The Truth About Tarot Cards
"The Truth About Tarot Cards."
The title is scandalous. It should not, many people will think, even be written.
Why, then, a writing called "The Truth About Tarot Cards?" Shouldn't Christians run as far away from the Tarot as possible? Shouldn't they stay away from it, just as they'd stay away from Ouija boards and séances? Almost all Christians have. They have, understandably, linked the Tarot with all other forms of occult practices.
While understandable, this is most unfortunate.
Tarot cards are actually a revealing of God's holy will, of God's limitless power, of God's unfolding plan of redemption for the universe, and of each individual's personal pathway toward God.
How do I make such a claim? As a student of the world's religions and the language of symbolism, I have studied the Tarot for several years. During this course of study, I have become aware of things in the Tarot cards which frankly astounded me since I had thought that the cards were simply silly little fortune telling tools. Imagine my shock, and imagine your shock, when we find God's holy, perfect name, written on the Tarot cards--not with any attempt to profane Him or disgrace God's name, but to honor and reveal it.
This is not a book about fortune telling.
There are countless books of the Tarot available. Unfortunately, while they start from many different perspectives, most of them try to tell people how to read their fortunes. This, however, is not the only means used to interpret the cards. There are those who see them as psychological pictures to the brain. This is the Jungian frame of mind--that the Tarot cards give us a glimpse into the inner subconscious, the great unknown, the collective unconsciousness of humanity.
This writing is different. Its purpose is to redeem the Tarot from past and present abuses, and explain its rich symbolism, unveiling the Divine, Biblically consonant revelation they transmit.
HISTORY OF THE CARDS
These cards were originally written by Jewish people in the middle ages for purposes of transmitting to the human race the results of their investigations, and the results of the revelations which they had received from God. This, too, is controversial.
There is no agreement among scholars as to the origin of Tarot cards. As astounding as it is, we do not know where they came from nor when they were first used. Some authorities say that they go all the way back to the days of Egypt, before Moses; others say that they were created in the 1600's, because we have no actual written Tarot cards from before that time. My investigation reveals that they came into being in approximately 1200 A.D.
In the 13th century, the Moslem and the Christian oppression had become immense. The Jews were confined to small areas or ghettos of towns from which they were not allowed to move. It became apparent to the Jewish leaders that the Christians and Moslems were threatening the destruction of their entire culture--all of the knowledge and wisdom that had been gleaned through the centuries by their holy men.
So what to do? If they wrote their teachings/knowledge/thoughts/stories in a holy book, that holy book might well be destroyed. If they simply kept it by word of mouth, when the last Jew is dead, there would be no one left to tell the story. So, throughout the years the holy men of Israel devised a remarkable, inspired scheme. They would take their knowledge, their wisdom, and their personal relationship with God and draw it in picture form, kind of like a symbol or a mystery--exactly in the same manner that God talks to us in the Bible through the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is a series of pictures, symbols, and images which reflect a higher truth.
The Jews and Christians of that day were under immense persecution from the government, and Rome was threatening to destroy all of known Christianity. Rome was threatening to destroy the entire temple and raise Jerusalem to the ground. So, when God wanted to talk to the churches, He couldn't write down a document that said, “Rome is oppressing you. Rome is evil. Rome is Satan. The Government is Satan. Fight it and you will be rewarded.” Anybody caught with such a document would be subject to immense persecution. Thus, God placed His revelation into pictures, images, and symbols--The Dragon, The Whore of Babylon, the beast that sits on seven hills. These are images which the people could understand, but which the Romans thought of as silly little fairy tales.
The Tarot cards contain a holy and divine God-inspired revelation from which all human beings can learn, just as the book of Revelation will open itself and reveal great secrets to those who will open their eyes and hearts to study and learn.
THE KABBALAH - TO KNOW GOD
The Kabbalah is a branch of Judaism. It seeks to go beyond what we are told about God; beyond what we read about God, what we believe about God, and what we think about God, It seeks to actually know God Himself. The essence of the Kabbalah, then, is to directly, immediately, enter into a personal relationship and to know the absolute reality of God. Many, many different ideas, texts, pathways, exercises, and rituals are devoted to this idea.
Some would say, we cannot know God, but the essence of religion is to take us beyond what we think or what we feel or what we've heard, and get us to the point that we might know. The book of 1 John, for example, talks about the disciples having seen, heard, felt and touched the Living Word, and that the purpose of their writings was so that we too might know the truth--not merely believe it because someone else tells it to us.
Throughout the Bible, God appears to people. Isaiah sees Him. Ezekiel hears His voice. John, in the apocalypse, is taken up to Heaven and is granted a vision of the divine presence upon the infinite throne in the sea of crystal. Moses walked with God and talked with God. It is foolish of us to feel that just because we are centuries removed from these experiences, we cannot have them. The Holy Word says that "God is the same yesterday, today and forever."
