Sunday, 30 December 2012

How the Hermit's Lantern of Truth Can Become a New Year Beacon


Last night before sleep, I was reading one of the wise books of our people, comparing the esoteric understandings that connect the Imperium with our world: ‘Occult tradition teaches us that entering the astral level allows us to create reality out of thought, even to leave behind artefacts for others to find. Beyond the doorway waits the lantern, a gift from previous hermits who have made this journey before him…’ (Rachel Pollack, The Shining Tribe Tarot).

I was moved to draw three cards representing this figure to understand this wisdom better, L’Hermite from the Marseilles Tarot by Alexandre Jodorowsky and Philippe Camoin The Inventor from the Steampunk Tarot, the Hermit from Rachel Pollack’s original Shining Woman Tarot (now retitled Shining Tribe Tarot.) I give these comparisons for the benefit of all who are not yet fluent in the Imperium’s tarot.  The conventional lantern of the Marseilles Hermit has become the glowing sphere of the Inventor in the Steampunk Tarot, while the Shining Woman’s Hermit has a Thoth-headed being with a staff who has to go within to find his lantern.

For all in the Imperium, the Hermit/Inventor is one of the ultimate creative Gods of the Machine, the one whom the ancients of both our worlds understood as Thoth/Tehuti/Hermes.  The kindling of the lantern happens only in the darkness and silence of meditation, which is why the Inventor is shown within his study.  All creation 
kindles in the laboratory of 'the astral plane,' where we receive the imprint of inspiration in our imaginations.

This commentary upon the Hermit card reminded me forcibly of the Guild of Artificer’s Manifesto that governs the whole of the Steampunk Imperium. Parts of this manifesto are read out in the intervals between our work, to keep us mindful of the wisdom that guides us:

The perfection of knowledge collected from the book of nature has ever been at the heart of all professors of the arts and sciences.  The pursuit of whatever gives a clearer light and unmystifies the truth is the lantern by which each lady and gentleman has made their way upon the path to wisdom.  Whatever gives promise of a greater or purer light has drawn inventors, engineers and practitioners of the many arts and sciences to expend their skills and energies to perfect a better beacon by which all beings may walk without stumbling.
                                      - From the Guild of Artificers’ Manifesto

Artificers and creators within the Imperium believe implicitly in the ongoing sacred path of technological and artistic discovery, for what we each create builds upon what has gone before us.  The idea that what each of us creates can become a beacon to others who are not yet born is a very potent one.  The continuity of what is truest within our creative imagination is the very cave we enter when we seek to give of our best for this new year that is beginning.  What lantern of truth burns within you?  Let’s turn to the source of wisdom to guide us onwards into this year. I asked three questions arising from this passage above, on behalf of us all:

What is the light of wisdom?
What is the skill that keeps that wisdom illuminated?
How do we walk without stumbling?

Drawing one card from the Gods of the Machine (major arcana), one from the Leagues (minor arcana) and one from the Legates (court cards), I continue the comparison of cards. The top line are from the Steampunk Tarot, the second line are from Rachel Pollack’s original Shining Woman Tarot  and from the Marseilles Tarot by Alexandre Jodorowsky and Philippe Camoin.

1. What is the light of wisdom?  - Cosmic Blueprint (or Shining Woman or the World) The Cosmic Blueprint shows the harmonious interplay of the four leagues that make up the Imperium which is the heart of the Machine itself. By transcending the limits, the light of wisdom can reveal itself as a dancing jewel which is both universal and also deeply activated within each of us.  The Shining Woman and the World both dance as androgynous humanoids, recalling the hermetic wisdom of Adam Kadmon or the Macrocosmic Man that is the archetypal potential of all human beings. While the World shows the four guardians of the universe in the shape of the four holy creatures,  Shining Woman has the whole universe within her so that it can be mediated to all.  In Cosmic Blueprint, this androgyneity and universality is shown in the emblems of Mars, Venus and Earth inscribed on its free-flowing mechanism.
          The Cosmos or Universe is a dancer and the light that it generates is the light of wisdom for us all.

2. What is the skill that keeps wisdom illuminated? – 9 Leviathans (or 9 Stones,  or 9 Coins) 9 Leviathans shows two off-duty companions in their hydrofoil, enjoying the fruits of their personal time.  They refine their accomplishments by relaxing, enriching their skills by exploring their creative abundance.  Shining Woman’s 9 Stones rejoices in the flying of her hawk, an art that takes great concentration and craft, while the 9 Coins is ‘the wish card’ enabling heart’s desire.
          The skill that keeps wisdom illuminated in us is honing our innermost desire in a multitude of ways: by practicing the things that teach us poise, by rejoicing in the abundance of our skills. This makes the circuit to keep us well lit.

