Her right hand holds a golden key pointing up toward heaven (specifically, toward the face in the upper left corner), and her left holds a silver key pointing down toward the earth. These are temple keys, having long shafts with two right-angle bends, like a crank, at their ends. A loose, violet-colored veil, like a rounded Y, hangs from her shoulders across her breast and groin, hiding her sex.
The oval field has the shape of the vesica piscis (two intersecting circular arcs), and its height and width are in the ratio 1061:612. The field is defined by two serpents or dragons: a red and gold wingless dragon ascends on our right, a green and silver winged dragon descends on our left; they devour each other's tails at the top and bottom of the oval. Each dragon has a fiery eye and five fiery marks on its side (the middle of each five being the brightest). A horizontal line, with length equal to the oval's width, is tangent to the bottom of the oval, forming a kind of cartouche.
Four heads face outward in the corners of the image. In the lower left is a flower-bedecked calf's head and green is the dominant color around it; in the lower right is a yellow and orange, fiery lion's head. In the upper right autumn leaves surround a hawk's head; red is the dominant color. In the upper left white clouds in a deep blue sky surround an old, black man's head.
The Fool dances his last dance as king, for soon he will be stripped of his special status, but he rejoins the common mass of humanity in a transfigured state, having perhaps transformed the masses by his example. The Fool has become the Dancer, who dances the eternal dance of liberated life, blending rhythm and spontaneity. She is the integrated soul, ascending to the eternal realms and descending again into the world of the four elements. Uniting all opposites into a dynamic synergy, she holds the keys of Heaven and the Abyss, and points the way into the new Aquarian Aeon, the return of the Golden Age of Saturn.
Ecstatic dancing, which follows no choreography, allows the dancer to pass from mortal time into transcendental time, but the dance of the World is not the chaotic gyrations of Dionysos (0.Fool) or the frenzy of the Maenads, but a rhythm evolving spontaneously in time. The steps follow each other in a regular patterns, but where the dance, or the dancer, will go, we cannot say. The sun will rise tomorrow and the next day, but we cannot say what sort of world it will rise upon in ten thousand days. (Nichols 351-2)
Rhythm and time represent the two fundamental dimensions of the universe. They are symbolized by the banner in 19.Angel, with its horizontal frequency bands intersecting vertical time intervals. The finite area of the central square represents the central core of spontaneity, the mutual indeterminacy of Being and Becoming, of State and Process, of Identity and Difference; in quantum mechanics it is time and frequency (proportional to energy), or location and velocity (proportional to momentum). The Cosmic Dancer knows instinctively the balance of choreography and improvisation, of predictability and surprise.
Nor is the World's dance the upside-down dance of the rope dancer (12.Hanged Man), who "dances upon nothing" (i.e. is hanged), for the World's dance is firmly grounded in reality, as shown by her right foot touching the ground; she is connected with the indestructible (because golden) ground of her being. (Nichols 352; Pollack I.125) Her left foot dips into a silvery stream of water, showing that she is in touch with the Tao, the universal flow. (Such we see in Agostino di Duccio's very Hermetic 15th century relief of Mercury; see Zola, p. 77, for a good reproduction.)
The dancer has left blind consistency behind, and as her dance evolves in time she is under no obligation to make her new steps consistent with the preceding ones; each step is a unique response in the context of the music and the previous steps. She has transcended the regularity of rules, for she is following the flow of the Tao. She symbolizes the eternity of the ever-present now. (Nichols 349, 354, 356)
The World shows us the reborn child of 19.Angel, grown to maturity and proved by the balance of 20.Justice. In psychological terms, the archetypal Self has become fully humanized by its embodiment in an individual; in more traditional terms, the Spirit is embodied in Matter. This is symbolized by the trump's format: a circle, representing spirit, in a square, representing matter; the squaring of the circle is discussed in more depth below. (Nichols 350, 356)
Here we have the alchemical Fixation, by which the Volatile Spirit is permanently solidified. This fixation, once achieved, is permanent; regression is impossible. Jung explains that at this stage one becomes permanently aware of the Self as an indestructible archetype, incorruptible and immortal. In other words, the individual unites with the Inner Divine: true enthusiasm (enthusiastikos, from entheos, filled with a god, possessed, inspired by a god). (Haitch 165; LSJ s.vv.; Nichols 350, 352)
The Romans called a man's inner divinity his Genius and woman's her Iuno; they correspond in many respects to the unconscious mind, and were seen as the wellspring of "inspiration beyond ordinary intelligence" (Onians 162). In ancient Latin literature, feminine Anima referred to the indwelling, unconscious vital principle, the Genius of men or the Iuno of women, whereas masculine Animus usually referred to the conscious mind (Onians 168-70); this usage is, of course, different from Jung's. The Anima corresponds to the early Greek Psukhe (feminine), "the life-spirit active in procreation, dissociated from and external to the conscious self" (Onians 129); it is located in the head (and so a Roman touches his forehead when honoring his Genius), and it takes the form of a snake. Conversely, the Animus corresponds to the Greek Thumos (masculine), the conscious mind located in the breast. (Onians 23-4, 127, 129, 168)
One might be aided by one's Genius, alienated from it, or even opposed by it; in 21.World the dancer has become unified with it. The Genius manifests as a "fire in the head," often represented in ancient art by a gilded face or a nimbus (halo), and which is symbolized by the rayed crown (as in our image). So also, red lead was used to gild the faces of statues of the gods and the faces of emperors and generals in their Triumphi (the origin, we must recall, of the Tarot and its trumps; see Introduction). In our image the dancer's hair is red, representing also the alchemical Rubedo, the final stage of the Great Work. (Recall also the red cinnabar of Chinese alchemy.) Jung observes that when the individual has reached this state of transcendence, he or she radiates mana. We cannot help but feel the power of such a person's presence. (Guiley & Place 123; Nichols 357; Onians 161-2, 163, 165, 167; SB&G 82)
This final stage of transformation brings a kind of cosmic consciousness, perhaps Nirvana. As represented in 21.World, you experience the Self as the center of the World, around which the Cosmos rotates. So, in the Pythagorean Tarot, the dancer is surrounded by the zodiac and the four figures representing the four elements and the four kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal and human). Therefore the motto declares Unus mundus sum, "I am the One World." (It is interesting that Latin mundus and Greek kosmos both originally referred to female neatness and cleanliness, and only later to the ordered universe.)
This seeing of yourself at the center of the world is not ego inflation, however, for you also realize that this Self is transpersonal; rather, inflation was characteristic of 0.Fool: recall that "fool" derives from follis, wind bag (Johnson, 48-52, explains the distinction clearly). Indeed, Jung observes that the transfigured ego can influence the world only to the extent that the effort is unintentional (hence the spontaneity of the dancer). The dancer knows her illumination is more a gift of the gods than a personal accomplishment. (Nichols 357, 364)
Since the circle represents the Anima (soul) and the square the Mundus (world), together they are the Anima Mundi. The Anima with which you unite is the Anima Mundi, the World Soul, Una quae est Omnia (She, the One who is All). As a consequence, the concerns of the individual tend to be coextensive with the concerns of the world, and so the individual appears egoless; in fact, the ego has expanded to encompass the world, not by inflating, but by dissolving into it. Such a person is assuredly still human, imperfect but completed. (Case 208; Gad 303; Nichols 350, 353, 356; O'Neill 287; SB&G 82; Williams 132)
The dancer is androgynous because she represents the reconciliation of all opposites, but especially the unification of the conscious and the unconscious in the integrated Self. According to Gnostic mythology she is a return to the primal being, who was, as in many mythologies, hermaphroditic. In particular, the androgyne and Janus are symbols of the union of all the opposites of the psyche: mind and feeling, spirit and body, conflict and harmony, solitude and relationship, action and intuition, paternal ethics and maternal care. This is a divine ecstasy resulting from a union with inner divinity, for "Enthusiasm annuls the distance between pairs of opposites, and this brings ecstatic joy" (Johnson 52). (Case 208; Cirlot s.v. Janus; Nichols 349-50, 391; SB&G 82)
Nevertheless, the overall character of the androgyne is feminine since, as Nichols (356) observes, it is a psychological fact that women and the Animae in men have a stronger connection with the experienced Self than the masculine aspects of the personality. This fact may have a cultural - rather than a biological - source, causing the symbol of the androgyne to manifest the suppressed aspects of the personality. (Nichols 356) (We have also seen that in ancient Latin the female Anima corresponded the unconscious mind, whereas the masculine Animus corresponded the conscious mind; so also in Greek, feminine Psukhe versus masculine Thumos.)
