Category Archives: Tarot

Bosch & The Tarot

Bohumil Vurm, Jheronimus Bosch and the Symbolism of Tarot Cards
Bohumil Vurm is the Chairman of the board of the Hieronymus Foundation (Czech Republic) which is devoted to the promotion of the work of Hieronymus Bosch. Most prestigious project of the Foundation to date was the restoration of the famous triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights in cooperation with the Prado Museum, Madrid, during 1998—1999. He was one of the originators of the idea of the international exhibition on Hieronymus Bosch which took place in the Boymans-Van Beuningen Museum as a part of the project Rotterdam — European City of Culture 2001 .


Invitation to The Pisces Imaginarium

The Piscean Imaginarium


Artist and 60’s survivor, ex-Buddhist monk, investigator of cultural & esoteric traditions & the History & Symbolism of the Tarot.

According to revered opinion Cape Town is ruled by Pisces. It is suggested that an amplification of this Sign, would have creative ramifications on the Inner & Outer, Individual & Collective social fabric of the city. This Illustrated talk consists of explorations of the archetypal material, and some speculations on the tripartition of the psyche in Piscean/Neptunian Astrological & Tarot symbolism . . . The title of the Talk honours the new Terry Gilliam film, “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus,’ which features the Tarot image of Pisces, The Hanged Man . . . . . .


Thursday 19th August,

Ikhaya Lodge, Dunkley Square, Cape Town.
6.30 p.m. for 7 p.m.

The Talk will be published and available for sale. Please RSVP if you are attending – or if not, whether you would like a copy reserved for yourself. Drinks, food, snacks etc are all available both before and after the talk. EMAIL


Thursday, July 15, 2010

This from Andrew Grewar on my Luxlapis Facebook Page – and my answer, should be seen as part of a process, under construction at the moment.

Hi Samten, Wondering how to deal with things as an individual, and as a social and spiritual being. Please will you do a Tarot reading for us all about the crises our planet and its living systems are facing. Thank you!

Andy Grewar.

Though most people assume the Tarot cannot be used for planetary problems, this is not the case. In any event, it is homo sapiens that has caused the damage. And further, it is a certain section of sub-humanity that, in particular, must bear responsibility. In her novel, ‘The Year of The Flood’ Margaret Attwood lays the blame on ‘The Corporations’: “They couldn’t afford to be viewed by the average consumer as lying, heartless, tyrannical butchers.” But the Corporations, in turn are governed by a small sector of Directors and Shareholders. It is in these nerve centres of power that the view of profit over planetary health, has flourished, e.g. as clearly evidenced by BP. Obviously, these problems are not part of Archetypal Love and Generosity, say for example as the creative action patterns of Venus/Aphrodite, in Tarot and Astrological coding. Nor do they manifest the religious and spiritual generosity of Zeus/Jupiter.

The complete codification of our present problems, as manifest in the materialistic modality, is therefore part of the archetypal constellation of Saturn/ Arcanum 15, The Black Magician, The Devil, and to a certain extent: Pluto, Arcanum 22 – in that there is a strong connection between Power & Plutocracy.

The Tarot is an extraordinary system – in that it displays in an open manner some of the more unsavoury aspects of existence itself: Death, Destruction, Devil, Liminality, and so on. Sadly, no one to date has requested a workshop on Arcanum 15/The Devil. Or on Death, Arcanum 13 – The Reaper. Umberto Eco, in his stunning new compilation of Images and Text; ‘On Ugliness’ – has gone some way to rectify the situation.

IN many systems, alchemical, astrological, Kabbalah, Tarot, these archetypes are called: malefic, which means, causing harm – from the Latin maleficus, from male ‘ill’ + –ficus ‘doing’. When one looks at those pictures of the dying oil-covered pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico – we can definitely say this is ‘causing harm.’ Neither should we forget Hiroshima, Nagasaki, or the Concentrations Camps.

Explorations of Arcanum 15/The Devil – brings us close to the Buddhist approach of ‘causing no harm’ – and an analysis based on thousands of years of archetypal material, reveals some of the deepest and most esoteric foundations of the problems that have benighted the human condition, embedded in Arcanum 15. In order to simplify the matter, I am calling this cluster of research materal:


It will become available to subscribers in print/published form, plus a CD with a PPS presentation, and Interactive web/blog/ Facebook material – or/and/ where geographically possible, as an intensive Workshop.

Yours sincerely, Samten

Various Sites

Giordano Bruno

Download the large memory Wheel. Bruno is of course forgotten now – and he died at the stake, burnt alive – and believed in The Infinity of The Worlds!


