The Unstill Mirror
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This eleventh card of the Tarot corresponds with the seventh astrological sign of Libra. The words eleven and seven both contain even, indicating that they are to do with in-between places and the concepts of division, equity, symmetry and balance. The card and sign are "ruled" by the planet-archetypes of Venus and the Moon. Libra is considered the mirror of the zodiac for as the seventh house it directly faces the first house of Aries. The symbol of the latter is the Martian phallic sword. The figure in the card is seen holding this Arian sword in her right hand, the hand which is closest to the previous sequence of cards. It is, in fact, this sword (and what it represents) that is really being measured or weighed in the scales held by her other hand. In one picture we have a major astrological dynamic being expressed. Perhaps the sword and scales represent the two hemispheres of consciousness, of the brain. The sword typifying the discursive, atomizing left-hemisphere, the scales typifying the synergistic, inclusive right-hemisphere which maintains a closer rapport with the supernal order.
The symbolism of the card relates also to the mysterious eleventh Sephiroth on the Kabalistic Tree of Life, which balances all the other ten spheres of intelligence. In fact, the number eleven represents the marriage of Kether, the first Sephiroth (top of the Tree) and Malkuth, the tenth sephiroth (bottom of the Tree). Indeed, this Libran card is fundamentally connected with the Alchemical stage known poetically as the Chemycal Wedding, when all pairs of opposites merge together to become one. This is the process and state which Carl Jung named Individuation.
The Lord Jesus united in himself the division of our nature, that is, male and female...For in Him there is neither male nor female, although it was in the masculine sex that He was born of a Virgin - John Scotus Erigena (Periphyseon)
When you make the two one, and when you make the inside as the outside, and the outside as the inside, and the upper as the lower, and when you make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male is not male and the female not female, and when you make eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then shall you enter the kingdom - (Gospel of Thomas)
The Greeks associated the number eleven with their goddess (muse) of justice Thalia. In the Semitic esoteric canon Libra is connected to Saint Matthew (Maat-hu) the unwelcome disciple. Matthew was said to be a "tax-collector." This was merely a cryptic device the Biblical mythographers used to draw attention to the fact that he was a representative, in their Astro-Theological story, of the seventh sign of the zodiac (the symbol of tax collectors was the scales). Matthew, it is written, was the last of the twelve disciples. This anecdote is of singular importance, for astrologically, the sign of Libra was the latest addition to the circle of twelve. In the book Magical Alphabets Nigel Pennick draws attention to one of the occult aspects of the archetype eleven:
As the eleventh letter of the Greek alphabet Lambda represents the ascent to a higher level.
In relation to Egyptian pantheon and cosmology the sign corresponds with the goddess Maat whose sigils (symbols) were the feather and the scales of justice. The feather is seen worn by the Fool. Feathers were also used as early writing pens to highlight the fact that all human thought, communication and commerce was, and is, overseen by the force of truth and rightness. Maat's hieroglyphic also stood for the fraction 1/2 (one half). One reason for this may derive from the fact that the ancients, and the Egyptians in particular, understood the goddess to be a duad. In their pantheon Isis was always twinned with her sister Nephthys. They are the "Rheti" or two queens, who are behind the throne of the pharaoh their son and consort. They appear in the Gospels as the two Marys, and also as the sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Miriam. In Celtic myth we find the fair and dark sisters and in more recent centuries, artists like Leonardo Da Vinci took pains to depict his young Christ in the company of two mothers. The duad is a motif which has its origins in the Matriarchal societies which predated the dynasties and religions dominated by alpha-male personae.
When there was no individual fatherhood yet determinable, descent was in the female line, from the Mother to the eldest daughter. These became the typical "Two Women" in Totemism and the "Two Mothers" in mythology - Gerald Massey (Egypt-Light of the World)
The fact that the hero has two fathers or mothers is a central feature of the hero myths...and archetypal mother figure appears beside the personal mother - Erich Neumann (Origin and Evolution of Consciousness)
The word root ma gives us a plenitude of words. It is the root of mate, mother, matrix, matter, master, measure, middle, matrimony and mathematics, etc,. The figure holding the scales is often depicted with a very fixed gaze or even with eyes shut. This is interesting since the word mystery is believed to mean "closed eyes." In fact, the word comes from the Egyptian word mesta which meant woman.
