View Full Version : "The Chariot" (excerpted from a modern classic of occult literature)

31-12-2010, 08:10 AM
This is an excerpt from a contemporary masterpiece of Occult literature -- perhaps the most accomplished esoteric text penned in our lifetimes. It's scope goes far beyond the Tarot, and it should be rewarding for any reader concerned with spiritual matters. Especially fascinating are the parts about Jung, Megalomania, and the Three Types of Mysticism. Enjoy!

Meditations on the Tarot:
A Journey Into Christian Hermeticism
by Valentin Tomberg

Letter VII, The Chariot

The seventh Arcanum is that of mastership understood in the sense of temptation as well as accomplishment...

The charioteer of the Arcanum "The Chariot" is the victor over trials, i.e. the temptations, and if he is master, then it is thanks to himself. He is alone, standing in his chariot; no one is present to applaud him or to pay homage to him; he has no weapons -- the sceptre that he holds not being a weapon. If he is master, his mastership was acquired in solitude and he owes it to the trials alone, and not to anyone or anything external to himself.

The victory achieved in solitude... what glory and what danger it comprises at one and the same time! It is the only real glory -- the real radiance of the aura become luminous. It is, however, at the same time the most real and the most serious spiritual danger which exists. "Pride" and "vaingloriousness", the traditional names which one gives to it, do not suffice to characterize it in an adequate way. It is more than this. It is, rather, a kind of mystical megalomania, where one deifies the regulating centre of one's own being, one's ego, and where one sees the divine only within oneself and becomes blind to the divine above and outside of oneself. The "higher Self" is then experienced as the supreme and unique Self of the world, although it is only higher in relation to the ordinary, empirical self, and it is far from the supreme and unique being... far from being God, in other words.

It would be well, now, to dwell on the problem of identification of the self with the higher Self and of the higher Self with God.

C.G. Jung who, after having explored the sexual or "Freudian" layer, and then that of the will-to-power or "Adlerian" layer, of the unconscious (i.e. latent or occult consciousness) of the human being, encountered a spiritual (mystical, gnostic and magical) layer during the course of his clinical and psychotherapeutic experience. Instead of drawing back from it or extricating himself from it through a corrosive "explanation", he had the courage and honesty to set himself to the laborious study of the phenomenology of this layer of the unconscious. Now, this work proved fruitful. Jung discovered here not only the causes of certain psychic disorders, but also the profound and intimate process that he designated as the "process of individuation", which is nothing other than the gradual birth of another self (Jung called it the "Self") higher to oneself or one's ordinary ego. The discovery of the process of the "second birth" prompted him to extend the range of his exploratory work considerably, notably to include symbolism, mystery rituals and the comparative study of contemporary and ancient religions.

Now, this broadening of his field of exploration also proved fruitful. Jung's arrival at his discovery (which at first racked him, preventing him from speaking of it to a living soul for fifteen years) had its train of consequences, including the knowledge and description of some dangers or temptations belonging to the way of initiation and the process of individuation which corresponds to it. One of these dangers -- which are at the same time trials or temptations -- is that which Jung designated by the term "inflation", which signifies the state of consciousness of the self inflated to excess, and which is known in psychiatry in its extreme manifestation by the term "megalomania".

Therefore, here we are concerned with a range of psychic phenomena, which to begin with show up in relatively innocent forms -- such as a high opinion of oneself which is not entirely justified, or the somewhat exaggerated desire to have one's own way -- which become quite dangerous when they manifest as disparaging negativity towards everyone... the faculties of appreciation, gratitude and worship being concentrated upon oneself; and which eventually signify a catastrophe that is rarely curable, when they reveal themselves as obsession with easily recognizable illusions, or megalomania, pure and simple. Here, then, are the principal dangers of inflation: exaggerated importance attached to oneself, superiority complex tending towards obsession and, lastly, megalomania. The first degree signifies a practical task for work upon oneself; the second degree is a serious trial; whilst the third is a catastrophe.

