Tarot of Merseilles’ Major Arcana is a map of the spiritual path on the physical plane from beginning to end. It shows all of the forces that come into play, all of the strengths and all of the pitfalls. It can serve as a tool to allow the user to bring unconscious areas of the psyche into consciousness. It shows all of the duality in relevant detail and points at our Non-Dual Nature.
Here is a summary of the spiritual path as it unfolded in my experience using Tarot’s symbolism as a guiding map. (Read A Timeline #2 for a more complete description.)
Psychological work to stabilize the personality in preparation for Awakening.
In Tarot its initiation is represented by “The Hermit” and its maturity, by “Strength”.
We are fully, even overly, dressed indicating a fully developed personality and its prominence in our lives. We have begun to pay attention and to assess our past and present experience. And later on, gracefully shape and control the detrimental or unruly parts of our personalities to a degree. Observation and Efforts. The early stages of psychological work.
The first time, in this lifetime, when our True Nature is revealed with sufficient depth to turn our perspective of “self” on its head.
It is revealed that we are not what we thought or believed we were and that “deeds are done but there is no doer thereof”. The person “me” is not an actual entity; it is a mere thought.
The light of Truth has pierced through the personality. The foundation of self-ignorance has suffered a mortal blow and has ruptured, but it is not dead yet. Will it die? When will it die? That is a painful mystery some seekers may now have to carry.
This event is called Enlightenment by some, or Awakening by others.
In Tarot it is depicted by “The Hanged Man”.
The work has paid off. Freedom is in sight. We are powerless as individuals yet there is profound acceptance and freedom in that powerlessness. We are tightly dressed so the shape of what is beneath our personality has become discernible. We have now set out on the final stretch on the spiritual path culminating in the semi-nakedness of “The World” and for us to be naturally and gracefully upright again.
Elimination of the Unnecessary
The continuation of psychological work after enlightenment or awakening. But now from a renewed perspective based on the revelation of Truth rather than work for the salvation of a “spiritual me”, the personality (or ego, if you will).
The work from Awakening to the End is largely one of elimination. Many ideas and feelings about spirituality and the self are now to be discarded, as many times as necessary. Attention turns further and more deeply within, aiming at the root of experience, which ideas and feelings are a part of.
A few new ideas and a practice may be added but in the end they are both eliminated as well. Like Ramana Maharshi’s idea of using a larger thorn to remove a splinter and then discarding both.
In Tarot this process is depicted by the card “Death” leading directly to the card “The Judgement”.
Notice that this card does not have a name. A symbol indicating that attachment to all symbols of self-identity must go, so the most important and prominent one, our name, is missing.
We are now transitioning from being covered and feeling oppressed by personality to being naked and at peace as our True Nature. Something in our personality is dying and by the end of this process will be dead.
The act of questioning and investigating the origin of thoughts and emotions. The act of looking without a looker.
Questioning or paying attention to “who I am”.
In Tarot this act is depicted on the card “The Judgement”. It is the last step on the path. It alternates with the Elimination of the Unnecessary until the process comes to its conclusion.
The call of Consciousness is heard without hindrances. We are naked; personality does not play a role in this. We are stripped of all intention for enlightenment and knowledge. Consciousness is calling itself, and is hearing itself, for lack of better words…
Total Acceptance and peace with whatever is present in this moment.
In Tarot Spiritual Realization is depicted by the card “The World”.
Here the symbol shows we are living in peace and harmony through the four-elements. We have the few tools and resources needed in incarnation and we are adequately dressed to meet the requirements of incarnated life. We have nothing to hide or be fearful for.
The symbols on Tarot’s Major Arcana cards depict many facets of the psychological state they represent and serve to assist the seeker in understanding, in any required degree of detail, what is happening with him/her at the point they find themselves at on the path.