THE EMPEROR

Meditation on the Fourth Major Arcanum of the Tarot

THE EMPEROR
L’EMPEREUR

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
(Luke xiii, 35)
LETTER IV

The Emperor
THE EMPEROR

Dear Unknown Friend,
The less superficial a person is — and the more he knows and is capable of— the
greater is his authority. To be something, to know something and to be capable
of something is what endows a person with authority. One can also say that a per-
son has authority in proportion to what he unites within himself of the profundity
of mysticism, the direct wisdom of gnosis and the productive power of magic. Who-
soever has this to a certain degree can found a “school”. Whosoever has this to
a still higher degree can “lay down the law”.
It is authority alone which is the true and unique power of law. Compulsion
is only an expedient to which one takes recourse in order to remedy a lack of
77
!
78
MEDITATIONS ON THE TAKCTI
authority. Where there is authority, i.e. where there is present the breath of sacred
magic filled by the rays of light of gnosis emanated from the profound fire of
mysticism, there compulsion is superfluous.
Now, the Emperor of the fourth Arcanum of the Tarot does not have a sword
or any other weapon. He rules by means of the sceptre, and by the sceptre alone.
This is why the first idea that the Card naturally evokes is that of the authority
underlying law. The thesis which proceeds from meditation on the three preceding
Arcana is that all authority has its source in the ineffable divine name YHVH
and that all law derives from this.
The implication here is that the human bearer of true authority does not replace
divine authority but. on the contrary, cedes his place to it. He has to renounce
something to this end.
The Card teaches us in the first instance that the Emperor has renounced com-
pulsion and violence. He has no weapons. His right hand holds the sceptre for-
ward, on which his gaze is fixed, and his left hand holds his tightly-fastened belt.
He is neither standing nor sitting. He is simply leaning back against a lowered
throne and has only one foot placed on the ground. His legs are crossed. The shield
adorned with an eagle rests on the ground at his side. Lastly, he is wearing a large
and heavy crown.
The context of the Card expresses active renunciation rather than the renun-
ciation of constraint alone. The Emperor has renounced ease, being not seated.
He has renounced walking, being in a leaning position and having his legs cross-
ed. He may neither advance in order to take the offensive, nor move back in order
to retreat. His station is by his seat and his coat-of-arms. He is on sentry-duty and
as such he does not have freedom of movement. He is a guardian bound to his post.
What he guards is fundamentally the sceptre. Now the sceptre is not an im-
plement with which one is empowered to do something or other. It is, from a
practical point of view, a symbol serving nothing. The Emperor has therefore re-
nounced all action having pledged his right hand to the sceptre that he holds
before him. whereas his left hand holds his fastened belt. It is no longer free, be-
cause the Emperor restrains himself with it. It serves the function of holding the
impulsive and instinctive nature of the Emperor in check, so that it does not in-
tervene and divert him from his post as guardian.
The Emperor has therefore renounced movement by means of his legs and ac-
tion by means of his arms. At the same time, he wears a large and heavy crown —
and we have already meditated on the meaning of the crown with regard to that
of the Empress, which has a double meaning. It is the sign of legitimacy, on the
one hand, but it is also the sign of a task or a mission by which the crown is charg-
ed from above. Thus every crown is essentially a crown of thorns. Not only is it
heavy, but also it calls for a painful restraint with regard to the thought and free
or arbitrary imagination of the personality. It certainly emits rays outwards, but
these same rays become thorns for the personality within. They play the role of
nails piercing and crucifying each thought or image of the personal imagination.
LETTER IV THE EMPEROR
79
Here true thought receives confirmation and subsequent illumination; false or
irrelevant thought is riveted and reduced to impotence. The crown of the Emperor
signifies the renunciation of freedom of intellectual movement, just as his arms
and legs signify his renunciation of freedom of action and movement. He is de-
prived of the three so-called “natural” liberties of the human being —those of
opinion, word and movement. Authority demands this.
But this is not all. The shield bearing an eagle rests on the ground at his side.
The Emperor does not hold it with his hand, as the Empress does. The shield
is certainly there, but it belongs rather to the throne than to the person of the
Emperor. This means to say that the purpose for which the Emperor is on sentry-
duty is not his but that of the throne. The Emperor does not have a personal mis-
sion; he has renounced this in favour of the throne. Or, in esoteric terms, he has
no name; he is anonymous, because the name —the mission —belongs to the
throne. He is not there in his own name but rather in the name of the throne.
This is the fourth renunciation of the emperor —the renunciation of a personal
mission or a name, in the esoteric meaning of the word.
It is said that, “Nature has a horror of emptiness” {horror vacui). The spiritual
counter-truth here is that, “the Spirit has a horror of fullness”. It is necessary to
create a natural emptiness — and this is what renunciation achieves — in order for
the spiritual to manifest itself. The beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount (Mat-
thew v, 3-12) state this fundamental truth. The first beatitude—”Blessed are the
poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”—means to say that those who
are rich in spirir, who are filled with the “spiritual kingdom of man”, have no
room for the “kingdom of heaven”. Revelation presupposes emptiness — space put
at its disposal —in order to manifest itself. This is why it is necessary to renounce
personal opinion in order to receive the revelarion of the truth, personal action
in order to become an agent for sacred magic, the way (or method) of personal
development in order to be guided by the Master of ways, and one’s personally
chosen mission in order to be charged with a mission from above.
The Emperor has established in himself this fourfold emptiness. This is why
he is “Emperor”; this is why he is authority. He has made a place in himself for
the divine name YHVH, which is the source of authority. He has renounced per-
sonal intellectual initiative —and the emptiness which results is filled by divine
initiative or the YOD of the sacred name. He has renounced action and move-
ment—and the void which results is filled by revelationary action and magical
movement from above, i.e. by the HE and VAU of the divine name. Finally, he
has renounced his personal mission, he has become a n o n y m o u s – a n d the empti-
ness which results is filled with authority (or the second HE of the divine name),
i e . he becomes the source of law and order.
Lao Tzu reveals the arcanum of authority in his Tao Te Ching. He says:
Thirty spokes unite in one nave, and because of the part where
nothing exists we have the use of a carriage wheel. Clay is mould-
80
MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT
ed into vessels, and because of the space where nothing exists
we are able to use them as vessels. Doors and windows are cut
out in the walls of a house, and because they are empty spaces,
we are able to use them. Therefore, on the one hand we have
the benefit of existence, and on the other, we make use of non-
existence . . . [and again: j Be humble, and you will remain en-
tire. Be bent, and you will remain straight. Be vacant, and you
will remain full. Be worn, and you will remain new. He who has
little will receive. He who has much will be embarrassed.
