Sunday, September 6, 2015

Figure 8, The Magician and the Lemniscate

The Magician and a Lemniscate

Why does “The Magician” in some Tarot cards wear a hat that resembles a lemniscate? It even hovers overhead in the Magician and Strength card in the Waite deck and some other decks. What is a lemniscate? In mathematics it looks like a figure 8 on its side and represents infinity - meaning a numerical calculation that that seems to go on forever and ever. For example, in the Fibonacci number series, when you divide 89 by 55 it equals 1.6181818181818…. And these numbers go on and on ⎯ and are called “numerals of infinity.” In another sense, a lemniscate, the “lazy eight,” is an oscillating figure representing the back and forth movement of thought and imagination; pairs of opposites: good and evil, night and day, dark and light, order and chaos.  For those interested in math, brainwave studies associate the lemniscate with epsilon waves (0.5) and meditative states, ecstatic states and “cosmic consciousness.” (For further info see this blogspot commentary on the Lemniscate)

Lemniscate and Infinity 
So what does The Magician have to do with infinity? This is represents a person who is playing Tarot, in other words, the game of this life, as one who deals with illusory experiences by channeling the infinite radiant energy of Cosmic Consciousness. This person seeks the truth behind appearances and transcends illusions. What does this mean to us when this card comes up in a reading? By focusing our attention on mastering ourselves and managing our passions, we are exploring all that it means to be conscious; to be alive; to contemplate our mortality, or immortality, and our inner spiritual selves.

The spiritual life…proceeds directly by a change of consciousness…to a greater consciousness in which one finds one’s own true being. Sri Aurobindo, from Letters on Yoga, Vol. 1

Lemniscate and Chaos
The Magician in Tarot is symbolic of the person who works on managing apparent chaos in one’s life. The image of a lemniscate in action reminds me of a film of the chaotic motion and self-destruction of the Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge in 1940 in Washington State (Galloping Gertie). It began twisting like a lemniscate, swinging up and down and from side to side, swinging farther and farther in wider arcs until, finally, the cables broke and it fell into Puget sound. (See YouTube video of the movie below)

“Our very life and health depend upon living within layers of order and disorder…almost everything is vulnerable to chaos and face an indeterminate (unpredictable) fate if pushed beyond critical boundaries.” Turbulent Mirror, Order to Chaos, Briggs & Peat 

How can we know the outcome of our past and see into the future? We remember our past in receding memories, fading photographs, notes, letters and pictures. We try to think ahead by building on past experiences and learning from our mistakes. With the Magician card it's time to realize that we can expand our minds into infinity in seeking what we imagine as a never-ending spiritual universe. By concentrating on using the four elements of Tarot: the fire of Wands, water of Cups, air of Swords, and earth of Coins or Pentacles, we are working on transforming ourselves into a state of higher being; higher consciousness. When you get The Magician or Strength card in a reading, or an 8 card, think about how you are accepting the challenging tasks of your life and then work to organize your time by shining the light of Truth upon the deceptions and falsehoods you've experienced. Plan ahead. Help yourself rise above the mundane and strive to do your best with what you have and what you know.