Arcanum 21 Transmutation
Description of the Plate
In the superior part we find the black moon and the white moon, the antitheses.
In the middle of the plate is a magician with the staff of the patriarchs in one hand and the Ankh cross, or Tao cross, in the other hand. He is standing on a crocodile that is waiting to devour him with its open jaws. The crocodile is Seth, Satan, the psychological “I,” the “myself,” who is always waiting for those who let themselves fall in order to devour them. The magician courageously holds the Tao cross (the Arcanum A.Z.F.) to defend himself.
The magician is covered with a tiger’s skin. Undoubtedly, the dog and the tiger are esoterically associated with the same work of mystical death. The dog is the sexual fire, the erotic instinct, found in the very root of our seminal system. The tiger is different, and this is known by “the Knights of the Tiger,” those jaguars that struggle against the ego, who like authentic felines of revolutionary psychology, have launched themselves against their own selves, against their own psychological defects.
The sagaciousness and fearlessness of the tiger are really necessary to kill the human personality and to cause the Dragon of Wisdom of the Seven Serpents (symbols of the decapitated) to shine in him.
Esoteric Significance of the Arcanum
The Twenty-first Arcanum has been confused with the Twenty-second Arcanum, which is the Crown of Life. The Twenty-first Arcanum is the Fool of the Tarot, or Transmutation. The Kabbalistic addition of twenty-one gives us 2 + 1 = 3. In this Twenty-first Arcanum, the initiate has to fight against the three traitors of Hiram Abiff: the demon of desire, the demon of the mind and the demon of evil will.
The danger of being a demon is never so close as when one is very close to being an angel.
Any initiate that lets himself fall is really the Fool of the Tarot. When the alchemist spills the glass of Hermes, he converts himself into the Fool of the Tarot, “foolishness.”
It is necessary to annihilate desire if we want to avoid the danger of falling.
One who wants to annihilate desire must discover the causes of it. The causes of desire are found in sensations. We live in a world of sensations, and we need to comprehend them. There are five types of sensations:
- Visual sensations
- Hearing sensations
- Olfactory sensations
- Taste sensations
- Tactile sensations
The five special types of sensations transform themselves into desire. We must not condemn the sensations; we must not justify them. We need to profoundly comprehend them. Only by comprehending sensations do we kill desire. Only through annihilating desire is the mind liberated, a mind that is normally found bottled up within the bottle of desire. The awakening of the consciousness occurs when the mind is liberated. If we want to exterminate the causes of desire, we need to live in a state of constant awareness. It is urgent to live in the state of alert perception and alert novelty.
The ego is a big book, a book of many volumes. We can study this book only through the technique of internal meditation.