An Ancient Pictorial Symbolic Prophecy
As is discussed in the article About Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth was a crucial and important figure in history because he was not only a Jewish Mashiach in the line of David. He broke the Israelite messianic tradition of royalty. He abdicated the worldly throne, and he was inclusive in that he had "other folds."
"I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they too shall listen to my words; and there shall be one fold, one flock, and one shepherd." -- John 10:16
Few understand what that really means, especially Christians. For it is likely that Jesus was a Kabbalistic Jewish Essene, of the House of Hillel. For it was Hillel that taught the Golden Rule first, and said that it was the summation of the Torah, and Jesus later said the same thing.
However, Jesus was much more than a Jewish Mashiach. The education and enlightenment of Jesus enabled him to realize he was also a Bodhisattva in the Buddhist tradition, and an Avatar in the Hindu tradition, because Jesus realized that the Spirit of truth is within, and that he was one with God, as all Avatars do. And Jesus therefore understood that God is the Great Spirit-Parent of all human beings in the world.
However, Jesus understood that he spoke as and for the Ancient One, the Good Spirit-Shepherd, the Over-Soul, the one who was originally "Adam and Eve's third son Seth" and "was before Abraham," who Jesus represented. That is why he said: "I am the truth, and the Light," not because he was playing God, but because an Avatar speaks as the Holy One, but does so for the Holy One.
Jesus made that very clear when he said "God is greater than I," and "You have not heard God's voice or seen God's shape at any time." And he tried to remind devotees that they should not call him good, because there is but One who is good, the Holy One who is Lord of lords and Lord of hosts.
Jesus understood that a true servant of God seeks not the worldly power of the throne, but the "kingdom of heaven" which comes not with observation in the world, but from within. And he knew that a man may enter the spiritual Temple of God only if he understands that of himself he does nothing, and that unless God does the work, it is done in vain.
However, humanity has not yet been ready to fully comprehend the full scope of the message from the Spirit of truth expressed by Jesus. Jesus was very aware of that, and in fact said that even though "he" (speaking as and for the Ancient One) still had much to say, humanity could not bear it yet, so God would send another son of man at the end of the age.
The trouble is, even now many people cannot yet bear it.
Granted, most of humanity has come a long way since the days when a worldly Emperor sat on his throne as "Divine Lord," and most people have learned the vain folly and error of anyone exalting their self to the height of egotism in the pursuit of personal wealth, power and domain. But, some people have not learned the lessons of history, and in their fight for wealth, power and domain they have been pushing us backward.
It is now time to learn the lessons of history, and time to understand the true purpose of our religions.
Perhaps it will help Christians if we consider why during the first century after Jesus died his disciples and their followers had to keep their activities secret because the Roman Emperor had declared that he, not Jesus, was the Divine Lord, and that Christians who did not accept him as such would suffer sever consequences. And they did suffer, because the "Beast" Caesar demanded obedience to his dictates, and when he felt threatened he ruled with brutality and without mercy.
Many Christians suffered terribly, and most who dared even to profess belief in Jesus as Mashiach were persecuted. That is why at the end of the first century, when the apostle John went into exile of the Greek Isle of Patmos as an old man and wrote the addendum to Daniel’s prophesy about the fall of Babylon in the book of Revelation, John used symbolic numbers and archetypal images to identify the characters and events.
John did that mainly so that the Revelation could be understood by those privy to the meaning of the symbolism. That is why, for instance, John wrote that we must "have understanding of the meaning of the number of the beast" (666). That was because while John did not name the Roman Emperor, in Kabbalistic Hebrew Gematria, numbers are assigned to letters, and 666 was the sum of the numbers of the name of the Emperor Caesar in Hebrew. (See the article on The Fall of Babylon.)
However, John, like Paul and some other writers of Christian literature, believed that all the things prophesied would take place very soon, and some even wrote that "this generation shall not pass before all these things are fulfilled." But, even though in that respect they were obviously wrong, and even though they obviously did not understand what Jesus meant when he spoke of the "end of the age (aeon)," it does not mean they were wrong in their vision.
That brings us to the point of this article, because at the same time Jesus prophesied in words about the end of the age he ushered in, a secret, symbolic prophecy was also enhanced, and it is based on the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words.
It was originally established before the building of the Israelite Temple of Solomon, and, like the Kabbalah (of which it is a part), it had been expanded and updated and enhanced over time. And it was again, by Jesus.
