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Tarot Hermeneutics

Exploring How We Create Meaning with Tarot

Tarot Neoplatonism

What is neoplatonism as related to Tarot?

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

What is neoplatonism as related to Tarot?  Speaking in broad strokes, neo-Platonism is a tradition in which consciousness is the direct unmediated presence of the divine without a second. Traditionalism along the lines of Frithjof Schunon and Rene Guenon tends to grasp broad aspects of the this idea, usually, mixing it was an idealized historicism that is not traditional.
I think the analogy that all is water and Neo-Platonism is about plumbing. Most of us are interested in drowning in the delight of the divine, whereas Neoplatonists are interested in mapping how the rivers get down to the sea, how the dewdrop can hold infinity.
So I might be a swimmer but I also like to have an appreciation of plumbing.
To bring the analogy to the tarot, the cards are life prisms that break up the pure light of awareness into a rainbow of experience. Each person brings their own light of consciousness to the cards and thereby the card’s authenticity. But the cards give us is an opportunity to experience light in waves we might otherwise overlook.
For me the nature of consciousness is pure unicity. If I were to characterize it, being well aware that no characterization can hold its fullness and ineffability, I would call this awareness identical to life-love-light.
Just as the cards are a prism so with life they channel our attention to aspects of experience we might otherwise overlook or not give enough attention.
Love is the most fulsome word in any language. Following the Greeks we see love as Eros the drive towards existence and to reproduce. And love his friendship finding oneself in the alienness of the other, where affinity and complementarity. Then there is the love of knowing and discovering the world and ourselves, and being quickened more by questions than by answers. And last there is Agape that love it follows to the no Otherness of the divine itself, leaving nothing behind and abandoning all.
As tarotists we find it easy to make connections with the life and light-gnosis analogies with the symbols of the cards in their mix. But it is also a challenge to recognize that each card is a tale of love and also an admonition to live the good life, a moral challenge. 


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