The papers below describe the Twenty-eighth Path of Tzaddi that symbolises the infleunce between Netzach and Yesod. (More to follow)...
(Updated 14 January 2021)
The Emperor - Netzach to Yesod
By Doreen Sturzaker
Violet; Sky Blue; Bluish Mauve; White tinged Purple.
The Emperor on the card is seated four-square on his throne. Yet as I concentrated I saw he was at the pivot, in fact he was a pivot and continually spinning round and round through the four Quarters and was never really still. It gave me quite a dizzy feeling, there seemed very little control here and I realised that this was in the World of Assiah near the Yesod end of the Path, he was at the commencement of the journey along the Path trying to get a grip on himself. The elements about him and within him were as yet untamed. The astral world of Yesod nebulous and continually shifting and over all a heavy purplish tinge lay.
The Emperor himself seemed to be a Pale Green showing certain conflict which nevertheless held the promise of harmony and balance within it. This would come later on the Path as his natural and innate intelligence asserted itself.
The Emperor through the Ten Spheres
In Malkuth the colour is off-White, there is no pure White in the World of Assiah, the struggle for perfection is played out but just when he believes he is doing very nicely the prideful Purple steps in. Pride in his achievements at this stage is natural and can be encouraging to him in his efforts but if he lets the Purple have its way too much he will be a poor ruler. Unable to control himself sufficiently he will be arrogant and despotic towards others over whom he is placed. The story of Oedipus is relevant I think, the son driven to kill the older man, a dictatorial and tyrannical ruler, the Emperor figure partly revered and partly feared.
The Atziluthic colour of Malkuth (Black rayed Yellow) could tend towards negativity and in extremis to a dictator of evil intent bent on directing his mind and creative ideas to his own selfish ends of power bending others to his will. But this is an extreme case I think and more usually there will more likely be bursts of benevolence towards those over whom his authority is exercised interspersed with the odd bout of selfishness.
In Yesod the Emperor applies himself with devotion to the task of ruling. The symbols of Aries on his helmet and shoulders point to the pioneer, one who will always forge ahead breaking new ground of experience. The ever-changing, nebulous astral world presents a challenge that has to be understood before it can be conquered, the power and vitality of the Sun exalted in Aries gives the courage that every leader needs and the power to carry through the work which in Yesod is mainly concerned with his own unruly emotions as they affect those around him. It will not, however, be a very stable rulership for the Blue Ray at this level tends to self-centredness with odd flashes of wisdom but the Mauve all through the Yetziratic World does encourage idealism.
Through the keynote of the sign of Aries the soul is striving to reach up to and remain on a mental plane, and when sufficient progress has been made in the control of the inner elements he is free to move on to the sphere of Hod.
In Hod on the mental plane the will to dominate is very strong. Of a high intelligence, a necessary requisite fora ruler, the tendency to dominate and sway others with his superior mental powers and persuasive tongue will be very hard to resist. And of course this can operate both ways, Mercury can lend him the cloak of the confidence trickster if he so chooses but on the other hand, Netzach and Yesod at either end of the Path combine to increase the imaginative faculties and lift him from a cold, unfeeling, intellectual rulership to an inspiring leader filled with noble desires for the good of those over whom he has authority and he will be able to kindle and evoke in his subordinates the desire and wish to follow his example and try to live up to the high standards and ideals he has set them.
In Netzach the Amber background fires the imagination and enhances mental vision, through the powers of mind he rules nature controlling and subduing it. It is the Natural Intelligence which is aware of the hidden side of nature and is reached by deep meditation. The flaming creative energy of the sphere finds an echo in his own joy in all created things and in the delighted satisfaction of creation in the realms of art, sex or ritual magic.
Here he recognises the anima in himself and here the highest expression of polarity is experienced as expounded in the many tales of courtly love that have come down to us. The Arthurian legends are full of the different kinds of polarity but Lancelot and Guinevere seem to illustrate the point. The polarity between the beautiful naked woman of Netzach and the strong naked man of Yesod speak to us of the power of the creative imagination beckoning and attracting the personality and through its influence the Natural Intelligence blossoms into new spiritual growth.
Tiphareth sees the Emperor at the point of balance, a king in his own sphere, a leader along his chosen line whatever that may be. By now he has successfully completed and perfected himself up to this point, his personality is under the control of the individuality.
The nature forces and elemental contacts of Netzach in his nature and the lower psychism of Yesod are to be combined and uplifted into an altogether higher form of psychism, that of seership and intuition. He is at the centre of transition from one form of consciousness to another. Within the consciousness stirs the image of the higher aspects of the soul, the Grail Quest is on and as he approaches the end of the Path in Tiphareth he becomes the Grail itself, he is the Chalice for the entry of higher forces.
He is the redeemer striving to link up with the Supernals separated long ago by the Fall from the lower Sephiroth and by the measure of his success in this work on himself, so will he become a stable centre of balance in the midst of his people, a plumb-line just and upright. He is the willing victim of sacrifice, the one who translates one form of energy into another form of energy, the one who succeeds in transferring his forces below the diaphragm to above the diaphragm and is capable of working from his higher Centres.
I haven't mentioned the vice which is pride. If he sits back on his throne and basks in the light of his achievements so far then the Emperor will have failed on the Path in Tiphareth and will come tumbling down in the esteem of those around him.
Geburah sees him as the Emperor in his chariot going forth to protect those over whom he rules. Dynamic and forceful, he is also highly self-disciplined and controlled, stern yet just in his dealings with his subjects. Bluish Mauve accents his idealism and sincerity of purpose; undivided loyalty to the task he has set himself, hard-working he pushes onwards for his goal is complete spiritual maturity.
Anything which militates against Universal Law as he understands it he will ruthlessly though justly correct and in so doing help those under him to realign themselves again if they have wandered away from their true path. Geburah deals harshly with him if he has not learned all the lessons, if he fails sufficiently to discipline himself while he is treading the Path of the Emperor in Geburah then he could become an unbalanced tyrant or a ruthless dictator and then surely the influences of the sphere will rightly cut him down to size, and swiftly too.
In Gedulah he is the ruler and protector but the protective aspect is that of an all-loving father figure, he has great insight into reality and will use it to direct and organise those under his control along the truly spiritual path. But he must be aware of overdoing the mercy part of this Sephirah which could prove to be his undoing but if he works within the keynote of the Blue-Mauve its idealism will be reflected into his life and he will see to it that his kingdom, of whatever nature it happens to be, will be run in an orderly fashion with its resources and faculties used to the best advantage for the good of the whole.
In his personal kingdom or psyche the inner realms are open to him, the higher mental realm is his to roam in and true intuition directs all his thoughts and every action. He has access to a direct channel of knowledge flowing down from even higher spheres which he is able to make full use of because he has stilled his every day mind and stabilised the emotions and got his physical body into good running order, the lower three are under the control and direction of the Self.
Tzaddi is the Hebrew letter for the Path, and means a fish-hook. Just as the fish is drawn out of the water into the element of air by the fisherman, so is the Emperor drawn up by the power of the higher self from the emotional world into the air of the spiritual regions.
