In the card, THE FOOL, you have a picture of the I AM descending into matter and the equipment He brings with Him to ascend again out of it. This type of Intelligence is called the CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE. He who descended into matter ascends again out of it by self-cultivation.
First, through the cultivation he receives by the education of nature;
Second, by the advanced cultivation he receives through group living, by what we call civilization and all its instrumentalities -- government, philosophy, art, religion; and
Third, by taking himself in hand when he has reached the point in evolution where he feels the compelling urge to do so, he speeds up his evolution by intensive work upon his organism as a practical occultist or mystic. Always from the beginning, we feel the urge in us to create, which, in the end, takes us back to our source. Why do we feel it? Because THE FOOL brings his vision down with him.
All the pioneers of the world--the teachers, the artists, the doers--have been those whom their sensible neighbors called "fools." Why? Because these fools were unaccountably willing to put aside acquisitions of pleasure for the sake of a vision, yet, unrealized. When it became realized, their neighbors hastened to say how wise they were, and that they had always known they had something in them that would at last work out; to be working and sacrificing for what does not yet exist sounds foolish to most people. It is not until the inventor can make a physical plane invention that works, until the businessperson or the promoter can objectify his scheme, that people are willing to call him practical; before that, he was a visionary.
The Tarot, if properly applied, will help you to objectify your dreams. The wisdom of practical men concerns itself entirely with the sensory level--with things. An occult proverb says, "Unless Wisdom gets beyond this level, it is not Wisdom at all." "The Wisdom of men," says the proverb "is foolishness to the gods." What the gods call Wisdom is the manner of thinking employed by THE FOOL in this picture, the Higher Self. Whatever helps the personality towards the final accomplishment of THE FOOL, his vision is Wisdom; whatever does not, is foolishness.
If a man would be wise, in the GOD sense, he must reach up and tap the subjective level of consciousness. THE FOOL represents that subjective level in this card, descending into matter with his eye on his distant vision and with the confident expectation of realizing it in the end. The symbols in this card suggest to you what that vision is and tells you definitely how you can set about realizing it; and that you have in yourself all the power to do this.
You are composed of innumerable subconscious elements; each cell and group of cells in your body performs its specialized work in the whole organism. There is nothing to direct, to make the whole organism work as one except you, the Creative Will, the self-conscious. Although it can perform all the marvelous processes of your body, the subconscious has no idea how to direct your life. Only the Creative Will can do that, with the Intellect as its agent. It is a reluctant, hostile agent at first because it prefers the satisfactions of the present and objects to sacrificing them for the future.
Tarot is a vehicle for widening your channel, for increasing the perceptions of your present personality, for developing a higher personality even of the same type. It is a vehicle for so impressing your subconscious by the attitude of your Creative Will that she, the subconscious, will do for you what it is powerless to do itself except at second hand--change your body. Nevertheless, you yourself must start this process and keep it going, and unless you start it, it is never started. You start it and keep it going by constantly looking within at your vision.
It is necessary to formulate your vision. What is it that you want most in the world? First, let us see what the vision of THE FOOL is. It is out of sight, but in two other cards we see what occupies that upper corner: The Angel, the Perfected Man--not present-day man, but man when he shall have become perfected--what the mystics and occultists call the superman, which the religions and Scripture call the Angel. How does man become perfected? Man becomes perfected only by perfecting himself. The ROSE, in the other hand of THE FOOL, tells you how he perfects himself. The Rose, with all people, even the most primitive, has always been the symbol of desire. This is a WHITE Rose, the symbol of purified desire. How do you purify desire? We purify desire by the balanced action of the conscious and the subconscious. This is pictured by the TWO LEAVES out of which the White Rose springs.
The leaves are threefold. THREE is the creative number symbolizing the Father, Mother, and Child. Three is also the number of man's bodies, in each of which he must purify Desire, Appetite, and Emotion: the first for the Physical Body, the second for the Astral Body, and the third for the Mental Body.
The whole object of Tarot is to tell you the mechanics of purifying desire and of securing the balanced reciprocal creation of the self-conscious and the subconscious. The Higher Self thinks that a desire, which approximates His, is a wise desire. A desire, which is dictated by appetite, emotion, and ambition, alone, is a foolish desire.
You are like a plant, a germinating seed, which finds in the earth the juices that will enable it to grow according to its pattern. It selects those juices and those only. Exercise the entire intensity of your mind in building your image, an image of yourself in action doing your chosen work. If the highest image you can make yourself want to construct is to have and to get something, then go ahead.
