Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Universe

 The future —Paradise and Utopia
When you receive The Universe (The World) Tarot card in a reading this could be the beginning of a “reality check” concerning how you envision the future. What do you want the future to look like? Do you wonder about it or do you just live day to day? What do you see for yourself in the future? For some of us, we imagine a heavenly Paradise or Utopian society: “And they lived happily ever after!” Some are seeking Nirvana, or hope to go to Heaven; to find Shangri-La; to get rich quick; to find the love of one’s life; or to just live in an ideal society—“The American Dream.” There’s a sense that if you pass all the tests life has to offer, then you are rewarded with happiness, peace, contentment and fulfillment. Is this true or is life just a “crapshoot?”

First, we let’s look at the past and see how others have imagined a future. Plenty of philosophers, poets, artists, and religionists have written about, and painted how they thought “Paradise” and “Utopia” should look. Plato envisioned the ideal perfect and just utopian city in “The Republic.” He proposed four classes of society: a merchant class, a working class, and a military class all ruled by a philosopher-king elite class of educated men (how did women fit into this and what has this classicism done for the world?)

There is an interesting similarity in the Waite deck depiction of “The World” card, and ancient Roman Mithraicism sculptures of Phanes, a god-like figure (Sun-god) enclosed in an oval ring made up of images from the Zodiac. The four seasons fill the corners just as in the Waite card. The interior figures are somewhat similar. Mithras was a “cosmocrator,” the cosmic ruler of the universe and, the dancer has achieved a place in the universe. Obviously, there is some hidden influence here.

One of the most famous paintings of an artificial paradise is the “Garden of Earthly Delights” Triptych by Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) in the Prado Museum in Madrid. The central panel, “Paradise,” is a bizarre, fictional painting complete with parades of lovers entwined with plants and animals, enjoying picnics of strawberries and cherries while frolicking among phantasmagoric fountains and strange plant-like buildings. “Themes are invariably passion and restraint, nature and civilization, freedom and coercion, and how love is to be perceived between these extremes.” (Hieronymous Bosch: The Complete Paintings and Drawings catalogue from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2001, p. 102)

In the Marseilles Tarot pack of the 18th century, the nude dancer on The World card carries a wand in the left hand and a “philter” in the right (a form of perfume bottle containing a love-potion). Some think this is a hint of an “athanor,” the digesting furnace of alchemy.

In contemporary times, futurist Buckminster Fuller concluded that since, “…there was no operating manual for spaceship earth,” — he wrote one. Talk about imagining a future! He said, “We will now tackle our present world problems with the family of powerful thought tools: topology, geodesics, synergetics, general systems theory, and the computer’s operational ‘bitting’” (Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth,” Simon & Schuster, 1969).

Seattle artist, Deborah Lawrence, has produced a series of Utopian Collages based on the answers she received from over 200 people on what their vision of Utopia would be. She has created several collaged “trays” depicting the different types of Utopia they envisioned such as “Nonconformutopia,” with no class system, no dress code, and no stifled creativity. There is a “Paving the American Dream Tray” with the words “Privatizing the National Parks”; and there’s The “Shock and Awe Souvenir Tray,” depicting all sorts of weapons of war. Art Critic, Susan Noyes Platt, writes in Lawrence’s book: “Dee Dee Does Utopia” (Marquand Books, 2008) “She speaks to our disrupted and despotic world, offering possibilities for another future.”

The media blasts us today with all the contrasting viewpoints between the “optimists” and “doomsayers;” the socialist states, the fascist police states, and democracy. On the one hand, we are entering a new frontier imagined by Sci-Fi futurists in space-exploration, more technological breakthroughs in finding new power sources, and establishing environmental protections; while on the other, some see a violent future of wars and destruction threatened by the now ongoing devastating turmoil and governmental upheaval in the Middle East.

What are the indications in The Universe card of Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness? If you get this card in a reading it means we are shaping our future by the crucial decisions we make now. We need strength, courage, and compassion in facing the “big unknown.” The Universe card represents a more spiritual concept in that we will reap the rewards when we acknowledge our own oneness with the Universe. This is symbolized by the prismatic figure embraced in the “womb” of the Universe. It is an uplifting sign of HOPE for achieving happiness and success, gained by our efforts and perseverance as we work on mastery of self and express unconditional love, especially in cooperation with others.

Richard Roberts writes that: “From the atomic point of view, a divine dance is taking places within all particles, similar to the allegory of risen anima mundi in Key 21, the spirit of the world. Thus out of the Zero, the No-thing, comes the One…” (Joseph Campbell and Richard Roberts, Tarot Revelations, Part II (Vernal Equinox Press, 1982) p. 95.

