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Occultist Card Meanings

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.tarot,alt.magick,alt.divination,alt.pagan.magick
From: nagasiva 
Subject: Occultist Card Meanings (e.g. G-LOVE-GEMINI)
Date: Thu, 04 Dec 2003 01:57:00 GMT

re "Lovers" (/CHOICE/LOVE)"
# I'm having a hard time attaching a meaning to this card 
# that sticks {for me}.

not too surprising. trumps that have multiple names through
time (in the case of G, Choice, Lovers, Love, etc.), are prone
to receive a diversity or larger envelope of aggregate meaning.
there are many ways to get meaning from a Tarot card without
being provided one ready-made definition for someone's deck:

        a) look at the symbolism in the card and project some
           dynamics or story around any pictures featured therein.

           in many Lovers cards there are *three* figures,
           sometimes the third is Eros/Cupid, fostering a
           love-smittenness between the featured pair below.
           it seems easy enough to fabricate a meaning using
           this method: we're talking about an emotion, some
           event or personally and significan interaction,
           whereby what is called 'love' is discovered,
           established, or enhanced; it may be a metaphor
           'falling in love'; or maybe the significant 
           part is that figure above the mated pair.

        b) read, ask questions, and compare different people's 
           interpretations of cards as they present them.

           accumulating a library of tarot interpretations
           both makes this possible and makes it more evident
           to the reader that there are some common interps,
           some more convincing than others -- some based on
           traditional assignment or very little elaboration 
           as to what the actual symbols in the *card* mean, or 
           the history of the card as it developed through time.
           asking in forums such as these for feedback can
           increase one's resident database of possibilities.

        c) study the history of the card's meaning oneself
           and select what seems most convincing.

           this may result from choosing a favourite authority,
           or from one or more favourite method from those 
           presented here, supplemented by the historical usage.

        d) examine the way that the card falls in the LAYOUT
           and tweak its meaning based on intuition.

           this may be associated with the classic 'fortune-
           telling method' where the event and configuration
           of the cards is much more important than what the card 
           has on its face or how it has been seen through time.                     
        e) consider carefully the overall context of the card in
           symbolic instructional layouts or deck composition.

           as with Oswald Wirth's instructional trump layout,
           or a consideration of septenaries in trump progression,
           there are many many ways that Tarot cards can be
           presented in association with the rest of the deck
           or with some prefabricated configuration. placement
           within these configurations (contrasted or compared
           with any way the card falls in the reading) can 
           inform the reader of the overall meaning. it may
           also include such things as numerology and relations
           inferred by the card's sequential assignment.

        f) comprehension of how the card fits into a symbolic
           attribution scheme or mystical diagrams.

           selecting the diagram for the cards (trumps are often
           associated with sefirotic trees but the trees vary
           in structure and composition so the placement of the
           card will vary outside rigid institutional traditions),
           locating the particular card upon it, and understanding
           its overall symbolic attribution (whether assigned to
           other occult ideas, or given a special relation to
           other cards by virtue of placement and what might be
           considered 'ordinary symbols' like numbers, roman
           numerals, or letters), can pinpoint a card's meaning
           without regard for what is actually painted on the
           face or said about the card by traditional sources.

there are probably more (add them in reply posts!), but you can
see with just this spectrum that in some cases what is on the
card is most important, in others what is traditional, and in
still others how one *feels* about the cards is paramount. 

# It could be because the "perspective" of this card seems so 
# different than the other cards.  I'm not sure I'm explaining 
# that well. See, with the Magician [for example] I can imagine 
# myself as the character.

some suggest that the Magician isn't a role but a FORCE. 

                B - MAGE - MERCURY

		path between 1 and 3; formative;
                activating; bridging between
                origination (1) and restriction (3)

there are many ways to interpret the trumps that the 
Lesser Cards never touch.