The dancer thus corresponds to Isis, Shakti and the Ewig Weibliche (the Eternal Feminine) of Goethe. Most significantly, however, she is the new incarnation of Rhea, who presided over 10.Wheel of Fortune, but now dances a freer dance. Since she transcends the individual, she corresponds to the Anima Mundi, whose liberation is the goal of the alchemical Magnum Opus (and in alchemical manuscripts we see her radiant in a mandorla like that in 21.World; see below). Thus, as Jung said, she is the collective unconscious, in the center of which the Self resides. (Nichols 356-7; Walker 131-3; Williams 130, 132)
In the dancer, spirit and instinct flow together; there is no opposition between them. This is why she is nude, to show that she is in her natural state and is truly following her inner nature. Nudity represents the absence of shame in the natural state, but is especially a symbol of truth ("the truth unveiled," cf. "Isis unveiled"), which manifests in 21.World. (Guiley & Place 124; Nichols 350)
"Metamorphosis of Hermaphroditus and Salmakis,"
Marbuse (early 16th cent.)
As Pollack (I.124) has observed, the number of 21.World reveals that the dancer is the union of 2.Empress and 1.Magician, that is, of Aphrodite and Hermes. According to a well-known myth, Hermaphroditus was the son of Hermes and Aphrodite. The nymph Salmacis fell in love with him when he came to bathe in her pool. She grabbed him and, though he struggled to free himself, she would not let go, but prayed to Zeus that they would never be separated. In answer to her prayers, the two were united into a single being, the first hermaphrodite. The myth thus represents inseparable union granted as a gift of the gods. (SB&G 81-2)
In the Saturnalia, Macrobius says that January is dedicated to Janus as December is dedicated to Saturn, and so Janus is the new god who reigns at the end of the Saturnalia. He also says that Janus is two-faced because he is a fusion of Artemis and Apollo (i.e., Sun and Moon, Janus and Jana = Dianus and Diana); thus he corresponds to the alchemical hermaphrodite (cf. also 0.Idiot). Macrobius quotes Cicero (De Natura Deorum 2.27.67), who says Ianus (Janus) was originally called Eanus, which is derived from eundo (going), because Janus, who is the Universe, is always moving, whirling in a circle, like our dancer. This is the reason, he says, that the Phoenicians represent Janus by the Ouroboros serpent. (This is supported by modern etymologies, which derive Janus from Indo-European ia- from ei-, to go.) Macrobius also calls Janus the Doorkeeper of Heaven and Hell because he looks to the four quarters of the World (as in this trump). He quotes Gnaeus Domitus, who said,
He it is who fashions all things and guides them; he it is who in the compass of the Heavens has joined together Water and Earth with Fire and Air, and it is this mighty power of the Heavens that has united two opposing forces.He cites Varro, who says that there are twelve altars dedicated to Janus, one for each month; in 21.World they are represented by the serpents' two fiery eyes and ten fiery spots. (Bonnefoy, REM 129; Macrobius, Saturnalia I.7.23, 9.5, 11-14, 16)
There is an alchemical mystery in the nature of Janus, for the ancient physicists said he comprises both Apollo and Diana (Sun and Moon). To see this it's necessary to understand that by the laws of phonetic variation Diana, Jana and Iana are all equivalent. Thus Varro (Rerum Rusticarum I.37.3) calls the moon "Iana Luna." So also, Dianus, the solar counterpart of Diana, is the same as Janus and Ianus.
Further, Macrobius tells us, Janus, who is a guide on the roads, corresponds to Apollo Aguieus, the Guardian of Streets, the counterpart of Diana Trivia, the Guardian of the Crossroads. Thus we have the solar spirit of the straight path and the lunar spirit of the fork in the road.
The two faces of Janus represent the two Gates of Heaven (the rising and setting places of the sun), and as Gatekeeper of the Gods, he must allow entry of all prayers and sacrifices. So also he is the Gatekeeper of both Heaven and Hell. Indeed he is often portrayed Quadratus, with four faces looking to the Four Quarters of the World (represented by the figures in the corners of 21.World). Janus Quadrifrons, the Janus with four faces, perhaps originated with the Etruscans, who may have called him Ani; his four faces represent the four quarters of the Heavens (cf. Mesopotamian Anu/An = Heavens). He also corresponds to the androgynous Persian god Zurvan, representing Time (cf. Kronos = Khronos), who gave birth to Ahura Mazda and Ahriman (the principles of light and dark). Like Phanes and Mithras, he is sometimes shown with a man's body, a lion's head, eagle's wings and a snake coiled around him seven times (cf. the four animals of the Tetramorph, discussed below). (Bonnefoy, REM 129-30; Larousse 323; Mercatante s.v. Zurvan; Weinstock 128-9)
Janus, from Vincenzo Cartari's Le Imagini de gli Dei (1608).
According to Macrobius and Pliny the Elder, Janus, as two-faced solar god, measures the year, and so he shows 300 with his right hand and 65 with his left. Fortunately, we may describe this gesture with confidence: for 300 the tips of thumb and index finger of the right hand touch "in a caressing embrace" (Bede, De Temp. Rat., 1); the other fingers are extended. The left hand represents 65 by (1) bending the thumb in a right-angle against the palm, (2) curling the index finger around it, and (3) bending the middle finger to the joint of the palm (other fingers are extended). I will leave it to others to fully explain the esoteric significance of this gesture, though I will make a few observations. First note that when reduced to the Decad, 300 in the right hand represents Male (3+0+0 = 3) and 65 in the left represents Female (6+5 = 11, 1+1 = 2). Cassiodorus explains that the gesture for 60 represents self-control and reciprocity. The Pythagorean interpretation of 5 is the union of the male and female; they call it Androgeny and Marriage (see Fives in Minor Arcana). The 300 in the right hand is made with the same gesture as 30 in the left; Jerome says that this gesture refers to the union of husband and wife (the caressing embrace). Of course, 30 is supremely androgynous, since 30 = 5 X 6, the product of the two androgynous numbers (2 + 3, 2 X 3), corresponding to 19.Angel and 20.Justice. Since (Jerome again) the left hand is the present life and the right the life to come, the numbers show the preconditions in the present life to achieve the new life represented by 21.World. (See Williams & Williams and citations therein.)
Macrobius continues: Janus has 12 altars and authority over the kalends (first day) of each month; he is the rotating heavens, which always return to the place where they began. Thus the Phoenicians portray him as the Ouroboros Serpent, the snake swallowing its own tail. In the Hymn of the Salii he is called "God of Gods." Alchemically he is the universal solvent for, as Marcus Messala explained, Janus "fashions all things and guides them," and he is the agent of unification that brings together the naturally heavy elements (water and earth), which are cold, with their opposites, the naturally light elements (air and fire), which are hot. In this way the Quintessence is synthesized.
Pictorius (Apotheoseos, 1558, 72-76; vid. Albricus) depicts Janus as follows: He has a two-faced head, each face bearded. In his right hand he holds a huge key, in his left a lever (vectis). His right sleeve is labeled CCC, his left LXI. He is dressed in pants, tunic and breast plate, and his feet are on separate pedestals.
According to Cirlot (s.v. Janus), Guenon has noted the incompleteness of Janus Bifrons, which only looks to the past and the future, but misses the eternal present in which our true destiny lies. This is the reason, he says, we find figures such as Hecate Triformis, with three faces "arranged in the form of a rotating triangle." It is interesting to observe that the female counterpart of Janus (represented in this trump), Jana = Diana Triformis, as lunar goddess, is equivalent to Hecate Triformis. Thus we will have additional insight into the mystery of this trump, if we imagine that the androgyne has a third face, hidden from us, behind the other two.
