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Astro-Tarot Series

Arcanum 20: The Moon and the Sarcophagus

First printed in American Astrology Magazine September 1938

Elbert Benjamine

Relationship Between the Unconscious Mind and the Moon

The original material has been edited for accuracy
and to improve ease of reading.

The position of the Moon in a birthchart maps that thought structure within the astral body which affords the most open avenue by which impressions and information find access from the outside world to the unconscious mind. The Moon-sign thus indicates the type of experiences most easily received and most readily assimilated by that unconscious mind. And thus the general trend of the mental activity is shown by the Moon. But the method and facility with which such thoughts and those arising from the character and the personality express, is markedly determined by the sign occupied and the aspects made by Mercury.

As the birthchart is a map of the soul, or unconscious mind, showing its thought organization at the moment of birth, every planetary position in it and every aspect is significant of its structure. But as the Moon position is the easiest avenue of access to the unconscious mind, when an orb is sought to symbolize this inner plane organization of thought and feeling, which alone survives the dissolution of the physical body, this luminary is the one chosen.

Thus when the Masters of olden times desired to explain, in the language of symbolical pictograph, that man survives beyond the tomb and that family ties continue on the inner plane, they expressed these ideas in the tarot design of Major Arcanum 20, which is associated with the Moon.

Arcanum 20: The MoonThe symbolism of this Moon tarot card, which is here illustrated, is simple and most obvious. A spirit in an aureole above sounds the trumpet of resurrection and a man, woman and child, still wrapped in their winding sheets, arise from a sarcophagus. The conspicuous, conventionalized wings indicate the overshadowing of a benign deific intelligence and is commonly used wherever it was desired to express protection by such a higher power.

The only other conspicuous symbol is the scarab. The scarab belongs to a family of beetles whose members are common not only in Egypt but also in America. They lay their eggs in a little ball of filth which they roll along the ground to a deep hole which they have excavated in the earth. They drop this ball, which is a miniature of our terrestrial sphere, into the hole and then fill in the space above it with earth. When the larva hatch they live on the organic matter of the ball, still deep in the ground, as man born into earthly conditions must gain mental food from sordid as well as more pleasant experiences.

A Home for New Life

But the grub of the scarab — the American variety of which when they find them in the cow pastures, as they do commonly in spring, the farmer boys call tumble-bugs — does not remain encased in the filth, nor does it stay deeply buried in the dark ground. When it has had enough food to mature it undergoes a change and emerges with wings. No longer is it tied to earth and no longer does it live in filth. Instead now it is free, like the soul after death, to fly wherever its desires shall prompt.

Ancient Egyptian Scarab

Thus, was the scarab sacred to the Egyptians as symbolizing that most cherished thought: the unconscious mind of man does not perish with the change that overtakes the body in physical death but arises from the earthly tomb and continues life, with all its better associations, in a realm above the scene of its former sorrow and strife.

And although most religions hold to the persistence of the personality after physical death, a curious paradox exists; for most of these believers have set their faces obdurately against anyone who is willing to offer definite proof that such survival is an actual fact. But I need not here mention and list the names of the many outstanding persons in the domain of material science who have taken every precaution to prevent deception and after investigating in a thoroughly scientific manner have publicly announced, even though they knew it meant a certain martyrdom to do so, that they had demonstrated satisfactorily the continuation of conscious life beyond the tomb.

Instead of citing these evidences which were considered proof, it seems better to point to certain things we now know in the realm of material science as indicative of how it is possible for those after life experiences to take place, which are implied by the tarot design of the family being resurrected to continue its functions in other spheres.

Should I mention Einstein and his General Theory of Relativity, at once many people will get the impression that I am talking about something that perhaps only twelve people in the world have enough brains to understand. And I certainly am not one of the twelve who understand the complex mathematical equation by which Einstein expresses the general law which he seeks to prove; I do not even know the significance of the mathematical symbols used.

But to understand Newton’s conception of gravitation as applied to the orbs of the solar system it was not necessary to understand the complex mathematics by which he could plot the precise position of a planet in its orbit at any given time. Nor is it necessary to have much mathematical knowledge to grasp many of the outstanding implications of Einstein’s theory. In fact, I feel sure that the average person, with a reasonable amount of study, can quite well grasp the significance of the principles involved in Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

That theory was formulated in the attempt to explain observed facts in physics which classical mechanics and no previous theory could explain. It may be true and it may be erroneous, but at least it is an aggressive attempt to find a solution to a problem that so far had not been solved by other means. It may be only partly true and thus needs alteration. But we may be sure that man’s ingenuity before long will find methods of testing it more fully in an experimental way, and that as soon as such tests are devised in sufficient number it will become established as a part of scientific knowledge or discarded in favor of some other explanation.