Some of the early Christians probably understood how and why Jesus advanced the teachings of Hillel the Elder, who himself had advanced the Talmudic and Kabbalistic tradition of helping people better understand the Torah and Tanakh (the Old Testament). And Hillel, like Jesus who followed him, also helped to advance the esoteric, mysticism tradition of Kabbalah, the Secrets of the Torah.
This is not generally known and historic accounts generally did not record this, of course, because esoteric teachings are known and passed on only to an "elect" few who have a "single eye" to see, as Jesus advised.
However, the result of the work of Hillel the Elder and Jesus of Nazareth was that the prophetic tradition was enhanced and expanded not only in written form to foretell the events at the end of the age, but also in symbolic pictorial, numerological, astrological, archetypal images that are integrated into the Kabbalah.
Today the pictorial prophecy is found in images in the Major Arcana of the Sacred Tarot (pronounced Tare-oh), which incorporates hermetic and astrological symbolism. But, because some people think it has something to do with malevolence, we should understand that it is actually part of a very ancient spiritual teaching system, perhaps even older than written language in its original form. After all, the earliest way human beings passed on knowledge and history was through drawings in caves and on rock, then on dried animal skins, and then on the earliest forms of paper like papyrus.
The truth must be told about this, not only for the edification of religious people, but also for the edification of those who use Spiritual Astrology and/or the Tarot but do not know it's actual purpose.
You see, like the Bible, the Tarot can be used for good purpose or self-serving purpose, even though their original and true purpose is for good, for spiritual growth and self-realization.
The Sacred Tarot is an ancient esoteric mysticism teaching, originally known as Kabbalah which is now also known as the Cabala or Qabalah. It works by helping practitioners to harmonize the body, mind and spirit, and bring the three aspects of human consciousness into harmony and union with God’s Holy Spirit of truth and love.
Now, of course, misguided fundamentalist Christian sects or denominations have traditionally condemned Astrology and Tarot, and they have reached pretty far to find biblical justification for such condemnation. That becomes evident when you see what they consider as biblical “proof” that Astrology is to be condemned.
For example, they claim the following is such proof: “There shall not be found among you any one that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-11) And they also claim that astrology is condemned by Isaiah’s words stating that we should be “saved from the charmers of the heavens, those looking on the stars, and those teaching concerning the months.” (Isaiah 47:13)
The truth, however, is that the author of Deuteronomy was not really referring to Astrologers, and Isaiah was not condemning Astrologers in general. They only spoke against those that were misusing Astrology and wrongly advising the king. That becomes clear when you put what Isaiah wrote in context, and especially when you consider that the prophet Daniel was actually an Astrologer. (See Daniel: Master Astrologer.)
Even though there are warnings in the Bible against the improper use of Astrology, and against charlatans, Astrology was utilized from before the time of Moses. And in fact, the very first chapter of the first book in the Bible speaks of Astrology, saying, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” (Genesis 1:14) Even Jesus said, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars...” (Luke 21:25) And John's book of Revelation is full of esoteric symbolism, such as the woman with stars around her head in the book of Revelation.
The whole Bible is full of astrological and other esoteric symbolism. Other instances of that are the four cherubic emblems, the bull, lion, eagle and man which are mentioned in the Bible in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation, which are often-used esoteric symbols. They are Astrological symbols, and they are even utilized in three of the twenty-two keys of the Major Arcana of the Sacred Tarot, which is used in conjunction with Astrology and the Holy Qabalah. And another notable example is that the Astrologer-prophet Daniel used many astrological symbols in his writing.
Granted, it is no wonder that there are suspicions and accusations about Astrology and the Tarot, because there have been and still are many charlatans who misuse and misrepresent the Tarot and falsely lead their "clients" to believe that they can actually foresee a person’s future. That is why most people think the Tarot is merely a tool for fortune telling. However, few know its true purpose, or its origins.
It should be understood that the Tarot can be misused and misinterpreted by people with self-serving intentions, just as the Christian Bible can be misused and misinterpreted by greedy and even malicious right-wing preachers of doom and damnation. For while they claim that unless you believe Jesus is God you will be condemned to eternal hell, they do not know Jesus, and they certainly do not know God.
The truth is that just as the Bible, when understood, can lead to enlightenment, so can the Tarot. It is in fact a highly valuable spiritual teaching tool if used correctly and with proper instruction, because it is a visual aid for individual self-realization and spiritual unfoldment that leads to spiritual rebirth.
It's not for everyone. In fact, it is mainly for those who are "initiated" or anointed or called by the Holy Spirit within. It works by providing guidance and helping one to bring out what is within them, and the Tarot uses Hebrew letters, numerology, astrological and alchemical symbolism, colors and imagery to help us in the process of realization and revelation of the Divine Reality.