Therefore the sage keeps to One and becomes the standard for
the world. He does not display himself; therefore he shines. He
does not approve himself; therefore he is noted. He does not
praise himself; therefore he has merit. He does not glory in
himself; therefore he excels. And because he does not compete;
therefore no one in the world can compete with h i m . . . (Lao
Tzu, Tao Te Ching xi and xxii; trsl. Ch’u Ta-Kao, London, 1953,
p. 23 and p. 34)
. . . because he has authority.
God governs the world by authority, and not by force. If this were not so, there
would be neither freedom nor law in the world; and the first three petitions of
the Lord’s Prayer (Pater Noster): “Sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat regnum
tuum. Fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra”, would lose all meaning. He
who prays these petitions does so solely with the purpose of affirming and in-
creasing divine authority and not divine power. The God who is almightly— not
virtually but actually—has no need at all to be petitioned that his reign may come
and that his will may be done. The meaning of this prayer is that God is powerful
only in so far as his authority is freely recognised and accepted. Prayer is the act
of such recognition and acceptance. One is free to be believing or unbelieving.
Nothing and no one can compel us to have faith — no scientific discovery, no logical
argument, no physical torture can force us to believe, i.e. to freely recognise and
accept the authority of God. But on the other hand, once this authority is recog-
nised and accepted, the powerless becomes powerful. Then divine power can mani-
fest itself—and this is why it is said that a grain of faith is sufficient to move
mountains.
Now, the problem of authority is at the same time of mystical, gnostic, magical
and Hermetic significance. It comprises the Christian mystery of crucifixion and
the “mystery of withdrawal” (sod hatsimtsum) of the Lurianic Cabbala. Here are
some considerations which can help us to arrive at a most profound meditation
upon this mystery.
The Christian world worships the Crucifix, i.e. the image expressing the paradox
of almighty God reduced to a state of extreme powerlessness. And it is in this
paradox that one sees the highest revelation of the Divine in the whole history
LETTER IV T i l t EMPEROR
HI
of mankind. One sees there the most perfect revelation of the God of love. The
Christian Creed says:
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus
est. (For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suf-
fered death and was buried.)
The only Son of the eternal Father nailed to the cross for our sake — this is what
is divinely impressed upon all open souls, including the robber crucified to the
right. This impression is unforgettable and inexpressable. It is the immediate
breath of God which has inspired and still inspires thousands of martyrs, confes-
sors of the faith, virgins and recluses.
But it is not so that every human being finding himself facing the Crucifix may
be thus divinely moved. There are those who react in the opposite way. It was so
at the time of Calvary; it is so today.
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and
saying: . . . If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.
(Matthew xxvii, 39-40)
The chief sacrificers, with the scribes and elders, also mocked him, saying:
He saved others; he cannot save himself! If he is the king of
Israel, let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe
in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now. if he loves
him! (Matthew xxvii, 42-43)
This is the other reaction. Nowadays we encounter exactly the same, for example,
in Soviet radio broadcasts from Moscow. The argument from Moscow is always
the same: if God exists, he must know that we, the communists, dethrone him.
Why does he not give a visible sign, if not of his power, at least of his existence?
why does he not defend his own intetests!? This is in other words the old argu-
ment: Come down from the cross, and we will believe in you.
I cite these well-known things because they reveal a certain dogma underlying
them. It is the dogma or philosophical principle which states that truth and power
are According to this dogma or philosophical principle (which has become that of
modern technological science) power is the absolute criterium and supreme ideal
of truth. Only that which is powerful is of the Divine.
Now there are open and secret worshippers of the idol of power (for it is an
idol and the source of all idolatry) — also in Christian factions or in religious and
spiritual circles in general. I am not speaking about Christian or spiritually-minded
82
MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT
princes or politicians who cover power, but rather about the adherents to doc-
trines advancing the primacy of power. Here there are two categories: those who
aspire to the ideal of the “superman”, and those who believe in a God that is ac-
tually almighty and therefore responsible for all that happens.
Amongst esotericists. occultists and magicians there are many—be it openly
or secretly—who aspire to the ideal of the superman. In the meantime, they often
pose as masters or high-priests worthy of the acclaim of the future superman. They
are. at the same time, singularly in agreement in that they raise God far, very far,
to the heights of Absolute Abstraction so that he does not discomfort them by
his too-concrete presence, and in order that they have room for themselves to be
able to develop their own greatness without the rival grandeur of the Divine to
discomfort them. They build their individual towers of Babel which fall, as a rule,
according to the law of all towers of Babel, and experience, sooner or later, a salutary
fall, as is the teaching of the sixteenth Card of the Tarot. They do not fall from
a real height into a real abyss; it is only from an imaginary- height that they fall
and they fall only to the ground, i.e. they learn the lesson that we human beings
of today have all learned of have still to learn.
The worship of the idol of power conceived of as the superman, above all when
one identifies oneself with it, is relatively inoffensive —being, fundamentally, in-
fantile. But this is not so with the other category of power worshippers, namely
those who project this ideal onto God himself. Their faith in God depends only
on the power of God; if God was powerless, they would not believe in him. It
is they who teach that God has created souls predestined to eternal damnation
and others predestined to salvation; it is they who make God responsible for the
entire history of the human face, including all its atrocities. God, they say, “chas-
tises” his disobedient children by means of wars, revolutions, tyrannies and other
similar things. How could it be otherwise? God is almighty, therefore all that hap-
pens is only able to happen through his action or with his consent.
The idol of power has such a hold on some human minds that they prefer a
God who is a mixture of good and evil, provided that he is powerful, to a God
of love who governs only by the intrinsic authority of the Divine — by truth, beauty
and goodness — i.e. they prefer a God who is actually almighty to the crucified God.
However the father in the parable of the prodigal child had neither sent his
son far from his paternal home in order to lead a life of debauchery, nor had he
prevented him from leaving and forced him to lead a life which was pleasing to
him (the father). All he did was to await his return and to go and meet him when
the prodigal son was approaching his father’s home. Everything which took place
in the story of the prodigal son, save for his return to the father, was clearly con-
trary to the w’ill of the father.
Now the history of the human race since the Fall is that of the prodigal son.
