extract from the book Meditations on the Tarot
THE SUN – LE SOLEIL
The preceding Arcanum—"The Moon"—confronted us with the task of human intelligence to liberate itself from the magical enchantment which separates it from spontaneous wisdom, and to unite itself with the latter, i.e. to arrive at intuition. The nineteenth Arcanum—"The Sun"— is that of the accomplished union of intelligence and spontaneous wisdom: the Arcanum of intuition.
Intuition is what results from the intimate and profound alliance of intelligence and spontaneous wisdom. Now, the Card of the nineteenth Arcanum represents two children placed under the sun, where the one puts his right hand on the neck of the other as if he wanted to draw his head near to himself, whilst the other touches with his left hand the place on the body of the first where his heart is to be found. [...] One could hardly better represent the relationship of intelligence and spontaneous wisdom brought into play in intuition than as it is in the Card of the Arcanum "The Sun". For this relationship presupposes such purity of intention as is found only with a child, and it postulates such reciprocal confidence, without a shadow of doubt or suspicion, which belongs naturally to children. Lastly, this relationship excludes tendencies to domination and authority — to pose as a pontiff and to pride oneself on the eminence of the guru or master whose favours one enjoys[...].
"The children who are fraternising under the sun correspond all the better to Gemini because this zodiacal constellation brings in the longest days to us"—says Oswald Wirth (Le Tarot des imagiers du moyen age, Paris, 1927. p. 208), thus locating the nineteenth Arcanum in the zodiacal circle of twelve cosmic mysteries [...].
Now, the teaching-impulse called "Gemini" can be expressed by paraphrasing a little the first statement of the Emerald Table of Hermes:
May that which is below be as that which is above, and
may that which is above be as that which is below
to accomplish the miracles of one thing.
This is the principle of analogy put into practice, taking its point of departure from the principle of cooperation. It is the opposite of that of the struggle for existence advanced by Charles Darwin as the principle of evolution called "Sagittarius". Nature furnishes us at the same time with a great number of proofs of the principle of cooperation in the process of evolution —perhaps as many proofs as there are of the struggle for existence. The proofs are of a kind such that one could uphold the principle of cooperation to be worthy as the directing principle of natural evolution with the same justification as the principle of struggle may be upheld.[...]
Bees and flowering plants cooperate. Air, light and plants cooperate in photosynthesis, where the miracle of the transformation of inorganic matter into organic matter takes place—where "stones" are transformed into "bread". And, lastly, if mankind had not cooperated more than it had struggled, it would not only not have achieved the international civilisation of our time but it would probably have been annihilated.
There is therefore no doubt that the principle of cooperation has at least the same rights to be considered as the directing principle of evolution as that of the struggle for existence advanced by Darwinism. In other words, the diurnal principle of Gemini plays a role at least equal to the nocturnal principle of Sagittarius in natural evolution.
One of the highest aspects of the principle of Gemini, the principle of cooperation, is that which is present in intuition: that of the cooperation between spontaneous wisdom and intelligence. Here it is a matter of a state of consciousness where intelligence advances from formal knowledge to material knowledge, i.e. from knowledge of the relationships of things to knowledge of the things themselves. Now, the "knowledge of things themselves" entails two functions: on the one hand what Henri Bergson happily designates as "sympathy", and on the other hand a sustained and profound deepening in that with which the sympathetic relationship is established. [...] Here is a concrete example:
You venerate (i.e. you love and respect) a non-incarnated being —a departed person, a saint, or a hierarchical being—in a disinterested manner. Your veneration —which includes love, respect, gratitude, the desire to conform, etc.—cannot fail to create an invisible link of sympathy with its object.[...]
The meeting is thus the realisation of the relationship when it is borne to the limit of the intensity of clarity. According to the case, it can take either the character of a "conversation through forces" or that of a "conversation through words". In the former case it is not precise and articulated thoughts or images which are communicated to you, but rather "forces" or impulses —spiritual and psychic seeds impregnated germinally with moral ideas and judgements. In the case of the "conversation through words" a revelation of articulated thoughts and representations takes place. [...]
Now, the meeting whose character is "conversation through forces" always resembles the experience of the "star" of the mages from the East, and that whose character is "conversation through words" always resembles the experience of the shepherds of Bethlehem. The "star" does not speak, it moves; and it leaves to the subject of its revelation the work of research in the domain of intelligence and facts. The meeting whose character is "conversation through words", in contrast, moves and teaches — it bears also on the domain of intelligence and facts. It guides. [...]
