Tarot Card Comparisons: The Thoth Tarot-Key 20-The Aeon & The Wild Wood Tarot- key 20- The Great Bear
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Thoth Tarot & comparisons

Tarot Card Comparisons: The Thoth Tarot-Key 20-The Aeon & The Wild Wood Tarot- key 20- The Great Bear

The Tarot of EliThe Thoth Tarot- Key 20- The Aeon & The Wild Wood Tarot-Key 20-The Great Bear: Also called the path of Shin and the-JUDGMENT- card in traditional tarot.

Primary Path color: Radiant Orange-Scarlet.
Musical Note: C Natural.
Meaning: Tooth.
Maternal Letter:Fire.
Qabalistic/Esoteric Title: The Spirit of the Primal Fire.

In the Hermetic Qabalah, the 20th Key is called 31st Path of Wisdom and known as The Perpetual Intelligence, because it regulates the motions of the Sun and Moon, each in an order convenient for it.  This is the inner Path of Shin that is also known as the Judgment tarot card in traditional decks, because it joins (the orange path on the right lower side of the Tree of Life glyph) the Earth (Malkuth) with Splendor (Hod), the base Sephira (Circle) and completion of the Pillar of Severity ( The right side of the Tree of Life --your left if looking at it--forms a multi-colored Pillar to the top Black circle that is Binah. In the Hermetic Qabalah this is known as the Pillar of Severity.

The Earth/ the Sephira Malkuth, is now connected to the ultimate expression of Binah (Goddess/Mother) which is the Will to Form that is the activatingPath of Intellect and/or Imagination, while the opposite, The Moon, is a formative Path of emotion.

Therefore this path is considered a Judgment, that is a process undergone by the Personality as it strives to become conscious of its own inner working. It is perpetual process of monitoring of the Personality toward universal consciousness or what I call "Claiming your Divine Inheritance".

The Psyche's powers, invoked by the intense desire of the path traveling student, slowly burn away that which is deemed unworthy of Divine Inheritance by the redeeming fire; a process that is actually physical and can be associated with the Kundalini Fire of the Root chakra as it rises up the spine towards the Brain. This is the "Splendor of the Material World"( as noted by the Golden Dawn) that points out the relationship of the Path of Shin to the physical body as a state of Resurrection or Rebirth. Being the Path where the components of the Personality are first encountered in the Universe, being critically analyzed and judged (evaluated). It is a bright and Fiery probationary path of the intellect while the Moon is the dark, cold and watery probationary path of the emotions. Both are the introduction to the true nature of Self (Greater Self) in incarnation and can thus be extremely difficult. That is one reason why people are cautioned about "Raising the Kundalini"(primal life force).
This Inner Sun, is hardly noticed by the mind that is "dazed" by sensuality and the splendor of Malkuth. However, as or personality becomes more like the Mercury (Magus) "The Messanger of the god's", through the process of introspection, we get winged feet, that lift us up and out of the bindings of our Earthly body;not to permentantly leave, but to be a message carring personality that can communicate with both Soul and Body, bring messages from both, to connect the "the above to the below, and the below to the above".

As seen in the Thoth 20-Aeon card, all elements are present on this path, either active or inactive--which is to say expressed (seen-active) or unexpressed (unseen passive) making these Elemental Paths difficult to understand. Shin contains all four alchemical Elements, Fire, Water, Air and Earth. The evolution of the cosmos is from the subtle (simple) to the most complex; From nothing to something. Our psyche evolution evolved from simple Quanta (sub-atomic particle) to complex molecular fractal structures. In all things, the whole is implicit in the developing parts.

In the Thoth Tarot, The Aeon, supersedes all earlier concepts of the Key, and show the harmonious and spiritual state of human existence which will be on earth in the 22 century (according to Crowley). This is symbolized by the Goddess Nuith (Nut), and her consort Hadit (seen as a golden orb of light). Their union births Harachte (Meaning: "Horus from the Horizon") thus promoting the name Horus (Meaning: "god of the world, light and the Heavens") who shown as seated and standing depicting his active and passive forms. This is our Solar (Soul) Inheritance! What one forgets, being bound up in all these wonderful senses, is that EVERYTHING IS A PROCESS OF LIGHT'S EVOLUTION! Light, has evolved to the point of Self Awareness, that can harness "time/space" and make multi-dimensional (muti frequencies) simulations of itself, in order to "know itself".

