“We’re often wrong at predicting what will transform us. Encountering certain people, books, music, places or ideas at the right time can immediately make our lives happier, richer, more beautiful, resonant or meaningful. When it happens, we feel a kind of instant love for them both deep and abiding. It can be something as trifling as a children’s book, a returned telephone call, or a night at a seaside bar in Greece.”
— Jonathan Carroll
Around our house we throw the word transformative around quite a bit (sometimes it bounces off of walls and smashes china). We talk about books, plays, talks and conversations with people as transformative experiences. What part of us changes? Perhaps its just the part that hears a new point of view for a first time, that sees something in a way that we haven’t before. On occasion, the transformation is a bit more radical. We see something that changes our approach with how we deal with our lives, our jobs or our family. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus suggested that we cannot step in the same river twice because both we and the river are continuously made different by whatever we experience. I hope that I always be open to being transformed by my surroundings rather than clinging like a barnacle on a rock in said river afraid to flow with the changes and I wish happy transformative experiences for all.
A New Aeon calls
all in radient glory
New Purpose Awakes.
What does a butterfly say when it hears the call ?
I crawled for so long
feeling earth and bark beneath me
Kept down by gravity
then one day I heard a call
I followed my instincts
points of light
and strange dreams
within the cocoon
with strange voices offering guidance
New colours and tones
previously beyond my sense
Then an awakening
I could fly in beauty
with understanding and insight
which I could not have conceived.
I was born anew in wonder
and reached heights unknown.
New challenges were there as well
I have lived ever since
calling the sky my own.
Today I heard the call again
and I prepare to enter
What will become of me now?
Up to now, the Major Arcana has been about reconciling the self in one form or another. The Sun marked the final resolution and combination of ourself with our shadow. The Aeon or Judgement shows the awakening or calling to higher purpose that comes afterwards. In earlier periods, this card was called Judgement and depicted the biblical calling forth from the graves at the blowing of the angel Gabriel’s horn. This had the implication that one had to die and be reborn in order to receive this higher calling. With the coming of a new era it is known that life is ever regenerating and renewing and that Death is illusory. We are constantly undergoing transformation and being reborn. Thus the card’s new title reflects the age we live in now.
The word Aeon itself means a distinct period. This card reflects that in our lives we have personal Aeons as well as the universal ones. Periods that can be clearly demarcated from one another usually by some transformative event such as getting married, coming out, changing careers or changed philosophies of life. We may even think of it in these terms. This was who I was in that period. This is who I am now. During those years I was someone else. In reality, these changes usually happen more gradually over a period of time but usually there is one moment of realization or some event that we use that reflects the transition. It is these transformative events to which the Aeon trump refers. That spiritual awakening that once had, can never be reversed.
This can be a time of tremendous upheaval in our lives. Change is seldom easy or without consequence. Yet very few butterflies complain that they are no longer caterpillars nor can we stay in the cocoon beyond a certain point no matter how much we may fear the transition.
Astrological Correspondent – Fire (△) Planet Pluto(♇)-The Aeon like The Fool and The Hanged Man cards have a double astrological attribute, a planetary one and an elemental one. One of the reasons for this is that in the hebrew alphabet (used on the tree of life) the letters are split into three groups. These are the three Mother letters (Aleph, Mem, and Shin which represent the elements Air, Water and Fire), Seven Double letters (Beth, Gimel, Dalet, Koph, Peh, Resh and Tau which represent the seven known planets Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun and Earth) and twelve Simple letters which represent the 12 signs of the zodiac. It all works rather nicely. However since these assignations were made three more planets were discovered in our solar system Uranus (who’s astrological nature fits well with Air), Neptune (a planet with a decidedly Watery nature and influence) and Pluto (a fiery influence). Some readers, deck designers and students of the tarot have connected the three planets with the three elemental cards. Since there is such a close fit and examination of any correlation can bring insight I include both possible influences in this writing.