When the Emperor reaches Binah then comes perhaps the greatest struggle of his rulership for the kingdom he has painfully built up and learnt to control and discipline he now has to destroy. There is a Biblical quotation which says, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna and I will give him a white stone and in the stone a new name written which no man knoweth saving him that receiveth it." (Revelations 2:17)
On several Tarot packs the Emperor can be seen sitting upon a stone and the symbol of a new name is engraved upon it, the eagle, which in legend is the bird reputed to fly nearest to the sun and in occult symbolism it represents the flight of the spirit back to its home in heaven. In Binah the Emperor is again ruling his kingdom but here he must destroy it in order to rebuild upon a higher level and the actual rebuilding takes place in the sphere of Chokmah.
Another quotation from Revelations seems relevant, Rev.12:5 "And she brought a man child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron and her child was caught up unto God and his throne." Looking at this esoterically, the Emperor represents each Divine Spark brought forth from the womb of the Ain into physical manifestation where his task on this Path is a very strict disciplined rulership culminating in a discipline that is strong enough to tear down the three lower kingdoms he has painfully and slowly built up so that the kingdom of spirit as opposed to matter may be built and so sit upon the White Stone or the Throne of Binah.
This leads him through to Chokmah. The sceptre he holds in some packs symbolises the sceptre of Isis indicating knowledge which he has obtained at Daath as he crossed the Abyss on the way to Binah and that knowledge is of the spiritual use of the creative energies which he now learns to apply in the sphere of wisdom or Chokmah.
Here the Emperor learns to rule and control the energies going out through the twelve signs of the Zodiac, his rulership now is in controlling the signs and the planets in their orbits and in taking part in the work of distributing and mediating the cosmic forces to the lower planes. He is thus in a position to aid those on lower levels of consciousness to tread the Path that he has already trodden and conquered.
In Kether is the archetype of the Emperor’s rulership, discipline and balance. Rulership with justice and mercy, knowledge and understanding, and wisdom. The five points of Man at the highest level.
Universe - The Emperor - The Moon
By Judith M. Wickens (1977)
One of the attributions to the Path which links Malkuth and Yesod is the dubious and somewhat misleading aphorism, "The terrible thirty-second Path". Although I accept that this is a difficult or perhaps the most difficult path to tread, it is also a path where strength and harmony can be experienced.
Saturn, the astrological attribution to this path, if thought of negatively, can be limiting and restricting, but Saturn also gives to mankind the chance to try again. If we find its influences limiting it is because our will is acting against Saturn's direction, not in tune with it. It is pointless to try to swim against the current, but when a planet tries to influence us to move with the flow of life we try our utmost to fight it.
The 21st Arcanum depicts a scene of beauty, not one of horror, it is we who create the horror by our deviation from the original plan.
The crocodile, the animal attributed to this Path, awaits for all those who deviate from the purpose of their manifestation, but even he, by this action, is a symbol of hope for he can drag us from our dry and stony path and plunge us into the waters of wisdom; there we may experience a rebirth or like Saturn's promise, the chance to try again.
Meditating upon the Arcanum the Universe the phrase that comes to mind is part of the invocation to the four Archangels "May the elements within us, blend in perfect harmony." This is what the Arcanum represents, peace and harmony restored. This is the message she gives to humanity as a whole and to each individual.
We must all endeavour to accomplish within ourselves, our planet and our universe, that perfect balance expressed by the middle pillar. The Hebrew letter assigned to the 32nd Path is Tau, the final letter of this hieroglyphic alphabet. This indicates a state of completion, and by that very fact a new beginning commences.
The alpha and omega, a constant cycle, the symbol of which is depicted by the ellipse surrounding the dancing figure, the wreath is bound with the symbol of infinity and eternity, again a sign of hope, that whatever mistakes or deviations we make from the original plan we are given the chance to put it right, if only we would take it. If we do, then the wreath will be a sign of conquest and achievement.
The dancing figure could be said to represent the bride of Malkuth whose purpose is to be united with the bridegroom in Kether, the marriage of heaven and earth. This explains why the veil conceals the fact she is a composite of male and female. The veil is also draped around her body in the shape of the letter Kaph known as the palm of the hand on which is depicted the lines of our past, present and fate. Here is another link with Saturn, the planet of fate.
Alice Bailey received this invocation which I feel is a fitting message this Path has for us:
From the point of light
Within the mind of God,
Let light stream forth
into the minds of men.
Let light descend on Earth.
The Emperor is the third Path in this triad and as the two other Paths this also has a link with the Moon. The seventeenth Arcanum depicts one who appears to have complete control. He is crowned and holds the symbols of authority and rulership but unless he has control over his physical, mental and spiritual bodies he rules nothing except by brute force.
The Hebrew letter to this path is Tzaddi the meaning of which is a fish hook. This the Emperor must use to draw in the wisdom from the higher levels. The Emperor holds the orb and sceptre in his hand which mean authority and rulership but they also remind me of the sphere of Gedulah, as these are two of the symbols associated with this Sephirah. The lesson he can learn from these symbols is to rule with love and detachment. This is also a description of the qualities of the zodiacal sign of Aquarius that is attributed to this Path. Earlier tarot cards depict the Emperor holding a shield upon which is depicted an eagle.
This is a symbol of air and the ability to soar to heights. This then is the aim of the Emperor to achieve control over the animal passions, his emotions and his mental and spiritual bodies, then to add another implement to his collection, that of the crook. After ruling with love and control he must then guide others and light the way. Then he can return to the Path of the Universe and claim the wreath of victory and pass through the barriers to seek the illumination and wisdom of those who also are known by the symbols of the orb, sceptre and crook.
The numerological value of the 21st Arcanum, the Universe, reduces to three. This is also a link with Binah, but the 12th Arcanum, the Hanged Man also reduces to three. This indicates that the Fool must turn his world upside-down and distinguish between illusion and reality. Opposite the Path of the Hanged Man on the pillar of force is the 10th Arcanum, the Wheel of Fortune. This has a link with the Universe, the constant cycles of rebirth and death. The Hebrew letter to this Path is Kaph, the symbol of which appears around the figure of the Universe. The four Holy Living Creatures appear outside the wheel in the same way as they appear outside of the ellipse on the 21st Arcanum. The Wheel of Fortune is also attributed to the 21st Path.
Saturn is known as the planet of Karma and it is the 10th Sephirah, Malkuth, where Karma is accrued and worked out. This Path offers the Fool the chance to correct his past misdeeds against universal law and take the opportunity to reach the ultimate goal or fall to the depths of the Qliphoth, or at the very least to fall back into the pool of unconsciousness. The best he can hope for is rebirth and another incarnation.
This promise is symbolised by Binah the Great Mother and the Moon, the goddesses of which were attributed to all aspects of fertility, pregnancy and childbirth.
The 21st Arcanum could be said to represent the womb and the gateway to life and ultimately, death. This is the dark side of Binah; the fact that she gives form to her children but by doing so they are condemned to death. It is well-known that what every mother-to-be awaits for during pregnancy is that moment called the quickening, that first movement of the unborn child which assures her the child lives. Maybe for the child it is the subconscious fight against physical life and all the restrictions accompanying it. A baby never laughs with joy at birth and paradoxically all present at this moment smile when the first cry is heard. Malkuth is indeed the gateway of tears.
