This is a transcription of the audio lecture Twenty two Arcana of Tarot and Kabbalah 19 Arcanum 19 Inspiration originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
In the image of the Arcanum 19, we see displayed before us a beautiful representation of a man and a woman. Amongst all of the most basic aspects of the existence of humanity, the most fundamental unit in our social fabric is the marriage between a man and a wife. It is the union of male and female which provides the opportunity for the arising of life as we know it, and yet in this time, in these days, the sacred nature of the relationship between man and wife has been forgotten.
It seems that in these days, the relationship between man and woman has become a game, a plaything, a little thing, something without gravity, and yet if you examine the very nature of society, the very nature of each individual life, we find that without the beauty and inherent necessity of the relationship between man and woman, none of these things would exist. It is no accident that when we study Gnosis, our fundamental concern, our primary point of issue, is precisely the relationship between man and woman. This is because not only do we find all of our social and individual needs arise out of the relationship of man and wife, but also all of our spiritual needs, because, as we know, “as above, so below.” With the recognition of the necessity of man and woman for the development of our social, political and family existence, we find that the relationship between man and woman is also necessary for our spiritual existence.
The Arcanum 19 is the Arcanum of the alliance. It is also called Inspiration. This term "alliance" has a number of meanings, but in the immediate sense, it is obviously the alliance between a man and a woman, between husband and wife, and in Gnosis, in Gnosticism, we have this term, this phrase, The Perfect Matrimony, which of course is the title of the first book written by Samael Aun Weor. This book has the subtitle, "The Door to Enter into Initiation", and this is because the marriage, or the alliance between man and woman, is the very door to Eden, the door to heaven, the door out of suffering. So, in the Arcanum 19, we see the ideal couple, the perfect matrimony, the equilibrium, the balance between the two halves, the male and the female.
The Gnostic student has as a goal the achievement of the perfect matrimony, the arrival at the development of the perfect matrimony, and it is easy for the student to assume that one begins with the perfect matrimony, but that is not the case. We begin with what we have. We begin where we are. The perfect matrimony is something that has to be developed, something that we have to aspire towards. That is part of the reason this card is called "Inspiration."
The perfect matrimony is that which inspires us on many levels. Physically, we need that matrimony, the alliance between man and woman, in order for us to cultivate the sacred fires of the Holy Spirit and arrive at the development of our own soul. The soul is only developed between man and wife within the alliance itself, and that is our inspiration, that is our goal. This is not something that comes easily. It is not something that arrives easily, precisely because of our own interference, because of our own mistakes.
A perfect matrimony is a union of two souls. It is an alliance, or a bond, a relationship that exists between two well-developed minds, and as we are now, the mind that we have is in a state of disgrace. The reflection of that is the society that we live in.
What is the state of the relationship between man and woman today? What is the value we place upon a husband or a wife? In these times, unfortunately, we no longer see the spouse the way we used to. Not too long ago, man and woman saw in one another the perfection of all of their ideals. The man would sacrifice anything for his lady. The man saw in the woman the height of all the perfect attributes of God. The woman was the reflection of perfect love, chastity, humility, temperance, patience, hope, charity. These qualities were venerated, were honored. Poems were written, songs were written... Great works of art were dedicated to these virtues, which were embodied in the ideal of the woman, and men, honoring that ideal, inspired by that beauty, sacrificed themselves, dedicated themselves, to the love of a woman, to the realization of that ideal.
Likewise the woman saw the perfection of the ideals, from her point of view, in the man: Honor, truth, steadfastness, reliability, sincerity. A man was known by his word. A man's value was caught, was defined by his word, by his honor, and of course nowadays we cannot trust anyone anymore. We are forced to write extended and complicated contracts to form agreements, and even these are broken as easily as we draw breath. A man no longer values the quality of his own word, a man no longer has a sense of honor, and a man no longer respects the ideals embodied in a woman.
Nowadays, a man sees a woman as nothing more than a vehicle of desire. Nowadays a man seeks a woman simply to satisfy his animal mind. To men of these times, a woman must look like a prostitute and must behave like a whore. The sense of beauty, the sense of chastity, the idea of modesty, is lost. Nowadays you can visit any elementary school and watch the young girls prance about like prostitutes, dressed in a shameful fashion, and behaving even worse. The children of these times are exposed to horrors which the parents hardly even think about, cannot even deal with.
