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Ancient Mysteries Tarot

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Chapter 1 - What is Tarot?

This book grew out of an inner revelation that came to me in the form of several dreamlike experiences in meditation, both when I was sitting for formal daily practice, and at other times in a state resembling sleep. This seed of inner experience developed further by my reflections about it and later on by extensive research. Let me tell you about the initial experience, which led to all the rest.

Many of my most important dreams come in the early morning, just before I wake up. In the one I am about to describe, I was aware of being "asleep, but not asleep". Spiritual masters write about this as a kind of intermediate state between full waking and deep sleep. When I enter this realm, it feels like being in the full waking consciousness, not like dreaming. Sometimes in that state I think I am lying in bed awake. But I am not fully awake, as in meditation. The experience I am going to share was so real and convincing that I could not but believe I had lived through it. I was lying in bed early in the morning before getting up. I returned to normal waking awareness with the memory still fresh and quickly tried to set it down in words. Join me now as I try to share and relive what happened

I am in bed with my eyes closed, but I am not aware of this. I am having an inner experience. In this experience, I am walking in the woods, a kind of woodland very like my own country retreat. It is rocky terrain, and the trees are a mixture of mature hemlock and pine, with some cedar and oak interspersed here and there. I can also see the occasional white bark of birch trees. I come to a place deep in the woods where everything is very still. It is a clearing among the trees. Directly ahead of me I see a rocky granite hill, and in its side an opening or grotto. Sitting in front of this dark opening is a strange lady.

She is wearing grey robes, and across her face is a veil. She is quite still, and there is a mood of solemnity about her. With some hesitancy, I begin to draw closer to her. I sense that she is aware of my approach while at the same time being absorbed in her own interior reverie. Her features are dimly visible behind the veil, but I cannot say that I would be able to recognize her on the street, or that I could pick her out again from a photo.

Crossing the opening in the forest, I stand before her in silence. I had the feeling of her gaze resting on me. There is utter stillness all about. Then, I hear a voice within my mind, a female voice. Softly, the words are pronounced:

Sybilla sum.

I know what these words mean. I do not have to make any mental effort at remembering my high school Latin, because the understanding comes automatically. "I am the Sybil", she says. Then, she speaks again:

Intro ibo ad altari Dei.

"I go in to the altar of God." Her voice inside my mind is soft and solemn, its cadences soothing and kind. These words I know and remember from my childhood as an altar boy. I have the feeling of being in a sacred place, and the smell of pine is intense, like incense.

At this point, her mind guides mine to look behind her physical form into the dark mouth of the grotto. I become aware of steps that lead downward into its dark interior. She turns away from me and slowly begins to walk down those steps. I follow her. I have no hesitation to do so.

Slowly we descend into the darkness. It is cool, with dank, sweet smells of earth, and a feeling of moisture in the air. We come to a level stone floor, a small circular alcove, dimly lit, and then we begin to ascend. I count fifteen steps, stone steps, as we come up again. To my right and to my left it is all granite and only a faint light from ahead makes anything visible at all. The Sibyls grey robes rustle on the stone steps as she ascends, and I follow behind her into a growing light.

When we reach the top, we are standing in a chamber entirely cut from living stone. A circular skylight allows a gentle beam of radiance to shine down into the centre of the room. It falls upon a crystal orb, which sits on a square stone altar. On four sides of this altar are stone pillars. The crystal orb glows with the light, and there is enough radiance to see that the room is circular, and that the stone walls have pictures hanging on them. But my gaze returns to the crystal ball, because its light is drawing my attention into itself.

"This is the world," says the voice within my mind. "This is the Mother."

We stand together, the veiled lady and I, gazing into the crystal ball. "Behold the Mothers Light," the voice whispers.

The silence deepens, and my gaze is drawn inside the ball. I realize that the crystal ball and the room are lit by moonlight, not sunlight. There is a sense of energy cool and pure, refreshing and peaceful. I am in a place of wholeness and peace. I want to rest there, to float in that atmosphere of silent bliss. I want to seek deeper and deeper into this wonderful feeling of lightness.

How long this experience of being in the light lasts, I cannot tell. For at this point, I wake up. I feel deeply at ease, as if emerging from a wonderful meditation, or from a profound state of contemplation.

