Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Meditations on the Tarot: The Magician

This is the start of a series of reflections, containing my personal responses to the book Meditations on the Tarot by the "Unknown Friend". Some of it will simply be summaries of the points in the book I find memorable; other parts will be new insights that the meditations have led me to.

Since I turn 40 today, I now fulfill at least two of the traditional conditions for studying Kabbalah (I'm also male), which makes this a good day to begin this series.

The Magician, in the Unknown Friend's view, represents the key to all of the Major Arcana. He acts with effortless concentration and transforms work into play. He knows the underlying unity of the world, and experiences that unity in the silence of his soul. "Truth", says the UF, "has no other meaning than that of the reduction of the plurality of phenomena to an essential unity", recognising that everything is connected.

Because everything is connected, it is possible to reason by analogy. Analogy is found in the realm of symbolism; this is the vertical analogy: things below are as things above, their prototypes. Analogy is found also in the realm of myth; this is the horizontal analogy: things present are as things past, their archetypes.

The Magician has achieved balance between spontaneity and the unconscious, and deliberate action and the conscious. His practical lesson is concentration without effort, and his theoretical lesson is intellectual vision without effort, but these are based - the UF warns - on prior practice and discipline, without which we become charlatans.

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