The engraving pictured above is familiar to most everyone but few know what it’s about. Titled “The Flammarion Engraving,” the artist is unknown, but most likely was Camille Flammarion himself; the art was for a book he published in 1888. It depicts a missionary (a seeker of truth) who unexpectedly discovers where Earth and Heaven meet. More precisely, he came upon the liminal space (threshold) between them. That’s the stated objective of Chrysalis Tarot’s Papa Legba: to aid you in your discovery of liminality.
This blog is the third and final piece in a series about how tarot works. Many (quite wrongly) believe that tarot is something to be taught; that it is simply another decoding methodology, in this instance of randomly dealt cards. “This means that and if it’s next to that, then it means this and if it’s upside down, well then it means something entirely different.” Put bluntly, that’s just utter nonsense. It is, however, nonsense that quite a number of people successfully have turned into a profitable cottage industry constructed upon the twin pillars of medieval superstition and self-serving esoterica.
As long as tarot is identified primarily with woo-woo fortune-telling rather than with spiritual growth, it will never (and should never) earn anyone’s respect.
This is not to suggest that tarot doesn’t work – it most certainly does, as we all know. We suggest only that this is not the way tarot works and that true cartomancy, as opposed to woo-woo fortune-telling, is not comparable to, say, a Captain Midnight Decoding Ring. Not in the least! True cartomancy involves psychical communication with an unseen realm.
To glean meaning from tarot – valuable, useful, spiritually nourishing meaning – you first need to develop your innate intuitive skills and sow a fertile field for human imagination. You must, like Flammarion’s awestruck missionary, peer through the firmament that separates the seen from the unseen, the finite from the infinite, the known from the unknown, and become truly awe inspired.
We accomplish such an awakening not by consorting with rote definitions and fanciful gimmicks but by raising our Third Eye into consciousness and trusting our inner voice; by allowing ourselves to embark upon an astral journey like the lady pictured above and by contemplating energy patterns (chakras) that twist around the backbone of our being like a coiled snake – kundalini energy, which is female. The Third Eye is also known as the sixth chakra or indigo chakra. A Third Eye mandala is pictured below between two Chrysalis cards that invoke Third Eye symbolism.
Tarot employs what we might call speculative metaphysics or meta-philosophy, which is nonsensicalism to most materialists. Only those willing to peer beyond the veil can begin to comprehend the true nature of reality. At Chrysalis, we urge you to contemplate (not analyze) Holly Sierra’s extraordinary artwork on each of our cards rather than aspire to decode it.
The human psyche interprets symbols and archetypes via its personal unconscious – a realm of female energy symbolized by the moon and the serpent; the masculine conscious realm is symbolized by the sun and the raven. Archetypal symbols often mean different things to different people but always represent an initial spark of understanding that becomes the kindling of enlightenment.
© Toney Brooks, 2018