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The Esoteric Doctrine of Tarot

There are 78 cards in a Tarot deck. There are 56 minor cards divided into four suits. Wands, Cups, Pentacles, and Swords. Each suit has four court cards: a King, a Queen, a Knight, and a Page. Plus ten extra cards numbered Ace through 10. The rest of the pack is the Major Arcana; 22 pictures, each with a unique title and assigned a number. Understand that the Tarot is more than just a divination system.

Embedded within the Tarot,  you'll find the doctrine behind Magick, Alchemy, and the soul's Ascension process. Before being embedded symbolically within the Tarot, this doctrine was transmitted orally from generation to generation. So let's return to the Four Suits and their symbolism.

They represent the four worlds or planes of existence that constitute the universe. Each world has a characteristic activity and is the home of a principle of the human structure. Furthermore, the suits are also symbolic of the occult elements they correspond to:

  • WANDS: Archetypal world, spirit, fire
  • CUPS: Creative world, soul, water
  • SWORDS: Formative world, Astral body, air
  • PENTACLES: Material World, physical body, Earth


The Fool, the Magician, and the High Priestess represent the archetypal triad of involution. The Fool is the archetypal principle of involution before manifestation, not as it truly is, as it transcends finite comprehension, but as it chooses to reveal itself. Essentially, it's limitless light.

Because we think of the Absolute in terms of our own experiences, it takes on human form (the Fool). But, in addition to the individual, there is also something higher here, symbolized by the white Sun behind the individual. All existence is infused with the essence of this limitless energy.

However, the Limitless light is temporarily limited when it takes form within a living vessel. This is symbolized by the Fool's fair hair, representing the Sun. The Magician is the symbolic antithesis of the Fool. He is the creator of the beginning.

In contrast, to the Fool, the principle before all beginnings. The Magician is the Primal Will that initiates the creative process. He holds a magick wand in his right hand, in which he draws power from the Limitless Light. This power is the descending energy of the Sun symbolized by the Fool. As a limitation of the Limitless Light, the Magician has a dark quality. That's why his hair is black.

The High Priestess is the archetype of the Formative Principle. She combines the potency of the originating power (The Fool) with the initiative and creative aspect of The Magician. Therefore, the circle represents the Fool, with the Magician as the central point within the circle. And the High Priestess is the diameter, dividing the circle into two equal parts. The Circle is Limitless Light, The central point is the Primal Will, and the extension of that will towards the limitless circumference is the Line.

Article written by Rin Otori

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