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Emblems/Symbols, Meditation/Reading and Case-workers

To: alt.tarot,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick
From: azoth@netcom.com (Az0th)
Subject: Re: Emblems/Symbols, Meditation/Reading and Case-workers (was Re: Plotinus, evil, ....)
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 14:04:36 GMT

I heard R Brzustowicz (brz@u.washington.edu) say:

: >I would like to further qualify this genre as maintaining in its instances
: >a substantially single source relationship between specific images and text,

: In other words, text and emblem set produced as a single project.  This
: would include Waite's _Pictorial Key_, Crowley's _Book of Thoth_, and 
: Case's _Tarot_, but leave out various books that use (for example) Thoth
: cards as illustrations but have text written by someone who had no hand in
: producing the cards.

Exactly so. It would also, probably, include the pack/text of Wirth's
revised tarot (c1927), since his earlier effort was done at Guaita's
commission, and Papus' pack/text of the _Divinitory Tarot_, since his
_Tarot of the Bohemians_ uses Marseilles/old-Wirth. 

: >I don't offhand recall an 'occult' commentary on purely traditional tarot,

: Something like vol II of Knight's _Practical Guide to Qabalistic
: Symbolism_ has extensive comments on Tarot Trumps (of several varieties)
: but uses the Marseilles images.  It's taxonimically interesting because it
: includes a kind of meta-commentary on the ways in which various
: "rectified" Tarot sets differ from the Marseilles baseline.

I haven't spent a great deal of time with the PGQS, but have always
seen in it not so much a commentary on tarot as a Qabalistic textbook,
containing an overview of the occult tarot tradition, and the minimum
of simple reference text, of the 'this card, this path' variety.

: It follows something in the tradition of Levi's _Transcendental Magic_,
: which used the Trumps as chapter motifs (twice!) or his _Magical Ritual of
: the Sanctum Regnum_.  There are also Mouni Sadhu's book, Ouspensky's
: little book, and Tomberg's big book (_Meditations on the Tarot_?).  For
: the last two, in some ways, the specifics of the images are often less
: important than the general sequence, and the ideas being mapped into it.

I haven't spent any time with Tomberg, but my '68 copy of Sadhu's _Tarot_
uses an esoteric deck showing considerable Rider-Waite influence. Even so,
his text, and I think also Ouspensky's, uses the images primarily as a bully
pulpit for philosophical dissertation, and doesn't really qualify as an
analytical commentary in the same sense as those other examples of our
proposed genre-type.

: I'm not sure where the genre boundaries should be drawn -- but the "pure"
: genre might well be (as I think you suggest) emblems+text specifically
: generated as a unified work.  Knight's _PG_ would then be quite outside
: the genre?

Definitely, but we're in danger of losing sight of the crux of the biscuit:
what makes the 'pure' examples of our genre noteworthy, special and in fact
quite remarkable isn't simply their qualification as monogenic tarot/text
composites. It is the fact that for the first time in the history of the
tarot, individuals directly responsible for specific details of the images
*also* explain and justify those details to us, systematically. This is the
difference that makes a difference, and it changes dramatically how we may
ourselves interpret those same images. 

: No doubt one doesn't need to have the Tarot to have alchemical,
: Kabbalistic, Neoplatonic, or whatever, ideas -- they have all done
: quite well for themselves without the Tarot.  But one of the features of
: many esoteric traditions is an emphasis on imagery & what is nowadays
: sometimes called "the imaginal".  Into that context, the Tarot comes
: bearing a definite charge of attractiveness.  Quite a temptation.

None of my comments should be taken as claims that the imagery proper
brings nothing to the party. That it brings nothing doctrinal certainly
doesn't imply that it brings nothing desirable or useful. Whatever else,
if engages the *other* half of our wetware, relieving us of all those
tedius lists of 777 and bizarre contemplations of the beard of IHVH. };-]

: One of the problems with commentaries on Tarot (doctrinal or historical)
: is that they generally want to get away from the images into the "meaning"
: -- and the "true meaning" -- of the card set itself, which usually boils
: down to the ideas of the commentator. But the images are the primary data.

They do make colorful index tabs.

: >is, in its earliest years, only connectible to gaming. 

: As it is mentioned in writing.  However, that doesn't say anything about
: the emblematic/iconic context of the images themselves.  Moakley addresses
: that question, in a preliminary way; Dummett & al do not.

Even Dummett admits the value of her study. It's a far cry from Petrarch
to Luria, however.

: >of overtly Christian symbolism in the tarot is one which most pagans would
: >be happier to overlook,

: but very much what one would expect from the evident time & place of
: origin, and the style & content of the images themselves.

Definitely, as in Rosicrucian symbolism as well. Has anyone ever
remarked that the period of CRC's life provides a symbolic factor
in the date of his birth? I was fiddling about one day, inspired
perhaps by _Jesus Christ: Sun of God_, and taking 1484-1378=106,
divided that 106 into 1378, finding 13, which might be construed
as the beginning of another solar/Christian cycle. Christian in
particular because the 0-date is a Christian reference point, as
if someone was meaning to imply a significant relationship between
JC and CRC. Anyway, just thought it was curious.

: What I would like to see is a study something like _Saturn and Melancholy_
: with the Tarot as the object of investigation.  Something of the sort
...
: to voluminous esoteric speculation.  Not many of them have received so
: much broooding and re-invention.

Please consider this an invitation to produce just such a work. ;)

Az0th

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