The Magus, QBL, Sphinx, Tarot Knights
Tarot Knights are representative of the forceful Fire aspect of their respective element Fire, Water, Air or Earth. Fire of Fire, Fire of Water, Fire of Air and Fire of Earth.
These personality types are appropriated to the cardinal signs of the zodiac. Fire of Fire Aries, Fire of Water Cancer, Fire of Air Libra and Fire of Earth Capricorn.
Tarot Knights forcefulness is not solely derived from being the Fire component of each element but also because they are allocated to the second sephirah of the QBL Tree of Life Chokmah whose title is Wisdom and whose planetary correspondence is Uranus.
Uranus is a radical planet expressing disruptive, erratic and revolutionary behaviour. It is a planet that expresses itself through the bizarre, innovative and unexpected.
With this combination we have a receipt of volatility and a combustive desire for expression.
An individual associated with one of the four Knight personality types will be perceived as sudden in action, maybe even violet but these traits are of short duration.
Each of the Tarot Knights on their own lack any quality of follow through and rely on the other Court Cards for realization of their ambitions to become more than just concepts.
However, these qualities will be modified to some extent, as is true with all cards, by adjacent cards when appearing in a reading making Knights maybe or maybe not more persistent
These personality traits are consistent with each of the Knights but they will be compounded by the elemental suite they represent.
To summarize, we can say that tarot Knights represent a spontaneous reaction to phenomena expressed according to their specific elemental classification of personality.
QBL, Chokmah and the Grade of Magus
In this short treatise my aim is to provide a concise and understandable overview of the mechanics and formula for what is known in Western Magical Circles as the grade of Magus.
Let me emphasize, this grade is earned through one’s participation in life’s theatre and is not strictly or necessarily dependent upon membership of groups and may or may not include academic study.
The Magus represents a formula for self dependency, it is a “state of mind” exemplified in Homer’s Odyssey through Odysseus becoming progressively more dependent upon himself.
Tarot Magus and the Odyssey
A process of revelation through one’s own efforts characterized in Homer’s Odyssey
Tarot card Magus represents an evolutionary point of awareness that recognizes self- dependency as a reflection of possibilities, derived from interacting within a matrix of limitless variables of which we are a part.
The decisions we make from these variables are what make us accountable for our lives and actions. This formula is dramatically illustrated in Homer’s classic tale the Odyssey.
For many readers of the Odyssey, it is assumed that Odysseus receives help from others, such as Athena, Circi and Tiresias. However, in the light of bicameral mind theory, presented by Julian Jaynes in his book Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, we are provided an option to see these other possible characters as schizophrenic, unconscious aspects of Odysseus’s self.
Forged by original life experiences through the course of his adventures, Odysseus is thrown more and more upon his own sense of identity, resulting in loss of audible and/or visual guidance¹. The more silent his gods became, the more he was forced to rely upon his own resources.
At the close of the tale, Odysseus is proven to be in a state of self-consciousness through his defeat of his wife Penelope’s suitors by apparent reliance upon his own efforts.
Even the figures of opposition can be viewed as schizophrenic² construct aspects of himself depicted in the text’s culmination, when the conflict within him is resolved and a state of synthesis is achieved as depicted in the tarot by the four Knights..
Odysseus has returned to where he began but is changed³, demonstrating that this process is not duplicative, but creative.
At this point in the drama, Odysseus has harnessed the four personality types depicted in the tarot by the minor arcana Knights, who together represent unity through contradiction, where each element is dependent upon its opposite for existence, creating a self-perpetuating presence: The Magus. Each element is present in equal measure, resulting in an enigmatic personality: The Sphinx.
To an observer, a Magus exudes an atmosphere of unpredictability, due in part to the influence of Uranus, because the observer is uninformed as to what mechanics drive this temperament.
The Odyssey, in this light, becomes a handbook for the would-be Magus, whose qualities are outlined in this text.
Notes for Tarot Magus and the Odyssey
¹ These audible and visual communications can be re-established through performance of a magickal machine, or ritual, which induces the aforementioned conditions within the operator to conjure a controlled environment where communication with what are perceived as ancestors, spirits, gods etc. are achievable.