What is it a question of in the process of inflation? Let us look first at what Jung himself says about it:

The "superordinate personality" is the total man, i.e. man as he really is, not as he appears to himself. To this wholeness the unconscious psyche also belongs, which has its requirements and needs just as consciousness has... I usually describe the "superordinate personality" as the "self", thus making a sharp distinction between the ego, which, as is well known, extends only as far as the conscious mind, and the whole of the personality, which includes the unconscious as well as the conscious component. The ego is thus related to the "self" as part to the whole. To that extent the self is superordinate. Moreover, the self is felt empirically not as subject but as object, and this by reason of its unconscious component, which can only come to consciousness indirectly, by way of projection. (C.G. Jung and C. Kerenyi, Introduction to a Science of Mythology; trsl. R.F.C. Hull, London, 1951, pp. 223-224)

Now, this "way of projection" is living symbolism -- traditional symbolism as well as dream symbolism manifesting itself in dreams, "active imagination" and visions. Dreams, when observed in a series (often running into several hundreds), show that they obey a kind of plan. They seem to relate to one another and to be subject in a profound sense to a common goal:

... in the deepest sense... they seem... to be subordinated to a common goal, so that a long dream-series no longer appears as a senseless string of the incoherent and isolated happenings, but resembles the successive steps in a planned and orderly process of development. I have called this unconscious process spontaneously expressing itself in the symbolism of dream-series the individualtion process (C.G. Jun, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche...)

The process of individuation is "the spontaneous realization of the whole man". For the formula that is henceforth valuable for the notion of the soul is: "psyche = ego-consciousness + unconsciousness". With respect to the role of the unconscious in this formula, it is necessary to take account of the fact, principally, that in every child consciousness grows out of the unconscious in the course of a few years, also that consciousness is always only a temporary state based on an optimum physiological performance and therefore regularly interrupted by phases of unconsciousness (sleep), and finally that the unconscious psyche not only possesses the longer lease of life, but is continuously present (i.e. it ensures the continuity of being). (C.G. Jung, The Practice of Psychotherapy)

Now, the process of individuation is that of the harmonization of the conscious self and the unconscious in the psyche. But the "conscious and unconscious do not make a whole when one of them is suppressed and injured by the other" (C.G. Jung, Conscious, Unconscious and Individuation). It is a matter of a harmonization which is only realisable by way of the re-centering of the personality, i.e. the birth of a new centre of the personality, which participates in the nature of the unconscious as well as in the conscious self -- a centre, in other words, where the unconscious is perpetually in transformation into consciousness. This is the aim of the process of individuation, which is at the same time a stage of initiation.

The process of individuation operates, as we have said, by establishing a collaboration between the unconscious and the conscious. The domain of symbols affords such a collaboration and it is here, consequently, that it can begin. In the process of individuation one meets -- or rather one awakens -- the symbol-forces that Jung designated, in consideration of their typical character, by the name "archetypes".

The archetype -- let us never forget this -- is a psychic organ present in all of us. A bad explanation means a correspondingly bad attitude towards this organ, which may thus be injured. But the ultimate sufferer is the bad interpreter himself. Hence the "explanation" should always be such that the functional significance of the archetype remains unimpaired, i.e. that an adequate and appropriate relationship between the conscious mind and the archetypes is insured. For the archetype is an element of our psychic structure and thus a vital and necessary component in our psychic economy... There is no "rational" substitute for the archetype any more than there is for the cerebellum or the kidneys. (C.G. Jung and C.Kerenyi, Introduction to a Science of Mythology)

Now, one must not take archetypes lightly. They are formidable psychic forces which can also invade, inundate and engulf consciousness. This is what happens in the case of the identification of consciousness with the archetype. Then it produces, more often than not, an identification with the role of the heroes (and, sometimes -- when it is a matter of the archetype named "the wise old man" or "the great mother" -- an identification with a cosmic figure).

At this stage there is usually another identification, this time with the hero, whose role is attractive for a variety of reasons. The identification is often extremely stubborn and dangerous to mental equilibrium. If it can be broken down and consciousness reduced to human proportions, the figure of the hero can gradually be differentiated into a symbol of the self. (ibid.)

And, let us add, if this does not succeed, the figure of the hero takes possession of consciousness. Then the "second identification" -- or the "epiphany of the hero" -- takes place:

The epiphany of the hero (the second identification) shows itself in a corresponding inflation: the colossal pretention grows into a conviction that one is something extraordinary, or else the impossibility of the pretention ever being fulfilled only proves one's own inferiority, which is favourable to the role of the heroic sufferer (a negative inflation). In spite of their contrariety, both forms are identical, because unconscious compensatory inferiority tallies with conscious megalomania, and unconscious megalomania with conscious inferiority (you never get one without the other). Once the reef of the second identification has been successfully circumnavigated, conscious processes can be cleanly separated from the unconscious, and the latter observed objectively. This leads to the possibility of an accommodation with the unconscious, and thus to a possible synthesis of the conscious and unconscious elements of knowledge and action. This in turn leads to a shifting of the centre of personality from the ego to the self. (ibid.).

This is the aim of the process of individuation.