At a very basic level, even a child could understand it, because it is possible to divine its ultimate meaning simply from realizing the meaning of the pictures when seen in their entire context. However, for most to understand how it works, it takes serious, intellectual scholarship, and in that respect its goal is Jnana Yoga, which is the path of transcendental knowledge through the intellect.
For the Western academic mind, it can be understood in philosophical and psychological terms. For example, we know that we human beings have a self-consciousness, which Sigmund Freud called the ego. Most people know what that is. We know that while it can be healthy and conscientious, it can also become selfish and self-centered. It also can become deluded and inflated with self-importance and judgmental self-righteousness, which is the "forbidden fruit" of the ego-mind.
We also have a sub-consciousness, and our scholars of psychology know something about that too. But, we also have a super-consciousness, which is the Christ-Avatar-Buddha Consciousness, which is not generally discussed because so few realize it and it’s so difficult to understand. (See the article on The Highest State of Consciousness.)
The sub-consciousness has been a subject of intense study. Carl Jung, who founded analytic psychology in response to the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud, defined the subconsciousness (which he called the unconscious) of human beings. Jung surmised that it is comprised of both a personal sub-consciousness, which comes out of personal experiences, and a collective sub-consciousness, which is common to all humanity and inherited automatically by each one of us.
Another significant part of Jung’s concept of the unconscious is the concept of universal archetypes, especially the potent universal symbols that appear in myths, fairytales and dreams. This helps to explain the power of archetypal symbolic imagery.
This is all relevant because the Sacred Tarot is such an archetypal symbolic system and, again, it has been used since it originated in antiquity as a spiritual teaching tool to pass along Ageless Wisdom.
Only the "Elect," or chosen of God, have understood that, however, and while many are called by God, few are chosen. Thus many who may have seen the Divine Light within, or gotten a glimpse of it, have assumed they were enlightened and chosen by God even though they were not.
That is why during the last sixteen centuries many misguided Christians have tried to demonize those who practice Kaballah and use the Tarot, accusing them of heresy and even burning some of them at the stake. Many misguided Christians still condemn the Tarot because it’s a part of occult esoteric teachings, and they have labeled "The Occult" as if it were an evil religion to be feared. However, as educated people know, the word occult merely means "not readily detectible," and the word esoteric means it is known only to a few who have become privy to certain special or technical information.
Many Christians, unfortunately, have been led to believe esoteric and occult teachings are "ungodly," or "heathen." And of course there are misguided occultists who have been misled as to the true purpose of the Tarot, confusing it with "Satanism" and not understanding its mystical, esoteric meaning. However, there are many Kabbalistic Jews, Qabalistic Christians and Kabbalistic Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others, who do understand the spiritual teachings embodied in the Sacred Tarot.
A Jungian view of the Tarot would be that it embodies symbolical presentations of universal truths and ideas that are implicit in the innate capabilities of the human mind, and in that sense the Tarot Keys contain secret doctrine which can be realized as embedded in the sub-consciousness of all human beings.
Even though most Tarot practitioners tend to be very private about it, some have made their beliefs known because they realized that of all the explanatory records referring to the supreme mysteries, three bear particularly able witness to the same ultimate truth, and each sheds Light upon the other. And they are the Tanakh, the Great Pyramid, and the Sacred Tarot.
Some say it works because each image depicts part of the great universal truths in archetypal symbolism common to all the most sacred and ancient teachings. Some say that it works because the archetypal images and symbols act as keys to unlock the soul’s memories of the Divine Source and Creator. Some even say that this is not something that must be learned but merely revealed through remembering what we already know subconsciously. And all of that may be true.
During the last hundred years, scholars and scientific researchers have discovered more and more about how archetypal symbolism works. They tell us that even colors have a subtle effect on the subconscious and conscious parts of our mind, as do images and archetypal symbols. That is part of the reason why the Tarot works as a pictorial text-book on Ageless Wisdom, but it also works because of the corresponding relationship between those colors, images, and symbols, and between the 22 numbers and letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the 22 Tarot Keys in the Major Arcana.
The twenty-two keys (or "cards") that correspond to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet came to be known as the "Trumps" or Major Arcana of the Tarot. The rest of the cards in the Tarot "deck" are called the Minor Arcana, consisting of the four suits of wands, cups, swords and pentacles. And even though they too have symbolic meaning, some have surmised that they were created in part to disguise and hide the core of the sacred teachings in an innocuous "playing deck" of cards.