It’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labors!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Remembering a life

   Who judges who—and for what? Did you pass the test? Did you break the law? What happens when we leave this earthly plane? Several traditional Tarot decks depict people rising from their coffins with an angel blowing a trumpet. This is obviously a Christian theme of being judged worthy of eternal life or being condemned to an eternal hell. According to the New Testament, where to go depends upon what is written about the person in the “book of life.” (See Rev. 20:12, hmm! 2012, and the Judgment card is number 20; more to be paranoid about.) This implies a final divine judgment based on an examination of one’s life and it comes with blessings or punishment. It denotes both redemption and resurrection in heaven, or a trip to hell. In this context, God or the Messiah, redeems the righteous and punishes the wicked. For a lot of people those concepts don’t work anymore. Some are making their own heaven or hell right here and now. In contemporary thought, most of us reflect on our lives through a process of self-examination and self-monitoring. Robert Nozick says, “The understanding gained in examining a life itself comes to permeate that life and direct its course. To live an examined life is to make a self-portrait.” (The Examined Life, Simon and Schuster, 1989, p. 12)
     One must come to a point sometime in life (usually when we are much older) when we contemplate fragments of memories of our past experiences. We look at old albums of faded photographs, travel itineraries, souvenirs and trinkets, tokens gathered along the way. We reminisce on fun adventures and try to forget the bad encounters, mistakes and blunders. We are always working on transcending the errors and limitations of our past, and in so doing, sometimes we are our own worst critic, but eventually there is recompense.
     Some of the world’s greatest paintings are of the “Last judgment” depicting people in heaven or hell, painted during the Renaissance in the cathedrals of Europe. We think of Michelangelo’s fresco of enormous figures on the end wall of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican (1541). A powerful Christ waves his right hand upward summoning the blessed to immortality and, with the left hand, sends the damned down to hell. An early innovative painter, Giotto, filled the Arena Chapel in Padua, Italy, with realistic Biblical scenes including an end wall of the “Last Judgment,” (1305) complete with a scary, monstrous blue devil devouring the sinners. The blessed are on one side, the damned on the other. Rubens painted two “Last Judgment” scenes, both of which are in the Alte Pinakothek Museum in Munich. His painting, “Fall of the Damned,” (1620) is filled with bloated bodies tumbling into the torment of hell and being beaten by demons. Jesus and Mary are shown at the top beckoning the blessed to come into the light of heaven. We also see similar themes in the art of earlier cultures.
      Moustafa Gadalla in his book “Egyptian Cosmology,” (Bastet Publishing, 1997, p.141) says, “Ancient Egyptians expressed their metaphysical beliefs in story form.” Their religion was based on the correct way to transcend this earthly existence. Hieroglyphs of an afterlife were like a mystery play where complex rituals for judging the dead were portrayed in temple carvings and written in the Book of the Dead, actually called “Coming Forth by Day: The great Awakening.” Their writings and bas relief’s expressed the belief in an afterlife where their transfigured spirits traveled to the stars. “…this, the purified one shall come forth by day after his burial.” (Wallis Budge, Dover Publications Reprint, from1895, p. 177) In the journey, a person’s soul was sent to the Hall of Judgment of Maat where the heart against was weighed against a feather. If the heart weighed more than the feather this meant the deceased was weighed down by guilt. If it balanced, the soul became a star for eternity. The person would then be judged by 42 judges. (42? In Douglas Adams “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,” the computer’s answer was 42, “The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything”!)
     In the pyramid at Saqqara, archeologists discovered the sculpture of the Pharaoh, Zoser, in a cubicle placed at a 17ยบ angle aimed at the circumpolar stars – perhaps this was a repository for his earthly life while his Ba (spirit) shot out of the pyramid toward the stars. In Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness, I have painted a pyramid with a little pentagonal window from which symbolic “souls” are escaping—celestial travelers on their way to the stars or a spiritual plane. The main theme of the Judgment card is resurrection and transformation where salvation and the belief of eternal life allay fears of doubt and despair.
     So what does this mean in a Tarot reading? This implies judgment of one’s conscience and is a warning to get busy preventing any impending doom. It’s a time for repentance or confession in asking for forgiveness for misdeeds, crimes, and mistreatment of others. Think of how you can make amends and express your remorse in order to bring about healing of difficult situations. Remind yourself as Vickie Noble says, that when “…people begin speaking and acting from their hearts to protest world destruction and work toward peace, Judgment is being felt.” (MotherPeace,” HarperCollins, 1983, p. 140). This means getting down (underworld) to the deeper meaning of life and working on the rehabilitation of inappropriate behavior, and finding the best way to express love and compassion for others and all earthly things. Then it can be an uplifting card of promise for a bright future.