It is not a matter of “the law of involution and evolution according to the divine
plan” of modern Theosophists. but rather of an abuse of freedom similar to that
of the prodigal son. And the key formula of the history of humanity is to be found
LETTER IV THE KMPEROR
83
neither in the progress of civilisation nor in the process of evolution or in any other
“process”, but rather in the parable of the prodigal son, in the words:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no
longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired
servants. (Luke xv, 18-19)
Is mankind therefore solely responsible for its history? Without a doubt —
because it is not God who has willed it to be as such. God is crucified in it.
One understands this when one takes account of the significance of the fact
of human freedom, and likewise the freedom of the beings of the spiritual hier-
archies—the Angels, Archangels, Principaliries, Powers, Virtues, Dominions,
Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. All these beings —including man (the
Iscbim) — hzve an existence that is either real or illusionary. If they have a real ex-
istence, if they are not a mirage, they are independent entities endowed not only
with a phenomenal independence but also a noumenal independence. Now,
noumenal independence is what we understand by freedom. Freedom, in fact,
is nothing other than the real and complete existence of a being created by God.
To be free and to exist are synonymous from a moral and spiritual point of view.
Just as morality would not exist without freedom, so would an unfree spiritual
entity—soul or spirit — not exist for itself, but would be part of another spiritual
entity which is free, i.e. which leally exisrs. Freedom is the spiritual existence of
beings.
When we read in the Scripture that God created all beings, the essential mean-
ing here is that God has given freedom —or existence —to all beings. Freedom
once having been given, God does not take it back. This is why the beings of the
ten hierarchies mentioned above are immortal. Death — not separation from the
body, but real death — would be the absolute deprivation of liberty, i.e. complete
destruction of the existence given by God. But who or what can take the divine
gift of freedom, the divine gift of existence, from a being? Freedom, existence,
is inalienable, and the beings of the ten hierarchies are immortal. The statement:
freedom or existence is inalienable, can be understood as the highest gift, the
very greatest value imaginable — then this would be a foretaste of paradise; or as
condemnation to “perpetual existence”-then this would be a foretaste of hell,
ecause no one “sends” us anywhere —freedom not being a theatre. It is we our-
selves who make the choice. Love existence, and you have chosen heaven; hate it,
and there you have chosen hell.
Now, God is with respect to free beings either the ruling King (in the sense
of authority such as that taught by the fourth Arcanum of the Tarot) or the Cruci-
fied. He is King with regard to those of his beings who voluntarily accept (who
“believe”) his authority; he is Crucified with respect to those beings who abuse
their freedom and “worship idols”, i.e. who replace divine authority by a substitute.
King and Crucified at one and the same time — this is the mystery of Pilate’s
84
MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT
inscription on the cross of Calvary: lesus Nazarenus Rexjudaeorum (cf.John xix,
19: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”). Almighty and powerless, both at
once —this is why miracles of healing in human history were able to be accom-
plished by saints whilst bloody wars and disasters raged around them!
Freedom — freedom is the true throne of God and is his cross at the same time.
Freedom is the key to comprehension of the role of God in history— to comprehen-
sion of the God of love and the God-King, without the sacrilege of making him
a tyrant and without the blasphemy of doubting his power or of doubting his
very existence. . .God is all-powerful in history in as much as there is faith; and
he is crucified in so far as one turns away from him.
Thus, divine crucifixion follows from the fact of freedom or the fact of the real
existence of the beings of the ten hierarchies, when it is a matter of a world governed
by divine authority and not by compulsion.
Let us turn now to the idea of tsimtsum — the “withdrawal of God”—of the
Lurianic school of the Cabbala. The doctrine oftsimtsum reveals one of the “three
mysteries” in the Cabbala: sod hajichud, the mystery of union; sod hatsimtsum,
the mystery of concentration or divine withdrawal; sod hagilgul, the mystery of
reincarnation or the “revolution of souls”. The two other “mysteries”— the mystery
of union and that of the revolution of souls —will be treated later, in other Letters
(Letter X, for example). Concerning the “mystery of the divine withdrawal (or
concentration)” which interests us here, it is a question of the thesis that the ex-
istence of the universe is rendered possible by the act of contraction of God within
himself. God made a “place” for the world in abandoning a region interior to
himself.
The first act of En-Soph, the Infinite Being, is therefore not a
step outside but a step inside, a movement of recoil, of falling
back upon oneself, of withdrawing into oneself. Instead of
emanation we have the opposite, contraction. . .The first act of
all is not an act of revelation but one of limitation. Only in the
second act does God send out a ray of His light and begin His
revelation, or rather His unfolding as God the Creator, in the
primordial space of His own creation. More than that, every new
act of emanation and manifestation is preceded by one of con-
centration and retraction. (Gershom G Scholem, Major Trends
in Jewish Mysticism, London, 1955, p. 261)
In other words, in order to create the world ex nihilo, God had first to bring
the void itself into existence. He had to withdraw within in order to create a mystical
space, a space without his presence — the void. And it is in thinking this thought
that we assist at the birth of freedom. For, as Berdyaev has formulated it:
Freedom is not determined by God; it is part of the nothing
out of which God created the world. (Nicolas Berdyaev, The
Destiny of Man, London, 1937, p. 33)
LETTER IV THE EMPEROR
85
The void —the mystical space from which God withdrew himself through his act
of tsimtsum — is the place of origin of freedom, i.e. the place of the origin of an
“ex-istence” which is absolute potentiality, not in any way determined. And all
of the beings of the ten created hierarchies are the children of God and freedom —
born of divine plenitude and the void. They carry within themselves a “drop” of
the void and a “spark” of God. Their existence, their freedom, is the void within
them. Their essence, their spark of love, is the divine “blood” within them. They
are immortal, because the void is indestructible, and the monad proceeding from
God is also indestructible. Further, these two indestructible elements —the meonic
element (uii 6v— void) and the pleromic element (rUr|ptoua —plenitude) —
are indissolubly bound to one another.
The idea of tsimtsum, the withdrawal of God in order to create freedom, and
that of divine crucifixion on account of freedom, are in complete accordance. For
the withdrawal of God in order to make a space for freedom and his renunciation
of the use of his power against the abuse of freedom (within determined limits)
are only two aspects of the same idea.
