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Astro-Tarot Series

Arcanum 14: Taurus and The Alchemist

Elbert Benjamine


In spring of the year, when the sun crosses the vernal equinox and enters the sign of its exaltation, Aries, represented by tarot Arcanum 13, the forces of nature commence to move and new processes are set in motion within the laboratories of Isis.

Yet the solar force in Aries is not alone capable of regenerating the world; for such regeneration, or any other regeneration, requires also that feminine forces shall be mixed with the masculine. That is, either the alchemy which constantly we witness in nature, or that produced on any plane by man, requires a combination of positive and negative forces, such as astrologically are typified by the sun and moon.

To perpetuate the knowledge of this fact, the ancient masters not only explained it clearly in the language of symbolical pictograph, on tarot Arcanum 14, but they also incorporated it into a religious holiday. It needs to be pointed out that the transmutation of Nature’s forces is not celebrated at the time of the vernal equinox, but on Easter, which cannot occur until after the full moon has brought a partnership and exchange with the sun, from the natural sign of marriage.

The Alchemist

The process, started at Easter, is carried forward as the sun enters Taurus, the exchange of the finer forces fecundating the earth (Taurus) to bring forth the grass and flowers. For while Aries is the exaltation of the sun, Taurus is the exaltation of the moon; and the sun moving thus into the exaltation of the moon after the partnership has been formed, carries forward the process of fructification. This process by which fecundity is assured, is pictured in Arcanum 14 by the genie of the sun holding a golden urn and a silver urn, and pouring from one to the other the conducting fluid of life. Taurus, the Bull, also is the symbol of fecundity.

We are not to believe that those who in ancient times designed this picture understood photosynthesis, by which the green coloring matter of plants when exposed to sunlight (Sun) are able to combine water (Moon) taken by their roots from the earth (Taurus) with the carbon dioxide of the atmosphere, in the production of those carbohydrates upon which all animal life depends. The process is not merely chemical, in the commonly accepted meaning of that word, for there are interchanges of electrons involved, somewhat after the manner of the action of light upon a photographic film.

Yet by this process, inorganic elements are transformed into organic substances fit for food. Chemists are hot upon the trail of making artificial chlorophyll, but the problem has not as yet been solved. And until it has, as no creature can subsist on minerals, all animals on the earth are dependent upon the green leaves of plants, such as appear most abundantly when the sun moves into Taurus, to perform the alchemical work by which alone food can be procured.

What the ancients had in mind, undoubtedly, was not the actual process of photosynthesis; nor was it the union of the newly discovered electric particle, the positron, with the electron, by which it is now believed the material universe comes into existence or is destroyed; but a universal principle which they believed to be applicable on all planes, and within every sphere of existence.

They gave the pictured genie a crown of flame to indicate it to be a spirit, or principle. They placed wings upon its feet to signify its rapid movement. And nothing observed by physical science moves faster than light, which is here represented by the rays of the sun behind the genie. This sun exhibits eight rays to signify that the positive, or masculine, forces of the universe are, on the whole, exactly equilibrated by the negative, or feminine forces. The cloak over the shoulder of the genie indicates the perpetual fecundation of matter, which Taurus, as the most fixed of all the earth signs represents, by the sun, symbol of spirit.


This material world, which thus the sun fecundates, and upon which the soul must depend for its experiences with physical life, which are a necessary phase of its total evolution, it is now known, is itself an exemplification of the union of masculine and feminine forces such as tarot Arcanum 14 was designed to explain.

Material science has known something about the existence of the electron, the ultimate electrical unit, which Dr Millikan succeeded in isolating and measuring, for some time. Dr Millikan calculated that it would take 50,000 of these electrons in a line to make a length equal to the diameter of an atom. And it would take about 300 million atoms in a line to reach a distance of one inch. Or, comparing the size of an electron with that of a baseball, if the baseball and the electron were magnified at the same time until the baseball were as large as the earth, the electron still would be too small to be visible under the most powerful microscope.

The importance of these electrons, or negative electrical charges, lies in the fact that they form one of the factors of all material substance. At the center of all atoms of matter are protons, or positive charges of electricity, having a mass 1,840 times that of the electrons which revolve in orbits in the outer structure.

Just as at the present time the energy radiated from the planets has not been isolated and analyzed, which, impinging upon the astral body, or unconscious mind of man, stirs him to thoughts and behavior which, within limits, can be predicted, so science once had no definite knowledge of the cosmic rays which so powerfully pelted the earth and its inhabitants, night and day.

In terms of their effect upon human behavior, and upon the events attracted to an individual, we have fairly accurate estimates of the energies exerted by the various planets when differently situated and aspected in a birthchart or by progression. But we have as yet no measure in terms of physics of their power; no more than material science had as to the energy of the cosmic rays. The tremendous energy exerted either by cosmic rays or by planetary forces was no assurance of their recognition by the physical senses. Dr Millikan estimated that the most penetrating cosmic rays observed up to his time, had an energy of at least 500 million electron-volts.

