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Astro-Tarot Series

Arcanum 17: Gemini and the Star

Elbert Benjamine

The Twins: Castor and Pollux

Because it is the most dual of all the signs, the symbolical pictograph by which the ancient Wise Ones explained to their contemporaries, and to later generations, the significance of the influence of Gemini, was made to portray that duality conspicuously. This explanation is the substance of the design which constitutes Major Arcanum 17 of the Egyptian tarot, commonly called, The Star.

Arcanum 17: The StarConspicuous in the pictured design is a large star, surrounded by seven smaller stars; these to represent the septenary of naked-eye astrological orbs. They are above the kneeling figure of the one seeking truth, and the implication is, not merely that she is influenced by them in her search, but that through a better knowledge of their function in the universal scheme of things, and of their power, she will be tremendously aided in truth’s acquisition.

This seeker has one foot upon the land, which represents the physical world; and one foot upon the sea, which represents the more mobile astral realm. That is, if she is really to know the Truth, she must understand not merely the appearances of external life, but also the more potent influences of the invisible realm. Her feet symbolize understanding. But characteristically enough of the one who acquires complete knowledge, she places very little weight, or dependence, upon the physical and instead relies for the most part upon the realm of invisible energies which are more potent to bring things to pass.

Powerful among these invisible energies, as indicated by the conspicuous stars above, are those which reach the minds of men from the planets, and which give a trend not only to human thought and endeavor, but also relate in vibratory nature, and thus have an influence over, all objects and forces of the physical world. Thus is the seeker after truth admonished first of all to turn her attention to the study of the influence of the stars.


An unusual thing about this seeker is her absence of attire; for she is presented completely nude. Garments are a hindrance to freedom of action, even as prejudices are a hindrance to freedom of thought. Thus is the seeker told, if she would be successful she must investigate not merely both the visible and the invisible world but, unlike much of scholastic authority, she must divest herself of prejudice and preconceived opinions.

The greatest failure of modem scholasticism is not its inability to devise tests by which facts can be sifted from fallacy; but its stubborn refusal even thoroughly to investigate matters which the present theories it holds fail to explain. Most of its prejudice against astrology has arisen from the fact that it cannot understand how planetary energies can affect human life. Therefore, it is determined not to investigate whether it does affect human life.

The seeker resting one foot upon the land, and the other foot and knee upon the ocean, betokens a realization that truth is dual: the truth of appearances and the truth of reality, the truth of the practical and the truth of the ideal. And to indicate that the loving, emotional side of man’s nature must be nourished if he is to grasp the inner truth, she pours a fluid from a silver cup into the sea; while to indicate the necessity of cultivating the positive, reasoning intellect if the external truth is to be possessed, and to use it as a check against the reports of the inner senses, she pours a fluid from a golden cup upon the land.

Here we have expounded the height of wisdom; that man has two sets of senses and two processes of the mind, both of which should be used in his search for truth. The two conspicuous stars that mark the constellation Gemini — which in turn portrays in the sky through another pictographic design the attributes of the zodiacal sign bearing the same name — are named Castor and Pollux. And in the legend concerning these Twins, the Greeks of old portrayed their knowledge that the mind has two types of processes, such as now we call objective thinking and the thinking of the unconscious mind.

As the story runs, these brothers fell in love with the daughters of Leucippus; but as these fair damsels already were betrothed to the sons of Aphareus, resentment was expressed by these earlier suitors. At last the rivalry ran so high that a battle took place, in the course of which Castor was slain.

Unlike his brother, Pollux was immortal. Yet so great was his attachment for his brother that he walked up and down the earth, disconsolate and filled with sadness. Interest in life had departed, and he also longed to die.

From his Olympian heights, Jove perceiving the great distress in the heart of the surviving Twin, took pity and made it possible for Castor to share his brother’s immortality. But on one condition: that the two could never be on earth at the same time. While one walked the earth, always the other must remain confined in Pluto’s dark realm.

The mind of man, after the manner indicated in this legend, and after the manner pictured in the Major Arcanum of the tarot explaining Gemini, is now acknowledged to be two, the objective and the unconscious, linked inseparably, like the Twins, so long as life shall last. The objective mind, being dependent upon the physical brain for expression is, like Castor, subject to the forces of death. But the unconscious mind, persisting in the astral realms after the dissolution of the physical, like Pollux, is immortal.

The conscious or objective mind, embraces those states of consciousness, thought, feeling, and visual images which, through the etheric [electromagnetic] energies that connect the astral form with the physical form, impress themselves on the physical brain. Thus is Castor mortal because when the physical brain ceases to function he exists no more.

Logic and Imagination

Furthermore, when Castor is on earth, when the objective mind is active as in the fully waking state, the unconscious mind, or Pollux, is below the threshold of consciousness, unable to express except imperfectly on the physical plane. And due to astrological research since the discovery of that planet we now know that Pluto is the planet which rules invisible forces and the invisible, or astral, realm. Thus in fact, while the brain is active, is the unconscious mind chained in Pluto’s dark domain.