It goes without saying that the idea of tsimtsum (and that of divine crucifix-
ion) is inapplicable when God is conceived of in the sense of pantheism. Panthe-
ism, like materialism, does not admit the real existence of individual beings. There-
fore the fact of freedom — not merely apparent freedom —is excluded. For pan-
theism and for materialism there is no question —and cannot be —of a divine
withdrawal or a divine crucifixion. On the other hand, the Cabbalistic doctrine
of tsimtsum is the only serious explanation that 1 know of concerning creation
exnihilo which is of a kind to act as a counterbalance to pure and simple pan-
theism. Moreover, it constitutes a deep link between the Old and New Testament,
in bringing to light the cosmic significance of the idea of sacrifice.
Now, the reflection of the idea of divine withdrawal and divine crucifixion is
found to be indicated, as we have seen, in the fourth Arcanum of the Tarot, the
Emperor. The Emperor reigns by pure authority; he reigns awetfree beings, i.e.
not by means of the sword, but by means of the sceptre. The sceptre itself bears
a globe with a cross above. The sceptre therefore expresses in as clear as possible
a manner the central idea of the Arcanum: just as the world (the globe) is ruled
by the cross, so is the power of the Emperor over the terrestrial globe subject to
the sign of the cross. The power of the Emperor reflects divine power. And just
as the latter is effected by divine contraction (tsimtsum) and by voluntary divine
Powerlessness (crucifixion), so the power of the Emperor is effected by the con-
traction of his personal forces (the belt drawn tight by the Emperor) and by volun-
tary immobility (the crossed legs of the Emperor) at his post (the seat or throne
of the Emperor).
The post of the Emperor. . .what an abundance of ideas concerning the post—its
historical mission, its functions in the light of natural right, and its role in the
light of divine r i g h t – o f the Emperor of Christendom are to be found amongst
mediaeval authors!
86
MEDITATIONS ON Tl II- IAROT
As it is suitable that the institution of a city or a kingdom be made according
to the model of the institution of the world, similarly it is necessary to draw from
divine government the order (ratio) of the government of a city— this is the fun-
damental thesis advanced on this subject by St. Thomas Aquinas (De regno xiv,
1). This is why authors of the Middle Ages could not imagine Christianity without
an Emperor, just as they could not imagine the Universal Church without a pope.
Because if the world is governed hierarchically, Christianity or the Sanctum Im-
perium cannot be otherwise. Hierarchy is a pyramid which exists only when it is
complete. And it is the Emperor who is at its summit. Then come the kings, dukes,
noblemen, citizens and peasants. But it is the crown of the Emperor which con-
fers royalty to the royaJ crowns from which the ducal crowns and all the other crowns
in turn derive their authority.
The post of the Emperor is nevertheless not only that of the last (or, rather,
the first) instance of sole legitimacy. It was also magical, if we understand by magic
the action of correspondences between that which is below and that which is above.
It was the principle itself of authority from which all lesser authorities derived
not only theit legitimacy but also their hold over the consciousness of the people.
This is why royal crowns one after another lost their lustre and were eclipsed after
the imperial crown was eclipsed. Monarchies are unable to exist for long without
the Monarchy; kings cannot apportion the crown and sceptre of the Emperor
among themselves and pose as emperors in their particular countries, because the
shadow of the Emperor is always present. And if in the past it was the Emperor
who gave lustre to the royal crowns, it was later the shadow of the absent Emperor
which obscured the royal crowns and, consequently, all the other crowns —those
of dukes, ptince5, counts, etc. A pyramid is not complete without its summit;
hierarchy does not exist when it is incomplete. Without an Emperor, there will
be, sooner or later, no more kings. When there are no kings, there will be, sooner
or later, no more nobility. When there is no more nobility, there will be. sooner
or later, no more bourgeoisie or peasants. This is how one arrives at the dictator-
ship of the proletariat, the class hostile to the hietarchical principle, which latter,
however, is the reflection of divine order. This is why the proletariat professes
atheism.
Europe is haunted by the shadow of the Emperor. One senses his absence just
as vividly as in former times one sensed his presence. Because the emptiness of
the wound speaks, that which wc miss knows how to make us sense it.
Napoleon, eye-witness to the French Revolution, understood the direction which
Europe had taken — the direction towards the complete destruction of hierarchy.
And he sensed the shadow of the Emperor. He knew what had to be restored in
Europe, which was not the royal throne of France— because kings cannot exist for
long without the Emperor— but rather the imperial throne of Europe. So he de-
cided to fill the gap himself. He made himself Emperor and he made his brothers
kings. But it was to the sword that he took recourse. Instead of ruling by the
sceptre — the globe bearing the cross — he made the decision to rule by the sword.
LETTER IV THE EMPEROR
87
But. “all who take up the sword perish by the sword” (Matthew xxvi, 52). Hitler
also had the delirium of desire to occupy the empty place of the Emperor. He
bel|ieved he could establish the “thousand-year empire” of tyranny by means of
the sword. But again —”all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword”.
No, the post of the Emperor does not belong any longer either to those who
desire it or to the choice of the people. It is reserved to the choice of heaven alone.
It has become occult. And the crown, the sceptre, the throne, the coat-of-arms
of the Emperor are to be found in the catacombs… in the catacombs — this means
to say: under absolute protection.
Now, the Emperor on the fourth Card is alone, without a court or retinue. His
throne is in no way to be found in a room of the imperial palace, but rather in
the open —in the open in an uncultivated field, not located in a town. A meagre
clump of grass by his foot is there as the whole imperial court — as all the witnesses
of his imperial splendour. But the clear sky is spread above him. He is a silhouette
on the background of the sky. Alone in the presence of the sky—this is how the
Emperor is.
One could ask: Why is the astonishing fact that the Emperor is found with his
throne in the open air (under the starry sky, if you wish) overlooked by so many
authors on the Tarot? Why have they not stated the fact that the Emperor is alone,
without a court or retinue? I believe that it is because it is rarely that one lets the
symbol, the image of the symbol as such, say all that it has to say through its unique
context. One lets it say a little, and one is suddenly more interested in one’s own
thoughts, i.e. in what one has to say oneself, rather than what the symbol has to say.
Yet the Card is specific: the Emperor is alone in open air in an uncultivated
field and with a tuft of grass as his only company—save for the sky and the earth.
The Card teaches us the arcanum of the authority of the Emperor, although it
may be unrecognised, occult, unknown and unappreciated. It is a matter of the
crown, the sceptre, the throne and the coat-of-arms being guarded, without any
witnesses other than the sky and the earth, by a solitary man leaning against the
throne, with his legs crossed, wearing a crown, holding the sceptre and clasping
his belt. It is authority as such and it is the post of authority as such which is ex-
pressed here.
