Thursday, October 19, 2017

Alphabet of Desire, Tarot and the Tree of Life


Alphabet of desire is one of the interesting legacies of the British occultist Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956). The diagram above shows a circular display of microcosm, or psychocosm made up of symbols and meanings of its alphabet of desire, or atavistic alphabet, each letter of which, in the words of Kenneth Grant, is one sexual principle powerful enough to initiate primal atavistic deposits in the psyche.

From the enclosed diagram we can see 18 symbols which mark a state-emotion-passion divided into six triads having planetary attributions. So we get the following table:
Saturn / Death = Relief, Destruction, Atrophy;
Jupiter / Desire = Joy, Attraction, Greed;
Mars / Hate = Anger, Aggression, Disgust;
Venus / Love = Exaltation, Passion, Devotion;
Mercury / Fear = Horror, Terror, Aversion;
Moon / Sex = Dissolution, Lust, Frustration

We note that the Sun is and its attributes are missing, so, in order to realize my intentions of connecting Spare’s alphabet with the Major Arcana of the Tarot, I added another three terms associated with the solar nature: Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge. Kabbalistic sensitive readers will immediately recognize names of Sephira of the Tree of Life: Chokmah, Binah and false Sefira Da’at. Knowledge, understanding and wisdom are the expressions of articulation of intellectual passions and desire, if I may say so. So, my intervention is not simply an addition to Spare's alphabet, nor is it my intention, but - I repeat - part of the process of synthesis of relevant correspondence between the alphabet and great desire Arcana tarot. Also, Speer's diagram is useful for drawing parallels with the Kabbalistic ways of creation. Here's how looks analogous set of elements of Kabbalah, Tarot, Alphabet of Desire, astrological and spatial attributes (the so-called Paul Foster Case’s cube of space):

Sephirots
1.Keter / Crown = Aces of Tarot = Imagination = first mover = North;
2. Chokmah / Wisdom = Twos of Tarot = Will =Stars = northeast;
3. Binah / Understanding = Threes of Tarot= Death = Saturn= northwest;
4. Chesed / Grace = Fours of Tarot = Desire = Jupiter = east;
5. Geburah / Austerity = Fives of Tarot = Hate = Mars = West;
6. Tiphereth / Beauty =Sixes of Tarot = Sun=Reason=above;
7. Netzach / Victory =Sevens of Tarot = Love = Venus =southeast
8. Hod / Shine =Eights of Tarot = Fear=Mercury =Southwest;
9. Yesod / Basis = Nines of Tarot =Sex = Moon= south;
10. Malkut / = Kingdom Tens of Tarot =Sensation = Earth =below;
False Sefira Da’at / Knowledge = Thought =Center

Paths
11 Alef / ox = Fool card =Madness = element Air = line connecting the upper and lower plane of the cube;
12. Bet / house= Magician card = Terror = Mercury = upper plane of the cube;
13. Gimel / camel = High Priestess card = Dissolving = Moon= the lower plane of the cube;
14. Dalet / door = Empress card= Exaltation = Venus = front (east) plane of the cube;
15. He / window =Emperor card = Aggression =Aries= northeast vertical line connecting the upper and lower plane of the cube;
16. Vav / wedge= High Priest card= Commitment = Taurus = Southeast vertical line connecting the upper and lower plane of the cube;
17. Zayin / sword = Lovers card = Terror = Gemini = upper east line connecting the northern (left) and south (right) plane of the cube;
18. Chet / fence = Chariot card = Lust = Cancer = lower east line connecting the northern (left) and southern (right) plane of the cube;
19. Tet / Snake = Passion (Power) card = Knowledge = Leo = upper northern line connecting the east (front) and west (last) plane of the cube;
20. Yod / hand = Hermit card = Aversion= Cancer= lower northern line connecting the east (front) and west (last) plane of the cube;
21. Khaf/ palm = Wheel of Fortune card = Joy = Jupiter = last (western) plane of the cube;
22. Lamed / whip = Balance (Justice) card = Passion = Libra= northwest vertical line connecting the upper and lower plane of the cube;
23. Mem / water = Hanged Man card = Frustration = Water element= line connecting the front (east) and rear (west) plane of the cube;
24. Nun / fish = Death card= Disgust = Scorpio = southwest vertical line connecting the upper and lower plane of the cube;
25. Samech / column = Moderation (Skill) card= Attractiveness = Sagittarius = upper west line connecting the northern (left) and south (right) plane of the cube;
26. Ayin / eye = Devil card= Destruction = Capricorn= lower west line connecting the northern (left) and south (right) plane of the cube;
27. Peh / mouth = Tower card = Wrath= Mars = North (left) side of the cube;
28. Tzadeh / hook = Star card = Atrophy = Aquarius = upper southern line connecting the front (east) and rear (west) straight cubes;
29. Kof / nape= Moon card = Greed= Pisces= lower southern line connecting the front (east) and rear (west) planes of the cube;
30. Reysh / face = Sun card= Wisdom = south (right) side of the cube;
31. Shin / tooth = Eon (Court) card = Understanding = element of fire= line that connects the left (north) and right (south) plane of the cube;
32. Tav / cross= Universe (World) card= Relief = Saturn and the Earth element = center of the cube;

By this system of attributes we get new elements for interpreting messages we receive through the Tarot. In short: Fool = madness; Magician = horror; High Priestess = Dissolution; Empress = exaltation; Emperor = Aggression; High Priest = Devotion; Lovers = Terror; Chariot = lust; Passion (Power) = Knowledge; Hermit = aversion; Wheel of Fortune = Joy; Balance (justice) = Passion; Hanged Man = frustration; Death = Disgust; Moderation (Skill) = Attractiveness; Devil = Destruction; Tower = Anger; Star = atrophy; Moon = Greed; Sun = Wisdom; Eon (Court) = Understanding; Universe (World) = Relief;

Also, we can project the expanded attributes of Spare’s Alphabet of Desire onto the Tree of Life in the following way:
Imagination and Will (imagined as Sephirah) connects Madness or Folly (conceived as a path), or a way out of reason. At the same time, madness connects but also interferes with the connection of Imagination and Will; Imagination and Death are connected by Terror; Imagination and Reason connects Dissolution;
Will and Death connects Exaltation; Will and desire connects Devotion; Will and Reason connects Aggression- will uses aggression to compel while reason hampers the will by the aggression of rationality;
Death and Hatred connects Lust; Death and Reason connects Terror;
Desire and Hatred connects Knowledge; Desire and Reason connects Aversion;
Hatred and Reason connects Passion; Hatred and Fear connects Frustration;
Reason and Love connects Disgust; Reason and Fear connects Destruction; Reason and Sex connects Attractiveness;
Love and Fear connects Anger; Love and Sex connects Atrophy; Love and Sensation (feels) connects Greed
Fear and Sex connects Wisdom; Fear and Sensation connects Understanding;
Sex and Sensation connects Relief;

We can see that the middle pillar of the Tree of Life is connected by the three paths from the bottom up: Relief, Attraction and Dissolution. Path Gimel / High Priestess is precisely the Dissolution which leads from Tiphereth / Reason, over the abyss of Thoughts to clean Imagination projected by the Infinite Mind (Ayin Sof).

Translated by Sandra Šabotić