Arcanum 21: The Sun and the Adept
First printed in American Astrology Magazine September 1938
The original material has been edited for accuracy
and to improve ease of reading.
As it is the apparent movement of the Sun which is responsible for the seasons, and as it is the field of force of the Sun in its relation to the field of force of the earth which determines the signs of the zodiac and which give to each its peculiar vibratory quality, it was to have been expected that in explaining the significance of the Sun the ancient masters should indicate signs and seasons in their design. Thus, the upper part of Major Arcanum 21 portrays a circle of twelve flowers, each representing one sign of the zodiac, and outside this zodiacal circle are to be seen the emblems of the quadrants of heaven which designate the yearly seasons.
The Sun also throughout the ages has been the emblem of spirit. It represents the Ego of man, which furnishes the impetus that causes him to struggle to survive, which endows him with ambition and which gives him the aspiration to climb to ever greater heights of attainment. It represents that power which is back of the evolution of the soul. And thus in the tarot design which portrays the significance of the Sun, within the circle of zodiacal flowers we see the linga, indicating united male and female souls, endowed with wings and soaring upward into higher realms.
As the Sun is the dominant power within our solar system and as those on earth who exercise authority over others, such as bosses and politicians, always have the Sun prominent in their birthcharts, the Wise Ones who gave instructions in the language of symbolical pictograph deemed it appropriate to explain Mastership and its attainment on the tarot card devoted to the Sun. The function of adeptship and the principal steps that must be taken to reach that exalted state are the subjects chiefly pictured on tarot Major Arcanum 21.
A young girl is shown to signify that one who aspires to the perfect type of man called the adept must be pure both in manner of life and in his motives.
The moderation of desires and simplicity of living that must be his are denoted by the plain apparel worn by the girl. Yogis of the fakir type display their powers to the wonderment of the public. They attract attention to themselves and glory in the amazement of the populace. But not so the real adept. True masters live simply, avoid the vulgar glare of undue publicity, refuse to exhibit their powers merely to gain admiration and use their energies for the welfare of mankind.
The girl kneels to indicate that the adept has absolute devotion to the higher laws of nature and that in prayerful aspiration he seeks to his utmost ability to live a spiritual life, in which he consecrates himself to assisting, to the utmost of his ability, the fulfillment of the Divine Plan. He seeks diligently to discern the purpose of the Supreme Intelligence and to cooperate with it in all ways.
The harp which the young girl plays has three strings to signify that the Adept strives to develop harmony of body, emotions and intellect. His study of astrology teaches him that harmony is life and that discord is death. The aspects in a birthchart map factors within the unconscious mind of similar harmony or discord. And he has observed that the events attracted by the action of the discordant factors within the unconscious mind thus mapped are hindrances, obstacles and difficulties; while those events attracted by the extra physical power of harmonious factors thus mapped within the unconscious mind, are those that give him pleasure and bring him an advantage. Therefore following the precepts so clearly placed before him by astrology, he cultivates in reference to his behavior, his feeling and his thinking as much harmony as lies within his power.
Masters, of varying degrees of power, have lived in all ages and in every clime. They are not confined to any special geographical area. Nor do they bow to the conventional religion of their time. Taking their instruction from Nature and from the wise ones who ascended before their births, the four chief tenets of their belief are to be found not merely in the tarot designs and not merely in the four emblems which mark the quadrants in the sky — and because of this are found so conspicuously outside the circle of flowers in Major Arcanum 21 — but also in huge monuments of stone.
Written records are subject to vandalism. It was possible that even the tarot cards should vanish from the globe. Thus the utmost precaution was taken that the doctrines signified by the Lion and the Man, the Eagle and the Bull should not be lost to mankind. For hundreds of years during the dark ages of manâ€™s religious history there was a relentless effort to destroy all records, all teachings and even the statuary and monuments of the past. Such records as were too large to be destroyed when possible were buried, as was the famous and most instructive Aztec Calendar Wheel.