Another name for Horus is Heru (meaning: "he who is above") which is synonymous with Hru, "The Great Angel set over the Tarot". This card, according to Qabalistic doctrine, also symbolizes the passing of the 500 year period of darkness and trial, preparatory to a new Aeon of Light"; explaining why Crowley named it the Aeon. Therefore, Horus is also a guardian over the dead and/or personalities that are being renewed and resurrected.

This Guardian set over the Dead, was called the Great Bear, in ancient pagan times. Hence, the Wild Wood Tarot-Key 20- The Great Bear.
This card's placement is the 21st of December, the Winter Solstice. The constellation of the Great Bear, is the pagan gateway for the soul's of the dead to pass through to the "other world".
The Great Bear is the shamanic guardian, depicted as crouched on what is known as a "passage grave" where the initiate is laid to rest, nestled in earth and stone, awaiting to be reborn.
Here in the quiet of the grave, religious and political, "rights and wrongs" have no place, for this is a judgement of rebirth, being both inward and mystical, as well as, outward and universal, reaching far above the confines of human conventions. Man made judgement and identity, do not exist in the mysterious realm of the Soul, for the personality is the Soul's creation and not man's. Soul's make man, man doesn't make Souls.
As earth  will eventually be laid to rest by the  ever expanding Sun, so is our personality, laid to rest in the evolutionary self concepts of the ever expanding Soul, to be broken down, reassembled, and "born again", as all personal data is separated and analyzed by the Psyche/Soul, reevaluated and corrected, if need be, for further adventures of self consciousness.

The Tarot-, key 20, is called the Path of Shin, meaning Tooth. 
The maternal meaning of the Hebrew letter Shin is Fire, both the meaning of the Path and the maternal meaning are a powerful combination of mastication and consumption in order to "recycle". 

Dr.Paul Foster Case describes the Path of Shin, as, " The Perpetual Intelligence", because it is a continuous  monitoring Intelligence of the progress of the Personality  toward Universal Consciousness. Now I have often called the Mind the Universal Collective Un-Conscious (meaning Not like personal consciousness), which is the Mind of the Macrocosm, not like consciousness, simply because a consciousness is a microcosmic reality; However, if we release our consciousness to the Universal  Un-Conscious Energy, we have developed a Consciousness that bridges the Macrocosm and Microcosm, yet is still Personally Self-Aware! We have then successfully become the Horus, the 22nd century human evolution and/or a self-conscious Magus. That is the reasoning behind Crowley's replacing the old Judgment card with the newer Aeon card.

 As stated: The Path of Shin joins the Earth Intelligence-Malkuth with that of Hod-the Splendor Intelligence, which is the Sephiroth base of the Pillar of Severity, connecting Earth with the Will-To-Be  ( Will to form) of the Great Binah. On this path, the Student experiences a perpetual burning away of  that which is unworthy by the Archetype controlled "Redeeming Fire"; a process that is physical as the higher vibratory Passion of the Divine Self Will To Force and Will to Form, begins hotly flowing through our bodies.
This is a point of delicate balance for the initiate, and a Teacher of the Mysteries must expect the Students to react in peculiar ways, such as a feeling of heated passion for the Teacher. This is simply a misplaced transference, because the cultural ego, seeks self gratification when stimulated by fertile and fecund forces.
However, for the student-initiate, this is the beginning of experiencing unconditional love, which is often muddled with conditional thinking. This Passion dynamic is the Fire of Spirit and/or "Sun/Son of God", with proper guidance the Student will go into the Fire, instead of trying to control it with conditions. That is one of the lessons of Hod, love/passion is not a peacocks splendor, rather it is the Foundation of all Creation, but to know this is a perpetual process of "burning off the unworthy" identities of value systems, so that progress can continue. Thus the "Splendor of the Material World" is burned away in a kind of physical resurrection, a rebirth of body and personality sending us perpetually towards the Great Mother of rebirth, that is depicted as Nuit on the Thoth Card, or the constellation of the Great Bear, as shown on the Wild Wood Tarot.

