Monday, September 1, 2008

The story of the Empress

A narrative trip through Tarot’s Major Arcane
Once upon a time, in one of the distant Kingdoms in which memories no longer exist, a great Magician (01). When he opened his left hand up and his right hand down, he would canalize great power and unite earth and the sky, and from this unity would govern the four elements: the earth-token, the water-vessel, the air-sword, and the fire-stick that lay on a table.
There was also in this kingdom a High Priestess (02) of the Moon, daughter of the Great Goddess, reflex and mirror of the universe, servant and mistress of water and life, of Love and desire enchantments. She reads the Gnosis book and it’s crowned by a second quarter moon.
The offspring of this couple’s sacred encounter was a beautiful Empress (03), exuberant as nature during its joyful spring. But, as in this kingdom children were not to be allowed, the princess was taken to the exterior worlds, where she was adopted by a powerful Emperor (04). He was a good man and liked the little princess, but he was always focused on his work of administrating his kingdom’s land. And when his orders were not to be obeyed he would get really upset.
However, when the princess turned 15, she wanted to know who she really was and decided to search for her origins. She first went to the Hierophant (05) and tried to dedicate herself to religion. Nevertheless, before so many Dogmas, rituals, and devotional requests, noticing that with so many rules and details the essential was left behind, the princess decided to quit.
In the royal family, the princess had two brothers, legitimate heirs of the King: The first prince was a poet, a musician and bohemian. A true Lover (06) for life. But, as he had many affairs (On the Marseille cards he is represented by a man divided between two beloved ones, one is young, and the other mature), he was always in doubt about what he really wanted and took life irresponsibly. He was a prisoner of his own freedom, and could not tell the princess who she was.
The second prince was a warrior that would distribute his time among various sports and Chariot (07) competitions. Firm, decided and courageous – he got every quality that lacked in the first prince. But, on the other hand, everything the first one had of positive – the amiability, good taste, comprehension – also was lacking on him, once he was rude and insensitive. Always dedicating himself to combats, challenges and competitions, and could not tell the princess who she was and who were her true parents either.
Seeing her two brothers were not able to help her, the princess kept doing her investigation. She decided, then, to search for Justice (08), because she thought she had the right to know about her origins. The Truth advocate, who was not blind, neither used a blindfold, but had a sword on the right hand and a balance on the left one, examined the princess past, pondering her deeds and merits. Then, directed the princess to an old wise man, who lived in complete isolation in caves on the high distant mountains, and who exists since the beginning of ages and know everything.
The princess then searched for The Hermit (09). The wise man heard the princess, consulted the oracle of inner light and said: “before finding out who you are and who your parents are, you must face seven mystical tests; seven mysteries that if not solved would lead to great misfortune.” The hermit then said “Then role the Wheel of Fortune (10)! May the seven primordial forces awake the Empress out of her charmed dream in the material universe! May the seven ways of power reveal their eternal light under the veil of transitory worlds, connecting again earth and sky in this moment.” And, in this very instant, every thing started to orbit around the princess, which was kept into a deep and calm trance, immediately sleeping.
When the princess woke up, she was laying over a gigantic beast, a sleeping lion. She then noticed that, not only an attempt to escape, but any rougher movement would be deadly, because the alarmed animal will attack immediately. She started, then, to caress the lion’s mane, slowly and caringly. The animal, savage but sensitive to that gentle touch, started to wake up slowly, but instead of react in an aggressive and violent manner, it reattributed the caress of the princess, licking her hands. Thus, the princess won the test of Strength (11).
Immediately, the princess was transported to another situation and found herself upside down, with her hands tied and her right foot bounded to a rope that came from the infinite sky. There was no one else in the scene. On the contrary, the princess felt abandoned to her own fate, conscient of her finitude before the cruel world, and was compelled to a deep feeling of awkwardness and self mercy. The princess, however, was a few centimeters from land, with her hands almost touching the ground and the coins that felt from her pockets (which mean the losses). The princess cried and cried and cried. Yet, after a while, the princess decided to adapt to the situation and its restrictions. Instead of submitting herself to suffering and self-commiseration she surrendered herself in sacrifice, renouncing any hope: She would be there contritely and consciously. Then, the little princess learned the meaning of humbleness and was trough The Hanged Man (12) test.
Next, the princess was taken to somewhere else, where there was a mountain of dead bodies, lacerated and decapitated. Hiding a white horse, with a long black mantle and a scythe, a great skull would go over the bodies saying “It comes the time.” First the princess tried to runaway. But everywhere she hides, and everywhere she ran, the skull and its horse would appear and say “You time had come, I came for you”. For a moment the princess thought of negotiating “Let me finish the seven tests, and then I’ll go with you.” But, after a moment of sorrow she accepted that everything was ephemeral and that she should not be attached to anything. Then death stopped its persecution and said: “The ones who don’t fear me, and accept me as a friend, I always bless with change and transformation.” The princess then overcame the challenge of Death (13) and went forward.
Afterward the princess was transported to another task. Now she was before a giant angel, half red, half blue. The angel was holding two big chalices – a gold one and a silver one – throwing a luminous drink from one to another, in a cadenced and rhythmical way. Observing that movement the princess comprehended that the angel controlled the reversibility of every process, compensating and inversing the flux of vital energy of each event; she was astonished by that slow and hypnotic movement. Gradually that alternance of opposites became automatic and sleepiness started to catch the princess. She remembered that, sometimes, balance and moderation are excuses for inertia and immobility and stood awake, then overcoming the test of Temperance (14).
The giant angel turned into a Devil, with a sword in the left hand, and on the right hand, men and women bounded. His image instigates passion and violence. Scared, the princess feared and the devil’s power became stronger. The more the princess feared the evil she felt inside and close to her, greater was the danger and the threat really. On a magic moment, in which time is suspended, the princess got courage. And noticed that fearlessness hit evil, diminishing it. So, she breathed deeply and decided to face all her fears, including the fear of recognizing herself as instinct, as an animal with its desires and needs. The evil started diminishing until it disappeared definitely. Then, the princess overcame the test of The Devil (15).
Later, the princess started to fall from a vertiginous precipice, of what end seemed very far away. Falling (from a very high tower, hit by a thunderstorm) in the endless space. She had already sacrificed herself during the test of the hanged man, she had accepted finitude in the test of death, she did not feared anymore, whereas she had faced and won evil during the devil’s test, but surrender, acceptance and courage were not enough for her to surpass the despair of that fall in emptiness. She thought on focusing her hands. When concentrating to feel her own hands, the princess ascended to a higher level of conscience thus winning the test of The Tower (16).
She now woke up on a beautiful island. Under the blue starlit night, the virgin woods, green glow colored, was baled by the calm wind that came from the sea. The princes set naked by the water of a small river, resting her feet tired from the journey and sighted: “How beautiful, I could stay in this paradise for the rest of my life” But true happiness is not made of illusion, and the princess remembered that that comfort and beauty were deviating her from her goal of getting to know herself and find her origin. Then the princess conquered the seventh and last challenge: The Star (17) proof.
Emerging from the dark night of the soul, a narrow path arisen between defiles and two twin towers on the back, kept by a golden scarab. It rained tears of blood; a dog and a wolf would howl for the moon. The seven tasks were overcome. Then the princess heard a voice breaking the sky: “Your mother is The Moon (18) and your father is The Sun (19)” The luminous centre of being the Self was achieved as a party of light and heat. The angels sounded their trumpets and the dead came from their graves. The Day of the Final Judgment is the separations between the wheat and the JOIO, the resurrection and The Judgment (20). The princess arrives home, her homeland, the magical kingdom in which she was born and meet with her true parents, all her family, besides other princes and princesses reborn from different worlds and dimensions. Everyone singing and praising to the Imanifest God and the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city, the reborn communion.
The story of the Empress ends up with her dancing, between the four sacred animals that exist in the corners of The World (21): the bull, the lion, the eagle and the angel. She deciphered the sphinx enigma, revealed and considered the mystery of apocalypse. She dived into the darkness of the substance, in the dark dream of times, and was reborn to eternal life, after overcoming the seven tasks of the ephemeral worlds.
And only to register: The Fool (00) who told me this story.


