|These Tarot descriptions are found
in The Book of Hermes, comprizing the Chapter XXII in The Ritual
of Transcendental Magic, by Eliphas Levi.
(Eliphas Levi. Transcendental Magic, Its Doctrine and Rirual. Translated, annotated and introduced by Arthur Edward Waite. Samuel Weiser, New York, 1979. The original French edition, Rituel de la haute magie, was published in 1855.)
The images of The Charioth and The Devil/Baphomet are taken from the same book. It is widely believed that they are the two only Tarot images left after Levi. This page shows that there are in fact three more Major Arcana in Levi's published books.
mind, man, or God; the comprehensible object; unity mother of numbers,
the first substance.
All these ideas are expressed hieroglyphically by the
figure of the JUGGLER. His body and arms constitute the letter ALEPH; round
his head there is a nimbus in the form of ,
emblem of life and the universal spirit; in front of him are swords, cups
and pantacles; he uplifts the miraculous rod towards heaven. He has a youthful
figure and curly hair, like Apollo or Mercury; the smile of confidence
is on his lips and the look of intelligence in his eyes.
-- DR 1-1
| The House
of God and man, the Sanctuary, the law, Gnosis, Kabalah, the Occult Church,
the duad, wife, mother.
Hieroglyph of the Tarot: THE FEMALE POPE, a woman crowned
with a tiara, wearing the horns of the Moon and Isis, her head enveloped
in g mantle, the solar cross on her breast, and holding a book on her knees,
which she conceals with her mantle. The protestant author of a pretended
history of Pope Joan has met with, and used, for good or bad, in the interests
of his thesis, two curious and ancient figures of the Female Pope or Sovereign
Priestess of the Tarot. These figures ascribe to her all the attributes
of Isis; in one she is carrying and caressing her son Horus; in the other
she has long and unbound hair. She is seated between the two Pillars of
the duad, has a sun with four rays on her breast, places one hand upon
a book and makes the sign of sacerdotal esotericism with the other -- that
is to say, she uplifts three fingers only, the two others being folded,
to signify mystery. A veil is thrown behind her head, and on each side
of her chair the flowers of the lotus bloom upon the sea. I commiserate
sincerely the ill-starred scholar who has seen in this antique symbol nothing
but a monumental portrait of his pretended Pope Joan.
word, the triad, plenitude, fecundity, Nature, generation in the three
Symbol, THE EMPRESS, a woman, winged, crowned, seated and uplifting a sceptre with the orb of the world at end: her sign is an eagle, image of the soul and of life. She is the Venus-Urania of the Greeks and was represented by St John in his Apocalypse as the Woman clothed with the Sun, crowned with twelve stars and having the moon beneath her feet. She is the mystical quintessence of the triad she is spirituality, immortality, the Queen of Heaven.
porte or government of the easterns, initiation, power, the Tetragram,
the quaternary, the cubic stone, or its base.
Hieroglyph, THE EMPEROR, a sovereign whose body represents a right-angled triangle and his legs a cross -- image of the Athanor of the philosophers.
demonstration, instruction, law, symbolism, philosophy, religion.
Hieroglyph, THE POPE, or grand hierophant. In more modern
Tarots this sign is replaced by the image of Jupiter. The grand hierophant,
seated between the two Pillars of Hermes and of Solomon, makes the sign
of esotericism and leans upon a Cross with three crossbars of triangular
form. Two inferior ministers kneel before him. Having above him the capitals
of the two Pillars and below him the two heads of the assistants, he is
thus the centre of the quinary and represents the divine Pentagram, giving
its complete meaning. As a fact, the Pillars are necessity or law, the
heads liberty or action. A line may be drawn from each Pillar to each head
and two lines from each Pillar to each of the two heads. This gives a square,
divided by a cross into four triangles and in the middle of this cross
is the grand hierophant, we might almost say like the garden spider in
the centre of his web, were such a comparison becoming to the things of
truth, glory and light.
interlacement, lingam, entanglement, union, embrace, strife, antagonism,
Hieroglyph, man between VICE AND VIRTUE. Above him shines the Sun of Truth, and in this Sun is Love, bending his bow and threatening Vice with his shaft. In the order of the ten SEPHIROTH, this symbol corresponds to TIPHERETH -- that is, to idealism and beauty. The number six represents the antagonism of the two triads, that is, absolute negation and absolute affirmation. It is therefore the number of toil and liberty, and for this reason it connects also with moral beauty and glory.
sword, cherubic sword of fire, the sacred septenary, triumph, royalty,
Hieroglyph, a CUBIC CHARIOT, with four pillars and an
azure and starry drapery. In the chariot, between the four pillars, a victor
crowned with a circle adorned with three radiant golden pentagrams. Upon
his breast are three superposed squares, on his shoulders the URIM and
THUMMIM of the sovereign sacrificer, represented by the two crescents of
the moon in GEDULAH and GEBURAH; in his hand is a sceptre surmounted by
a globe, square and triangle: his attitude is proud and tranquil. A double
sphinx or two sphinxes joined at the haunches are harnessed to the chariot;
they are pulling in opposite directions, but are looking the same way.
They are respectively black and white. On the square which forms the fore
part of the chariot is the Indian lingam surmounted by the flying
sphere of the Egyptians. This hieroglyph, which we reproduce exactly, is
perhaps the most beautiful and complete of all those that are comprised
in the Clavicle of the Tarot.
| Balance, attraction
and repulsion, life, terror, promise and threat.