Monday, April 23, 2012


 Light and hope, a new day

     Each day with the sunrise, we are bathed in the sun’s radiant life-giving energy as its light vitalizes our planet. Green plants flourish in the warmth and energy of sunlight and grow to meet the new day. We soak up the sun’s rays outdoors on beaches and in our gardens, and power our complex multimedia devices with solar energy. The sun makes life as we know it possible on earth. When sunlight passes through a prism it is broken up into seven colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Our eyes perceive color, shapes, and form because of the light.
     Naturally, there is a Tarot card representing “the Sun.” Traditional decks show children playing in joy and delight under a huge golden sun with extended rays. We interpret the card as meaning success, achievement, joy, and the fulfillment of love and happiness. It represents basking in the light of optimism and hope. Receiving this card is the impetus to wake up and seek the Light and enlightenment of spiritual bliss.
     In the ancient Egyptian mystery stories, the Sun-god creator, Amun-Ra, was worshipped at the temples of Heliopolis and Karnack. In a daily transformation, Amun-Ra caused the sun to be born every morning and to travel in a sacred barque across the sky, only to be swallowed by the sky-goddess Nut in the darkness of night, and after passing through the dark Underworld, was reborn again in the morning. The Sun card of Tarot commemorates the observance of that daily rebirth for all the children of earth.
     “At dawn he was a new-born child, by midday he was a hero in the prime of life, and at sunset he became an old man tottering with feeble steps into the western horizon.” (Alan W. Shorter, The Egyptian Gods, Newcastle Publishing, 1937, p.5)    
     On a different note, this brings up the subject of solar cycle predictions and other disaster scenarios discussed today in the media. According to NASA scientists, we are approaching the maximum in the Sunspot Cycle in the spring of 2013, having experienced several large solar flares already. The worst that could happen might be power outages, and satellites afflicted by heightened geomagnetic activity.  But before that date, supposedly, the doomsday soothsayers predict the sun will be in alignment with the earth and the galactic center of our galaxy December 21, 2012, which will bring about some destructive force as we enter the Dark Rift of the Milky Way. Oh hum – more of “repent for the end is near.” How many “near ends” have we had over the centuries? (Pun intended) But after all that chatter, we’re still here aren’t we? Astronomers at NASA, and elsewhere, say this prediction is nonsense. E.C.Krupp, director of Griffith Observatory, says, “Others on the web…have declared that the Sun is now plummeting to the Milky Way’s center and dragging earth with it. The predicted result? Earth’s polar axis will shift. Most of what’s claimed for 2012 relies on wishful thinking, wild pseudoscientific folly, ignorance of astronomy, and a level of paranoia worthy of the Night of the Living Dead.” (E.C. Krupp, “The Great Doomsday Scare,” Sky and Telescope Magazine) Yes, changes are coming, but notice that they come again and again with each new day.
     In Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness, the illustration of The Sun is a great energetic ball of yellow and orange depicting its warmth, fire, and light. This means it is forever a steady lasting influence as it casts its light on orbiting planets seen against the darkness of space at the bottom of the picture. How should we interpret The Sun card in a reading?  We can sing with joy and bask in the Light of spiritual illumination. Every day brings a new beginning. Recharge yourself, and as the Sun continues to shine, let your light shine.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Moon: Tides of Change