During the second Persian invasion to the Greeks, general Leonidas, king of Sparta, went up to the Delphi oracle to inquire about the possibility of the Spartan army, of 300 men only, to face alone 5000 Persians in the Thermopiles valley.

The pythoness psycho graphed the following:

- "Go, you will win. You won't die there.” And general Leonidas, then, went to war and died together with his 300 men.

His son, that was also called Leonidas went to Delphi and asked the oracle about the sentence. When he then showed the psycho graphed piece of paper, the pythoness of the temple read: "go, will you win? No, you will die there.” (*)


This narrative , considered by many as disrespect to the oracle of Apollo, has many valuable elements, to clarify the most different mistakes of the divinatory art. Leonidas's principal mistake was to transfer the responsibility of his destiny to the oracle, contradicting, therefore, the famous saying of Delphi: "know thyself.” Unfortunately, the majority of people that visit mediums and palm readers have the same attitude as the Spartan general, because, instead of a very sincere effort to know them better and make their own decisions, they want to know beforehand what is going to happen.

"I am lazy because I am a Libra" or "I am sick dire to bad spirits", these are some typical examples of how irresponsibility and fatalism want to see conscience determined by unconscient factors - be it through stars, spirits of the dead or other archetypes of the collective unconscience, like the Orishas or the major arcanes of the tarot. The truth is, therefore, that there is no fatal destiny, or predetermined characteristics. It is not "destiny" that determines conscience, but the moral and psychological development that frees "man" from his destiny: the more the human being is conscious of himself, to less influences he will have submitted to those who perceived the action of these influences of the unconscious over themselves can alter their way of life through freedom. They become their own rulers.
To make their most important decisions, the ancient Chinese consulted three cracks in turtles' shells, ritually exposed to an incandescent iron; the Etruscans obeyed gods through the studies of lightning’s; the Caldeus saw the universe in the guts of dead animals. All the techniques and primitive methods of the reading of the unconscious are always connected to two fundamental ideas: the idea of the universal correspondence, according to which we can see the whole through its fragmented image, and the idea that breaks time's linearity, of the transcendence of continuous duration between past, present and future - generally provoked by trance or by the changing in the conceit state of the foreteller.

The guessing games are an association and correspondences to which men achieve through experience and synchronicity -- the perception of absolute simultaneity of all events. In the long run, the codification of the deciphered signals in trance structured what we call the symbolic languages of the unconscious.

It is known that in ancient times, the Paleolithic nomad hunted during the fool moon and, in his cave, in the new moon, dedicated part of the hunt to the "Lord of the beasts,” as a form of thanks for the success of a new opportunity. For those who study religion (1) , the drawn images in the caves had a mnemonic character, that is, they were objects used in the cut and invocations during the bloody rituals of the new moon. They were a magic way through which archaic man symbolized his wishes.

On a certain day, therefore, the nomad hunter wished to "hunt" for a woman or defeat an enemy: and ended up building a pantheon to manipulate the forces of his cosmological universe. For example: to conquer a female, he should sacrifice determined animals, vegetables and objects with common characteristics as to the goddess of water like Aphrodite or Oxum.

If the wish was to defeat his enemies, he should invoke one of the fire warriors like Ares or Ogum, or even the protector Demon of his tribe. This primitive pantheon that incarnated different aspects of nature mixed with the cut to the ancestors not only was it the first religious manifestation that we know of but is also the most ancient register of human culture. The word "divination" itself literally means "talk to the gods" and because of this, the activity started to be exclusively performed by members of the sacerdotal class of by its different shamans and mystic variations.


However, with the coming of the first cities and sedentary lives, men progressed from the lunar and matriarchal stage to a new social structure and to a new paradigm of representation. The agriculture imposed gods and solar calendars and the political power patriarcalized around the image of the kings frequently considered sons of the solar divinities.

In this new context, the symbolic languages became more cabalistic and less magic. It was a casa of foreseeing the happenings and not controlling them; of knowing beforehand the destiny of the future and not satisfying oneself with the immediate necessities. This way, the divinatory art included knowledge in medicine, meteorology, public administration and military strategy -- besides the psychological knowledge necessary for the trance the cognitive elements that used to structure the language of religious dogmas.