Janus is often seen with the Clavis et Virga (Key and Rod), which are his emblems as Gatekeeper, for with the Rod he discourages those who are not allowed to enter, and with the Key he opens the gate. Another common attribute of Janus is a pair of keys, which is how he is shown in the Pythagorean Tarot. (Cirlot s.v. key; Larousse 200)
More generally a key is a symbol of binding and loosing (claudet & aperit: it closes and opens); specifically, the silver key loosens and the gold key binds; they are the alchemical dissolution and coagulation. Keys are symbols of liberation and initiation, and in particular the silver key represents the Lesser Mysteries, and the gold key the Greater Mysteries. They are especially associated with Janus as God of Initiation, for he oversees the endings and beginnings of everything. Thus he locks up the old year and opens up the new year, and he presides over sowing and reaping. It is especially relevant to this trump that Janus holds the Keys of Power, which allow access between gods and mortals. One key fits Janua Coeli (the Heavenly Gate), the way of the celestial beings, through which the sun passes when ascending in power; it is the Winter Solstice in Capricorn. The other key fits Janua Inferni (the Infernal Gate), the way of earthly beings, through which the sun passes when descending in power; it is the Summer Solstice in Cancer. (Biedermann s.vv. Janus, key; Cooper s.v. key)
Beyond the specific meaning of the keys, they are symbols of the poles of Vis Vitae (the life energy): male and female, yang and yin, projection and reception, evolution and involution, destruction and creation, disintegration and integration, separation and union, strife and love, Ares and Aphrodite, etc. Thus the dancer skillfully choreographs the dynamic interplay of the opposing poles of Life. In Jung's terms, she creates a dynamic equilibrium between Ego and Self. (Case 208; Gad 311; Haitch 84, 163; Nichols 249, 356; SB&G 82; Simon 53; Williams 130)
It is interesting that keys are also attributes of Hecate as guardian of the Underworld; she was called Clavigera as Janus was called Claviger (both mean "Key-bearer"). We have seen that Diana Trivia, who looks three ways, is the female counterpart of Janus, and that Hecate Triformis shows us the third face without which we cannot know our true destiny. It therefore comes as no surprise that keys often come in threes, and that the third key, after the silver and gold (and hidden from our view) is diamond. (Cirlot s.v. Janus, key; Cooper s.v. key)
In the Pythagorean Tarot Janus holds temple keys, which have a long (perhaps two feet) shaft with two right-angle bends (Koller 102). Thus they resemble the Virga (Rod), which Janus is often shown holding, and the wands held by the dancer in the World trumps of many other tarots. In general the Virga is any rod or magic wand, including the caduceus of Mercury, by which he guides the soul; it is a symbol of masculine power and authority, and Janus uses it to drive the unworthy away from the gates he guards. (Interestingly, Janus's epithet Claviger can mean either Key-bearer, from clavis, or Club-bearer, from clava.) Esoterically the staff is the Axis Mundi, the tree at the World Navel. (Cooper s.vv. rod, staff; Larousse 200; OLD s.v. virga)
The ends of the two keys have separate significance as the four elements (Gad 313). The silver key corresponds to the wet quality, because it is lunar; the gold key is dry, because it is solar. The handle-end of each key corresponds to the hot quality, because that is where it is controlled; the crank-shaped end (with the wards, if any) corresponds to the cold quality, because it's passive. Therefore, the handle and wards of the gold key are fire and earth, respectively, and the handle and wards of the silver are air and water. The ends also correspond to the Four Magic Weapons: willing, knowing, daring and silence (Gad 313), which may be identified with fire, air, water and earth, respectively. Finally the two temple keys comprise four right-angles, which symbolize the squaring of the circle (see below).
The dancer's flowing scarf represents the ever-moving spirit; it is violet to represent wisdom, sanctity and divinity. The scarf hides the dancer's sex to stress the androgyny of this state of psychic integration. (Case 207-8; Cooper s.v. colours; Nichols 249; Pollack I.125; Sharman-Burke 116)
The dancer's scarf is Y-shaped, since in alchemy the letter Y represents the Rebis (Two-thing), that is, the unification of male and female principles in the androgyne. In general it is the unification of all opposites. It is also associated with Janus, as the god present at the fork in the road. The Y (like a similarly shaped hieroglyph) is also a feminine sign, thereby reflecting the apparently female sex of the dancer. (Cooper s.v. Y; Liungman 109) Of course, Y is derived from the Greek upsilon (U), the meanings of which have already been listed: Hugies (Wholesome, Authentic), Hustatos (Utmost) and Hupsos (Height), all attributes of 21.World. In an engraving from Michael Maier's Symbola Aureae Mensae (1617) we see Albertus Magnus pointing to an alchemical androgyne holding the letter Y. Zola (42) explains, "The Y is, as Philo taught, the symbol of the Word which pierces the essence of being. The Nassine Gnostics taught that it represented the intimate nature of being, which is male and female and, as such, eternal."
The Y also appears in a variant of the Chinese Tai-Kih (i.e., the T'ai Chi T'u, the familiar Yin-Yang), which is a symbol of the Great Uniter: a circle divided by triple arcs, often with the arc from above touching the double arc of the Yin-Yang, and thus representing its unification. Goldsmith (49) says this symbol, "expresses the completest and highest creative force. Thus the universe being made up of opposites was brought into fructifying union by the Tai-Kih." She goes on to quote Brinton on the symbol: "Abstractly the latter [the T'ai-Chi] would be regarded as the synthesis of the two universal antitheses which make up all phenomena." (Goldsmith 48-9) (Of course, the basic Yin-Yang itself appears as the two serpents of 21.World.)
The duplex serpentes ouroboroi (double ouroboros serpents) form a temenos, a sacred space, in which the dancer dances. Like the walled garden of 18.Sun, it both contains energies (and is thus filled by the dancer's nimbus, representing her mana) and keeps out profane influences (thus protecting the newly reborn dancer). However, the circle as depicted in 18.Sun was incomplete and artificial; in 21.World it has become a complete, living, natural, self-regenerating force. Indeed, as depicted in the Pythagorean Tarot, it is an oval tangent to a line underneath, which makes it the hieroglyphic shen-sign (which may be the basis for the divine cartouches); it represents protection and unending cycle (Budge, EL IV.18.39, EM 61-2). "The Egyptian name is derived from a word which means 'to encircle, to go around,' used extensively to describe the eternal circuit of the sun" (Goelet in Faulkner 168). (Nichols 349-50, 357-8; Williams 135)
An ouroboros serpent symbolizes eternity, and the pair of them in this trump reminds us that 21.World represents the final triumph, the Triumph of Eternity. The serpents represent the Life Force continually feeding on and nourishing itself. Thus Eliphas Levi (Histoire de la magie, 138) explains:
Life is a serpent that incessantly creates and devours itself. One must ignore fear and plant one's foot firmly on its head. Hermes, by doubling it, opposes it to itself, and in eternal equilibrium makes of it the talisman of his power and the glory of his caduceus.The serpents in 21.World are the same two we saw in 1.Magician and 19.Angel, though in those trumps their action was opposed; in 21.World they act together.
We see a similar image in the British Museum alchemical manuscript known as the "Ripley Scrowle" (MS 1588; see Burckhardt 90; cf. Jung, P&A fig. 92; see the discussion pp. 406- 22): ascending and descending dragons ouroboroi, representing the sun and moon, are surrounded by the zodiac. They circulate to the right (counterclockwise) because that is the direction of increasing conscious integration (Jung, P&A 193). (It is also the direction in which the wheel of the year rotates, as will be discussed below.)
We see the two serpents again in a figure in Abraham Eleazar's Uraltes chymisches Werk (1760, Part II, no. 3): the winged serpent goes above to the right, the wingless below to the left. Symbols of the four elements surround the serpent, clockwise from the lower right: earth, fire, water, air, which are the elements in their astrological order (see below). They are also associated with the alchemical principles: earth (= Prima Materia?), salt, mercury and sulphur, respectively (cf. 10.Fortune). Abraham's engraving is the mirror image of 21.World, and when it is reversed the serpents circulate in the same direction as in our image, and the elements are astrologically correct for the fixed signs. (See Jung, P&A fig. 47, or von Franz, Alch. fig. 16, for the image.)