31-12-2010, 08:12 AM

Now, inflation is the principle risk that attends each person who seeks the experience of depth, the experience of what is occult, which lives and works behind the facade of phenomena of ordinary consciousness. Therefore, inflation constitutes the principal danger and trial for occultists, esotericists, magicians, gnostics and mystics. Monasteries and spiritual orders have always known this, thanks to the immense pillar of experience which they have accumulated over millenia in the domain of the profound life. This is why their whole spiritual practice is based on the cultivation of humility by such means as the practice of obedience, the examination of conscience and the reciprocal brotherly help of members of the community. Thus, if Sabbatai Zevi (1625-1676) had been a member of a spiritual order with a discipline similar to that of Christian spiritual orders and monasteries, his illumination would never have led to his revealing himself (in 1648) to a group of disciples as the promised Messiah. Neither would he have had to become a Turk in order to save his life and continue his mission ("God has made me an Ishmaelite-Turk; he has commanded, and I have obeyed -- the ninth day after my second birth", he wrote to his followers in Smyrna). Because he would have been spared positive inflation, just as he would have been spared the negative inflation of which Samuel Gandor, his disciple, gives the following description:

It is said of Sabbatai Zevi that for fifteen years he has been bowed down by the following affliction: he is pusued by a sense of depression which leaves him no quiet moment and does not even permit him to read, without his being able to say what is the nature of this sadness which has come upon him. (Gershom G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism)

The history of the illumined Cabbalist Sabbatai Zevi is only an extreme case of the general dangers and trials which all practicing esotericists have to face. Indeed, Hargrave Jennings expresses this danger and trial in a successful way concerning the Rosicrucians:

They speak of all mankind as infinitely beneath them; their pride is beyond idea, although they are most humble and quiet in exterior. They glory in poverty, and declare that it is the state ordered for them; and this though they boast universal riches. They decline all human affections, or submit to them as advisable escapes only -- appearance of loving obligations, which are assumed for convenient acceptance, or for passing in a world which is composed of them, or of their supposal. They mingle most gracefully in the society of women, with hearts wholly incapable of softness in this direction; while they criticize them with pity or contempt in their own minds as altogether another order of beings from men. They are most simple and deferential in their exterior; and yet the self-value which fills their hearts ceases its self-glorifying expansion only with the boundless skies... In comparison with the Hermetic adepts, monarchs are poor, and their greatest accumulations are contemptible. By the side of the sages, the most learned are dolts and blockheads... Thus, towards mankind they are negative; towards everything else, positive; self-contained, self-illuminated, self-everything; but always prepared (nay, enjoined) to do good, wherever possible or safe. To this immeasurable exaltation of themselves, what standard of measure, or what appreciation, can you apply? Ordinary estimates fail in the idea of it. Either the state of these occult philosophers is the height of sublimity, or it is the height of absurdity. (Hargrave Jennings, The Rosicrucians: Their Rites and Mysteries)

Let us say absurd as well as sublime, because inflation is always simultaneously sublime and absurd. This is what Eliphas Levi says about it:

There is also a science which confers on man powers apparently superhuman. They are enumerated thus in a Hebrew manuscript of the sixteenth century:
ALEPH - He beholds God face to face, without dying, and converses familiarly with the seven genii who command the celestial army.
BETH - He is above all griefs and fears.
GHIMEL - He reigns with all heaven and is served by all hell.
DALETH - He rules his own health and life and can influence equally those of others.
HE - He can neither be surprised by misfortune nor overwhelmed by disasters, nor can he be conquered by his enemies.
VAU - He knows the reason of the past, present and future.
ZAIN - He possesses the secret of the resurrection of the dead and the key of immortality.
(Eliphas Levi, The Dogma and Rituals of High Magic)

Is it a matter here of programme or of actual experience? If it is experience, it is one of inflation pushed very far. If it is a programme, he who takes its realisation seriously cannot fail to fall prey to inflation, be it positive (superiority complex) or negative (inferiority complex).

Whatever it may be, the experience or programme of this Hebrew manuscript of the sixteenth century quoted by Eliphas Levi shows a remarkable similarity to the experience of John Custance, described by him in his book Wisdom, Madness and Folly: the Philosophy of a Lunatic. It is as follows:

I feel so close to God, so inspired by His Spirit that in a sense I am God. I see the future, plan the universe, save mankind; I am utterly and completely immortal; I am even male and female. The whole Universe, animate and inanimate, past, present and future, is within me. All nature and life, all spirits, are co-operating and connected with me; all things are possible. I am in a sense identical with all spirits from God to Satan. I reconcile Good and Evil and create light, darkness, worlds, universes. (John Custance, Wisdom, Madness and Folly: the Philosophy of a Lunatic)

The state described by John Custance is characteristic of that acute mania, and the author himself in no way denies it. But would he still look at it in this way, one can ask, if he knew that his experience is found described exactly in the Brhadaravyaka Upanishad, which says:

He who has found and awakened to the Soul that has entered this conglomerate whole -- he is the maker of everything, for he is the creator of all; the world is his: indeed, he is the world itself. (Brhadaravyaka Upanishad)

Can one say with certainty that this text quoted from the Upanishads is based on an entirely different experience to that of John Custance?