In a lecture William D. Harkins, Chicago University physicist, stated that atoms are being altered through the impact of cosmic ray electrons which have energies as high as one-hundred billion volts each. That is, the elements of matter are being transformed through the alchemy of these cosmic rays.

These electrons are negative charges, and hence could be well represented by the fluid which The Alchemist pictured in Arcanum 14 pours from the silver urn in his left, or negative, hand. But if, as the picture explains, transmutation is brought about, not by a negative force alone, but through the united action of positive and negative what about the masculine equivalent of the feminine electron?

It was found that the mathematical formula known as the Dirac Electron-Equation solved many difficulties but also led, when followed to its logical conclusion, to quite peculiar ideas.

This equation requires that electrons under certain conditions should have less than zero energy and weigh less than nothing; and Dirac considered each point in space, including a perfect vacuum, to be crowded with an infinity of such negative energy electrons. They were unobservable, and it was a property of free space that they should be there.

The peculiar logical conclusion this assumption led to is that if one of these electrons should be removed, the ‘hole’ in space that remained would manifest itself as an electron of positive electrical charge and of positive mass and energy.

According to the well-known mathematical formula, with which most of us wrestled when taking algebra in high school, if less than nothing be taken from nothing, or empty space, it is the equivalent of placing something there. And according to Dirac’s theory, this something would be a positive electric charge with a mass and energy similar to the electron. Then came the discovery of the positron, which is a positively charged particle having the same mass as the electron, instead of 1840 times as much, as has the proton. And strange to say, this positron performs very much as Dirac’s theory holds it should.

This theory holds that when a positron meets a negative electron, both particles will suffer the fate of complete annihilation, and that in their stead there will be a pair of corpuscles of radiant energy. This radiation resulting from such annihilation of the positive and negative building-blocks of matter has actually been observed by the French physicists, Joliot and Thibault. However, it is believed that a positron, if removed from a region densely populated by negative electrons, instead of perishing immediately, may live a billion years or more.

These most recent theories and discoveries of material science are set forth here in connection with the explanation of the general principles of alchemy which have been left to us on the tarot called The Alchemist, because such processes now are being applied in various university laboratories, based on the discoveries mentioned, to convert energy into matter, to convert matter into energy, and to manufacture by alchemical processes not less than a score of chemical elements out of other chemical elements. Yet alchemy and astrology, until recently, were twin outcasts, alike open to the ridicule of narrow minds.

Ions are atoms which have lost one or more electrons by a proper kind of impact. Such impacts take place in the ordinary neon light, and in the sparks of an automobile system.

Because they are thus electrically charged, if such ions enter a space where there is a high voltage, the action of the electrical force is to acquire high speed, and thus also great momentum and energy.

If such a stream of ions – atoms charged through loss of one or more electrons – is directed at other matter, those ions which happen to be heading directly at the nucleus of an atom of this other substance will come close to it. But, because both ion and nucleus are charged with the same kind of electricity, there is a tendency for it to be deflected so that it does not strike the nucleus. Yet if the speed of a stream of ions is sufficiently great, instead of being deflected, they will plough through the electrical resistance of the nuclei and add themselves to these nuclei, as direct hits are made, thus becoming part of an entirely different element synthetically formed.

To give streams of ions – atoms charged through loss of one or more electrons – the speed required of them if they are not to be deflected from making head-on collisions with the nuclei of atoms of other substances at which the stream is directed, the cyclotron was developed. By this instrument the ions are accelerated again and again by the same electric field so that, even when but 10,000 volts are used the effect upon the speed of ions is that of 2,000,000 volts. Thus, so far as material substances are concerned, have the dreams of the medieval alchemists been far more than realized.

Alchemical Chart

But as anyone familiar with alchemical literature is well aware, the transmutation of physical substances was only one, and not the most important, phase of the contemplated alchemical work. The more important changes desired were those relating to man’s character. Through using the experiences of his life, and the proper application of thought, the old alchemists believed man could change his inner character; and the inner structure of the unconscious mind, as we now call it, thus changed, would also alter his destiny and enable him to rule his stars.


While the ancient wise ones who designed tarot Arcanum 14 probably never even remotely dreamed of a machine like the cyclotron, which through adding ions to atoms would change their chemical substance, they did picture the general process in association with the earthy sign Taurus. And this same general process, evidently, is the one which must be applied to alchemy on any plane, such as in the transmutations within the unconscious mind of man, by which alone he can alter his destiny upon the physical sphere.

The Transmutation Process

But the energies which correspond to ions, if they are to alter the unconscious mind, must be those of thought. And if they are to have power enough to make worthwhile transformations, they must use, instead of a cyclotron, the dynamic force of emotion. It is emotion, feeling, which gives thoughts the power to accomplish work.

What those alterations within the unconscious mind must be to change the trend of destiny in the direction desired, of course, depends upon what thought-elements and combinations already are within that unconscious mind, which are mapped by the planets in the birthchart; and upon the energies reaching and giving power to these mental factors at the time, as indicated by the progressed planetary positions.