While most conventional historic records state that the Tarot was not created until around 1200 C.E. in Fez, Morocco, some surmise that the Sacred Tarot was "hidden" in an original deck some time after the Kabbalistic Jewish and Christian mystics, some of whom were Essenes, were driven underground when they were persecuted by Romans following the death of Jesus. And secrecy became perhaps even more important and necessary when the mystics were later persecuted by the organized, theocratic, militarized, imperialistic Roman "Catholic Christian" church-state during and following the fourth century.
Persecution of Kabbalistic and Qabalistic mystics continued through the Dark Ages caused by the medieval Church, and especially during the Christian Inquisition. However, between 1200 C.E. and 1600 C.E., the mystics were gradually instrumental, albeit behind the scenes, in putting an end to the Dark Ages and bringing on "The Enlightenment" and the Renaissance in Europe.
The mystics and their esoteric teachings were also indirectly instrumental in bringing about the Protestant Reformation, though its leaders like Martin Luther and John Calvin were no doubt ignorant of the esoteric teachings and were focused on the exoteric canon or Bible compiled in the fourth century by the organized church patriarchs.
The problem with that, however, is that they ignore that Moses wrote of the “signs of heaven,” and that Jesus of Nazareth said there would be “signs in the stars of heaven.” And certainly Jews and the original Christians were not the only ones who “read the sign’s in the stars.”
All human cultures have related their myths and institutions to the stars and planets, the “signs of the heavens.” The Arabic word for Astrology is Ahkam al-Nudium, literally, "the decrees of the stars," and in India practitioners of Astrology practice Jyotish, the "science of light." Chinese Astrologers study tian wen, or sky patterns, while the Japanese practice Onmyodo, the "Yin-Yang way," the endless interplay of subtle forces in the cosmos. And of course the Maya and Aztecs had their own system and practice of Astrology, which predicted the end of this age.
Fundamentalist Christians also ignore modern knowledge of archetypal symbolism and imagery. For example, there is an award-winning book called "Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a new World View" by Richard Tarnas, a professor of philosophy and psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Tarnas spent 30 years researching astrology before writing the book, and even though he had intended to debunk Astrology, he wound up concluding that there is a direct connection between planetary movements and the archetypal patterns of human experience, and he explored the planetary cycles and how they play out in human cultural events. And the same is true with the archetypal imagery of the Sacred Tarot.
According to the early Gnostic Christians (whose works did not make it into the official Christian church canon and bible), Hermes was a great sage who lived before Moses and was a pious and wise man who received revelations from God that were later studied by Gnostic Christians. And the Nag Hammadi Library, discovered in 1945, includes at least one scripture that is unmistakably Hermetic, and it was among the Gnostic gospels.
None of those works mentioned that Hermes was a Greek or Egyptian god, even though in Greek mythology Hermes is known as the messenger of the gods. But Hermes holds a prominent position and is an archetype devoted to mediating between, and unifying, the opposites. And that aspect was expressed by Jesus, who said that when our eye is single, our body and mind will be full of Light.
Hermes' role later and gradually became regarded as master magician and alchemist, as he was regarded both in Egypt, where the Greek Hermes was analogous with the ancient Wisdom God Thoth.
In Renaissance Europe Hermes was regarded not only as a master alchemist but also as a wise sage and spiritual teacher. In fact, a Renaissance portrait of Hermes Trismegistus painted in 1488 is titled "Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, the contemporary of Moses."
Today there are Western mystery schools carrying on and advancing the esoteric traditions that still regard Hermes Trismegistus as a wise sage, and there are Hermetic sciences and written works like The Emerald Tablet of Hermes that are regarded as divinely inspired Hermetic wisdom in such schools.
The Kabbalah of Judaism and the Qabalah of Esoteric Gnostic Christians certainly incorporated Hermetic sciences and wisdom. But there are similar systems within certain Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist traditions as well. And back in 1970 The Lama Foundation published a book by Baba Ram Dass titled Be Here Now, in which Sacred Tarot keys were included along with teachings from several religions including Christianity.
Anyway, since both the Old Testament and New Testament of the Christian Bible contain symbolism that is directly from certain Tarots keys of the Major Arcana, that is one of many facts revealing that those archetypal images were familiar in ancient times.
The Hebrew Alphabet and the Sacred Tarot, and Key 13
In Western Qabalah, the Hebrew alphabet is used with the Tarot because of the original association and relationship, and also because it is not like other alphabets. For example, every letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a name which is a noun. Every letter designates some familiar natural object, and to every letter is also attributed a number, a concept, and an image.