But thousands of such monuments were too large either to be destroyed or buried by later people, and still persist. They are of four distinct forms and even as the constellations, the pictures on the suits of the tarot cards and the four emblems around the zodiacal circle of flowers in the tarot card dedicated to the Sun, reveal to one conversant with the language of symbolical pictograph, the ideas attached to them. Each type of ancient stone monument thus reveals by its form the spiritual idea and its astrological association which it was intended to convey to the minds of the people who erected it. As these were fundamental ideas held by adepts past and present, and as a manâ€™s accomplishment is inextricably interwoven with his fundamental ideas, let us briefly review the significance of these religious doctrines so well preserved in stone.
Huge, straight shafts of rock upright like the rays of the midday Sun symbolize the virile, masculine powers of nature.
In the zodiac the sign over which the Sun has special rule is Leo, pictured by a lion; hence the lion head in Arcanum 21 outside the zodiac of flowers. The lion is noted not merely for his courage but for his affection. The house it rules in a natural birthchart is the one concerned with pleasures, love affairs and children. Love and life are closely allied and the upright pillar and the sign Leo symbolize both virility and love.
Fakirs may teach such a doctrine but true adepts never, that asceticism, sadness and sorrow are holy. Pain and suppression of legitimate pleasure are opposed not merely to the teachings of the adepts of the past, but also to the findings of modem psychology. The love of husband for wife and of wife for husband is a most desirable and sacred thing, and is one of the most constructive forces which man can utilize. The love of parents for their children approaches the deific in its sanctity and it germinates the seed of that unselfish love which alone makes immortality possible.
â€˜Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,â€™ is one of the most important doctrines ever taught, and is based upon the admonition, â€˜Love ye one another.â€™ It is love that binds together. Love is the universal constructive agent. That which encourages and nourishes true love is blessed and should endure; for when love departs, the vacancy is filled by selfishness.
Thus does Arcanum 21 of the tarot, the second quadrant of the heavens which is pictured as a lion, and the single shaft of stone erected in veneration of creative energy, all record the belief of the adepts that love lies at the foundation of all constructive effort.
Massive tables of stone supported by two or more pillars are called dolmens and present the form of a doorway. Yet they are more than doorways, for the conspicuous feature of their structure is the flat, table- like surface presented by the slab held thus high above the ground. It strikes the eye at once as a plane. This plane is obviously one above the earth. It is a higher plane. And the doorway also is to no physical habitation.
A doorway thus connected to a plane higher than the earth can have but one significance in the language of universal symbolism. It is a pictograph, even though of massive stone, signifying that there is a plane of endeavor above the physical and that death is but a passing through a doorway to a life in spiritual realms.
The third quadrant of the heavens is represented by Scorpio, pictured in Arcanum 21 as the eagleâ€™s head outside the zodiac of flowers. This zodiacal sign commonly is symbolized as a crawling denizen of the desert, the scorpion, but as representing another influence of the same sign it is pictured by an eagle, master of the element above the earth. The house it rules in a natural birthchart is the one of death.
Not only then does the huge slab of stone supported by two pillars attest to a belief in the survival of the personality after death, but the tarot card by expressing the relation of man to death as a Scorpion that has now become an Eagle, portrays the conviction of the adepts that through death man ceases to crawl in the dust and soars to a life of greater power and freedom.
A circle of huge stones and within these other circles of huge stones about the same center, portray the orbits of the planets. Such picturing in so many parts of the world of the movements of the planets, at a cost of so great labor would have been undertaken only because it was believed that the movements of the planets thus represented have a profound influence upon the life and destiny of man.
The man of the zodiac, Aquarius, pictured as the head of a man outside the zodiacal circle of flowers in Arcanum 21 — representing the fourth quadrant of the heavens — also speaks in unmistakable terms of the same belief. Water running from his urn flows down upon the earth even as do the vibrations of the planets. And in one hand he holds aloft, as if measuring the influences in the firmament above, a 24-hour gauge, even as astrologers past and present use the 24-hour period as the measure of the influences meted out to man.
Thus we find huge stone monuments, called cromlechs, built long ago yet speaking to us in the simplest form of written language, the pictograph. And these stone structures bring the same message that is revealed in the constellation of the Man and the design of the tarot Arcanum 21. They point to a belief that the planets have an influence over human life and destiny.
One more quadrant of heaven and its emblem is yet to be explained. It is represented among the ancient monuments by dome-shaped mounds. They once were used for magical ceremonies and for initiations. Thus they are used today by primitive peoples, the kiva of the Indians of the Southwestern United States being one of many examples that can be cited.