So perhaps we could call this triad a circle, the Emperor impregnating the bride of the universe and the crayfish or child struggling to break this cycle. Venus, goddess of love controls this wheel of life very well. Her symbol is a circle surmounted by a cross. Perhaps the orb which the Emperor holds is symbolic of this glyph and that he has gained power over this aspect of Venus. Or perhaps the girdle of Venus hides the same secrets which are hidden behind the veil. Has he the power and authority to remove the veil or will it blind him to the truth.
By Dorothy Horan (1991)
In the Hermetic Tarot, Son of the Morning, Heh, Window.
Beneath the Emperor’s left foot is a bee, the alchemical equivalent of the ram. Two wild Himalayan ram's heads, one at the upper left and the other at the centre right, relate to the sign of Aries, which appears at the right. The eagle and the flag combine to suggest a conqueror and the idea of authority. Supernatural powers are suggested at the top of the card by the celestial bodies that personify power and also sudden, violent and impermanent activity.
The orb surmounted by a Greek cross at the lower left signifies that energy has reached a successful end and that government and/or governmental rule has been firmly established.
This is the 17th Arcanum and the 28th Path. Netzach and Yesod are joined by this Path, which is part on the positive and part on the middle pillar. The 26th Path is the Path of Natural Intelligence because through it is consummated and perfected the nature of every existing being under the orb of the sun. Natural Intelligence is the quality of one who rules and the Arcanum depicts this with the symbol of the Emperor.
Rulership at both physical and spiritual levels.
A Christian Cross stands erect on top of his crown, the symbol of supreme sacrifice. The most general significance of the cross is that of the conjunction of opposites, the positive (vertical) with the negative ('horizontal'), the superior with the inferior, life with death. The basic idea behind symbolism of crucifixion is that of experiencing the essence of antagonism, an idea which lies at the root of existence, expressing as it does life's agonising pain, its cross-roads of possibilities and impossibilities, of consternation and destruction. The colour Ray for this Path is Violet, a royal earthly colour, and a high spiritual Ray,
The crystal with its fragmentary rays is the precious stone in harmony with the Path. The crystal is a symbol of the spirit and of the intellect associated with the spirit.
Olive is the plant for the 28th Path, the olive branch of peace. The olive tree is a symbol of peace.
406 is the mystic number, in numerology it comes back to 1. 406 is also 10, this isthe number of the beginning and the end.
1 = symbolic of being and of the revelation to men of the spiritual essence. The active principle broken into fragments gives rise to multiplicity and equated with the mystic centre, the Irradiating Point and the supreme power. It also stands for spiritual unity - the common basis between all beings. Guenon draws a distinction between unity and one, unity differs from one in that it is absolute and complete in itself, admitting neither two nor dualism, hence unity is a symbol of divinity.
One is also equated with light. It alludes to the paradisiac state which preceded good and evil – i.e. dualism.
10 = symbolic of the return to unity. In the Tetractys (whose triangle of points - 4, 3, 2, 1 - adds up to 10) it is related to four, symbolic of spiritual achievement and unity, in its function as an even (or ambivalent} number or as beginning of anew, multiple series. It could represent the totality of the universe since it raises all things to unity. It was known .as the number of perfection. In its graphic form as 10, it sometimes used to express marriage.
1 is also a number of God, its characteristics are power, purposefulness, activity, innovation, leadership.
The proud peacock is the animal of the Emperor. On Roman coins, the peacock designates the apotheosis of princesses, just as the eagle does victors. The peacock's tail in particular, appears in the emblem of the Ars Symbolica of Bosch as a symbol for the blending together of all colours and for the idea of totality. This explains Christian art using it as a. symbol of immortality, and the incorruptible soul.
The common motif of two peacocks symmetrically disposed on either side of the cosmic tree denotes the psychic duality of man - related to the myth of the Gemini, drawing its life force from the principle of unity. In the mystic horology, the peacock corresponds to dusk. In Hindu mythology the patterns on its wings, resembling innumerable eyes, are taken to represent the starry firmament.
Astrology is the magical power of the Emperor. The doctrine of "as above, so below" is the foundation of the great art of astrology. Man, and events, on earth is the counterpart of God and events in heaven since the microcosm and macrocosm depend on the workings of the same force, the mysterious One which reconciles all diversity in unity.
The magical weapon is a censor. Galbanum is the perfume to be used in working the Path.
Gods of the Path are Juno, and Athena. According to mythology, the goddess Athena was born in full armour having no real mother. She had no husband either. Responsible for warriors’ successes, secondary titles were mother and a connection with childbirth. She was also associated with crafts.
Juno - in Roman mythology the wife and sister of Jupiter, identified with the Greek goddess Hera. The Queen of Heaven and particularly associated with marriage.
In the world of Assiah it is the object to rule over the material. Domination of material and emotional planes is the task in Yetzirah.
At the Briatic level it is the spirit's struggle to rule and command the Buddhic plane.
In the world of Atziluth it is the archetype of the perfect ruling spirit.
The Emperor is not the consort of the Empress as so often expressed, and is wrongly placed on the 15th Path. The Emperor is gaining rulership over himself, the Empress overself and the whole of nature.
The astrological sign of the Path is Aquarius, and the element Air, Air is symbolic of spirit and its freedom, and equally symbolic of indecision. Allegorical representation is figure of aman pouring water from an amphora. In the Egyptian Zodiac of Denderah, Aquarius carries two amphorae. This version merely affects the numerical symbolism; it affords clearer proof the dual force of the symbol (its active and passive aspects, evolution and involution), a duality which is of the essence in the important symbol of the Gemini.
All Eastern and Western traditions relate this archetype to the symbolic flood, which stands not only for the end of a formal universe, but also for the completion of any cycle by the destruction of the power which held its components together. When this power ceases to function, the components return to the Akasha - the universal solvent - which is symbolised by Pisces. In these two signs of the zodiac then the cosmic pralaya or Brahma's night runs its course. Its function, according to Hindu tradition, is to reabsorb into Oneness all those elements which originally succeeded from it to lead separate individual existences.
Thus, each end carries the seed of a new beginning (Ouroboros). The Egyptians identified Aquarius with the God Hapi, the personification of the Nile, whose floods were the source of the agricultural, economic and spiritual life of the country. Consequently, Aquarius symbolises the dissolution and decomposition of the forms existing within any process, cycle or period - the loosening of bonds, the imminence of liberation through the destruction of the world of phenomena.
The Hebrew letter for this path = Tzaddi, which means to lie in wait, to hunt, to hide preparatory to springing out. Here is the spirit of enterprises - it can give the power to spring forth new-born. To hunt for experience and gain the crown of ruler-ship. Tzaddi also means, fish hook; "I will put my hook in thy nose" (2 Kings).
The Emperor is seated on a cubic stone in the form ofa throne. On the arms of the throne are rams heads. A ram's head is symbolic of Aries, the first astrological sign, the commencement of a new era. This is also a symbol of will and power, qualities of the Red Ray, whichthe Ray of Aries. Courage is also a quality expressed by the ram’s head, a quality much needed on this Path.