Thirty-eight years ago I knew a tranquil man of mature age who taught English at the YMCA in the capital of a Baltic country. Now, he revealed to me one day that he had attained a spiritual state which manifests itself through "the eternal gaze" and which is that of consciousness of the identity of the Self with the Eternal Reality of the world. The past, present and future -- seen from the pedestal of eternity, where his consciousness had its abode -- were an open book for him. He had no more problems, not because he had resolved them, but because he had attained the state of consciousness where they disappeared, having become of no importance. Because problems belong to the domain of motion in time and space; he who transcends this and arrives at the realm of eternity and infinity, where there is neither movement nor change, is free of problems.

When he spoke to me of these things, his beautiful blue eyes rayed out sincerity and certainty. But this radiance gave way to a dark and angry look as soon as I raised the question of the value of the "subjective feeing of eternity" when one is not aware of or one is unable objectively to do something more towards helping humanity, be it in spiritual (or other) progress, or in the alleviation of spiritual, psychic or bodily suffering. He did not forgive me this question and he turned his back on me, which was my last impression of him in this world (he made his way to India, where soon after he died as victim of an epidemic).

I recount this episode in my life only so that you may know, dear Unknown Friend, when and how the very serious problem of the forms of, and the dangers of, spiritual megalomania were awakened in me, and how I owe it to this objective experience that I began work on this problem, some of the outcomes of which I am in the process of showing.

Spiritual megalomania is as old as the world. Its origin is found well beyond the terrestrial world, according to the millenial-old tradition concerning the fall of Lucifer. The prophet Ezekiel gives a most moving description of this:

You were the signet of perfection,
You were full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
You were covered with every precious stone:
Sardonyx, topaz, and diamond,
Chrysolite, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, carbuncle, emerald, and gold,
With which you were adorned,
And which were prepared for you
On the day that you were created.
You were a guardian Cherubim, with outspread wings;
I placed you, and you were, on the holy mountain of God;
You walked in the midst of the stones of fire...
Your heart was proud because of your beauty,
You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you...
(Ezekiel xxviii)

Here is the higher (i.e. celestial) origin of inflation, superiority complex and megalomania. And since "that which is below is as that which is above", it is repeated below in human earthly life from century to century and generation to generation. It is repeated above all in the lives of those human beings who are detached from the ordinary earthly setting and the state of consciousness belonging to it, and who transcend it, be it in the sense of height, or in the sense of breadth, or, lastly, in the sense of depth. He who aspires to a plane higher than that of the terrestrial setting risks becoming haughty; he who seeks breadth beyond the normal circle of earthly duties and pleasures risks considering himself to be more and more important; he who is in search of the depth, beneath the surface of the phenomena of terrestrial life, runs the greatest risk: that of inflation, of which C.G. Jung speaks.

The abstract metaphysician, who arranges worlds according to an order that he has chosen, can lose all interest for the particular and for the individual, in such a way that he comes to consider human beings to be almost insignificant as insects. He regards them only from above. Seen from his metaphysical height, they lose all proportion and become for him small or almost insignificant -- whilst he, the metaphysician, is great, since he participates in great metaphysical things, which clothe him in grandeur.

The reformer who wants to correct or save humanity easily falls victim to the temptation of considering himself as the active centre of the passive circle of humanity. He feels himself as the bearer of a mission of universal significance therefore he feels himself to be more and more important.

The practicing occultist, esotericist or Hermeticist (if he is not practicing, he is only a metaphysician or reformer) experiences the higher forces which work beyond his consciousness and which make their entrance there. At what price?... Either at the price of worshipping on his knees -- or otherwise at the price of the identification of the self with these higher forces, which results in megalomania.


31-12-2010, 08:14 AM

One speaks often of the dangers of occultism. Black magic is usually the supreme danger against which the beginner is put on guard by the "masters"; others (above all those who know more or less about medicine) see it as disorders of the nervous system.

