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The Pope
The Pope
from the Tarot of Marseilles

Previous Arcanum: The Emperor

5. The Pope

The card "The Pope" puts us in the presence of the act of benediction.

It is the putting into action of the divine power transcending individual thought and will of the one who is blessed, as well as the one who is pronouncing the blessing.

The Cabbala compares the role of prayer and benediction to a double movement, ascending and descending, similar to the circulation of blood.

This is why one of the acolytes of the card has his left hand raised and the other has his right hand lowered. The two blue columns behind the Pope symbolize the twofold current - rising and descending - of prayers and benedictions.

The "right" and "left" sides of the Caballah and the two columns of the Sephiroth Tree, the pillar of Mercy and that of Severity (see below), and similarly the two pillars of the Temple of Solomon, Jachin and Boaz , correspond exactly to the two pillars of prayer and benediction.
It is severity which stimulates prayer and Mercy which blesses.

the ten sefirots
The Sephirots: on the left
the severity column and
on the right
the mercy column

The practical significance of the Fifth Arcanum relates to spiritual respiration.

He who has learnt vertical , spiritual respiration will be spared the "sting of death".

True suffering is always a prayer and the illumination which follows it is the corresponding benediction or grace.

The three stages of vertical respiration are:

  1.  Purification (by divine breath);
  2.  Illumination (by divine light);
  3.  Mystical union (in divine fire)

This is why the Pope holds aloft the triple cross,

Just as no parliament will replace the spiritual reality of the post of the Emperor - the throne of David cannot be replaced by collectivity - so will no ecumenical council replace the spiritual reality of the post of Pope, or the "throne of Melchizadek, king of plenitude."
Whether the sacerdotal throne remains visible or whether it be installed in the catacombs, it will certainly remain present for ever in the future history of humanity.

Mahayana Buddhism
Mahayana Buddhism.
the great Vehicle

History is "worked" by day and by night. The silence and obscurity of the night is always full of events in preparation. Thus when the the Gospel was preached by the light of day in the countries around the Mediterranean, the nocturnal rays of the Gospel effected a profound transformation of Buddhism.

There the ideal of entering the state of nirvana gave way to the ideal of renouncing nirvana for the work of mercy towards suffering humanity. The ideal of mahayana, the great chariot, then had its resplendent ascent to the heaven of Asia's moral values.

The Pope represents another category of truth than scientific truth. Thus, the heliocentric system of modern astronomical science is true from the point of view of the science of phenomena, but is at the same time fundamentally false from the point of view of spiritual respiration.

Mahayana Buddhism
THE EARTH OF THE MYSTICS
THE HEART OF GOD
(From Theologia Mystica,
or, The Archtypous Globe;
John Pordage, 1683)

The World as the Centre of the Cosmos

The blood that issued from Christ onto the earth gave the earth the central position in the space of noumenal values. The geocentric cosmos is therefore true from the point of view of benediction and prayer. The heliocentric cosmos is false because it fails to recognise what is truly central - the Incarnation of the Word.

Reincarnation

Buddha recognised the fact of reincarnation, but he considered it regrettable. The aim of the eightfold path was to put an end to reincarnation; because nirvana is the end of successive terrestrial lives. He recognised reincarnation as a fact but denied it as an ideal. Reincarnation commenced only after the Fall and it will cease with Reintegration.

The Sacred Heart
The Sacred Heart

The Pope is always at the middle of a conflict between mercy (Hesed in the Caballah) and truth (Gevurah) on the Tree of the Sephiroth (above). This conflict is a wound - and this wound refers to the sixth Sephirah, Beauty or Harmony (Tiferet), a synthesis of the two preceding sephiroth.

The wound is that of the Christian Sacred Heart, caused externally by one of the soldiers, who pierced Christ's side with a spear and internally and spiritually by the conflict between mercy and truth, which are not united.

This wound is the fifth wound - the wound of the heart.
The Emperor has four wounds, the Pope has five.

