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 hisbook 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-Source), from Personality to the Higher Self.
On the Witches Tarot- Temperance card, this Solar source is shown around the head of the Greek Goddess Iris (The Holy Guardian Angel in Traditional Tarot decks), as a circle of golden solar light, the sign of the Sun and the Higher Mind of the Solar Logos. The Upper Supernal Triangle is shown on the Chest of the Angel surrounded in the "Cube of the Universe or Space", implying the Universal balance and creativity. In the language of flowers, the yellow Iris bespeaks a message of an eloquent nature. The Water of the Unconsciousness is the pool in which the foot of the Angel is bathed, with the other foot on the bank of consciousness.
She is pouring "liguid light" from one cup to another, mixing and tempering it so that a perfect mix can be created.
As the clouds part, the rainbow in the sky, represents hope, magic and miracles.
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.
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 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-Understanding. Thus, the central figure of the Witches Tarot is the Greek Goddess Iris and the Androgynous figure on the Thoth -Crowley-Harris- Art card.
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 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. We are not only to be Moons, reflections of a soul personality, but also the Solar Personality, that is the Divine Child/Psyche.
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 ,i.e. the process of actual experience ....one begins to Understand the Tarot.
The Art Card, which is more symbolic than the Witches 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 Deck card a 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!
This 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 or as the Golden Halo on the Goddess Iris.
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.
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 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 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).
The 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.
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).
As explained 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 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. 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.
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/Spiritual 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.
Around the Androgynous figure are the latin words, "Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem", when translated into English, means:" Visit the interior parts of the earth; by rectification thou shalt find the hidden stone". The "Philosophers Stone", being the ultimate achievement of alchemy.
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 process.
When the Art or Temperance card is thrown during a reading, the querent is experiencing or will soon experience:
Thank you for your interest and comments. May you live long and prosper.
Also doing business as: www.elitarotstrickingly.com