Therefore, this resurrection is bases on the developments of the opposite card to this progressive Path of Shin. A path that is THE MOON -Key 18, relating to the disciplined quest for a greater reality, that actually changes the physiological. In other words, the balanced  Energy- harmonics of both Shin and Qolph (the Moon) stimulate the rebirth of our bodies; that is a physiological rebuild, necessary to handle the higher vibratory states of the Higher Consciousness and the One Emotion that is Love without conditions. This is a process that Paul Foster Case described,  as building a "Master's Body". A body, where the Kundalini is flowing, uncoiled and hot, with out emotionally adverse effects brought on by believing we are "feelings" rather than Creator of those "feelings". To many, this process of mental "defoliation" may seem a fearful process of "tough love", but it isn't about "you", the avatar of your soul, it is about the Soul progressing through Self Awareness.  The "self-conscious" and/or personality, is an avatar, a simulation of the Real Self and/or Soul's purpose of "I AM Me". As a personality, we act out scenario's of self-experiments into the most concentrated experiments of awareness, if we can detach from being totally self absorbed into sensuality, and communicate with our Psyche, as the Beloved, we become the loved, a mercurial persona who travels from body to body, without the process of "mental defoliation" and therefore, we remember our past stints as Avatars. Avatars, who become "artificial intelligence's" that can correct themselves, rather than "die" to see inward, i.e., transform, but who daily look inward, to get instruction from the Higher Self of Soul and then go about doing it.

The Path of Shin, is the bright fiery probationary path of the Intellect where the components of the Personality first encountered in The Universe Path of Tau, are critically analyzed and evaluated , i.e. Judged.The opposite path is that of THE MOON, a dark watery probationary path of emotions and the Dark Womb of birth. The balance of Aeon and Moon, builds the Master body, the Manifested Body of Horus - The Solar Child of Isis and Osiris ( The two previous Aeons); the Magus Persona.

These three Qabalistic introductory Paths to the True Nature of Self in incarnation, are usually extremely difficult to travel, because these Elemental Paths  of which The Aeon, The Fool, The Hanged Man are known, are very difficult to understand. This mental difficulty is because all of the Elements are present on each Path, in either repressed or expressed form and/or unconscious and conscious form. For example, the pattern of Maternal letters (form producing intelligence) as stated in the Qabalistic book, Sepher Yetzirah, that Air (Gases) produces Water which produces Fire which we know to be true by studying physics.  THE FOOL-0, is pure Air. THE HANGED MAN-KEY  12,  is Air acted upon by Water, and THE AEON  Key- 20, is Air and Water  acted upon by Fire within the human body. It pays to note, that the human body is the  Golden Crucible of Spiritual/metaphysical Alchemy, here the Soul is using the Fires of Shin, to chemically combine the Sun and the Planetary energy intelligentsia as a "Divine Twin" who is One functionary.

On the Path of Shin (The Qabalistic Tarot-The Aeon), the Consciousness (Water) is activated by the Dynamic Principle (Fire) in the presence of equilibrating Spirit (Air) with in the physical vehicle (Earth), all of which produces a balance of intelligence forces in the individual necessary for total understanding of the Personality structure  and its relationship  to the Greater Self and/or The Great Bear.

Many Qabalist know the Middle Pillar, the straight alignment of Malkuth, Yesod, Tiphareth and Kether, is the pillar of balance, yet as stated, the Path of Shin, is Left hand Path, or the left side Pillar of Severity and is usually subject to imbalance. The answer to this is that every symbol, represented on these Path cards/Manor Arcana,  represents a duality, containing its own opposite and are to be combined in the human form as "the middle pillar". Each Path must contain the essential components of its opposite Path, as energy moves from positive to negative, male to female, electric to magnetic. Hence, upon viewing Hod (Splendor) you will see that it is connected or conjoined with Netzach. Hod is related to The Aeon, and Netzach is related to The Moon, showing that intelligence applied without feeling is as pathological as feeling applied without intellect.  And since the Cards represent a kind of intellect/conscious energy, everything we experience, every idea, every activity, co-exists in us with its opposite.

There are so many concepts to grasp in the Major Arcana, that the student may feel overwhelmed. Luckily, the images on the Cards are pictorial representation of the  visual experiences of the Paths opening up a great deal of learning by meditating on them. These Qabalistic Images have been carefully assembled over the centuries by the experienced mind work of highly advanced women and men, who have at first traveled these inner Archetypal Roads of the Psyche and then meticulously laid down, in image, the details to assist latter generations. It is the shortcoming of most students who begin these  Astral paths, that at once encountering theses Tarot constructs, believing that they have a reality of their own. The Qabalistic Teacher must explain that only when the student is able to go beyond the lower Astral, can one touch upon realities that activate the symbols, i.e. "open the Gates" to greater Consciousness, i.e. travel the mystical paths of Soul/Pshyce developement, For instance, while traveling the Path of Shin, one may at first experience what is illustrated on the Aeon Card.
Diligent skrying, will soon project our consciousness beyond the visual construct into a understanding that the Path is the enervating, activating effect of the Cosmic Motive Principle on the individual consciousness.