There were 11 main Egyptian Creator deities: Ptah, Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Nut, Geb, Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, Set and Horus. The term Maat referred to the supreme order of the universe, the principle of homeostasis which is fundamental to creation. The gods are the servants of this principle and all human souls had their deeds measured against the ordinances of the neter Maat. The scales of Maat are seen in the famous Papyrus of Ani (Spell 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead). In this strange papyri we see the "dead" acolyte being brought before the theriomorphic (animal-headed) gods of the judgement. In their presence he undergoes Psychostasis, where his "heart" (ego) is weighed against the Feather of Maat (Natural Order). When he is found to be without "sin" he is lead by Horus (the Twin Self) to the precinct and throne of Osiris. Osiris is not, however, the Lord of the Cosmos waiting to receive the soul of a discarnated human being. Osiris is the god (higher self) one transmutes into after passing through the twelve great halls of life. This concept of the Stellar Cults was perverted by later Solar religions into the idea of a impersonal all-perfect but brooding god in the clouds somewhere who sits in judgment of all who come before him. Nothing of the sort was propounded in the mystery schools of the Nile. Osiris is not the god one eventually meets but whom one becomes once mastery has been gained over the higher and lower selves (Upper and Lower Egypt), when the state of Androgyny has been achieved and when there is no separation between the macrocosmic and microcosmic worlds. The quest for spiritual Androgyny was the original modus operendi of yoga, religion, magic and ritual. The secrets of for attaining this biune state were communicated in the ancient mystery schools and is still preserved in their seminal creations - the four sacred Divination Arts of Tarot, Astrology, Kabala and Numerology. It was the power-brokers within the hegemonic religious orders who distorted the theological canon of the ancients, in order to cause diremption and scission, between the genders physically, and between the masculine and feminine polarities of an individuals own being. Their perfidious connivance has been the cause for the suppression and marginalization of women, and for man's psychic estrangement from his inner Anima.
The man sees the woman as a goddess. The woman sees the man as a god. By joining the diamond scepter and lotus, they should make offerings to each other. There is no worship apart from this - Candamaharosana-tantra
When the two shall be one, the outside as the inside, and the male and the female neither male or female - Clement of Alexandria (Second Epistle)
Jesus said, "If two make peace with each other in this one house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move Away,' and it will move away" – (Gospel of Thomas)
The Roman numeral for eleven (II) also connotes balance. Here the 1 literally faces itself. In the mirror of the seventh sign the Magician comes to see his own visage. Libra sits on the western arc of the zodiac. It is a portal between the upper and lower worlds and is where we have the annual Autumnal Equinox, when the power and luster of the sun weakens. Libra is a cardinal sign and this word means the "hinge of a door," the "door" being this astronomical locus point. From this juncture the physical sun descends into Amenta, the Nekyia (underworld). In the Rider-Waite deck the artist, Pamela Coleman Smith, artfully depicted the scales as being below the center of the card and had the figure's hand holding the scales pointing downward toward the underworld. In the next card in the series we see the Hanged Man figure actually hanging upside-down to emphasize the reversal and "sea change" that is occurring. Such reversals of fortune are inevitable in the lives of all who exist by way of the monophrenic masculine modality of cognition and action. Even in common exoteric astrology the symbol for the sign of Libra shows a half sun sinking below the horizon line. The "fall" of the solar orb was a central ritual event for the ancient Siderealists. They saw it as the analogue for the unification of the inner sun and moon (conscious and unconscious), the inner male (Animus) and female (Anima). For this psychic "conjunction" to be successful the individual needs to be able to access the wisdom body, which knows things as they are and not as they appear.
When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised – Sosan (Zen patriarch)
The ancient Egyptians had a very elaborate and elevated concept of Justice. It was similar to eastern doctrines concerning Karma, and to the Celtic Druidic concept of transmigration of souls. Their notion of Justice was considerably different, in several respects, to the one which is now accepted in the western hemisphere. A careful reading of the Book of the Dead (really entitled The Book of the Coming Forth by Day), and of other sacred Egyptian writings (such as the Tarot), reveals that Justice, to the Egyptians, was not something that ever could be given to, or pronounced upon, us by any other person or entity. Justice was, purely, a phenomenon which occurred within the mind and consciousness of the individual, and nowhere else. (In this sense, Justice resembles Freud's Super-Ego or Conscience). The pseudo-justice that one man confers upon a miscreant, a rival or an enemy, or which a state imposes upon us, comes under the heading of vengeance but not Justice. This is not to say that vengeance is wrong. Vengeance is the form of pseudo-justice that is imposed and accepted in a social context. It is an indispensable and, when not flagrantly abused, valuable part of the social contact. Justice, however, is different. Let us take the example of a man who enters a court of law to be found guilty of a serious crime. The sentence passed on him may enable Justice to later come into being, but the sentence itself is not Justice, only vengeance. Later, this same condemned man may, in his cell, before his own demise, reflect upon his crimes and regret them deeply. He may forego his usual indignation and aggressiveness towards his accusers and may, in the dark of the night, confront himself and accept personal responsibility for his sorry condition. This is the moment of true Justice, as the ancient Egyptians understood it. Justice occurs when we confront and face ourselves, as only we are able to do. Gods, States, and rivals bestow vengeance, but Justice is the sacred, all-consuming moment of contrition, and all that goes with it, which we alone experience within our hearts. This is the reason why in the Book of the Dead's Papyrus of Ani, we see the human heart "weighed" against a feather. This image of the feather indicates that the heart is actually being weighed against "nothing;" nothing tangible, physical or external. If anything, it is being weighed against itself, and against the principle of Justice which is innate to all humans however perfidious they may be. So, in short, that phenomenon which we term "Justice" is not something which can ever occur outside the citadel of the self. The Eleventh Arcanum reveals the truth of this also. Libra is the seventh house of the zodiac, and is called the "Mirror of the Zodiac" since is falls directly opposite the first house of the Self.
