Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tarot Essay: The Ace of Wands

The tarot is very important to me. It is my preferred method of divination and I find it to be a fluid and varied set of symbols that continuously unfolds and shows me new things and insights. Let's explore, for a few moments, the symbolic connotations of one of the tarot cards.  Eventually I'd like to get through all 78 but I'll be tackling them one at a time and not necessarily in any specific order.

The Ace of Wands

Ace of Wands, first card of the suit of Wands, is a card with some very potent symbolism. Generally Wands represent creativity, energy, life force and sexuality and is almost always represented as a stick or branch. The traditional elemental attribution is to Fire. There are a couple of contexts in which these attributions make sense.
One of these contexts is Prometheus's fennel stalk. Prometheus stole the spark of fire from Olympus by hiding it in a fennel stalk to transport it to humanity. In my view this is the first image of the Ace of Wands, the hollow stick holding the spark of divine fire within it. The divine fire is creativity itself from which springs innovation and all culture. The fire is a spiritual fire and not a physical fire but the two do share some qualities. Its movement is upward, rising. Elemental fire is the lightest and most subtle of the four and lifts like hot air above the others. Spiritual fire also energizes and incites movement.
The Wand with the Spiritual fire inside also symbolizes all life. The Spiritual fire becomes the energy of life within living things, pushing out in all directions not only as spiritual emanation but also as metabolism and growth of the physical body. This is the image of the sprouting or fruiting branch. The sprouting branch as Ace of Wands also aptly symbolizes the creative nature of this card as it is continually creating leaves and fruit. In this respect the Wand is similar to the Shiva Lingam, a phallic symbol from which all forms are created.
Through history wands and staffs have been symbols of authority. In this context the Ace of Wands is God bestowing the wand of divine authority. This is Moses's staff, the magician's wand, and the scepter of a king.
The Ace of Wands is generally a very positive card but it does have attributes on the liability end of the spectrum of its meanings. Numerically this card is a 1, the very beginning, and can represent energy that is wild, amorphous, and perhaps unattainable. If you needed energy for a specific purpose this could indicate seeing it exists all around but not necessarily in the form you need. Like feeling a room full of people alive with nervous or excited energy but actually wanting an outlet with electrical energy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

On The First Character

This morning, during the hour of Mars, at dawn, I performed the rite of the First Character from the Grimorium Verum. This is a big step forward on this path and is a step that indicates true commitment to the practice.

Recto side of my First Character.

One could argue that I have done things way out of order. One way to interpret the instructions is that one is supposed to have this little talisman made and in place before starting any of the work of gathering tools or any of it. I, however, interpreted the instructions to mean that the First Character was part of the operations involving the parchment and so must be carried out after all the tools had been gathered. But in studying the material to prepare the talisman I noted that there is no instruction in terms of astrological timing other than the day and hour. In other words there was nothing about Moon phase or any of the zodiacal signs. Nor do the instructions actually call for the use of consecrated parchment.
This morning's operation was a bit of a compromise. The tools are not yet all finished but I have the tools to bless and asperge everything and draw out the characters. Often in cases like this I trust that I am guided by my intuition and that things are proceeding as they are supposed to.
And now the talisman is in a pocket of a tee shirt under my shirt and tie as I write this. I had a difficult time finding pocket tee shirts in plain white for under $10 each. But I eventually did and now I wear it inside out so that the pocket is on the right hand side.
And yes, that is not red ink on the talisman. I used diabetic lancets to let the blood with which I drew the character. I stabbed my pinky finger probably 7 or 8 times to get enough blood for drawings on both sides.

Astaroth sigil on the verso side of my First Character.

And so the initiation has begun. By this the practice deepens.

I find the use of blood curious in this operation. Such a powerful symbol encompassing Life, Death, Energy, Identity, Health, Family, and a whole host of other concepts. I must say that now that the operation is finished I think the gravity of this act is only just now slowly dawning on me. At the time I thought little of it and had more reaction to the anticipation of pain in lancing my finger than I did to laying my essence on the paper. In this context does the blood work as an offering? Or is its purpose more for unambiguous identity? This First Character is mine and I have signed up in the most bonding way possible, signed in my own blood. Perhaps both.
As I write this it is now six hours since I did the rite. I've been trying to stay very observant of my environment and any internal changes. So far the day seems to be moving in a more or less normal pattern for me.
We shall see what the challenges of this initiation will be.