But experience during forty-three years of practical occultism (or esotericism) has taught me that the danger of occultism is neither black magic nor nervous disorder -- at least, these dangers are met no more often amongst occultists than amongst politicians, artists, psychologists, believers and agnostics. I am not able to cite by name any black magician amongst the occultists that I know, whereas it would not be too difficult to name some politicians who, for example, have nothing to do with occultism -- and who would even be hostile to it -- but whose influence and impact agree very well with the classical concept of that of the "black magician". Indeed, is it difficult to name politicians who have exercised a deadly, suggestive influence on the popular masses, blinding them and inciting them to acts of cruelty, injustice and violence, of which each individual, taken separately, would be incapable... and who, through their semi-magical influence, have deprived individuals of their freedom and rendered them possessed? And is not this action to deprive men of their moral freedom and to render them possessed the aim and very essence of black magic?

No, dear Unknown Friend, occultists -- including those amongst them who practice ceremonial magic -- are neither masters nor disciples of black magic. Truth to tell, they are amongst those who have least of all in common with it. It is true that they -- above all the adepts of ceremonial magic -- often fall prey to illusions and mislead themselves and others, but is this black magic? Besides, where can one find a class of human beings who never make mistakes? Even Doctor Faust -- who made a pact with the devil (and this concerns all "pact-makers" of this kind, ancient and modern) -- was only the naive victim of a prank on the part of Mephistopheles (who is a rogue well-known to all those who have knowledge of the "occult world"), because how can you sell something which in no way belongs to you? It is his soul which would have been able to sell Doctor Faust, but never would Doctor Faust be able to give away his soul, however solemn his pact was and no matter whether he wrote and signed with blood or with ordinary ink.

It is Mephistopheles' way of giving a lesson to those who want to be "supermen"; he brings to light the puerility of their pretentions. And whilst wholly deploring the naivety of poor Doctor Faust, one is led to consider the "method of roguishness" of Mephistopheles as, in the last analysis, salutary. Because what Mephistopheles does (and other examples of this method of a more recent date could be cited) is to show the ridiculousness and absurdity of the aspirations and pretensions of so-called "supermen". "Of all Spirits who deny, the rogue is the least burden to me," says God concerning Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust .

Let us therefore not condemn the rogue of the spiritual world, and above all let us not be afraid of him. Nor let us condemn Doctor Faust, our brother, by accusing him of black magic -- it is, rather, childish credulity of which he can be accused, if he must be accused. In any case, he was one-hundred times more innocent with respect to mankind than our contemporaries who have invented the nuclear bomb... as good citizens and scientists.

No, neither black magic nor nervous disorders constitute the special dangers of occultism. Its principal danger -- of which, however, it has no monopoly -- is designated by the three terms: superiority complex, inflation, and megalomania.

In fact, an occultist (who is not a beginner) who has not attained this moral illness, or who has not at some time in the past undergone it, is rare. The tendency to megalomania shows up all over the place amongst occultists. Decades of personal relationships, as well as reading occult literature, have taught me this. There are many levels of this moral defect. It manifests at first as self-assurance and a certain informality with which one speaks of higher and sacred things. Then it expresses itself as "knowing better" and "knowing-all", i.e. as the attitude of a master towards everyone. Lastly, it manifests as implicit or even explicit infallibility.

I do not want to cite passages from our occult literature, nor to name names, nor to mention biographical facts concerning known occultists, in order to prove or illustrate this diagnosis. It would not be difficult for you, dear Unknown Friend, to find them yourself in abundance. What my intention is here is to refute the false accusations concerning occultism, on the one hand, and on the other hand to show up the real danger that occultism presents -- so that one is put on guard against it. But what should one do against this danger, in order to guard one's moral well-being?

The ancient saying "ora et labora" ("work and pray") constitutes the only answer that I have been able to find. Worship and work constitute the only curative as well as prophylactic remedy that I know against megalomaniacal illusions. It is necessary to worship what is above us and it is necessary to participate in human effort in the domain of objective facts in order to be able to hold in check the illusions concerning what one is and what one is capable of. For whoever is aware of raising his prayer and meditation to the level of pure worship will always be conscious of the distance which separates (and at the same time unites) the worshipper and the worshipped. Therefore he will not be tempted to worship himself, which is in the last analysis the cause of megalomania. He will always have in sight the difference between himself and the worshipped. He will not confuse what he is with what the worshipped being is.

On the other hand, he who works, i.e. who takes part in human effort, with a view to objective and verifiable results, will not easily fall prey to illusion with respect to what he is capable of. Thus, for example, a practicing doctor inclined to overestimate his power of healing will soon learn to know the real limits of his ability through experience of his failures.