With respect to the nineteenth Arcanum of the Tarot, we find it again in the work of Jung in the guise of the active cooperation of intelligence and transcendental revelatory being, which cooperation is not only the mature fruit of the work of his long life, but also it is the principal thesis of his method of work in the domain of depth psychology, which he openly advanced and maintained. The intuition postulated by Henri Bergson as necessary in order to be able to understand life and the world was practised by Jung in order to understand and to heal the life of the human soul. He did not commit the error of the mages of the Orient. He did not consult Herod and his people. [...]
In writing of the force of soul resulting from faithfulness to the "star"— the force which manifests itself in the power to resist the weakness of revolt (for revolt is a weakness where one lets oneself be carried away by the current of emotional impatience — the fundamental weakness of all rebels, including religious reformers as well as political revolutionaries and the most celebrated social reformers) and in the power to procure peace between two aspirations which are, or are believed to be, opposed to one another —it is difficult for me not to pay homage to two Hermeticists of our century, notably Francis Warrain and Dr. Paul Carton, both avowed Hermeticists.[...]
Intuition is therefore the cooperation of human intelligence with superhuman wisdom. It is what creates the link—or the "intermediary gnosis" and "intermediary magic"— between the absolute and the relative, between the supernatural and the natural, between faith and reason. Now, intuition can be developed only by people who have faith and who have reason. It is reserved for believing thinkers. Whosoever believes and does not think will never attain it. Whosoever thinks and does not believe will never have the certainty of transcendental things that intuition alone can give.
Intuition combines two certainties: essential certainty (that of essence), and consistent certainty (that of consistency). The former is of a moral order; its force of conviction resides in the good and the beautiful. The latter is of a cognitive order; its force of conviction resides in consistency in the vision of the relationships of things. Intuitive certainty is therefore "faith at first hand" combined with "intelligence at first hand".[...]
Now, it is postulative faith become faith at first hand (mysticism) which arrives at the perfect certainty of intuition as a consequence of the help of intelligence. John the Baptist still had need of this latter in order to have complete certainty. For this reason he —who had seen the Spirit descend upon Jesus —sent two disciples to Jesus to ask him, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" (Matthew xi, 3). And Jesus had to reply in the framework of intelligence alone: "Go and tell John what you hear and see" [...]
This is the briefest and most complete characteristic of intelligence and its role. Its role is immense, if one considers that intelligence is called to constitute an integral part of intuition [...].
This role was understood in the Middle Ages in the ecclesiastical milieu of the West. [...W]hat is at the root of scholasticism is the desire for the fullness of intuition, i.e. that of "baptising" intelligence and winning its cooperation with faith. [...]
Dear Unknown Friend, do not scorn mediaeval scholasticism. It is, in truth, as beautiful, as venerable and as inspiring as the great cathedrals that we have inherited from the Middle Ages. To it we owe a number of masterpieces of thought—thought in the light of faith. And, like all true masterpieces, those of mediaeval scholasticism are beneficial. They heal the disorientated, feverous and confused soul. [... I]t is this elevation above psychological complexes which is the salutary effect —even the healing action —of occupation with scholasticism, when one reads in the style of scholastic meditation.
[...] Why not mathematics? Doesn’t mathematics have the same effect of detachment and elevation above personal psychological limitations?
Without doubt mathematics also has a salutary effect. But it does not so engage the whole human being as does the totality of scholastic problems, and consequently its salutary effect does not have the same significance. What is at stake with scholasticism is God, the soul, freedom, immortality, salvation, good and evil. The triumph over psychological factors here is something quite different than triumph over the same psychological factors through occupying oneself with quantities and their functions alone.[...]
No more is it true that the mystical impulse from the end of the thirteenth and into the seventeenth century was purely and simply a reaction against the "dry intellectualism" of scholasticism. No, the flowering of mysticism during this epoch was the fruit and the result of scholasticism, prefigured in the spiritual biography of St. Thomas Aquinas himself. Notably, St. Thomas towards the end of his life arrived at mystical contemplation of God and the spiritual world and said, on returning from this ecstasy, that his written works now appeared ro him "like straw". Indeed, he wrote nothing after this.
