THE 31ST PATH

   “Where do we go from here?”
   "That‘s easy,” The Fool replies. “We follow the coils of the serpent Nachushten up the Tree of Life. The next path is called ‘Judgement.’ It begins the process of self-purification.”
   “Can you tell me more about the Great Work and the Tree of Life before we continue?”
   “‘Change your mind and change your life’ is a popular saying these days. The enlightened of past ages knew that ‘changing the mind’ is no easy task and referred to the process of personal regeneration as the ‘Great Work.’ Keenly aware that family and social institutions instill beliefs in the individual that become nearly intractable, the ancients knew that individuals who struggle to move beyond the prevailing group consciousness always risk subtle or overt forms of disapproval. Nevertheless, like you, my friend, people continue to be struck by lightning every day. We cannot totally ignore our spiritual nature. Some people, struck often enough, are compelled to strive for greater spiritual clarity and awareness. Moving beyond limiting social belief systems, however, requires intelligence, courage, and will power, especially since the spiritual journey moves progressively into more formless, abstract realms. The individual, by himself, might know that a greater awareness is possible but might choose not to strive for it, on the one hand, because he cannot find anything concrete to grasp, but he can, on the other hand, easily grasp the social risks.”
   “Is that where the tarot comes in?”
   “Yes, indeed. The ancients discovered a fantastic way to solve this problem. Because the human mind has difficulty comprehending the purely abstract, the ancients created myths containing concrete archetypes and symbols that function as bridges to the formless spiritual realms. Symbols and archetypes enable the traveler to voyage out into the unknown and come back with knowledge of other dimensions and spiritual principle. As images without labels, they also have the advantage of being more open to interpretation. They often appear harmlessly archaic or simply innocuous, and tend to pose little or no threat to the group mind--except, perhaps, to the fundamentalist mind. The individual privately can discover personal meanings within them through meditation and ritual. As we have already discussed, if one studies the religious pantheons of all cultures and ages, one is struck by the similarity of the archetypes, which have universal meanings that the individual can grasp and apply to his own circumstances, with a little effort. The figures of Osiris, Dionysus, and Jesus, symbols of the cosmic Christ force, can all have a profound impact on an individual whose mind is open to the forces behind the symbols.”
   “Do archetypal energies continue to exist within us always because that is how we are made?”
   “Right again.” The Fool smiles. “Most modern traditions tend to treat the use of archetypes as superstition, or, at best, as unnecessary, preferring to rely on what is considered more direct approaches, such as prayer, affirmation or treatment. There, of course, is nothing wrong with these approaches. However, they do not suit everyone. Moreover, one very important element is often overlooked in modern traditions: archetypal energy is a basic and extremely powerful form of spiritual energy, and it is an important aspect of the "collective subconscious" that connects all of us together. The symbols and archetypes, which exist "objectively" on the plane of the collective subconscious, can be accessed through the individual subconscious for spiritual growth. We should learn from the East, which has created many types of yoga to enable the individual to choose what is suitable to his temperament. For some it is easier to approach the Universal Mind by contemplating and engaging with symbols instead of remaining overawed by something that by its nature is incomprehensible to the human brain.“
   “You mean this path is just one of many paths?“
   “Yes, but it is a path uniquely suited to the Western mind. The Qabalah, known as the "Yoga of the West," uses a composite symbol of the Tree of Life as an archetypal map of the inner planes, with twenty-two paths between ten objective dimensions of existence. When an individual hears the call to adventure, finding a channel from the individual subconscious to the collective subconscious, the magical journey of regeneration up the Tree of Life commences, and the traveler, like you, sometimes encounters twenty-two doorways, each doorway with archetypes that open onto a path through an inner realm. These secret doorways exist on the physical plane as the twenty-two trumps of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. Though popularized as a divination tool, the Tarot is especially useful for spiritual growth through meditation and ritual. The ancients used the archetypes on the cards to dramatize the inner journey of regeneration and to keep the mind of the spiritual traveler focused on the inner realms. The same archetypes in different forms can also be found in many other religions. Since the symbols are so rooted in the collective subconscious, meditation on the cards can lead to an expansion of individual spiritual consciousness. Ritual use of the Tarot, moreover, can lead to regeneration of the physical, astral, mental, and spiritual levels of being.”