Nichols (351) explains that in 21.World we do not see the "Ouroboros of Primal Chaos" (which may be identified with endless, pointless repetition); rather, the two serpents represent celestial and mundane reality, the realms of the gods and of nature, the two sides of the Vis Vitae (Life Force). (SB&G 81-2) The wingless dragon is the alchemical sulphur (golden yellow) and the winged dragon is the mercury (silvery white) (Jung, MC 117). As Jung (MC 117) has explained, the serpent ouroboros is simultaneously vaginal (mouth, triangular head) and phallic (tail). Therefore, in the duplex serpentes ouroboroi we have the conjunction of two androgynes (19.Angel and 20.Justice) - uniting like hermaphroditic worms - to engender the World.
Each dragon couples with the other, each consumes the other, each subdues the other; thus the well-known Hermetic maxim, "Nature delights in Nature, Nature contains Nature, and Nature overcomes Nature." "The last clause," Burckhardt (129-30) explains, "means that the two powers, when they have so grown that one can embrace the other, reunite on a higher plane, so that their opposition, which previously had bound the soul, now becomes a fruitful complementarism, by means of which the soul achieves dominion over the entire world of psychic forms and currents. Thus Nature as a liberating force, overcomes Nature as tyranny and entanglement."
The two serpents, each consuming the other, constitute what Damascenus called a perikhoresis (rotation), which the Medieval Schoolmen translated both circumincessio (going round) and circuminsessio (reciprocal indwelling). In 21.World we have a perikhoresis in which Heaven is in the World, but also the World is in Heaven. (OED s.v. circumincession)
Cooper (s.v. serpent) explains, "Two serpents or dragons biting each other's tails suggests that, although in seeming opposition, forces and things in the realm of duality actually spring from the same source." In Hindu tradition, "Two serpents with downward and upward movement represent the Divine Sleep and Divine Awakening in the nights and days of Brahma" (loc. cit.).
The alchemists say, "Sublimate the body and coagulate the spirit," that is, eternalize the individual by exaltation of the body, and personalize the archetypal by incarnating the spirit. Thus in the "Emerald Tablet" (Isaac Newton's translation), we read:
It ascends from the earth to the heaven and again it descends to the earth and receives the force of things superior and inferior. By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world and thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.Psychologically this means that "the unified personality is created that connects the personal psyche (below) with the archetypal psyche (above)" (Edinger 144). (Edinger 142)
Sublimation (ascent) is normally followed by coagulation (descent), and together they constitute the alchemical Circulatio. Jung (MC 223) says that this circulation
corresponds to the struggle between the winged and wingless dragon, i.e., the uroboros. Dorn describes it as the 'circular distillation'... They become a vessel in which what was previously now one thing and now another floats vibrating, so that the painful suspension between opposites gradually changes into the bilateral activity of the point in the centre.Thus, the Dancer at the center of the World.
But Edinger (140) says, "The lesser sublimatio must always be followed by a descent, whereas the greater sublimatio is a culminating process, the final translation into eternity of that which has been created in time." Thus 21.World primarily symbolizes the Greater Sublimation (secondarily, the Lesser), for the dancer has transcended the circulation of the cosmos. It is by such sublimation, incorporating the temporal into the eternal, that archetypes evolve (e.g. in deification myths). (Edinger 140)
Divine figure are often shown with a surrounding elliptical nimbus or halo, which represent their divine radiance (e.g. classical representations of Zeus and Apollo, and the well-known ancient reliefs of Mithras and Phanes, such as the Modena relief, discussed below). A frame of this kind is called a mandorla, which is the Italian word for "almond" or "kernel." The mystical almond symbolizes a precious kernel hidden and protected by a tough, nearly impenetrable shell. Thus it represents the difficulty of the initiatory path, but also the sweet rebirth that occurs once one has gained entry to the Mystery. The almond in its shell is the (spiritual) embryo hidden in the womb. The mandorla is also an unmistakable representation of the vulva, and thus a symbol of the opening or gateway of new life. Finally, it is the Spindle of Magna Mater (the Great Mother), on which she spins the history of the world. (Biedermann s.v. mandorla; Cirlot s.vv. mandorla, spindle; Cooper s.vv. mandorla, nimbus)
In the Pythagorean Tarot the mandorla takes a very specific form, the Vesica Piscis (Vessel of the Fish), which is "described by two perfectly interpenetrating circles of the same size" (Fideler 70). It represents the intersection of the celestial and mundane spheres; the common ground that stands in both. (Arranged vertically, as here, the left side - right, from our perspective - corresponds to matter and the right to spirit.) In the intersection, which corresponds to the place between the twin peaks of the mountain, all opposites are reconciled. It also represents the perpetual, mutually driving forces of Ascensus and Descensus (Ascent and Descent), appearance and disappearance, evolution and involution, life and death. In particular, a Vesica appears in Giordano Bruno's De Monade Numero at Figura (1591) as the "simplest representation of androgyny that he offers" (Zolla 69). (Cirlot s.v. mandorla; Cooper s.v. mandorla; Fideler 284; Gad 312)
It can be demonstrated geometrically that the Vesica frames two opposing equilateral triangles, and thus represents the Quintessence as the conjunction of fire and water. It is the basis for constructing many other emblems of completion, such as the hexagram and the tetractys (see Fideler 284-5).
As Plato explains (Timaeus 53c-55c) all the elements can be reduced to triangles, but water, air and fire are mutually interconvertible because they are reducible to equilateral triangles (for the corresponding Platonic solids, the icosahedron, octahedron and tetrahedron, have equilateral triangles for faces). Each equilateral triangle is in turn reducible to a right triangle with sides 1, 2 and the square root of 3. These half-equilateral triangles are the irreducible constituents of the three interconvertible elements, water, air and fire, and it is by their rearrangement that one of these elements is converted to another.
From the foregoing we see that the vesica comprises four elementary (half-equilateral) triangles, and therefore that the vesica with width of 1 has a length of the square root of 3, which is approximately 1.732. Case (207) argues that the mandorla is given the wrong proportions in the World trumps designed by Waite/Smith and others, and that the correct ratio (used in the BOTA tarot) is 5:8. From the mathematics of the vesica we can see, however, that a better ratio is 5 : 8.66, or, more accurately, 15 : 26.
According to Fideler (71), William Stirling observed in 1897 that an even more accurate ratio, 612 : 1061, is remarkable in that, according to isopsephia, 612 is the numerical value of Zeus (ZEUS) and 1061 is the numerical value of Apollo (APOLLWN). Further, if a smaller Vesica is inscribed in the larger, we find that its ratio is 353 : 612 and 353 is the numerical value of Hermes (ERMHS). Thus alternating circumscribed Vesicae lead to a geometrical progression 353 : 612 : 1061, that is, Hermes : Zeus : Apollo. There is thus a geometrical-cosmological mystery concealed in the names that the ancient Greeks gave their gods. (Fideler 70-1, 284) (See Fideler's book for more on these numbers and their role in ancient Greek architecture.)
