The Trumps of the Consonants II
Link to the First part of The_Trumps_of_the_Consonants.
 XII Le Pendu
XII LePendu is D-duir-oak, of which doors are made (Hebrew dalet means ‘door’), hence in tifinag and Libyan it pictures this door (sides and top of a vertical rectangle), while proto-Canaanite shows a jib, which swings like a door: this is the Cauldron’s outer horizon or lip, one’s compass without. Oak epitomizes lateral extent, its horizontal reach ideal for hanging men from. Yet this image, in one sense the hero sacrificed on his oak at midsummer, is in another sense the inverted image on the back of the eye (dancing a jig, it looks like), for D’s atom-type is magnesium, used for its highly actinic light in signaling lamps at sea, thus marking the horizon without, by sight. Indeed this is manifested fire or light in nature, that which comes to us by sight, hence oak is the tree that most attracts lightning (because of its spread) and is thus sacred to Zeus and Thorr, gods of the lightning-bolt. Twelve is the number of the hero’s companions, either remembered or gathered about, here where the hero is sacrificed at the end of his reign, when waxing year gives way to waning. It is also the number of signs through which the stellar heavens—this being the heroic or celestial god par excellence—revolve every 26,000 years or so. Magnesium is integral to the nerve-signaling of the body itself, by the way. Its rune is *thurisaz, ‘giant’, and like our D originally showed his girth or ‘belly’: one bardic epithet of this letter is David, a giant-slayer like Thorr (whose rune this is, which later became pointed and nicknamed ‘thorn’). It is the first manifested sign and thus the doorway into manifestation, accounting for the shape of the space he is hanging in, for he is the door hanging there, the god Janus, who faces both ways, towards the waxing year just completed and the waning year here begun, these two faces relating to the theme here of reflection (upside-down-ness).
 XI La Force
XI LaForce is T-tinne-holly, tree of martial discipline whose great lesson is that of many little pricks becoming one big prick by coordinating their efforts in one phalanx. It is the tree of Tiw-Teutates, god of the Thing or gathering—cognate with tuatha, Keltic for ‘a people’—which in proto-Canaanite and Libyan and tifinag is a cross-roads, or one’s mark, which is one’s oath before the community. It is thus ultimately conscience or duty. Its atom-type sodium forms the common salt used to ritually secure oaths. Hence she manipulates the jaws of the lion, meaning the force of one’s roar. This also refers to the attenuation of one’s natural impulse to achieve greater power (the spear discipline that makes a phalanx cohesive and strong) and can be illustrated by squeezing the end of a hose to make the water squirt more forcefully. Its number is the first to venture beyond one’s own ten digits and thus symbolizes that which immediately emanates from us that can affect others, this being what conscience either approves or disapproves: symbol-dictionaries call it transgression beyond holy ten, yet it is simply that which determines whether it be transgression or not and will not object if no harm is intended or compassed by one’s motive in so acting. This is leo on the Cauldron of the surroundings, which, being thirty degrees down from the horizon, means that which approaches within earshot: it is manifested air, for it is the second manifested sign in external nature and thus corresponds to the second element. Its rune is named for the god Tiw, one form of the name, tyr, conveying the meaning ‘divine honor’, which its shape, an arrow pointing up, also signifies. This tree designates what the common man must use to supplant the lost hero, that is, to mimic the heroic, namely the ability to act ‘on the square’, ‘on the up in up’, to work or defend together as a body to generate the force or strength to compete with the heroic or divine. T’s sound, by the way, is one of salt waves striking the side of a ship, for it forms salt with the chlorine right there next to it on the Egg: these slap the vessel (Egg) from the outside, representing the power that marshals the fluids outside cells (outside the Egg)—the intercellular fluid, symbolized by the ocean (saltwater).