Pluto’s influence is one of transformation and regeneration. It’s energy takes out what no longer works for our growth and development (sometimes forcibly) and replaces it with the challenges we most need. This is seldom a smooth transition. Pluto with its slow movement works mainly on a collective level, influencing generations and nations (ruled by whatever generation has come to power) more than individuals yet all are subject to its influence. Pluto takes us out of our own individual shells and transforms us towards the good of the all. Pluto as the planetary ruler of Scorpio tends to have influence over male sexuality as well
Fire is the elementary influence over the signs, Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. It is a creative enthusiastic force. It influences the areas where we are courageous and where we feel moved to action. The influence of fire may become a bit domineering and tend towards a sense of self-righteousness yet it is also that which leads us on to both creative and spiritual endeavours.
Runic Correspondent – Inguz (“Seed”)–Inguz is the bursting of the seed into fruition. It is the taking forth of all that we have and awakening to greater purpose. It is also the rune of male sexuality and of transformation. This is done through an awakening of the inner child. The rune also deals with the realization of one’s true will and reason for being. In Thelemic terms, this rune in its highest spiritual sense would represent the Knowledge and Conversation with one’s Holy Guardian Angel. Other runes associated with The Aeon or Judgement trump are Berkanos and Perthro.
Path on the Tree of Life-Path 31-ShinShin Means tooth and this path known as the Continuous Intelligence breaks us out of ourselves and connects us to our purpose in the universe. Shin contains three spiritual yods or points (and resembles a trident). It is the path of dispelling of the final illusions of being separate self-contained beings and shows us our connection to the flow of consciousness that runs through all things. It represents the spiritual renewal that we can gain through our connection to the greater life force. It connects the sephiroth of Hod (“Splendour”) and Malkuth (“The Kingdom”)
When The Aeon card turns up in a reading it may indicate that the querent is feeling a calling towards doing something more or greater in their lives than they have up to this point. It may come after events have shaken up their lives and it is the realization that with new insights that they have, they cannot go on living the same way they have been. The querent may have the idea that a shift has happened and that they need to actualize it in their lives. This can feel earth shattering but empowering as well. These changes will not be easy but there will be a propelling forwards as if once their intent is set out, things will fall into place and at the end of it they will have a new life. The card may also indicate a respite after a very confusing period, one in which the querent can find healing and support.
When reversed, the Aeon’s call is still felt, it is resisted by the querent however. Sometimes this may come from a feeling of unworthiness. It almost always comes from fear. It may be fear of change or it may be fear that one’s new life may not be acceptable to their family or loved ones. The querent may be closing their eyes tightly saying “No, nothing has changed, nothing has changed.” Yet something once seen cannot be unseen and the force of the Aeon is so strong that it has caused changes in how the querent sees themselves and the world around them. Outer change will follow in time no matter how strongly resisted.
mix my opposite being
within my vessel
I Not I
from the Not into the I
and the I into the knot
Letting the old flow into the new
and transmuting it
my male to female
woman to man
body to soul
gaining new awareness as I go
controlling it carefully
yet letting it flow.
Integrating the dissolve
with new resolve
all with the aim of the gold in mind.
Eagle and Lion cracking the egg
the snake transforms
new insight descends.
— G A Rosenberg
In the trump the Lovers, we become aware that there is an existence outside of our own and sensibilities very different from ours. It is this difference that makes us start to question our lives. With Temperance we learn to synthesize these differences and consciously incorporate them into our own being. Temperance or Art is the card of Balancing Transformation. It is connected by many with the art of Alchemy. When many people think of Alchemy, they think of the Philosopher’s stone which results in the ability to change lead into gold. What the Alchemists true goal was to change the lead of corse matter into the gold of spiritual awareness. This was done by blending and combining the opposite elements within one’s being. Combining in other words who we are with who we are not, our shadow selves to become something greater. The angel in the card is combining onto (and into) herself the liquid fire with the fiery water to form something new. By being aware of who we are and who we are not, we can consciously acquire new talents and abilities, blend the two and become something greater, the being who we wish to be. Just as the alchemist followed very specific methods with very specific ingredients, this transformation does not happen in a wild and uncontrolled form but through self-examination and meditation and quite usually through ritual (even the ones we create for ourselves).