The only excuse for dragging in the controversial name of Einstein is that some of the outstanding factors of his General Theory of Relativity coincide with what is known of the inner plane on which the unconscious mind, or soul, of man functions after death. This theory holds that the classical ideas about time, space and gravitation are applicable to that which moves with the more commonly observed velocities; but that as the velocity of light is approached the classical laws of gravitation no longer apply, space no longer has the relations commonly assigned to it and time slows down. A material body, for instance, moving at the rate of 160,000 miles per second, according to the theory, would shrink to about half of its previous length. As a body requires velocity it increases in mass also. And as a clock gains velocity it slows down, until at the speed of light it comes to a standstill.

According to this General Theory of Relativity, “A material body cannot have a velocity greater than light. The velocity of light forms the upper limit of velocities for all material bodies.”

Whether or not Einstein’s theory holds up in detail, certain of its implications fit with observed occult experience. The General Theory leads us to expect that if the velocity of light were exceeded conditions would be present not dissimilar to those revealed by our inner plane experiences, in the observed influence of planetary energies upon human life and in the exercise of Extra Sensory Perception.

It is not implied that time, space and gravitation are nonexistent on the inner plane, where I believe the velocity is in excess of light; but they certainly do take on characteristics not possessed by material bodies, the velocities of which are less than that of light. In reference to gravitation, intelligences — possessing a thought-built body of inner plane substance — are able to move from place to place almost instantly; and by changing the vibratory rate to ascend to higher planes or descend to those lower. That is, through thought and feeling, beings on the inner plane are able to overcome gravitational resistance.

The Zenith Foundation conducted, in connection with a highly commendable thirty-weeks radio program, a series of tests relative to telepathy and the little known powers of the mind. They were able to collect a tremendous amount of material and to conduct mass tests, receiving over a quarter of a million pieces of mail. They have issued a little summary of their findings. In reference to time and space I believe it will carry more weight if I quote from this summary than merely to cite personal observation:

About space:

That distance and space are not factors in telepathic communications seems definitely indicated by careful analysis of test returns by geographical divisions.

About time:

Authenticated personal experiences indicate that time is not a factor in telepathic communication. Possession of the ability to visualize in detail events which have not happened, a phenomenon science calls precognition, seems but slightly less rare than telepathy itself.

Summing up, this excellent preliminary report points out:

As a result, listener reports on many of the tests made on Zenith radio programs indicate a deviation from mathematical laws of chance by such a margin as to seem without question to indicate the functioning of little known mental powers. In fact, the odds against some of the test results being attributable to chance reached the amazing total of 1: 10,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Now if Einstein is correct, or even if his assumption is correct, relative to the velocity of light being the upper boundary of that which belongs to the domain of the physical, this means that light, radiation and electromagnetic waves, which often are classed as etheric energies, and which when traveling in space have the velocity of light, are transitional energies, right on the line between the physical world and the astral world. And all observation indicates that it is only through etheric energies — the generation and radiation of which was explained in some detail in connection with Major Arcanum 1 — which have this boundary-line velocity, that the physical plane can in any way exercise an influence over the inner plane, or that the inner plane can exercise any influence over the physical.

All the physical phenomena of mediumship utilize the electromagnetic forces of the medium and commonly of others present also, to produce whatever results take place. The electromagnetic field of force can be given a consistency, for instance, by which it can be used as a cantilever to move objects at a distance. And every physical type of séance room occurrence* — levitation, etherealization, trumpet speaking, table rapping and materialization — can satisfactorily be explained through the use of this boundary-line energy which, whether the ether really exists or not, it is convenient to generalize as etheric.

*Note: Over time, many of the occurrences have been debunked as theatrical performances. The CofL does have confidence in the ability of the subtle, astral body to send and receive information using non-physical means. In fact, we teach techniques for developing inner-plane consciousness and sensitivity. We do urge balancing what is learned through the psychic senses with what is observed in the physical world.

Furthermore, all that humans experience is retained by the unconscious mind which is an organization occupying the inner plane. Memory, or the recognition of anything apprehended by the senses of the unconscious mind, requires that the boundary between the two planes be crossed through imparting movements to the boundary-line etheric energies, which in turn imparts them to the cells of the physical brain. And objective thought itself, because it must always utilize factors remembered, makes the crossing between the two planes through etheric energies necessary.

Let us recognize that mind and thought and a duplicate of everything of the physical world — and in addition many objects and intelligences that have no physical world counterpart — occupy the inner plane. And by virtue of the velocities customary on this inner plane that gravitation, space and time are quite different than on the physical.

But, let us not make the mistake of concluding that because they are different that on that plane they are non-existent. It was once thought that the transmission of light across space, from Sun to earth for instance, was instantaneous. No methods of testing it had then been devised. And it is true that such a velocity as 186,000 miles per second could not be imagined a few hundred years ago.

I, along with others, find it easy to speak of the inner plane as a place of four dimensions, because the properties of things there in so many respects are those which another dimension seems to imply. But this certainly does not signify that all who thus speak of it consider time just another fixed dimension, down which our consciousness merely travels its predestined way.

