The first Arcanum— the principle underlying all the other twenty-one Major Arcana of the Tarot—is that of the rapport of personal effort and of spiritual reality. It occupies the first place in the series because if one does not understand it (i.e. take hold of it in cognitive and actual practice), one would not know what to do with all the other Arcana. For it is the Magician who is called to reveal the practical method relating to all the Arcana.
In fact, the first and fundamental principle of esotericism (i.e. of the way of experience of the reality of the spirit) can be rendered by the formula:
Learn at first concentration without effort; transform work into play; make every yoke that you have accepted easy and every burden that you carry light!
Firstly— learn at first concentration without effort—what is this in a practical and theoretical sense? Concentration, as the faculty of fixing maximum attention on a minimum amount of space.
Patanjali , in his classic work on yoga, formulates in his first sentence the practical and theoretical essence of yoga— the “first arcanum” or the key of yoga— as follows:
Yoga citta vritti nirodha (Yoga is the suppression of the oscillations of the mental substance, Yoga Sutras 1.2).
“concentration is the willed silence of the automatism of the intellect and imagination”. There are nevertheless two sorts of concentration to be distinguished, which are essentially different. The one is disinterested concentration and the other is interested concentration. The first is due to the will free of enslaving passions, obsessions and attachments, whereas the other is the result of a dominating passion, obsession, or attachment. A monk absorbed in prayer and an enraged bull are, the one and the other, concentrated. But the one is in the peace of contemplation whilst the other is carried away by rage. Strong passions therefore realise themselves as a high degree of concentration. Thus, gluttons, misers, arrogant people and maniacs occasionally achieve a remarkable concentration. But, truth to tell, it is not a matter of concentration but rather obsession in connection with such people.
In order to quiet your mind, you first have to realize what your “obsessions” or attachments are. What are the things that you constantly think about? Who do you constantly think about? What situation or regret do you constantly think about? These are the “oscillations of the mental substance” or the things that keep your mind going even when you are trying to quiet it.
For just a moment, one may want to picture themselves laying all of these things/attachments/obsessions down on the floor or a corner of the room or on an altar if one prefers. The key is to see them as being separate from yourselves, as just “things.” You lay these things down for a moment at first so that there is nothing for your mind to fight you over, there is nothing to suppress.
Concentration without effort—that is to say where there is nothing to suppress and where contemplation becomes as natural as breathing and the beating of the heart— is the state of consciousness (i.e . thought, imagination, feeling and will) of perfect calm, accompanied by the complete relaxation of the nerves and the muscles of the body. It is the profound silence of desires, of preoccupations, of the imagination, of the memory and of discursive thought. One may say that the entire being becomes like the surface of calm water, reflecting the immense presence of the starry sky and its indescribable harmony. And the waters are deep, they are so deep! And the silence grows, ever increasing… what silence! Its growth takes place through regular waves which pass, one after the other, through your being; one wave of silence followed by another wave of more profound silence, then again a wave of still more profound silence… Have you ever drunk silence? If in the affirmative, you know what concentration without effort is.
It might be only a few moments at first, then a couple minutes, then longer periods of time. It takes practice.
“A typical human eye can see wavelengths of light ranging from 400nm-750nm, or violet to red – one nanometer (nm) is equal to one billionth of a meter. Light, or electromagnetic radiation, includes the wavelengths we can’t see, such as radio waves or x-rays.”
Most humans have 3 types of cones in our eyes that allow us to see approximately 1 million colors. Most humans are therefore trichromats.
There are an unknown number of women however according to researchers that have 4 cones in their eyes that allow them to see even more. “Living among us are people with four cones, who might experience a range of colors invisible to the rest. It’s possible these so-called tetrachromats see a hundred million colors, with each familiar hue fracturing into a hundred more subtle shades for which there are no names, no paint swatches. And because perceiving color is a personal experience, they would have no way of knowing they see far beyond what we consider the limits of human vision.”
These people are seeing colors and perceiving the world differently than most other humans on earth, all without realizing it.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that almost everything that we fear, hope or want, our boyfriends or girlfriends or lack thereof, the drugs we take, the jobs we hate, the money we desire, the new car we want, the sexual experience we did or didn’t have, the things that make us depressed or happy, the people we love or think we love, the trip that we want to take, the bad experience that happened to us, the regrets that we have….all of this, and the way we feel about these things, all occurs within that sliver of the visible light spectrum. Therefore all of our focus, and attention, and concentration is based on this little portion of reality that we can “see” with our eyes. It is our reality or illusion. This sliver of what we “see” forms the basis for almost all of our attachments that make it difficult for most to experience the true light at the center or walk in any kind of real power.
The question of esotericism or the occult then is, what do we need to do in order to perceive the world outside of our typical senses? To perceive a world beyond our traditional senses.
A subsequent post will deal with what the Magician Tarot card can teach us about quieting ourselves and learning how to concentrate in order to perceive greater things.
Illustrations from the Clavis Inferni sive magia alba et nigra approbata Metratona by M. L. Cyprianus. 18th century. The term Cyprianus is also used in Scandinavian traditions of folk magic to the “black book” (“Svarteboken”): mainly a collection of spells. Following this tradition the term Cyprianus refers to any book of spells (today u would use the term grimoire for that kind of books).
Gold Solar Serpent and the Black Lunar Serpent are alchemical opposites with different paths through the alchemical container of the body. When they meet, the Marriage of the Sun and the Moon takes place and this is when there is a possibility of immense energy. When the two serpents reach the crown, they become known as the Uraeus, which anoints the higher brain centres and leads to increased intelligence.
As they ascend, they crisscross one another to form nodes at each chakra, and magnetically energise them, as they go. The chakras spark into life as each one is touched in this alchemical weaving dance. In this way, with the interwoven pattern, the two serpents create what’s called the Central Column or Central Pillar. Eventually the two serpents reach the crown and then the hypothalamus, which is visualised as a Chalice.