 VIIII L’ Hermite
VIIII L’Hermite is K-coll-hazel, symbolizing that wisdom or inspiration that is contained ‘in a nutshell’, that is, drawn in unto itself, like the Hermit or wise Old Man, like the square-Hebrew kaf that signifies in one sense the cupped hand (its name means ‘palm of the hand’): this is for holding water to drink of. Hazel is linked poetically to the salmon that ate of nuts dropped from the nine hazels of poetic art, whose splatterings while cooking struck Fionn Mac Cumhail’s thumb which, once inserted into his mouth, imparted to him all wisdom (though originally intended for another). Indeed, as the virgo of the Cauldron of the surroundings, it is thirty degrees out from straight down, hence it symbolizes what is within reach, what can be tasted: things have to be in solution to be tasted, so this is water’s sense, coinciding with its being the third manifested sign (water is the third element). Its rune, called *kenaz, ‘skiff’, or *kaunaz, ‘torch’ (hence the lamp he carries?), shows the opened mouth of the poet (for the inserting of nuts and the spouting of wisdom). Tifinag has it as ‘cairn’, a pile of three stones (dots), which is for marking the setting or rising of particular stars for proper timing of festivals. For water signifies form, here meaning the form of ritual proper to the occasion. Finally, its atom-type, fluorine, is, of all atom-types, the one we most hope is separated off from us like the hermit (though a necessary nutrient in trace amounts, evidently), for mere contact with hydrofluoric acid dissolves one’s bones. This, the second month of the rule of the ‘tanist’ (god of waning year), represents the wisdom resulting from the previous month’s acting as part of a group, meaning it is that in us which can learn from mistakes and improve the design of things: this is feeling, the doer-creator’s passive side, which dominates to one degree or another the female psyche.
 XV Le Diable
XV LeDiable is R-ruis-elder, last month of the thirteen-month calendar, hence symbolic of the year’s death. But here we place it at libra, its proper station amongst the twelve signs of the zodiac (or seven of the Cauldron), as phonetically determined by its Hebrew pronunciation, guttural R (near base of tongue), which mimics the growling of the hell-hound—or any other loyal guard dog, for that matter. I do this to complete for the reader the four manifested signs as elements. For straight down is one's contact with earth, and this signifies both touch and smell, meaning it is earth’s sense, that of surface-contact, of which smell is simply the more focused aspect: through the olfactory nerves, it senses the surfaces of individual molecules. These are a single sense, their division in two being a common fallacy not limited to the modern age but simply to the uninitiated: those to whom it has not been properly explained or who are temperamentally incapable of grasping it. All senses come to us through surface-contact, hence this card pictures sensuality itself, wherein the two aspects of the doer-creator, feeling-and-desire, are chained to the devil’s forge when R, the body-mind, acts not as loyal servant but as ruler, which it does, symbolically, when rolled on the tip of the tongue (as in Italy, Spain, and northern Britain) thus raising itself up to its year-end station, which, encompassing no sign of its own, indicates things wrapping up by a return to the center of the Cauldron, the top-most point of the Egg or tongue. The two unfortunate (?) creatures also represent parents chained to the needs of their ‘little devil’. (Amongst officers of the Masonic Lodge, they are the two assistants to the Junior Warden in the south.) An English superstition says that to burn elder is to ‘bring the devil into the house’, solidifying R’s ownership of this card. Its number is that of one hand’s worth of digits having been treacherously removed from the four hands’ worth of digits necessary to the fair and equal combat of XX LeJugement. Its atom-type, phosphorus, bears a name that is synonymous with Lucifer (Venus as morning star) and is key to the formation of genes and chromosomes, as this letter points straight down towards physicality and thus relates to replication of the physical (via the gonads). The type being replicated, of course, is the antihero: mortal man.
