Krista and I spent years delving into the mysteries of Qabalah as it relates to the Tarot. Along the way, we began to notice that some things didn’t make sense. The interpretations of some of the more “scary” cards, such as the 9 of Swords, Death and The Tower, just didn’t jive with the Qabalistic perspective. This is when we began to realize that the old masters placed “hidden things in plain sight.”
Many of the early writers on Tarot had taken vows to not distribute the secrets outside of their order, and yet they longed to bring this amazing wisdom into the light. So, to keep their vows they chose images for the cards that would mislead those who were not true initiates. In Magick In Theory and Practice, Aleister Crowley writes: “…whenever an Adept seems to have made a straightforward, comprehensible statement, then is it most certain that He means something entirely different.” Similarly, the images in the Tarot are not to be taken literally. If you understand the philosophy and teachings of Qabalah, then the image makes sense. If you haven’t done your homework, then it will lead you in the wrong direction.
A great example of this is the 9 of Swords.
This is a card that often strikes fear into the hearts of many – and for sure, its image looks sinister. Crowley labeled the card “cruelty” for good reason. If you read most of the books on Tarot, you would run from the room screaming when you draw this card. Nightmares, suffering, heartache, despair – the list goes on. But Crowley didn’t mean cruelty in the literal sense (remember his warning.) Continue reading