The Justice card relates to the Precessional "Age of Libra" over 25,ooo years ago when humans lived in Matriarchal communities. In the Thoth Tarot the figure of Lady Justice is seen standing upon her tip-toes a pose reminiscent of the statuettes of ancient goddesses like the "Venus of Willensdorf," and others, excavated at sites such as Catal Huyuk in Turkey. It refers to a period of Matriarchal communities and eco-centric mysticism.
...excavations have revolutionized our concept of early religious development. The most outstanding feature is the fact that this religion was centered around the figure of the mother-goddess - Erich Fromm (Anatomy of Human Destructiveness)
The sign of Libra, and this card, are closely related to science and mathematics which were practiced to perfection in ancient Egypt. Though it is now common for science to be equated with masculine modalities of thought, this card shows a female personage. The connection between science and the Cult of the Female has long been camouflaged by those wishing to maintain the oppressive anthrocentric status quo. It is from the female gestation cycle that humans first noticed, and sought to calibrate, the symbiotic connection between the themselves and the seemingly external dimension. Because of her bio-rhythms and life-bearing ability the female was believed to be in closer harmony to the order of the cosmos. In fact, this cosmos, the night sky and the Earth itself were always thought of as being feminine in gender and aspect. The supreme goddess was known as Maat and we get our word mathematics from her name. The very word geometry comes from "measure of the goddess." All this is conveniently forgotten by modern technocrats who, in their "Newtonian Sleep," seek to enslave mankind and despoil the Earth.
Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men - Martin Luther King
Libra is the sign connected to perfection, precision, balance, calculation, honesty, fairness and arbitration. When the Justice Arcanum falls for us during a reading it usually means that we have to make major decisions, that we are approaching a crossroads point and are undergoing some kind of scrutiny or test. We may be having to prove our level of loyalty, awareness or attention. The card also deals with trials, courts, opponents, rivals and legalities of every kind which is why we still see the statue or image of the Lady with the Scales above modern court houses. It deals with the contracts we have between one another, the greatest contract, it may be argued, between man and woman being matrimony (Maat-Mon: Venus and Moon). The ritual was meant to be an external simulacra for the interpsychic drama. In true marriage the genders subside and the participants discover, and commune with, their deeper natures by way of the mirror of the other. It is both the most selfish and most selfless of communions. And for the chalice of love to be ever filled it must be forever pouring forth.