We are capable of having the same relationships with Him that others have. If God lives, doesn’t He want us to see Him, hear Him, touch Him, know Him, rather than merely believe in Him or listen to other people's stories about Him? That is the purpose of the Kabbalah. That is the purpose the Jewish seers had dedicated their lives to--to being able to see God, as Isaiah did. It is to that end that they collected their writings, knowledge and experiences, and they passed them down from generation to generation.
THE TAROT CAN HELP US SEE GOD
Why then do I write this? First, for the aforementioned reasons, I am convinced that there is great beauty and truth in these cards. Second, I seek to, in some small measure, try to rescue these cards and the revelation contained therein from the blasphemy which has been done to them over the years. I wish to strip away the silliness and drop what is worthless, so that we might see more clearly what is true and good. Simply because the Tarot is under great misuse today is no reason not to pursue it.
This leads us to a very important point regarding the creative abilities of evil and darkness. Evil does not create. Only God and goodness create. Evil merely transforms what is good, and in so transforming, it can pollute good and corrupt it into something evil. An example might be the Bible. The Bible has been used to justify the slaughter of tens of thousands of people, millions of people--Dead--in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but that does not mean that the Bible should be thrown away.
Science is being used to explore a world and universe in which there is no room for a belief in God, yet science is being used to do many profane and horrid things. That does not mean that science should be thrown away. Science is a good and wonderful pursuit of knowledge. Sexuality is being used by forces of darkness, pollution and evil. All sorts of perversions and darkness exist in the realm of human sexuality, but that does not mean that it is evil. It merely means that the good gift that God has given us is being polluted for dark purposes. This is true for the Bible; this is true for the pursuit of knowledge through science; and this is true for human sexuality.
What we must do, then, is separate the good from the evil, separate what the Bible calls the wheat from the chaff, and hold onto the good. In exactly the same way, we must separate the foolishness from the truth of the Tarot and see its value.
NOT FOR BABES IN THE WORD
This document is definitely a "beginner's document" in terms of the knowledge of the Tarot, but it is not for “beginners on the spiritual path.” The Bible refers to the milk of the word which is for the new born babes, and it also refers to the more weighty, or meatier subjects, which are for the more mature Christian and seeker for truth.
No one can deny that there are different types of instruction in the Bible. There is a series of levels of revelation. Some things are available to everyone, and some are reserved for those who have been trained. Jesus talks in parables to the multitude because they are not ready for certain other truths. Jesus explains some parts of the plan of salvation to His disciples, and then waits several years to explain the rest. As He goes away, He says, “I have many more things to tell you, but you can not bear them now, but the holy spirit will come to lead you into all truth."
So I advise you, if
you are new to the spiritual path, do not begin to study this document. Put it
down and come to it later in your life. This
is not a joke.
What do I consider the prerequisites for this study?
· First, a thorough knowledge of the Bible is essential. Biblical ideals, principles, and images are encased within the Tarot. It is challenging enough to unravel the symbolism, but if the student has little or no comprehension of the underlying spiritual world, learning becomes exponentially harder.
· Next, a personal relationship with God is indispensable. No amount of simple book learning will ultimately help the soul, if that book learning is not applied to life.
· A knowledge of the world's religions, including human psychology, is also very helpful.
· Finally, the student should have a general familiarity with the language of symbolism.
THE LANGUAGE OF SYMBOLISM
Signs versus symbols. The Tarot is a symbolic system. It is not a system of signs or words. Before one can delve deeply into the understanding of the Tarot, one absolutely must become at least generically familiar with the language of symbolism and its power.
When I see a word, for example the word "cat,” that word is a sign. It points, on a one-to-one relationship, with what it indicates. It only represents one thing. A stop sign means only one thing; a speed limit sign has only one purpose. In this way, words and signs are able to relate important meanings to us. They are the rock bed of our communications. They enable us to transfer information clearly and unambiguously between different people.
A symbol is different. A symbol does not have a one-to-one relationship with anything. Instead of having one exact meaning; it usually has a multitude of meanings. A symbol seldom stands alone. A sign or a word like "cat" derives all of its meaning simply by itself. The word "cat" or a "stop sign" is a completely unambiguous indication of whatever is meant.
However, a symbol seldom reveals its full meaning until it is placed in conjunction with and in relationship to other symbols. The ancient philosophers and scientists of several millennia ago saw the world as consisting of four primary elements, with a fifth being later added. Those four elements are: earth, water, air and fire. It was felt that every single thing in the world consisted of one of those four elements, and that they were arranged bottom to top in that order. How did they know that?