When we speak of ruling the stars, we do not mean that we can prevent the aspects that form in the sky, or that we can prevent planetary energies reaching us. We do not prevent the activity of the various forces of nature, whether they be ocean currents, flowing streams, glaciating ice, or the ionizing cosmic rays. But through our knowledge we are learning to adapt ourselves rather successfully to these and other environmental forces. And while we cannot prevent the planets from radiating the energies they most certainly do, we can learn what those energies are and how they influence human life, and then take proper steps to utilize them so that they will work, not against us, but in a direction that will be to our advantage.

We can easily demonstrate that each planet broadcasts an energy of a special type. Yet such energies are not responsible for the character with which the individual is born nor for the events which later enter his life. He comes into human existence at the time the planets accurately map the more active mental factors within his unconscious mind, which are the outstanding qualities of his character, in obedience to the line of least resistance. As it is easier for a chip to float down stream instead of up, so is it easier for him then to be born than at any other time.

Nor are the progressed planets responsible for the events that come to him as life continues. It is true that they determine in great measure the astral environment at a given time; but how that invisible environment affects hint is not determined thus, but by his reaction to it.

Thus are two things involved in every condition and event of the individual’s life: the organization of the thought-cells within his unconscious mind, which constitutes his character, and the environment to which the character reacts. Even though the environment remains the same, even under the same progressed aspects, for instance, if the thought-organization of the unconscious mind upon which these energies act is changed, that which happens will be different.

What is explained in tarot Arcanum 14 is that if the thought structure of the finer body is changed, whatever is indicated by progressed aspects, and by the birthchart, is proportionally changed, and that through the proper application of Mental Alchemy, energies that otherwise would be coincident with misfortune can be diverted into channels so that they will attract good fortune. That is, The Alchemist associated with Taurus contemplates doing with planetary energies, through changing the character upon which they act, what man to some extent has done with tide and wind and rain. As once destructive winds now are made to drive his ships, and uncomfortable rains to grow his crops, so explains this Alchemist, through proper understanding, can man make the once fear-begetting aspects work for him.

It is true, as one who studies astrology long must be convinced, that what usually is attributed to chance is never such; but the working of a hidden law. And the law which governs the events and circumstances that enter every life is that which relates to the release of desire energy on the four-dimensional plane.

Each thought-cell of the unconscious mind has within it energy under tension, and each thought-organization has still other energies stored and under tension. These energies strain for release. And when they gain enough additional energy, through more thought or planetary vibration, they spill over into unusual action. Nor is such action confined to the physical plane. It works in an equally potent fashion from the four-dimensional plane to attract into the life those conditions which are the objects of the desires of these thought-organizations.

What the thought-cells and thought-structures of the unconscious mind attract into the life with such energy as they possess is determined by the way they are conditioned. This applies not only to those with which the individual was born, but also to all that have been added by subsequent experiences. The thought-elements enter into discordant psychoplasmic compounds when they are conditioned by feelings of distress, and into harmonious psychoplasmic compounds when they are conditioned by feelings of pleasure. How they have been conditioned is revealed by the aspects between the planets in the birthchart.

Arcanum 14, which shows the Alchemist pouring new thought-elements into the cup representing the unconscious mind, or astral body, explains in the language of symbolical pictograph, that if an individual expects to attract to himself events that are more fortunate than those indicated in his birthchart, he must change the conditioning of the thought compounds in his unconscious mind which those birthchart aspects merely map. To the extent he can do this will more fortunate events come to him.

This old tarot picture explains that harmonious thinking and feeling about the things mapped by discordant planets in the birthchart rearranges the thought-elements in the stellar-cells related to these things, much as the cyclotron rearranges the electrons and positrons within an element of matter to make of it a new element. And when the factors of the unconscious mind are thus conditioned through Mental Alchemy, they attract a different set of events under the same progressed aspects.

In other words, The Alchemist sets forth that any condition within the astral body shown in the horoscope of any individual in the world, either in the birthchart or by progression, could be built into any other person’s astral body, if enough thought-energy could be acquired.

It is true, just as it is true that gold in commercial quantities has not been manufactured by using the cyclotron, that physical life is too short, with the thought-energy most people have, to build into the astral body those thought-cells and organizations that express as genius or that attract world recognized power.

But to the extent they do build into themselves the same thought-cells and thought-cell relationships possessed by genius or men of world-wide power, others also must inevitably attract to themselves similar external events.

The planets furnish the energy with which the thought-cells work. But the kind of work done by the planetary energy thus utilized is entirely determined by the desires of the thought-cells and stellar organizations. That is, we build our fortune, as well as our abilities, through our experiences and how we mentally react to them. If we want a different kind of fortune, the only way we can get it is through the process indicated by tarot Arcanum 14, which is by pouring in such thoughts and feelings as will build thought-cell compounds and structures into the astral body having such desires as will attract it.

(This concludes part 15 of 23)

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