Sunday, November 16, 2014

Minor Arcana: Number 5

Challenges of Life

How do life forms come into being, grow and express their role in this life? That is one big question for which there are no easy answers. 

“Out of the cubic stone of matter, differentiated into a myriad 
of crystalline structures, the flowing curves of living bodies take form.” 
Dane Rudhyar, Astrological Insights into the Spiritual Life”

Where are you on your path to selfhood? It’s here we contemplate: “Who am I and what is this place”? 
Are you being yourself?
Are you knowing yourself?
Are you expressing your real self as you are growing and becoming?
Five is the number of mankind. 
In the largest context, number 5 cards of Tarot refer to the manifestation of universal laws of nature and the underlying order of the cosmos. But first we must deal with the challenges of living this life daily. It is usually full of unexpected events, difficult situations and dangers, both real and imagined. How do you handle stressful situations when things go wrong? What are the obstacles to overcome?  How do you rectify mistakes and overcome limitations while struggling through intense difficulties and turbulent crises? We learn mostly by trial and error and, if we pay attention, we learn from other people’s mistakes. Buddhists examine the drama of human suffering and its causes. They claim suffering is the result of unresolved desires: “I want this -I want that!  I have, I need, I wish.” In this state of mind, when we don’t get what we want, we appear to suffer or make somebody else suffer. Their work is focused on negating the “monkey mind” and releasing those desires. In Caitlin Matthews “Arthurian Tarot,” the 5 of Swords depicts a burning ancient Celtic house amidst the aftermath of a destructive war. The meaning is tied to “unethical behavior” and “malicious thinking.”  Through trial and error we learn to conquer our inner adversaries but some people seem to be constantly undergoing a never-ending sequence of grueling tests. 

“Yet crises can be furnaces in which the coal of ego-structured desires 
is transmuted into glowing diamonds.”
Dane Rudhyar, Astrological Insights
Number 5 in Nature
Five is the number of the “Hierophant” card in Tarot and the Hierophant symbolizes a teacher of nature’s laws. What greater mystery of creation than the formation of life beginning in an egg, a seed, or a womb? How and why does cell-division and the sequence of exponential growth take place? We see number 5 in nature’s designs expressed in the arrangement of flower petals, certain starfish, in the pattern of leaves on trees. You can see it in the interior of an apple and other fruits when cut in half, with a star design of 5 seeds in the center. Then we have the 5 senses, our 5 fingers and toes. Rupert Sheldrake talks about seeing nature in a new light: “We urgently need to find practical ways of re-establishing our conscious sense of connection with living nature. Recognizing the life of nature demands a revolution in the way we view our lives.” (The Rebirth of Nature, Park Street Press, 1991) We see the symbolic impact of number five on art, advertising, and in architecture. In literature, as far back as Biblical times, the door to the inner sanctuary of the "Holy of Holies" within the Temple of Solomon may have been constructed as a pentagonal form as it took up one fifth of the wall (I Kings 6:31 Oxford Bible). The doors opened on a cubical room that contained the “Ark of the Covenant.” There are five Platonic Solids: tetrahedron, octahedron, icosahedron, cube and dodecahedron, seen in some crystals. The symbol of the 5-pointed star is found in flags around the world. We have 5-star hotels, 5-star generals, the Pentagon building in Washington D.C. Then there are 5-star grading systems,

Number 5 and Sacred Geometry
Let’s examine several ways of thinking about the meaning of sacred Geometry. Drawing the polygonal figures step-by-step can be an exercise in understanding the creative formative processes of nature. To actually construct the geometrical forms of circle, triangle, square, rectangle, hexagon, pentagon, and octagon, etc., can be a lesson in learning how living things form and what stimulates movement and growth. These polygons represent a formative matrix or morphogenetic field of underlying patterns of development. In a metaphysical sense, this denotes the relationships of the parts to the whole in the principle of “oneness” because all geometrical forms can originate in a circle. What is “squaring the circle”? What is a Golden Mean Rectangle or Triangle. Another way of thinking about Sacred Geometry is in terms of mathematics and ratios. (See Robert Lawlor’s book Sacred Geometry, Crossroad, NY 1982, and the chapter in my Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness on “Sacred Geometry.”) Most of the Minor Arcana cards in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness are based on Sacred Geometry, including the Vesica Piscis, Squaring the Circle, and the Golden Mean Spiral.