 XVIII La Lune
XVIII LaLune is Q-quert-apple, which in Keltic poetic lore is associated with a refuge from the hounds (Myrddin’s apple tree, for instance), which is what this card portrays. One can almost see the ‘man in the moon’ moving about in the tree, dislodging its fruit, which only makes the dogs more excited. The square-Hebrew character shows virgo-the-womb (its intrinsic meaning, unbeknownst to astrologers apparently)—whose fruit apple symbolically suggests—seen from the side in cross-section, its two openings the two most closely connected to the womb: navel and birth canal. Its number would suggest nine months of gestation shared by two, mother and unborn child. This is the virgo of the Egg, for Q is Kk, and K is the virgo of the Cauldron. Proto-Canaanite qof and early Greek qoppa both have it as round fruit with stem, runic slicing this in half to look like our capital letter P—which is sounded w (v in High German) and named ‘joy’, fitting name for the apple (as in ‘apple of my eye’). The two towers must in some sense stand for a mother’s two legs, between which one issues forth into this world. (To be born, one’s ‘wheel’ must first pivot about to where one is head down in the womb: qof represents the point just before that.) The pool and droplets refer, in one sense, to the mother ‘losing her water’. As for the meaning of the crustacean in the pool, I see it more as a galley pressing towards the fruit of the quest (Argonauts, perhaps?), but being fourth-from-the-end it also obliquely refers (along with the two dogs) to Sefer Yetzirah’s reference to ‘living creatures’ (Chayim) in the context of the fourth Sefirah. (We shall briefly explore this ‘reflected Tree’, the one counting from the end, near the end of the section on the Great Name.) The atom-type here is argon, which is the gas used to fill light-bulbs that ‘chokes off’ their filaments from the oxygen that would burn them right up, whence qof’s sound (that of being ‘choked off’ in the womb, where one is dependent on the mother’s breath) and the card’s theme, the moon, since this is what street lights are in imitation of (confirmed every time I turn my head towards one, thinking I had seen the moon). It, like the other two inert gases in the first twenty-one atom-types, is one (thirty-degree) arc away from libra or zero valence-height (all three being between valence-heights zero and one to start with).
 VI L’ Amoureux
VI L’Amoureux (‘The Lover’) is M-muin-vine, the sweetness (“mm”) of whose fruit makes its juice a sweetener of other juices, when not opting for ‘evaporated cane juice’ (which no-one is supposed to know is sugar). The card pictures the interconnectedness being referenced in the line ‘I heard it through the grapevine’, as well as that of the carbon atoms that form the chains on which all life subsists. In its calendar position (to which R was returned above), it is intermediate mem, which has a leak at the bottom: this is the Light of the Intelligence lost through sexuality, the cause, when for bodily replication (since mortality and procreation are of necessity coeval), of death, and when for lust (since SEEKING physical pleasure defines one’s CURRENT state as the converse), of suffering. This is profane love, that between male and female. Mem-sofit—the Ark, before which intermediate mem kneals (in the letter’s name spelt out)—is the higher or Platonic love, which is love of (meaning desire for) self-knowledge. This latter meaning accounts perhaps for the ambivalence of Cupid’s seeming to aim his arrow so as to cut the man off from his intended mate. (The man on his right wears a cleric’s or scholar’s long robe.) Platonic love accords with its station as the Monad or first wheel—the knower, God the Father—and the profane is merely that aspect of the Monad’s omnipresence hovering near the surface, shall we say. The proto-Canaanite form shows a female gathering us to her bosom, which could be either form of love, I suppose, but probably referred to the profane variety, as the nature-worship of that age might suggest. Libyan and tifinag apparently had a lunar-crescent symbol for M, sometimes oriented so as to be the bottom half of the round, which would relate to its calendar station (at the bottom). Mother letters S and M are the initials of ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ in Germanic and in tifinag actually were the alchemical symbols for these heavenly bodies (and their metals). The most immediate link betwixt sound and meaning at its profane level is of course the sweetness (“mm”) of the lover’s kiss, symbolized by the lips coming together to form the sound (and containing all within them): M’s rune, in fact, shows two ‘joys’ (rune of Q-quert-apple) kissing (face-to-face with snouts touching). This is its meaning to the satiric antihero anyway, the god of the waning year, Don Juan being an example of the type. But its line in the ancient Irish hymn called ‘Song of Amairgen’ is ‘I am a hill of poetry’, glossed ‘and knowledge’, and we must not forget that the expression ‘knew’ can also mean ‘coupled with’. M’s association here with the number of directions of space (up-down-forward-back-right-left) would seem to identify it as knowledge of external things, of the side space is on, and yet all one need do is tweak ‘front-back’ into ‘without-within’ and it is transformed into that which includes self-knowledge as well.
