1 The Magus:
(Mercury) MAGICAL SCIENCE: (Above)
The Royal Path of Life
The Crown of Understanding
The Powers of the Magus
The Way of Wisdom & Folly
The first card of the Tarot depicts a man standing at an altar or table, wearing a cloak decorated with a green ouroboros or serpent eating its own tail. In his right hand he holds aloft a magical sceptre or wand. He symbolises the image of the Perfected Man, Christ or Adam, the Primal Man (ie: homo sapiens), albeit only relatively speaking, perhaps denoting someone at the height of their evolution, career ambitions, or perhaps more correctly spiritual aspirations. Sometimes in life the journey, with all its diversions, is far more rewarding than our intended goal, Our true and ultimate goal on the “Royal Path” if we are to rule over our destiny is God-Realisation as we are reminded in the Bible, from Genesis which says:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last”.
His left hand points downwards signifying the transcendence of the material plane, while the other holding the wand denotes inspiration, the fertilising spirit which fuels his intellect to explore the higher planes of existence -the astral, etheric and causal planes. This card is traditionally ruled by the planet Uranus – the symbol of the Aquarian Age and the planet of innovation, science and change. However, it also denotes Hermes, or the planet Mercury as guiding spirit or Messenger of the Gods. In Alchemical Symbolism the Philosopher’s Stone is Quicksilver, the elusive and phenomenal metal. The Magus is an initiate of the Egyptian God, Thoth, as denoted by the symbolic image of the Crane on his neophyte apron. He therefore represents proficiency in learning, study, of literary and educational pursuits often of an occult or esoteric nature. He may reflect the doctrines of science, art, astrology, wisdom and power. On the altar are the four elements denoting his cardinal virtues (Cups), basic materials (Discs), intellectual skills (Swords) and psychic intuitions (Wands). Above his head lies the figure of 8 symbol symbolising the beginning and end as a continuum from one world to another, from one idea to the next and the brilliance of his positive healing, psychotherapeutic and regenerative powers. In the star-lit sky a comet flares symbolising both transitory and permanent effects or success as his intelligence is lifted beyond the illusory veil to that of the eternal truths. The star that guides him represents his inner guide or conscience – the “inner master” or guru which takes him from darkness or ignorance into the light of spiritual illumination. Through numerous trials, personal experiences, experiments and training he has developed and perfected his will which he may be used for good or evil depending largely on the additional surrounding cards in any particular tarot reading. The First Path on the Tree of Life connects the sphere Kether (Folly) with Chokmah (Wisdom) and represents our ability to think along lines of dualism and mutual polarity utilising both rational and intuitive means. It rules the sahasrara or crown chakra in Chakra symbolism.
Whenever we examine in detail the work of the pseudonymous “William Shakespeare”, his plays and poetry and take note of the inclusion of so much of 15th and 16th century occult science hidden within it then it would not be unusual to assume that the playwright had more than a passing acquaintance with the divination system in Europe known as the Tarot. When I realised that the author of Shakespeare’s Folio (Edward de Vere) had travelled to Italy and France where the Tarot was already flourishing it would be safe to assume that he had acquired his own deck of Tarot cards and indeed probably used them in a creative manner. By 1450 the first 78-card deck was commissioned by the Visconti-Sforza family and in France by 1392 Charles VIth commissioned Jacquemin Gringonneur to create three hand-painted packs. However, the first list of the Major Arcana in Europe was found in a Latin manuscript entitled “Sermones de Ludo Cumalis” (1500) and by 1540 in Italy it is defined and described as a divination system by Marcolino (“Le Sorti”). Furthermore, as I have subsequently discovered Edward de Vere was a member of the Rosicrucian Order as well as a Freemason and he would without doubt have come across a divination system originally known as ROTA. With this thought or prognosis in mind I have drawn numerous correspondences between the plays of “William Shakespeare” and the 22 Tarot Trumps.
This year in a series of posts I hope to highlight and compare each Tarot key with a Shakespearean play to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s Folio. The 1623 First Folio edition features 36 plays, 14 are listed as “Comedies”, 10 as “Histories” and 11 as “Tragedies”. One particular play, “Pericles, Prince of Tyre” was excluded from the Folio for copyright reasons but no doubt the publishers intended 12 tragedies bringing the entire catalogue to a total of 37 plays.
The number 37 is a numerical key to the Old and New Testaments, as already mentioned in other posts on the subject and the division of the triple numbers 111 (AAA), 222 (BBB), 333 (CCC), 444 (DDD), 555 (EEE), 666 (FFF), 777 (GGG), 888 (HHH), and 999 (III) by the “key number” 37 gives us the so-called Fibonacci series of numbers eg: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 etc. Triple letters are also employed in the Enochian system of invocation which Dr. John Dee utilised and espoused as “a divine language” that only angels could readily understand and were compelled to obey as does the angel Ariel for Prospero’s benefit in the “Tempest”. According to the antique science of the Chaldeans, the number 37 symbolizes the Force, the Capacity and the Power. In the “Word of God”, in Greek, the word “Word” is written rhma, numbering 37 by using the gematria in “n”: 17+7+12+1=37. It is the same for the word silence, sigh, 18+9+3+7=37. Numerical value of “I Am” in Hebrew, Ehieh. By seven times in the Gospel of Saint John the Christ mentions it. The four Gospels use on the whole 37 different numbers, which are numbers 1 to 12, 14, 15, 18, 25, 30, 38, 40, 46, 50, 60, 72, 77, 80, 84, 99, 100, 153, 200, 300, 500, 2000, 4000, 5000, 10000 and 20000. The book of Exodus of the Old Testament uses also on the whole 37 different numbers, of which the higher is 603550 (Ex 38,26). In the New Testament four chapters have a total of 37 verses: Mark chapter 7 and 13, Luke chapter 17 and Acts of the Apostles chapter 4.
