An Abandoned Inspiration

Here are some thoughts that Joel had around approaching the Minor Arcana from April 27, 2016, prior to the actual work with Hermetic Conversation commencing in June 2016. By the time Joel and Phillip began working with the Minor Arcana in 2018, this inspiration was largely abandoned. But perhaps it could be of inspiration to others…

Indications for studying the Minor Arcana:

For me, the best place to start is to take up inwardly the imagery of the 22nd Arcanum, The World, and then to move to the imagery of the first card of the Minor Arcana:  the Ace of Pentacles. One is immediately struck by the similarity between the two; the Ace is like a geometric “etheric” reduction of the more vivid “astral” representation of The World.  If we then repeat this activity with the final card of the Minor Arcana, the King of Batons, with the 1st Arcanum, The Magician, we find something similar:  the King is a mirror image of the Magician.

This has plagued me for sometime as being a key to the study of the Minor Arcana. At first I assumed there was a more or less straightforward reversal; that the Minor Arcana traced the same path as the Major only in reverse.  Certain aspects of this bothered me, though.  There are cards in the Major Arcana that clearly correspond with certain suits, but are “too early” or “too late” in the sequence.  For example, the 20th Arcanum, The Judgement, with its Trumpets belongs with the suit of Swords [edit January 2021: in the Lord’s Prayer Course, Valentin Tomberg indicates that the seven trumpets in the Book of Revelation correspond with the Suit of Swords], but falls too soon in the sequence for this to be harmonious, especially when a card like Justice is so much later in the deck.  

I lived with the question of the true correspondence between the Majors and Minors for a long time, spinning all kinds of arbitrary arrangements to force something to fit. Nothing really felt right.

Recently I’ve been reading Robert Powell’s Hermetic Astrology II.  There have been a few instances while reading through this book that questions I’ve been living with for a while have suddenly resolved themselves. While reading the section on Uranus, Neptune (or Night), and Pluto (or Phanes), the way (or rather, one way) into the Minor Arcana leapt out at me.

The first step on the path is the confrontation with Evil and its overcoming via the three vows, leading through effort and grace to the higher faculties of Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition. This is the path through the outer planets, represented in the Major Arcana by The World (Neptune), The Tower of Destruction (Uranus), and The Devil (Pluto). These are the Arcana or spiritual activities related to working with the Suit of Pentacles (or Seals).

The next step on the path is an expansion of the first gift, that of Spiritual Light of Uranus.  This involves the seven Arcana related to the seven “Light” signs of the Zodiac:  The Fool (Aries), The Judgement (Taurus), The Sun (Gemini), The Moon (Cancer), Force (Virgo), The Wheel of Fortune (Leo), and Justice (Libra). These are the spiritual activities related to working with the Suit of Swords (or Trumpets).

The third step on the path is an expansion of the second gift, that of Spiritual Tone, the “Perfect Night” of Neptune.  This involves the five Arcana related to the five “Dark” signs of the Zodiac:  The Star (Capricorn), Temperance (Aquarius), Death (Scorpio), The Hanged Man (Pisces), and The Hermit (Sagittarius).  These are the spiritual activities related to working with the Suit of Cups (or Vials).

The fourth step on the path is an expansion of the third gift, that of Spiritual Life, the love-will of Pluto-Phanes.  This involves the alchemical transformation of lead into gold, the mastery of the seven Planets:  The Chariot (Mars), The Lover (Venus), The Pope (Mercury), The Emperor (Jupiter), The Empress (Moon), The Priestess (Saturn), and The Magician (Sun).  These are the spiritual activities related to working with the Suit of Batons (the New Jerusalem).

So…the path does wind its way, not in a straight line, but in a labyrinthine spiral from The World to The Magician…from Night to Sun…

Thoughts? Feelings? Intuitions?