Held in the hand of The Emperor is a sceptre in the form of the Egyptian ankh, spirit ruling matter. The Egyptian cross in hieroglyphics stands for life or living and forms part of such words as health and happiness. Its upper arm is a curve, sometimes almost closed to form a circle. Enel suggests: "The phonetic significance of this sign is a combination of the signs for activity and passivity and of a mixture of the two, and conforms with the symbolism of the cross in general as the synthesis of the active and the passive principle."
The very shape of the cross expresses the idea of a circle of life spreading outwards from the origin and falling upon the surface (that is, upon the passivity of existence which it then animates) as well as soaring up towards the infinite. It may also be seen as a knot binding together a combination of elements to form one individual. It may also signify destiny. The ankh may represent the sun, the sky, and the earth (by reference to the circle, the upright and the horizontal lines). As ananalogy with man the circle would represent the head or reason (or the "sun”, which gives him life) the horizontal arm the arms, and the upright body. The ankh also symbolises spiritual rulership over earthly rulership.
On the outward journey this is the first test of rulership or control of the material aspects of life. Rule over the material and spiritual is the test on the path of return. Imperfect rule on this path will bring the student or initiate tumbling down at the barrier of the Lightning Struck Tower. It is not just the rulership of Kings and Presidents; it is rulership enjoyed by every individual, low or high estate.
The Kingdom he has to rule is composed of his own bodies, physical, mental and spiritual. It is the principles of Netzach (firmness/energy) that rightly used can bring triumph and victory.
Still linked to Yesod the physical/emotional plane still has a strong hold, rulership will be difficult to establish. On this path commences the first struggle of the mental body for spiritual freedom.
The Emperor represents the male principle, corresponding to God or Man. Imposing form and order on chaos, virile energy, intelligence and authority, the guardian of the grail, reason, intellect.
The allegorical form of a figure seated on a throne, which is a cube of gold; above him is a black eagle. In his hands he holds a globe of the world and a sceptre surmounted by a fleur-de-lis. The crests of his helmet include 4 triangles, emblems of the 4 elements. The predominantly red colour ofhis garment signifies invigorating fire, or intense activity, and is closely related to the image of Hercules holding his club, and the golden apples which he has taken from the garden of the Hesperides.
The golden cube of the throne represents the sublimation of the constructive and material principle, and the fleur-de-lis on the sceptre, illumination. The symbolism, then, concerns magnificence, energy, power, law, and on the negative side, domination and subjection.
By Trine Moore (1994)
POWER: The ability to exert influence to result.
FORCE: The application of means to overcome the will.
It is common parlance to refer to anyone in an elevated role as 'powerful', regardless of how they achieve their ends, and often regardless of the ends achieved. Little distinction is made between freely willed influence and imposed willed force. Hence Mrs Thatcher was perceived as powerful, when in fact she was forceful. The distinction is important, for although the outcome of imposing force may appear outwardly similar to using power, the inner result is markedly different; so markedly different that only a casual observer could confuse the two.
Power is influential and gentle. Force is impositional and negating. The former is inclusive, the latter exclusive.
The Emperor, the Empress, the Hierophant, the High Priestess, the Magus and the Star should be considered together, all are concerned with Power under the guiding influence of the Ain. In their lower aspect, i.e. when divorced from divine influence and uninformed by divine intelligence they are unrestrained and corrupted to force and may manifest Qliphotically in the absence of ethics.
The Emperor is particularly closely linked to the Hierophant, The Emperor symbolising the temporal aspect of Divine Power, The Hierophant the spiritual aspect. The Emperor and Empress symbolising the masculine and feminine aspects of a balanced dualism. Likewise the Hierophant and High Priestess symbolise a balanced dualism of the spiritual aspect of power, and the Magus and Star a further dualism of the supra-sensible metaphysical. Hence the expression of Divine Power is sixfold in expression, divided into a male aspect triad of Emperor, Hierophant and Magus and a female aspect triad comprising of Empress, High Priestess and Star.
In my studies and applications of Magick I have been impressed by the enormity of the separation between the practices of magicians and the practices of the mundane. It is not only here that there is separatism but everywhere. One religion knows nothing of the reality of another, one science is ill-informed of another and science and arts are treated as though they are indissoluble. This stretches throughout the whole of world society, one culture only knows another culture through myths and fables and even families are strangers to themselves, only superficially linked through increasingly fragile bonds of tradition and loyalty.
We as humans do spend endless hours arguing as to causes and effects, in fact many rely on these sort of futile activities for their livelihoods, producing supposition as theory as they build a reputation as an expert in mundanity. But as those of my readers will know who have studied philosophy to any depth many of the things taken as proved are not so in fact, rather they are the result of a process which aims to impose a particular world view on others, and like the conjuror uses the props of the mundane world to distract attention away from conflicting evidence and to focus attention towards the particular world view which is favoured, we can see this in the current mania for free marketism, in which you are a mere pawn piece of data in a huge social experiment of unproven origins and doubtful destination.
In the earlier ages Magi were held in high repute, consulted by courtiers and kings, commoners and courtesans for their wisdom and insights and feared for the Power they could wield. Many envied their power and sought to discredit and destroy the fear of God by the imposition of force and deception. They did success, they only drove the magicians underground, where they continued their works. That is the history and myths that we as today's magicians inherit, are we to stand back and whimper, quaking with fear at these myths or are we able enough to use them to inform ourselves to aspects of manifest reality?
Unfortunately the answer is only too often the former. Too many magicians claim to be magicians on the basis of abilities to gather together sensation seeking followers to whom they tell wondrous tales while the world continues to decline and technological systems continue to fail.
If this be the path of magick then magick has most certainly lost its path, and this be the path of magick how then is its influence so invisible? Even the books and periodicals of modern day magick read more like grimoires and memories than informative guides to putting the world to rights, for putting to rights it needs that is most certain. We can be equally certain that those who are transfixed in the dogma of free markets are not going to free anything. They will force us to consume their 'products and services' regardless of desire or want or need in order to placate greed.
There are far too many thumb sucking magicians purporting to be magickians inside the occult, and too many thumb sucking politicians, marketeers, and entrepreneurs keeping up pretences and semblance's of order using lowly acts of prestidigitation to deceive and distract from this disastrous mundanity which is euphemistically called 'the real world' when in fact it is so surreal and absent of ethics that it would make even a self respecting conjuror quake at the crudity of the slights of mouth which pass as professionalism and leadership.
Wake up to the con, for what is being manifest is an increasingly Qliphotic aspect of the Emperor, masquerading 'in the name of progress'. Wake up for unless you do and do put the wrongs right you are not fit to magick.
By Frances Morris (1985)
The Path of the Emperor is one of the links between the astral and lower mental planes. It therefore represents struggle for the aspirant and the necessity for perfect rulership over the emotions before the mental body can achieve its freedom of expression. This is illustrated by the letter of the Path, Tzaddi, one meaning of which is 'to lie in wait' or 'to hunt' and this brings to mind the lion or ostrich hunts of the ancient Assyrian kings.
From their square shaped chariots, in this case, throne, they would spear the lions or ostriches driven towards them, these representing the physical and emotional illusions of Yesod in powerful or fantastic shape which must be subdued before the Emperor can return in triumph to Netzach, the sphere of victory and lowest level of the mental plane.
