John Dunn

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Illusory manifestation

Saturday, 22 May 2021

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Illusory manifestation

Pictured, Aleister Crowley, creator of the Thoth Tarot

In the Tarot de Marsailles

The French title of this card in the medieval pack is Le Bâteleur, the Bearer of the Bâton.

He is a conjurer, a trickster, an illusionist, with the tools of his tradearound him and ready to hand. To onlookers he is a magician.

What he does with his hands is with perfect spontaneity— it is easy play and not work.

He does not follow the movement of his hands. His gaze is elsewhere.

This is unconscious will, suggestive of pure creativity.

This deftness of hand connects him to another plane.

The spiritual attunement or atOnement on the part of Le Bâteleur, i.e. his connection with the Divine, results, quite literally, in grace-full creativity.

There is an ease of being that relates very closely to meditation.

In Crowley’s Thoth Tarot

Crowley attributes the Magus to the planet Mercury.

Just like Le Bâteleur, Mercury is the bearer of the baton, or wand, which sends out energy.

The Magus represents the Wisdom, the Will, the Word, the Logos by whom the world was created. As a representative of Logos, we might even see him as a manifestation of the Fool. Certainly they are aspects of each other. Both express an innocence that is devoid of any ethical judgement.

He is the messenger of the gods and represents the Word of creation whose speech is silence.

Being the Word, he is the law of reason or of necessity or chance, which is the secret meaning of the Word

He is innocent of the truth and falsehood, wisdom and folly that he represents. Being the unexpected, he unsettles any established idea, and therefore appears tricky.

The legends of the youthful Mercury are therefore legends of cunning. He cannot be understood, because he isthe Unconscious Will.

The principal characteristic of Thoth, the Egyptian Mercury, is, firstly, that he has the head of the ibis.

The ibis is the symbol of concentration, because it was supposed that this bird stood continuously upon one leg, motionless. This is quite evidently a symbol of the meditative spirit.

Thoth is also Wisdom and the Word. He bears above his right hand the Style, above his left the Papyrus. He is the messenger of the gods; he transmits their will by hieroglyphs intelligible to the initiate.

But - manifestation implies illusion. (The ape cynocephalus, at the bottom right of the card, whose business was to distort the Word of the god, reminds us of this.)

Being the messenger, he is the transmitter of the Truth, the Logos; but manifestation is not the Truth or Logos. Itis an illusion created by deftness of hand.

© John Dunn.

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