This is the state of our world, and this state is a reflection of our state of mind. In the Bible, the mind is symbolized by a pumpkin in the story of Jonah. The pumpkin that we have is corrupted, the mind that we have.
When we look at this Arcanum 19, we see that it is related to the Hebrew letter Kuf, which has a curious shape of two parts. The upper portion is shaped somewhat like a Kaph, which we discussed in a previous lecture, and as you remember, the Kaph symbolizes the head, the crown, the brain, and interestingly the Hebrew word for pumpkin contains this character Kuf twice, and we find that the letter Kuf actually has dual significance. It has an ascending aspect, a positive aspect, and it has a negative, or descending aspect, and in each form the shape of the letter Kuf can be made with different Hebrew letters.
When we look at the negative aspect, we see that the upper portion of Kuf can be made with a Kaph, and that sharply descending vertical line can be made by a Vav. What we find in that, when we examine the nature of those letters, we see in the descending aspect of Kuf, the top part is the head, the brain, and the descending part is the spine, or willpower.
The brain that we have, the mind that we have, is corrupt. How else can we explain the rampant abuses which are so common in these times: child abuse, domestic abuse, abuse of one country to another, the lack of kindness, the skyrocketing divorce rates. The man and wife, male and female, form the basic unit of society, and from that unit the entire culture, the entire civilization depends. If the relationship between man and wife is unstable, unreliable, the entire structure of a society becomes unstable. The stability of the family is a direct indicator of the stability of a culture.
When we look at the health of our culture, the health of our society, and we can see a correspondence, a direct relationship, between the rapid rise in the failures of marriages and the rapid rise of crime, the rapid rise of child abuse, the rapid rise of child pornography, murder, theft, adultery. All of these things are related because they are all produced by us, by individuals who have the mind that we have. It is important for us to analyze the nature of the situation, because not one of us is immune, not one of us is exempt.
Society is an extension of the individual. Each individual contributes, for better or for worse, to the state of the world that we have. The mind that we have has a direct impact on society. If we see society worsening, let us look into our own mind to find the cause.
The Arcanum 19, when you take the 1 and the 9 and add them kabbalistically, you get the number 10. The number 10 has a profound sexual significance. Obviously the shapes of the numbers 1 and 0 display the man and the woman, the phallus and the womb, and it is the intersection of the 1 and the 0 that create. This is IO, from which we derive the terms, iocephas, iona, ioannes, ramio, many sacred names. This shape of the circle split by a line is a sexual symbol that in itself is a form of the cross. When we extend that symbol and we split the vertical line to more clearly illustrate the union of man and woman within the circle of the spirit, we have the cross within the circle, and when the spirit rules over this intersection of man and wife, that cross is underneath the circle, which forms the sacred sign of Venus, the ankh, and of course in this arcanum we see the couple holds in their hands joined together the Egyptian ankh, the sacred cross. Amongst the Egyptians, the ankh was a symbol of life.
Interestingly, "life" in Hebrew is "chai", and chai, life, emerges from the womb of Eve. Eve is the mother of all creatures. Eve is the mother of humanity. The life that we have emerges from the womb of Eve. It is this cross, the sexual cross, the sexual connection, which produces life itself. The circle and the cross indicate to us the source of life itself, but it depends. How do we use the cross? How do we utilize the sexual forces?
Jah-havah places within us each chai, life, the raw material from which we create, from which we perform action. The circle spins, and it is divided in two great halves. On one half we have an ascending arch, an ascending cycle, which we would call evolution. This is the complication of energy. In any evolving process, energy is becoming more sophisticated, more beautiful. When we examine the forms of physical matter that exists within this kingdom of nature and we put all the forms of life onto a scale of complexity and beauty, we place at the bottom of that scale all the minerals, all the simple elements, and a little up the scale we place the plants, all the beauties of nature present in the flowers and trees, and a little more complicated and a little more beautiful would be the animals who have great beauty, great sophistication, but more beautiful, more sophisticated, more elaborate is the human organism, which would be at the top of that scale. These are the four kingdoms of the ascending arch of nature.