Authority is the magic of spiritual profundity filled with wisdom. Or, in other
words, it is the result of magic based on gnosis due to mystical experience. Authority
is the second HE of the divine name YHVH. But it is not the second HE taken
separately; it is only when the whole divine name manifests itself. For this reason
it is more correct to say that authority is the completely-manifested divine name.
The completely-manifested divine name signifies at the same time a post, the
post of the Emperor, or the state of consciousness of the complete synthesis of
mysticism, gnosis and sacred magic. And it is this state of consciousness of com-
plete synthesis which is initiation. . initiation understood not in the sense of ritual
nor in the sense of the possession of information held to be secret, but rather in
the sense of the state of consciousness where eternity and the present moment
88
MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT
are one. It is the simultaneous vision of the tempotal and the eternal, of that which
is below and that which is above.
The formula of initiation remains always the same:
Verum sine mendacio, certum et verissimum: Quod est inferius,
est sicut quod est supertus; et quod est superius, est sicut quod
est inferius, ad perpetranda miracula rei unius. (Tabula
Smaragdina, 1-2)
This unity actualised, contemplated, practised and understood is initiation or “the
sanctification of the divine name in man”, which is the deeper meaning of the
first petition of the Pater Noster: SANCTIFICETUR NOMEN TUUM.
The Emperor signifies the authority of initiation or of the initiate. It is due
to the complete divine name, from the Cabbalistic viewpoint —to the “magical
great arcanum”, from the point of view of magic —and to the “philosopher’s stone”,
from the standpoint of alchemy. It is, in other words, the unity and synthesis of
mysticism, gnosis and magic. This unity or synthesis we have designated in the
second Letter as “Hermetic philosophy”, bound up with the Hermetic-philosophi-
cal sense. This Hermetic philosophy—it is necessary to repeat —does not signify
a philosophy derived 01 disengaged from the organism of the unity of mysticism,
gnosis and sacred magic. It is this very unity in manifestation. Hermetic philosophy
is as inseparable from the unity, mysticism-gnosis-magic, as is the second HE from
the divine name. It is authority or the manifestation of the unity, mysticism-gnosis-
magic.
Hermetic philosophy corresponds to the stage of verissimum (“most true”) in
that which is verum, sine mendacio, et certum (“true it is, without falsehood, and
certain”) in the epistcmological formula of the Emerald Table. For it is this which
is the summary of all mystical experience, gnostic revelation and practical magic.
It is spontaneous mystical experience which becomes “true” (verum), or reflected
in consciousness (gnosis), and then becomes “certain” (certum) through its magical
realisation — and which is then reflected a second time (the second HE, or the
“second gnosis”, of the divine name) in the domain of pure thought based on
pure experience, where it is examined and finally summarised, and thus becomes
“most true” (verissimum).
The formula: verum, sine mendacio, certum et verissimum therefore states the
principle of epistemology (or “gnoseology”) of Hermetic philosophy, with its triple
touchstone. This principle can be formulated in several ways. Here is one: “That
which is absolutely subjective (pure mystical experience) must objectivise itself
in consciousness and be accepted there as true (gnostic revelation), then prove
to be certain by its objective fruits (sacred magic) and, lastly, prove to be absolutely
true in the light of pure thought based on pure subjective and objective experience
(Hermetic philosophy).” It is a matter, therefore, of the four different senses; the
mystical sense or spiritual touch, the gnostic sense or spiritual hearing, the magical
LETTER IV THE EMPEROR
89
sense or sense of spiritual vision and, lastly, the Hermetic-philosophical sense or
sense of spiritual comprehension. The triple touchstone of Hermetic philosophy
is therefore the intrinsic value of a revelation (verum, sine mendacio), its construc-
tive fruitfulness (certum) and its concordance with earlier revelations, with the
laws of thought and with all available experience (verissimum). In Hermetic phi-
losophy something is absolutely true, therefore, only when it is of divine origin
and bears fruit in conformity with its origin, and is in accordance with the cate-
gorical exigencies of thought and experience.
The Hermeticist is therefore a person who is at one and the same time a mystic,
a gnostic, a magician and a “realist-idealist” philosopher. He is a realist-idealist
philosopher because he relies as much on experience as on speculative thought,
as much on facts as on ideas, because facts and ideas are for him only two aspects
of the same reality-ideality, i.e. the same truth.
Hermetic philosophy, being the summary and synthesis of mysticism, gnosis
and sacred magic, is not a philosophy among other philosophies, or a particular
philosophical system amongst other particular philosophical systems. Just as the
Catholic Church, being catholic or universal, cannot consider itself as a particular
church among other particular churches, nor consider its dogmas as religious opin-
ions among other religious opinions or confessions, so Hermetic philosophy, be-
ing the synthesis of all that which is essential in the spiritual life of humanity,
cannot consider itself as a philosophy amongst many others. Presumption? It would
be, without any doubt, a monstrous presumption if it were a matter of human
invention instead of revelation from above. In fact, if you have a truth revealed
from above, if the acceptance of this truth brings miracles of healing, peace and
vivification with it, and if, lastly, it explains to you a thousand unexplained things
— that are inexplicable without it — can you then consider it as an opinion among
other opinions?
Dogmatism? Yes, if one understands by “dogma” the certainty due to revela-
tions of divine worth which prove fruitful and constructive, and due to the con-
firmation that they receive from reason and experience together. When one has
certainty based on the concordance of divine revelation, divine-human operation,
and human understanding, how can one act as if one did not have it? Is it truly
necessary “to deny three times before the cock crows” in order to be accepted into
the good company of “free spirits” and “non-dogmatics”, and to be chauffeured
along with them by the fire of things relating to human creation? Heresy? Yes,
if by “heresy” one understands the primacy of universal revelation, of good works
universally recognised as such, and of the ideal of universality amongst philoso-
phies.
Hermetic philosophy is not a particular philosophy amongst particular existing
Philosophies. It is not so already for the sole reason that it does not operate with
univocal concepts and their verbal definitions, as do philosophies, but rather with
arcana and their symbolic expressions. Compare the Emerald Table with The
Critique of Pure Reason by Kant and you will see the difference. The Emerald
90
MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT
Table states the fundamental arcana of mystical-gnostic-magical-philosophical
work; The Critique of Pure Reason elaborates an edifice composed of univocal
concepts (such as the categories of quantity, quality, relarion and modality) which,
all together, portray the transcendentalmethod’of Kant. i.e. the method of “think-
ing about the act of thought” or “reflection about reflection”. This method, how-
ever, is an aspect of the eighteenth Arcanum of the Tarot (The Moon), as we shall
see, and this Arcanum, expressed by the symbol of the Card “The Moon”, teaches
in the Hermetic way the essence of what Kant taught in the philosophical way
about the transcendental method.