The believing thinker thus became a seeing mystic. And this transformation did not take place in spite of his work of scholastic thought, but rather thanks to it —as its fruit and its crowning glory.
[...] Now, it is the nineteenth Arcanum of the Tarot which invites us to occupy ourselves quite especially with the "star" of Hermeticism in the heaven of intuition. What is this "star"? The Zohar says:
And God made the two great lights. . .originally, when the moon and sun were in intimate union, they shone with equal luminosity. The names JEHOVAH and ELOHIM were then associated as equals.. .and the two lights were dignified with the same name: MAZPAZ MAZPAZ. . .The two lights rose simultaneously and were of the same dignity. But. . . the moon humbled herself by diminishing her light, and renounced her place of higher rank. From that time she has had no light of her own, but derives her light from the sun. [...I]t was only after diminishing herself that she took the name ELOHIM. But her power is manifest in all directions. . .EL being "the dominion of the day", IM being "the dominion of the night" and HE in the middle being the remainder of the forces ("the stars"), participating in both dominions. (Zohar Bereshith 20a)
It is left to us only to cite another passage from an ancient source —from the eleventh book of Apuleius’ Metamorphosis —in order to have all the elements necessary to grapple, sufficiently equipped, with the problem of the "star" of Hermeticism and "The Sun" of the nineteenth Arcanum of the Tarot. Apuleius summarised his great vigil at the temple of Isis — the "arcana of the sacred night" (noctis sacratae arcana) —in the following way:
I approached the very gates of death and set one foot on Proserpine’s threshold, yet was permitted to return, rapt through all the elements. At midnight I saw the sun shining in its brilliant radiance; I entered the presence of the gods of the under-world and the gods of the upper-world, stood near and worshipped them. (Apuleius, Transformations: The Golden Ass)
Let us now seek for the reality, having in view the above-cited passage from the Zohar and the statement made by Apuleius. The Zohar tells us that the moon "renounced her place of higher rank"—that of equality with the sun —and that "from that time she has had no light of her own, but derives her light from the sun; nevertheless, her real light is greater than that which she radiates here below". Here below, therefore, the moon reflects the light of the sun, whilst above — where her name is ELOHIM —"her power is manifest in all directions… EL being ‘the dominion of the day’, IM being ‘the dominion of the night’ and HE in the middle being the remainder of the forces (‘the stars’), participating in both dominions."
Now, the moon, in so far as she is the nocturnal luminary here below, reflects the sun, but in so far as she is the nocturnal luminary above, she shines with her own light, and it is the sun which reflects her. In other words, the moon is "solar" above and "lunar" here below, whilst the sun is "solar" here below and "lunar" above. It is in this sense that EL, the radiant part of the moon’s name above, has "the dominion of the day",i.e. it is the visible sun — reflecting the invisible moon during the day. Similarly, the visible moon reflects the sun (become invisible) during the night. The spiritual moon is therefore the sun which shines at midnight. And it is the spiritual moon — or Isis-Sophia — that Apuleius "saw shining at midnight in its brilliant radiance". For the long vigil in the Isis temple resulted in a vision of the cosmic principle of Isis, i.e. the spiritual moon or the "sun at midnight".
All these things, although presented to us in mythological clothing, relate to the profound reality of the relationship of intelligence and wisdom, and their union —intuition. For intelligence corresponds to the moon, wisdom to the sun, and intuition to the restoration of the "intimate union" of the two luminaries. [...] "The Sun" of the nineteenth Arcanum is the "sun at midnight", i.e. the "sun" that Apuleius "saw shining at midnight in its brilliant radiance", and it is this "sun" which is the "star" of Hermeticism across the ages. It is the principle of intuition, or the intimate union of transcendental intelligence and wisdom.
The Arcanum of intuition is therefore that of knowing how to raise to creative intelligence the intelligence which reflects, and how to effect its union with wisdom, i.e. that of the work of re-establishing, firstly, the union of intelligence of diminished light here below with the intelligence of complete light above, and then the union of intelligence-thus-reunited with divine wisdom (see figure).[...]
Just as the impulse of scholasticism, on the historical ladder of western civilisation, did not lead to a perfect system of scholastic philosophy, but rather to mysticism, so does individual intelligence, on the ladder of individual development, lead to intuition and not to a state where it knows all and explains all. Intelligence is not the absolute aim; in developing, it is transformed into intuition. It is called to effect the passage from argumentative reasoning to comprehensive intuition. [...]
