This week marks three new beginnings. We began a new lunar phase, the Sugar Moon, and I began both a new phase of my meditation on the tarot from Gareth Knight's 'mirror' and cracked open the Etteilla Book of Thoth deck for the first time. I have to say, I am just as taken with the imagery in the deck in the flesh as I was fauning over those digital images I could find before purchasing them. Purists tend to decry Alliette changing of the traditional archetypal images, saying he was confused or not truly informed in how the archetypes are meant to work. I will try and argue against that theory, as his changes in the deck ring to me like a very purposeful bell.
For my meditation this week I was led by the Fool off of his cliff, at Mr. Knight's prompting, to a doorway embedded in the sky, which led to the Magician's chamber. This is the beginning of Knight's 'memory palace' approach to learning the tarot, which I am quite excited about. I found myself in the Magician's chamber, viewing the guardians of the four doors that lead to the rest of the tarot. I was given one insight on that first day, that the women that guard the doors are manifestations of different paths of magic. Justice spoke to me that she was the path of necromancy and communing with the saints, it is her use of scales, like Anubis, the guardian of the afterlife. Temperance, through her action of blending and mixing liquid between two vessels was clearly the path of alchemy, that one is incontrovertible to my eyes after reading in Aaron Cheak's 'Alchemical Traditions' the proto-alchemical myth of Hephaestus, forger of all magic items in his alchemical furnace, the only one on Olympus that knows how to mix ambrosia for the rest of the Gods. The World, a woman kneeling at a pool of black water with the image of New Jerusalem rippling in the reflection, is the path of divination. And strength, stroking her giant cat, the path of grimoire magic. The magician himself, the only man in my vision, represents Chaos Magic, sigilmancy to be specific, as he is the direct connection to the Fool, or the bear of my unconscious.
The second and third days, without any prompting on my part, the archetypes showed me their animal form. I do not know why my meditations run in this direction. Possibly it is my long study with the Ojibwe elder, Ayabe, or my rural upbringing, but the archetypes seem to want to connect themselves with the natural world in my inner vision. The woman and lion of the strength archetype became just a puma, sitting on a rock. Temperance became a sturgeon, although I am questioning if this is me overlaying my knowledge but her connection to the water, longevity, and myth seem to fit. Justice was very clearly a raven in my mind. She was clear on that. And the world was at first a buffalo but reflecting on her the second day it became clear that I imposed that image and she chose the turtle as her representative. The magician stood in the middle of a lake, in a shallow area, as a giant elk, ruling over the rest, even Strength as the puma was passive on her rock.
The connection with animals and the mixing of archetypes revealed some unique insights when during the week when I pulled the card 'la capuchin' for a daily reading. Aillette mixed some of the imagery normally associated with the Fool into his Hermit, namely, a small dog, chasing his steps. This has the effect of connecting the Hermit with St. Christopher, with Hermanubis, and in my case, as the image on the card shows him pointing directly at the small dog at his feet like a fated page from the Ninth Gate, it is a direct correspondence to my unconscious. The card is branded with the keyword 'traitre' or traitor. This seems to say that I should not trust my unconscious mind, at least not at this point. From previous meditations I know this is true as my unconscious is represented by the Fool, who is unpredictable and fond of tricks.
Is our unconscious a type of spirit, is it so much us or is it something other. I would labor to argue that it is something else, something we harbor inside us and need to coerce, to bribe, to flatter, to befriend. Maybe that is the lesson for this week. That is where the monk points, to the betrayer inside us. That is where the work towards true magic must begin, in taming the bear, the feral dog, the spirit of madness in the forest. To do this we need to use all of the magic available in the world, sigils, the grimoires, our ancestors and the saints, and the tarot.