In Malkuth it is rulership over the physical, which the Fool on this Path has to achieve. He must learn that although an animal he is a reasoning one and that he cannot act blindly according to instinct but must tame and control these instincts.
Since on this Path the full force of the creative imagination is pouring into the subconscious mind, the fantasies stirred up and acted out on the physical plane may well be very strong, but the influence of Aries the Ram, first sign of the Zodiac and sign of the pioneer will give him the courage to persist in the face of high odds. This influence of fire comes from the sphere of Netzach and is depicted on the Arcanum by the rams heads on the arms of the throne, thus signifying the will and power to victory are beneath his hands.
The sign of the Path, Aquarius, being air, shows that this courageous determination will be fanned to greater strength by the breath of altruistic feelings typical of Aquarius and the rulership achieved will be of a beneficent nature.
In some packs the Emperor has a shield with the device of an eagle on it, again symbolising the air, or the human spirit. Aquarius is a sign of freedom, but to achieve its freedom the spirit must be purified by discipline and controlled will power. The Emperor must battle through the adversities of life gaining victory over his environment, as by constant effort he triumphs over physical restrictions and his own personality shortcomings. Thus his spirit achieves some measure of freedom.
The Emperor has been compared to King Arthur, ruler of the round table and the twelve as astrological types of men who sit at it. In other words he controls all the personality characteristics of all twelve astrological types within himself. This understanding is embodied in the magical power of the Path, astrology.
The knights of the round table too were concerned with the Quest of the Holy Grail, as the good ruler will always be concerned with the receiving of good things on behalf of his people, again the influence of Aquarius showing that what the Emperor receives he will pass on.
In Yesod the struggle for rulership is intensified since this is the sphere of the emotions and the emotional aspect of the path is strengthened.
That the emotions have an important function to fulfil is not disputable, for emotional impetus is the spark which kindles the fire of action and progress, but the controlling of the emotional body is difficult indeed and it is possible that in his efforts the Fool will go to the opposite extreme and deny all emotion. The denying of emotion is a common tendency but is a mistake since the experiencing of great emotion is a cleansing process, which leaves the vehicle empty to be filled by something higher and is hence an aid to spiritual progress.
In the ancient world the emotions were catered for in the drama and in the dramatised mysteries of religion, the audience participating emotionally at second hand in events which otherwise would never touch their lives and by this catharsis being ennobled and enriched spiritually.
Today this kind of drama and this kind of religion are no longer fashionable and we have no alternative. Our emotions are therefore turned in on themselves giving rise to all sorts of aberrations such as senseless violence, sickly sentimentality and impotent wringing of hands.
On the Path of the Emperor in Yesod, the task is not the suppression of the emotions to obtain rulership over them, but their transmutation. The Fool experiences an emotion and immediately controls his reaction, transmuting, for example, the sorrow felt at disaster to compassion, which will seek to act for the amelioration of the situation. Those overcome by emotion are as useless in an emergency as those with no emotional sympathy for the sufferings of others.
The difference between sorrow and compassion is in action, and the victorious Emperor in Yesod becomes ever more dynamic than in Malkuth, driven by his higher feelings to fight for the benefit of others. Thus rulership of the emotional results in self-forgetfulness and therefore the beginning of the ability to function as a unit of a group rather than as an individual.
To further this ability he must now learn to use his mental faculties which process begins in Hod. The Fool at this stage will not find the creative use of mind easy as the emotions will still have considerable hold over him from the Yesod end of the Path, but by degrees as he extends his will to rule, exemplified by the ankh sceptre, spirit ruling matter, he will defeat the 'I who feels sorry’ or 'angry' and come to the beginning of understanding of the 'I which is in god’, which sees the happenings of human lives in proportion against the backcloth of the whole of creation. The first inklings of the Cosmic Will are experienced in Hod brought to perfection later in Gedulah.
The Emperor in Hod is the embryo magician and ceremonial magic and ritual is his tool. It is through ritual that the controlled emotions are put into operation mentally, the creative imagination at the Netzach end of the Path taking precedence over the emotions of Yesod and working through the sphere of mind. The magician here controls forms.
There is much ambivalence in Hod, as exemplified by Mercury its ruler, who is both Magus and trickster, and if the Fool has not learned the virtue of discrimination in Malkuth, woe betide him for here he must learn to differentiate between the intellectual fireworks which may be brilliant but mean nothing, and the words of true wisdom which may appear to him dull and stumbling.
The world snake, Ouroboros, encircles this sphere like Ladon, who guarded the Tree of the Hesperides. The snake too is a symbol for treachery and wisdom and our Emperor here must be a Hercules destroying the snake which is keeping the fruit of immortality from him. He must learn to do as did Hermes himself and cast his staff between the two warring snakes, thus creating as his sceptre the symbol of the synthesis of good and evil.
The control of the lower mental continues in Netzach and here the creative imagination must be controlled. It is clear that attempting to control any aspect of being causes it to struggle the more to assert itself, the personality hating to be divested of its powers hence the struggle will be fierce in Netzach.
This is the sphere of energy and victory and these qualities on the path as well as in the sphere may lead to the Fool overstepping the mark with regard to what he can achieve and attempting projects beyond his powers.
As in Hod the Fool first learns of the Cosmic Will emanating from Chokmah and passing to him via Gedulah, so in Netzach he learns of the Cosmic Thought emanating as objective reality from Binah, passing via the furnaces of Geburah and finding expression in Netzach as a love of all nature and the true understanding of the one life.
There are difficulties, however, for the goddess of Netzach is Aphrodite and we find here the sexual aspect of love. The Fool may well be misled by her charms as was Tannhauser, who was imprisoned for several years in the Venusberg, or mountain of Venus, because he allowed his infatuation with the enchantress to take precedence over the true love of the pure Elizabeth. The Fool then must learn to fully comprehend nature and feel his kinship with every part of it, and yet he must not mistake unity with the creation for unity with the creator.
This is the sphere of the inspiration of poets, painters and musicians and the victorious Emperor in Netzach becomes the creative genius. He will be able to give expression to his inspiration for he has already learned the control of forms in Hod and since he now has control of the lower personality he will be able to make himself a channel or grail for higher forces.
This is a process brought to perfection in Tiphareth since the transferring from one mode of functioning to another amounts to transforming oneself into a grail for the receiving of higher forces and Tiphareth is the sphere of the final transmutation of the lower mind into the higher. The Emperor then in Tiphareth has at last gained rulership over the personality and is now a useful group entity suitable for further training by the Masters.
However, it is not only contact with higher beings that the Fool on the path of the Emperor makes in Tiphareth, but also with lower, since Tiphareth is a sphere of elemental contact. The elementals are expressed in the aspirant's psychology as his inner emotions and in Tiphareth he has perfect control over them. The Path too is one of elemental contact proceeding from Netzach and the Emperor here will be a ruler of the elements. Like Prospero, he controls both Ariel and Caliban, the light and dark within himself, and therefore he has the power to call up storms, cause earthquakes and summon the spirits of the dead.