Yet when Castor, the objective mind, finishes his daily sojourn, and departs from the realm of brain activity in the process of sleep — which permits the brain cells, which are miniature batteries, to recharge themselves — and thus enters the realm of darkness, it is then that Pollux holds full sway. In dreams the unconscious mind finds experiences such as it desires, visits the halls of learning, and weaves a pattern of fantasy which, more frequently than not, is all that memory brings back into the waking state.

Occult students have held that in addition to the physical senses which report the happenings of the physical world to the objective mind, there are also corresponding psychic senses which report the happenings of the invisible world to the unconscious mind. And as things physical have astral counterparts in this invisible world, these psychic senses can be used not merely to gain information about the inner plane of being, but also to acquire knowledge of the physical world.

Experiments conducted by Psychical Research Societies, among whose membership were men of international scientific fame, have offered evidence for the last fifty years of the existence of the ability of the human mind to acquire information which could not be gained through the use of the physical senses. But as scholasticism deemed that such evidence was contrary to its theories, this mass of evidence, gradually accumulating over the years, was shoved to one side. The attitude was that if it was unexplainable, it must be untrue. And as it is still unexplainable according to scholastic conceptions, even as is the influence of planetary energy, both are largely conveniently ignored.

But at Duke University mass experiments were conducted to determine if the mind, as occult students and psychic researchers have held, actually has the power to acquire information not available to the physical senses. Hundreds of thousands of these experiments were conducted. Because of the success of these experiments, not less than a dozen other universities took up similar experiments on a gigantic scale. And in the universities where such experiments were conducted, it is now generally accepted — although disputed by many who have not conducted experiments and are unable to explain them — that clairvoyance and telepathy are demonstrated facts.

This faculty of the mind, through which it perceives things at a distance, is able to name the symbols in proper sequence on shuffled cards without them being visible to physical sight, and which at times looks into the future to witness things yet to happen in all their detail, has been abbreviated and is conveniently referred to as ESP, meaning Extrasensory Perception.

Those who are conversant with the reports of the various universities on their ESP experiments will have had the opinion presented to them that telepathy and clairvoyance and other exhibitions of ESP power are one and the same thing. And this may seem to imply that the occultists who have held there were a psychic sense of sight, the exercise of which gives rise to clairvoyance, a psychic sense of hearing, the exercise of which gives rise to clairaudience, a psychic sense of feeling, the exercise of which gives rise to psychometry, etc., were in error.

But this is not necessarily the case. After all, in a strict definition, there is but a single physical sense, the sense of feeling. But organs have been developed which specialize in feeling different things, and reporting them precisely to the physical brain. The eye specializes in nerves which feel all the different gradations of light which makes vision possible. The ear specializes in feeling all the variation in sound vibrations which give rise to distinguishing the different tones and volumes of sound. The tongue and olfactory nerve specialize in a type of feeling which we call the sense of taste. Yet all, nevertheless, are feeling.

It is probably true that the unconscious mind also in a stricter sense has but a single faculty of perception, such as now is known as ESP. But it also seems permissible to divide the specializations of the ESP faculty into the one which gives the individual the impression of witnessing by the sense of sight something not perceptible to the physical eyes, the one which causes him to believe he hears the voice of a friend or loved one warning him, even though the person so warning is hundreds of miles distant, and the one which enables him to pick up, radio-fashion, the thoughts of some person, and to explain those thoughts to others.

But aside from these details, the existence of a faculty of the mind which is able to gain information through other means than the physical senses can no longer be doubted by any unprejudiced person who will read the account of the work done at Duke and other universities, or who will take the pains to investigate himself. And it was the existence and proper use of this ESP ability, as now it is called in scientific circles that the ancients explained in the Gemini Major Arcanum of the tarot.

Truth was not to be apprehended merely by the use of the ESP, although as the seeker rested far more largely upon the waves than upon the land, the scope of investigation through such psychic avenues was far wider. But, as pouring a fluid, and partially resting, upon the land, it was indicated that the reports of the physical senses and the process of logical reasoning should not be ignored.

Intuition and Reason

Even the conventional symbol of two joined uprights, by which Gemini is denoted, indicates that the two processes of the mind, and the two sets of senses, should be united, and one weighed against the other, to get the total facts. Objective experiences should be analyzed in the light of psychic perception, and psychic experiences should be checked as to accuracy and significance by objective experience and reason.

This weighing — which will be more obvious in its import when the significance of Major Arcanum 17 of the tarot is understood — of the inner against the outer, and the below against that which is above, is more fully indicated by the eight-point star above the seeker. The two united trines, one white and the other black, that form a part of this eight-point star, in particular point to the old Hermetic Axiom, “As it is below, so it is above.”

And this star of weighing the things of the external world against those of the invisible realm, being surrounded by the septenary of smaller stars to indicate planetary influences, points still further that in her search the seeker shall ever link her finding to the principles of astrology. That is, as all on the external plane, and all in the invisible realm, are linked indissolubly to astrological vibrations, a study of these relationships will prevent the seeker from being led astray.