The mandorla represents the almond in its shell but also the embryo in its egg; it is the Philosophical Egg of alchemy, in which the androgyne is incubated (see 19.Angel on the Arc), and the Mithraic World Egg from which the creative spirit is born. (Nichols 351; Pollack I.125; SB&G 81, 83; Sharman-Burke 116; Williams 133)
Thus, in the famous Modena relief (which has much in common with 21.World) we see Mithras or Phanes (the Light) emerging from the Cosmic Egg and surrounded by a mandorla of the zodiac (corresponding to the twelve "altar fires" in the Pythagorean tarot). Four male figures, probably the Winds, look in from the corners. The newborn god has eagle wings, animal heads around his waist (e.g., bulls, or lion, ram and goat) and a snake coiling around him (thus suggesting the tetramorph; see below). In his right hand he holds a thunderbolt (the dorje or vajra sceptre of Tantra), in his left a rod. (A photograph of the relief can be found in Cooper, s.v. zodiac, Fideler, p. 259, and many other places.) (Cornford 55-6; Williams 130-3, 138)
The mandorla represents the vulva, and thus the arrival of a new being in the world; it is the Idiot reborn. The mandorla is a sign of union, coming (climax), opening and departure into a new life. So also the Saturnalia marks the beginning of a new year, and a new journey begins for the Idiot. However, the beginning of a new cycle does not imply starting over where we began, which is why the dancer is surrounded by an ellipse rather than a circle, for the ellipses represents development rather than endless repetition (which we may find in 10.Wheel). Further, an ellipse has two foci rather than one, which, as we have seen, represents the creative interpenetration of heaven and earth, also symbolized by the mutually ouroboros (tail-eating) serpents, and the celestial and mundane worlds as mutual reflections ("as above so below"). The ellipse unites the two poles and brings them into correspondence. (Case 207; Gad 310; Nichols 351; Simon 53; Walker 134)
The four figures in the corners of the card constitute the Tetramorph. In the Marseilles deck and those based on it (such as the Waite/Smith deck, via Levi's Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum) these are the animals of the visions of Ezekiel and John (Ezekiel 1:10, Revelation 4:7), which have been associated (by tenuous reasoning) with the Four Evangelists, in at least four different ways, by Irenaeus, Victorinus, Athanasius and Augustine. They are generally absent from early decks but become common in the eighteenth century, generally arranged in the familiar way (as on the Waite-Smith deck, bull lower left, lion lower right, eagle upper right, man upper left), although other arrangements sometimes appear in tarot decks and other art. However, the Tetramorph has much deeper roots, which are represented in the Pythagorean Tarot. (Biedermann s.v. evangelists; Case 121; Gleadow 126)
The animals in the corners correspond directly to the fixed signs of the zodiac: bull = Taurus, lion = Leo, eagle = Scorpio (a standard occult correspondence, explained below), man = Aquarius. The fixed signs secure the four corners of the Cosmos. Their significance can be traced to Babylonian tablets dating to 700 BCE.
The Babylonians divided the sky into three "ways" ruled by gods. The Way of Anu is a band surrounding the celestial equator (approximately 16 deg. 40 min. on each side), the Way of Enlil is north of it and the Way of Ea is to the south. The yearly course of the sun has four parts, as it travels from the Way of Ea, north through the Way of Anu, through the way of Enlil, and back south through the Way of Anu to return to Ea. The boundary markers of the four parts are the fixed signs: Taurus marks the northward passage from Anu into Enlil (NE), Leo the southward from Enlil to Anu (NW), Scorpio the southward from Anu to Ea (SW), and Aquarius the northward from Ea to Anu (SE). (Gleadow 158; Goold in Manilius, xxxiii)
Most of the modern constellations were the same in Babylonia; in particular, Taurus was Gudanna, the Bull of Heaven, which occurs in the Gilgamesh Epic and in "Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven," and was created for Ishtar by Anu; Leo is Urgulu (the Lion); Scorpio is Girtab (the Scorpion); and Aquarius is Gula (the Great One), who may represent Ea, the lord of the Abyssal Waters, who is often shown with water pouring out of his shoulders or holding a jug. (Aquarius is also one of the boundaries of the Way of Ea.) (Black & Green s.vv. bull of heaven, zodiac; Gleadow 167-9)
Zimmern has given an explanation for the eagle. The Babylonians needed bright stars to mark the four quarters (specifically, the cardinal constellations of the third-fourth millennium BCE), so they used Aldebaran in Taurus, Regulus in Leo, Antares in Scorpio and Altair in Aquila (the Eagle), since Aquarius is a small constellation with no bright stars. Then, since the scorpion can represent the scorpion-man (girtablullu) of Mesopotamia, we get the correspondence bull = Taurus, lion = Leo, man = Scorpio, eagle = Aquarius, which is not the usual one, though we do find it in Agrippa (1531, Bk. II, ch. 7) and the Magical Calendar (1620; see McLean, Mag. Cal. 32-5). (Black & Green s.v. scorpion-people; Gleadow 126) (Williams, p. 138, notes that Scorpio is also known as the Sparrowhawk or Phoenix.)
On the other hand, there are reasons to retain the standard correspondences, because the four fixed signs correspond to the four sons of Horus, who support the four corners of the heavens in Egyptian cosmology. They are the sons of the "Elder Horus," whom Plutarch (Isis & Osiris 373D, 374D) calls "perfected and complete" and equates with the World (Kosmos). According to Ions (114), jackal- or dog-headed Duamutef (corresponding to Taurus) stands in the East, baboon-headed Hapy (corresponding to Leo) stands in the North, hawk-headed Qebehsenuf (corresponding to Scorpio and the Eagle) stands in the West, and man-headed Imsety (corresponding to Aquarius) stands in the South.
In the Book of the Dead we see the four sons standing on a lotus (symbolizing rebirth) before Horus in the Hall of the Two Truths; in Chapter 17 they are called "Lords of Justice" and shown standing around the Mound of Abydos, the first land to emerge from the abyssal waters. They also figure prominently in Chapter 151, where, however, all four are shown with human heads. It was said that they "never saw corruption" and thus they represent incorruptibility in the four realms of material existence. (See, for example, illustrations to chapters 30B, 17, 125A in the Papyrus of Ani - plates 4, 8, 30 in the Wasserman edition of the Faulkner translation. It should also be noted that Egyptian coffins were often decorated with an image of the Sky goddess Nut surrounded by the zodiac, a possible precursor to 21.World; see Parker & Parker, p. 27, for an example.) (Faulkner 156, 159-60; Ions 113-4; Jung, AS 279-80, P&A 208-9; Williams 136)
We may also mention the Four Chieftains, which were recognized in Persia by the Sassanid era (224 CE). According to Gleadow (126) we have Tishtar (Sirius, the Dog Star) in the east, Haptok- ring (the Great Bear) in the north, Sataves (Antares, in Scorpio) in the west and Varrand (Fomalhaut, in the Southern Fish, near Aquarius) in the south. To see the correspondence we may note that the Bear is aligned with Leo, although Taurus is not so near to the Dog Star (which is nevertheless Ishtar's star, as the Bull of Heaven is hers).
Since Babylonian times astrology has divided the zodiac into four triplicities or triangles, and, at least since the time of Vettius Valens (2nd cent. CE), each triplicity has been associated with an element. These correspondences are not consistent with those between the triplicities and qualities given in Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos (also 2nd cent. CE), which overall make more sense (and are more consistent with alchemy), but they have become such an established part of astrology and the esoteric tradition that they have generated their own validity. (See Vetius Valens, Anthologia Bk. II and Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos I.4, 5, 18.) For this reason the Pythagorean Tarot does not represent explicitly the elemental associations of the Tetramorph, thus allowing it to accommodate either the alchemical/Ptolemaic or the astrological/Valentian correspondences, as you wish. They will be discussed in order, beginning with the astrological/Valentian correspondences.
Duamutef, shown with a jackal or dog head, and Neith ward the Eastern pillar, associated with Taurus, the fixed sign of the Virgo-Taurus-Capricorn triplicity. It is assigned to Earth because, according to Valens, it is ruled by Venus by day and the moon by night, but the sphere of the moon is closest to the earth.
Hapy, shown with a baboon head, and Nephthys ward the Northern pillar, associated with Leo, the fixed sign of the Aries-Leo- Sagittarius triangle. Astrologically this triplicity is assigned to Fire, which Valens explained by its ruling planets, the Sun by day and Jupiter by night.
Qebehsenuf, shown with a hawk or falcon head, and Selket ward the Western pillar, associated with Scorpio, the fixed sign of the Cancer-Scorpio-Pisces triplicity. It is assigned to Water; Valens does not give a reason, but we speculate that it is because, although it is ruled by Mars (anything but watery), it is secondarily ruled by Venus by day and the Moon by night, and both of these are watery. Additionally, the Latin word Aquila (Eagle) is apparently derived from Aqua (Water). It is also interesting that in later sources (such as in Ashmole's Theat. Chem. Brit.), this triplicity corresponds to the North Wind, one name for which is Aquilo (also deriving from Aqua). Furthermore, the Etruscan word Antha means both Eagle and North Wind. (LSJ s.vv. andas, antar, aetos; OLD s.vv. aqua, aquila, Aquilo, aquilus; Pallottino 225)
Imsety, shown with a man's head, and Isis ward the Southern pillar, associated with Aquarius, the fixed sign of the Gemini- Aquarius-Libra triplicity. It is assigned to Air; Valens does not give a reason, but we can speculate that it is because it is ruled by Saturn by day and Mercury by night, and because Saturn is characteristically Cold, which the Stoics (but not Aristotle or the alchemists) consider the dominant property of Air (Tester 60).
