The esoteric tarot

Fortune telling or “telling the truth”?

Author: Armin Denner

Issue No: 95

As part of esotericism, the Tarot is often associated with superstition or untrustworthy fortune telling. Armin Denner clarifies that it has nothing in common with either. Instead, properly understood tarot can provide answers to fundamental questions of meaning in life.

Every person asks himself in his own way for the meaning of life. Many find this by supporting and enriching other people. Often men and women realize themselves when they start families, but also beyond the family environment many people develop certain ideas and values from which future generations can benefit. This applies, for example, to founders, inventors, artists or philosophers. (The female gender is of course addressed equally and with equal value!)
The eternally curious ones of all different orientations do not find also then rest, if the intellect reaches its borders. To each found answer they react only with additional, further questions which are then in the good end always in such a way: Where do I come from and why am I here? What is the deeper meaning of my existence and of life at all? Where are the beginning and end of existence to be classified? Often such questions of meaning do not take a particularly large value for a long time, but with a certain section of the life way they step then noticeably into the foreground. Not infrequently, this kind of search for meaning even arises only through emotional or psychological distress.
The answer to such and similar fundamental human questions is a mental or spiritual one, an esoteric one. If one turns to the generally accessible offer of esotericism, in the first place to the Tarot, one encounters however strong currents, which are to be classified with exact view at best as superstition or reality escape. Many seriously interested people wave off for exactly this reason fast again, if they were allowed to collect first experiences with the “esoteric supermarket” and evenly also with the Tarot. Such experiences do not give the impression of seriousness in the least, they unfortunately do not invite to assume a spiritual and at the same time down-to-earth finding of meaning especially with the Tarot.
In order to get answers in the sense of a down-to-earth esotericism that is suitable for everyday life, there are three rules of the game that one should get involved with in advance:

  • As above so below, as inside so outside.
  • Meaningless coincidences do not exist.
  • You are boundless and creative.

Those who willingly engage in the experiment of esoteric self-encounter in this sense discover a new, holistic view of the world and an attitude to life that has nothing to do with the widespread esoteric illusory world. Most often, researchers first encounter conventional psychology. Upon further search, however, one then always encounters a component beyond this that is commonly referred to as psychic. The perspective that is specifically directed towards the existence of the soul is a spiritual one. Who then still openly continues to research, becomes acquainted with a way of cognition, which surprisingly is compatible with the most modern sciences and which can close many a still open circle.
Whoever opens himself to the three rules of the game not only theoretically, but also practically, collects his own experiences step by step in the further course of the path, which continuously expand the purely rational model of life. Inner spheres open up, which are potentially present in every human being, but which are comparatively little used in the westernized present. But just as one can lift measurably heavier weights by permanently training one’s muscles, one also successively achieves tangible successes if one pays greater attention to one’s inner forces. The measure of which paths and providers you can follow on your spiritual path: How is this or that person doing in everyday life? Does the offered path lead to more mindfulness, goodwill and tolerance? Does this person celebrate life? Am I encountering a teaching, a person who has a peaceful and joyful attitude towards life?

By esotericism is originally meant that one directs one’s attention to the inner worlds in order to bring them into consciousness and to connect them with the outer world.

There are various recipes for the inner values and especially for their realization in everyday life. Traditions of various cultures describe ways, the execution of which awakens dormant inner spirits and brings them into life. One of the tools for unfolding the abilities of our nature, our being, are the images of the Tarot. These images have to do with fortune telling only insofar as they offer us a medium that “tells the truth”.

The richness that the Tarot has to offer to those interested is by no means the prediction of a future set in stone. This may perhaps satisfy the all too human curiosity about the future or even pretend an escape route from the harsh reality. Often the tarot is indeed practiced and successfully sold for this motive, but this is only its shadow side. When seriously dealt with, the 78 cards individually and with their almost infinite combinations open up to us a map that shows us the way to a self-responsible and independent shaping of the future. The true concern of the Tarot can be summarized in only three words: To make the unconscious conscious!