But also like Prospero, the Emperor in Tiphareth says: "This rough magic I here abjure", and "I'll break my staff. Bury it certain fathoms in the earth. And Deeper than did ever plummet sound I'll drown my book". For in Tiphareth the first alchemical marriage of lower and higher self has taken place and the influence of Yesod, silver of the Moon has been transmuted to gold of the Sun. The Emperor now abdicates his position and having become a channel for the mediation of influences both up and down can say: "I invoke my true will and institute the rule of Peace".
Here then is a brief respite from struggle, the Emperor's armour is covered by a robe and his sceptre becomes the olive branch of peace.
In Geburah, however, battle recommences. The Emperor here is a mighty warlord, his foe, The Watcher on the Threshold.
Since this is the sphere of Karmic readjustment, rulership here consists of the recognition and vanquishment of his faults as they are revealed to him by the Lords of Karma. Nothing may be pushed aside or ignored. All debts from the present and all past incarnations must here be taken up. All experiences re-experienced and like Siegried who bathed in the blood of the dragon he slew, the aspirant must be thoroughly soaked and permeated by the red light of Geburah.
The knowledge of the Watcher on the Threshold can be his destruction if he approaches too soon, but if the time is ripe the taking back to himself of all his past, experience becomes his strength. There is nothing which can make him fear. He entered the furnaces a mighty warlord and yet destructible; he emerges a weapon for the hand of the creator, a blade so strongly tempered that it will never shatter no matter to what tests it is put.
In Gedulah the Emperor becomes a Master. He has Mastership over the wheel of reincarnation and control over his own destiny. He has complete rulership over both mental bodies and now has reached a stage of development where he can co-operate with the Creator in his creation. His will is one with that of the Ain and he sees the cosmic plan spread out before him and what his own part in it should be.
However, we are still in a world of formand rulership may not be perfect for it is love in its highest aspect which here has to be perfected and is the power by which the Emperor rules and since he has not yet attained the wisdom of Chokmah, the Emperor may not fully understand the nature of love.
When he has gained victory over these last vestiges of self interest - then he is ready to pass on to Binah.
In Binah the potency of creative life takes form. The Emperor here learns to conquer the Black Ray by learning that it is the same as the White and that force and form are the same. He becomes therefore a master craftsman ruling the giving form since he knows how to express exactly the thought of the Ain. He is four-headed Khemnu, the Fashioner, the ram-headed potter of the gods moulding from the primordial mud all the forms of creation.
The wisdom inherent in the sphere of Chokmah is a state of being, a total awareness of everything and it is over the last remaining elements of darkness in himself that the Emperor here exerts his will to rule. This total light is not long in the attaining for here the Emperor is alchemical sulphur as his position on the Arcanum denotes, the male fiery energy of the universe and nothing can withstand him for long. Here then sits Solomon in his glory, the human emperor par excellence a co-regent with the Ain.
The task of the Emperor on his journey through the spheres has been to hunt for experience to gain rulership. In Kether the hunting is past, the experience gained and here is the archetype of the perfect ruler.
The 28th Path, The Emperor - Yesod - Netzach
By Alfred Lesser (1975)
With two corresponding symbols on either end of the path, a strong naked man and a beautiful naked woman, one might rightly suppose that this is the path of sex relationship, and perchance Tzaddi, the fish hook, isthe means whereby the female hooks the male, or vice versa.
But there is far more to this path than sex. It is, however, correct to say that no other path forms the basis of sex relationship as does the 28th. Although, the 27th path deals with the male-female relationship as a whole, as far as sex is concerned it does not introduce a clear cut distinction, and still less a relationship. This is evident from the Hod symbol of the hermaphrodite. Nevertheless, on the 28th path the sex urge constitutes only one single aspect of the path in the lower sephiroth.
In actual fact it is worth noting in this connection that the strong naked man and the beautiful naked woman are not at all on the same level. The man is on a level just above Malkuth, whereas the woman is on a level just below Tiphareth; and here lies the difference. The man stands for animal instinct, the woman for emotional sublimation, so that as we walk along this path we find not the promiscuity which simple sex urge would lead us to expect, but true love through sex, or sex through true love, though which would come first would depend from which end of the path we start.
And this is where the Tarot Trump - The Emperor - comes in. The Emperor is, of all humans, the most exalted, the most ennobled, and it is only as such that he receives his right to rule. Rulership is not founded on the basis of the strong man, but on the sublimation of the triumphant woman. "Not by power nor by might, but by my Spirit", saith the Lord. We acquire rulership on climbing the 28th path, just as on descending it we become rulers by virtue of finding in Yesod the subject to rule.
It is a clear indication of mind over matter, and as such this is the path of healing. How often it is said that spiritual healing is the work of Love. This Love may come from Binah, where the archetypes of our world lie, and it is most likely that the healing originates in the 28th path in Binah and comes down to us via the love of Gedulah. But ultimately it is brought into our experience in Yesod, along the 28th path, through the victory in Netzach of Love over matter.
The forces of nature, emotional and psychic forces, and forces of imagination and inspiration, as well as devotion, are all coming down to us in the normal way via Yesod along the 28th path. They are the forces that rule us at our best, and if we want to climb this path from the Yesod end upward we have to learn to submit to those forces in their well ordered aspects, rather than try to storm ahead in undisciplined emotional fashion, as Yesod night prompt us to do. Rulership in this respect commences with submission and our will gains the freedom of Netzach only through subjection to the Emperor.
Yesod receives its forms from Hod but its forces from Netzach, both of which it transmutes and perfects for manifestation in Malkuth. Creation had once been finished on the "7th day" of the 7th Sephirah of Beauty Triumphant, but it recommenced with the content of Netzach materialising further in Hod and Yesod, and even spilling over direct into Malkuth without passing through the perfecting filter of Yesod. After the Sabbath of completion a mist arose from the ground and watered the whole face of the earth, and man was created on a material basis. This mist, this mental and spiritual miasma can only be dissipated by us in raising our heads above it to the height of the Emperor and ruling it from above.
This is the process of healing: healing our bodies, healing our emotions and minds, and healing the world.
In Assiah, on the purely physical level, this healing is brought about by physical means, or apparently so, for many, if not most, medicines and medications act on the subconscious mind and bring about their physical effects through action on the Yesod level. But there are also many that work in a purely physical way, and it is those we are considering at this stage - lubricants and minerals, dusting powders, blood transfusions or the saline drip, dental fillings or arch supports or splints. Even some surgery can be included into this category, such as orthopeadic or plastic surgery. In each instance it is the therapy which establishes or re-establishes the higher plan as the governing factor of the organic function, or it opens up the body to the rule of the plan. As a different but parallel example we might consider the application of fertilizers to the soil which makes it amenable to plant life and establishes a field of action for flora, and thus there may be many equally valid instances of interaction between Netzach and Yesod in Assiah.
Where healing is concerned, it must be appreciated that this is more thorough and effective the higher upthe Tree it takes place. Ideally, true healing should be derived straight from the archetypes in the Briatic World, and should be brought down via Tiphareth and Netzach to Yesod. Once the Foundation is perfected, its manifestation in Malkuth follows. Medicine, of course, tries to tackle the job from below and rarely affects a level above Yesod. In Yesod we see the action of those major branches of medicine which affect nervous or organic functions through absorption into the system of substances which affect the action of the forces in Yesod underlying the human organism. This is the field for which most of the medical and pharmaceutical research takes place.