The "gods" were no more simple personifications of natural forces, but also represented simultaneously places, vocations, archetypical dramas that founded customs and traditions. However, they are still very far from the representation of the modern "psychological types" - as happens today with the astrological signals and the Orishas. In fact, in ancient limes there was not what we call the "individual divination,” even the oracles of the kings didn't refer to them as people but as institutions. In the primitive divinatory arts what mattered were the interpretation of the natural forces and not the individual destiny of the consultants. Many authors associate the appearing of the first alphabets to this "solar rationalization" of the archaic symbols of primitive divination, or at least, that many ideographic writings previous to the domain of the Indo-European idioms (of graphic phonetic codification) were deeply influenced by divinatory techniques, such as the Chinese one, the Sanskrit, the ancient Hebrew, the runic alphabets arid Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Jean Nougayrol (2), for example, studied the evolution of the signs of the Mesopotamia auruspicia in the Assyria and Babylonia cultures. The technical vocabulary of this modality of guessing, in a first period, counted with about 6000 signs of the functional type, being comparable to our cerebral toponymy. There was a direct relation between each symbol and the object or the represented concrete action. As time went by, according to Nougayrol, the signs that directly represented the mnemonic ideas of the primitive universe were, gradually grouped and reduced, in the sense of representing the astrological pantheon, starting to associate sounds, phonemes and elements of mythology.

Thus, the signs of cuneiform way of writing are a result of a long historical process of simplification of the archaic symbols of the auruspicia and its utilization of its oracles in the royal genealogy and in the calendars.

It is important to emphasize that this "rationalization" of the mnemonic signs followed the evolution of the Caldeus religious dogmas, the first ones to present a complete astrological solar pantheon. Formed by a cosmic trinidad, seven planetary divinities and 12 zodiacal entities. The fact that some alphabets, like the Hebrew one, have 22 letters (3+7+12) took the majority of modern occultist to sustain that the images of the tarot cards would derive from a universal language, or of the signs of the ideographical writing.

Only through the actual study of the "universals of substance" can we one day determine if the graphic-phonetic representation inspired itself or not in the mythological order of antiquity. For now, therefore, the idea of a modern language is nothing but a myth: the myth of the Babel tower that was inherited by the Christian-Jewish culture of the Zoroaster’s religion, together with the ideas of hell, purgatory, celestial heaven and of the last days of judgment. And this archetypical inheritance formed the basis for the collective unconscience of the western culture.

However, with the progressive dessacralization of cultures -- initiated around the year 1500b.c with the coming of sedentary lives of the first cities and of the writing through graphic-phonetic codification, sediment by the philosophical thought started by Socrates and Plato; and, concluded by the generalized industrialization of all objects and by the development of the scientifically thought - the ancient Divinatory Art and its symbolic languages were replaced by the philosophy or objectivity and put aside being then considered superstition and popular belief.

While from traditional societies, without individual and uniform objectivity, the Divinatory Arts represented the hermeneutical synthesis of human knowledge; nowadays, they were abated by scientific thoughts to vulgar mixture of hypnotically suggestion with "sub-psychoanalysis", the various "mancy" card reading, geomancy, chiromancy etc.


Past and future only exist in the present, as memory and extravagance. Time is the fourth dimension of one physical space. The guessing games tried to discover past causes and future possibilities condition the present, how this data is organized in the unconscious. When we play the tarot cards, for example, they show the soul of the consultant, his/her interior life, so he/she can know how his/her past and future are organized inside him/herself (3).

"Win and come back alive" was the occult desire in the unconscience of the Spartan general. To defeat the Persian army with 300 men would make Leonidas a national hero and would give Sparta the hegemony over Greece. And this was the King's second mistake: moved by vanity and political ambition, Leonidas believe that his wish reflected by the oracle was the truth.

"What is your profile of happiness?" This is the question that the oracle silently asks to each unconscience. An experienced card reader doesn't reinforce, nor frustrates the wishes of those who seek the oracle; he only makes sure that these people be aware of how their wishes are structured in the present. During the process of divination, the consultant projects his chemical contents inside a determined configuration that represents his /her existential situation. Whoever knows the situation in which he/she finds him/herself, immediately recognizes his/her representation projected in the oracle. However, the majority of people present only a partial understanding of his/her condition. It is then, for the card reader to "work with the resistances,” that is, discuss the symbols that the consultant doesn't identity in the game and in his/her life.

For this process to run without manipulations, giving priority to the development of the conscience, each symbol must correspond to an aspect of the consultant, it must express an element of his/her interior life. All these guessing games consist, in this psychic identity of his interior life, with images and symbolic concepts. This identity is spontaneous and involuntary, but can and should be consciously proposed before the beginning of the process of divination because the bigger the level if intimacy of the consultant with the symbolic language that he/she uses, the bigger his/her capacity of understanding the oracle's answer by him/herself will be and smaller will be the possibility of induction by the card reader.

However, the reading of the unconscious cannot be limited to the constatation of the existential situation of the consultant or of a reponctuation of his/her occult wishes as some psychoanalysts and the pythoness of the story want it to be, but yes it must allow a psychological reorganization of all the discursive elements presented, it must promote a transformation in the emphasized situation. And this was the Spartan general third mistake: after delegating responsibility of his decisions to the oracle and a-critically identifying himself with his most secret wishes, reflected like in a magic mirror, Leonidas didn't worry about discussing alternatives. He unconsciously gave himself up to his fatal destiny.


We are used to thinking principally in the spiritualist ways, that "there is no coincidence in this life" and that "everything has an occult cause.” The law of the karma itself as it is understood by kardecism - as a "law of cause and effect, action and reaction" - also collaborates to the formation of a determinist attitude pretensely scientific. Therefore, in its original context, the so propagated law that harmonizes the human disequilibrium in its innumerable factors and conditions isn't determinist nor worries itself with the casually, lead we invariably do. There is an ancient Indian legend that compares man before his destiny with the archer that has only three arrows: the first has already been shot and represents the past; the second is in the bow, ready to be shot and corresponds to the present; and the last one that is still kept away symbolizes the future. If man decides to shoot the arrow of the present in the same direction of the one of the past, he will live under the submission of repetition (or karma), and will be a prisoner of his destiny. But if man uses his present and his future to get over his past, then he will live creatively all the cycles (or dharma) and will be the owner of his destiny (4). The future is one of the possibilities of development of the present. And the conscious option for an existential possibility already means a transformation of the conditions of destiny, because they alter the immediate situation. Therefore, the divination games, besides making possible "sell-diagnosis,” can also reprogram the unconscious, helping the consultant to modify the situation in which he finds himself. The divination isn't only the act of deciphering problems, but also, above all, the art of discovering alternatives: helping to choose a better future among the diverse possibilities - that's what should be the legitimate role of the oracles! To guarantee this intention, we should always divide the divinatory process in two distinct parts, thus allowing dynamic self-awareness, a symbolic reflection about life.