The top of that scale would be the human organism that we inhabit. The peak of the mechanical evolutionary process has already been passed. Humanity is now in a state of decay. Humanity is devolving. Humanity is now descending down the devoluting wave and returning to the point of departure. This is why we see the mass degeneration on all levels of our society. We find human beings becoming more animal, losing sight of virtue, rejecting temperance and chastity, and instead seeking out cause for fornication, seeking out identification with desire, seeking out violence. These are animal behaviors. You see, then, that the mind of humankind is becoming more animal and less human. Our movies, our television, are filled with violence, with extreme sexual behavior, with extreme cruelty.
Interestingly, we find a great similarity between ourselves and the apes, the monkeys, and many people have the idea that humankind came from the ape. It is actually the opposite. Apes were once human beings. Apes have human-like behavior because they were once humanoid, but they became so identified with the animal mind, with desire, with anger, with lust, that they lost their connection to the human kingdom, and devolved, degenerated into apes and monkeys, and from there they will continue to degenerate. We find the same case with pigs, who are also very intelligent, but very crude and disgusting in many of their behaviors. This is because they are former humanoids, who are now degenerating. We see in this the negative Kuf.
The brain, or the Kaph at the top of the letter Kuf, has been adulterated with animal desire and takes the forces of life, the forces of all the profound energies that we gather, and directs them according to the desires of the mind, downwards through the Vav, into the Klipoth, into hell. All of humanity is in themselves a negative Kuf. A brain that is enslaved by animal desire and that takes its own energies and feeds desire and thereby descends. This is why we see such decay in society. This is why things are becoming so difficult.
Little by little over a long period of time, nature will rectify that situation by breaking down the energy, by simplifying it. Nature does this through the application of pain, through the application of force, to break all the structures in the mind that should not be there. Classically this is defined as “hell,” but in truth look at society nowadays: most people are already in hell.
Humanity does not know why we are born, why we die. Humanity has no purpose for existence. Each person floats along from day to day, encased in a sheath of dreams, with no clue as to the purpose of life. Everyone merely floats by, tossed about by karma, by circumstances, by events beyond our control. We are like driftwood, battered by a raging sea, boasting of our great achievements, yet victims to the uncertainties of death and suffering. This is the negative Kuf; this is our state. Yet, there is hope. There is Inspiration.
In the nineteenth arcanum, we see this beautiful couple, the idealized couple. Each person has within themselves the capacity, the possibility, to find that inspiration, to overcome their own negative tendencies by forming an alliance. This alliance has two primary aspects. The first is something that we have to perform inside, individually.
The second form of the Kuf is formed by a Reish and Zayin. In this case we see a very different set of influences. Zayin, we discussed in a previous lecture, is related to our own inner Neshamah, “the breath” - in other words, the divine soul - and Reish is related to Kether, to our own inner Being. These two influences are what we need to come out of darkness, to come out of the wilderness and return to Eden, by forming this alliance.
In classic literature, in all the romantic literature, we read the songs and poems of the troubadours, and those great poets who praised the virtues of love. We find the same form of poetry in the Bible, in the Song of Songs, that beautiful poem which contains so much initiatic wisdom, and we find it in the writings of the New Testament, in the book of Corinthians, and in those writings we see that it is love that has the capacity to redeem the soul, but what does that mean?
This is not a form of love that we assume and that we imitate. This is not a kind of pretense where we play or pretend, or try to inspire ourselves to have some kind of a love. Real love is spontaneous. Real love is not fake. It is not assumed; it is not pretentious. It does not pretend. It is. The spontaneous love of a parent for a child embodies some aspect of that quality. The true beauty of love is hinted at in the sublime beauty of a newborn child, whose radiant glow entrances us with its ineffable light. The form of love that we need to create this first alliance is the love inside, the love of our own souls, the love for our own Being.
In the ancient poems we find the poets, the troubadours, singing of the virtues of the lady, praising the beauty of a goddess, and this lady is Guinevere, is Helen, is Beatrice. This ideal beauty which exists within each person, the divine soul, Buddhi, Geburah, an aspect of our own inner monad, who is the vehicle through which our Being can communicate with us. This is Zayin, in the Hebrew letters. The love that we need is acquired, is felt, is realized through meditation. When we meditate, when we empty the mind, when we open the consciousness to receive the guidance of our own inner self, that guidance comes through the beauty of Neshamah, the glory, the splendor of our own inner Divine Soul.