After Warburg’s death in October 1929 and the migration of the Institute to London in 1933, Brunian studies at the Warburg Institute took a very different direction thanks to the research of Frances Yates (1899-1981). …

The Moon in Cancer. :: Tarot, Astrology, Numerology & I-Ching

Authentic Tarot. On-line free tarot readings. Consult tarot for help and advice on love and relationships. Get tarot insight, future predictions.

Also inspired by Umberto Eco’s new book – an exploration of the Tarot Arcanum 13 – Death – The Reaper leads one into the wonderful world of the macabre. . .

The Medieval Dance of Death

Dances of death in Lübeck, Tallinn, Berlin, Paris, London and Denmark. Pictures, books and primary sources.

Water on Water

In a recent Group Tarot Reading in Tokai, Cape Town – Arcanum 17 made an appearance. In the Egyptian Tarot [B.O.L.] and a few others, She is Pouring Water from the One Jar, onto Water. Our host asked for further explanation. Here are some undocumented examples from a Google search. Do your own research and offer any examples:

Then, after much meditation, the feeling arises within the bodhisattva that the mind that meditates and emptiness are one, like water poured into water;

The Vedas explain, "As water poured into water, milk poured into milk, ghee into ghee become one without differentiation, even so the individual soul and the Supreme Self become one." Aum Namah Sivaya.

In samadhi, the distinction between consciousness and the object is like water poured into water.

The practitioner thinks, the deity and I have now become the same, like water poured into water.

An extraordinary, energetic peacefulness permeates the home, their words, their gifts to us, like water poured into water.

The state of the mind in which to recognize the light is described as “self-contained in its own nature like water poured into water,

One experiences one taste like water poured into water. In the expanse of the middle way, accomplish the samadhi of the meditation of simplicity.

It shoots like an arrow to Vajrasattva’s heart, mixing inseparably with the wisdom deity, just like water poured into water.

Then, from: Rita Gross, Pouring Water into Water:

“Many people assume that the relationship between Buddhism and feminism is something like that between oil and water: They don’t mix very well. But I want to propose the possibility that the relationship is more like that of water poured into water, which is a metaphor that’s used in some of the Tibetan texts for talking about individual enlightenment merging with universally enlightened mind. When water is poured into water, the waters become indistinguishable. Maybe that’s the proper way to talk about the relationship between Buddhism and feminism.”

short article is available online as a .pdf, a search will bring it up, or if
you contact me I will email it to you.]

The image is posted one Luxlapis page, compared to the Egyptian Deity Hapi.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

What do these three arcanum have in common? Firstly, they all add up to 4.

[4 13
– (1 + 3 = 4) – 22 – ( 2 + 2 =4) ]

Thus, in their numerological essence, they are 4.

But this is not all. For anyone who works with astrology can see the relationship is deeper.

Scorpio [4] and Aries [13] are both Ruled by Mars, while Scorpio is co-ruled by Pluto [22].

From this departure point, a wide range of archetypal correspondences can be amplified.

New Material on Mantegna Tarocchi & Sola Busca

Nadya Chishty Mujahid, An Introduction to Western Esotericism: Essays in the Hidden Meaning of Literature, Groups, and Games, Edwin Mellen Press, 2008

Chapters include:

5. The Epsilon-Sigma Caduceus: The Mantegna tarocchi as a book of ritual for Kappa Sigma

6. The Sola-Busca Sundial: A Renaissance tarot deck as a mutus liber of ritualistic initiation

“Carefully researched and helpfully illustrated, [the] book [also] elucidates the long history of the Tarot, which stretches back to the 15th century, and its permeation of familiar (and sometimes not so familiar) cultural texts.” – Prof. Joe Lenz, Drake University…ookid=7437&pc=9

Elsewhere she writes:

“This leads to a question: how useful then is much of the available scholarship on the Tarot (especially that which is written in English), and can it be considered scholarship at all? The answer is that it depends on whether one views the issue from the perspective of cultural studies or from that of other disciplines. Art history has consistently regarded the development of Tarot as a fascinating sub-field, and Arthur Hind’s classic work published in the early 1900s titled Early Italian Engraving testifies to this in no small degree, as indeed do Kaplan’s above-mentioned encyclopedias. Oddly enough, Western esotericism (formerly a sub-discipline of religious studies and now widely regarded as a field in its own right) has yet to give more attention to this topic, although Irwin’s text provides a definite starting point for the scholar and layperson alike. One reason for this might be that most Western esotericism scholarship that centers on the Tarot is in French, and, fine and informative though it may be, that naturally limits its reception in the English-speaking world. However, Wouter J. Hanegraaff’s Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism does provide a readable English section on the Tarot (by expert Jean-Pierre Laurant) with a useful list of sources. If one regards humanities as a broad and overarching discipline in itself, there certainly is a niche for Tarot scholarship under the rubric of it.”
Tarot Studies as Scholarship

