Thursday, October 20, 2011

Burned Black: the Hermit

As I understand it, the tarot has its roots in the Kabala; is, in effect, a projection of the Kabalistic Tree of Life. The Kabala, in turn has its roots in sacred Hebrew texts, including the Bible.

Moses led the Jews across the desert, out of slavery. He was a powerful tribal leader and, possibly, a magician. At a certain point in the exodus the people made a golden statue of a cow, and worshipped it. Interesting. Did they bring Hathor, the sacred cow, from Egypt? Angry, Moses stormed out, and climbed Mount Sinai. Note that he went up. On the Tree of Life the Hermit is the path upwards from Six to Four. Six is the highest point human spirit can reach. Four is the place where the Divine reaches down to offer us Form.

On Sinai he faced the Divine, and brought back the Law which created cohesion and consistency, and a culture that has lasted more than three thousand years from that time.

He left alone, and came back no longer a tribal leader, but a Holy Man. He wasn’t with the people any longer, and it’s interesting to note that he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land.

It’s wise, I think, to read all of this on a spiritual level at this time, and keep the Tarot away from issues of Israel and the Palestinians, a history that does, indeed, start with the arrival of the Jews from Egypt back then.

While they were preparing to escape from Egypt, the Jews gathered and waited for the Plagues to pass. They slaughtered lambs, and painted their blood on the door lintels, so the Angel of Death would pass over. Passover, of course.

These things spiral outside of time, recur and recur. John the Baptist left a corrupt society and went out into the desert. Alone, burned black by the sun, he faced the Divine and came back to announce a Messiah, a Lamb whose blood would save the people from the Angel of Death. He baptized Jesus, but he didn’t live to see his career unfold.

The Hermit goes out to a high, or lonely, or death-dealing place, and comes back changed. He comes back as a leader, no longer a figure respected in the community as a peer, but either feared, revered, or condemned. He has gone where no one would choose to go, confronted the Divine, been burned by holy fire, and come back to bring transformation.

If you like to read, read Kazantsakis’ book “The Last Temptation of Christ”. Not the pompous movie, but the book.

I ask this for myself. Is it hubris to do so? To be burned black, burned away, so that my voice can be released from the melancholy intelligent comfortable poverty I inhabit.

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