Astrological Correspondence – Sagittarius (♐︎)-The Sagittarius energy is an exploratory one that hungers for the freedom to search out truth. It is an enthusiastic fiery energy and one that shifts in viewpoint and location to further its understanding. Its symbol is the hunting centaur (denoted by the centaur’s arrow). The centaur is part man and part horse and partakes of the nature of man and beast and masters the blending of them both. Sagittarius’ ruling planet is Jupiter and has that optimistic and expansive aura. It is an energy that takes risks in its desire to do more, know more and understand more and it becomes what it needs to in order to achieve this end. The Sagittarius influence is one that focuses on self-truth, personal integrity and self-perfection. Sagittarius brings back what its arrows aim for.
Runic Correspondence – Dagaz (‘Dawn’) –
Dagaz is the rune of transformation. It is connected with achieving enlightenment through the resolution of paradox. Dagaz’s time of day is the in-between times of twilight and dawn.
Dagaz involves the blending and transformation of one thing into its opposite and the synergy that can come from the two working together. The rune heralds the safe conclusion of these shiftings. Other runes associated with Temperance are Laguz and Nauthiz.
Path on the Tree of Life -Path 25-Samekh-Samekh means literally “tent peg”. It is the path that dissolves the lower ego with ones higher consciousness. It connects the sephiroth of the Sun and the Moon, Tiphareth (“beauty”) and Yesod(“foundation”). It is known in the Sepher Yetzirah as the Testing Consciousness and is connected to the temptations that can befall one in that spiritual becoming. The temptations are connected to the balancing out of the self and its shadow and the blending of the two. Samekh is also connected with the worm ouroboros which it resembles, a snake with its tail in its mouth.
When Temperance turns up in a reading, it can indicate that one’s life has reached a state of balance. The querent may be at a stage where the allot enough time to do both the things they want to do and the things they have to do. They work when they need to and have enough time for family and leisure. It may mean tho that it is time for them to examine their lives and figure out how to bring this state of balance about in a conscious way. Temperance may also show in a spiritual sense that the querent is undergoing a transformative experience and that they have made it through the trials and are integrating it with their conscious awareness. The card may be cautioning the querent against going to extremes and learning when to assert themselves in a conscious manner. A keynote for the card is taking responsibility for one’s life in a conscientious way. In a situation where the querent feels torn between two different paths, it suggests finding a synthesis of the two
Temperance inverses talks about imbalance in the querent’s life. It could mean that they are going to extremes, first acting in one way and then acting wildly the opposite in order to try to balance the two. This may be because they lack any long-term plan or purpose for their life and they need to take conscious responsibility for it. It may refer to passive-agressive behaviour on the querent’s part. The reversed Temperance may also refer to someone being so cautious and afraid of their own actions that they hesitate too much refusing to act at all. The card reversed may also refer to someone who is unable to integrate recent changes in awareness into their lives possibly out of fear for how others will react.
His burial shroud builds up
Rotting in the decay of stagnation
my old self putrefies
I await the awakening
as new energy infuses my being
Tho in the moment not
in the next risen
in new form, I accept
what is to come
rather than be swept away
by life’s flow.
I crawled for so long
feeling earth and bark beneath
Gravity kept me slow
then one day I heard your call
stepped through your door
points of light
and then a new awakening
Emerged, I could fly
and such beauty have I
the wind against my wings
bringing me closer to the light.
Today I heard your call again
and I prepare to enter
What will become of me now?