This is what happened to me in my first experience. This was the start of my journey of discovery in Tarot

Before sitting down to write about experience in dream diary, I went across the hall from my bedroom to the library and opened the box where my Tarot cards were kept. There, I found the card of the High Priestess. She had the same look and feel as the Sybil of my dream. I found The Hermit. It was the same face (The deck I was using was the Spiral Deck). It took a few moments of recollection to try and understand what this experience had meant.

As I reflected, I realized that I had made an inner contact with the High Priestess, and that she had acted as my guide. She had taken me into a temple of some sort. Its key feature was a crystal sphere, which she referred to as "The World". Its light was the moon-energy, and in this light I had experienced the depths of contemplation. I had not taken in the pictures on the walls, but I had the feeling that they held Tarot associations. The Mother-power was the prime mover at work in this temple. It was a Goddess temple of some kind, but a place where I felt very much at home.

I knew from my Tarot studies that the High Priestess is the guide in matters intuitive. Her message is one of reliance on inner sensing, a knowing that comes from the heart and not from the busy intellect. And indeed the feeling I had from the figure in the dream and from this temple was one of stillness, power, and a mood of numinous moonlight bathing everything in peace and purity. The steps at first led downward into the bowels of the earth, but then they ascended into a chamber lit by a single source, a single beam of moonlight.

I knew that "The World" was also one of the 22 cards of the Major Arcana, but I was used to seeing it pictured as a human female form, not as a crystal sphere. It was the culminating card of the Major cards in the Tarot deck, and represented the primal matrix, the original time-space continuum of creation, the world-soul and the wholeness of things. But in my dream experience, the world, the crystal sphere, was lit up by moonlight. And I had experienced an entry into this silver light. And it had not been an intellectual experience. I was not making any interior dialogue or verbal commentary while all this happened, indeed my mind had been quite still. That stillness and that sense of depth endured as I wrote the experience down, and it continued to be with me through the remainder of the day.

This experience came at the start of a period of reflection and research on Tarot which resulted in the book Ancient Mysteries Tarot. When I began to write, I was most familiar with the artwork of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, especially the images of the Major Arcanum. Following the above experience I had a series of meditations, in which I received inner guidance about the writing of the book. In my subsequent reflection and research, these seeds grew into a volume that suggested that there was a connection between Tarot and the ancient Mystery School Tradition. A month or so after the book was written, I was inspired to create the artwork for a new Tarot deck which would express what I had been writing about.

In Ancient Mysteries Tarot, I use the word "Tarot" to refer to three things. I use it firstly to mean Waite's Tarot, and other decks like it. This was my starting point, but I became familiar with many other decks, some that preceded it and many more that followed. These had been created roughly between the years 1400 and 2,000 AD. This is Tarot pretty much "as we know it".

Secondly, I use the term Tarot to refer to elements that were part of ancient divination and initiation in the Mystery Schools of Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt and India from about the time of Christ's birth, going back four to six thousand years. I call this the Roots of the Tarot Tree. I understand that many students of Tarot may feel that this 'stretches' the meaning of the word Tarot unduly, but the book Ancient Mystery Tarot explains how and why I came to this understanding. Other points of view on this matter may be quite valid from their own perspective.

Thirdly, I use the word Tarot to refer to the material that I developed in Ancient Mysteries Tarot and the new deck of cards (Ancient Mysteries Tarot Deck) which I created to formulate my ideas about Tarot's relation to ancient traditions. In my writing, I refer to certain ancient and primal realities of the inner world as "archetypes". Examples of this term include the "wise old man", the "divine king", the "earth goddess", and the "wheel of fate". These and other archetypes are pictured in the Major Arcana of most Tarot decks. In my understanding of Tarot, archetypes, the four sacred elements (conventionally symbolized by swords, wands, cups and coins) and the Pythagorean numbers, are the essence of whole system. I know very well that Tarot may have been nothing more than a game of cards for most people who used it during the several earliest centuries we can trace historically. And I understand that people who lived BC probably did not have Tarot Cards in the form of decks as we do. But they did have, in their traditions of divination and initiation, the basic elements later assembled symbolically into the form of Tarot Cards. The first makers of Tarot cards, consciously or unconsciously were creating a remarkable tool for opening consciousness to many levels of reality, including its most ancient roots.