Jacob Boehme was a shoemaker, and was illumined. When he had had the experience of illumination ("... the Door became opened to me, so that in a quarter of an hour I observed and knew more than if I had attended a university for many years... " he wrote in a letter to the tax collector Lindner), where he "recognised the Being of Beings, the firmament and the abyss..." (same letter), he in no way concluded from it that he, in so far as he was a shoemaker, could henceforth do more than his colleagues in the trade, or that he himself could do more than before his illumination. On the other hand, through his illumination he learned to know the greatness of God and the world ("... of which I was highly astounded, without knowing how it had happened to me, and thereupon my heart turned to praise of God" -- same letter), and this filled him with worship.

Therefore, it was work and the worship of God which protected the moral well-being of Jacob Boehme, and I allow myself to add here that my experience in the domain of esotericism has taught me that what was salutary in Boehme's case is also so, without exception, regarding all those who aspire to supersensible experiences.

Worship and work -- ora et labora -- therefore constitute the conditio sine qua non for practical esotericism in order to hold in check the tendency towards megalomania. This is in order to hold it in check, yet in order to obtain immunity from this moral illness, more than this is necessary. One has to have the real experience of concretely meeting a being higher than oneself. I mean by "concretely meeting" neither the feeling of "higher Self", nor the more or less vague feeling of the "presence of a higher entity", nor even the experience of a "flood of inspiration" which fills one with life and light -- no, what I mean by "concrete meeting" is nothing other than a true and really concrete meeting, i.e. face to face. It can be spiritual -- face to face in vision -- or more physically concrete. Thus, St. Teresa of Avila (in order to cite only one of many known examples) met the Master, conversed with him, asked and received from him advice and instruction on an objective spiritual plane (yes, spirituality is not exclusively subjective -- it can also be objective). And certainly Papus and his group of occultist friends met Monsieur Philip of Lyons on the physical plane. Here are two examples of the concrete meeting that I mean.

Now, he who has had the experience of a concrete meeting with a higher being (a saint or righteous individual, an Angel or another hierarchical being, the Virgin Mary, the Master...) becomes through this very fact immune with respect to the tendency towards megalomania. The experience of having been face-to-face with a Great One necessarily comprises complete healing and immunity from any tendency towards megalomania. No human being who has seen and heard will be able to make an idol of himself. More than this: the true and ultimate criterion for the reality of these so-called "visionary" experiences, i.e. with respect to their authenticity or falsity, is given in the moral effect of these experiences, notably whether they make the recipient more humble or more pretentious. The experience of her meetings with the Master made St. Teresa more and more humble. The experience on the terrestrial plane of the meeting with Monsieur Philip of Lyons also made Papus and his occultist friends more humble. Now, these two experiences -- quite different though they are with respect to subject and object -- were authentic. Neither Papus was thereby mistaken about the spiritual greatness of he who he recognized as his "spiritual master", nor was St.Teresa any less mistaken about the reality of the Master, whom she saw and heard speak.

Dear Unknown Friend, read the Bible and you will find there a great number of examples of this law, which may be expressed as follows: authentic experience of the Divine makes one humble; he who is not humble has not had authentic experience of the Divine. Take the apostles who "saw and heard" the Master and the prophets who "saw and heard" the God of Israel -- you will not find amongst them any trace of tendencies towards pride such as you can certainly find amongst many gnostic teachers who (consequently) had not "seen and heard"...

Humility is therefore a quality which must be due to the action of grace, i.e. it must be a gift from above. Now, the "concrete meetings, face to face" of which it is a question here are always, without exception, events due to grace, being meetings where a higher being voluntarily draws near to a lower being. The meeting which made Saul, the Pharisee, into Paul the apostle was not due to his efforts; it was an act of the One whom he met. It is the same with all meetings "face to face" with higher beings. Our part is only "to seek", "to knock", and "to pray", but the decisive act comes from above.

Let us now return to the Arcanum "The Chariot", whose traditional meaning is "victory, triumph, success"....

The Chariot... warns us of the danger of megalomania and teaches us the real triumph achieved by the Self.

The real triumph achieved by the Self -- this means to say the successful outcome of the "process of individuation", according to C.G. Jung, or the successful outcome of the work of true liberation, which is the fruit of catharsis (purification) and which precedes photismos (illumination), and which is followed by henosis (union), according to the occidental initiation tradition.

The "triumpher" on the Chariot can therefore signify either a sick person suffering from megalomania or a man who has passed through catharsis or purification, the first of the three stages on the way of initiation.