The Golden Mean Ratio
Pythagoras taught that man can only grasp the essence of the universe through number. Number 5 is the key to understanding PHI, which is the Golden Mean ratio of 1:1.618, a number of of infinity, and measurement of growth as we see its arrangement in the shell of the Chambered Nautilus, for example. First, the whole shell resembles the shape of a Golden Mean Spiral and each chamber is approximately 1.618 times larger than the previous chamber. A pentagon of 5 points contains the PHI ratio when we draw lines from point to point. Here we see a star with the Golden Section forming and, at the intersection of crossing lines, the ratio of 1:1.618 emerges. Mystics claim this represents the “cosmic man.” One section of each line is 1.618 times larger than the smaller section. This ratio is approximated in many of nature’s forms. Generally, in the head of a big sunflower there are 89 spiral rows of seeds in a clockwise direction and 55 rows counterclockwise.Then dividing 55 into 89 equals 1.618….. on and on. This leads us to the “Fibonacci Numbers” and the Golden Section. The Fibonacci number sequence occurs when adding the sum of the previous 2 numbers, for instance: 1+2 = 3; 2+3=5; 3+5=8, and so on…34 +55 = 89.  For some amusement while playing with these numbers go to this website: mathisfun.  If you get carried away with Sacred Geometry and want to see even more go to Bruce Rawles website: 

So what does all this mean in the Tarot?  Something is happening in our lives every day, all the time, and when we draw a Tarot 5 card it means to pay attention to some challenges you might be facing now. Think about how you are “going with the flow” and how you are coping with the situation. Or, on the other hand, are you resisting change? Burying your head in the sand? It’s time to look at how you are reacting to the situations that pop up daily. What are the changes taking place? How are you dealing with upheavals and distress? What actions are you taking to resolve the issues? Gail Fairfield, in her book, Choice Centered Tarot ( Red Wheel-Weiser, Newbury Port, 1984) sums up the meaning of each of the number 5 cards in the 4 suits as “adjusting and adapting.”

5 of Wands- adjusting your identity and the way you present yourself to others
5 of Cups - living with your feelings in flux, dealing with uncertainty and confusion
5 of Swords - The challenges presented by the lifestyle you are leading
5 of Pentacles - Hanging onto a sense of security in the midst of change on the job, home, or family

When you get a 5 card in a Tarot reading it’s time to take action and DO SOMETHING!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Minor Arcana: Number 4

Four: Mysteries and a sense of order

Around the world, what ancient building best represents stability, permanence, eternality and architectural grandeur? Of course, in Egypt, it’s the Great Pyramid! For centuries it was the world’s tallest building. It was constructed with over a million giant blocks of limestone including an outer cover of limestone casings. Supposedly, it was glistening white in the sunlight and could be seen for miles. The base is foursquare  - a four-sided pyramid of equal proportions. The implications of it’s measurements are still huge in mathematics and in Sacred Geometry.
     In Tarot, the number 4 means a sense of order, of measurement, classification, even the organizing principle of government. It is also the 4-fold pattern seen in nature’s realm. The ancients were always concerned with the 4 elements (which we see in the Tarot): Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. Then there are lots of other fours to consider: 4 footed creatures; the 4 winds; the 4 cardinal directions: East, West, North, and South; the 4 phases of the moon: waxing, waning, full and void; the 4 seasons: Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall, and so on.
     Four is symbolized by a square with 4 corners. It represents a stable framework for manifesting ideas in concrete form by following a blueprint, a design, or plan, in an ordered sequence of events.The conclusions arrived at in number 3 can now be carried out and realized in the results signified by number 4. Pythagoras said the tetrad, number 4, was the root of all things. Today, we see it has formed the basis for cosmologies in many early cultures and, the design and structure of ancient cities and temples.

 Let’s take a mathematical jaunt around the Great Pyramid:
According to some Pyramidologists, the Great Pyramid proves the "squaring of the circle" wherein the circumference of the circle is approximately equal to the perimeter of the square. This can be figured based on the angle of the casing stones which was approximately 51 degrees 51 seconds. It also proved Pi. (For all the configurations and numbers, refer to Great Pyramid Statistics website.)

     To draw a diagram of squaring of the circle, you would first draw a square with a dot in the center. Then place a compass point on the dot and, using a protractor, draw a line from the center to the top edge of the square at 51 degrees 51 seconds.  Then place the pencil of the compass on that crossing point and draw the circle. Viola! you have just squared the circle and have taken a step into the realm of the Sacred Geometry of the Ancients. 
     So this must mean something. What? It has been considered a metaphor for the merging or fusion of the material life with a spiritual life. The square is the earth - our material world with everyday goings on, and the 4 elements. The circle symbolizes our inner spiritual world or cosmic life with no beginning or end. For some it’s the realm of the gods. 

