The Tarot of El, LLC: Major Arcana: Thoth Tarot-ATU 14-Art & Tarot Illuminati- Key 14-Temperance

Western hermetic Qabalah, astrological, numerical , Alchemic,  and Tantric Tarot Card Comparisons

· Illuminati Tarot

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Thoth-ATU 14-Art

Visit the interior parts of earth:by rectification thou shalt find the hidden stone.

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Tarot Illuminati-Key 14-Temperance

The angel on the middle way.

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In many other traditional Tarot Decks, ATU/Key 14 is called Temperance, which implies the heating and cooling of forged steel to make a keen, flexible blade or the slow cooling down process of tempering glass. And in a way, this process is the Thoth -ATU 14- Art Card’s 24th Path of Samekh (meaning -Prop), as it is attributed to the restriction and control over the forces of existence.

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Master Theron (Crowley), in his book 777, made this comment on the letter Samekh: It is "The Womb preserving Life. Self-control and Self-sacrifice govern the Wheel."

Leading from Yesod (foundation) to Tiphareth (beauty), the Path of Samekh is as from Moon (Self-reflection) to Sun (Solar Psyche- Soul Source), and/or from Personality to the Soul- Self.

Traditionally, Temperance cards represented one's ability to control the mind.


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On this very difficult Qabalistic Path of Samekh, the very enormity of the Great Work (As above, so below) will be experienced. On this inner path, the initiate may experience going through a long dark tunnel, believing (not knowing) there is Light at the end of it. This Path of Samekh, The Art card, is one of the 3 cards that have been called the Path of "the dark night of the Soul", verifying that this is a Path of trial, tempering and temptation.

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The Path of Samekh, The Art Tarot Card, is the Intelligence of Probation, as Dr. Paul Foster Case-founder of B.O.T.A.- labels it in his text, THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM. In his Book of Thoth, Crowley called this figure of the multi breasted- Diana of Ephesus, "Daughter of the Reconcilers, the Bringer Forth of Life." All of these phrases lead us right to the very idea behind this card; The Great Mother Binah-Understanding. Thus, the central figure on the Thoth Card is an Androgynous figure of Chokmah and Binah and/or wisdom and understanding, in that order.

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Diana-The Huntress

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Also, for you astrology buffs, the ruling sign of the Path of Samekh, is Sagittarius, the Archer, who is also Diana the Huntress, goddess of the Moon. All of which repeats the principle that with the exception of the FOOL (0), all the figures of the Tarot are the Fool as Mother Binah (Understanding) and Father Chokma (Wisdom) in different states of Force and Form which is why Crowley's figure is the androgynous combination of the Chokmah-Binah marriage paradigm.

Another helpful reference book, VOICE OF ISIS- by Hariette and Homer Curtis describes the Universal Mother ("The Womb with a View") as the "power of bringing forth in humanity the Divine Child or the Christ." This bearing of the Child is the Soul, reborn and achieved by conquering the Path of Samekh or The Art of Inner Alchemy. We are not only to be Moons, reflections of a soul personality, but also the Solar Personality, that is the Divine Child/Psyche. The Art card is the Coagulation to the Lovers (ATU 6) Solution. Hence, Lady Frieda Harris and Crowley filled this card with Alchemical images. 

Now don't misunderstand, the Art card demonstrates how the experience of rebirth is brought about, which is to say, through the exchange and equilibrium of opposites which can only be symbolically described, but does not demonstrate the birth itself. Thus, the symbolism here is not to demonstrate a "deep Mystery", rather this symbolism demonstrates how limited and inadequate is our language to describe the process. That is why the Qabalistic Tarot Reader, is not one who thinks that by memorizing descriptions and numbers of the cards they are a Tarot Reader. Rather, it is by skrying, and subjectively "walking the Paths", turning subjective into objective sensation. the process of actual experience begins to Understand the Tarot. Through the combination of Astrology, Tarot, Qabalah, Alchemy, Gnosticism, and metaphysics, can one begin to understand the "depth" of Self.