(Note that if we make the Stoic equations, Water=Wet, Fire=Hot, Earth=Dry, Air=Cold, then the astrological correspondences do at least respect the opposition Hot/Cold, Wet/Dry.)
Now we turn to the alchemical/Ptolemaic correspondences. Ptolemy attributes them to the "Chaldeans" and, in fact, they can be traced back to Babylonian astrological tablets dating to the fourth century BCE (Rochberg-Halton). The Babylonians attributed the planets Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mars in order to the signs of the zodiac. Therefore Jupiter is the lord of the Aries-Leo- Sagittarius triplicity, Venus is lord of Taurus-Virgo-Capricorn, Saturn of Gemini-Libra-Aquarius, and Mars of Cancer-Scorpio- Pisces. Jupiter and Venus are considered beneficial and, according to Ptolemy, are associated with the Hot and Wet qualities, respectively. Saturn and Mars are malevolent and have the qualities Cold and Dry, respectively. Mercury is neutral in all regards.
As has been explained already (e.g. 10.Fortune), many cycles of organic growth and decay rotate through the qualities Wet, Hot, Dry, Cold in order; these include the seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter), the stages of life (childhood, prime, middle age, old age), the phases of the Moon (first quarter, full, third quarter, new), and many others. This is also the standard Square of Opposition of the elements and qualities that we find in many alchemical texts, and which is embodied in the Lo Shu or Saturn Square (see 19.Angel).
Taurus is the fixed sign of Spring, which is Wet; also the Virgo-Taurus-Capricorn triplicity is ruled by Venus, which is primarily Wet. (Recall also that the Bull of Heaven was created for Ishtar = Venus.) Leo is the fixed sign of Summer, which is Hot; also the Aries-Leo-Sagittarius triplicity is ruled by Jupiter, which is primarily Hot. Scorpio is the fixed sign of Autumn, which is Dry; also the Cancer-Scorpio-Pisces triplicity is ruled by Mars, which is primarily Dry. Finally, Aquarius is the fixed sign of Winter, which is Cold; also the Gemini- Aquarius-Libra triplicity is ruled by Saturn, which is primarily Cold.
The four faces symbolize the four winds: the wet west wind, the hot south wind, the dry east wind, and the cold north wind (Ptol. Tetr. I.10). These directions are the opposites of the sons of Horus, but they agree if we take the directions in which the winds blow, rather than the direction of their origin: the wet wind blows east, the hot wind blows north, the dry wind blows west and the cold wind blows south. Therefore, the figures face outward, to indicate the quarters to which they blow. Thus, the calf represents Zephyrus, the wet wind blowing east; the lion represents Notus, the hot wind blowing north; the hawk represents Apeliotes, the dry wind blowing east; and the man represents Boreas, the cold wind blowing south.
That completes the Ptolemaic assignments. As explained above, the Tetramorph in the Pythagorean Tarot admits either the Valentian/astrological or the Ptolemaic/alchemical interpretation; the following summarizes the correspondences common to both.
The black man's head surrounded by blue sky and white clouds, in the upper left, represents Aquarius, Saturn, Nigredo (see 10.Fortune), Winter and the Cold quality, which according to the Stoics, corresponds to Air; the dominant colors are black (Saturn) and dark blue. The flower-bedecked calf head in the lower left represents Taurus, Venus, Albedo and Spring; astrologically it's Earth, alchemically it's Wet; the dominant color is green (Venus, see 2.Empress). The fiery lion head in the lower right represents Leo, Jupiter, Citrinitas, Summer, the Hot quality and Fire; the dominant color is yellow-orange (Jupiter). The hawk head among the autumn leaves, in the upper right, represents Scorpio, Mars, Rubedo (or Adustio; see 10.Fortune) and Autumn; astrologically it's Water, alchemically it's Dry; the dominant color is red (Mars). (Red and green are complementary colors, as are blue and yellow.)
The dancer, of course, is assigned to Mercury, the ascending (red and gold) serpent to Sol, and the descending (green and silver) to Luna. Thus the astrological symbol of Mercury comprises the cross of the elements, the circle of the sun and the crescent of the moon. However the elements are arranged, the dancer is in the center of them, and so she represents the Quintessence, the goal of the alchemical Magnum Opus. (Guiley & Place 124; Sharman-Burke 116)
The Tetramorph defines the four quarters of the cosmos, for the Earth, the Heavens and the Abyss are each divided into four quarters. Therefore, the figures in the corners of 21.World define the outermost limits of existence. 21.World represents contact with the Eighth Sphere, the sphere of the fixed stars or Inerratic (non-wandering) Sphere. Access to it is granted by Saturn, via the Saturnalia, for he is the ruler of the highest planetary (wandering) sphere (planes = wanderer). In this sense the Eighth Sphere is inerrant (incapable of erring) since to err is to wander (errare) from the Path. (Case 207; Nichols 353)
According to Roeck, similar "Wards of the Quarters" are found in many cultures: China has the Four Cosmic Beings: the Green Dragon (calf), the White Tiger (lion) or Spotted Dog, the Red Bird (eagle) and the Black Warrior on a Tortoise (man) (note also the colors). (If the equation dog = lion seems arbitrary, then it's worth mentioning that "As far as the Sumerians were concerned, the lion was grouped together with dogs and wolves as a 'canine', rather than as a feline" - Black & Green s.v. lion.) The Tibetan Spirits of the Seasons are the Man-Dragon (bull), Black Dog (lion), the Garuda Vulture (eagle) and the Horse and Rider (man). Even in Mexico, we have the Ritual Masks of the Four Regents: the Crocodile (bull), the Dog (lion), the Vulture (eagle) and the Death's Head (man). On a magical papyrus (Berlin, Parthey II, 101) we find a crocodile (bull), snake (lion), hawk (eagle) and Horus child on a lotus (man); the rationale for the snake = lion equation is discussed below. (We have also seen that a crocodile/dragon often substitutes for the bull.) (Gleadow 112, with alterations)
The Tetramorph also represents the four principal animals representing the shamanic and yogic paths, which are found at the Axis Mundi: the bull and lion for the chthonic path, the eagle and the man on a winged horse for the celestial path. Sometimes a snake (another chthonic symbol), representing the Kundalini serpent, takes the place of the lion; both represent "the power which aids translation into an abnormal state of consciousness or into trance" (Butterworth, Tree 97). (Interestingly, Leo treads on a snake in the Denderah zodiacs - Pingree, II.196.) Alternately, two traditions may be represented, the lion and eagle in one, the serpent and bull in the other. (Compare also the image of Zurvan discussed above: a Serpent coiled around Man with a Lion's head and an Eagle's wings; in this case the snake substitutes for the bull, the other chthonic animal, instead of for the lion.) (Butterworth Tree, 97, 152-3)
All four figures appear in the Myth of Etana (e.g. Dalley 190- 200): The Eagle and the Serpent live in harmony in the Tree (at the Naval of the World), from which they hunt together. After the Eagle treacherously devours the Snake's offspring, the Snake petitions Shamash for justice, and the Sun god tells him to hide in the carcass of a giant Bull. The Eagle is cast into a pit (the underworld), and to redeem itself from it, the Eagle must agree to carry the Man Etana into the heavens to seek rebirth. They ascend through seven gates, first the Gates of Anu, Enlil and Ea (defining the four quarters of the heavens) and then the Gates of Sin, Shamash, Adad and Ishtar (corresponding to 17.Moon, 18.Sun, 19.Angel and 20.Justice). Note that the plot revolves around the Eagle, Snake, Bull and Man. (Butterworth Tree, 82-3, 97, 149-56)
The Myth of Etana is remarkably similar to the Indian legend of Jimutavahana, in which the Garuda eagle is eating the Nagas (Snake-people). The Prince Jimutavahana offers himself as a substitute for the Nagas, and is born by Garuda to the top of a mountain and devoured. However, Naga Raja (the Serpent King) and the goddess Gauri intervene, and the prince is restored and transfigured (as are the devoured serpents). (Butterworth Tree, 156-8)
According to an Orphic cosmology, Phanes (the god of Illumination) was born from the Cosmic Egg; he was double-sexed and had four heads. Macrobius (Sat. I.18) identifies him with Liber Pater (identified with Bacchus and associated with Libera Mater, identified with Ceres), and says he comprises four gods: Zeus in the spring, Helios in the summer, Dionysos in the autumn and Hades in the winter. Graves (2.2.2) associates Phanes' four faces with the Tetramorph: Zeus=Ram=Spring, Helios=Lion=Summer, Hades=Snake=Winter and Dionysos=Bull=New Year. However, I have been unable to trace the Tetramorph/Phanes connection back any further than Eliphas Levi (Dogme et Rituel, 333; see frontispiece to Levi, Mag. Rit., and Mead, Orph. 109-10).