Such a dome by its shape is a universal symbol of the feminine in nature. It represents the same root that â€˜Maâ€™ does in various languages, that is, it signifies the mother. The Sun, which is the influence we are considering when we read Arcanum 21, is in the sign of Taurus in the month of Ma (y). The sign Taurus also is the exaltation, or highest station, of the mother planet, the Moon. It is an earthy sign, hence the mound while hollow and having a small, low entrance is usually covered with earth.
It is the first quadrant of the heavens which is depicted by Taurus, the Bull, the head of which appears outside the circle of flowers on the solar tarot card. This is the bull with which the mighty hunter, Orion, is pictured in perpetual conflict. Orion wields the club of mental power to combat and overcome the bull which pitches down upon him from the sky. This bull with which the hunter struggles and which mythology and the Bible inform us was thus overcome, signifies the sum total of our environment. The bull is the symbol of the most earthy of the signs, hence represents physical obstacles and limitations to be overcome. Pitching down upon Orion from the sky signifies also the planetary influences that come from above. The club is intelligently directed willpower. Thus is conveyed the idea that both material conditions and the influence of the stars may be overcome by the use of the mind of man.
It is in these dome-shaped mounds that primitive peoples carried out ceremonies to make them successful in the hunt, to give them a bountiful harvest, to overcome enemies and to enter into communication with the dead. That is, these were the places where they went to â€˜demonstrate successâ€™ through the exercise of the mindâ€™s hidden powers.
This sign Taurus, as already indicated, is the best station of the Moon. The Moon is the orb that more than any other rules the unconscious mind, which is the instrument by which thoughts manifest their supreme power. Thus do the mound-shaped dome, the pictured constellation and the head of the bull on Major Arcanum 21 record the belief of the adepts that man, through the proper exercise of his mentality, can control his own life and destiny, here and hereafter.
Flowers represent the coming harvest time, the blossoming of experiences. And while there are but twelve flowers in the adeptâ€™s zodiac, as pictured on Arcanum 21, each flower in the circle has three blossoms. To gain the knowledge and experience by which he thus can rule his present life and future destiny it is significant that the adept must explore all three planes. His work and knowledge are not confined to the physical world, but must extend also to the astral and the spiritual. These inner realms he explores through using what now has become the custom to call extrasensory perception.
In the article discussing the significance of Cancer, the most negative of all the astrological influences, it was explained that there are two diametrically opposite methods of obtaining information from the inner planes. One, the method of irresponsible mediumship, is disintegrative and tends to destroy the will and the soul of the one who practices it. The other is positive, under control and may be made to strengthen the will and increase the independent activity of the soul.
Needless to say, the adept in his quest for knowledge and in his exploration of the inner planes where he will dwell after physical life shall cease, never uses the method of negative mediumship. But even in the positive use of the psychic senses the adept employs a technique far superior to that of less advanced positive psychics. And as adeptship implies the efficient use of extrasensory perception and the exercise of extra physical power, some explanation of this should be made while we are considering this adeptship tarot card.
Manâ€™s nervous organization is broadly divided into two fairly distinct systems: the sympathetic system and the cerebrospinal system. At the head of the cerebrospinal system is the brain, which is specialized to give orders and to do certain complex types of thinking.
As indicated in connection with the explanation of The Sarcophagus tarot card, all communication between the physical plane and the inner planes must take place through transmitting motion to the boundary-line etheric energies which have the velocity of light. Even objective thought, because it must call upon the factors of memory which reside in the unconscious mind and thus are on the inner plane, must make use of these etheric energies. But in the development of disintegrative mediumship the individual cultivates the generation in his nervous system of electrical currents which have a large volume and low potential and therefore are easily manipulated by some other entity.
The positive psychic, however, through raising or lowering the vibrations of his nervous system — chiefly of his sympathetic nervous system — is able to use the electromagnetic field of the electric charges he generates to tune in consciously on objects or entities of either plane, so that he can see, hear, feel and otherwise perceive them. When the nervous system or some ganglion in it is made sensitive enough so the etheric energies associated with it can be raised or lowered in their frequency in a manner corresponding to the tuning in of the astral body on some condition, the nervous system or ganglion then becomes a receiving set to convey to objective consciousness that which the unconscious mind has seen, heard or felt. The ordinary positive psychic thus trains his nervous system and particularly his sympathetic nervous system, to bring through into objective consciousness whatever he desires upon which to tune his unconscious mind.