The Art Card, which is more symbolic than the usual Tarot-Temperance card; However, it is not nearly so symbolic as some believe. The Art Card symbolizes the Alchemical Art where Fire becomes Water and Water becomes Fire (...."When the male is no longer male and the female, female.”: Gnostic Gospel of Thomas). This process is describing an actual event/process that happens in the initiates material body, i.e. an actual physical transformation. Thus, we have illustrated in the Thoth Tarot-Art card is an Androgynous figure, combining the Water (consciousness) with Lightning (Fiery Spirit) creating in the Golden Cistern (the Human body) what is known as the Living Water and/or consciousness vivified by merging with Fiery Spirit. By bringing Spirit into the body, Spirit’s fiery nature not only tempers the consciousness, one also tempers the Spirit with consciousness, thus forming "something more than the sum of its parts"; a union of Master and Masterpiece and a reversal . By now, we already know that the Magus is Mercury, the Emperor is Sulfur and the Empress is Salt. I have mentioned that when these three chemical elements are combined in equilibrium form a universal solvent called vitriol. However, this is an internal event of Kundalini fire which creates this "spiritual vitriol' and not a outside combination of Mercury, Sulfur and Salt, which creates a deadly poison. This leaves us with the question, "what do I do with this Internal Vitriol?" The best answer that I can find for the use of this universal solvent is that it dissolves the old life (ego) in order to create new life.

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We know the golden cistern to be the human body, because of the kaput sigil of the Raven and Skull engraved on it. This symbolizes death, while the fire water combination implies life.

This alchemical process is often described, by Qabalists, as a personal application of the Yod (fire) and Heh (water) uniting in the body to produce Vau (Air) within the individual crucible of form which is Heh-final and Earth. This is described as a "Spiritual Orgasm" or "The Ecstasy" which is a process demanding inner manipulation of sexual forces (He-She) and is shown as a golden energy (in the shape of a stylized arrow) firing upward and across the shoulders of the Divine figure in the Art Card or as the Golden Halo on the Goddess Iris. The Great Golden Egg in the background, symbolizes the Orphic egg and everything we see happening in front of the Egg is actually the secret work that is done on the inside. Advertising the radiant life within are the Latin words: VISITA INTERIORATERRAE RECTIFICANDO INVENIES OCCULTUM LAPIDEM- "Visit the interior parts of the earth: by rectification thous shalt find the hidden stone." The "Philosophers Stone", being the ultimate achievement of alchemy.

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The strange 2 headed being, one black and one white, was first seen as the bride and groom of the Lovers Card -ATU 6. Now, the black King and the White Queen have merged and become a single 2 headed character. Hence, the white Queen now has black hair and a golden crown of the Sun, and the black King how has golden hair and wears the silver crown of the Moon. The exposed arms also show the counterchange of the bodies. Now we have the Androgynous being pouring water from a silver chalice (left hand) and fire from His/Her right hand. The Lovers card shows the Red Lion and the White Eagle flanking the orphic egg: However, in the Art Card they also have counterchanged into a Red Eagle and a White Lion.The dual baptism of fire and water(the union of the white and red tinctures) being responsible for this transmutation to their opposite characteristic. At the very bottom of the card, fire and water exist together in harmony, in a golden cauldron, which bares the image of a Raven and Skull, a German symbol for Kaput - dead. Hence, we know this to be the human body, for it dies, as all organic material does, only to be recycled again.

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Even the often flesh-o-phobic Christian iconography, has accepted this Spiritual Orgasm. For instance, the ecstasy of the 16th century mystic, Saint Theresa which was described as having an angel thrust a flaming arrow into her heart.

The symbolical of the piecing arrow that brings ecstatic enlightenment is actually an archetypal, and mufti-cultural accepted description of a real process of physiological transformation! What happens is a rhythmic, pleasuring motion of inner energy, and ebb and flow that is confined (shown as the figure eight associate with the Magus) in very specific perimeters (oval or womb shaped) but which is taken in either direction at will. The Magus, knows that by changing the vibration of inner energy, one raises or lowers the level of consciousness, moving from Chakra to Chakra or Path to Path. Simply stated: The Kundalini (sexual energy) acting upon consciousness produces astral images, the pictures that form our minds.

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At first, many students find the symbolism of the Major Arcana complicated; However, the principle of the Path of Samekh or Art or Temperance tarot cards, is to produce a consciously controlled vision that is limited by will. The purpose of Hermetic Qabalistic, and Gnostic symbols is to furnish descriptions that most anyone can relate to. They are not remote or really complicated, if you focus on one at a time. In fact, most of the symbolic language of the Mysteries, has been superseded by the language of Carl Jung and other psychologists. To Carl Jung, this ability to consciously control Visions, would be called "lucid dreaming", which is known to help the individual correct personality disorders.