Bible Gateway Psalm 37:
“For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Previous posts on this particular subject include: “The Origins & Evolution of Tarot Keys”, “The Neoplatonic Magic of Shakespeare”, “The Secret Alchemy of Shakespeare”, “The Queen’s Sorcerer”, “Shakespeare’s Astrology”, “Shakespeare’s Cosmology”, “Shakespeare’s Codename” and “Masonic Ciphers & Symbolism in Shakespeare”.
1. The Magician (Pericles, Prince of Tyre)
- The Magician (Pericles, Prince of Tyre) Beth – The Way of Wisdom & Folly
The only play to be excluded from the 1623 First Folio edition of William Shakespeare’s 36 plays probably because of copyright issues. It has a complex plot which is illuminated by the use of a presenter in the part of John Gower, who in between acts, and in conversation with the audience summarises and clarifies the events throughout. The riddle which Pericles has to solve in order to win the hand of Antiochus‘ daughter reads as follows:
I am no viper, yet I feed
On mother’s flesh which did me breed.
I sought a husband, in which labour
I found that kindness in a father.
He’s father, son and husband mild;
I mother, wife, and yet his child.
How they may be, and yet in two,
As you will live, resolve it you.
The Prince realising that the answer to the riddle will reveal that Antiochus is having an incestuous relationship with his daughter rejects the King’s offer and instead secretly decides to make his escape at the next available opportunity. However, escaping to Athens he is pursued by the King’s assassin Thailard. The act and scene sequence throughout the play parallels the 12 Alchemical processes and within the narrative plot a series of magical or miraculous events take place.
The Marriage contest for Antiochus’ Daughter-Escape to Tyre
Thaliart’s pursuit of Pericles-Relief of Tarsus
Shipwreck on Simonides-Marriage to Thasia
Storm at sea-Thasia dies giving birth to Marina
Return to Tarsus-Thasia’s coffin washed ashore
Thasia revived by Cerimon-Thasia enters convent at Ephesus
Pericles returns to Tyre-Dionyza threatens Marina’s life
Marina captured by pirates-Marina is sold to a brothel
Pericles returns to Tarsus-Is shown Marina’s tomb
Marina escapes brothel-Pericles arrives at Mytilene
Pericles & Marina re-united- Pericles sails to Ephesus
Pericles re-united with Thasia
Pericles’ adventures are akin to those of the heroic Odysseus, the labours of Hercules or the trials of Theseus. The magical arts are rendered by the physic Cerimon on the lifeless corpse of Thasia and by Marina on her psychologically traumatised father, Pericles.
Divinatory Meaning of this Card:
The 12th path on the Tree of Life links Kether (Brilliance-Neptune) with Binah (Saturn-Wisdom), a journey defined in Tarot as the “Transparent Intelligence” situated on the left-hand, feminine side of the supernal triad. In an evolved sense it denotes dream visions, meditative visualisations, clairvoyance, sudden apparitions or even drug-induced hallucinations. In this context and astrologically, the “Primum Mobile”, or correspondingly Neptune is acting through Mercury on the planet Saturn producing purposeful, constrained, literary or artistic compositions in aesthetic vision or musical sound. In this sense it is also a creative space within which many experimental acts may take place. It is a world of ideas defined within certain parameters with many different tools of expression in a variety of different ways to produce new and exciting creative elements. Here the conscious thoughts of perhaps one individual or group are directed towards developing unconscious reactions in others, perhaps less conscious or aware. While in some sense it is the path of creative or ceremonial magic by association with the card, The Magician this also has a mesmeric, healing or therapeutic effect on the creators, participants or their audience. Elements of autosuggestion or self-hypnosis are also apparent within this principle and in afflicted cases they may become victims of others’ deceitful thoughts, or their own self-deception or utopian delusions. Here, as denoted by the figure of eight symbol above the head and the wand however, the third eye is being focussed or filtered through any chosen lens or device for self-affirmation or perfect concentration. It links the Crown Chakra with the intuitive faculties of the mind.
Positive: Creative, subtle and constructive use of will and knowledge. Planning, organisation and commerce. Self-reliance, mystic perception.
Negative: Devious, manipulative, deceptive or lacking in skill of expression or execution. Gambling or juggling with life’s circumstances.
SPHERE 2 Chokmah (Wisdom) Illuminating Intelligence Beth – A House
Astrological: Aries or the 1st House
Constellation: Orion – The Hunter
Sacred Gemstone: Diamond or Quartz