Nadya Qamar Chishty-Mujahid…/view/3804/2701

Paper Title: Manuel Chrysoloras and the Origins of the Tarot: The Probable Masonic Influences Incorporated in the Mantegna Tarot

Abstract: This paper posits that humanist Manuel Chrysoloras, the founder of the prestigious Italian Renaissance fraternity of Kappa Sigma, was familiar with early Masonic principles and, in fact, may have been the first Renaissance Freemason. Moreover, what we now regard as the E and S-series of the “Mantegna” tarot probably originated from images used by Chrysoloras to inform his student-followers about Pythagorean, Platonic, and Ptolemaic concepts. Central to the clarification of my theories are issues concerning Chrysoloras’s links to the powerful Italian ducal houses such as the Visconti family, whose patronage of this enlightened scholar and diplomat most likely proved to be enormously influential to the development of the tarot, especially over the course of the fifteenth-century. In sum, I will demonstrate that key cards of the “Mantegna” tarot’s E-series appear Masonic in nature and were likely inspired by the classical and hermetic teachings of Chrysoloras.



An Examination of Andrea Ghisi’s Venetian “Labyrinth” Game and its Hermetic Predecessor, the Mantegna tarocchi

“In 1616, Venetian nobleman Andrea Ghisi presented Giovanni Bembo (then Doge of Venice), with a curious game based on the Mantegna tarocchi. My research in hermeticism has involved an exploration of the E- and S-series of the Mantegna engravings (ca. 1460), that appear to exhibit hermetic characteristics. In this paper, I attempt to reconstruct the original game that constituted Ghisi’s “Laberinto.” Although Ghisi did not leave clear directions as to how this game was to be played, certain images of this elegant set (especially those that appear to deviate from the original Mantegna engravings) provide clues that help one establish a relationship between “Laberinto” and a type of “chess.” Special consideration will be given to the concept of “mutation”: Ghisi’s game is as mutated a version of the Mantegna tarocchi as the abovementioned “chess” is a mutated form of the most predominant version of the game played in seventeenth-century Europe.”

Nadya Chishty-Mujahid is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo. She received her Ph.D. in English Literature from McGill University in Montreal.

Further on Chrysoloras and the Mantegna Tarot



By Samten de Wet

John D. Blakeley writes:

“Indeed, there is valuable guidance in a beautifully written book which was undoubtedly based an Sufi traditions in Persia although, as might be expected, it does not make direct reference to the Tarot illustrations. It was written in 1899 under the title of The Mystic Rose from the Garden of the King, and it was attributed to: A Fragment of the Vision of Sheikh Haji Ibrohim of Kerbela, who may possibly have been a quasi-mythological figure adopted for the purpose of conveying esoteric instruction. The author at the time was a member of the Diplomatic Service in Teheran, but eventually he was to become Sir Fairfax L. Cartwright, G.C.M.G.. G.C.V.O., the British Ambassador at Vienna.”

An entry on the Occult Forum states:

“Idries Shah also notes that a few other works were done in a similar fashion at that time. . . notably Sir Fairfax Cartwright (an English diplomat with Sufi influences), who wrote a fantasy story "Mystic Rose from the Garden of the King" in 1899, and who attributed it to an Oriental by the name of "Sheikh Haji Ibrahim of Kerbala".

That Sir Fairfax Cartwright himself wrote the “Mystic Rose” is an interesting suggestion. If, as Blakeley writes: “The author at the time was a member of the Diplomatic Service in Teheran . . .” it is within the bounds of probability that Cartwright came into contact with some Sufi School. Henri Corbin would later devote his life to the study of mystic Sufi teachings, in Teheran as well. Whether Cartwright visited Kerbala cannot be proved until the documentation of his movements is studied. But again, as a Diplomat in Persia – it could be possible. There are photographs of Persia in the Cartwright Archives.

Whatever the case may be, the text of the “Mystic Rose” could not have been created ex nihlio. Another possibility, is that Cartwright had before him a deck of the Tarot, and perhaps used the cover of Sheikh Haji Ibrahim of Kerbala to present a Western esoteric system to Oriental eyes. The text of the “Mystic Rose” needs to be examined to whether it represents genuine Shi’ite mysticism.

Neoplatonist influences in Sufism, and especially Shi’ite transmissions, have been extensively researched. . . from Idries Shah onwards; to Jereer El-Moor, The Occult Tradition of the Tarot in Tangency with Ibn ‘Arabi’s Life & Teachings; while Dai Léon, in his ‘Origins of the Tarot . Cosmic Evolution and the Principles of Immortality’, Random House, writes:

“It is the thesis of this book that the twenty-two images conceptually originated in Sufi circles trained in Greek studies.”