"What are the recurrent elements (past) and the tendencies (future) that condition your present existential situation" - this will always be an obligatory question of the first half of the conscious reading of the unconscious, while the second part of the process should always come out with the determining factors that were manifested with the breaking of the cycle of repetition of the conditioning (habits), representing a critical choice of one of the alternatives of development presented. This way, the second part of the process (project) will then men, the construction of your own destiny on a spiritual level, transforming the order and the meaning of the archetypes that before conditioned the situation. The crossing from one point to another is the crucial point of the process, for it is in that, that the consultant becomes aware and confesses to himself his situation wishing to change it. It is a moment of decision.

1ª Part: LIFE'S HABITS (situation-problem)

a) past -- biographic recurrences
b) future -- involuntary tendencies
c) Present - contradiction that blocks the development, actual existential situation.

2ª Part: A LIFE'S PROJECT (the attitude-solution)

Reorganization of the conditioning elements of the previous situation in a new present. Critical choice of one of the possible alternatives of destiny. Restoring of objectives that are a priority of life and the strategy to realize them.

Thus, in the first part, the facilitator or card reader must attain himself to casually and get the same logical rigor that a scientist in the "verifying of the hypothesis", observing the inter relation of the multiplicity of conditions and the determining factors of as existential situation. But then again, the facilitator must attain himself to possibilities, alternatives, "parallel apotheosis,” trying to put him in focus with synchronicity, where the coincidence of factors always points to a transformation. Therefore, in order not to repeat the same mistakes of the Spartan general, we should take precautions in divinatory process:

1) Contrary to classical card reading, where the consultant asks and the oracle answers, we should cooperate with the facilitator, exposing beforehand the reason of the consultation and all the problems of the situation to be studied. On the other hand, the card reader should make the consultant familiar with the oracular language that will be used. It should be quite clear to both that the read of the unconscious is a responsibility of the consultant, with that card reader playing the role of a more facilitator.

2) In order for the consultant not to let himself be fooled by his own illusion, he must know his wishes. The wish to marry a beautiful woman is different from the destiny of marrying a beautiful woman. And if the person is not prepared to distinguish, he/she will be an easy target for manipulation. The consultant and the facilitator should, therefore, together fight against his illusions instead of trying to confirm them.

3) We should always be open to new alternatives. In reality, the objective of the appointment should be the searching of alternatives in destiny. However doesn't look for a personal changes and self transformation shouldn't seek oracular processes, because, to start with he gives himself as a victim of the forces of the unconscious. That's why an analysis of possibilities is necessary.

Imagine an innocent birthday party, where people in a circle sing and clap hands, around the candle that will be blown out by the central character of the celebration, at the moment when everybody shouts and he will make a wish. We are before a magic ritual. If the person wishes for a better life, we can say that it was a white magic ritual. If, on the other hand, the birthday person wishes something for his ego and is materialist, like a vengeance, we will be before a black magic ritual. This subtle difference also has to be emphasized by the manipulators of oracles, because before an adverse destiny, the majority of people tend to insist on their objectives and wishes. The use of candles, baths, floral arrangements, diets or rituals can be a powerful reinforcement for the modification of the pathological archetypical complexes, generally oppositions and astrological quarters. Many modern physicians use the bio-dance, the psycho-drama and the creative imagination associated to the divinatory symbols.

But when these mnemonic techniques of reinforcement of the archetypes go beyond the unconscious individual, therapy becomes witchery, principally if an absent third person is singled out. In the same way that the sacrifice of various bulls to Ares, the god of war, didn't guarantee the victory of Leonidas; with difficulty can the manipulation of archetypical energies through rituals alter destiny. In reality, the Spartan general with sacrifice did nothing but feed his own bellicosity. It is the phenomenon of reversal, or the return to psychic projections, according to which the witchery always turn on the witch. In something which is of vital importance in which you always emphasize the therapeutic and pedagogic character of adversity, because the lesson to be understood firstly to be overcome once and for all. The truth is that the conscience is the only key to karmic reversibility. And you can only get to consciousness and to objective understanding of reality through the subjective understanding of yourself. There is no other way: only discovering the meaning of your ghosts, the man recognizes himself in the sunlight.


(*) Originally told by Herodoto, we adopted the story from a version recreated by Monteiro Lobato, in the "Emily's Grammar”.

(1) ELIADE, M. - História das Crenças e Idéias Religiosas (The History of Beliefs and Religious Ideas). Volume 1, first book, Zahar Editors.

(2) ALLEAU, R. A Ciencia dos Símbolos (The Science of the Symbols). Coleções Esfinge. Edições 70 - Portugal.

(3) Through some simple procedures of hypnotical suggestion, any card reader can induce the consultant to choose some ways of his/her immediate present, working his/her social perspectives and his/her expectations of development. By the hypnotical reinforcement of wishes and projections of the consultant, the card reader can even tell facts that will really happen. But this won't be a prediction, but yes, a psychic manipulation, in which some possibilities of existential development are reinforced in the name of others. The great majority of people participate in the divination only for a reinforcement for his/her wishes of social ascension and./or affective realization: some want money, fame; others want to travel or simply get married and have children.

(4) Even the most ortodox religious traditions, like Islamism affirm the liberty of the development of the conscience facing destiny; "he who performs a good action will receive tenfold in return its equivalent, and he who performs a bad action, will receive only its equivalent and nobody will be prejudiced" - the magnanimous sentence of the Koran (6:160) about the karmic reversibility of destiny. And still in another part (13:11): "God doesn't change the destiny of a people until the people change what they have in their souls".