We can evolve only by desire, be that desire what it will. No matter what desire we cherish, it is but a stepping-stone to a higher one; meanwhile we must step up on the thing we are keyed to at the time. Think carefully whether the acquisition you think you must have is really the inmost craving of your heart. For though you grow by it, whatever it is, remember that you may come to your growth only by pain and suffering because you have gotten what you wanted.
Recall that most of the folklore tales (which are simply little dramatizations put forth by teachers of the race of the Ageless Wisdom) are about bad wishes gratified when the wisher had a chance to make better ones.
In the fairy tales, the fairy godmother granted wishes. Your subconscious is your fairy godmother that will bring about your wish if you are wholeheartedly centered upon it and bend your mind to it. If you choose badly it will mean, for the time, a frustration of the higher things, but in the economy of the Higher Self, low desires have their place as well as higher ones. It was necessary for you to go through the lower in order to get to the higher.
The highest wish man is capable of making is stated in general terms in the Lord's Prayer. In His personal aspect, the God to whom we pray is the Higher Self of the mystic and the occultist. We pray to the Higher Self that His Kingdom may come; His will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Earth means the physical body, the seat of our personality. May we permit him to do His will in us, on our plane, as it is done on His own plane, which the religionist calls "Heaven." His plane is the Golden Plane.
TAROT and the Secret Wisdom of the Hebrews condense the seven planes of the Hindu teaching into three. These three planes are subdivided to include the seven planes of the Hindu. There is the first and highest, the Great Spiritual Plane, the Great Mental Plan, and the Great Physical Plane.
The WHITE SUN symbolizes the Spiritual, or White, Plane from which THE FOOL of God is sent forth down into the Mental, or Golden, Plane. He is leaving the Golden Plane and is about to descend as the personality into the Great Physical Plane. Stretching up beyond the Physical Plane into the Mental are the heights of abstract thought. These are the last thing THE FOOL leaves behind him on his way into the lowest grade of matter. In addition, as the human personality ascends out of the lowest grade of matter, in self-identification with Him, these peaks of abstract thought are the first things it encounters on its heavenward journey.
The PEAKS are WHITE because abstract thought is characteristic of the White Plane of Spirit. It is the Golden Plane of Mind in which abstract thought becomes concrete--that subjective thought becomes objective. Whenever you see WHITE in these cards, it means belonging to abstract thought, or to the Spiritual Plane. Our business is to bring the Spiritual plane down to our personality. In the next card your will see THE MAGICIAN doing this.
Below the shelf on which THE FOOL is standing, just about to step off into the denser physical plane, is a BLUE MIDDLE REGION with TWO MOUNTAIN PEAKS. This BLUE Region pictures the information we receive in our sleep, whose source is the Cosmic Memory. The card, the HIGH PRIESTESS, the card following THE MAGICIAN, depicts this. The TWIN PEAKS are "Wisdom" and "Understanding." These two words are synonymous in English, but in Hebrew, they are differentiated. The text in Proverbs says, "Get Wisdom and with all thy getting, get Understanding." We shall go into the precise difference later. At present, it is sufficient to say that Wisdom refers to the Cosmic Memory, and Understanding refers to the Imagination.
The SHELF on which THE FOOL is standing, about to step off, is made in the shape of a crescent. Whenever you see a crescent in these cards, it designates the subconscious. Matter is really the subconscious, but the only way the card can deliver its message to you is to represent THE FOOL as doing what he is about to do. Note the peculiar color and information of this shelf. It is largely reddish shading into YELLOW into gray and the shelf is of a flaky formation. The colors in these cards are vital to their meaning.
YELLOW is the color of the mind. GRAY is the color of the mineral and stands for stone (or the physical world). RED stands for desire and action. All action is prompted by desire and if there were no desire, we would never act. The color symbolism of the Shelf means that we can flake off our subconscious or make the matter, which composes it, less and less dense by desire and action instigated by the self-conscious, which is the mind. This process is called Alchemy, and Alchemy is the object of Tarot exercises. The object of any system is to replace the grosser matter in our bodies with matter more and more refined. By doing this you bring in more and more of the WHITE and the BLUE in this picture, or in theological terms, more and more of the spirit and the Holy Ghost.
You note that the BOOTS of THE FOOL, as he plunges down into matter, are YELLOW. The symbolism here is that the mind is ...
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