But talk of galactic centres can make many astrologers glaze over, so if you want something a little more local, a little more in your own backyard and you are in the northern hemisphere, then start watching the great bear, Ursa Major. The ancient she-bear walks upon the earth at the time of the annual terrestrial biosphere greening. Every year planet Earth greens in the north and the south at the same time. This of course is the summer for the north and the winter for the south. This, according to biologists, gives the biosphere a type of breath. The earth breathes in CO2 and gives us more oxygen at this time, but in the winter (summer for the south) the greening stops and the earth's breath goes the other way. Since the beginning of our recorded history and human myth, indeed from the period from Thuban to Polaris as our pole stars, the great bear is seen to walk along the local horizon at the time of the greening. Her slow steady plod is provided by the diurnal movement of the night sky. When the winter comes and the growth stops, she is only seen high in the night sky, asleep with her legs in the air. Thus in this period which embraces the dawn of recorded history up to modern times the bear annually awakes as the earth awakes and sleeps as the earth sleeps, indeed in this simple fact could lie the reason for the nature of the naming of that part of the sky."
"Orion/Osiris was God. The constellation was not a symbol of God, it was god; god's physical place or appearance, in the same way that Sirius in Canis Major was the dwelling place of Isis... The effects of precession caused the god to slip lower and lower in the sky... The constellation Orion managed to rise for roughly two thousand years but the Egyptians knew that their immortal god was moving into the whirlpool taking the journey across the water as he slipped into the underworld.
To account for these observations, the Egyptians developed the concept of an immortal god dying and passing on his throne to his son. Now, one of the features of the constellation Orion is that it contains a bright red star called Betelgeuse, found in Orion's right shoulder. By coincidence, the constellation Taurus, the next constellation to herald the dawn of the equinox, also contains a bright red star, by the name of Aldebaran. So, as Osiris died and was replaced by the stars of Taurus, the natural "heir" to the solar throne appeared. This constellation ws therefore considered to be the son of Osiris, Horus. Osiris became the god of the underworld or afterlife, and Horus, his son, ruled the new world order... Many modern theologians/mythologists agree that this precessional movment of Orion is the source of the religious concept of an afterlife given to us by a god who dies. Osiris/Orion is a "prefiguring of Christ."
"No. 2 Disks is on the stocks, is the serpent's eye to be red? It is a bit awkward, as there are several colours introduced in that card which do not belong to Jupiter and Capricorn, I mean the 4 element colours and they make inharmonious patches. Did you say anything about jewels on the serpent? I think you will like him. The vile lettering will have to start again, it makes me cross and ache all over. letter from Freida Harris (artist of Thoth desk) to Aleister Crowley. (emphasis added)
"The Two of Disks has the symbol of infinity incorporated in it:
About them is entwined a green Serpent (see Liber 65, chapter iii, verses 17-20). His tail is in his mouth. He forms the figure Eight, the symbol of the Infinite, the equation 0=2.
Note that the green colour signifies Earth, while the Serpent has a crown, with its tail in close proximity, which again suggests "Kether is in Malkuth..."
However, Crowley hints that the Fool card contains the YHVH system, and there are enough clues to show this to be so. We start with the Green Man, Spring and Aries - fiery attributes which fit in with Yod of Yod positive. Dalua/Christ fits in with the ideas of paternity and salvation for Yod of Yod negative. In the Heh section we begin with The Fisherman for the Heh of Yod positive, and the Crocodile for the negative aspect - both of course have watery connotations. Hoor-paar-Kraat is the Son, perfect for Vau positive. There is a potential problem with Zeus Arrhenotheleus and Dionysus Zagreus and Bacchus Diphues, but I suggest that they can be accomodated in the negative phase of Vau. Finally, we can have Baphomet in seventh place. The Summary can be conveniently ignored for these purposes.
There is another interesting idea that connects the Fool card to the Ace of Disks and the Two of Disks - Crowley draws attention to the colour green - the Green Man of Spring, the green of Isis for the Ace of Disks, and the green snake in the 2 of Disks.
Assuming there is some merit in this system, we need to explore exactly what it is we have discovered. Any group of seven in occult work automatically has the connection to the seven planets, but apart from the Green Man, there are no astrological attributions to work with. Some clues can be found in Madame Blavatsky's books, but a clearer explanation of the origins of these ideas are found in Darcy Kuntz's The Golden Dawn Tarot and Arthur Edward Waite.
Kuntz introduces John O'Neill (1837-1895) who believed among other things that:
... the primordial tradition ran on a North-South axis from the Northern Pole and not on a East-West axis as traditionally taught. He also believed that the seven occult Planets were in fact the seven stars or the Big Dipper which circle the Northern Celestial Pole and not Planets at all.
O'Neill's ideas were co-authored with E.A. Wallis-Budge the Egyptologist, into a two volume book "The Night of the Gods: An Inquiry into Cosmic and Cosmogonic Mythology and Symbolism" (1893). The second volume was financed by Alfred Nutt (1856-1910), who wrote about the Holy Grail. There are other authors on Grail romances at this time, at least one of whom was member of AE Waite's Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. It seems that W.B. Yeats was inspired by The Night of the Gods, and that the primordial tradition could be found in an ancient Welsh version of Parsifal. Waite, as we know, had a passion for all things Celtic. Waite met Pamela Coleman Smith (artist of the Rider-Waite tarot deck) when she was working on her play 'Where There is Nothing', which became 'The Unicorn from the Stars' (1907). Charles Williams comments that 'Look, ... these are the twenty-two cards - the twenty-one and the one which is nothing (i.e. The Fool).' WB Yeats met Waite to discuss Arthurian legends.
We have a consistent pattern emerging - the seven planets of Ursa Major (The Great Bear), the North Pole, Parsifal, and 'the twenty-one and the one which is nothing'. Clearly the concept that the Fool should be treated separately from the other cards was already entrenched. However, these ideas were not, and are still not, common currency. Waite, the architect of probably the most popular Tarot deck that spawned a thousand imitations, intended to keep it that way:
My province was to see that the designs - especially those of the important Trumps Major - kept that in the hiddeness which belonged to a certain Greater Mysteries, in the Paths of which I was travelling... I saw to it therefore that Pamela Coleman Smith should not be picking up casually any floating images from my own or another mind. She had to be spoon-fed carefully over the Priestess Card, that which is called the Fool and over the Hanged Man.
Waite, Shadows of Life and Thought, 1938.
The implication here is that even if PCS knew about these ideas, Waite endeavoured to make sure she never incorporated them into her tarot artwork, nor that this was the direction his studies was taking him. This quotation also hints that the Priestess card and the Hanged Man have particular properties as well as the Fool card.
The North Pole and the Princesses
The Big Dipper, The Plough, the Great Bear, or Ursa Major is the constellation whose stars point to the North Pole. The Pole Star varies over extended lengths of time due to Precession. The Tarot cards have been given astrological attributions as is well known, but there has been a tradition of rulership over various parts of the heavens. The Princesses are unique in Tarot, in that they are given rulership over the quadrants of the world:
In the Book "T", it is written: "Also the Dragon (i.e. Draco, the constellation at the Northern pole of the Heavens) surroundeth the Pole Kether of the Celestial Heavens." It is further laid down that the Four Aces, (symbolized by the Princesses and Amazons), rule the Celestial Heavens from the Northern Pole of the Zodiac unto the 45th degree of Latitude North of the Ecliptic, and from the Thrones of the Four Aces which rule in Kether."