Graves (1.1.a, b, d) reconstructs an Orphic theogony whereby Eurunome, "the Goddess of All Things," dances naked in the void, and transforms Boreas, the North Wind, into a serpent, Ophion. As she dances with greater and greater wildness and abandon, the serpent coils around her, and they mate, thus engendering the World Egg. At her behest the serpent coils around the egg seven times, which divides in two (as in the Modena relief), releasing the world in all its diversity. Further, she creates the seven planetary spheres, each ruled by a Titan and Titaness. Later Eurunome and Ophion yielded their rule to Kronos and Rhea, the rulers of the Saturnian Sphere. (See Gantz, 741-53, for a summary of Orphic cosmologies.)
The Tetramorph corresponds to the Sphinx, which has a woman's face, a snake's tail, a lion's body and an eagle's wings (Zolla 19), or alternately, a human head, a lion's legs, a bull's body and and eagle's wings (Cooper s.v. Sphinx). Thus Babylonian sphinxes have been connected with the Babylonian stellar markers of the quarters (Altair, Antares, Aldeberan, Regulus) already discussed (Gleadow 126). The sphinx symbolizes the "Supreme Enigma" (as in the Oedipus myth); it is "a symbol which unites, in the midst of the heterogeneity of existence, the four Elements (corresponding to the tetramorphs) with the quintessence or the spirit" (Cirlot 304, though he identifies the human face with the quintessence).
Jung associates blue with the Thinking function, which is also associated with air, green with Sensation, corresponding to earth, yellow with Intuition and fire, and red with Feeling and hence water. Thus we have man = thinking, calf = sensation, lion = intuition, eagle = feeling, which are also the dominant functions according to astrology. The upper two figures (man, eagle) represent the Judging (so called "rational") functions (thinking, feeling), and the lower two (calf, lion) the Perceptive ("nonrational") functions (sensation, intuition). The two on the dancer's right (man, calf) represents Objective functions (thinking, sensation) and the two on the left (eagle, lion) Subjective functions (feeling, intuition). (Jung, ACU 335, 379, P&A 107; Hamaker-Zondag 19-23)
Traditionally, the calf (or ox) represents such psychological traits as creative power, stability, perseverance and silence. The lion represents intellectual power, reason and intrepidity. The eagle represents emotional power and temerity. The man represents ideal relationship, and the integration of form and context. (Gad 313; Nichols 359; Simon 53)
Further, the ox is strength, the lion is majesty, the eagle is mobility and the man is insight (Biedermann s.v. evangelists). Or the ox is pure substance, the lion is spirit incarnate, the eagle is death and regeneration, and the man is "the interplay of perfect knowledge and perfect form" (Nichols 359).
The Tetramorph represents the four suits of the Minor Arcana, but the correspondence is made on the basis of the elements or qualities. According to the Valentian/astrological scheme, calf = pentacles, lion = wands, eagle = cups, man = swords, which agrees also with the Jungian functions (sensation, intuition, feeling, thinking, respectively). They represent the potentials of the new personality, which are on the threshold of fuller development, and four gods rule these potentials: Poseidon (lord of the earth, physical reality), Zeus (the bolt from the blue, creative imagination), Aphrodite (love, emotion) and Athena (intellect, wisdom) (SB&G 81-2). According to Jung (ACE 335) the Tetramorph also corresponds to the "quaternity of Merkabah," the four sephirot, Chokmah = eagle, Binah = man, Gedulah (Chesed) = lion, Geburah = bull.
The Tetramorph also represents many other quaternities, such as the four heads of Brahma (Cooper s.v. tetramorph), the four virtues (Biedermann s.v. evangelists), the four humors (via the elements or qualities), and the four letters of the Quadriliterum (via the elements; see the court cards in the Minor Arcana).
In addition, the two-faced god Usmu (or Isimud) surveys the scene from the right. He was an attendant of Enki (Ea) with many similarities to Janus: he was called Muhra, which means "Looking Both Ways"; he was the gatekeeper of the Underworld; and his name occurs in both masculine and feminine forms, recalling Janus and Jana. Usmu is often portrayed bringing before Enki a captive, a bird-man representing the Anzu bird (see 16.Star), who stole the Tablet of Destiny from Enki.
There are, however, additional figures on Adda's seal. Between the lion and bull are two peaks (Mt. Mashu) between which Shamash (the Sun God) rises (see 19.Sun). On the peak to our left grows a plant, either the Kishkanu (Mes) Tree planted by Enki in the Abyss, or the Halub tree, planted by Inanna and sought in the Abyss by Gilgamesh, or more likely the Tree of Rebirth sought in the Heavens by Etana.
(Black & Green s.vv. Enki, Imdugud, Isimud; Dalley 325, 330)
In the Pythagorean Tarot, the twelve "altar flames" on the dragons represent the Zodiac and the Twelve Olympians as guardians of the signs, according to the standard correspondence (e.g., Manilius, Astron. 2.433-52): Aries = Minerva, Taurus = Venus, Gemini = Apollo, Cancer = Mercury, Leo = Jupiter, Virgo = Ceres, Libra = Vulcan, Scorpio = Mars, Sagittarius = Diana, Capricorn = Vesta, Aquarius = Juno, Pisces = Neptune. This also gives the planetary correspondents of the four figures in the corners (discussed below), except that Aquarius is associated with goddess Juno rather than the planet Saturn (since he was exiled from Olympus). The dragons' eyes correspond to Taurus and Scorpio (Venus and Mars = Water and Fire), for these are feminine constellations and the Capita Draconis (Dragon Heads) are female; conversely, the flames on the Caudae Draconis (Dragon Tails) correspond to Gemini and Sagittarius (Apollo and Diana = Sun and Moon), which are masculine, like the tail. So also the other signs follow in order.
The altar flames are also associated with the twelve principal Babylonian gods (and their spouses): Anshar (Whole Sky); the first triad: Anu (Heavens), Enlil (Air), Ea (Abyss); the second triad: Sin (Moon), Shamash (Sun), Adad (Storms); the five: Ninurta (Saturn), Marduk (Jupiter), Erra/Nergal (Mars), Ishtar (Venus), Nabu (Mercury). Except for Anshar (the progenitor of them all), the remaining correspond to the second hendecad, as explained in 17.Moon. They correspond to the months, Ana being first and associated with Nisan (April). (Clare I.120-32; Dalley 231-2, 317-331; cf. Jastrow 237-8 who has a different order)
The trump 21.World represents the New Aeon, for we see the Dancer born from the Vesica Piscis (Vessel of the Fish) representing the Piscean Age. Indeed the two serpents correspond to the two fish: the descending fish is Aphrodite, representing nature and the body; the ascending fish is Adonis, representing the soul reborn (Greene 110), the two inseparably linked in an unending cycle. (In an old myth, the constellation Pisces was created when Aphrodite and Adonis - or Eros - jumped into the Euphrates and changed to fish; see Ovid, Fasti II.459-474.)