The thesis that I am advancing here is this: that, just as with all the other Cards of the Arcana of the Tarot, the Card of the seventh Arcanum also expresses a double meaning. The personage on this seventh Card signifies at one and the same time the "triumpher" and the "Triumpher" -- the megalomaniac and the integrated man, master of himself.
The integrated man, master of himself, conqueror in all trials -- who is he?

It is he who holds in check the four temptations -- i.e. the three temptations in the wilderness described in the Gospels as well as the temptation which synthesises them: the temptation of pride, the centre of the triangle of temptations -- and who is, therefore, master of the four elements which compose the vehicle of his being: fire, air, water, and earth. Master of the four elements -- that is to say: creative being in clear, fluid, and precise thought (creativity, clarity, fluidity, and precision being the manifestations of the four elements in the domain of thought). It means to say, moreover, that he has a warm, large, tender and faithful heart (warmth, magnanimity, sensitivity, and faithfulness being the manifestations of the four elements in the domain of feeling). There is, lastly, to add that he has ardour ("man of desire"), fullness, flexibility and stability in his will (hwere the four elements manifest themselves as intensity, scope, adaptability, and firmness). To summarize, one can say that a master of the four elements is a man of initiative, who is serene, mobile and firm. He represents the four natural virtues of Catholic theology: prudence, strength, temperence and justice; or rather Plato's four cardinal virtues: wisdom, courage, temperence and justice; or yet again the four qualities of Sankaracharya: viveka (discernment), vairagya (serenity), the "six jewels" of just conduct, and the desire for deliverance. Whatever the formulation may be of the four virtues in question, it is always a matter of the four elements or projections of the sacred name YHVH - the Tetragrammaton -- in human nature...

The four columns supporting the canopy on the chariot drawn by two horses, in the Card of the seventh Arcanum, therefore signify the four elements taken in a vertical sense, i.e. in their analogous meaning through the three worlds - the spirit world, the soul world, and the physical world.

And what is signified by the canopy itself that the four columns support?

The function of the canopy, taken as a material object, is to protect the person who is found beneath it. It therefore serves as a roof. Taken in its spiritual sense, at whcih one arrives by way of analogy, the canopy above the man wearing a yellow royal crown expresses two contrary things: that the crowned man is a megalomaniac in the condition of "splendid isolation", separated from heaven by the canopy, or else that the crowned man is an initiate in the mystery of spiritual well-being and that he does not identify himself with heaven, being conscious of the difference which exists between himself and that which is above him. In other words, the canopy indicates the facts and truths underlying humility as well as megalomania. Humility, being the law of spiritual health, implies consciousness of the difference and distance between the centre of human consciousness and the centre of divine consciousness. He has a "skin" -- or a canopy, if you wish -- in his consciousness (just as the human body has a skin), which separates the human from the Divine, at the same time uniting them. This "spiritual skin" protects the spiritual well-being of man by not allowing him to identify himself ontologically with God, or to say "I am God" (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad "aham brahmasmi" = "I am Brahama"), but at the same time allowing him the relationship of breathing, coming together and separating (which is never alienation!), which together constitute the life of love. The life of love consists of coming together and separating always with the consciousness present of non-identity: this is analogous to the process of breathing which consists of inhalation and exhalation. Is this not found expressed in an unparalleled way in the extract from Psalm 43, which is the sixth phrase in the Mass: "Oh send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me, let them bring me to thy holy hill and to thy tabernacles." Yes, the light of your presence (drawing near) and the truth that I receive in me through reflection (separating), this leads us towards the tabernacle.

Tabernacles... are these not tents, baldachins, canopies under which man is united in love with the Divine, without identifying himself with it or being absorbed by it? Aren't these the tabernacels made of the "skin of humility", which alone protects us against the danger of killing love through ontological identification -- i.e. the identification of the human being with the divine being ("this soul is God" -- "ayam atma brahma", Mandukya Upanishad, "consciousness is God" -- "pragnanam brahma", Aitareya Upanishad) -- and therefore protects us from the danger of spiritual megalomania (i.e.e from arrogating to ourselves the very being of God instead of his image)?