“The Moon, like a silver bow
New-bent in heaven”
A Midsummer-nights Dream

     The cyclic motion of the moon rules the night. When we interpret the symbolism of The Moon in Tarot it’s about the fluidity of inner change in our emotional lives. We may not be aware of it but we are always in flux, waxing and waning like the moon; alternating between light and dimly illumined shadows. The gravitational pull of earth’s mass on the moon, and vice versa, draws the oceans and, even the crust of the earth up and down every day. Their relationship creates a rhythm of perpetual motion. We can’t be sure how this affects each one of us literally, but we view it symbolically in Tarot as mood swings of our own emotional world.
     In a Tarot reading, The Moon card symbolizes our internal dialogue in a hazy realm of feelings, instincts, imagination, and dreams. The meaning emphasizes the need to release repressed anger, frustrations, fears, and uncertainty about past grievances and mistakes. It’s a time to forgive and forget and to allow yourself to experience how you really feel about things and then live with your feelings for awhile in order to understand yourself better. “The feelings are psychological expressions of biological instincts, which in truth, are waves and eddies in the tidal flow of the lunar forces acting upon the ‘moisture’ in man’s body and psyche.” (Dane Rudhyar, The Practice of Astrology, Penguin Books, 1968.)
     While visiting friends in northern New Mexico, I watched a huge full moonrise as it illuminates the cold, barren landscape; a sight I will never forget. Because the moon dominates the night there, it made sense that at Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, the early Publicans gauged its alignment and construction to the time-frame of the moon and sun’s rising and setting along the horizon. In 1977, a spiral carving was first discovered by artist Anna Sofaer that measures both the movement of the sun and the moon at Fajada Butte nearby. Landmarks and further building alignments have been intensely studied ever since by her group known as the Solstice Project. In addition to that, every 18.6 years, the moon rises at its most northern declination between the 2 towers of Chimney Rock. It’s apparent that it could be seen by “…watchers near the Chimney Rock Pueblo…” as astronomer, J. McKim Malville has concluded: “…the moon is intermediary between sun and earth…much of Puebloan lore revolves around women and children.” (See Malville and Putnam, Prehistoric Astronomy in the Southwest, Johnson books, 1993.)
     In early classical mythology, the moon was personified by Artemis (Diana) Goddess of the Moon ruling the tides, and feminine cycles of maternity. Overall, in astrology, the interpretation of the moon’s phases is that, with the New Moon, a new cycle begins. The waxing moon and Full Moon signify reaching fulfillment. During the waning moon, it’s an opportunity to recognize and shed erroneous blunders, evil influences, lunacy, folly, and disastrous illusions.
     The Moon card prompts you to listen to your inner voice and get in touch with your feelings. Work on understanding your nebulous unconscious imaginings. It’s time to examine your anxieties, fears, anger or resentment and illusions, and especially, pay attention to your intuition. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Star

Look to the stars
When you look up to the stars on a dark night what do you wonder about the universe? Twinkling lights cover the entire heavens. Planets orbit in gigantic galaxies of whirling gas clouds among masses of stars. Black holes suck up matter. Obviously, we are looking at a vast cosmos far surpassing our comprehension. This brings up a cosmic question: Why is there a Star card in the Tarot? It must be there to motivate us to think beyond our own small world; to contemplate the origin of life and the source of our becoming.

The Star card of Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness signifies the experience of the flow of Cosmic Energy in the healing waters of cleansing and purification from a never-ending Cosmic Source. In the painting, this Life-force is symbolized by a prismatic seven-pointed star from which a red river flows. It is pouring forth incandescent gold sparks of Cosmic Energy, a sign of rejuvenation in our lives and a promise of progress toward spiritual insight and rebirth. Gold dots in the red river appear to flow in an orderly pattern comparable to “Prana” in Eastern yogic practices. In Chinese Medicine, it is “Chi.” An acupuncture treatment stimulates the meridians of Chi in order to bring healing to our cells. The “Mother” (wife of Sri Aurobindo) claims to have somehow seen the sparks or dots in her mind’s eye as, “…a powdering of warm gold. I can’t say bright or dark; it wasn’t luminous either; a multitude of tiny gold dots…” Her statement was recorded in “The Mind of the Cells” by her assistant, Satprem, (Institute of Evolutionary Research, 1982, p. 89)

In Arthur E. Waite’s “The Pictorial Key to the Tarot” (University Books, 1910, 1959 p. 136) the artist Pamela Colman Smith, has depicted a woman pouring water from two vases, one into a pool and the other on the earth. Waite describes the woman as “the Great Mother” pouring the “…Water of Life from two great ewers irrigating sea and land.” In a biblical context, “…the river of water of life, bright as crystal…” is mentioned in Rev.22:1.

The heptagram star has been considered a symbol of the Eternal, containing the seven attributes of the Divine, all reflecting one another. To make a drawing of a heptagon that will yield a seven-pointed star, it cannot be exact because the angle needed to mark it on a 360° circle is a numeral of infinity (51° 428571….). In Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness, The Star card has been painted with the 7 colors of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and purple: a promise of hope for the future. Madeline Montalban states in “The Prediction Book of the Tarot,” (Blanford Press, 1983, p. 115) “The Star is hope; it tops the good fairy’s wand…hope signifies regeneration.”