A Map of the Unconscious

"According to tradition where the Egyptian cleric, inheritors of the wisdom of Atlantis, were still guardians of the sacred mysteries, the Great Hierophant, foreseeing a period of spiritual decay of humanity and the persecution of the sacred teaching, convoked to the temple all expert cleric of Egypt so that, together they could find a way to preserve from destruction the initial teaching, thus allowing its use by the far distant generations.

"Many suggestions were presented, but the wisest among the present said that, due to the moral decay of humanity, vice would prevail everywhere and then suggested that the Eternal Truths were perpetuated through vice, until the time when it could be taught.

"And so it was done and the great symbolic system of the Esoteric Wisdom - the Tarot - was presented to humanity as a set of 78 cards that, for millions of years, have served to satisfy human curiosity about its future or to distract themselves playing.” (*)


It is common to subdivide the tarot's 78 cards in two big distinct groups: the Major Arcanes (22 allegoric cards) and the Minor Arcanes (56 suits).

The 22 Major Arcanes: the Sorcerer, the Female Pope, the Empress, the Emperor, the Pope, the Enchanted, the Litter, Justice, the Hermit, the Wheel of Fortune, the Hangman, Death, Temperance, The Devil, the Tower, the Star, the Moon, the Sun, Judgment Day, the Crazy Man, and the World.

The Minor Arcanes:
14 clubs representing the spiritual activity.
14 hearts symbolizing affective activity.
14 spades expressing mental activity.
14 diamonds corresponding to material activity.

In the card-reading manual, it is affirmed that the Minor Arcanes emphasize the "objective" life, mode of happiness such as: trips, illness, children, and money -- while the Major Arcanes would be more psychological or "subjective,” representing in its allegories, states of our interior life or "levels of conscience.” Esoteric authors, with more initial rather than divinatory worries, like G.O. Mebes, emphasize that "only after studying and understanding the 22 Major Arcanes, can the disciple go on to the study of the Minor Arcanes, because they are more profound and abstract".

In a general sense, we can say that the two groups in which the tarot is subdivided emphasize different levels of conscience, the Major ones bordering on psychic biography and the Minor ones specifying details and more profound relations, as in previous lives and the general configuration of the destiny of the person on the spot.

Thus the Major Arcanes work like masks or sub-personalities before frustrations and complexes that we suffer throughout life. They are structuring symbols of our biographic and social experience, that operate on the Interpersonal Relations level. These archetypes form the first board of the Illuminated Road Game, in which the

22 major Arcanes, impersonal relationships level
16 figured cards, interpersonal relationships level
40 numbered cards, transpersonal relationships level

The majority of specialists, being esoteric authors or historians and skeptical collectors, are unanimous in affirming that the pack of cards, used to play, derive from the Tarot and not the contrary, as it was thought to be. However, admitting the common origin of both, how can we know that the divinatory activity came before its use as a past-time and a game of chance?

The origin of the cards is unknown, but its appearance in Europe dates back to the end of the last century - at least it is from this period the most ancient packs of cards that we have nowadays come from. The first register of the tarot, however, dales from 1377. It relates to the correspondence of a certain friar John, a Swiss monk who surprisingly narrates "a game of cards which indicates by the figures, the actual state of the world.”

There is also another register; from 1392, that mentions a requisition of three packs of cards to the artist Jacqueline Grigonneur by order of Charles VI, king of France, used to distract the king during his crises of madness. This second register is considered by many researchers as the most important, because it describes the way the cards should be painted, taking as examples the most ancient and mysterious versions (1). As there is also a French decree from 1369 prohibiting the games of chance that doesn't mention the cards, we can deduce that they "appeared" between 1370 and 1330.

Among the possible introducers of the tarot in the west are the gypsies, the crusaders and the Saracens. However, while esoteric authors divide themselves between the Masonic legends (like the one of the rescue of the Arch of Alliance from the temple of Solomon by the Templar Knights) and the no less doubtful existence of mystic countries, the more academic researchers prefer the hypothesis that it was the Saracens that introduced the cards to Europe. However, being more similar to the truth, there is no hypsographical proof that this hypothesis is real. It is certain that nobody believes that the tarot is a medieval European creation and that everybody agrees that the cards have a far more remote origin than is recorded, although we can't explain its more recent precedence or its subtle reappearance in the short period of ten years.

In reality, the consensus about these two points - primarily the divinatory use is an anterior origin to ancient times - reveals the universality of the language of the tarot, of which elements appear in different cultures. So, Hindus. Caldeus. Chinese, Atlantians, angles and even E-T's are appointed as the original creators of the cards. However, by being spread more and counted with a big number of followers, the Egyptian hypothesis of the origin of the cards was emphasized and started to be taken as the real one. The fact of the first two modern researchers of the tarot, A. Count de Gebelin and Etteilla, having passionately embraced this hypothesis, deeply contributed to this.

Antoine Count de Gebelin was born in Nimes, 1725, and died in Paris on the 1st of May, 1784. He studied theology in Lousanne and followed in his father's footsteps becoming a pastor for the Reformed Church. Gebelin passionately studied ancient mythology. He got involved in the studies of religions from the linguistical point of view; he tried to "rediscover the primitive language, in which the hieroglyphic way of writing would explain the various know mythologies that reflect in different symbols, the revealed truths.”

The first person to use this discovery was a wig maker called Alliette, than in his spare time used to sell magic amulets, practiced chiromancy, interpreted dreams and made horoscopes. Under the pseudonym Eteilla - his name backwards - Alliette became rich and famous at that time. He was the first modern card reader, or at least, the first to use the tarot for individual divination with commercial purposes that we know of. While Gebeiin and Etteillla neatly tried to prove the Eliphas origin of the cards of the Tarot, Eliphas Levi believed that they were a sacred and universal alphabet, present in the Greek, Egyptian and Hebrew culture.


Eliphas Levi, known by the pseudonym of Father Alfonse Louis Constant, was a student of the cabala, the Israel mystic tradition. He became interested in the Tarot in 1856 and, noting the symmetry between the two systems, associated the Major Arcanes to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Besides this, Levi also associated the 4 clubs to the 4 cabalistic worlds, relating the 16 figured cards with the Sacred Tetragrarn - the YHWH or JHVH - and its 40 numbered cards meaning the ten aspects of God, expressed in the symbol of the tree of life.