The Zohar and Apuleius speak of the moon and the sun joined —the sign which is the sign of Isis. We find this sign again in the apocalyptic vision of the woman enveloped by the sun and with the moon under her feet. But the apocalyptic vision adds here a third element: the twelve stars.
In other words, intelligence united to wisdom in intuition still does not signify the achievement of the work of the reintegration of consciousness, if it is not crowned by a third element, which corresponds to the "stars" just as intelligence corresponds to the "moon" and wisdom to the "sun". What, therefore, is this third element?
In order to understand its role and nature it is still necessary for us to look at — and this time more closely — the experience of spirits who turned from intellectualism to intuitionism. [...It is] the German philosopher [...] Schopenhauer [...] author of the celebrated book The World as Will and Representation, who made the decisive step from Kant’s thesis (that phenomena hide the essence of things, and that the essence remains inaccessible to intelligence as such) to the intuitive introspection of the essence of one thing —the Self—a thing that represents and contains the other things of the world.
This intuitive introspection allowed him to arrive at the conclusion that it is the will which is the essence of things, and that things are only representations of the will. Therefore the world is, according to Schopenhauer, a unique will which represents or "imagines" the multiplicity of things. And as Schopenhauer found that the same experience gave rise to almost the same conclusion in Indian mystical philosophy—above all in the Vedanta, based on the Upanishads of the Vedas — he said: "The Upanishads were my consolation in life, and they will also be so in death".
Thus, the mystical philosophy of India is the original and prototype of intuitionist philosophies of the West —such as that of Schopenhauer, Deussen and Eduard von Hartmann [...]. Let us therefore examine the fundamental experience and principal conclusion to be drawn from the mystical philosophy of India, as represented by the Vedanta of the Advaita ("non-dualist") school.
This philosophy is founded on intuitive-introspection -as method. This is based on the one hand on experience of the will as the element underlying all intellectual, psychological, biological and mechanical movement, and on the other hand on the experience of the "inner eye" or detached transcendental Self, which observes the movements produced by the will. The will creates the multiplicity of mental, psychic, biological and mechanical phenomena, in contrast to the unity of "the Seer in seeing" (the transcendental Self). The transcendental Self does not move, therefore it does not change, therefore it is immortal, therefore it is not an entity separated from the real essence of the world, and thus it is one with it. The true Self of man and the essence of the real world— or God— are identical. Aham Brahma asmi ("I am Brahma") —this is the formula which gives a summary of the experience and conclusions drawn by the Vedanta.
Now, it suffices on the one hand not to identify with the will and its movements and on the other hand to identify with the transcendental Self—"the Seer in seeing"— in order to attain to the real being and essence of the world in the intuitive experience of Vedanta adherents and German intuitionist philosophers. But one could ask: Is the intuitive experience of the transcendental Self truly final and complete, so that nothing follows it or surpasses it? Is the experience of the transcendental Self truly the nec plus ultra ("the ultimate") of knowledge?
Indeed, it lacks something important: the whole spiritual world, i.e. the Holy Trinity and the nine spiritual hierarchies. The "great portent" of which the Apocalypse speaks indicates beyond the sun and moon a crown of twelve stars on the head of the woman.
The intuitive experience of the transcendental Self—sublime and stimulating as it may be —does not suffice, alone, to let us perceive, and to render us conscious of, the spiritual world. The union of the "moon" and the "sun" alone, in the human spiritual microcosm, still does not signify the experience of the spiritual macrocosm. It is not sufficient to elevate oneself to the transcendental Self; it is necessary, still further, that this transcendental Self perceives and becomes conscious of other "transcendental Selves"—many of which are higher than it. The transcendental Self of man, as eternal and immutable as it is, is not the ultimate summit in world evolution.
[..] Judaeo-Christian Hermeticism, which ranges itself on the side of Sankya with respect to the negation of the identification of the "transcendental Self with God, is intensely occupied with the third "luminary"—the "stars"—in the three aspects of astrology, angelology and trinitarian theology, which aspects correspond to the body, soul and spirit of the third "luminary". Judaeo-Christian Hermeticism is thus the sustained effort across the centuries to know and understand the three luminaries in their unity, i.e. to know and understand the "great portent which appeared in heaven — a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Revelation xii, 1). It is the woman in this apocalyptic vision who unites the three "luminaries"— the moon, the sun and the stars, i.e. the luminaries of night, day and eternity.