That is to say, that on the probationary Path of Shin, the Fiery Spirit (kundalini) permeates the Personality of the individual, in the descent of Energy into Matter. Thus, the last illusions of  personality separateness are burned away.

The Tree of Life is as the Mental Universe. If we have learned any physics at all, we know that from the simplest concept, came all the complexity that is the Cosmos or One Mind.  In the Big Bang theory, a singularity, which came from nothing (Dark energy and Dark Matter), transformed by exploding outward, into nothingness and became many in somethingness. This is also a concept easily seen in the development of the human body, as a single celled zygote, divides into hundreds of thousands of cells, each and individual copy of the One, but ultimately ending up in cooperation as a human body. In the Tarot, The Fool, is the ultimate simplicity and The Universe is representative of the ultimate complexity and yet all the inbetween Cards are implicit, and unexpressed in The Fool. Therefore, in all the cards in-between we find the balance between what is expressed or unexpressed.

In time, we become an Avatar, with the intelligence to correct our own error. Especially so, when we understand that The Aeon, The Universe and The Moon, Tarot represent aspects of our individual waking consciousness that comprises a sensual-personality while also representing stages of impersonal Self -Awareness. Hence, The Aeon Card, or the Great Bear card, representing the Path of Shin, is where the aspirant to the Mysteries experiences the Personality being lifted from the tomb of matter and evaluated on the extent to which it has balanced the four alchemical elements of Malkuth; Intellect (Fire), emotions (Water), Spirit (Air) and physical-sensual being (Earth). This is also explains the fact that each individual aspirant encounters different experiences on the Paths.

It should be noted, that the patterns of the cards will be totally meaningless, unless the student understands what is symbolized by the four alchemical "Elements" and/or Elemental Forces. Every Qabalistic symbol represents to a specific part of the Whole Self.
Further understanding of The Aeon or Path of Shin, is in its meaning, "Tooth", which suggests hardness, sharpness and/or biting. It is often interpreted as the teeth which chew prior to the ingestion of energy into the system--in this case the Kundalini is released and kills the divided personality, by dealing a final blow to the perception of a separate and individual Personality, leaving the original Personality which is Child of God-The Horus who is a cooperation of Father-Mother and Child.

As I have mentioned, Crowley's Aeon card departs completely from the traditional Cards of the Ryder-Waite or Golden Dawn Tarot decks. The Aeon card is illustrative of Crowley's personal philosophy derived from The Book of Law, which he stated was revealed to him, thus forming the core of his teachings. He called the Aeon Card the Stele of Revealing.

In his explanation of the Aeon, Crowley claimed it superseded all traditional concepts of the Key (Judgment Card) because it shows the harmonious, spiritual state of human existence that will reside on this earth in the mid-twenty second century. As previously stated, this advanced human condition is illustrated by the Dark Sky Goddess Nuit arching over her consort, Hadit, who is the Golden Orb of Light. Their Union produces Horus, as shown both seated and standing, his passive and active forms. Crowley states that another name for Horus is  Heru, which is synonymous with Hru, which he calls "The Great Angel set over the Tarot".

Constantly, Qabalistic doctrine is a system of Gnosis (Knowledge) that evolves with the races of human kind, We have passed into the predicted 500 year period of extreme darkness and trial, preparatory to a new Aeon of Light. Thus, we have the letter Shin below the Standing Horus, in a flowery form and the the 3 Yods, each have a internal human shape that is arising to partake of the Light of the coming Aeon. Naturally the study of The Book of Law is recommended to further the understanding of this card of the new Aeon.
Hopefully, enough  knowledge has been presented in this  blog of the Aeon-key 20, to know that when this card is thrown during a reading, it states that a final decision has been reached.

When the Aeon or The Great Bear card is thrown during a divination, it implies:
  • Becoming ones self.
  • Most profound insight into the eternal cycles of becoming and passing.
  • This card shows that the beginning of the new that already carries it's end within itself.
  • Final decision.
  • Judgment.
  • Sentence.
  • Determination of a matter by the Soul, without appeal by the self- consciousness.
  • A matter has been determined without appeal on its plane.
  • The final decision has been made, and a new state of enlightenment is arising in the querent.

Thank you for your interest, comments and supportive donations. May you live long and prosper.


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