The Tarot

The 78 cards of the Tarot are divided into two groups, the Major and Minor Arcanum. The Major Arcanum consists of 22 cards that follow each other and build on each other like the stanzas of a poem. Step by step, the Major Arcana describes the human journey through life, the journey of the hero, the heroine, which we also find disguised as metaphors in the fairy tales, legends and myths of all cultures around the globe. Each of the 22 Major Arcana is the symbol of a potential archetype of the human being, whose powers are not only open, but primarily hermetic, working from the hidden. Through our attention and concentration on them, their energy gradually comes into consciousness. The sum of the 22 Major Tarot Arcana shows us the holistic character, the comprehensive potential that a person can consciously develop during his life on earth. The cards are called arcana, secrets, because this expression of human potential does not open itself to superficial glances.
The Tarot is a wisdom book in pictures that has considerably more valuable gifts to offer us than the prediction of the future, which is merely a result of whether and how we activate our inner qualities in the present. The extent to which we use our powers constructively or destructively is basically always determined by whether we use them consciously or unconsciously. With the help of the Tarot we stimulate our soul energy to unfold in the material plane of existence.

The more consciously we include the soul component in our decisions, the greater our over-, insight- and circumspection becomes in relation to the respective subject areas.

The consequence of this is that we can set our course in a more multi-layered way and with a greater sense of responsibility than before.
The historical origins of the images are unknown and ultimately irrelevant, because the inner connections of the Tarot open up anyway only when one gets involved with it in an unbiased and practical way. The actual background of the Tarot is the Kabbalah, which I would like to call here a very old esoteric tradition, yes, a science.

The concern of the tarot is our self-realization.

Originally, this is also the goal of all religions. Over time, however, the clarity of the spiritual paths of wisdom – and the Tarot is one such path – has been diluted and often falsified by human interpretations. But no interpretation of the ancient teachings, no matter how profane, can ultimately change the fact that their timeless knowledge is still preserved within every human being. Tarot has the advantage of describing the inner worlds and the way to them with pictures. A picture can tell us more than a thousand words, we grasp it intuitively and do not immediately interpret it rationally. Thus, the direct and unadulterated communication with the unconscious can emerge, if one gets involved in it.
The messages of the Tarot are sometimes well hidden, it is, so to speak, secret knowledge, which is absolutely right. If one understands secret as a “Go home!”, this is an invitation to direct the view from the outside additionally also to one’s inside. Inner worlds, which one discovers, which one remembers, are a timeless and therefore also in every respect modern adventure. Not without danger, and exactly therefore also secret! But basically the occupation with the Tarot wants to achieve only one thing: to activate our common sense. This is richer by dimensions than only a purely intellectual knowledge.

The Hanging

In the middle of the Major Arcana we come across a station with the title “The Hanged Man”. The figure depicted there is hung upside down and has the meaning that we should open ourselves to a spiritual, subtle dimension of life if we do not want to get stuck where we are. The hanged man advises us to change our current perspective and not remain stuck at the level of an exclusively materialistic interpretation of life. By shifting our current, upside-down perspective, we will learn about new, previously unconscious realms and what life has to offer beyond our reason.
The card is called the Hanged Man and not the Hanged Man because it takes a patriarchal, male-rational perspective. This has taken us far in the past era and opened up many possibilities.

But at present, the masculine and feminine perspectives should combine on a higher level, not to say in a new dimension.

Without going into further interpretations here, the statement of the hanged man is brought to the smallest denominator: It is not the matter that governs the spirit, but the spirit that creates the matter.

About the author:

Armin Denner, born in 1955, has been intensively occupied with the spiritual background of existence since his earliest youth. In 1986 he encountered the Tarot, which he immediately recognized as a medium that addresses spirituality and practical everyday life in equal measure. In addition to various holistic methods, Armin Denner has been leading the tarotproject since the turn of the millennium, where he imparts his knowledge to interested people in coaching sessions and courses. In 2004 his standard work “The Tarot Course” was published.
Follow Armin Denner on YouTube: TAROT – ALCHEMY – KABBALA – Armin Denner

This article was originally published on the German website: Der esoterische Tarot

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