²See footnote ¹
³ This process is eloquently presented by T.S. Eliott in his poem Little Gidding with the lines “We shall not cease from exploration And at the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time”.
The Four Knights Representing Qualities of the Magus
The Four Tarot Knights as a composite assist in presenting a cognate depiction of a personality type exhibited by anyone achieving the grade of Magus.
Chokmah the sphere of the QBL associated with the Knights is the second sphere of the QBL traditionally allocated to the grade of Magus in Western Magical Tradition.
A Magus is an individual who has successfully ascended the lower spheres of the QBL Tree of life, navigated the Abyss of Daath, become a Master of the Temple in Binah and then abandoning their comfort zone through a desire to awake arrive in Chokmah.
The sphere of Chokmah is encountered when one finds the courage to step beyond the protective circle of Binah. This circle of Binah is the magic circle in which the magician traditionally stands to summon and manipulate the diversity of self and universe for personal desires¹.
It is a protective environment where the rational mind can interact with what is usually judged as irrational.
Here is the border of perceiving energies as good or evil or perceiving good and evil as energy without polarity classification.
To achieve the grade of Magus necessitates stepping outside the circle of the conventional and safe to experience influences represented by Uranus. Here it is to feel alienated from everything you had previously thought of as reliable. Sensing oneself the victim of an alien intrusion where everything is permitted and nothing is true.
Here outside of what was previously perceived as safe, everything you thought you knew about yourself, your social circle and the universe is questioned. Every thread that wove you into the fabric of belief of what you thought was real unravels. It is to stand naked and raw with the wisdom of knowing this is the truth of existence. There is only the way we conduct ourselves derived from our perspective and even that we may not own.
The successful embrace this like a lover, the unsuccessful tumble back into the Abyss and are lost forever.
To face up to and acknowledge this trauma is the result of emerging from our dark room of ignorance into the radiant brilliance of wisdom. To accept we are betrothed the jewel of “right action” through experiencing resonance in whatever environment we are confronted with.
The Four Knights represent the four behavioural patterns of the Magus, symbolized by the four elemental weapons², functioning as a quadruple helix manifesting something beyond the sum of their parts³. This crystallization of interdependencies reveals that which was previously concealed. It is to transcend self motivated unconscious desires of Binah to selflessness in Chokmah.
The Magician works to change phenomena whereas the Magus adapts to phenomena through the wisdom of understanding the Path of the Chameleon that is the color scales of the QBL Tree of Life
This formula is commonly illustrated by multiple cultures through their depictions of the opening of petals of a lotus that floats upon the waters of the infinite. See the Lotus Wand, a magical weapon of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Notes The Four Knights Representing Qualities of the Magus
- Traditionally the circle is incorporated as an insulating device to protect a practitioner from what the practitioner believes are evil spirits. The practice is called evocation. Invocation is a technique used to experience entities perceived by a practitioner as good and do not require a protective circle. This concept of duality owes its origins to religion and is especially true when one religion desires to acquire believers from one of its competitors. In this instance the competitors’ gods become branded as evil. This practice is still prevalent today.
- Corresponding to the four suits of the Tarot fire, water, air and earth also known as wands cups swords and pentacles.
- The alien component.
The Magus and the Formula of the Sphinx
The enigmatic sphinx is an appropriate iconic representation of the Magus.
The four elements are the four powers of the Sphinx, “to will to dare to know to keep silent” depicted as the four elemental beings of human, lion, bird and bull or serpent.
The sphinx as representation of an enigma is destroyed through decryption of the riddle it represents. The individual who solves the riddle of the Sphinx destroys the conundrum and in doing so becomes the enigma taking on the persona of the Sphinx.
To keep silent is to maintain your existence until the time your own riddle becomes solved by another.
The riddle is the discovery of your “word”, your life philosophy that propels you into your life journey. For Oedipus in his encounter with the Sphinx this was the life purpose of a man meaning “know thyself”.
Failure to solve the Sphinx’s riddle is to fail achieving the grade of Magus and therefore being condemned to the Abyss to be consumed by the beasts of the mundane.