Those numbers, concepts and images are all incorporated in the Tarot keys, and to each key is also attributed a musical note, an astrological affiliation, alchemical symbol, and other concepts associated with a human characteristic, ability, activity or emotion — such as sight, action, sleep, mirth, etc. And attributed to seven of the keys are seven sets of opposites, such as wisdom and folly, grace and sin, peace and strife, etc.
Of particular relevance to the message from the Spirit of truth, and part of the pictorial prophecy, is Key 13 of the Major Arcana of the Sacred Tarot. It contains certain clues having to do with the dawning of the new age, and with the modern son of man and messenger for the Spirit of truth.
Key 13 actually represents spiritual rebirth or transition, but it has an ironic and misleading title (Death). But this is a very misunderstood key, which is why the number thirteen has been considered unlucky.
However, the truth is that it’s mostly about motion and growth, spiritual growth, spiritual rebirth, transformation, and imaginative and creative intelligence — and the more you know about the attributions and meaning of the symbolism, the more apparent that becomes.
The astrological sign attributed to this key is Scorpio, which is veiled in mystery. Concealed within its nature are the secrets of sex, death and rebirth. Scorpio, like Key 13, has been called the "accursed sign" by people who deny or abuse their sexual nature, fear death, care nothing about spiritual rebirth, and therefore have no idea of the real meanings of the sign Scorpio or of the Tarot key to which it is attributed. But the deeper meanings have very much to do with creativity, positive change and sacredness, even though they also have to do with secretiveness.
The Hebrew letter attributed to Key 13 is Nun, a noun meaning Fish (the symbol used by the Essenes and the early Christians) and associated with water and growth. In scriptures, Nun was the minister to Moses and the father of Joshua, and Joshua is a different version of the name of Yeshua or Jesus or Yeheshuah or Jehoshuah. Nun also means fish in Aramaic, Phoenician and Arabic. And, in mythology, Nun is the ethereal waters or ocean from which all creativity and life springs. In other words, this key has very much to do with the Christ function, and it also has to do with his messenger.
Below you will see three versions of Key 13, drawn in 1910, 1931, and 1971. The first is the 1910 Rider-Waite version of this key, and it is shown because even though Key 13 is not specifically about any particular age, this particular version sets a trend and gives some very subtle clues as to the coming of the new age and the promise of the arrival of the son of man, the messenger for the Sprit of Truth.
If you look at this key, you may notice the fallen king and the crown that has fallen from his head. This refers to physical death, of course. But the deeper meaning is transformation and spiritual growth. In fact, in one sense, it’s about the rebirth of the spirit-soul, which comes only after the "death" or transcendence of the separate-self-ego. Thus the fallen crown represents the discarded egocentric notion of individual, sovereign authority and personal material power and wealth.
It is the crown that Jesus rejected, in no uncertain terms, and here it foretells the eventual end of patriarchy and royalty. And it could be said that the real meaning of the key is spiritual rebirth or the "first death," when the ego and its idea of sovereignty and superiority is transcended, as well as the "second death," when the spirit-soul transcends its need for a mortal body and proceeds to the next stage in the spiritual realm.
The figure praying for mercy is a high-ranking prelate (or clerical, patriarchal religious authority) wearing a fish-head mitre on his head, which is a reference to the nearing end of the Piscean Age and dispensation, which will bring an end to political and religious patriarchy and an end to the oppressive and exploitive status of women and children.
The woman kneeling at the side of the prelate, along with the child looking up hopefully with a gift of flowers in one hand, signify the imposed inferior and submissive status of women and children, and highlight the need for their liberation from patriarchal rule.
The image of the apocalyptic "pale horse rider having the power to kill with sword" (Revelation 6:8) is appropriate because in 1910 the scene was being set for the First World War. The rider is a skeleton dressed in black, the color for what is hidden or secret. His outward appearance is obviously ominous, but the wise know that even though we may have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we should fear no evil and keep love for all people in our heart, knowing that appearances can be misleading and deceiving.
Now, it is true that in one sense the "rider on the pale horse" symbolizes actual death, as John described in the book of Revelation. But the inverted pentagram represents "Satan," or that which has a deceptive appearance and that which is false, which is the opposite of the Christ.
A person with wisdom knows that "Satan" is not an actual person or entity that can impose its will on us. Remember, Jesus told Peter, "Get behind me Satan" merely because Peter was thinking of worldly things rather than spiritual things. That illustrates how "Satan" represents the negative, materialistic, separate-self-centered part of our human nature that is ignorant of God and unaware of its oneness with God and all humanity.