# Not so with the Lovers.  

you could be one of the two figures, or perhaps even that 
third figure in the clouds just there. :>

# Now, if the card was "Love" or the "Lover," then I would be 
# able to.

in the Plebeian Tarot the card is 


                path between 3 and 4; conducive;
                aggregating; selection of options,
                as an extension of the D-QUEEN and
                E-KING extended from 2; forming part
                of a trio balancing Agape (G-LOVE)
                with THelema (I-WILL) via the H-CART;
                keyed to the VENUSian doubling in 2=>4
                and offering parity with the F-GUIDE,
                both of which are unusual in their
                status as transtetraktyl paths (along
                with C-WITCH, N-DEATH, O-ART, T-CLOUD, 
                U-STAR, and Y-UNIVERSE).
some tradition gives this card the numeral VI. historically
the assigned name "Choice" is described as including a man's
choice between two women. perhaps this was a contrivance to
integrate the dualism of Gemini's character, or perhaps as
you mention the symbolic notion of vice/virtue applies.

# Still, is that what the Lovers card is about?  
# Being in "love"? What kind of "love"?

I hope I've given some reason above to now assert that this is
a somewhat difficult question to answer. this is not so much
because the card itself is difficult to interpret (though at
times it surely is) or because there are no prescriptions for
meaning in Tarot writers' expression (there are many): it is
because the question contains the premise that trumps or indeed
any Tarot card *are about something*. 

'the Lovers card' without reference to any particular deck is
a *constellation* of expression, art, interpretation, and text,
which CANNOT be resolved easily into any concise, nailed-down
answer as to "what it means". one or more of the above-detailed
methods is seleted, and typically a specific DECK is being
discussed, the artist's or occultist's interests or intentions
considered for the resolution of any single interpretation.

most *generic* Tarot interpreters (i.e. "This card means...."
without specifying a deck) pretend this is not the case, try 
to give the impression that their espoused meaning for the 
card is authoritative, and establish a doctrinal significance
to what is an variable set of images, themes, and history.

personal reflections are just what they are, but their detail
is informative when it includes data on what decks the person
is talking about in their observation and sharing.
# Waite's Pictorial Key says of his Lovers card:  

now we're getting somewhere. :>

# "It replaces, by recourse to first principles, the old 
#  card of marriage, 

that is an interesting tracking of the card. Marriage *also*
would have a threesome depicted (the couple and the officiant).
the first question I would ask is who called it Marriage and
why? was this a left-over from gaming decks?

# which I have described previously, and the later follies 
# which depicted man between vice and virtue."

lovely, that's an elaboration on the symbolism of CHOICE.

# {Yeah, I know he says a lot more, but I wanted to explore 
#  that sentence a bit more.} Was this card considered a 
# card of "marriage" because it depicted lovers and the 
# assumption was/is that the lovers would then go on to get 
# married [if so, why not just call the card Marriage?].

now you're asking a historical question about the meaning of
the card over time and how and why it was changed. while I'm
not prepared to answer that, I think in this card's exploration
it becomes very easy to see the extreme variation of meaning
involved and why it is that there may be a greater envelope
surrounding it: not only has its name and theme changed, 
but its content and social import have completely shifted.
if this is true for *occultists* is the next valuable query.

# Is it possible that the card was considered a card of 
# marriage because it depicts on affair [a man and his 
# mistress, perhaps?] 

my guess is that it was considered Marriage because people
liked the institution of Marriage and sought to put it on
playing cards. :>  I'd have to do a survey of *occultists* 
who described their motivations to give your question its
due from an occult perspective. 

differentiating between the intentions of gaming card 
designers and those of magicians and diviners will of
course require that we specific the names of the cards
with the person or tradition that named them, plus it
will include what may have been published or taught 
by the specific sources arcane.

getting game-playing interests mixed in with occultism
is part of the problem of fabricationalists who want to
paint a picture of consistent esoteric significance and

# and one can't have an affair unless one is already 
# married?  

I doubt that this was the intent, but am ignorant.

# The concept of an "affair" would certainly fit in with 
# being stuck between "vice and virtue."

if it was related to some popular symbolism or play this
would allow the virtue/vice CHOICE.
# Anyways, would appreciate some thoughts on how/what 
# others have in mind for the Lovers card.

that's likely a wide variety. if I have a moment or two
tonight I'll cite some prominent occultist contentions.


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