By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them!

To quote Edgar Wind, out of context:: “The claim that in these late Neoplatonic speculations there was a vestige of an ancient mystery religion, older than, Homer and Hesiod, was a theory which it would be difficult either to prove or refute, because a purely oral transmission, if it existed, could of course not be traced or tested with documents.” [1] Firstly, I am convinced that such vestiges of the mystery religions have survived. Secondly, that there is an oral transmission, thirdly that it cannot be traced with documents, but can be verified with pictures, images, symbols and other representational and non-representational forms. That puts my cards on the table. I also think it is necessary that we expand our paradigms on the nature of this transmission, beyond the boundaries of the present rationalistic discourses. We have today, a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, represented for example by H.H. the Dalai Lama and H.H. the 17th Karmapa – which has its transmission credentials clearly delineated through the centuries. I am convinced that there are other transmission lineages that are not exoterically documented. Their modus operandi is only visible through the fruits of their action patterns. By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them! And one such Fruit is definitely the Sacred Tarot. An exhaustive sacking and plundering of the historical documents of the 15th century has not as yet resulted in identifying the authors of the Tarot. Yet, parallels, mainly hermetic in nature, or neoplatonic, as is more commonly accepted, are being unearthed at a rapid rate. In the midst of the cacophony of theories and the multiplicity of versions of the Tarot, how can we maintain a stable and a true transmission, honouring the ancient lineage and the imaginal inspiration, and archetypal richness that it embodies? How can we be true to the ancestral responsibilities that have yet to bear fruit. We see the mess that our culture is in at present, the moral bankruptcy, and gross materialism, ignorance, greed and aggression that rule the day. Some astounding images have been released into mass consciousness by way of the novel. For example I quote Philip Pullman: “And for the most of that time, wisdom has had to work in secret, whispering her words, moving like a spy through the humble places of the world while the courts and palaces are occupied by her enemies.” [2] And: “We’ve had nothing but lies and propaganda and cruelty and deceit for all the thousands of years of human history. It’s time we started again, but properly this time . . .” “There are two great powers,” the man said, “and they’ve been fighting since time began. Every advance in human life, every scrap of knowledge and wisdom and decency we have has been torn from one side by the teeth of the other. Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.” [3] One could place the Tarot and its transmission within this context. The main motto of The Brotherhood of Light, which produced the so-called Egyptian Tarot, is: Contribute Thy Utmost to Universal Welfare – which is very close, if not identical to the Buddhist: May I gain Enlightenment for the sake of all that lives. To me, the Tarot is an instrument of Wisdom operating through Compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings – and I do not explore other systems, where I find the gestalt is lower than these objectives. In these times when ethics and morality take a back seat, we are sorely pressed for guidance. Though some individuals set themselves up as arbitrators of what the Tarot, should and should not do, including myself, in the long run, we are all part and parcel of a metaprogramme, which encompasses much wider objectives than the Tarot itself – and here it would be suitable to include those other great reservoirs of wisdom, Astrology, the Kabbalah, Alchemy, and so forth. In other words, a Gnostic Renaissance is under way, intuited by C.G. Jung back in the early part of the 20th Century. Nor was he alone in identifying this esoteric cartography. The question remains, as to how we, as islands in the possession of Gnostic wisdom, can set up and maintain systems of plumbing to the mass dehydrations of the psyche that surround us. There are no resources at hand, and the few who should be co-operating, are not doing so. The outlet looks pretty bleak, except for those well insulated within their inner esoteric sanctorum, the very enlightened who seem devoid of any social objectives. That is not to say that there are not invisible hands at work behind the curtain of iron materialism. But my point always remains, is that whatever we are doing, it is not enough. The harvest is great and the harvesters few. The trillions of dollars spent on instruments of death and mass destruction, identify only too clearly the seriousness of the situation. I would like to end these speculation with a small piece by the late Terence McKenna: “Now there is present in the world at the moment, or at least I like to think so, an impulse which I have named the archaic revival. What happens is that whenever a society really gets in trouble, and you can use this in your own life-when you really get in trouble-what you should do is say “what did I believe in the last sane moments that I experienced” and then go back to that moment and act from it even if you no longer believe it. Now in the Renaissance this happened. The scholastic universe dissolved. New classes, new forms of wealth, new systems of navigation, new scientific tools, made it impossible to maintain the fiction of the Medieval cosmology and there was a sense that the world was dissolving. Good alchemical word-dissolving. And in that moment the movers and shakers of that civilization reached backwards in time to the last sane moment they had ever known and they discovered that it was Classical Greece and they invented classicism. In the 15th and 16th century the texts which had lain in monasteries in Syria and Asia Minor forgotten and untranslated for centuries were brought to the Florentine council by people like Gemistos Pletho and others and translated and classicism was born-its laws, its philosophy, its aesthetics. We are the inheritors of that tradition but it is now, once again, exhausted and our cultural crisis is much greater. It is global. It is total. It involves every man, woman and child on this planet, every bug, bird and tree is caught up in the cultural crisis that we have engendered. Our ideas are exhausted-the ideas that we inherit out of Christianity and its half-brother science, or its bastard child science. So, what I’m suggesting is that an archaic revival needs to take place and it seems to be well in hand in the revival of Goddess worship and shamanism and partnership but notice that these things are old-10,000 years or more old-but there was an unbroken thread that, however thinly drawn, persists right up to the present.” Yours sincerely, Samten de Wet. Cape Town, Tuesday, June 18, 2013 [1] Edgar Wind, Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance, p.22 [2] Philip Pullman, The His Dark Material Trilogy. [3] Philip Pullman, The Subtle Knife, Scholastic, London, 1997. [4]Terence McKenna, Lectures on Alchemy


About arkanaroom

Researcher of Liminal Culture

Posted on June 18, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Great article. I was a student of H.H. the 16th Karmapa. Interesting how oral transmissions can be as effective as any written ones.

  2. Samten, how lovely to see you here on the A-Z blog challenge! I didn’t realise it was you until the end of your post! I so enjoyed this thank you! (put up more posts in the meantime?)

  3. I once spoke to Dungse Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche about text and transmission, suggesting (or is that ‘opining’?) that the 50-odd volumes of writings by the two Dudjom Rinpoche’s to date contained more than enough information for those who could read it and wondering what the lengthy teaching session added. He looked at me, snorted and said “Do you honestly think my father was so stupid that he would leave his innermost thoughts lying round on a piece of paper?”
    It might also be helpful to point out that transmission in many of the Buddhist lineages,is NOT direct, one-to-one, master-to-disciple transmission, but can also occasionally skip generations and even centuries… So what is it that authenticates a transmission passed on as it were ‘mystically’? What is it that distinguishes it from – for example – me daydreaming a ‘past life’ and ‘special connection’ with ‘the ascended masters’ as has often (and with disastrous result) been done in occidens?
    The criteria for authenticity in Tibet (where, amongst other things, we have ‘rediscovered’ and ‘mind-transmission’ texts and lineages agogo) are several, but the most important seem to be ‘completeness’, which is to say that any body of text or lineage will include the entire spectrum of Buddhist teaching and also point beyond it to the ineffable, and ‘effectiveness’ which is to say that those who first promulgate it and any subsequent practitioners of it will, in fact, find it a perfect tool actually leading to enlightenment. That through it they will come to embody enlightenment.
    Lineages and transmissions are still hotly discussed in certain Tibetan circles, generally by those who cling to their own approach as more correct – more authentic – than others, It takes a broad mind to really take in and appreciates all facets of the Buddhist jewel, and, fortunately enough, there have been great teachers who could do just that, see beyond the sectarian.

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