So, is Hermetic philosophy only symbolism pure and simple, and has it nothing
to do with the methods of philosophical and scientific reasoning?
Yes and no. Yes, in so far as Hermetic philosophy is of an esoteric nature, i.e.
it consists of arcana orientated towards the mystery and expressed in symbols. No.
in so far as it exercises a stimulating effect on the philosophical and scientific reason-
ing of its adherents. It is wrapped, so to say, in a philosophical and scientific in-
tellectual penumbra, which is due to the activity of its adherents pursuing the
aim of translating, in so far as it is possible to do so, the arcana and the symbols
of Hermetic philosophy into univocal concepts and verbal definitions. It is a pro-
cess of crystallisation, because the translation of multivocal concepts or arcana in-
to univocal concepts is comparable to the transition from the state of organic life
to the mineral state. It is thus that the occult sciences —such as the Cabbala, as-
trology and alchemy—are derived from Hermetic philosophy. These sciences are
able to have their own secrets, but the arcana which are reflected in them belong
to the domain of Hermetic philosophy. In so far as the intellectualisation of Her-
metic philosophy is of the nature of commentary and corollary, it is legitimate
and even indispensable. For then one will translate each arcanum into many
univocal concepts — three for example —and, by this very fact, one will help the
intellect to habituate itself to think Hermetically, i.e. in multi-vocal concepts or
arcana. But when the intellectualisation of Hermetic philosophy pursues the aim
of creating an autonomous system of univocal concepts without formal contradic-
tion between them, it commits an abuse. For instead of helping human reason
to raise itself above itself, it would set up a greater obstacle for it. It would capti-
vate it instead of freeing it.
The occult sciences are therefore derived from Hermetic philosophy by way of
intellectualisation. This is why one should not consider symbols — the Major Ar-
cana of the Tarot, for example —as allegorical expressions of theories or concepts
of these sciences. For it is the opposite which is true: it is the doctrines of the oc-
cult sciences which are derived from symbols —of the Tarot or other symbols —
and it is they which are to be considered as intellectually “allegorical” expressions
of the symbols and arcana of Hermetic esotericism. Thus, it would not do to say:
the fourth Card “The Emperor” is the symbol of the astrological doctrine con-
cerning Jupiter. One would rather say: the Arcanum of the fourth Card “The
Emperor” is also revealed in the astrological doctrine concerning Jupiter. The cor-
respondence as such remains intact, but there is a world of difference between
LETTER IV THE EMPEROR
91
these two statements here. Because in the case of the first statement, one remains
an “astrologer” and nothing but an astrologer; whilst in the case of the second
statement. one is thinking as a Hermeticist, although remaining an astrologer
if one is one.
Hermetic philosophy is not composed of the Cabbala, astrology, magic and
alchemy. These four branches sprouting from the trunk do not make the trunk,
rather they live from the trunk. The trunk is the manifested unity of mysticism,
gnosis and sacred magic. There are no theories; there is only experience, including
here the intellectual experience of arcana and symbols. Mystical experience is the
root, the gnostic experience of revelation is its sap and the experience or practice
of sacred magic is its wood. For this reason its teaching —or the “body” of its tra-
dition—consists of spiritual exercises and all its arcana (including the Arcana of
the Tarot) are practical spiritual exercises, whose aim is to awaken from sleep ever-
deeper layers of consciousness. Necessary commentaries and corollaries accompany
this practice and constitute the “bark” of the trunk. Thus, the “key” to the Apoc-
alypse of St. J o h n is nowhere to be f o u n d . . . for it is not at all a matter of inter-
preting it with a view to extracting a philosophical, metaphysical or historical
system. The key to the Apocalypse is to practise it, i.e. to make use of it as a book
of spiritual exercises which awaken from sleep ever-deeper layers of consciousness.
The seven letters to the churches, the seven seals of the sealed book, the seven
trumpets and the seven vials signify, all together, a course of spiritual exercises
composed of twenty-eight exercises. For as the Apocalypse is a revelation put into
writing, it is necessary, in order to understand it, to establish in oneself a state
of consciousness which is suited to receive revelations. It is the state of concentra-
tion without effort (taught by the first Arcanum), followed by a vigilant inner
silence (taught by the second Arcanum), which becomes an inspired activity of
imagination and thought, where the conscious self acts together with super-
consciousness (teaching of the third Arcanum). Lastly, the conscious self halts its
creative activity and contemplates —in letting pass in review—everything which
preceded, with a view to summarising it (practical teaching of the fourth Arcanum).
The mastery of these four psychurgical operations, symbolised by “The Magician”,
The High Priestess”, “The Empress” and “The Emperor”, is the key to the Apoca-
lypse. One will search in vain for another.
The Gospels, likewise, are spiritual exercises, i.e. one has not only to read and
re-read them, but also to plunge entirely into their element, to breath their air,
to Participate as an eye-witness, as it were, in the events described there — and all
this not in a scrutinising way, but as an “admirer”, with ever-growing admiration,
The Old Testament also contains parts which are spiritual exercises. The Jewish
Cabbalists— the author or authors of the Zobar, for example — made such use of
it, and it is thus that the Cabbala originated and that it lives. The difference be-
tween Cabbalists and the other faithful depends only on the fact that the former
drew spiritual exercises from the Scripture whilst the latter studied it and believed
it.
The aim of spiritual exercises is depth. It is necessary to become deep in order
92
MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT
to be able to attain experience and knowledge of profound things. And it is sym-
bolism which is the language of d e p t h – t h u s arcana, expressed by symbols, are
both the means and the aim of the spiritual exercises of which the living tradi-
tion of Hermetic philosophy is composed.
Spiritual exercises in common form the common link that unites Hermeticists.
It is not knowledge in common which unites them, but rather the spiritual exer-
cises and the experience which goes hand in hand with them. If three people from
different countries were to meet each other, having made the book of Genesis
by Moses, the Gospel of St. John, and the vision of Ezekiel, the subject of spiritual
exercises for many years, they would do so in brotherhood, although the one would
know the history of humanity, the other would have the science of healing and
the third would make a profound Cabbalist. That which one knows is the result
of personal experience and orientation, whilst depth, the niveau to which one
attains —disregarding the aspect and extent of knowledge that one has gained —is
what one has in common. Hermeticism, the Hermetic tradition, is in the first
place and above all a certain degree of depth, a certain niveau of consciousness.