Although this research is conducted according to the rules of Hod, whenever a breakthrough is reported someone has successfully walked the 28th Path in Yesod.
The Emperor in Yesod denotes rulership over our bodies, over our instincts, our fears, and over that modern aberration - our complexes. Sex is only one function which is to be controlled on this Path which comprises all other bodily functions.
There is another aspect of the 28th Path in Yesod worth noting - Yesod in Yesod suggests abject dependence on the desultory mythical phantoms of Moon imagery, which in the absence of higher influences may weigh heavily on the subconscious. Along this Path can be found the help and solace of Venus to counterbalance and overrule the Moon; the creative imagination taking the place of elusive imagery.
What now constitutes the 28th Path in Hod? What is rulership in the realm of reason? After balanced reason of the Tiphareth nature has begun to go into action in Netzach and there forms a plan, this plan has to develop a means to bring itself to fruition. A method has to be developed which will lead to its realisation in thought, which will impose itself on thought and rule it. The 28th Path is the method. It belongs to the realm of research. As alluded to before, medical research, together with all others, takes place along this Path.
As for healing, this is where the spiritual healer and the medical man meet. For neither of the two is it the ideal field of operation. Few healings are achieved in medicine purely by reason and method and their application. These are considered to be on the fringe and only preparatory. But for most people in our present day society reason is their highest, most relied on and most active faculty, and equally so with spiritual healing. If the method whereby Spirit heals can be presented to the rational mind, this mind will be inclined to lay itself open to higher truth and yield to the reflection of the true image, which will in turn manifest itself in a healing.
Netzach is the sphere of the inspirational workings of the mind, the intuitive, emotional and devotional faculties of the personality, which has its inception, and its completion in Netzach. (In speaking of the personality or, for that matter, of the individuality, I use these terms as suggested by Gareth Knight). All effort at healing any aspect of the personality is best directed and applied to its head, Netzach.
This is the real head of the ruler, The Emperor, and it may be coincidence, but I think it significant that in the Marseilles pack of the Tarot The Emperor together with the older woman on the card of The Lovers, are the only persons whose head is depicted in profile. Thus they remind us of the magical image of Kether, of which only one side is known, namely the manifest. The unseen side represents the unmanifest triad. To the consciousness of each lower triad the next higher triad is unknown. Hence the link through the profile, the old matron representing Briah in Yetzirah, or the Spirit to the soul, and the turned side of The Emperor representing the individuality to the personality. The only suggestion that he derives his true power from the six higher sephiroth are the six points on his crown.
From this head in Netzach we derive our healing, by presenting our imagination in fervent devotion with the perfect and harmonious image of the personality, as it should come down from Tiphareth, and by asserting its consecrated rulership on the 28th Path down to Yesod and through it to Malkuth. Put in a different way, we choose among the Elohim, the gods or angels of Netzach, the god of health, and open our personality up to his influence. Or put in another way still, we form in our minds an image of what we imagine the archetype of the perfect soul to be in Binah and identify ourselves with this, full of gratitude to the Most High for having fashioned us accordingly and not after the material evidence, which our mistaken concepts would lead us to believe. All this, whichever way we care to look at it, is walking the 28th Path in Netzach.
If we would heal another we have to start a little higher up the Tree. We have to aspire to the consciousness of the harmony and love of Tiphareth to undertake this aspect of the Great Work which, after all, healing is. From this vantage point, in touch with the personality as well as the individuality we may be better equipped to recognise the true causes of the condition we are trying to heal and, by harmoniding the causes, bring everything else into line. Here we see, as it were, the other side of The Emperor's face also, which will reveal to us the limitations to which the personality is subject, but the process or method of the path remains the same in principle.
The revelation thus gained may lead us on to Geburah for the condition requiring healing may have its origin in karma, or in an imbalance needing correction. When speaking of healing in this connection it is not only physical healing which is meant, but equally the correction and harmonisation of any defective or disturbed condition. Since the whole Sephirah Geburah is devoted to the correction of imbalance and the restoration of correct working order, the Emperor has powerful allies for his work in the Lords of Karma. Furthermore, he is very well placed at the lower extremity of the mitigating Pillar of Mercy and himself leading towards central harmony in Yesod. Working on this path in Geburah should serve to eradicate and harmonise faults of character and emotional imbalance and thereby produce the required healing. As for deliberate vices of Hod, maybe the Sun on the 30thpath would be a better means of burning these out.
In Gedulah, the sphere of the Masters, Love is healing the World.
The Masters should certainly be capable of assuming any of the figures and walk any of the paths up to Gedulah. On the 28th Path they are assuming an analogous position to us when we travel along the path in Netzach, for what to us is the personality is to them the individuality. On this path they are healing and perfecting all that is to manifest later in our consciousness, and should they fail, then we will certainly fail. But when we have healed and perfected all our conditions right up to Geburah, we shall be found fit to join them in their healing work in Gedulah. We may already try, because the talent used multiplies and leads to the approval of the Master.
We now leave the World of Yetzirah behind and cross the Abyss into the World of Briah. Here the Emperor lays down his office, for there is no third side to his face, and his crown is taken over by the Archangels Haniel and Gabriel, whose relationship establishes the rulership between the graciousness of love and the perfection of wisdom. This is where healing exists as a plan of execution, as there is never a deviation from the perfect condition in the first place. Whoever can realise this fact in conscious experience knows the impossibility or unreality of any abnormal condition, or in other words, brings about an instantaneous healing, whatever the situation may have seemed to be. Perfection is here the unchangeable rule, a perfection ruled by purpose and love, whose form is established in Binah, but whose concept is derived from Chokmah.
In Chokmah the Face of the Lord shining upon us gives us the grace of love on which to rely for all states and stages of our existence. From here we derive the force to rely on faith in Binah, faith which turns to knowledge, as we succeed in bringing spirit into denser manifestation. In such processes it is again the 28th path which is the effective channel for the materialisation of force. It is again the relationship between Phanael (another name for Hanael) and Gabriel, between the Face and the Force of God.
Phanael, Hanael and Auriel are practically synonymous, each signifying a somewhat different aspect of the same force. Both Auriel and Gabriel belong to the great four and are, as we can see, together with Raphael and Michael directly concerned with healing: Auriel as the teacher of divine love, the directing force which implements divine perfection: Gabriel as love-wisdom who adapts this perfection to the condition of life. So complete is this divine wisdom of Chokmah that it makes all attempts of human outlinings a futile fallacy and so powerful is it that to contact it, even at the relatively modest level of Tiphareth, the sphere of Raphael, the healer, brings about the healing.
Outlining preconceived solutions to our own as the world's problems can only hinder the smooth application of archetypal forces and forms which Auriel and Gabriel are always ready to bring into our experience. The love of Venus is incessantly operating to direct the whole gamut of Zodiacal forces into reflection by the moon. Can we muster enough faith, wisdom and insight to avail ourselves of these forces? If so, the archetypes which are always with us will rule our experience in the measure in which we rule ourselves.