It is she —the "Virgin of light" of the Pistis Sophia, the Wisdom sung of by Solomon, the Shekinah of the Cabbala, the Mother, the Virgin, the pure celestial Mary—who is the soul of the light of the three luminaries, and who is both the source and aim of Hermeticism. For Hermeticism is, as a whole, the aspiration to participation in knowledge of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the Mother, Daughter and Holy Soul. It is not a matter of seeing the Holy Trinity with human eyes, but rather of seeing with the eyes —and in the light —of Mary-Sophia.[...]
The Athenians, also, had an analogous feminine triad, which played the principal role in the mysteries of Eleusis: Demeter—the Mother, Persephone —the Daughter, and "Athena the bringer of salvation" (cf. Olympiodorus, In Platonis Phaedonem commentaria = "Commentary on the Phaedo of Plato"; ed. W. Norvin, Leipzig, 1913, p. Ill)—where Athena was at the same time the "community of Athens" or the "soul of Athens" as it were, analogous to the "Virgin of Israel".
Historical analogies and metaphysical parallels alone, however, do not suffice to attain the complete certainty of intuition: it is for the heart to say the last decisive word. Thus the following "argument of the heart" proved to be decisive, twenty-five years ago, to the one who writes these lines.
There is nothing which is more necessary and more precious in the experience of human childhood than parental love; nothing more necessary, because the human child, alone, is not viable if it is not taken from the first moments of its life into the circle of care of parental love or, lacking parental love, its substitute-charity; nothing more precious, because the parental love experienced in childhood is moral capital for the whole of life. In childhood we receive two dowries for life, two assets from which we can draw during the whole of life: the vital biological asset which is the treasure of our health and vital energy, and the moral asset which is the treasure of health of soul and its vital energy—its capacity to love, to hope and to believe. The moral asset is the experience of parental love that we have had in childhood. It is so precious, this experience, that it renders us capable of elevating ourselves to more sublime things —even to divine things.[...] For it is the experience of parental love —and it is above all this —which renders us capable of loving the "Architect" or "First Cause" of the world as our Father who is in heaven. Parental love bears in itself true senses of the soul for the Divine —which are, by analogy, eyes and ears of the soul.
Now, the experience of parental love consists of two elements: the experience of maternal love and that of paternal love. The one and the other are equally necessary and equally precious. The one and the other render us capable of raising ourselves to the Divine. The one and the other signify to us the means of entering into a living relationship with God, which means to love God, who is the prototype of all paternity and all maternity. [...]
Similarly, it is so with the rosary prayer, where appeal to the two aspects of divine paternal love in the prayer addressed to the Father and the Mother is made during meditation on the mysteries of the Joy, Suffering and Glory of the Blessed Virgin. The rosary prayer is — in any case for the Hermeticist — again a masterpiece of simplicity, containing and revealing things of inexhaustible profundity. . a masterpiece of the Holy Spirit!
Dear Unknown Friend, the Arcanum "The Sun" with which we are occupied is an Arcanum of children bathing in the light of the sun. Here it is not a matter of finding occult things, but rather of seeing ordinary and simple things in the light of day of the sun —and with the look of a child.
The nineteenth Arcanum of the Tarot, the Arcanum of intuition, is that of revelatory naivety in the act of knowledge, which renders the spirit capable of an intensity of look not troubled by doubt and by the scruples engendered by doubt, i.e. it is the vision of things such as they are under the eternally new day of the sun. It teaches the art of undergoing the pure and simple impression which reveals through itself—without intellectual hypotheses and superstructures —what things are. To render impressions noumenous— this is what it is a matter of in the Arcanum "The Sun", the Arcanum of intuition.
You will understand therefore, dear Unknown Friend, that in speaking of parental love and of its two aspects, in speaking of the practice of the novena and the rosary prayer, etc., we are in no way estranging ourselves from the theme of the nineteenth Arcanum of the Tarot; rather, on the contrary, we are penetrating to its very heart. For we are endeavouring to advance from an understanding of what intuition is to its exercise, i.e. from meditation on the Arcanum of intuition to the use of this Arcanum.