Yet even in astrology two methods of approach must be recognized. And both have their own value, although Major Arcanum 17 indicates that the best results are to be obtained by a union of both.

The external method is the scientific approach, in which statistics are employed. This also has been the method by which university men have ascertained the existence of ESP. In astrology, for instance, when the birthcharts of a sufficient number of aviators are collected, and an analysis of these charts shows that practically all of them have the planet Neptune either in an angle or in close aspect to Sun, Moon or Mercury, I believe we are warranted in considering a prominent Neptune a Birthchart Constant of aviators. And this would signify that in selecting a vocation for some young man, if Neptune were not in an angle, and not closely aspecting Sun, Moon or Mercury, we should be warranted in discouraging him from taking up aviation as a vocation.

Yet an astrologer who had never analyzed the birthchart of a single aviator, but who had an active ESP, as certain astrologers certainly do, might also take one look at the chart of the same young man, and advise him not to take up aviation. He might give a totally different reason for so deciding, but his decision would be quite accurate, none the less. Yet this would not make the finding, as The Brotherhood of Light has done, that Neptune is prominent in the charts of those who make a success of aviation, invalid. It is merely getting the same answer through a different process.

Nor does it invalidate the findings of thousands of people who have had remarkable psychic experiences, that they have not submitted those experiences to the rigid requirements of the scientists who now are investigating ESP. These university men are merely making a different, and more critical, approach; checking their findings by carefully devised external methods.

Major Arcanum 17, however, is not confined to explaining the two types of information-gathering powers of the mind. The flower in the background, with three open blossoms, relates to the efflorescence, or highest types of experience, on each of the three planes: physical, astral and spiritual. The butterfly hovering over these flowers explains that through the power of thought, which Gemini rules, the soul is able to bring about those changes in the form it occupies — comparable to those by which the grub passes through the chrysalis stage — which enables it to demonstrate the high types of experiences symbolized by the blossoms.

That is, the mere acquisition of truth, no matter how comprehensive, has little significance unless used as a basis of action. To understand all that astrology, for instance, can teach, or all the information that can be acquired through the ESP, brings no change in human fortune until that knowledge is acted upon.

Astrology, better than any other science, affords a correct and complete diagnosis of the forces which bring each condition and event into an individual’s life. It reveals the type, and the harmony or discord, of the chief invisible energies received by the individual’s thought-cells at a given time. And it shows which groups of thought-cells are at this time receiving the energy and therefore what departments of life will be influenced. The birthchart itself maps the normal activity and the normal harmony or discord of the thought-cells thus given new energy. There is at hand, therefore, a very good guide as to how the thinking and behavior will be influenced at a given time by unseen energies, and what events the new activities of the thought-cells, acting upon the external environment, will then attract into the life.

Yet acquiring such knowledge, according to Major Arcanum 17, is only half the function of thought. The other half is through its use to attract into the life, not the events that otherwise are indicated, but such as the individual may select, with the end in view of leading on and upward, to taste the nectar of this and higher planes.

The ESP power of the mind, especially when it gives warning of a disaster in the future which can be avoided, seems truly marvelous and in such cases is most useful. But the mind has, in addition to its information-gathering ability, an event-attractive and environment-molding function. All the schools of mental and spiritual healing, all those who through the power of mind teach it to be possible to demonstrate desired conditions, use this executive power of thought.

Undirected, and unconscious so far as the individual is concerned, the thought-cells of the unconscious mind all the time are doing such work of demonstrating conditions. But the conditions they demonstrate, the events they bring into the life, are those demonstrated by the thought-cells which at that time receive an unusual amount of energy from the planets. That is, a section of the unconscious mind acquiring new energy in quantity through a progressed aspect, demonstrates the condition and event in precisely the same manner that the Metaphysical Practitioner, New Thought Advocate, or Divine Healer demonstrates a condition or event into the life of an individual. The only difference is that the new planetary energy reaching the thought-cells often causes them to demonstrate things the individual does not desire.

They demonstrate accidents, disaster, sickness and other misfortune because the individual is unaware of what they are doing, or cannot check them in the work of demonstration they feel impelled to undertake.

It is only through astrology, unless the ESP faculties are cultivated to a high degree of reliability, that we can become aware of what our unconscious mind at a given time is working to demonstrate. Astrology is the one commonly accessible method of knowing what is going on among the thought-cells.

But when the diagnosis is made, something else is required. The manipulation of the external environment to make it easy for the thought-cells to demonstrate favorable conditions, or to make it difficult for them to demonstrate indicated adversity, is a part of this work. But even more important, according to the explanation given in the Gemini Arcanum of the tarot, is the application of thought energy to the thought-cells made particularly active at the time by the planets, to direct them away from their tendency to spontaneous demonstrating, and give them the required impetus to use their energy to demonstrate instead, that which the individual desires.

(This concludes part 18 of 23)

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