The Dancer's right hand points to the man's face in the upper left corner, representing Aquarius, and thus heralds the Aquarian Age. The current, Piscean Age belongs to the water triplicity represented by eagle in the upper-right corner. So also the preceding Arian and Taurean Ages are represented by the lion and bull, respectively. Thus, as the clock of the aeons has turned we have moved from the lower left to the lower right to the upper right. The progress through the Piscean Age has been characterized by an ascent of the spirit (and a consequent denial of the body). The eagle, representing Scorpio, assigned to Mars, symbolizes violence resulting from the denial of sexuality. The dancer points with the golden key to the gateway to the Aquarian Age; it is Saturn, ruler of the Golden Age and a symbol of matter. The descending dragon shows that the new aeon will be characterized by a descent of the spirit into matter, thus spiritualizing matter. Since the circulation is to the right, it represents a conscious return to the Dionysian (cf. Jung, P&A 142-3). As Pure Fool, he ascended in the Piscean Age; as Liberated Dancer, she descends again in the Aquarian Age.
According to Epigenes (3rd cent. BCE), the "Chaldeans" considered Saturn/Kronos, who rules Aquarius, to be the most powerful god, because his sphere is the highest. He was called the "Sun of Night," that is, the sun at night time, the Sun hidden below Earth (spirit hidden in matter). (Weinstock, Mart. Cap. 120-1)
The overall design of 21.World, a circle in a square, symbolizes the Squaring of the Circle, which represents the completion of the alchemical Magnum Opus. Jung explains that the square represents earthly reality (the four elements, the world's four quarters, etc.) and the circle represents the infinite (the rotation of the zodiac etc.). Since the circle is inside the square it represents the achievement of heaven on earth. (Recall again the Modena relief, with the circle of the zodiac surrounded by the four terrestrial winds.) On another level the square represents scientific reality and the circle represents spiritual reality, so the two together represent the harmonious union of mundane and celestial truth. (Nichols 359-60, 364)
The same structure is found in the Chinese shih divining board, which is one of the oldest divinatory devices: an inner circular board, representing the celestial realm (and corresponding to Yang and the Earlier Heaven sequence of the I Ching), and an outer square board representing the mundane realm (and corresponding to Yin and the Later Heaven sequence of the I Ching). The two boards were spun in opposite directions, representing the Hieros Gamos (Sacred Marriage) of Heaven and Earth, that is, the conjunction of the eternal, universal reality with temporal, concrete reality. (This also corresponds to the frequency and time domains represented by the banner in 19.Angel.) In Jung's, terms, the archetypes are timeless, but manifest when they break into ordinary time. (von Franz 228-9, 241-3)
According to Dorn - as according to Agrippa von Nettesheym - oneness is a quality (virtus) by which all wonderful effects of Nature are induced. Ternary and quaternary lead towards the denary which, as a reproduction of the number one, gives access to the monas on a higher level; there is between those levels a continuous flow of exchanges by way of ascensus and descensus. (Josten 108)
Maier, Atalanta Fugiens, pl. 21
Jung (ACU 235) explains that three represents the male and four the female. Thus we see the square and triangle united in the symbol of Hermes, which also appears in alchemical representations of the squaring of the circle (e.g., Jung, P&A figs. 59, 60; see also 1.Magician and 7.Temperance, who wear this emblem) (Nichols 360). In our image, the Y-shaped scarf embodies the three and the Tetramorph embodies the four. The two are united by the endless circle of ascending and descending serpents.
21.World represents the destination beyond the Seven Gates of Initiation, corresponding to the planetary spheres in Gnosticism and the chakras in yoga. We have seen that in the myth of Etana, the eagle carries him first through the Gates of Anu, Enlil and Ea (which define the four quarters of the heavens); they have been identified with Hades, Zeus and Poseidon (Clare I.124), the three brothers who divided the world after deposing Kronos, since Anu was the chief of the Anunnu, the underworld deities (like Hades), Enlil rules the air (like Zeus), and Ea rules the Abyssal waters (like Poseidon). These gates correspond to 14.Devil (underworld), 15.Tower (bolt from blue) and 16.Star (waters).
Next Etana and the eagle passed through the Gates of Sin, Shamash, Adad and Ishtar, which may be identified with Artemis (Sin: moon), Apollo (Shamash: sun), Ares (Adad: storms) and Aphrodite (Ishtar: sex). Perhaps Hermes and Athena would be better for the latter two, for these gates correspond to 17.Moon, 18.Sun, 19.Angel and 20.Justice.
21.World corresponds to Sumerian An-Ki, the Cosmos, differentiated yet integrated, which resulted from the marriage of the god of the heavens An (Babylonian Anu) and the goddess of the earth Ki (Babylonian Antu). Heaven and Earth joined as An-Ki, and from this union was born Enlil, the air god, who then separated his parents; since that time they have been joined by the Cosmic Pillar, called Dur-Anki (Bond of Heaven and Earth), the holy precinct where Heaven, Earth and the Abyss meet. (Black & Green s.v. An; Kramer, Poetry 23-7, Sum. Myth. 40; Perry 62; see also the Threes in the Minor Arcana)
After passing the seven gates, the journeyer arrives in the realm of An-Ki as their higher manifestation, Ashar and Keshar (Whole-sky and Whole-earth), who may be identified with Kronos- Rhea (who are the higher manifestation of Zeus-Hera, i.e., Iove- Iuno; recall the discussion of Iuno above). This realm corresponds to 21.World, the Eighth Sphere, and passing the Seven Gates thus corresponds to the final triumph, the Triumph of Eternity (see Introduction).
Parpola (180, 184) associates the highest Sefirah, Keter (Crown), which is called Ancient of Ancients and the Primordial Point or Monad, with Anu, who is called The First, the Heavenly Father, Creator of Everything, and who corresponds to the Monad. (See 17.Moon for the other Sefirot.)
The number of this trump, 21, is the number of divine wisdom, for it is the product of three, the number of divinity, and seven, the number of mystical wisdom (Gad 303; O'Neill 391; Simon 53). As explained under the Sevens in the Minor Arcana, seven corresponds to Athena as goddess of wisdom, and therefore 21 is Athena Tritogenea, symbolizing wisdom thrice over. So also 0.Fool is transformed by three Heptads; first as 7.Temperance, next as 14.Devil, finally as 21.World. As explained previously (14.Devil), the Zero is the primal chaos; the One is 7.Temperance, the first manifestation of directed force; the Two is 14.Devil, the necessary complement of the One, the shadow cast by the light; the Three is 21.World, the unification of the One and the Two in a nonchaotic totality.
As shown in the Fire Hexactys (explained in the Introduction to the Major Arcana), 21.World comprises the essences of the first seven trumps, for 0+1+2+3+4+5+6 = 21; they are the Fool, the Magician, the Empress and Emperor, the High Priestess and Priest, and the Mercurial spirit of Love, which unites them all. From them the Dancer was born as 7.Temperance, who was in turn tempered in the succeeding trumps. (Case 206, cf. 208) So d'Espagnet writes in the Arcanum Hermeticae,
The garden of the Hesperides is guarded by a horrible dragon; at the entrance there is a fountain of the clearest living-Water, issuing from seven sources and pouring out in all directions. Have the dragon drink this water according to the magic number of three times seven (the seven referring to the three principles) until, inebriated, he divests himself of his soiled garment. (Evola 62)
Finally we note that 21 is the reverse of 12, which is why 12.Hanged Man is an inversion of 21.World (see 12.Hanged Man for more on the inverted dancer). (O'Neill 391)
The final position of 21.World in the second hendecad is shown by the numerical value of DIONUSOS O ARSENOQHLUS QEOS (Dionusos Ho Arsenothelus Theos, The Man-woman God Dionysos) = 2431 (the Pythagorean Tetraktys, 1-2-3-4), which reduces to 11+1-3+4-2 = 11, and also by the value of O DUALOS KOSMOS (Ho Dualos Kosmos, The Hybrid Cosmos) = 1375, which reduces to 11+5-7+3-1 = 11. (See Kerenyi, Gods of the Greeks 273, for Dualos.)
Now has come the last age according to the oracle at Cumae;
the great series of lifetimes starts anew.
Now too the virgin goddess returns;
the golden days of Saturn's reign return.
Now a new race descends from high heaven.
- Virgil, Eclogue iv.1
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