That relationship of the Human Soul with the Divine Soul is an alliance. It is a necessary union that the soul requires in order to receive the guidance of the Being and advance in the stages of initiation. This alliance has to be established and realized in order for us to comprehend our own selves. It is within this alliance that the consciousness gains the capacity to separate itself from the ego, from the negative Kuf, and in that separation can turn back and observe the ego itself in order to understand it. This is how the warrior (Lancelot, Theseus, Perseus, Hercules) does battle against the Medusa, the minotaur, the demon, the serpent: through meditation. Through the alliance between the Human Soul and the Divine Soul, the knight and the lady, and this is internal in each of us.
This is not simply an idea. This is a plain reality that each person has to experience and realize for themselves. This alliance is a necessity. It is through the alliance of the Human Soul, our will, with the Divine Soul, that we gain the inspiration, inspiration which comes from our own inner Being, the inspiration given to us by God. When we receive that light, we are receiving life, chai, that sacred cross, and when you examine Egyptian artwork you will see a sun with hands extended out, and in each hand a cross. You will also see images of gods and goddesses blessing the pharaohs, and priests and initiates with the form of the cross. This is symbolic of the inspiration, the life, that God bestows upon his servants.
To be a servant of God is to perform the will of God, but one must know how to perform the will of God. To receive the information, to receive the instructions of one's own Being, you have to meditate. The guidance of the Being comes through Neshamah, through Buddhi, through meditation. When we have just an idea in the mind, do we know where the idea is coming from? It could be coming from our own Kuf, from our own degenerated mind, and it could sound like a great idea, but it could be wrong.
Even still, we may receive guidance from the Being. We may receive visions, we may receive dreams, but we have to know how to act on them, and when. We have, for example, the story of Abraham who receives instructions from the angel to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. Abraham in great conflict decides in his duty that he has to perform the sacrifice, because God commands it. This is a symbolic story. That sacrifice is a sacrifice for humanity. Abraham is prepared to sacrifice his own soul, his own son, for the good of others, because God told him to do it. He takes the knife of his will and prepares to perform the sacrifice, but the angel stays his hand because Abraham was listening. He was listening for the guidance of God.
An initiate, a student has to do the same, to always listen to the guidance of the Being, because in any moment, things can change. The initiate has to be present and aware at all times, and listen. This is especially true, is most true, in the case of defining and finding one's own perfect matrimony, to establish the alliance in the physical world between man and wife.
If we seek out a marriage under the guidance of our own brain, of our own mind, we will make a mistake. The mind that we have is corrupted. The mind that we have is filled with pride and fear. This mind is called Satan. It is within. The devil that we have to be concerned with is our own mind. It is not in some other person. It is not in another person who has beliefs that are different from ours. Satan is our own mind. Our own mind is the anti-Christ, our own mind is the Adversary. Our own mind is Mara, the demon who tempts us, who ridicules us, who deceives us, and his greatest joy is to get us in our most vulnerable place: through sexuality, through desire, through our yearning to find our alliance. There is no place you can be more pained, there is no place you can suffer more. Therefore, it requires great prudence, great caution, great care.
When looking for your own alliance, your own marriage, do not rush, do not analyze, do not reason. The one who reasons is the animal mind. The one who justifies, the one who analyzes all the pros and cons is the animal mind. The one who says, "Well, the relationship would be good because of this and this and this, and it would be bad because of this and this and this," or "I like these things but I don't like these things, so which candidate has more features that I like?" This is all animal mind. The one who looks for conveniences is the animal mind. The one who looks for security is Satan. If the definition of a good relationship for you is one that is secure and one in which you feel safe, one in which you feel comforted, one in which you feel better about yourself, you need to analyze yourself carefully.
The path to return to Eden is not a path of security. It is not a path of great comfort. It is a path of trial. It is very difficult. It entails a great deal of pain. That pain is necessary in the same way that surgery is necessary to heal certain ills. The return to Eden is accomplished by paying our karma, by rectifying our mistakes, by discovering the causes of our mistakes, and by changing that. The search for security is conducted by the ego. It is the ego who wants to feel safe. It is the ego who wants to be admired. It is the ego who wants to be envied.