The ten sephiroth - plural of sephirath - are spheres of energy in which manifestations develops. Each sephirath is contained in the previous one and contains, in itself, the possibility of a next sephirath. Thus, all universe rests calmly in Kether, and it emanates another circle, Chokmah, that besides existing in the first one, opposes to it, generating a third Binah, that is contained in the two previous ones. We have therefore, a series of concentric circles, one inside the other, keeping a relationship of polarity in function to the that sphere that encloses it an in function to the one that follows.


Kether - the crown, where the incognizant manifests itself as a static and endless light, the eternal flame of life, the center of all circles, the point.

Chokman - knowledge corresponds to light that engages in movement and becomes a cygnet force. It is geometrically represented by a straight line or by a circle.

Binah - intelligence, where force finds resistance to its movement and generates the form, represented by the triangle or prism.

Cheseed - kindness, a sphere where, balancing the imposed restrictions by the form, manifestation is realized through divine mercy. This sphere is symbolized by the Jupiterian gods, like Zeus and Xango.

Geburah - severity, a sphere where the force, being physical or moral, manifests as energy and impetuosity. It is symbolized by the sword and the fire warrior gods like Ares and 0gum.

Tiphareh - beauty, a sphere that harmonizes the ethical contradiction between severity and clemency. It is generally represented by the solar and redeeming gods that sacrifice themselves in benefit of a whole.

Netzach - eternity, a sphere that represents feelings and instincts, the sexual fire, the second light, the planet Venus and, microcosmically, the astral body, a reflex of the world of creation.

Hod - reverberation, a sphere that represents the conscious thought and concrete mind, the planet Mercury is a microcosmic reflex of the world of formation.

Yesod - fundament, a sphere that represents the moon and the essence of organic life, the double ether, the reflex of the archetypical world.

Malkuth - reign, a sphere that represents the inorganic essence of materiality, the sensorial image of reality, the planet Earth, and the physical body conceived within the material world.

While the first three sephiroth - Kether, Chokmah and Binah - form a group denominated macroprosopos, the big face formed by the three primary causes; the other seven sephiroth, in their turn, form the microprosopos or the smaller faces, expresses the seven secondary causes. Between the micro and macroprosopos, there is an abyss, where Death exists, the invisible sephirath. The abyss means that God's Desire and Conscience only realizes directly in the first triad; in the seven lower planes, they are realized through their sons, in the mechanism of evolution. That is: above the abyss is the absolute and whatever is under it is always related to the karma and to one's discretion, to the cosmic laws that rule development and evolution. We shouldn't confuse micro and macroprosopos with micro and macrocosmos. The macroprosopos is absolute, represented by the number 3. The microprosopos is a relative universe, symbolized by the number 7. Macrocosmos is the exterior unity of everything and microcosmos is a miniature of this unity that each one of us has inside.

There are many different forms for quatemary structure to reflect in the tree, all of them are inverted reflexes and symmetric projections. We can not here go inside this labyrinth of symbolic relations, but to give an idea of the functioning of the tree, we chose a simple example. Let's imagine that we wish to bake a cake. This wish, when it comes to mind, is similar to first triad, where Kether represents the wish, Chokmah the idea, and Binah, its formal image. However, the cake will only become reality if it crosses he abyss, getting to the 7th level of materialization; Cheseed will correspond to the choosing of the ingredients; Geburah, the necessary effort for the preparation of the dough; Tiphareh, the balance between the amount of ingredients and their correct preparation; Netzach, the necessary artistic touch and to intuition; Hod, the technical instructions of the recipe; Yesod, the baking in the oven; and, finally, Malkuth, the cake's final form, to its materiality. The cabalists analyzed all the phenomena under all these criteria, reducing them always to the same elements, to spheres of manifestation.

Besides these descendent and materializing processes that come down from the Ketherian light to the concrete Malkuth, the one that is called creative, there are the evolutive processes, that go from the matter in search for a more subtle reality. The kundalinic serpent of the tree of life represents this double circuit of the creative and evolutive processes. The sephiroth or spheres of manifestation work as "transistors" of this circuit, units that receive and emit energy transforming its characteristics. Other versions associate the tree to the image of Adam Kadmo, where each sephiroth corresponds to a part of a body establishing a relation between the micro and macrocosmos. The triad formed by Kether, Chokmah and Binah, for example, corresponds to the head. Following this, forming an inverted triangle, Geburah, Cheseed and Tiphoreh represent both arms and solar plexus. The legs, the sex and the center of gravity, are associated to the sephiroth Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malkuth.

The tree of life is a diagram of the structure of the universe, an axis under which the many levels of manifestation are organized (2). The tree, therefore, doesn't form a closed system; it is a method or an analogical key to decipher other symbolic systems.

Its correspondences, therefore, besides being infinite, are many times contradictorily, because it permits different associations and incompatible analogies in itself, but "truthful" form the psychological point of view.

The main benefit of the proposal of the occultist priest was the institution of the tree as a "center" a vertical axis of associations of all archetypes. According to this logic, the lettered cards correspond to the 22 ways that interconnect the 10 spheres of manifestation of the tree, representing all the possible subjective experiences.

Besides this, Levi, exhaustively discussed the quaternary symbol and its relation with the decimal structure. For him, the 40 numbered cards represent the involution of the universe as a process of 4 phases and 10 agents. The universe is developing itself in 4 levels of density of manifestation, in 4 progressive stages of materialization of the subtle in the dense. In each level, there are 10 "steps" or agents. Thus besides the principle tree of the 22 paths, Levi proposed the existence of 4 more: the tree of the 10 archetypical emanations, the tree of the 10 arcanes, the tree of the 10 stars of the solar system.


Olam Atziltuth or the reign of the archetypical emanations, where the Desire and God’s Conscience are realized by he himself, directly through his emanations, represented by the Ten Divine names. It is the absolute, the immutable Eternity. In it there is no individualized conscience, everything is unity and harmony.

Olam Briah or the reign of creation, where the Desire and God's Conscience are realized by his Ministers -- the ten archangels: where the souls are nurtured and live together with the creatures that rule evolution. We can call it the spiritual world and imagine it as a space where intelligence energies manifest and desindividualize.