There are three forms of mystical experience: the experience of union with Nature, that of union with the transcendental human Self, and that of union with God. The first kind of experience is that of the obliteration of the differentiation between the individual's psychic life and surrounding Nature. It is this which Levy Bruhl calls "mystical participation", which notion he coined whilst studying the psychology of primitive peoples. This notion designates the state of consciousness where the separation between the conscious subject and the object of the outside world disappears, and where subject and object become one. This kind of experience underlies not only shamanism and the totemism of the primitives but also the so-called "mythogenous" consciousness, which is the source of natural myths, as well as the ardent desire or poets and philosophers for union with Nature (e.g. Empedocles threw himself into the crater of the volcano on Mount Etna in order to unite himself with the elements of Nature). The effect of peyote, mescaline, hashish, alcohol, etc., can sometimes (but not always, and not with everyone) produce states of consciousness analogous to that of "mystical participation". The characteristic trait of this form of experience is intoxication, i.e. the fusion of oneself with forces exterior to one's self-consciousness. The Dionysian orgies of antiquity were based on the experience of "sacred intoxication" due to the obliteration of the differentiation between self and non-self.

The second form of mystical experience is that of the transcendental Self. It consists in separating the ordinary empirical self from the higher Self, which is above all motion and all that which belongs to the domain of space and time. The higher Self is therefore experienced as immortal and free.

If "Nature mysticism" is characterized by intoxication, that of the Self, in contrast, has the characteristic trait of progressively "coming to one's senses", with the aim of complete sobriety. A philosophy based on the mystical experience of the Self, which represents it in the purest way and is least distorted by the addition of hazardous intellectual speculations, is that of the Indian school of Sankya. There the individual purusha is experienced in its separation from prakriti (i.e. all movement, space and time) as immortal and free. Although the same experience is found at the basis of Vedanta philosophy, its followers are not satisfied with the immediate experience which teaches nothing more, and nothing less, than that the true self of man is immortal and free, but they add the postulate that the higher Self is God ("this soul is God" -- "ayam atma brahma", Mandukya Upanishad, 2). The Sankya philosophy, in contrast, remains within the limits of the experience of the higher Self as such and in no way denies the plurality of purushas (i.e. the plurality of immortal and free higher Egos), nor does it raise the individual purusha to the dignity of the Absolute -- Which has resulted in it being considered an atheistic philosophy. It is so, if one understands by "atheist" the frank confession: I have not had experience of anything higher than the immortal and free Ego; abiding by the experience, what can I say in good faith? Sankya is not a religion and therefore does not merit being classified as "atheistic" any more than, for example, the modern psychological school of Jung does. On the other hand, can it be considered as proof of belief in God to attribute to the higher Self of man the dignity of the Absolute?

The third sort of mystical experience is that of the living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the God of St. Augusting, St. Francis, St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross in the Christian tradition, the God of the Bhagavad-Gita, Ramanuja, Madhva and Caitanya in the Hindu tradition. Here it is a matter of union with God in love, which implies a substantial duality being essentially at one.

This experience has as its principal characteristic trait the synthesis of the intoxication of Nature mysticism and the sobriety of mysticism of the higher Self. The term coined by tradition to express the state where ardent enthusiasm and profound peace manifest themselves simultaneously is that of "beatitude", or "beatific vision" (i.e. beatitudo, or visio beatifica). Beatific vision implies the duality of the seer and the seen, on the one hand, and their union or instrinsic oneness in love, on the other hand. This is why this term expresses in a wonderfully clear and precise way the essence of the theistic mystical experience: the meeting fo the soul with God, face to face, in love. And this experience is all the more elevated the more complete the differentiation is, and the more perfect the union is. For this reason the Holy Cabbala puts at the centre of spiritual experience that of the Holy Face (arich anphin) of the Ancient of Days, and this is also why it teaches that the supreme experience of the human being -- as well as the highest form of death for a mortal -- is attained when God embraces the human soul. This is what the Sepher Yetzirah says:

And after that our father Abraham had perceived, and understood, and had taken down and engraved all these things, the Lord most high (adon hakol) revealed His beloved, and made a Covenant with him and his seed...
(Sepher Yetzirah vi, 4; trsl. W. Wynn Westcott, London, 1893, pp. 26-27)

And St. John of the Cross spoke of his experiences of the divine Presence in the tabernacles of love only in the language of love.

The three forms of mystical experience have their "hygenic laws", or their "tabernacles" or "skins". They fall under the law of temerence or measure. Otherwise the rage of acute mania, megalomania and complete alienation from the world menace, respectively, their adepts. The breast-plate, the canopy and the crown are the three symbols for the salutary measures pertaining to the domains of experience of Nature mysticism, human mysticism, and divine mysticism.

Now, the "triumpher" of the seventh Arcanum wears a breast-plate, stands under a canopy and is crowned. This is why he does not lose himself in Nature, why he does not lose God in the experience of his higher Self and why he does not lose the world in experiencing the love of God. He holds in check the dangers of rage, megalomania and exaltation. He is sane.