By Ellen Goldberg
Ellen Goldberg will be leading a course on the eternal, archetypal principles reflected in the Tarot. To learn more, visit her class page: eternal, archetypal principles Perennial Spiritual Truths and the Tarot: Going Deeper.
Philosophy helps us to understand the deeper meaning of life. The Perennial Philosophy is the essential philosophical and spiritual truths revealed to sages and mystics throughout time. These ideas have a force of their own and arise within the receptive mind universally. They relate mankind one another on an unconsciousness level. The Wise have no quarrel with one another. These ideas are keys to Self- realization.
The Tarot is also a collection of eternal and archetypal principles. It presents these eternal truths as images. It is interesting to notice how pervasive the images and symbols used in the Tarot are throughout history.
Historian Barbara Walker states how in India, sacred books were arranged like stacks of cards for thousands of years. Most people were illiterate and images were used to convey spiritual teachings. The Tarot too is a book of wisdom arranged as a pack of cards. The teachings it conveys are universal and correspond to the Perennial Philosophy.
In the workshop I lead at the Open Center, we relate some of the themes of the Perennial Philosophy to the Tarot’s Major Arcana. Often the similarities are startling, wonderful and extremely useful. Not only can these themes be called to mind when doing readings, but they allow us to bring up good questions and things to consider for our selves.
We will learn to use a Major Arcana card to stimulate ways of thinking or being. The images are very potent in themselves, way beyond their use in what is commonly thought of as divination. In truth, Divination means to communicate with the Divine. In both Hermeticism and the Perennial Philosophy, that Divine is within.
It is this theme we will explore this evening as “Know Thy Self”. These were the words of advice carved over the entrance to the oracle at Delphi in 2000BC. The essence of this is the awareness of the indwelling Eternal Presence of the Divine. This is Self- Realization. It has been expressed as “Thou art That”, and in the ancient mantra of similar meaning, “Tat Tuam Asi”.
Using the Perennial image of The Chariot, we will travel inward and speak to the One True Self. In approximately 500BC the Bhagavad-Gita tells us, “The Self is the Rider in the chariot of the body, of which the horses are the senses, and the mind is the reigns”. The inner journey we will experience in class can serve as a template for continuing your interior experiences with the cards. This is akin to Active Imagination.
Continuing the theme of Self knowledge, we will learn a Cabalistic four card reading which acts as a mirror from within. This aids us in knowing which concept of Self we are currently inhabiting. Tarot shows us where our work on ourselves could be to enable us to come back to our primary identification and our center. It also shows our strengths and what tools we may have in order to do this. In this way a simple reading can become a profound teaching of the lessons we are meant to learn in that moment. If we wish, we can turn any circumstance into an opportunity for growth on the path of Self realization.
Look for the wonderful anthology, “The Perennial Philosophy” by Aldous Huxley.
To learn more about these teachings, visit the class page for Ellen Goldberg’s class, Perennial Spiritual Truths and the Tarot: Going Deeper.