the depth of our unconscious matrix into which we must submerge to be baptized and reborn. Alchemy depicts it as the watery bath in which the King and Queen meet. The Tree of Life shows it as Yesod which is also sometimes symbolized as a fountain or cup as a watery matrix of life.
How these two polarities play out is fascinating. They are separate on the path of Tau; then unite in the path of Sahmek, through passing the destruction of the Tower on the path of Peh. Because the cards of the Moon and Star have been switched in the German system the picture becomes really clear.
This is because now the Star card is positioned directly opposite the Judgement card. The figure in the star card is pouring out water, and the wrath of the judgment card is rains the word with fire. These are the water and fire principles needed to commence any alchemical transmutations. In the lab water is inside the vessel of transmutation and fire is set upon it and in the person we shed tears during our dark period of despair and are tormented through the fire of the pain of transformation.
However more importantly the Moon and Sun cards are opposite each other in perfect balance. This seems to fit much better with the wands held in the hands of the Universe card’s figure, as well as the alchemical vessels held in the hands of the Temperance female figure. Carl Jung wrote extensively on the wedding of the Solar King and Lunar Queen in his book the ‘Psychology of Transference.’ I highly recommend this book as essential reading to throwing light on what is happening here on the Tree of Life and in conjunction read Adam McLean’s own comments here.
These Hermetic keys coupled with this Mystica Aeterna correspondence set make for a far richer alchemical experience when going up the Tree of Life in terms of initiation and Reconciliation. What follows going up the Tree of Life are the tarot keys to Reintegration and Regeneration, which also follow an alchemical model. Very few have considered the Tree of Life through this alchemical model before, and although it appears to be a new invention it indeed is drawn from an older existing German tradition. For those who doubt this, take note of the diagrams below from Jacob Boehme, the father of our tradition and his version of the three phases of alchemy. One only needs to juxtaposition these diagrams onto the Tree of Life in order to come to the same conclusion.
Enjoying this sharing, hoping you enjoyed the reading,
Your friend in the Great Work, Samuel Robinson
Grand Hierophant of the Mystica Aeterna.
This section offers commentaries on my blog post from Rosicrucian brothers and sisters from other Rosicrucian Orders. Hailing from several organizations this section brings us together in a new incentive, started right here at the Mystica Aeterna, in order to help develop sharing and community throughout our beautiful tradition, no matter our differences, forming us into one Rosicrucian brotherhood, of connection, compassion and sharing.
Filed under: Rosicrucian Tarot