Now we are in the realm of the esotericism of the five wounds, the flaming star the pentagram. Eliphas Lévi says:

Eliphas Levi's Pentagram
Eliphas Levi's Pentagram
with 1 point up and 2 down,
representing good

"The Pentagram signifies the domination of the mind over the four elements: the demons of air, the spirits of fire, the phantoms of water and ghosts of earth are enchained by this sign."

Later he wrote:

"The Mass is the most prodigious of evocations. Necromancers evoke the dead, sorcerers evoke the devil, but the Catholic priest evokes the living God."

It is only the pentagram of the five wounds, which is the effective sign of personal sacred magic - being in conscious relationship with higher spiritual beings. Three types of magic are:

Bench End
Bench End
of the five wounds
Berkshire church

  1. Fiat voluntas mea (Faustian magic)
  2. Fiat voluntas nostra (collective magic)
  3. Fiat voluntas TUA (sacred magic)

Sacred Magic makes use not of the force of will, but of purity.
The five dark currents of the human will (the desire to be great, to take, to keep, to advance and to hold on to at the expense of others) have to be "nailed". The five wounds are the five vacuities which have to be filled from above.

A wound is a door through which the objective, exterior world intrudes into the closed system of the interior, subjective world. Now the organ of sight, the eye, in comparison with the surface of the human body covered over with skin, is a wound, which can be covered with mobile skin - the eyelids. The eyes are open wounds which are so sensitive that they suffer with every nuance of light and colour. Where I would like to see flowers, my eyes make me see a pile of dung. The senses are organs of perception, not of action.

Padre Pio had the
stigmata from the age of
31 until he died at 81

Imagine the organs of action were to have analagous wounds, i.e. that the five currents of will, of which they are an expression, were to give access to an objective will which would be to personal desires what sense perceptions are to the play of fantasy.

This is the esoteric concept of the wound. This concept can become a spiritual reality, then psychic and eventually even physical. The stigmatics - from St. Francis of Assisi to Padre Pio in Italy and Teresa Neumann in Germany - are people for whom the five wounds have reached the physical plane.

How does one acquire the five wounds?

The universal method of all ages and cultures is nothing other than the three traditional vows, namely obedience, poverty and chastity.

  1. Obedience silences personal desires, emotions and imagination. Whosoever recognises God, obeys. Such obedience is practised in Catholic religious orders and spiritual knighthood is a form of training of the will, with a view to rivetting the will-to-greatness. The obedience that the chela has to his guru in India and Tibet follows the same aim. This is true also of the absolute obedience that the hassidim have towards their tzadekim in the Jewish Hassidic communities.
  2. Poverty is the practice of inner emptiness, established by the silencing of personal desires, emotions and imagination, so that the soul is capable of receiving from above the revelation of the word, the life and the light. Poverty is the soul awaiting what is new and unexpected.
  3. Chastity is the putting into practice of the resolution to live according to solar law, without covetousness and without indifference. Because virtue is boring and vice is disgusting.
    But that which lives at the foundation of the heart is neither boring nor disgusting. The foundation of the heart is love. The heart lives only when it loves. It is like the sun. And chastity is the state of the human being in which the heart, having become solar, is the centre of gravity.
    Chastity does not concern solely the domain of sex. It bears equally on all other domains, where there is a choice between solar law and all sorts of dulling intoxications.
    The French and Russian Revolutions were orgies of perverse collective intoxication.

The mission of the post of the Pope is to take care that spiritual obedience, poverty and chastity - free and holy - do not disappear from the world and that there are always people who embrace and represent them. Without this spiritual respiration humanity will suffocate.

And I tell you, you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
                                        Matthew xvi, 18

The five "gates of hell" - the will-to-greatness, the desire to take and keep, the desire to advance and to hold onto at the expense of others - being the counter-formula, shall not prevail against the formula of the five wounds. These wounds are the "keys to the kingdom of heaven."

The Sixth Arcanum: The Lover

Introduction to the Tarot

The Seven Miracles on of St. John's Gospel by Valentin Tomberg

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