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!