The Emperor and the Star

18 Feb

As I have been thinking about Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth and his thoughts on the relation of the Tarot to the Tree of Life, I found I disagreed with him on one point – he put the Emperor (IV) as the connection between Netzach (Bliss) and Yesod (Essence of Being), and The Star (XVII) as the connection between Chokmah (Original Harmony) and Tiphareth (Experience). Now, his argument is based on linguistic and numerological arguments that go way over my head, but I am looking at this purely through my own philosophical standpoint.

To me, just thinking on the surface(ish) side of things, the connection between the Sefirot of Chokmah and Tiphareth should be representative of the active and powerful emanation of Chokmah – commonly associated with the male (as opposed to Binah, the passive, receptive female where creation occurs after receiving Chokmah’s seed – note that these terms are not representing what I think of men and women, but is representing symbolism primarily drawn from the Tanakh – or for those less knowledgeable of Judaism, the rough equivalent of the Bible‘s Old Testament) – exerting its will on the consciousness that is attained through experience (Tiphareth). This will to me would be better represented by the Emperor, not the Star – the Emperor as the “father” figure, the single stern authority who provides order from above. Additionally, putting the Emperor here would put him opposite The Lovers (VI) – which represents duality and intimacy, and in a way reflects the spirit of Binah, as the connection where Crowley places The Star should represent Chokmah.

One could argue that the Star provides light from above as a form of symbolism, but I see that as more of the symbolism of the Sun’s (XIX) role – and the Sun in its current placement is opposite the Emperor; would it not be better for the Star, which can be argued to have a similar function, to be opposite its closest example? The best placement for divine light from above, however, is the connection from Kether (The Spiritual Seed/Emanation) to Tiphareth, which is represented by the Priestess (II). This is fitting, as the Priestess serves not only as a passive figure, but also as the mysterious secrecy that lies behind the veil; she herself as a figure can be seen as Kether, the veil the abyss (in which dwells Daath and separates the supernal triangle from Tiphareth), and the viewer as the consciousness of Tiphareth. She, as a priestess, is herself “divine” in a sense, and also at the same time by her human nature more earthy and conscious in that sense; she then very well represents the bridge from the spirit to the “center” of the Tree of Life.

The Star, on the other hand, currently occupies the Emperor’s positions in Crowley’s layout, between Chokmah and Tiphareth, as mentioned earlier. The Star would better fit between Netzach and Yesod – Bliss and Essence of Being. Why? The star represents a calm serenity and a sort of dreaminess – that which is associated with bliss – and also with a sort of bringing down from above (just look at the image on the Thoth cards of Nuit, bridging the gap between high and low) and a sort of guidance, but in a different way than the Emperor’s stern imposing of order. More of a nudging or actual guide than a bring of order, which the power of Chokmah seems to say to me. The more gentle “Bliss” aspect of Netzach, coming down to guide Yesod (Crystallization and Essence of Being), and providing the best possible help for what can be argued (except in the case of Swords) is the best of the Sefirot. The additional hunt that Nuit as a Goddess is doing the guiding also seems more fit for this happier, “better” connection.

At least to me. Crowley had his points, and from my more limited view, I disagree – plus this puts the Roman numerals back in order. I have adopted this variant form to use in my tarot readings now.

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Posted by on February 18, 2011 in Philosophical Musings


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