Even material science, when it works with electrons, photons and radiations, has no method of predicting the behavior of individuals. Things with smaller velocities, like the planets moving in their orbits, have a course that can be mapped and predetermined, as instanced by the plotting in advance of the positions of the planets at given moments of time in the astrological ephemeris. But science does not even pretend thus to be able to plot the individual action of particles having the velocity of light. Instead, it resorts to the Quantum Theory, in which statistics are employed to determine from the average behavior of a group of particles the probability that any selected individual particle will behave so-and-so. And as human character occupies a plane where velocities are even greater than light, it should not be expected that the behavior of a particular individual can be positively predetermined. Human conduct itself is not predetermined by the stars or by anything else. But if an individual belongs to a certain astrological classification the probability that his behavior under a definite astrological condition will be so-and-so may be better than 1,000 to 1.

From my own 38 years of astrological study and the 14 years’ work of The Brotherhood of Light Research Department, I have become convinced that it will never be possible to predict with absolute certainty that such-and-such an event will happen in an individual’s life. More and more I become convinced that individual liberty exists rather than any predetermined course. But I am equally convinced in regard to innumerable highly important matters of human life, that when the statistics have been worked out as the Constant for a certain event or condition, that the probability of it coming to pass as indicated by the astrological factors is much greater than 100 to 1.

Even when things are seen clairvoyantly, in the manner now termed precognition, they are not predestined. Our experience investigating ESP and inner plane life indicates that the probability may be high that the matter will come to pass as clairvoyantly seen. But we have had many experiences which convince us that even here liberty of choice and action exist, and that up to the moment an event has actually transpired — no matter if powerfully indicated astrologically or perceived through precognition — there often is opportunity to prevent it, or to make it come to pass in a different manner. I should like to go on record, therefore, in this matter of looking down time as a fixed dimension of unalterable events, that I voice the opinion of many astrologers when I say that neither in the birthchart nor in progressions have we ever found anything in support of the theory of predestination or fatality.

It certainly is true that time relations change when the velocity of light is exceeded. Precognition proves that the unconscious mind, belonging to the inner plane, is able to overcome the common limitations of time. But that does not signify that events in time are unalterably fixed, merely that the unconscious mind is able to perceive the probabilities that certain things will come to pass and that these probabilities may be very great.

Space and gravitation also undergo vast changes. Those who have passed through the sepulcher, Arcanum 20, live henceforth on the inner plane. And it is possible for them to clothe themselves through the processes of thought, to use thought to assist in the building of homes and to move about and communicate one with another.

On whatever level of the inner plane they abide they can walk about much as we walk along the streets or through the gardens of earth. But — and this is one of the reasons why we speak as if there were another dimension — they can also move through great distances, from one location to another, almost instantly through the power of thought.

Strangest of all — and also giving the feel of another dimension — the inner plane life is not lived on a single surface, as is the case of earth. There are innumerable levels of existence. Yet these are not levels in the common three-dimensional sense. Instead they are vibratory levels.

The principle of resonance is the deciding-factor, not merely on what level an individual will function, but what region they will occupy at a given time on that level. We are no longer dealing with physical objects, we are dealing with velocities, the nearest approach to which we are familiar with are those used in radio. The unconscious mind of each individual, both while on earth and afterward, is both a receiving set and a broadcasting set. But on the inner plane when one tunes in on a condition that implies — because space relations there are different — that a person is actually there.

In the United States there are numerous licensed radio stations. Let us suppose each was broadcasting on a different frequency a program which was characteristic of the refinement or gross tastes of the particular station. This would correspond to numerous distinct levels of the astral world on each of which intelligences live, move and have their being.

If you have a proper receiving set — which in the after-life means basic character vibrations and thoughts — you could tune in on any one of these numerous different levels. And when you had thus tuned in — space and gravitation being different — you would actually be on that level taking part in its life. And while on that level, you would probably be as unconscious of what was taking place on the other numerous levels as you now are of the programs being broadcast by the numerous other radio stations when in your own home you have tuned your radio set to your favorite program. Yet within the limit of your set — that is, in terms of after-death life, within the limits of your spirituality and ability to raise or lower temporarily your thought-vibration — you can shut off the program you now hear and tune in on another. On that inner plane that means that you move up or down to a different level of existence.

The program there, however, is more adaptable to your requirements than that of radio, because on any one level — corresponding to so many kilocycles in radio — you can move about with even more freedom than you do on earth, selecting spots to enjoy or visiting places that are not pleasant. And on any such level you converse with the inhabitants, observe the scenery and have a freedom which the radio does not afford.

I do not think that the ancient wise ones who designed Major Arcanum 20 envisioned the development of radio, had any conception of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, or had gone into the Quantum Theory. But I am convinced, from what they relate on the tarot pictures, that they did not believe in fate or predestination and that they knew much about the conditions of life after physical dissolution.

(This concludes part 21 of 23)

To purchase The Sacred Tarot by C. C. Zain student format, hardbound)

To purchase The Egyptian Tarot Cards

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