  “Early temples were often built foursquare…these structures symbolized the transition-point between heaven and earth. (Sacred Geometry by Nigel Pennick, 1994, Caball Bann Publishing, UK, p. 16.
      A famous foursquare city is described in Revelation 21 in the Bible. The city was measured with a golden reed and was 12,000 furlongs in length, breadth, and height, all equal, so it formed a cube. But it was no earthly city like Babylon, which was also foursquare. It was a spiritual, celestial city of God within a spiritual realm - a "golden paradise," so-to-say. On the other hand, according to Herodotus, the city of Babylon formed an exact square 14 miles long each side and was filled with earthly gardens and other earthly delights. Here is a link to Hieronymus Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights," a 15th century artist's interpretation of such gardens. (Also see the Project Gutenberg Ebook of Ancient Town-planning by F. Haverfield.)
What does this have to do with Tarot? 
Think about these interpretations when you get a 4 card in a reading.

The 4 of Wands, which I have illustrated here, means the ongoing work on yourself can be perfected in grace and beauty. A new identity is manifested and asserted in the world. Beauty and harmony reign, exemplified by a state of “Harvest Home.” You are spiritually satisfied.

The 4 of Cups: Here you feel stable and secure in expressing emotions and are capable of acting them out publicly. Needs, such as comforting and being comforted are expressed through Love.

The 4 of Swords: You can inspire others by expressing your philosophy publicly and find security in stating your opinions. There will be positive and expansive results. 

The 4 of Pentacles: Here your material success is assured by the ability to get organized, and become stable in business and management. You take responsibility in managing, restructuring, and organizing the flow of objects, people and things. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Minor Arcana: number 3

Number 3:  Three Little Pigs

    We talk and act in terms of the physical, mental, and spiritual. 
3 of Cups 

    We symbolize “three-ness” in geometry and art by a triangle — 3 sides; the trident —3 tongs;  a trefoil — 3 leaves; and a Fleur-de-Lis ♓︎—3 components.

   We hear about the 3 Graces, the 3 fates, and other combinations of the number 3 such as: body, mind, and spirit in the human condition. In a religious sense we think of the Trinity: Father, Son and the Holy Ghost; and Faith, Hope and Charity; the 3 Wise men.

Pythagoras envisioned a metaphysical philosophy behind numbers. He saw a universal principle in a number, therefore — number 3 — added to number 1 and number 2, would mean completion, unity. It takes us beyond duality. Kenneth Guthrie writes, “…this is the archetypal pattern of cosmogenesis, the pattern of creation…”  (The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, Phanes Press, 1987, p.22). So what is the principle behind number 3 and how is it represented in the Tarot? We have seen with number 2, the relationship of one thing to another and the possibility of making a choice “for better or worse.” We choose to reflect the One or, to do the opposite, where we experience duality. When you add number 3 to 1 and 2, the duality of "twoness" is overcome, and we can achieve a synthesis. Out of the combination of 1 and 2, something new is manifested. A third addition can bridge the tension between opposites and extremes, and the result can be a balanced arrangement. According to Rachel Pollack: “Three also signifies birth and motherhood, for a baby is the “sum” of its parents genes mixed together.” (The Haindl Tarot, Newcastle pub. 1990, p. 28)

In the fairy tale of ”Three Little Pigs,” the big bad wolf attacked the pigs and blew down the house of straw of pig number 1, and the house of sticks of pig number 2, but he couldn’t bring down the house of pig number 3. The third pig obviously learned from the mistakes made by the first two pigs in building houses of straw and sticks, so he built a more substantial house made of bricks that the wolf couldn’t blow down. The first 2 pigs just hurriedly slapped together their houses so they could rest and play. They made the wrong choices. (Original story by Joseph Jacobs, English Fairy Tales, 1890) This is the same moral lesson of the 3 card of the Tarot. The 2 card is about making a choice but, the 3 card is about the outcome of making the right choice. The 3 of Cups in the Rider-Waite deck shows 3 maidens celebrating happiness and success, dancing with their cups held in the air. There is a lot about the “Three Graces” in literature and art. For instance, we see them in Sandro Botticelli’s painting, “La Primavera,” in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. They were companions to the goddess, Venus and their function was to spread joy and beauty. They provided specific gifts:  Aglaia—brilliance,radiance; Euphrosyne—joy from the heart; and Thalia—beauty (especially of flowers). 

 Tarot card number 3 generally means integration, and the manifestation of one’s work. It indicates a unification of preparation and planning. It is creative power brought to fruition. The Empress card in the Major Arcana is also number 3. She represents the abundance of plenty, creativity, fecundity, and the formations of productivity, especially in agriculture.
When you get a number 3 card in a reading:
The 3 of Wands signifies manifesting one’s thoughts through planning and execution. One’s ideas are expressed in concrete form.
The 3 of Cups signifies spiritual and emotional completion; success and fulfillment of promise, and a sense of harmony and love.
The 3 of Swords represents the power of discrimination in being able to sort the true from the false and arrive at an equitable conclusion.
The 3 of Pentacles deal with day to day physical things in business, homemaking, gardening, where there is a product, and the satisfying result of hard work.