In addition, Byzantine intellectuals frequented the Court of Memhet II prior to the Fall of Constantinople, and the great Byzantine scholar Milton V. Anastos has shown how Sufi influences may have penetrated through to Italian via the mediation of Giorgios Gemistos Pletho after his sojourn at Bursa.

Sheikh Haji Ibrahim

What do we know about Sheikh Haji Ibrahim of Kerbala? Kerbala is also written as: Karbalā –

“ . . city, capital of Karbalāʾ muāfaah (governorate), central Iraq. One of Shīʿite Islam’s foremost holy cities, it lies 55 miles (88 km) southwest of Baghdad, with which it is connected by rail.” []

“Only the Shia believe that Karbalā is one of the holiest places on Earth according to the following traditions (among others): . . .” [Wikipedia]

At another website, [mirrored on various other sites] this small piece came to light:

Morning Star

“The herald of the light is the morning star. This way man and woman approach the dawn of knowledge, because in it is the germ of life, being a blessing of the eternal.”

Haji Ibrahim of Kerbala

Looking at ‘The Star’ – Arcanum 17 in the “Mystic Rose”, we can see the language is not totally irreconcilable with:

“I am the Eternal Youth of Nature. In the depth of the Material World lieth hid the Water which welleth up in the Fountain of Immortality. The Glory of the Sun have I absorbed in my golden tresses; from my diadem of stars do I draw down the Spirit into the Body of Man; into his fallen Soul I breathe the Hope of Redemption; through me cometh to man the Courage to struggle against the bondage in which he is placed’.”

‘Rose Garden’ and Fountain symbolism is rich in Islam. But the main riddle remains, with consequences that are staggering to contemplate. If, the ‘Rose Garden’ is a genuine Shi’ite mystical text – where did it originate? Though we have a location in Kerbala – what other possibilities could be speculated on, as this question remains in the realm of speculation.


The Mystic Rose from the Garden of the King. A Fragment of the Vision of Sheikh Haji Ibrahim of Kerbela, by Sir Fairfax L. Cartwright, London, H.S. Nichols, 1899

Fairfax Leighton Cartwright

Morning Star

Haji Ibrahim of Kerbala

Is at:

Website of Rev. Dr. JC Husfelt, the Morning Star. Philosopher and Ontologist

Karbalā –

Dai Léon, in his ‘Origins of the Tarot . Cosmic Evolution and the Principles of Immortality’,

Jereer El-Moor, The Occult Tradition of the Tarot in Tangency with Ibn ‘Arabi’s Life & Teachings

Occult Forum – The Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yezdi

Idries Shah – Tales of the Dervishes

John D. Blakeley, The Mystical Tower of the Tarot, Watkins., London, p.67.

Tarot & Emblem Books

Though there is a great wealth of material on Emblem Book online, not much research has paid attention to the relationships of the Emblem Tradition, to the Tarot, if indeed any such links exist. Important among Elizabethan Emblem Books is: Henry Peacham’s Minerva Britanna

This online edition was compiled by the students of the Middlebury College first-year seminar on Emblem Literature.

Here is an 18th Century Edition of: Cesare Ripa, Iconologia, (Perugia, 1764-67)

Egypt and The Tarot

There is no real sense in which we can call the Egyptian Tarot, Egyptian. Yet there is a lineage that can be followed, like the silver trail of a snail across a piece of black velvet. Besides this silver analogy, there is also the Golden Thread, or The Thread of Ariadne. Which can be traced through the ages, the millennia as an unbroken transmission, that still contains a message for us today, and most likely, a message for tomorrow. Why is the Tarot Egyptian, and how has it traced its lineage across time? Buried under the surfaces are other discourses. The outer form is exoteric . . .

For examples, Francis Yates writes:

"Giordano Bruno was to take the bolder course of maintaining that the magical Egyptian religion of the world was not only the most ancient but also the only true religion, which both Judaism and Christianity had obscured and corrupted."

Francis Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, p.11

An important book, recently published is:

Erik Hornung, The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West, translated by David Lorton, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001, 229 pp., hardcover. Read a review Lee Irwin, of Religious Studies, College of Charleston HERE.

Also important for following the thread:

Dannenfeldt, Karl H., Egypt and Egyptian Antiquities in the Renaissance, Studies in the Renaissance, Vol. 6, (1959), pp. 7-27

Griffiths, J. Gwyn, Allegory in Greece and Egypt, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 53, (Dec., 1967), pp. 79-102.

al-Suyūṭī, Jalāl al-Dīn, and Leon Nemoy, The Treatise on the Egyptian Pyramids (Tuḥfat al-kirām fī khabar al-ahrām), Isis, Vol. 30, No. 1, (Feb., 1939), pp. 17-37.

These three articles are available on JSTOR.