It is epitomized by a self-absorbed, highly egocentric state of mind that manifests in human beings as selfishness, greed, malice, hate, violence, and all manner of self-destructiveness, especially when it impels people to harm or kill others. But "Satan" is not something outside of ourselves, and it does not "possess" us. It is generated by our own self-serving, judgmental thoughts, negative ideas and negative emotions, into which we can fall when we deny, ignore, or betray God.
At its worst, "Satan" is the lowest state of human consciousness which thinks it’s the highest, and it can be manifested in the cunning evil that masquerades as good and gains or imposes worldly power over others. Adolph Hitler was a prime example, as have been all tyrants who masqueraded as good but abused power to the detriment of people of other nations, races, religions, and cultures. In fact, Hitler was the epitome of an Anti-Christ, in that he masqueraded as a Christian and claimed in his book and speeches that he served the Lord, when he in fact epitomized Satan as murderous tyrant.
"Satan" is deadly serious, is often alone in its self-delusion, and is often angry and violent when it cannot have its own way. That is why in Tarot Key 15, titled The Devil, it is depicted as a more grotesque and scary goat-like apparition. But, ironically, the main esoteric concept attributed to it is mirth or hilarity, because it merely represents deceptive falsehood, delusion of outward superficial appearances, as well as bondage to such falsehood and delusion.
Of course, on the other side of the coin, the obverse pentagram or pentacle, or the five-pointed star with the point up, representing the figure of a man, represents the Christ’s Holy Spirit of truth. And that also manifests through our thoughts, feelings and acts of love, honesty, kindness, compassion, charity, forgiveness, faith, and hope. But the Holy Spirit is generated not only from our own doing of good works, but from an actual individual consciousness and presence of Divinity, upon which we can depend.
Now, you will notice that in the Rider-Waite version of Key 13 the river in the background flows from between two pillars, with the rising sun shining over the source. This refers to the dual aspects of the creative and sustaining force of the universe, to the water that is necessary to life and growth, and to the nearing dawn of the Aquarian Age.
Traveling up the river is a boat, which is a symbol showing that the messenger’s "ship is coming in" and that the message from the Spirit of truth will arrive when it reaches its destination. This is a theme that has been since repeated in various ways in the world, including the reference in Kahlil Gibran’s 1923 book, The Prophet. Gibran used very poetic and symbolic language that is easily recognized by students of esoteric teachings.
Now, the next version of Key 13 was produced by Paul Foster Case (an intellectual scholar, Freemason and founder of Builders of the Adytum, or B.O.T.A.) in 1931. In this version the bland colors are replaced by a bright red background, the color representing action and desire, also referring to the planet Mars and to the physical male force and war. (Of course, these references don’t necessarily refer to any particular event, but it is interesting that at the time this version was drawn, World War I had recently been waged and the early indications of World War II were on the horizon.)
In this version all the basic attributions are still the same, and the theme of the rising sun and the river are repeated. In fact, the dawning of the new Age of Aquarius is growing just a little brighter. But here the rider has dismounted. The imagery of the apocalyptic "pale horse rider" is replaced by a figure no longer cloaked in black, and he’s put down the banner and picked up the "Grim Reaper’s" steel scythe, which also refers to Mars and to action.
The figure is still Death here, but again, death is basically the means of change and transformation from one state to another. And just as there could be no physical human motion without the framework of the skeleton, there could be no cycle and perpetuation of life without the "framework of existence" that is created by birth, reproduction, death and birth to perpetuate the cycle of life.
Every form of life is born, lives, reproduces, and dies. It’s the cycle of creation. All matter changes form and evolves, and the least dense matter changes form more quickly and more often. It’s all about birth and rebirth, and Jesus provide a clue as to what it’s all about when he said: "Before Abraham was, I am."
Our spirit-soul continues on, and Jesus confirmed that when he said he is the one which was, and which is, and which will always be — an eternal spirit-soul. And when the soul fully matures in a person who realizes that the True Self is the Self of All, as Jesus did, it then no longer has to continue coming back to Earth for yet another lifetime in another mortal body. It has learned its lessons in this gross realm of polarity and opposites and trial and error, and it graduates to greater realms of existence.