Olam Yetzirah or the reign of formation is what we use to informal call "stars,” and intermediary region between the spiritual and material world. When we incarnate, according to this tradition, we go down from Briah to Assiah and we receive besides the physical body, an astral or dreamer body, for, during sleep, work in the lost zone of Yetzirah, the land of the lost souls, of the ten angelic phalanx, the always of thinking and the unconscious of one's energy.

Olam Assiah or the reign of action and concrete manifestation is the physical or material world that we perceive through the five senses. The exterior world or the sensorial image of reality, however, is a reflection of the interior levels. Therefore, this level is known by the title "the sphere of elements" -- where Atziluth reflects himself under the form of fire, Briah as water and Yetzirah as air.

However, it's worth observing that, although since Levi, the occultists have never again denied admitting the interdependence between the tarot and the Cabala, the truth is, besides one not being perfectly connected to the other, there is no historical proof of this relation.


The fact that there is no consensus about the correspondence between the two symbolic languages and that, adding the associations with astrology, the occultist discussion became a true Babel of images with out any author having achieved the "honor" of establishing a perfect system of analogy (3).

We can distinguish two leagues of occultism that defend different associations between the Tarot, the Cabala and Astrology: the Eliphas Levi followers, also known as continental occultists, and the followers of the system of development by the Golden Dawn order and improved by Aleister Crowley, also called the Anglo-Saxon occultists. The first group - of which includes the names of Oswald Wirth, Stanislaw Guaita, Gerald Encausse (Papus) and G. O. Mebes - is characterized by the association of the card of the crazy man with the 31st way to the Tree of Life. The thinking of this group was hegemonic until the end of the last century.

In this century, however, the tarot was developed and became very popular due to the appearance of the Golden Dawn occultist order, founded by Mac Gregor Master and W. Wynn Westcott. The main characteristic of this group is the association of the arcane of the crazy man to the Aleph letter and to the 11th way of tree. Following this principle, Sir Charles Edward Waite and Aleister Crowley, the two major exponents of the order, were responsible for two beautiful Tarots and for a vast theorical work (4).

Crowley, maybe the most polemic occultist of all time, greatly amplified the taro and the Cabala's symbolic correspondence which other systems like astrology, the I Ching, perfumes, colors, magic objects, launching the basis of modern witchery. Even disagreeing with his rituals and eccentric and macabre behavior, the majority of thinkers that followed Crowley adopted his system of correspondence, expressed in his book “777". This group of authors is predominant nowadays and includes names like: Dion Fortune, Allan Watts, Garth Knight, Israel Regardie and Robert Wang, among others.

Besides these two big groups of occultists, there are also independent authors that defend their own systems of association, like Paul Foster Case and the mysterious "Zain" from the temple of the light that takes the chromatic criteria as a basis for his system.

The hypothesis about the origin of the Cabala adopted by the occultists are less delirious than the Tarot's. For some of them, it was taught by the angels to men for them to be able to return to the primordial paradise. For others, it was received by Set, the third son of Eve, or Enoch, Abraham and Melkisedek.

There are also versions that it was directly dictated by Jehovah to Moses, during his stay, for 40 days, on Mount Sinai.

From the historiographical point of view, therefore, we know that the Cabala, as an oral tradition of the Hebrew mysticism, dates back from the 2nd Biblionic slavery, being a type of adoption of the astrological symbolism of the Caldeus to the Jewish monotheism.

We can even doubt that the tree of life is an axial interpretation of the symbolism of the Mesopotamia Eneagrama. For many centuries, the Cabala was orally transmitted as a type of mythic exegesis of the Torah until when, around the year 100 a.d. appeared Sepher Yetzirah and Zorah. Since then, the Cabala had many distinct cycles in the Judaic tradition, with very different characteristics (the magic cycles of the Black Forest, the speculative philosophical cycle of Spain in the XII century, the monastic cycle of Safed, directed by Isaac Luria), but only became popular when it was appropriated and deformed by the occultist thought.

Under this distorted popularization promoted by occultist movement there was nothing more normal than the Cabala students linked to Judaism to protest with vehemence (5). But the truth is that, if the esoteric drank in the Hebrew tradition to elaborate their own Cabala, the Judaic mysticism also recycled itself and was influenced with the occultist approach and, more recently, with the development of the analytical psychology. A contemporary example of this reciprocity is the work of Z'ev Ben Shimon Halevi (6) where we find a genuinely Hebrew Cabala strongly influenced by esotherism.


With its mysterious origin and varying emphasis, the tarot is a multiple puzzle of references, in its technique of history. Studying it is, above all, studying one self. The books, although important, are absolutely secondary. The main objective is to get in direct contact with the archetypes, mentally using them as concepts and felling their live power in everyday reality. However, to initiate its theorical studies it is advisable to start reading the works of psychological academic thinker, that recently, started to get interested in the archetypes of the cards, instead of facing the complicated classics of occultism.

In this sense, Nichols and Steinbrecher (7) are very profitable pieces of work. The emphasis of Nichols is particularly recommended because it escapes from the theory embassments of the endless discussion about the association of the cards with other symbolic systems in which the occultists got lost and presents a series of cultural and literary references to characterize each archetype. On the other hand, its principal disadvantage is that it involuntarily ends up in one of the systems of correspondence, when divinizes the crazy man and sees the sorcerer as a "mercurial fake" and not like the father archetype of the primordial unity.

If we associate the tarot to the creative imagination technique and to the psychodrama, the meditation of the interior guides is a simple and fascinating method of transformation of different archetypical aspects of personality, deduced from the quarters and astrological oppositions of the Natal map. Unfortunately Steinbrecher also presents the same deficiency as Nichols, because he uses the Crowleyan correspondences in detrirnent of other possibilities. Far from the esoteric discussion held between the continental occultists and angle-Saxons about if the primordial unity of the Uranian power should be represented by the number 1 or 0, many other contributions have been enriching the study of the tarot in the analytical psychology field (8), even though indirectly, principally in the study of the quaternary, considered by many comtemporary thinkers as a universal basis of symbolic associations.

Maybe the principal indirect contribution of the analytical psychology to the symbolic study of the tarot is of Jung himself, principally in his "psychological interpretation of the Trinidad Dogma" where he calls attention to the role played by the Holy Mary in relation to the Christian zymology. In this work, Jung presents for the first time the notion that the quaternary structure is universal and works as a structuring symbol of the psyche and of the collective unconscience.