In surrendering we become feminine, the feminine depths of oneness – and a tremendous energy is released. From the Tantric point of view, the consummated human being is man and woman fused into a single unit – Ajit Mookejee (Kundalini)
Tantric sexual union is falling in love with the Whole Cosmos, it is a total surrender to the Whole Cosmos – Rajneesh
Libra is also the sign of opposites, contraries, polarities and neutrality. It is the sign associated with contradiction, and the spirit of contradiction is, to an authentic Magician, a very important quality. The Libran magician Aleister Crowley once asked his initiates to make a daily practice of contradicting every assumption and point of view that they held. Believe what you believe with all your will, he counseled, while at the same time having an equal respect for the diametrically opposite point of view. Seek Truth by finding it in the keeping of what you most ardently resist. Find light in the center of the darkness you despise. Find love in the center of all you hate, and laughter in the center of your most harrowing pain. For what knows the sun better than the moon, and the moon better than the sun? Who knows the tiger better than the lamb, and the lamb better than the tiger? The mind of the Magician must be the Page of his heart, and his heart his mind's envoy. Once he leaves the school of Libra, the Magician will allow no other person to contradict his opinions or beliefs before himself. With this attitude, his will is neither rivaled nor thwarted. As a neutral ambassador, all doors will be open before him, and all secrets laid bare before his eyes. He alone will possess the skill to wield the double-edged Sword of Magick, and find his way through the narrow gates which lead between the worlds. Before he can know himself as the Universe knows him, however, his persona, together with all that constitutes his sense of self gleaned from his corporeal existence, will need to be immolated in the violet flame which burns before the emerald gates of the Queen of the Equinox. Beyond her gate lies the precipice that exists between the masculine and the feminine, the light and the dark, life and death. At that dread place the Magician will be asked to roll back the stone, and pull the shades of grey together, to make ice burn hot and fire burn cold. He will, like a living balance, be asked to hold the sun in one hand and the moon in the other. He will have to speak the word which commands angels and demons alike, which opens the flower's bud, and which makes the harp to play itself. His will be the thought with no beginning, middle or end, his the sight that must be all-encompassing, all-pervading and all-containing. Nothing can be beyond the reach of the Magician, and nothing within him hidden from his understanding. After the trials of Libra he will return to the side of his own grave and there, as a child, stretch forth his hand and raise his own soul, Lazarus-like, from its deep and silent sepulcher. From his rejection of all power, all power will be given him. Because he returns all to her, Ma'at will have him read from her Book and learn her Magick, her secret word. Hand in hand with the Jackal he will have entered her precinct and come before her great scales as one embalmed and empty. His heart will be measured against her Feather of Truth and once it is found pure he will not see death, but will have her twin scepters given unto him. His will be the Crook of Mercy and the Flail of Severity. The Sisters of the Two Crescents will anoint him with holy spikenard and place upon his brow a wreath of leaves from the dark and ancient Tree which grows between heaven and hell. They will wash his solemn eyes with their hair, will adorn him in a crimson robe, and be ever with him, as sentinels beside his simple, uncarved throne.
Make a circle of the Man and Woman. Within the circle make a square. Within the square, a triangle form. Make about the triangle a circle again, And you will have the Philosopher’s Stone – Alchemical Adage
My adepts stand upright, their heads above the heavens, their feet below the hells - Aleister Crowley (Liber XC)
Message One, of the Lady of the Scales, is that before all other contracts we have a sovereign contract with ourselves. The way we obey and honor this contract effects every other relationship - from parent to friend, from lover to god. We can each be our own allies or our own rivals and we are certainly our own adjudicators. From the first moment of birth we are under penalty of death. Therefore, which is more important, the death day or the days of life? In this house of the living what choice are we to make? Do we take up swords against the supernal order of nature and make it conform to our personal wills as we have been doing for millennia, or do we, instead, learn to live in balance with nature and let its strange ordinances guide our steps, personally and collectively? In this Age, it seems, we prefer to advance by tyranny and the conquest of the outer, and the other, seemingly oblivious to the fact that what we seek to consume and possess eventually consumes and possesses us. Our cruelest acts are not against others but against the self. So have mystics and philosophers proclaimed for aeons, those who know the difference between loneliness and aloneness, and the difference between doing and being. As humans, we base, and justify, our actions on our so-called reason, and our reason upon the evidence of our senses. But mind also affects and distorts the "evidence" of the senses which rarely, if ever, report the truth. And one does not need to be Immanuel Kant or David Hume to know this. We are each victims of various illusions, some optical, some mental, and some spiritual. For instance, though observation tells us that the sun and moon are exactly the same shape and size in the sky above us, we know the former to be vastly larger than the latter. Though we know, intellectually, that the earth orbits around the sun, observation would have us believe the reverse, namely that the sun above travels around us. And, though we believe that our appearance changes gradually, we know that billions of our cells die every few hours. Dare we ask what grander illusions there be? And if there are grander illusions than these, will we see them?
Both read the Bible day and night; but you read black were I read white - William Blake
Message Two, of Card Eleven, is that there exists two kinds of mind: one which thinks it knows, and one which knows how to think. And there are two kinds of mirror: one which reflects what should be, and one which reflects what is. Which one are you looking into? Are you the one looking into the mirror or the one looking back? Perhaps you are both. Perhaps you are neither!
Not activity. Not reasoning. Not calculating. Not busy behavior of any kind. Not reading. Not talking. Not making an effort. Not thinking. Simply bearing in mind what it is one needs to know. And yet those with the courage to tread this path to real discovery are not only offered practically no guidance on how to do so, they are actively discouraged and have to set about it in secret, pretending meanwhile to be diligently engaged in the frantic diversions and to conform with the deadening personal opinions that are continually being thrust upon them - G. Spenser Brown (The Laws of Form)
Title quote from Aldo Ray in We're No Angels
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