What, then, is Tarot?

For me, Tarot is a compendium of the possible meanings a human life can have. The meaning is not in the cards, but in their user. A deck of Tarot cards is an instrument, which can be used skillfully or otherwise, not unlike a violin or a piano. Each of the 78 images in a deck of Tarot cards pictures a possibility that we can experience. The meaning of a card depends on the question that is asked, the skill of the reader, the other cards in the spread, and the possible refinements of further questions that may be asked, using further cards, to elaborate the initial clue. In particular, the 22 images of the Major Arcanum express archetypal attainments, experiences, insights or capacities that we can grow into and realize. On this basis Tarot has been called a Book of Wisdom. It can be used to see into the potential of a human life and understand it better (divination), or it can be used to study, comprehend and attain deeper or higher levels of consciousness (initiation). These two uses are not mutually exclusive. Divination means seeing further and deeper, ultimately seeing the Divine, and initiation means growing into, realizing, and becoming all that we can be. Tarot offers pictures of many of the combinations and permutations of experience which a human life can encompass as it unfolds from lesser to greater dimensions of wholeness.

Tarot could not exist without symbolism. We humans have used symbols from the most ancient times right up to the present day both to express ideas, and to activate states of heightened awareness. A true symbol comes from a plane of existence beyond the three-dimensional time-space continuum, which is the normal waking world, in which we move and live. Symbols carry the energy and information of their own planes of reality. If we are intuitively alert and attuned, a symbol can convey deep meaning. As subjects for meditation, symbols can precipitate significant experiences of expanded knowledge. When our human mind contemplates spiritual symbols, it takes on their form and assimilates their resonance. Gateways of deep understanding can thereby be opened.

In history, many cultures have evolved into greatness and then declined, but they have all used symbolism to express and to empower their purposes. Tarot puts on the cultural trappings of symbolism and imagery in order to speak to us about a realm of reality that endures even as cultures rise and pass away. The archetypal structure of Tarot is its inner essence, the core foundation of its meaning. A modern Tarot deck has 22 cards designated as the Major Arcana and a further 56 cards designated as the Minor Arcana. These latter are divided into four suits known conventionally as swords, cups, wands and pentacles. The core of meanings that Tarot can express inheres in the various artistic expressions that Tarot decks take (with greater or lesser degrees of distortion) whether ancient or modern. The inner reality to which Tarot refers can be glimpsed only when we learn to read the cards, and this is a special skill. We must know something about the symbolism of the cards, and we must be able to awaken our intuitive side, which demands that we align our consciousness in the right way.

When Tarot decks first began to show up as illustrated playing cards at the beginnings of the Renaissance in Europe, the keys to understanding the esoteric teachings of the Mystery Schools had been misplaced. The Hermetic scholars and the alchemists of that period had fragments of understanding, but not the complete picture. There are intriguing hints that the earliest decks may have been expressing the arcane lore of the Renaissance magi, but this has not been conclusively proved. We do know that Italy and France were astir with renewed interest in the wisdom of the ancients, fuelled by texts from Constantinople, which fell to the Turks in 1492. Some of these texts had references to the Mystery Schools that were already old when Rome was founded.

In ancient times, from generation to generation, the Mystery Schools had preserved, deepened, and transmitted the wisdom which occultists from the Renaissance onward saw encapsulated in the symbols of Tarot. But the Roman Empire and the Christian Religion and the barbarian invasions shook that ancient world and its primal spiritual traditions to the core. In Christian Europe, right up until relatively modern times, any deviation from official dogma was treated as heresy, and heretics were hunted down and silenced. The history of the Albigensians, the Cathars, the Gnostics and other sects shows how brutal the suppression could be. In this milieu, Tarot could exist as a card game, but not as a teaching of deep truth. To use it for divination or for initiation meant risking life and limb. The dogmatic absolutism of the Roman Church would countenance nothing that could open the European mind to spiritual realities beyond its own official teaching. Even today, Ouija boards and seances have been condemned as sinful.

