tarot mystics and the occult

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Meditations on the Magician

The Power of Concentration 

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.

-Meditations on the Tarot, by Anonymous

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