In the 1931 Case version, though, you may have noticed that there is no boat. This is perhaps because the prophesied great wars were preoccupying many people at the time, and it was known that the messenger comes after the biggest and worst wars, at the end of the age of conflict and division. But other symbols reflect the same meanings as those in the first version, and the severed foot refers to Pisces, which is associated with the feet astrologically.
This third version of Key 13 was produced in 1971 by Paul Blighton, who founded the Holy Order of MANS. Blighton obviously had learned from Case’s B.OT.A. teachings, but he revised Key 13, not only changing the name from Death to Transition, but also changing some features, and adding one.
Blighton’s version still has the rising sun referring to the dawn of the new age. A foot and a discarded boot with the water running out of it again refers to the closing Piscean Age, but the single foot has a further meaning as well. The implication is that there is only "one foot on the ground," and this is a reference to the son of man and messenger for the Spirit of truth. It also refers to Key 14, which depicts the archangel with one foot in the water and one foot on land (which is the same angel mentioned in Revelation 10:1). And it refers also to Hindu symbolism in which the Avatar is often depicted as sitting with one foot on the earth and one foot folded across his lap.
The 1971 version of Key 13 also depicts some obvious references to the messenger for the Spirit of truth. In this version the boat (shown in the background of the 1910 Rider-Waite version) has landed, and a cart wheel implies not only a new mode of transportation, but perhaps indicates new activities.
In that regard, the year this version was produced is significant, because 1971 was the year the modern son of man witnessed God and began his spiritual education and journey. He learned of this version from someone he met several years later in 1976, the first time he went out on the desert along the Colorado River to meditate and fast.
It is likely that, whether consciously or sub-consciously, this symbolism was added to reflect the fact that the messenger for the Spirit of truth had "landed" and begun his long journey. It also refers to the fact that the Spirit of truth became far more active in the world, having been established in another host, and that many more people all over the world would benefit and learn from that Spirit, both consciously and sub-consciously.
It should be added that while Paul Foster Case’s work has been kept very much alive by Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.) in America, Europe and other countries, Paul Blighton’s teaching order did not survive (although former members still make his work and writings available).
It should also be added that even though Brother Paul Foster Case was a man of great intellectual understanding, he did not fully understand God. No man can, which is why Solomon wrote that we should trust not in our own understanding. Man cannot fathom God, and only when he "loses himself in God" may he truly serve God -- selflessly. But Case was confident in his understanding, and he felt he had good reasons.
For example, Case believed that the Lord God not only creates good, but also actually creates evil and wickedness because Isaiah 45:5-7 and Amos 3:6 say so. However, that concept is problematic because it is grossly misunderstood, and it is misunderstood because it wasn’t meant literally.
God cannot override the free will of the ego of Man. If God could create evil and wickedness in people, then God could create good and kindness in people, and if that were possible all humanity would be good and kind to each other because God is loving, like any good parent.
Furthermore, if one believes that God destroys as well as creates, that God creates evil as well as good, and that every event that occurs is because God caused or willed it (as many religions claim), then one is forced to believe that Adolf Hitler actually served "the will of the Lord," as he claimed, and that God has caused good people to be killed in natural disasters or wars, women to be raped, and innocent children to suffer and die from hunger, or be molested and even killed by pedophiles.
God our Great Spirit-Parent would not do that, nor would God allow it if it were possible for God to stop it. For our Creator and God is just, forgiving, merciful, and beneficent.
When we suffer the wrath of Nature or the wrath of Man, it is not because of God. It is because of the sin, wickedness, carelessness, and errors of human beings who have harmed the environment and/or their fellow human beings.
However, even though the modern son of man has reached a level of understanding sufficient to reveal the true meaning of prophecies, he cannot pretend to understand God, because no one can really understand or explain it. Only by divine revelation can one realize the spiritual reality, and the best human beings can do is provide clues in spoken and written words, which are feeble compared to the primordial, ancient Word of God which cannot be spoken or written.
That’s why Jesus spoke in parables. And it’s why Solomon wrote that fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom, and that we should not grow weary of chastisement from God, because like any good parent, God chastises beloved sons and daughters when they do what they know they should not do. The trick is to realize who and where the good and Great Spirit-Parent is, realize what mysterious ways it works, and realize that it, like the kingdom of heaven, is within.
Those who do not understand the concept but think they do actually make it harder for people to discover the truth on their own. They lead people to believe that God is something or someone outside of ourselves and causes evil and wickedness in some "godless" people.