By the time of the Enlightenment, the advent of the Freemasons and Rosicrucians and the re-discovery of the languages and writings of the Ancient Near East, the European mind was ready to begin the process of re-discovering the Mystery School Tradition which lay behind much of the symbolism of Tarot. In the early 1900s, the Rider-Waite Tarot deck captured popular interest and set the direction that Tarot would go in terms of art, symbolism, and interpretation for virtually the next century. Now, with the New Age movement well in progress, we have reached a turning point. The universal, gnostic and divinatory aspects of Tarot can more and more be seen as an expression of timeless, universal wisdom-teaching. We know more about the initiation-rites and the divination methods of the ancient Mystery School tradition. Type the words "Mystery School" into any Internet search engine and you will find references to the Greek mysteries of Orpheus and Eleusis, the mysteries of ancient Egypt, and other references to the Babylonians, Chaldeans and Celtic Druids. The particular stamp, which Waite placed on our understanding of Tarot, while useful in its day, has branched off in many directions since his time. Ancient Mysteries Tarot is a book that begins by reviewing some of the evidence for a connection between modern Tarot and ancient traditions, and then goes on to tell the story of The Fools journey of experience through the archetypes.

Since I had no interest in Tarot at all prior to my dream-experience described above, and the later meditations which unfolded its meaning, it was necessary to reflect, research, practice and teach the subject to make sure that I was on firm ground. I am grateful to Mary Greer and others whose advice has been invaluable in this process. Tarot history in particular is a contentious area of debate and the modern mind demands solid evidence for any claims one makes in this field. My previous 30 years of daily meditation and spiritual study have provided me with a personal perspective that might make possible a new and useful contribution. Other perspectives, from their own vantage points, may also be very valuable. Many kinds of analysis and consideration and comment on Tarot prove useful when we seek to understand all it can be, and use it to its full potential. That has been my experience. I hope that what follows will be useful in this spirit.

The student of Tarot, who is really a student of life and an apprentice of its wisdom, will master the subject more quickly if his or her mind can be transformed into a temple of knowledge. The work of ordering, informing and illumining the mind (as well as the heart) creates within us a sanctuary, and the deeper, sacred insights into Tarot can come fully to life if they are provided with that atmosphere. If you can activate the archetypes to which the Major Arcanum of Tarot refers, and make them feel at home in your consciousness, they will play their role in your life, richly enhancing its scope and meaning. Tarot symbols offer us insight and awakening exactly in the measure that this inner work of self-preparation has been done. They mirror our intentionality to us. They communicate the degree of clarity, insight, spiritual depth, range and subtlety that we have established in our own consciousness. If our core intent has been purified and motivated by our spiritual aspirations, as the Mystery School traditions have always guided students to do, Tarot will reveal the fullness of its magic.

This is the spiritual approach to Tarot. It works from the top down. If, following the advice of Master Jesus, you seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, all the rest will be added to it. In my own case, I came to feel that if I could know the lost wisdom of the Mystery Schools, I would understand better the language of number and symbol and image by which Tarot expresses its meanings. I did not feel it was absolutely indispensable to go rummaging through the rags and bones of history for scraps of "proof" to figure out what Tarot might have meant to Europeans living at the end of the Middle Ages. The earliest historical decks that still remain in no way capture the full scope of Tarots ancient meaning or its modern possibilities. There are ages of darkness and ages of light, and a human minds capacity to know the deep meaning and power of symbols may be adversely or beneficially affected by the circumstances of birth. History can try to document how people thought and understood at a point of European history where Tarot was being re-discovered by the western mind after a long sleep of spiritual forgetfulness and religious suppression. My interest, as I felt guided in my meditation, reflection and research, was not to sort out the history of Tarots re-emergence so much as to grasp the fullness of its primal meaning. I wanted to have some sense of the archetypal understandings of ancient adepts who were masters in both initiation and divination. Using the power of number, the four sacred elements and the archetypes, they had scaled the heights. I was interested in Tarot as an extension or expression of the Mystery School tradition, and all that this signifies for us today when we have decks of cards to use as symbols and tools. I had the sense that initiates in the temples of ancient Egypt or Greece or Chaldea might have used clay discs with numbers or paintings, or table-tops with designs or other tools which allowed them to do the same thing as modern users of Tarot do with their printed decks. Geomancy is not unlike Tarot in this respect.