In the Rider-Waite tarot deck, Death is shown riding a white horse. In its wake are the destroyed remains of a king and in its path is a praying clergyman, a young maiden with her body supplicating itself to the rider while her head is averted and a young child offering death a flower. All of these are indicative of the various ways and stages in which we react to major life-altering changes. The king, by power and position thinks he can command Death to stop only to get trampled. The Priest believes that prayer can avert the need to change and he is next to get trampled. The maiden offers herself to Death but only half-heartedly. She won’t survive so well either. It is the child who accepts whatever comes with an open heart that will survive.
Death is the transformation to a new stage through the putrification of the old. We all go through these transformations. Our jobs become obsolete. Our relationships end. Our viewpoints and our lifestyles evolve as we grow. We have spiritual experiences that transform us. We fall in love. How we accept these changes goes a long way towards determining how far we can grow as people and as the spiritual beings we are. The more we resist change, the harder the changes tend to be when they come and the more we stagnate. It is only be being open to the flow of these changes that we can be open to the flow of life and spirit itself.
Astrological Correspondent-Scorpio (♏︎)-The Scorpio energy is one of intensity. It is passionate and lustful and yearns for knowledge. It is a secretive force and has a strong attraction towards the transformative. As such it has an attraction towards the mystical and may be drawn towards they mysteries of sex and death especially. While the scorpion with its regenerative powers and sting is well known as a Scorpio symbol, the snake and the eagle also are used to represent this energy. The snake representing both the sexual energy and the knowledge of life and death and the eagle which represents the spiritual life beyond transitory form. Scorpio is known for both its ability to see things through and its ability to see through things, penetrating them to their core.
Runic Correspondent-Ansuz(‘Woden’ ‘Breath’)–Ansuz is a rune of shattering transformation that brings clarity. It represents the breath of life that runs through us from birth to death. Breath deals with how we communicate and what we keep inside. Ansuz also can influence how we hear the voice of the universe and how we can transform in a flash when we become attuned to it. Other runes associated with the Death trump are Berkano and Daggaz
Path on the Tree of Life-Path 24-Nun-Nun means fish. The waters that the fish swim in are the dark waters of the unconscious. Nun is the path of transformation of consciousness. It connects the sephiroth of Tiphareth (“Beauty”) and Netzach (“Victory”). It is referred to as the Apparitive Consciousness and it is said to provide form and appearance for all beings according to their stature. This ties in with many thoughts on reincarnation and rebirth.
When Death turns up in a reading, it usually indicates a major transformatory change in the querent’s life or circumstances. Usually one that demarcates a new chapter in their lives. These changes may include a peak experience, a divorce or break-up, the death of a loved one or even a near-death experience itself. What is important is how the querent deals with the experience. Do they fight kicking and screaming to hold onto life as they have known it or do they accept the changes and move on? Usually when the Death card shows up it is a change that the querent cannot alter so coming to terms with it is necessary. The card can also indicate a fear of dying on the part of the querent. Carlos Castaneda’s teacher Don Juan, among many others have suggested that we keep in mind that we all will die someday and to use our Death as an advisor and indeed it is just one more stage. Seldom tho does the card refer to the querent’s own Death tho it can often refer to the ending of a stage of their life. It can refer to a need for the querent to release the life they have lived to now in order to embrace the life they have.
Death reversed can often show a dramatic resistance to change. The querent may have grown complacent and lazy in their life holding back on living fully in order to stay safe and comfortable. It may also represent the querent refusing to acknowledge changes that have already happen and move on. It is almost as if they are haunting their past rather than living their present. It thus indicates the necessity for change. The reversed Death card can also represent a feeling of loss and grief. In this instance again it is the mourning for the way things were.
“So books are real to me, too; they link me not just with other minds but with the vision of other minds, what those minds understand and see. I see their worlds as well as I see my own.”
