In many other Tarot Decks, 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 Deck-Key 14- Art
Card's 24th Path of Samekh (meaning -Prop), as it is
attributed to the restriction and control over the forces of existence.
Master Theron, however, 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 Source), from Personality to the Higher
On the Ryder-Waite Temperance card,this Solar source is shown on forehead of our "Holy Guardian Angel" (Higher Self) as a circle with a dot, the sign of the Sun and the Higher Mind of the Solar Logos, as the Shinning golden crown in the back ground of the Ryder-Waite Temperance Card. The Upper Supernal Triangle is shown on the Chest of the Angel surrounded in the "Cube of the Universe or Space", implying the Higher Self and the yellow Iris bespeaks a Passionate or Fiery nature, in the language of flowers. The Water of consciousness is the pool in which the foot of the Angel is bathed. The path in the back ground, leads to the Twin Mountains or Towers, symbolizing the Moon Card, which is the only symbol pertaining to the Moon as Solar opposite, in the Temperance card.
On this very difficult Path, the very enormity of the Great Work ( As above, so below)
will be experienced. On this 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, has been called the
Path of "the dark night of the Soul", verifying that this is a Path of
trial, tempering and temptation.
Samekh, is the Intelligence of Probation, as Paul Foster Case labels it in his text, THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM.
In various Gnostic texts, it is also called, "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. Thus,
the central figure of this card, is Female Guardian Angle on the Ryder-Waite and the Androgynous figure on the Thoth Deck Art card. Also, 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
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 process.
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 us reborn and
achieved by conquering the Path of Samekh or The Art. We are not only to
be Moons, reflections of personality, but also the Solar Personality,
that is the Divine Child.
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 it 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 ,i.e. the process of actual experience ....one begins to
Understand the Tarot.
The Art Card, which is more symbolic than the Ryder-Waite card, is not nearly so symbolic as
some believe; it 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 Deck
card a Androgynous figure, combining the Water (consciousness0 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,
Spirits 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!
alchemical process is often describe 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 an golden energy (in the shape of a
stylized arrow) firing upward and across the shoulders of the Divine
figure in the Art Card and as the Golden Cups from which the living water is poured in the Ryder-Waite card.
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
an angel thrusting 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.
At first, many students find the symbolism of the Major Arcana
complicated; However, the principle of the Path of Samekh or Art or Temperance , 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.
Robert Wang goes on to explain, in his test 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 Serphiroth 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).
Art of awakening these Paths in 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.
The Art-Temperance Card, is the sign of
Sagittarius , which is ruled by the planet Jupiter. meaning the
Sephiroth- Chesed (Wisdom). Here, we should remember that Chesed is the
architect of all manifestation, working with the "will to form"and/or
"potential to form" of Binah (Understanding).
before, Art- Temperance Key 14- The Path of Samekh, is an actual physical process,
and a arcana 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 opposite cups in the Ryder-Waite and more alchemical in the Thoth Art card as the Male and Female hermaphrodite, and the lightning and water combination above the Golden Cistern.
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) 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 Forces (influx of 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, and the body can
handle the stress of such energy, 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, 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 get off of
one's butt and do something. It could be said that Divine Anger is the
motivation for Sagittarius to launch his arrow.
All in all, the
Art Card key 14, is the consummation of the Divine Marriage, depicted on
the Lovers card Key 6, here the Orgasm of Spirit has been reached.
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 Text Book, The Qabalistic Tarot by Robert Wang and the
Book of Thoth by Aliester Crowley for further explanation of this coded
When the Art or Temperance card is thrown during a reading, the
querent is experiencing or will soon experience:
- a combination of forces
effecting 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.
Thank you for your interest and comments. May you live long and prosper.