My study was useful, and the books I read were helpful links in a long journey of discovery, but my inner guidance was the decisive factor in what I gave importance to. Tarot is a tool for putting you in touch with your own intuition and with the inner guides that teach you through the intuitive faculty. Traditional teachers in ancient times taught that only those who have studied the Universal Truth for several lifetimes, likely from a variety of traditions and perspectives, will have developed the capacities of the higher, intuitive mind necessary for the mastery of arcane wisdom. I had the immediate sense that Tarot can be used as a tool for the development of the more subtle mental faculties, and once these faculties have unfolded, it can be a book which reveals the secret teaching in ever greater depth. One lifetime is only a link, or a step, in a great journey of self-discovery. But it can become rich with meaning when we learn to read the original books of divine wisdom, and especially when we develop the necessary skills to access the deepest teachings, which invariably use symbolic language. Tarot is one such language.

Knowing what Tarot refers to, and how it refers, is what counts most in its use. For example, in your own spiritual development, when you discover the psychic being (which I sometimes experience as the child in the heart, the soul-child) you know more about The Fool. When you have learned the uses and abuses of power, you know much about the Emperor. When you have lived as a monk, you know something about The Hermit. A lifetime is not too much to learn the meaning of one card from the Major Arcana. In learning Tarot, you become conscious of the wisdom of many lifetimes. Tarot affords you a language of summation, a means to encapsulate the wisdom of your souls journey of evolution.

Initiation and divination will be encountered by every soul, which awakens to the spiritual adventure of life, and when we come to share the journey with others, Tarot is one of our best links to the essentials of the ancient wisdom tradition. Any teacher or authors own personal journey is intimately related to the story he can tell you about Tarot. One really only knows the terrain he has walked; only of this does one truly have the right to speak. Thus my own focus is defined, limited, imperfect, incomplete, but at the same time blessed by the perspective that opened to me. I tried to be a good scribe for the insights that came through, and to ground them in as firm an understanding of divination and Tarot as study would permit. The initiations and deepenings of consciousness, which I have experienced in this life and others of which I have become aware, determine my perspective.

In my later reflections about my dream experience, it seemed that the Sybil was one form of the Divine Mother, who is my spiritual guide and one form of the Infinite Consciousness. In the temple weve visited, the moon channels the suns light, and in fact the Divine Sun in all its glorious fullness needs to be scaled down into something we can assimilate, something with transduced energies that can unfold and evolve in time and space, elements of a story that we can live and discuss.

Of all the Tarot cards, my closest sense of affinity has for some time been with The Fool. And I think I know why this is so. I feel that I know The Fool from the inside. Much of what he is, I am. So it is as The Fool that I tell my story of a journey through the archetypes in Ancient Mystery Tarot, a story that is a metaphor of what I have personally lived and experienced and known. My sense of The Fool is that he only appears to be a fool if you look at him from the outside, through the eyes of accumulated social conditioning, or from the perspective of the mental ego. But if you can experience who he is from the inside, he is by no means foolish. The words "fool" and "foolish" only arise when The Fool bumps up against social convention. In his own space, he is true to himself, and has much inner freedom; he is internally consistent within himself, and he only encounters dilemma or misunderstanding when he pursues his adventures in the outer world and faces the conundrums of humanity. It is his fate to be misunderstood by those who see him from the outside.

I feel that knowing The Fool is intimately related to knowing the soul. Each of us is, in essence, that divinity, but in order to manifest our divinity in material form, we must incarnate. When a human being is born, the soul enters into the three dimensional time-space continuum, taking on a mind, an astral (emotional) body, and a physical body, as well as a set of karmic limitations or challenges which are necessary for growth and expression of potential. When the Divine Self has projected a part of its timeless reality into manifest form, that portion of divinity is called the soul. The soul experiences evolution as a human being, it unfolds its capacities from life to life, but it cannot be compromised by its earthly experiences, (fire cannot burn it, water cannot drown it, etc. as the Bhagavad Gita says) it can only learn and evolve. As the soul absorbs lifes lessons and assimilates its experiences, it grows in wisdom and capacity.