No fault is to be found with this method so long as the psychic develops the ability to tune off that which he does not wish to hear, see and feel as readily as he tunes in on the things he does wish to contact. But commonly those who develop the psychic senses, even in this positive and completely controlled way, become so sensitive that the necessary impacts and discords of the physical world cause them no end of discomfort.
Furthermore, while creatures lower in the scale of life than man commonly make great use of the nervous system other than the brain to guide their actions, man has developed a special capacity to handle information with his brain. And by using his brain efficiently he can apprise himself not merely of things which are pleasant but of things which are distasteful without feeling these things intensely.
Some people, it is true, cannot think about a surgical operation, an illness, or other disagreeable thing without tuning in on it and feeling pain. Whatever they apprehend, they feel the condition within themselves. They live largely in the sympathetic nervous system.
Other people, who when they desire to tune in on something harmonious are quite as capable of enjoyment, are able to hold their consciousness so exclusively on the intellectual level that they can see others in pain, can perform surgical operations, or do tasks where there is great environmental discord, without themselves feeling the discord or pain. They apprehend these things with the intellect and have trained themselves not to tune in on them sympathetically.
The unconscious mind, to apprehend a condition, has no more need of tuning in on it than has the objective consciousness. It has the power of seeing and hearing and can observe what is taking place on the inner plane from the intellectual level and can even take part in what is taking place, without feeling the condition, just as a well-trained surgeon can observe an operation or take part in it on the intellectual level without himself suffering any of the distress of the patient.
Furthermore, the brain can grasp this information as it is transmitted from the unconscious mind to it as memory, without feeling the condition intensely. And thus the adept, instead of sensitizing his nervous system to feel the conditions by tuning in on them, trains his brain to bring up into objective consciousness that which he directs his unconscious mind to apprehend intellectually. In this manner he is able to extend his consciousness to the inner plane and witness its affairs, or see clairvoyantly what is transpiring at a distance on the earth.
When he wishes thus to exercise his extrasensory perception he does not think about the condition or information he wishes to contact in a sympathetic way, so that he tunes in on it. Instead he makes it a practice to keep his nerves tuned chiefly to the vital vibrations ruled by the Sun. The Sun rules the type of electrical energy generated in the body cells and nervous system that furnish vitality, stability and the power to rule and control. And as it is the adeptâ€™s object not to be influenced by other things, but himself to control and direct, he cultivates no high tensions or unusual sensitiveness of the nervous system. Instead he maintains his nerves and body in a state of normal health and vigorous vitality. Thus does he prevent his nervous system from picking up, as does a radio set, the vibrations of that which he thinks about in an intellectual manner.
To exercise his extrasensory perception, instead of tuning in he temporarily arrests the flow of objective thought, turns his attention to the inner plane and directs his unconscious mind to extend its consciousness to apprehend the condition or information sought. The unconscious mind, using its senses, sees, hears and otherwise contacts the conditions desired, but does it from an intellectual standpoint, with no more sympathetic response to it than a scientist exhibits while watching some interesting chemical experiment in his laboratory.
That which thus was observed or learned by the unconscious mind, functioning on its own plane of substance and thus without the space and time restrictions common to the physical plane, then is raised into the region of objective consciousness as if it were a dream or memory; and in fact it is a memory, a memory of an actual inner plane experience.
In thus bringing the result of the extrasensory perception into the domain of objective consciousness, the border between the two planes must be crossed through the use of the electromagnetic energies generated by the cells of the brain. But the brain has been specialized, as in the case of ordinary memory to do this work and to do it on the intellectual level, rather than on the sympathetic level such as psychics use who as yet are far removed from adeptship. The adept, cultivating rather than relinquishing, the vital and electric controlling force ruled by the Sun, is able intellectually yet personally to explore the realms symbolized by the three blossoms of each sign of the zodiac of flowers pictured in Arcanum 21, and to do it through an extension of his consciousness and not by tuning in.
(This concludes part 22 of 23)