3. How do we walk without stumbling? – Lady of Airships ( or Gift of Birds or Queen of Swords) Lady of Airships steers by the winds with precision. She lays in a course and follows it, but if the winds sent her craft about, she can trim her dirigible’s rigging to keep afloat.  As the most outspoken of  the Legates, she doesn’t flinch from facing difficulty and her assessment goes to the heart of things.  She is always honest and astute. Shining Woman’s Gift of Birds is a bird-headed shaman with a flute. When danger strikes, she becomes a shadow dancer who follows her inspiration. Marseilles’s Queen of Swords is incisive in the same way as her sisters.  They each have the self-esteem to believe in themselves and what their senses show them, with unerring inner poise.
          We can walk without stumbling when we heed the truth that the lantern shows us. By pretending obstacles are not there, or by negotiating with them, we will indeed stumble. By raising our lanterns high, we can find our way, create new pathways through labyrinthine dilemmas and walk honestly as best we may.
          May the peace and blessing of the New Year give you opportunity to go within, find your lantern, refuel it and hold it high as we all face the uncertainties and potentials of the months to come!

Saturday, 1 December 2012


From Stricken Tower to Comet: Into the New Star Cycle.

At Solstice time this year, we witness the completion of a star cycle.  Rather than seeing this as an end of the world scenario, let’s focus upon what is leaving and what is coming for those alive during this transition. Since Solstice offers us the opportunity to return home to the heart of our hearth, let’s ask the cards to show us how to cleanse the way of the new phase  that is arriving, just as we would for a guest, and how to give it our best welcome.
                               What do we leave behind? 

10 Airships (Swords) is a graphic reminder that there are many things we leave behind and that need to go down, like the Imperial airship here. If we’ve been paying into ‘end of the world’ scenarios, then to understand that we are survivors who can look forward to doing things differently. Old grievances or sufferings that have not been assuaged should not be inflated or carried forward into the new phase. What are you glad to see the back of?

3 Leviathans (Coins) show that it’s not enough to pull together but then also sabotage any cooperation by criticism or faint praise. When the public good is continually undermined by those who cannot work well together, nothing is achieved. It becomes like the work of Penelope who fended off her suitors by saying she would make a decision only when her weaving was finished: she worked by day on the weaving and by night unwove it, prolonging the time by years. When self-sabotage or criticism are left behind, how does that change things?

3 Engines (Wands) is intent on its own speed and proficiency, its mastery and ambition, like any despot bent upon world domination. The technological advances we have made are mighty, but so has been the hubris.  Just because we can achieve a thing, doesn’t mean that we should, at least until we’ve understood the consequences. Leaving arrogance behind, we cleanse the way indeed. What gift does humility bring to the world?
                                                What do we welcome?

Ace of Engines (Wands) The first card of the new sequence is an Ace, rekindling the passion and the power to make a good beginning. The radiation of that power infuses everything, bringing a sense of innovation, asking us to find the courage and vision.  A sense of ignition and take off can help us attend eagerly with our life’s adventure.  What are your energies and enthusiasms inviting you to engage with at this juncture?

XII Suspension Tank ( Hanged Man) is the only God of the Machine in this reading, so let’s attend to it carefully.  After the brilliant ignition of the first card, how can we read it?  This God suggests that we trust the process with maturity of outlook. Rather than rushing into the fray, we can take time to align with our destiny, stripping back the inessentials to mature this phase forward.  Our engagement must be deep and devoted. How does your devotion realize the gifts of this new phase?

6 Airships ( Swords) shows a party of people who’ve embarked on a new phase of their lives. Whatever foul-ups we leave behind, we commit to new perspectives and opportunities from a different standpoint. We do not have the option to jump ship to another planet: we have to find ways to live with the one we have. What if we ourselves are the envoys and messengers of what is arriving?  What seeds lie within us to germinate? Who will learn from us? What journey must you take to move forward in this new phase?
To sum up the theme of each triplet, we add up the pips of the League cards or numbers of any Gods of the Machine cards and discover that what we leave behind is XVI The Stricken Tower, while what we welcome is XVII The Comet, revealing how timely and natural is this transition. From the downfall of institutions that have served their term, we move into collecting the starlight.

                        What has to be cleansed?  What is arriving?

XVI Stricken Tower (Tower) The stripping away of illusions, old conditionings, ancient regimes of oppression are all pulled into the wake of the old cycle. Cosy security meets crisis as the breakdown starts. Behind the panic of economic melt-down and institutional collapse, the real spirit of the age is striving to transfigure itself. As the masks are pulled away, what face is left? What is struggling to emerge and be born?

XVII Comet (Star) was believed anciently to be like a great cosmic broom that swept away residues with its long tail. Here the Imperium scientist catches the sparkling dust in vast chambers to fuel this new phase. What arrives is invested with hope and aspiration of millions. Inspiration is what brings emotional expansiveness and a new tomorrow. Where are you being guided? What is the hope you keep ever before you?

May you have a blessed Solstice time!