· If you put a rock (which is of the element earth) into a pond, the earth sinks to the bottom.
· If you stroll by a brook, you will often see water bubbling out of the earth.
· Water placed in the air will fall down to the earth, but will not fall under the earth. Air held underneath the water will bubble up and be above the water.
· And, when you burn a fire, it rises up, into and above the air.
These four elements have been incredibly influential in the history of human thought because those four elements became symbols for four aspects within the human being. The earth symbolizes our physical bodies, which are essentially matter. They are very little different from earth matter, and are made of: carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. The water came to symbolize the world of desire and emotion. Just as emotions can change from one moment to the next, so too, water is very fluid, very adaptable, very moldable. It will automatically adapt itself to whatever container it finds itself in. Air represents the spiritual side of man--invisible and yet consisting of the essence of our life. Fire represents the spark of life. It represents the warmth of the body; the power that transforms the physical body into a living being; and, the intellect, the mind, the power of the mind.
These four elements, then, have become the basis of great symbols. The Bible is full of symbolic language. The Bible is not a series of signs alone. Yes, there are many words, and yes, there are many indications of direct commands and direct communications. The Bible contains many simple commands from God. It contains many explanations of simple history, i.e., this person did that or that, but it also contains many symbols. Symbols are often used to communicate power beyond what we normally see and think and hear.
If what the symbol was trying to communicate was a simple, earthly, normal relationship, then the symbol would use a sign. It would communicate directly with the reader or the listener and tell them exactly what is meant. And what this writing tries to do is in some sense transform the symbols into "sign language” to unravel some of the symbolism and give you some direct pointers toward the underlying realities that the symbol is indicating. The difference is between presentational and discursive language. A symbol presents itself all at once. Discursive language is linear, first this word and then the next word. You see the symbol in its entirety in a flash. In this respect, it stands outside of time and space; however, you can only perceive a sign on a linear basis. This is embodied in the old saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words." The picture is the symbol. It is the presentational language, and that must be transformed into the thousand words which is discursive linear signs.
One example of a symbol in the Bible is where Jesus talks about himself being the bread of life. A simple way that you could look at that symbol is that Jesus enables us to live, because without bread we die. A deeper way to look at it is through the mystery of holy communion, wherein we actually partake in His presence. Yet another way of looking at the symbol of the bread of life is through these four symbolic domains: earth, water, air and fire. First we have the wheat which is born out of the earth. We grind the wheat and mix it with some water and some yeast. It then rises into the air as the bread expands, and finally it is placed into the fire for finishing.
Symbolically then to say that Jesus is the bread of life would mean on a deeper level that He is fulfilling all aspects of our being; that as we enter into a relationship with God, our bodies will be healed and transformed and made pure; that our emotional life and desired life will be free from the fetters of compulsion and ugliness; that our minds will become clean and full of inspiration; and, that our spirits will begin to resonate with the very presence of God.
So we see that the power of symbolism is immense. It enables a person to perceive the symbol and discover the deeper meanings, the likes of which are often difficult to put into words.
There is a final aspect of symbols that I wish to discuss at this moment: symbols in some respect bring us in touch with what is symbolized. If we gaze at a painting of a farm house, many things happen in our minds. Is this one particular farm house? Does it remind us of one we’ve visited or seen before? Does it bring up childhood memories? For a moment, our whole being is filled with this symbol. The symbol brings us in touch with a non-corporeal reality. The farm house is not physically present with us, but through concentrating on this painting, it is as though we were in or by the farm house; so too, the symbolism of holy communion.
Sometimes religious people, Christians especially, are guilty of saying, "Oh, it's only a symbol." I am not here debating whether or not Jesus is physically present in holy communion. That is the point. The power of the symbol, as we meditate on the symbol, as we eat and drink of the symbol, actually brings us in touch with the power of Christ. Therefore, even if communion is "only a symbol," that symbol still brings us literally and actually into the presence of Christ. The nature of the bread and the wine as physical conduits are not important. The importance lies in the relationship that the bread and wine bring us into with Christ.
As we study the Tarot cards, all of these elements come together and are combined. The Tarot cards are very definitely structured around the language of symbolism. Different symbols have very specific meanings and some have very vague meanings. Some have meaning only as they relate to other symbols. The Tarot cards are structured around the four symbols of earth, water, air and fire, and without understanding that symbolism, much of the Tarot cards will be completely meaningless. The Tarot cards also help to focus on those images which are the symbols, and in so doing, actually bring us into contact with higher realities--things which are so very, very difficult to discuss.
DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS
You could spend tens of thousands of words discussing many of these images because they are so rich and powerful. and rich. They symbolize realities far beyond our normal realm of thinking. This is another reason why fortune telling with Tarot cards is so silly and wrong. To have someone else tell you what the cards say is to miss the point entirely. What’s important is what do they say to you--not in terms of, "Should you buy that new car?" or "Should you take the new job?" or "Should you divorce your spouse?" but, in terms of your relationship with the higher spiritual reality which these cards represent. Only you have dominion over your life. You are a free spirit. You have been given dominion. You have been filled with free will. To sacrifice that in any capacity, by letting someone else tell you what you should do is completely wrong.
In exactly the same way having someone else tell you what these particular symbols mean is not good. Therefore, I advise you to take everything in this writing or any other writing on the Tarot cards or on any religious matter as merely one more piece of evidence, one more opinion, one more clue. It would not be good for you to wholly absorb and agree with everything I say in this document. The purpose of this writing is not to convince you that this is how things are, but rather to get you started down the road to seeing the immense power in these symbols and to get you to focus on the transcendent spiritual reality embodied in these symbols.
To simply adopt one person's viewpoint is wrong. This writing is my viewpoint. You cannot find this particular writing anywhere else. Other authors on the Tarot would absolutely agree and will disagree on many of my conclusions. This is the result of my personal encounter with the symbols in the cards and the spiritual truth which lies behind them.
WHICH TAROT DECK?
You cannot really study the Tarot cards as a Christian without being personally involved; therefore, you need to acquire your own deck of cards. There are scores of different decks available--some are simply silly, i.e. Alice in Wonderland goes to Tarot cards. Some are astrological; some come from witchcraft; some come from Satanism, etc. The only deck that I can recommend is called the “Rider Tarot deck.” It was created by Arthur Edward Waite, and the drawings are by Pamela Coleman Smith. This deck contains the best version of the symbols I have ever seen, and it is available in most bookstores. All of my discussions will be based on these symbols and no others. Most other decks, in my opinion, are so polluted they are unusable.
THE HEBREW ALPHABET
You need to spend some preparation time understanding the Hebrew alphabet. You do not have to read and write Hebrew in order to study the Tarot cards, but in order to fully appreciate them, you really must be familiar with the letters and certain rudimentary aspects of the language. For example, there are 22 letters in their alphabet, and those 22 letters form the basis of the cards. The Tarot cards are divided into two sections. There are 22 major symbols or images called the Major Arcana, and 56 cards called the Minor Arcana--a total of 78 cards. The Major Arcana take us beyond our normal earth bound life and focus us on the eternal spiritual truths. These 22 cards relate to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The Minor Arcana deal with all aspects of life, from your body to your money, to family life, personal relationships, intellectual struggle, etc.
GOD'S HOLY NAME
The entire Tarot system is also based upon God's holy name. God's name is not God. God's name, as revealed in the Bible, is a series of four Hebrew letters: YOD HEH VAU HEH. If you are unfamiliar with this, I highly recommend that you read my document, "God is not God's Name." It will explain to you the nature of this name and why it is so important. God's name is used throughout the Tarot cards, and it physically appears on many of the cards. Unless you are familiar with this holy name, its symbolism, and how it is written in the original Hebrew letters, you simply will not be able to gain much information of lasting value from the Tarot cards.
TWO GUIDING PRINCIPLES
There are two principles with which you must be completely familiar in order to understand the power and symbolism of the Tarot.
The first is “As above, so below.” Everything that happens on this physical world is merely a image of the spiritual higher reality. A Biblical example is when God first shows Moses the temple which exists in Heaven. Moses then moves to create a copy of that on the earth. As above, so below is one of the most powerful, symbolic keys to open up the meanings, not only of the Tarot cards, but also of the Bible. In a previous example when we mentioned Jesus as being the bread of life, we see that the physical loaf of bread (the below part) actually symbolizes some very high and powerful nonphysical entities. The earth symbolizes human bodies. Fire symbolizes human intellect. Water symbolizes human emotion. As above, so below.
The second principle is the relationship between individuals and community. What happens to you individually also affects the entire community. Just as individuals are born, learn, grow and die, so too do communities, businesses, and other kinds of human group activities. They have a beginning, they have a purpose, they have a learning period, they have a development, and eventually they have a death. So the symbols that we see in the Tarot will apply to three domains:
1. The spiritual reality, the archetype if you will--the image of the temple in the heavens before it has been built.
2. Your personal life. That is what happens with you as you grow and develop and learn all that it means to be a child of God.
3. How you relate to the larger community of people.
All of this is, of course, embodied in the two great commandments: to love God, with our entire being and to love our fellow men and women as ourselves. This places the three domains: the spiritual domain, God's domain, our world and the world of all our fellow human beings into a harmonious oneness. That is the story that the Tarot cards wish to reveal to us.
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