And it is the practice of spiritual exercises which safeguards this.
With respect to the knowledge of individual Hermeticists —and this is applicable
to initiates also —it depends upon the individual vocation of each one of them.
The task that one pursues determines the nature and the extent not only of
knowledge but also of the personal experience upon which this knowledge is based.
One has the experience and gains knowledge of that which is necessary for the
accomplishment of the task which proceeds from one’s individual vocation. In
other words, one knows that which is necessary in order to be informed and to
be able to orientate oneself in the domain relevant to one’s individual vocation.
Thus a Hermeticist whose vocation is healing would know things about the rela-
tionships existing between consciousness, the system of the “lotus flowers” or
chakras, the nervous system and the system of endocrine glands, that another
Hermeticist, whose vocation is the spiritual history of humanity, would not know.
But this latter, in his turn, would know things ignored by the healer—facts of
the past and of the present concerning relationships between the spiritual hierar-
chies and humanity, between that which took place or is taking place above and
that which took place or is taking place below.
But this knowing, in so far as it is not a matter of arcana, consists of facts—
though often of a purely spiritual nature —and not theories. Thus, for example,
reincarnation is in no way a theory which one has to believe or not believe. In
Hermeticism no one would dream of putting forward a case in order to persuade,
or even to dissuade, people of the truth of the “reincarnationist theory”. For the
Hermeticist it is a fact which is either known through experience or ignored. Just
as one does not make propaganda for or against the fact that we sleep at night
and wake up anew each morning —for this is a matter of experience —so is the
fact that we die and are born anew a matter of experience, i.e. either one has cer-
tainty about it or else one does not. But those who arc certain should know thai
LETTER IV THE EM PEKOR
93
ignorancc of reincarnation often has very profound and even sublime reasons as-
sociated with the vocation of the person in question. When, for example, a per-
son has a vocation which demands a maximum of concentration in the present,
he may renounce all spiritual memories of the past. Because the awakened memory
is not always beneficial; it is often a burden. It is so, above all. when it is a matter
of a vocation which demands an attitude entirely free of all prejudice, as is the
case with the vocations of priest, doctor and judge. The priest, doctor and judge
have to concentrate themselves in such a way on the tasks of the present that they
must not be distracted by memories of former existences.
One can perform miracles without the memory of former lives, as was the case
with the holy vicar of Ars —and one can also perform miracles, wholly in posses-
sion of this memory, as was the case with Monsieur Philip of Lyons. For reincarna-
tion is neither a dogma, i.e. a truth necessary for salvation, nor a heresy, i.e. con-
trary to a truth necessary for salvation. It is simply a fact of experience, just as sleep
and heredity are. As such, it is neutral. Everything depends on its interpretation.
One can interpret it in such a manner as to make it a hymn to the glory of God —
and one can interpret it in such a way as to make it a blasphemy. When one says:
to forgive is to grant the opportunity to begin again; God forgives more than
seventy-times-seven times, always granting us opportunities anew—what infinite
goodness of God! Here is an interpretation to the glory of God.
But when one says: there is a mechanism of infinite evolution and one is morally
determined by previous lives; there is no grace, there is only the law of cause and
effect —then this is a blasphemous interpretation. It reduces God to the function
of the engineer of a moral machine.
Reincarnation is in no way an exception in what is liable to a double interpreta-
tion. In fact, every pertinent fact is liable to it. Thus, for example, heredity can
be interpreted in the sense of complete determinism, therefore excluding free-
dom, and thus also morality. Or rather it can be interpreted as a possibility for
gradual improvement of the organism in order to render it a more perfect insrru-
ment to “vocations for posterity”. Didn’t Abraham receive the promise that the
Messiah would come in his lineage? Wasn’t this same promise given to David?
Nevertheless, whatever the personal interpretation of a fact may be, a fact re-
mains a fact and it is necessary to know it when one wants to orientate oneself
in the domain to which it belongs. Thus, Hermetidsts have knowledge of diverse
tacts, according to their personal vocations, but Hermetic philosophy is nevertheless
not the sum-total of knowledge acquired by individuals. It is an organism of ar-
cana expressed in symbols which are at rhe same time both spiritual exercises and
their resulting aptitudes. An arcanum practised as a spiritual exercise for a suffi-
cient length of time becomes an aptitude. It does not give the pupil knowledge
of new facts, but makes him suited to acquire such knowledge when he has need
of it. Initiation is the capacity of orientating oneself in every domain and of ac-
quiring there knowledge of relevant facts — the “key facts”. The initiate is one who
Knows how to attain knowledge, i.e. who knows how to ask, seek and put into
94
MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT
practice the appropriate means in order to succeed. Spiritual exercises alone have
taught him — no theory or doctrine, however luminous, may in any way have ren-
dered him capable of “knowing how to know”. Spiritual exercises have taught him
practical sense (and in Hermetic philosophy there is no other sense than the prac-
tical) and the infallible effectiveness of the arcanum of the three united endeavours
which is the basis of every spiritual exercise and every arcanum, namely:
Ask, and it will be given you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you.
(Luke xi, 9)
Thus, Hermetic philosophy does not teach what one ought to believe concern-
ing God, man and Nature, but it teaches rather how to ask, seek and knock in
order to arrive at mystical experience, gnostic illumination and the magical effect
of that which one seeks to know about God, man and Nature. And it is after hav-
ing asked, sought and knocked —and after one has received, found and gained
access — that one knows. This kind of knowing — the certainty of the synthetic com-
prehension of mystical experience, gnostic revelation and magical effect —is the
Emperor, this is the practical teaching of the fourth Card of the Tarot.
It is a matter here of the development and usage of the fourth spiritual sense,
i.e. the Hermetic-philosophical sense, following the development and usage of
the mystical, gnostic and magical senses. The aptitude for “knowing how to know”
is the characteristic trait essential to this sense. We have defined it above (second
Letter) as the “sense of synthesis”. Now we are able to advance and to do so in
a much more profound way in defining it as the “initiate sense” or the sense of
orientation and acquisition of knowledge of essential facts in every domain.