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Robert Wang goes on to explain, in his text book: THE QABALISTIC TAROT," It should be added that the Metals described in Alchemical literature are the same as the Seven Chakras of the Hindus, the Seven Planets and the Sephiroth of the Microprosopus [lower seven on the Tree of Life.]. These words have been used as codes over the centuries, meaning seven distinct levels of objective consciousness. Thus when one speaks of a Planet ruling a sign of the Zodiac, what is meant in the relationship of a Sign to a given center of energy both in the Greater Universe and in the Human body." (the brackets are my own explanation).

The Art of awakening these Pathsin the Human Body, is the Qabalistic initiates goal. "To Know Thyself" is to know the "As above and so below" nature of our Whole Self.

As stated: The Art-Temperance Card, is the sign of Sagittarius, which is ruled by the planet Jupiter, meaning the Sephiroth- Chokmah (Wisdom). Here, we should remember that "Lower Chokmah" is Chessed, the architect of all manifestation, working with the "will to form “and/or "potential to form" of Binah (Understanding).

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As explained before, Art- Temperance Key 14- The Path of Samekh, is an actual physical process, and an arcane knowledge for centuries of Gnostic, Mystics, Tantrics, Alchemists, and Qabalists. And is a willed process of directing the communion or interchange of opposite energies, as shown, somewhat inadequately, as an Traditional Golden haloed Angel, a pouring of water between 2 golden chalices, with one foot on land and one foot in the water, on the Temperance Tarot Card and more alchemical in the Thoth Art card as the Male and Female hermaphrodite, along with the lightning and water combination above the Golden Cistern. Also stated: On the Thoth Art Card, the Cistern is also adorned with the Raven and Skull symbol of annihilation or death, as hermetic marriage is a type of annihilation, as 2 are melded together as One. This is easily seen in the union of colors, as Red combined with Blue, annihilates both, to become Purple. Hence, the Original formula of 0=2, now returns to the Source (Orphic egg) as 2=0. Also symbolizing the Goddess Iris, are the purple Iris blooming in the foreground of the Illuminati Temperance Card. In Greek mythology, Iris is the personification and goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. Hence the rainbow in the background.

The beginning of the process of communion is begun by the Higher Self-; a process which is instituted in the Sephiroth Chesed, the most refined, point of Microprosopus (microcosm), to which the Higher Self is central. Chesed is the enacting force (phallus) of the Great Mother Binah's process of” will to form"(womb). Until the initiate accomplices this process of the Path of Samekh, the Higher Self (Shown as an androgynous figure on the Thoth card and Angel on the Temperance card) cannot be known to the personality. Thus, the Art of "Spiritual Alchemy" describes this Card and the whole process as a preparation of the Personality, and its physical vehicle, to deal with the Solar/Spiritual Forces (influx of Higher Vibratory Light) which would devastate a "normal" system. This is an ongoing process of measuring and testing, instigated by the Higher Self, to see how much the physical body can bear. When properly tempered, the body can handle the stress of such energy, and the arrow is released. (Kundalini rises). Once contacted on the Path of Samekh, the Higher Self will regulate the flow, so the individual isn't harmed as the ego is slowly destroyed, A great jolt of energy, will tell the individual to "back off', and relax. Because this is a Passion so overwhelming, it is often described as Divine Anger, which is apt, if we realize that anger is for self-motivation, to stimulate great motion and to do something about initiating change. It could be said that Divine Anger is the motivation for Sagittarius to launch his arrow.

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All in all, the Art or Temperance Card-ATU/ Key 14, is the consummation of the Divine Marriage, depicted on the Lovers Card Key 6, here the Orgasm of Spirit has been reached and consummation of the marriage is achieved. There is a perfect interchange of forces, as the Red Lion has become white, and the White lion has become Red. The Art card shows Water being poured on Fire, and Fire is merged with Water, all within the purified physical vehicle, shown as the Golden Cauldron, i.e. the Master's body. Get and read the Textbook, The Qabalistic Tarot by Robert Wang and the Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley for further explanation of this coded process.

When the Art or Temperance card is thrown during a reading, the querent is experiencing or will soon experience:

  • A combination of forces affecting realization and action.
  • A blending of all circumstances in order to achieve balance.
  • Trials and tribulations that lead to the "middle path", arriving at a profound realization.
  • Temperance and moderation.
  • Virtue instead of vice.
  • Finding a middle way.
  • Mingling of many different approaches. 
  • The proper measure (proportionality and harmony).
  • The combined harmony of Spirit-Mind-Body.(creating the Heavenly Human).

If ill defined by the surrounding cards:

  • Excess (conflicts and dissipation).
  • Tendency towards extremes.

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