Understanding the Tarot Court (Special Topics in Tarot Series) by Mary K. Greer;Tom Little

Understanding the Tarot Court (Special Topics in Tarot Series) by Mary K. Greer;Tom Little

Author:Mary K. Greer;Tom Little [Little, Mary K. Greer;Tom]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Published: 2008-09-27T09:58:00+00:00


In western European culture, one of the most influential metaphysical systems, Neoplatonism, developed out of the teachings of Plato and Neoplatonic scholars, who elaborated on Plato's ideas through the course of many centuries. Although the roots of Neoplatonism are pre-Christian, the philosophy was adapted to fit a Christian worldview, and Neoplatonic ideas were incorporated in Christian theology.

For Plato, mind is a more fundamental reality than matter. A single, divine mind lies behind all of creation, pure, simple, and perfect. The gap between the changeless, eternal simplicity of the divine mind and the complex, strikingly imperfect realities of earthly existence was so great that intermediate stages were needed to connect the one with the other. Plato's realm of ideal forms was one such intermediary level. The forms were mental abstractions, like the idea of a perfect equilateral triangle, or like the idea of a perfect human being. We connect with the world of forms, not through our senses, which reveal only the many imperfect approximations found in the material world, but through contemplation and abstract thought.

Neoplatonic philosophers posited many different levels of reality, through which divine thought became increasingly complex and concrete, ultimately manifesting as material, earthly bodies at the lowest and final level. Neoplatonism offered a theoretical basis for the study of astrology. The stars and planets, pure heavenly lights, moving in their changeless, predictable cycles, were high up on the progression from matter to mind, and so watching their motions was something akin to peering into the mind of God.

It is quite possible that the major arcana of the Tarot were designed with a Neoplatonic conception of the cosmos in mind, since this model was pivotal to early Renaissance thinking in northern Italy. At the least, there seems to be a progression from the all-too-mundane Fool to the religious symbolism of the World card (which is actually referred to as "God the Father" in a fifteenth-century manuscript). A similar progression is apparent in the ordinary human figures (such as the Pope and Emperor) near the beginning, and loftier celestial subjects (such as the Star, the Moon, and the Sun) near the end. Scholars have yet to find an explicit match between the Tarot and any particular metaphysical system, however, so such possibilities, although suggestive, remain in the realm of speculation.


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