How does this sense function? There is reason to indicate in the first instance
that it is not identical with what one customarily designates as “metaphysical sense”,
since the metaphysical sense of metaphysicians is the taste and capacity for living
in abstract theories, the liking for the abstract, whilst the Hermetic-philosophical
sense is on the contrary due to the orientation towards the concrete — spiritual,
psychic and physical. Whilst the metaphysical sense operates with the “concept
of God”, the Hermetic-philosophical sense is orientated towards the living God—
the spiritual, concrete fact of God. The Christian Celestial Father and the An-
cient of Days of the Cabbalists is not an abstract concept; it is not a notion, but
rather a heing.
The metaphysical sense works in such a manner as to deduce —by way of ab-
straction — the laws of facts and the principles of laws. The Hermetic-philosophical
sense (or initiate sense), in contrast, perceives through the facts the entities of the
spiritual hierarchies, and through them the living God. For the initiate sense the
space between the “supreme Principle” and the domain of facts is not peopled
with “laws” and “principles”, but rather with living spiritual beings, each endowed
with a manner, look, voice, way of speaking and name. For the initiate sense the
LETTER IV THE EMPEROR
95
Archangel Michael is not a law or principle. He is a living being whose face is
invisible because it has given place to the face of God. This is why he has the name
MI-KHA-EL, i.e. “He who (MI) is as (KHA) God (EL)”. No one could endure the
vision of the face of Michael, because he is KHA-EL, i.e. “like unto God”.
The Hermetic-philosophical sense (or initiate sense) is that of concrete spiritual
ealities. The Hermeticist explains facts not by laws obtained by abstraction nor,
much less still, by principles obtained by active abstraction, but rather by pro-
ceeding from abstract facts to more concrete beings in order to arrive at that which
is the most concrete, that alone in existence which is absolutely concrete, i.e. God.
Because for the initiate sense God is that which is most real, and therefore most
concrete. In fact, amongst all that exists, God is that alone which is absolutely
real and concrete, whilst created beings are only relatively real and concrete; and
what we designate as “concrete fact” is in reality only an abstraction from divine
reality.
This does not mean to say that the Hermeticist is incapable of abstraction and
that he necessarily neglects laws and principles. He is a human being and therefore
also possesses the metaphysical sense. In possessing it he makes use of it like every-
one, but what makes him a Hermeticist — in the sense of the Emperor of the Tarot
— is the Hermetic-philosophical sense. He is as much a Hermeticist as he is en-
dowed with the Hermetic-philosophical sense and makes use of it, whilst the
metaphysical sense alone would never make a Hermeticist, in the proper sense
of the word.
Is this not the tragedy of Rene Guenon who, being gifted with a developed
metaphysical sense and yet lacking the Hermetic-philosophical sense, sought,
always and everywhere, the concrete spiritual. And finally, tired of the world of
abstractions, he hoped to find liberation from intellectualism by plunging himself
into the element of fervour of the Moslem masses at prayer in a Cairo mosque.
The last hope of a soul thirsty for mystical experience and languishing in the cap-
tivity of the intellect? If so, may divine mercy grant him what he sought so much.
There is room to remark here that the last orientation of Rene Guenon, i.e.
towards the faith of simpler people adhering to a more simple religion, is not
without reason. For the Hermetic-philosophical sense has more in common with
the plain and sincete faith of simple people than abstract metaphysics has. For
the common believer, God lives; likewise for the Hermeticist. The believer ad-
dresses himself to saints and Angels; for the Hermeticist they are real. The believer
believes in miracles; the Hermeticist lives in the presence of miracles. The believer
prays for the living and the dead; the Hetmeticist dedicates all his efforts in the
domain of sacred magic to the good of the living and the dead. The believer
esteems all that which is traditional; the Hetmeticist does likewise. What more
is there to say?. . . perhaps that the Emperor owes his authority not to his power —
visible or invisible —over human beings, but rather because he represents them
before God. He has authority not because he is superhuman, but rather because
he is very human, because he represents all that which is human. King David
96
MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT
was more human than all men of his time. This is why he was annointed by divine
order by the prophet Samuel, and for this reason the Eternal gave him the solemn
promise that his throne would be established for ever. The throne, the post of
the representative of humanity, will therefore never perish. And it is this which
is the post of the Emperor; it is this which is true authority.
Hermetic philosophy also has a human ideal to which it aspires. Its spiritual
exercises, its arcana, follow the practical aim of realising the man of authority,
the “father-man”. This is the man who is more human than all others. . . the man
worthy of “the throne of David”.
The h u m a n ideal of practical Hermeticism is not the superman of Nietzsche,
nor the superman of India plunged in contemplation of eternity, nor the super-
man-hierophant of Gurdjieff, nor the superman-philosopher of the Stoic and
Vedanta philosophies —no, its human ideal is the man who is human to such a
degree that he contains and bears in himself all that which is human, that he may
be the guardian of the throne of David.
And the Divine? How is it here in that which concerns the manifestation of
the Divine?
Practical Hermeticism is alchemy. The ideal of Hermeticism is essentially and
fundamentally the alchemical ideal. This means to say: the more one becomes
truly human, the more one manifests the divine element underlying human
nature, which is the “image and likeness of God” (Genesis i, 26). The ideal of
abstraction invites human beings to do away with human nature, to dehumanise.
In contrast, the ideal of alchemical transformation of Hermeticism offers to human
beings the way to the realisation of true human nature, which is the image and
likeness of God. Hermeticism is the re-humanisation of all elements of human
nature; it is their return to their true essence. Just as all base metal can be trans-
formed into silver and into gold, so are all the forces of human nature susceptible
to transformation into “silver” or “gold”, i.e. into what they are when they share
in the image and likeness of God.
But in order to re-become what they are in their essence, they must be sub-
mitted to the operation of sublimation. Now, this operation is crucifying for that
which is base amongst them and, at the same time, it is the blossoming of that
which is their true essence. The cross and the rose, the ROSE-CROSS, is the sym-
bol of this operation of the realisation of the trulv human man. Thus, the Emperor
of the Tarot renounces the four arbitrary liberties of human nature. He is, in this
sense, crucified. And as the real symbol of the emptiness which is established be-
cause of renunciation is the wound—one could say that the Emperor is he who
has four wounds. It is by these four wounds that the manifestation of the divine
image and likeness of human nature is accomplished in him.
The divine in human nature. . and what of the Divine which transcends it?
In order for the latter to manifest, it is necessary to have one wound more. It
is necessary to have five wounds. Now, it is the following Card “The Pope” which
will teach us the Arcanum of the manifestation of the Divine transcending human
nature by means of the five wounds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s