The Fool, who in spiritual vocabulary can be called the "psychic being" (from the Greek word psyche, or soul) is the inner reality of our unlimited potential. He is not in any way conditioned by human history, social habits, family karma, the ego, or by the mind and its social programming. He works through all of this in an innately innocent, intuitive sense of inner purpose, to achieve an inner growth of consciousness in the adventure of life. Living through various kinds of experience is how he learns his lessons. This is how he develops the ability to express his potential in creation, and to cope with its darkness. He is forever renewing the adventure of his human incarnations for the purpose of progressing in self-mastery, but none of his experiences bind or limit him. He is naturally innocent, clear, a free spirit. By the end of his journey, The Fool has acquired all the gifts of The Magician, and all the qualities of the other 20 figures in the Major Arcana, but he always remains who he is, free from all kinds of ego-limitation. His only limitation, and it may be a form of wisdom, is that he is not shaped by social convention.

There is a certain kind of meditation you can do wherein you become the psychic being. Or, the experience of being in your soul may just happen to you outside the context of formal contemplative practice. One of the first signs that you are having this experience is that you become childlike. You become heart-centred. The complexity of your mind, while you are in that flow, simply melts away. There is a quality of sweetness and freshness that comes forward in your inmost feelings. You walk more lightly. You feel more deeply and clearly the poignancy of life . You have a sense of inner freedom from all that is around you, and in fact the world such as it is may seem, when you look at it through the eyes of the inner child, rather stale and drab. You have the sense of how everything is inwardly, in its true essence, before it is interpreted and manipulated and tainted by the human mind, and you find it all intrinsically beautiful. This includes your experience of other people, but you see the difference between who they are in essence, and the personality-scripts they are living. You observe this from a space within yourself where you feel it is wiser not to interfere. You have the good sense to keep quiet in order to be true to the spirit of your inner vision. You find that you are naturally kind-hearted and caring in your disposition towards all life, but you may not be motivated to do anything other than to smile upon the world lovingly.

There is a quiet sense of having come home. You know what it means to be truly yourself, but you feel like a babe in the woods relative to the sophisticated and complicated world around you. You may not feel that you are able to relate to it on its own terms. Hence, the need to gather experience and to acquire an education, and hence the journey and the quest into which the Fool is always entering. The child in the heart is forever exploring, playing with experience, setting out on new avenues of discovery. His disposition is playful, and he learns by play, because his heart is light. He is never pulled away from this inner lightness of being, because he can only be true to himself. He has the "innocence of a dove" as an innate gift. He sets out on his life-adventure to acquire the wisdom of the serpent. This is The Fool I know from the inside, The Fool who experiences the adventures of the Tarot which unfold later in this tale. These are some things I can say about the Fool from my own personal experience of the psychic being. This may sound poetic or metaphorical, but I suspect that there are very few of us who can claim to be completely unacquainted with the child in the heart. Anyone who is would find the above comments meaningless.

The Tarot Card illustration called "The Fool" is looking at the psychic being from the outside, and trying to illustrate his appearance by means of visual symbols which are overlays of cultural association. The earliest cards show The Fool as a beggar being attacked by a dog. Waite has him wearing a mantle decorated with spoked wheels, which express the whirling movement of the universe. In the Waite deck, seven green leaves surround each wheel-mandala, corresponding to the seven chakras, and under this mantle the Fool wears a white shirt, signifying purity of spirit. He carries a pole with a bundle, signifying his personal identity and psychological potential. The light of the sun shines on him from a yellow sky of divine intelligence. All of this, of course, reflects the perspective of the Golden Dawn magical group of which Waite was a member and sometime leader.

For me, the white dog beside the Fool represents "Sarama", or intuition. In the Vedas and the Upanishads, Indias oldest scriptures, Sarama was experienced in the occult visions of the Rishis, and they symbolically referred to its action by using the symbol of a hound, or dog, who ran ahead sniffing out and discovering things unknown to the owner. The Fool is ready to step forward into the unknown, represented by a precipice. He does not have to know what lies ahead, because he is not moving forward from a place of fear or from a need to control (insecurity). He is open, unbounded, unencumbered, and he travels light. Intuition runs before him and sniffs out the truth of what lies ahead, beyond the superficial appearances. The Fool, in turn, responds to what his intuition reveals, not to the ploys of social convention. This is how he remains true to his own nature, and this is how he confronts and sometimes offends society.