The consciousness wants to return to God. The alliance that we have to form with a spouse is found when we understand what love is. Love does not seek security. Love does not seek comfort. Love gives it. When examining and looking within ourselves to understand our own relationship with other people, in trying to understand our own yearning for comfort, for security, reflect well on what you have been taught, and what you believe about love.
People nowadays confuse love with desire, and our media is no help. Our media, our television, our movies, our books, our magazines, and all the advertising we are subjected to, enforces upon us, constantly, the notion that love is desire, and this is a lie. Love and desire are incompatible. Love and desire are antithetical.
An easy way to understand this is to look at a pendulum. What our advertising tells us, what all our romantic movies tell us is that if we crave someone, then we must love them, and so all of the images that we observe are images of craving, images of desire. To crave the physical body of another person is a form of desire, is lust. To crave the wealth, the money, the social status of another person is desire. To crave security, to crave a guarantee, to crave companionship, to crave understanding, to crave someone who will empathize with us - these are all desire, and they deceive our heart.
Craving is one half of a pendulum. The other side is aversion, and of course our culture is always emphasizing desire, craving, this aspect of desire. Our culture is always emphasizing for us that we should crave more money, a better spouse, a more beautiful spouse, a better body, better clothes, more respect, more financial security, more social security in the sense of feeling like we've established ourselves somewhere in society, and our culture, our media, enforce upon us that we must avoid death, we must avoid being sincere, we must avoid being kind. We should always seek for ourselves. We should always live our dreams. These are all lies.
Nature works in a pendulum. The more you chase after pleasure, the more pain will follow you. Observe those who dedicate themselves to finding sexual satisfaction and you will observe that they call upon themselves more and more pain. The more partners they have, the more experiences they enter into, the more they suffer. It may not be immediate, but it is inevitable. The more we avoid the fact that our loved ones will die, the more their death will overwhelm us, will shock us, will traumatize us. The more we crave for security, the more some instability will upset us, will shock us, will knock us off our feet. The more we avoid the fact of something, the more that fact will disturb us.
The nature of the Tao, the nature of the middle path, is to reject craving and aversion, to be in the middle. To not have ideas about things, but to see things as they are. To reject sentimentality, this modern idea of romance, which has the idealized couple as existing in this grossly sentimental, very fake loving atmosphere “until death do them part,” with a big house and lots of kids and a boat, and all the other things we are supposed to have. This ideal does not exist. If you go and talk to those people who seem to have acquired it, who have a marriage, who have a big house, have a good education, lots of money in the bank, lots of kids, big important jobs, you will find that those people are miserable, that those people are suffering just as much as anyone else, sometimes more because their possessions are a great weight. Their fear of losing what they have earned is a great weight. The envy of others is a threat at every moment. They are no happier than anyone else. All they have acquired, they have bought with the price of their own life, and they will lose it when they die, and have gained nothing.
Our ideas of love tend to be forms of craving, forms of craving that are pushed by aversion. We have the idea that love of man and wife is a very safe and secure nestled little environment within which we will always be happy, and really this is a form of aversion, because we do not want to deal with the possibility of being alone, the possibility of dying alone, the possibility of having problems.
Real love does not seek for itself. Real love is the Tao, which is in the middle. When we read in Corinthians about love, we are reading about the Tao. It is real love, which is non-attachment.
If with the tongues of men and of messengers I speak and have not love, I have become brass-sounding or a cymbal tinkling (in other words, just noise), and if I have the gifts of prophecy and know all the secrets and all the knowledge, and I have all the faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing, and if I give away to feed others all my goods and if I give up my body that I may be burned and have not love, I profit nothing. Love is long-suffering and kind. It does not envy. It does not vaunt itself. It is not puffed up. It does not act unseemly, it does not seek its own. It is not provoked nor impute evil. It does not rejoice over the unrighteousness, it rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all. Love never fails.
This love is the love that only God can bestow upon us. It is love that only God can enrich; it is love that only God can bless. It will not arise if we ignore God.