Hieroglyph, JUSTICE with sword and balance.
horror of evil, morality, wisdom.
Hieroglyph, a sage leaning on his staff, holding a lamp in front of him and enveloped completely in his cloak. The inscription is THE HERMIT or CAPUCHIN, on account of the hood of his oriental cloak. His true name, however, is PRUDENCE, and he thus completes the four cardinal virtues which seemed imperfect to Court de Gebelin and Etteilla.
See Note 2
manifestation, praise, manly honour, phallus, virile fecundity, paternal
Hieroglyph, THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE, that is to say, the cosmogonical wheel of Ezekiel, with a Hermanubis ascending on the right, a Typhon descending on the left and a sphinx in equilibrium above, holding a sword between his lion's claws-an admirable symbol, disfigured by Etteilla, who replaced Typhon by a wolf, Hermanubis by a mouse, and the sphinx by an ape, an allegory characteristic of Etteilia's Kabalah.
| The hand
in the act of grasping and holding.
Hieroglyph, STRENGTH, a woman crowned with the vital closes, quietly and without effort, the jaws of a raging lion.
instruction, public teaching.
Symbol, a man hanging by one foot, with his hands bound
behind his back, so that his body makes a triangle, apex downwards, and
his legs a cross above the triangle. The gallows is in the form of a Hebrew
TAU, and the two uprights are trees, from each of which six branches have
been lopped. We have explained already this symbol of sacrifice and the
(The Tarot symbol which corresponds to this chapter was misconstrued by Court de Gebelin and Etteilla, who regarded it as the blunder of a German cardmaker. It represents a man with his hands bound behind him, having two bags of money attached to the armpits, and suspended by one foot from a gibbet formed by the trunks of two trees, each with the stumps of six lopped branches, and by a crosspiece, thus completing the figure of the Hebrew TAU . The legs of the victim are crossed, while his head and elbows form a triangle. Now, the triangle surmounted by a cross signifies in alchemy the end and perfection of the Great Work, a meaning which is identical with that of the letter TAU, the last of the sacred alphabet. This Hanged Man is, consequently, the adept, bound by his engagements and spiritualized, that is, having his feet turned towards heaven. He is also the antique Prometheus, expiating by everlasting torture the penalty of his glorious theft. Vulgarly, he is the traitor Judas, and his punishment is a menace to betrayers of the Great Arcanum. Finally, for Kabalistic Jews, the Hanged Man, who corresponds to their twelfth dogma, that of the promised Messiah, is a protestation against the Saviour acknowledged by Christians, and they seem to say unto Him still: How canst Thou save others, since Thou couldst not save Thyself? -- Vol. I, Ch. XII.)
(The twelfth Key represents a man hanging by one foot from a gibbet composed of three trees or posts, forming the Hebrew letter m; the man's arms and head constitute a triangle, and his entire hiero-glyphical shape is that of a reversed triangle surmounted by a cross, an alchemical symbol known to all adepts and representing the accomplishment of the Great Work. -- Vol. II, Ch. XII.)
| The heaven
of Jupiter and Mars, domination and force, new birth, creation and destruction.
Hieroglyph, DEATH, reaping crowned heads in a meadow where men are growing.
The heaven of the Sun, climates, seasons, motion, changes of life, which
is ever new yet ever the same.
Hieroglyph, TEMPERANCE, an angel with the sign of the sun upon her forehead, and on the breast the square and triangle of the septenary, pours from one chalice into another the two essences which compose the Elixir of Life.
The heaven of Mercury, occult science, Magic, commerce, eloquence, mystery,
Hieroglyph, THE DEVIL, the Coat of Mendes, or the Baphomet of the Temple, with all his pantheistic attributes. This is the only hieroglyph which was properly understood and interpreted correctly by Etteilla.
heaven of the Moon, alterations, subversions, changes, failings.
Hieroglyph, a TOWER struck by lightning, probably that of Babel. Two persons, doubtless Nimrod and his false prophet or minister, are precipitated from the summit of the ruins. One of the personages in his fall reproduces perfectly the letter Ayin.
Heaven of the soul, outpourings of thought, moral influence of idea
on form, immortality.
Hieroglyph, the BLAZING STAR and eternal youth. We have
described this symbol previously.
The elements, the visible world, reflected light, material forms, symbolism.
Hieroglyph, the MOON, dew, a crab rising in the water towards land, a dog and wolf barking at the moon and chained to the base of two towers, a path lost in the horizon and sprinkled with blood.
the head, apex, prince of heaven.
Hieroglyph, a radiant SUN and two naked children, taking hands in a fortified enclosure. Other Tarots substitute a spinner unwinding destinies, and yet others a naked child mounted on a white horse and displaying a scarlet standard.
principle, generative virtue of the earth, eternal life.
Hieroglyph, THE JUDGEMENT. A genius sounds his trumphet and the dead rise from their tombs. These persons, who are living and were dead, are a man, woman and child -- the triad of human life.
sensitive principle, the flesh, eternal life.
Hieroglyph, the FOOL. A man in the garb of a fool, wandering without aim, burdened with a wallet, which is doubtless full of his follies and vices; his disordered clothes discover his shame; he is being bitten by a tiger and does not know how to escape or defend himself.
Hieroglyph, KETHER, or the Kabalistic Crown, between four
mysterious animals. In the middle of the Crown is Truth holding a rod in
Occult medicine is simply
the exercise of the will applied to the