In Aziluth - Kether - we find the archetype of rulership itself, which rules the whole manifest universe, the archetype of healing and of all that has been mentioned earlier. We find as it were the father of the Emperor, the father of the beautiful naked woman and the strong naked man, who is the same for all three. He is the originator of diversification as Elohim Zebaot and he is the procreator of all life as Shadday El Chay. Yet within this oneness there flows a strong current between the Lord of Hosts and the Almighty Living God, which causes everything in all its diversity to serve the One Great Life. This is the 28th path in Kether.
The Emperor - The 28th Path
By Molly Thompson (1993)
During my research into the Emperor, I was immediately presented with an anomaly. According to certain authors writing on the Kabbalah, the Emperor stands on the 28th Path, whilst others place the Emperor on the 15th Path. The question that I needed to answer was, why is it possible that the Tarot characters, the Emperor and the Star, could be interpreted so differently by serious students of the Kabbalah. After reading and re-reading the attributes of both Emperor and Star I began to see that the various statements, symbology and links, all made equal sense when viewed from either standpoint.
Reasons for Emperor as Tarot symbol of the 28th Path
There is tremendous creative power associated with the Emperor. He portrays rulership at both physical and spiritual levels and he gives an idea of law and order which is almost paternalistic. Held in the Emperor's hand is a sceptre in the form of the ankh - the symbol of life, or spirit ruling matter - hence the implication of spiritual rulership over earthly rulership. The Emperor on the 28th Path is associated with poets and dreamers, taking hopes, wishes and dreams and imbuing them with the life force of Netzach.
Reasons for Star as Tarot symbol of the 28th Path
The Star is concerned with meditation - an unveiling - the female figure unclothed - the archetypal Isis Unveiled or the Great Mother. This can be equated with the myth of Acteon, willing to endure total disintegration in order to view the naked body of Artemis for one second. On the 28th Path, 'Natural Intelligence' is making perfect 'everything under the sun/son’ - a reference to Tiphareth, Binah's son/sun.
The symbology of one star surrounded by seven others can be taken as the 7 planets or planetary metals which alchemists seek to work with. The alchemical idea was to 'free the spirit' of the metal and unite it with its 'golden essence'. Another connection could be that in yoga the body's systems of energy are represented by 7 chakras. The water-bearer with the vessels is another alchemical (and psychological) process - the separation and re-integration of primal forces. The figure of Isis - Urania has one foot on the water.
From the vessel flow out 5 streams, representing purification and perfection of the 5 senses - as water returns to the pool - to its source. The ibis in the background is a fishing bird - identified as Thoth to the Egyptians or as Hermes/Mercury to the Greeks - the archetype of the messenger from the heavens - or Lucifer the Light-bringer.
There is a tradition that says that when Adam was dying, his son Seth returned to the Gates of Eden to ask for the Grail to heal him. It was refused, for good reason, but the hope was there, and the Star is Hope - hope of Grail and Eternal Life. So, perhaps the Tarot card of the Star has as much right on the 28th Path as does the card of the Emperor.
In view of this "tarot card confusion” I've decided that this paper will take as its main theme the 28th Path - and I will make no further mention of either Emperor or Star.
The 28th Path joins the 7th and the 9th Sephiroth - Netzach and Yesod. This Path is called the Path of 'Natural Intelligence’ because ". . . by it is completed and perfected the nature of all that exists beneath the Sun". On one level Netzach, on the positive pillar, represents desires and feelings, and the 28th Path seeks to balance these with the intuitions and instincts of Yesod, on the middle pillar. It is on this Path that one needs to gain rulership over self - a vital test on the spiritual Path.
The concept of rulership is of great importance, but rulership can be related to many levels - in Assiah the object is to rule over the material -in Yetzirah it relates to domination of the material and emotional planes - in Briah the spirit struggles to rule and command the Buddhic plane - and in Atziluth it is the archetype of the perfect ruling spirit.
The Hebrew letter for the 28th Path is Tzaddi, which has two meanings. The first is “fish hook" and, by extension, the second means 'to lie in wait’ or 'to hunt'. Tzaddi has connection with the paths of Nun (fish) and Mem (water).
Meditation is the mode of consciousness attributed to this path - linking the raw forces of nature with the intuition of Yesod. The Natural Intelligence is connected to the idea of meditation by the Hebrew root TBO, meaning 'to sink down' or 'to be laid deep’, an obvious reference to the fish hook.
The adjective 'natural’ is also from this root TBOI and hints at the power of Tzaddi which is arrived at by meditating on the qualities of nature. The fish hook symbolises the agency whereby one investigates the unseen, and also the patience required while 'fishing for truth' in the depths of the psyche.
In the Book of Tokens it is said of this Intelligence: ". . . the Hook and the Gate and the Right Hand am I" - indicating that it is Tzaddi, the hook, which draws us forth "from the death of error into the light of truth" as well as the gate and the outstretched hand to guide us through the portal. This is implicit in the spelling of TZDI - the letters meaning 'hook', 'gate', (Daleth - D) and 'hand' (Yod - I).
The journey from Yesod to Netzach joins the image of the Strong Naked Man to that of the Beautiful Naked Woman - or Adam and Eve as they were under the sun/son of Tiphareth - complete and perfect in the spiritual sense but not yet come into the kingdom of Malkuth, where the rest of their education was to take place. Here at the point of balance they had choice - either to fall/descend into Malkuth or remain as they were. The balance was Lucifer the Light-bringer who is very much concerned with the 28th Path, as the Son of the Morning, the Morning Star and its link with Venus. Lucifer's role in mankind's progress toward divinity is of vital importance - he puts pressure on the soul to seek its own depths in order to rise again, triumphant and divine.
Man was given free will but unless he is provided with options that gift would remain an abstraction. It would seem that to descend into matter is a hard decision to take, and the soul often has to be brought to the point of decision via what is sometimes called 'the vital mistake'. As in the two mythological stories: (1) Adam and Eve decide to sample the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, thereby losing Eden but ultimately gaining ALL via the Complete Work in Malkuth; (2) Psyche wants to know the identity of her lover - Eros cautions her but she takes no notice, thereby losing Eros temporarily, but eventually winning back more than she lost.
Both these myths encourage us to realise that the Divine Principle allows for all seeming mistakes to be brought to a conclusion that is better than if it hadn't happened.
Possibly one of the most severe tests on the 28th Path is in maintaining abalance between reality and illusion. We may be offered mankind's oldest dream of eternal youth and beauty, or entry into the world of faery; promises like those in the Celtic myths, Lord of the Sidhe (pronounced 'shee’) and King Tir Nan Og's Land of the Ever Young.
Still dealing with the Celts, if we take the Arthurian legend, Guinevere is the lady of beauty and poetry and as she and Lancelot move from Yesod (or Avalon) along the path to Netzach, the sphere of love and emotion, they discover both vices and virtues are present there. There is the genuine unselfish love felt by both of them for Arthur but also the lust and jealousy which was also present. Guinevere was the focus of inspiration attributable to Netzach, and her unearthly beauty also belonged to the world offaery and the nature ray. One story about Guinevere is that she was abducted while out 'a-Maying' and that her rescue heralds the return of spring to Albion.
To be continued...