It became clear to me, as I matched my inner awareness of my own psychic being with the Tarot image of The Fool that it would be very important for me to be able to enter into the consciousness of The Fool if I wanted to progress in Tarot. In other words, if I wanted to learn from the High Priestess, I would do best to approach Her from within the consciousness of my own soul-child, with openness, purity of heart, and intuitive spontaneity. In that consciousness, I become the child of every mother, and link heart-to-heart with everyone and everything I encounter. She would feel this, and her guidance would be all the more assured from the intuited inner rapport. By becoming my own Heart-Child (who is by no means a fool), I would be transparent to the moonlit teaching beamed down into the crystal sphere at the heart of the temple. I would see the world as a repository of lessons which would be conveyed to me in symbolic visions, in magical time-space, in archetypal territory of the inner terrain. Only my own intuitive way of knowing could adequately receive and process what she had to convey, because I knew that the High Priestess would not cater to the presumptions of my mind. She came to me to liberate me from the limitations of my mental notions, not to lend them support, and it is for this reason that she spoke to me in the oracular vein, with the language of universal symbols, rather than in conversational banter.

Yes, I would have to develop greater facility at merging into my own psychic centre of being if I wanted to become her student, and move through the kingdom of archetypal lessons in the inner temple to which she had taken me.

Something else came to mind as I reflect upon the Fool, who is the protagonist of the tale to come, and his relation to the High Priestess, and it can only be explained by digressing into a few further details from my meditation. I am accustomed in my morning meditation to holding a crystal ball on my lap, cradled in my two hands. I meditate with a small group of seekers every morning at 7 am, and once or twice a week with a somewhat larger group of spiritual friends who follow the same heart-path as I do. One or two of these people had remarked that they could see gold light in the crystal ball when they looked my way during meditation. And I myself once glimpsed this light at the end of a session of meditation, when I was setting the ball aside in order to do a reading from a spiritual book, which is the normal way our group sittings are concluded. The presence of light within a crystal ball had been part of what the Sybil (High Priestess) had shown me in my dream-experience. It was the silver light of The Moon preparing the way for the descent of the Supramental Sun. It was a centrally important symbol of the spiritual work I was engaged in. It was something I needed to understand.

In three previous books that I authored about crystals, I had become aware that a fine quartz crystal is physical matter structured into an extraordinary degree of balance and harmony. All the molecules in a piece of quartz crystal (especially a clear one, without clouds) are lined up in perfectly symmetrical order. One can experience ones energy and consciousness being greatly amplified when they interact with such a piece. This was the kind of crystal ball I was holding in meditation. It was a unique piece both for size and clarity, and for some time now, various people in my group had been feeling its presence. One or two people in particular would make appointments to come and sit in the same room as the crystal ball and tune in to it for personal healing. Thus the image of the crystal orb in the temple had a real-life precedent.

The image of a crystal sphere, representing "The World", resting on a square altar (spirit perfectly expressed in matter), illumined by light from above, seems clearly, as I reflect on it, to be an image of the marriage of heaven and earth. But in this case, in my dream with the Sibyl, it was moonlight which flooded down through the aperture in the ceiling of the inner temple, not the direct solar outpouring. This had its own symbolic meaning which, as I pondered it, seemed to be: the moonlight would teach me a number of lessons concerning the evolutionary unfolding that was my soul-journey on earth. It would not be a silent white screen of the Supreme Self, rather it would be a tapestry of experience peopled by the archetypes of universal symbolism, and presided over by the High Priestess of perfected intuition. The crystal ball of the inner temple, like the ball I hold in meditation, would be a catalyst for initiation into a more conscious journeying of the spiritual path. Inside the grotto, in the inner temple of wisdom, which seemed to be the Sibyls true home, the descent of celestial light into earthly matter seemed to be the central event. No doubt the pictures on the walls had their own importance for the future teaching, and I felt I would come to understand more of this if I were able to visit the place again, whether in dreams or in meditation.

As I began to write the early chapters of Ancient Mysteries Tarot, I knew that the cards of the Major Arcanum were 22 in number. I knew that the Fool was myself, my deeper self. I knew that "The World" was embodied in the crystal sphere at the centre of the inner temple. And I knew that the High Priestess, who called herself the Sibyl, had emerged from her own sacred space to be my guide. My inner feeling was that my sincerity in meditation and my fidelity to myself in my personal living would be all important for keeping open the channel by which I could progress further, and take in all she had to show me. This I was resolved to do.

Growing