― Philip K. Dick
Feeling my heart open
feeling my wounds bleed
My blood spilling out
of view and precious need
to reveal what’s inside
That spark of truth
that separates bifurcates
my age from my youth
I lied to myself
so easily when young
seeing myself in the lyrics I sung
or the books that i read
the passage of time
did honesty bring
those old half truths
no longer would fling
so now I can bleed
confessions and truth
I no longer need
the protections of youth
Wow, where did that come from…Partly the wish to be more open and then realizing that its easier to be honest with time… There is both less reason and less desire to hide… Not that it was ever necessary. Hiding sent me on some amazing adventures as did eventually facing myself…
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
― Alan Wilson Watts
The world is in upheaval. Not only the external world but for many of us, it seems that changes are happening more rapidly. It takes boldness to surf through those changes instead of feeling thrown by them. It takes even more courage to welcome the changes that come with wonder. I’ve been fighting the changes in my life strongly. My son’s growing up. He has become a teenager with a teenager’s need to question authority and fight the inner battles that hormones bring. My parents are older with the attendant health issues that often come with that. My areas of focus tend to move around and sometimes they ricochet. More and more tho rather than standing against the wind and either being in denial or resistance of the changes, I am letting them buffet me towards new ways of being.
The Death trump in the Rider-waite tarot shows the figure of Death on a pale horse. Death of course does not represent literal Death as much as transformation and the card itself speaks of different approaches to transformation. The trampled King on the card believed that his power and wealth would save him from having to change and he got trampled. The Priest, next in line believes that the dogma that he adheres to is eternal and he is soon to suffer the same fate. The maiden sits in surrender to the horseman tho her face is turned away. She still resists the idea of change no matter how inevitable she finds it. The child hands Death a flower. In innocence, we face change with the same wonder that we face everything else. It is only when we become older, we lose that innocence. May we each return to it.
“Most of us are only willing to call 5% of our present information into question any one point.”
― Ken Wilber
Think of everything you presently know to be true. Now think of all the things you once believed at any point in your life that you no longer believe. Does this raise more questions? Most of what we know from experience we know to be only partial truths yet how much of your reality can you bring into question? How much do our beliefs shape who we are?If I am as I believe myself to be and yet I know my beliefs are only partial than how much am I willing to surrender? How can we come to a greater understanding if we are unwilling to let go of most of our present ‘knowledge’? If a caterpillar is willing to sacrifice it all to become a butterfly can we do any less? What if our beliefs are shaped around the need to surrender our beliefs? How much are we willing to sacrifice to become something more?
“I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.”
― Aldous Huxley
The other night I was discussing how small changes in routine can give us the courage to make larger changes in ourselves. At the very least, it can cause energy to flow into new channels and perceiving these flows can be instructive. It may be something simple like walking the dogs an hour earlier which results in the day ending earlier and either getting more rest or starting the next day sooner. Commit to starting the day by watching the sun rise can have huge implications on our appreciation of beauty. Ripples spread out from there. When we change our perceptions of our days or ourselves, we change how we perceive the world which on a very personal level causes the world to change. As we address the world with heightened perception, we change how it responds to us as well and the ripples of change spread out further.
“Try to find pleasure in the speed that you’re not used to. Changing the way you do routine things allows a new person to grow inside of you. But when all is said and done, you’re the one who must decide how you handle it.”
― Paulo Coelho
How can we continue to complain about our lives if we are unwilling to make changes in how we do things? Changing little things can break the ice and make it easier to either make greater incremental changes (baby steps) or get us over the fear of change altogether and allow us to make sweeping changes and build the new lives we dream of. It can start with one small change in our routine. Taking a different route to work or eating something new for breakfast. Perhaps try to do something with a different hand than normal. Once we open the way to change than the transformation begins.
“Real magic can never be made by offering someone else’s liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back.”
― Peter S. Beagle
That’s right. If we define magic as the ability to make changes according to will, then the only way to effect change is to know and understand (grock in fullness) whatever it is we wish to change. If we wish to make changes in ourselves than we must be willing to tear ourselves open and examine what’s inside. Of course the very act of understanding ourselves to that extent will cause changes so that the live we get back is never quite the liver we offer (metaphorically speaking anyway). Understanding, transformation, consequence and balance are each steps in performing any kind of magic whether ritual or psychological.