 X La Roue de Fortune
X LaRoue deFortune is G-gort-ivy, which by its wandering in search of just the right blend of moisture and light to turn it into a tree symbolizes desire’s wandering or meandering, the voiced or active counterpart (dominant in the male) to K or feeling. Serpent-like vine and ivy here at the base of the spine (beginning of trip back up to the source) symbolize the kundalini or ‘serpent power’ Yoga says is coiled up at the base of the spine awaiting being raised back up to the head. Do not overlook the fact that there is a handle that turns the wheel—a ‘crank-shaft’. This month begins the journey within, towards gnosis. But this is just the first step, the inner or active end of the level which outwardly is taste or water: to taste of what is within reach (K), one must act (reach out and lift it to one’s lips), hence this represents the doer-creator. It is the ten grasping digits of desire, the doer’s active side, because, as what follows libra or physicality, it is ‘where the present instant is going to’, desire’s province (aroused by 10’s atom-type, neon). Desire comes in two distinct modes, represented by the two versions of G in runic: ‘gift’, and ‘year’or ‘harvest’, shaped like the linked arms of the spiral harvest dance. The desire to bestow and the desire to acquire are both served by the ‘camel’ gimel’s name calls to mind, on which one packs both gifts and acquisitions. Proto-Canaanite shows either its hump or else (more likely) a pyramid seen in the distance half covered with sand, as if the distant goal of a caravan. This shape specifically arises from G’s Cauldron position, where its radius forms the inner side of the fire triad of the Egg: we see both the inner and outer sides of this triad, plus the extension of the inner side down to G’s station. Libyan uses the Greek gamma—which shows a man’s erection, seen from the side—but tifinag has two forms, like runic: one is a cauldron—which is what I suspect the X-shaped rune ‘gift’ also conveys, albeit minus its ‘lid’—and the other is a vertical line with a dot on each side of the base—the male organ and testes. Both references to the male organ refer to its sign, scorpio (as if Greeks and Libyans put the doubles on the Egg and reserved the vowels for the Cauldron). The X-shaped rune ‘gift’ becomes, in Greek, the X-shaped letter chi, initial of Christ.
 VII Le Chariot
VII LeChariot is P-peith-whitten, or dwarf elder, or water elder, or guelder rose. The only thing I have been able to ferret out from the tree-name directly is a possible relation to dwarf cranberry, which by its association with the crane recalls the crane-bag in which the letters of the alphabet themselves were carried (according to myth). But the meaning here is unmistakable, especially given what the card pictures and what its atom-type is: this is the Merkavah or Throne-chariot, the ‘chair’ of the poet, the poetic-prophetic mysteries themselves. For this is nitrogen, four-fifths of what we shape into speech (namely air), square-Hebrew peh being the mouth when speaking (mouth with tongue inside) and proto-Canaanite showing a spiral or ear: this is appropriate to the sign within that is on a level with what approaches within earshot without. Its tree is obscure because it symbolizes the mysteries themselves. Its rune bears a name of unknown meaning but has a shape that is simple to interpret: it is the rune-cup or rune-bag on its side, that is, in the process of casting runes (dice with runes inscribed thereon). For the mysteries compass both divination and magic—divining what is up, and incanting to change it. Specifically, it is where one learns to harness duality, transmuting it from fear to motivation, though the poor antihero being satirized still sees himself as one of the horses being driven, rather than their driver. The Cauldron is that in which the antihero’s ‘goose is cooked’, the stops tripping him up or containing him, penning him in. The kind of mysteries here pictured are made clear by the driver’s epaulettes, which are the masks of tragedy and comedy, the heroic and the satiric—the two halves of the year as they relate to the prime bardic myth. The driver’s crown identifies this as the Throne-chariot or Merkavah, not an ordinary war-cart, though its symbolism (charioteer as poet, for instance) appears to go back to this common military heritage of Indo-Europeans and others. This month is late in the reign of the god of the waning year and thus ‘make or break’ for him: he needs must get it together fast, as his reign is coming to an end with this approach to self-knowledge.