In Brazil, emphasis is also given to the work developed by the psychoanalyst Carlos Byington that for many years complicated the question of the quaternary as a structuring symbol, applying to history and psychotherapy (9). Unfortunately, we can't discuss here those points which are cited only for the reader to be aware of the important debate that exists nowadays about the subject.


As we saw Eliphas Levi and Aleister Crowley proposed different associations between the symbolic languages of the tarot and cabala. However, both were based in the same structural correspondences.

A) The equivalence of the 22 major Arcanes to the Hebrew letters and to the paths of the tree of life. According to the occultists these archetypes appeared due to the "decay" of humanity, understanding by "decay", not only the expelling of Adam and Eve from Heaven or to the catastrophically end of Atlántida and Lemurian civilizations, but above all, "a deterioration of a superior state of harmony among men gifted with psychic powers for the more instinctive societies and for merely sensorial perception of reality". Thus, the dream of a social utopia, a form of a perfect social organization, without conflicts, desires and inequalities characterized by the major Arcanes archetypes, is a return to this state of collective conscience of humanity, to the primordial "collective nirvana.” This feeling of unity that overcomes a simple harmonization of social relations and the political equilibrium among the diverse groups that form a society to psychologically introject in each person as a necessity of universal communion, as a challenge of the reconquest of the lost paradise, like a desire of union". Following the same logic, in the crossing, the first stage of the illuminated road, is a return to the original paradise in which we will take an archetypical journey through the problems of the decadent humanity to get to the eschatological city of New Jerusalem.

B) The identity of the 16 figured cards of the minor Arcanes with the quatemary, IHVH, and with the reciprocal relations between the four fundamental elements. Here the desire for union overcomes the world's problems to consolidate itself as a marriage of opposite symbolic poles and as a search of more profound identity, of a level of self-awareness that allows the re-encounter with the twin soul. In the Christian-Judaic tradition, this re-encounter is shown in the Canticle of Canticles, where the bride (Israel) awaits for the groom, the Messiah; in Paul's Epistles, the bride is the church and the groom, Christ; in the mystic poetry of San Juan de la Cruz, the groom is the spirit and the bride, the soul and the body. In the game of the twin soul we will develop the idea that only knowing our transferences and projections in relation to the 4 fundamental archetypes (the Father, the Mother, the 0ther Sex and the Ego-Hero) is that we can realize this alchemic marriage and be prepared for happiness.

C) The association of the 40 numbered letters with the 4 cabalistic worlds and the decimal structure of the tree of life. The desire of union in this level doesn’t refer to the realization of social utopia or happiness, but yes to the mystic reintegration with God. The trips taken by Dante, Enoch and by the mystic sufis through the celestial palaces that are previous to the throne of the Almighty, when Creator and Creature will meet face to face. These necessary theory considerations having been made let's follow through this way of lights and needles, facing our return crossing through the Major Arcanes.


(*) MEBES, G. O. - Os Arcanos Menores do Tarô (Te Taro Menor Archanes). Rio de Janeiro: Pensamento, 1984. Together with "Os Arcanos Maiores" (The Major Arcanes) from the same Brazilian collection is also know in other countries as "Encyclopedic course of occultism".

(1) NICHOLS, S. Jung e o Tarô (Jund and Tarot). São Paulo: Cultrix, 1989. Nichols cites the "the theory of the suits”, from the writer Gertrude Moakley, according to which the Major Arcanes "are of esoteric origin, simple adaptations of illustrations of a book of sonets of Petrarca and Laura" – the ‘Trionfi’. The theme, common in the European middle age, would have inumerable versions, and it was teatrically played as a succession of characters, like in a parade. Because of the fact that these manifestations were celebrations of victories, Nichols puts the meaning of the word "suit" close to "triumph".

(2) The Totems - from the more primitive ones to the trees, crosses and swords - aren't sexual symbols, as thought by Freud. In reality, the "Penis" that is a totemic and axial symbol, that represents the axis of the "center of the world". But, the universal idea that there is a vertical axis of development of the conscience around which the whole universe gravitates, continues being reduced by the detrieved unconscience of the western society to a mere alegory of male virility.

(3) The two systems of association of the correspondences between the symbolic languages of the Tarot, the Cabala and Astrology.

(4) WANG, R. O Tarô Cabalístico (The Cabalistic Tarot). São Paulo: Pensamento, 1993. Is a book that puts together in a more compact way all the system of the Golden Dawn, comparing to the works of Master, Waite and Crowley. It presents a complete bibliography of the books published by the participants in sequence, being a modern and impartial guide of the ideas of its exponents.

(5) To the greatest historiographic authority of the Hebrew Cabala in this century, Gershom Scholen, for example: (...)"the activities of the French and English occultists were useless and only served to generate a great confusion among the teaching of the Cabala and its own inventions, like the supposed cabalistic origin of the tarot cards". Trying to protect the association of the two symbolic languages, the occultist Robert Wang tried to answer to Scholem objections, affirming that there is a Hebrew Cabala and another Esoteric one, founded by Pico de Miranbola

(6) HALEVI, Z B. S. Universo Kabbalístico (Kabbalistic Universe) São Paulo: Siciliano, 1992.
STEINBRECHER, E. C. A Meditação dos Guias Interiores (The Interior Guides Meditation). São Paulo: Siciliano, 1990. Is a work less known by the Brazilian specialists, but that is already considered a classic abroad. It explains the therapy elaborated from the combination of cards with the technique of the creative imagination, done according to the natal map

(7) For example: DICKERMAN, A. C. A Aventura da Autodescoberta (The Self-discovery Adventure). São Paulo: Cultrix, 1992. It is an excellent summary of psychologic excercises of self-awareness based on the Major Arcanes.

(8) BYINGTON, C. Revista Junguiana (SBPA.), no. 01, Petropólis: Vozes, 1986.

my hynarium

In the tradition of Santo Daime, a 'hynarum' reflects the learning of the person who received and expressed his spiritual biography, with the evidence and experiences he encountered during the course of his life. In addition, each hynarium also is characterized by teachings of a saint in particular, according to the characteristics of spiritual guide that directs its receptor. The Hynarium the Tree of Life, released in mp3 below, meets the teachings of Saint John the Evangelist, the author of Apocalipse, the Revelation.