An Intro to Symbolism
“The Tarot is Symbolism; it speaks no other language and offers no other signs.” – Arthur Edward Waite
The pictures on the cards tell stories. They are full of allegory and allude to myths, fairy tales, archetypes. Knowing the meaning and history of the symbols gives you layers and depth to build readings upon. The Doctrine of Correspondences, a “law” of occult metaphysics and magic, says symbolic analogies and affinities exist among everything in the universe of the same or similar vibration and that which affects one thing affects others through this symbolic link, Symbols within your readings may pop up in synchronization like in dreams or in daily life. Everything in a card can be seen as aspects of yourself even when it represents something else. Your association to a symbol is what is most important. Carl Jung used the term “amplification” for acquiring knowledge and personal associations about symbols. “The psychological mechanism for transforming energy is the symbol.” – C.G. Jung
To “amplify” a symbol, list what it is that appears on the card as well as the color or any other clues about how the symbol appears. “White horse” or the “tattered red robe” write what you know about the meaning. What are the objects used for? The nature of the symbol, its function, what it does. Where has this symbol appeared literally in your life, in relation to your issue or just recently? Does it remind you of anything else? Look for re-occuring patterns and themes and summarize each of them. Which meanings go beyond the literal, can never be reduced to words, and intimate a greater reality? Joseph Cambell, in Thou Art That, says “When you are given a dogma telling precisely what kind of meaning you shall experience in a symbol, explaining what kind of effect it should have on you, then you are in trouble. Symbols may not have the same meaning for you than it had for a council at Levantine bishops in the fourth century. The individual’s assent to a definition is not nearly important as his or her having a spiritual experience by virtue of the influence of the symbol.”
Symbolism is not a key partial to the Tarot, alone. Symbolism is The Key for interpreting and maneuvering through all of life.
The world of symbols can be navigated by wishes and fears as guides. Images take on meaning and eventually can be interpreted into answers. Symbols are the secret language of the universe and by forming a key of personal associations to a symbol, you are creating a road map in which life can be navigated. Symbolism is the secret language, studied as a mystic art, the initiation of a process for personal growth and change. Symbolism is what allows us to recognize synchronization, cycles, foreshadowing, meaning, and even the subliminal, that without the awareness of symbols as a language, would slip quietly by our conscious and straight to the subconscious. Through symbols, we can find the hidden purpose and depth in everything around us. We can recognize patterns and intercede, making destiny our own. We can grasp a better understanding of ourselves, our habits, the messages portrayed to subtly control society, we can free our minds and regain individual purpose and insight. We can find the nature behind the why’s and what’s that form every event, lesson and person, gifting us the upper hand and wisdom when it comes to our every day dealings. Symbolism unveils hidden truths and once we grasp that key, new doors appear. Coincidence becomes less likely, repeated imagery becomes more apparent, we learn to see the signs that were once invisible and can choose the road we want to take, in turn, taking back our control. Though there will always be the unexpected, the inexorable force that can break the ground from right beneath our feet, we can comprehend the lesson quicker, attaining a new composure toward all that may come our way.
“Now we see the real use of the Tarot pack. It is for living in and arranging our lives with. The cards are the exchange-symbols between inner and outer life… Altogether, the Tarot is a most valuable collection of a psycho-physical currency convertible into either dimension.” – Wm. B. Gray, Magical Ritual Methods.
My belief is in positive intention and in faith. It is not the words in a spell, in a chant, the salutations or even the idea of the protective circle. It is the personal meaning someone could put faith in. Use what you believe in.