However, that belief is somewhat like the belief that the six day creation story in the book of Genesis was meant to be taken literally, even though it was not meant literally. It’s an allegory. Evil and wickedness are created by human beings who indulge in the "forbidden fruit" of their deluded ego, which becomes evil and wicked when it judges in self-serving ways that are detrimental to others. Such a deluded ego separates itself from God and Conscience by essentially playing the egocentric role of a judgmental or wrathful god.
You see, the "fall of Adam and Eve from Eden" was about the human ego partaking in the "forbidden fruit," causing the eye to be spiritually blinded by the illusion of duality and by the notion of superiority and righteousness of the self and the inferiority and error of the other. That’s why Jesus said that we should judge not, and let our eye be single so that our body may be full of Light and we may see the kingdom of heaven that is within and at hand.
This is a crucial issue because those who believe that God creates evil and wickedness can and do make terrible, judgmental assumptions — such as leaders of the American Christian Right have done, claiming that God caused members of al Queda to commit suicide and mass murder by crashing jet airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
In fact, Christian Right leaders like the late Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson even claimed that the terrorist attack on America was God’s way of punishing certain groups in America, and they named homosexuals, Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, "secular humanists," liberals, etc.
Besides being absurd, that logic is flawed and harmful because it can enable and has enabled deluded madmen to justify themselves. After all, IF "God creates evil and wickedness," madmen can assume they serve God by committing horrible acts of destruction and murder. It enables them to believe that God made them the way they are, and that God made them do it, or approved it. And that is simply not true.
That is why we must recognize that it was not God that made them deluded, nor was it God who made them commit evil acts and murder. God does not create evil and wickedness, nor do invisible "demons" and "devils." Human beings do.
God (and the Ancient One who is our Highest Self or Oversoul) wants us to love one another, express God's love and mercy in the world, and not do anything harmful to anyone. Period.
When one realizes the ultimate truth, one realizes that our religious scriptures are not perfect. They cannot be. Only God is perfect, and the real Word of God cannot be spoken or written. Therefore, scriptures written by human beings are not perfect, and they are not the real Word of God. But, even though in certain ways and instances they are out of date, they still have great and immense value, and still contain universal wisdom. So this judgment is not to destroy religion, but to help fulfill and advance religion.
See, the modern son of man has learned from many wise people that have gone before him, but he follows none of them completely. Not even Jesus. He follows only God completely. And he understands what is written in Daniel 2:35, where the great Astrologer-Seer foretold that the "stone shall shatter the image of the King of Babylon and become as a great mountain that shall fill the earth." That's because the stone is an esoteric symbol for divine truth, understanding of God’s word, and righteous judgment.
That "stone" is the same one mentioned by Isaiah, who reported that the Lord God said: "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation, [so that] he that believes shall not make haste." (Isaiah 28:16)
Zion and the foundation stone are not a material place or thing, but spiritual symbols, and God tells the modern son of man ("he that believes"), to have patience -- to trust in God, and know that the eternal moment shall unfold as pages of history, just as was foreseen long ago, all in due time.
Now other articles will fill in the story, but it is hoped that this article may have helped you to see that the study of Kabbalah or Qabalah is an intellectual, scholarly path, not suited to everyone. However, the Sacred Tarot, while part of the Qabalah, is a path in itself. It is a symbolic picture text-book that is compatible with all sacred religious texts which provide the same core teachings of universal and eternal truths of ageless wisdom. And just as the sacred texts have included prophetic messages, so does the Sacred Tarot, as you’ve seen.
They all speak of the coming of the messenger for the Spirit of truth, and they all foretell the fulfillment of prophecy whereby the greedy, the proud and the militant will be rendered contrite of spirit in the face of truth, and the humble, faithful and meek shall inherit the earth.
Know this, however, that the modern son of man and messenger is sent not to provide a new religion or a new teaching, but to simply remind humanity of the teachings that already exist, and to explain the true intent, purpose and meaning of those teachings.
The Holy Qabalah and the Sacred Tarot are discussed here because they comprise a teaching that is surely the most misunderstood and the least known, even though it can be one of the most effective because it can be utilized in conjunction with any religion or spiritual teaching. Its purpose is not to indoctrinate you, but to enlighten you so you may appreciate and even celebrate the diversity of religions in the world.
Remember, while there is indeed but one way to God, there are many paths that lead thereto, just as there are many rivers that flow into the sea. Each one may be unique, but they all wind up returning to the Source.
Being on a path that is appropriate for you makes life easier and more rewarding. It leads you to where you want to go, spiritually, and it makes you a positive, productive person, which attracts positive energy to you. And the opposite is true for those who blindly stumble down a path of vain folly and material self-interest. We truly do reap what we sow.