In order to find our true marriage, our perfect matrimony, we need first the alliance with our inner being, the alliance with our own inner Neshamah, our own inner divinity. We need to meditate. We need to open our own mind to receive the guidance of the Being. That guidance gives us the inspiration to find our perfect matrimony. When husband and wife find each other, they begin to form this sacred symbol of the cross with the circle. That union is not merely symbolic: it is reality.
The physical union of male and female is a conjunction of forces, a combination of energies. When those forces combine, all the energies that those two bodies have been gathering from nature and from God unify, and a terrible force, tremendous power, is harnessed. This is why the sexual act is so central to everything that a human being can do. It is the very center of gravity of all human activity: sexuality, the root driver for everything, and in that union those forces are brought together and combined, male and female.
The symbol for this is this cross, but we also see the symbol of Adam and Eve, and as you know in the story of Adam and Eve, Eve is tempted by a serpent to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The story symbolizes many things, but in us as individuals it represents how we are seduced into wasting the energies of our own tree of knowledge. To eat that fruit is a symbol of the orgasm, and is a symbol of the craving for the sensation of the orgasm. To eat the fruit is a symbol of the animal mind, running after and desiring that sensation, craving it, like a monkey chasing a fruit. When that happens, Adam and Eve are thrown out of Eden, and suffering begins.
It is very interesting to note that when you look at the Hebrew spelling of Eve, Havah, the letters Chet, Vav and Heh, when you add those numbers together related to each letter you get the number 19. In other words, Eve equals 19. In that mystery of Eve in the Garden of Eden, we find the mystery of the Arcanum 19, the alliance.
When we add up the letters of Adam's name, we get the number 9. Nine, of course, is the ninth sephirah on the Tree of Life, which is Yesod, the foundation. What this tells us is that there is a relationship between Adam, Yesod, and Eve, the alliance. The answer, of course, is obvious. We need this alliance. We need Eve, but we need to work with the mysteries of Daath, knowledge, the fruit which is within that Tree of Knowledge, but in accordance with divine will, that is, the guidance of Zayin, the guidance of Neshamah on that positive Kuf.
The guidance of God is, "Thou shalt not fornicate." “You shall not eat of the Tree of Knowledge, otherwise you will die.” So, to return to Eden, husband and wife join together in Daath, the Tree of Knowledge, but do not eat the fruit. They appreciate that Tree of Knowledge, all of its qualities, that is the qualities of sexuality, the beauties of the sexual union and the tremendous forces that are gathered in that unity, but they do not eat the fruit.
Instead, all of that energy, the forces of sex, are gathered, are accumulated, are stored. Those forces, those energies, are brought upwards, up Zayin, to Reish, and Reish we will talk about next week, the twentieth letter. Reish is Kether, our own Being. This is related to the twentieth arcanum, which is resurrection.
With the negative Kuf, the forces are spilled, they descend, they are cast out because of animal desire, because of temptation and the failure to overcome temptation. When that occurs, devolution begins. The sexual forces instead of being used in the right way are used in a destructive way, and those sexual forces degenerate the mind by infecting it with desire and more desire.
Alternatively, if we form the alliance, those energies can be harnessed and brought back upwards to produce redemption. So, the alliance is a sacred union, something that has to be accomplished between husband and wife. So, the letter Kuf represents this mystery of the descent or the redemption, and that letter hides within itself the path towards redemption or destruction.
Q: Could you explain the three flowers?
A: Beneath the couple there are three flowers within the circle. Of course, in any of the images of the arcana, the cards are divided into three parts, upper, middle and lower. The lower portion is related to our third brain, the motor-instinctive-sexual brain: in other words, the waters of life. So the three flowers represent how the three forces of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Kether, Chokmah and Binah), are placed within the waters, the sexual waters of Yesod. This is why the union between husband and wife is so sacred, because in the sexual waters themselves, in the waters of Yesod, are the forces of God, the three forces, and according to how we utilize that sexual energy, we develop ourselves, either for good or for bad. These three flowers symbolize that pure energy, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which is given as a gift to all of God's creatures, and all creatures have to use that energy. Of course, in Arcanum 19, we see the upward, positive representation of the letter Kuf, and in this case this is the couple who are working together to harness those energies in the right way, through chastity, through transmutation. Therefore, the flowers are blossoming in the waters of life.