   “The Pentacles, Swords, Cups, and Wands are associated with those levels, right?”
   “That is correct. The ancients divided the cosmos into four holy realms, or ‘worlds,’ the energies of which also exist within each human being. ‘As above, so below,’ the ancient axiom, suggests that the human, formed in God's image, contains the same energies that permeate the cosmos: the drop separated from the ocean still contains all of the properties of the ocean, in other words. These four worlds, or dimensions of existence, contain all the levels of energy within manifestation, from the finest spiritual energies to the grossest physical manifestations. The 'world' containing the densest energies is, of course, the physical dimension. A subtler 'world' contains the foundational matrix of form. An even subtler dimension contains the archetypal energies from which the forms of manifestation spring, and another subtle dimension contains the highest spiritual energies from which emanate the abstract principles behind manifestation. The four worlds correlate with the four 'elements of the wise,' Earth, Air, Water, and Fire, as well as the four primary aspects of being, the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions. The archetypes within the Tarot reflect the energies of these dimensions, and when used as a focus in ritual, can lead to regeneration on these levels."
   “But aren’t Tarot cards normally used to tell the future?"
   “They can be used for spiritual diagnosis in a way that some people call divination because the cards can tell you what will probably happen based on the state of the soul at the moment of the reading. However, the traveler on the inner pathways of the Tree of Life is functioning through meditation and ritual primarily in the archetypal realm, not in the realm of time. Remember that the archetypes include geometric symbols as well as figures that represent specialized forces both within the cosmos and the human being. The ancients recognized them as the forces behind the diverse manifestations within nature. The ancients, moreover, recognized that the same energies exist within human beings and therefore were able to establish correspondences. Humans can also know the forces as separate, individualized intelligences, extremely powerful but capable of connecting with the human mind because the same divine energy exists within us."
   “So the old religions enabled people to know the intelligent spiritual forces?"
   “Yes, in the sense that light from the sun is refracted through a prism, revealing rainbow colors that we perceive. I would argue, though, that The Qabalah is not a religion; it is a method of using the mind, the ultimate goal being union with the Source. Repetition, a basic element of ritual, is a powerful tool in itself for changing negative subconscious patterns. The goal of Tarot rituals is to combine the psychological effects of repetition with powerful archetypal energies to enable us to know ourselves as magnificent spiritual beings filled with harmony and divine abundance."
   “As you gaze at the card called "Judgement," you can almost hear the call to greater life. The Archangel Gabriel, who announced the immaculate conception to the Virgin Mary, blows the trumpet of the Last Judgement. Below the Archangel, men, women, and children rise excitedly from tombs in the moment of resurrection. Their bodies are gray, not decomposed, which suggests that they are in their subtle bodies and are hearing the call with their 'soul' senses."
   The Fool continued, “The rebirth they are experiencing is also an immaculate conception. They are being reborn from the ‘lower’ self into the higher self. They are in an ecstasy of truth. Hearing the call of the higher self, you examine your moral conscience and question what you have believed and valued up to this time. You are called to examine outside expectations and to question all conventional wisdom that has entombed your life. The higher self is a state of meta-conscious awareness that knows the truth and cannot lie. You must conduct a thorough self-evaluation with the courage to make necessary changes to bring about regeneration and growth. You must seriously examine yourself to determine if you are ready to do that.”
   “I am ready.”
   "Imagine taking the hand of the great jackal-headed God Anubis and entering a cave, where there is barely enough light to see as you proceed deeper and deeper into the earth. The God guides you into a fire that does not burn your flesh. Instead, it consumes the negative energies of your subtle bodies, the black energy flowing down into the magma under the surface of the earth. Finally, Anubis pulls you away from the fire.
   Listen to Anubis: “Peer into the waters of the subconscious mind. Hear the call to rise above whatever is limiting you or interfering with your spiritual growth. As you look into the waters, you see that your body is translucent. You no longer see a reflection of your physical body. You are perceiving a subtler, etheric body, which holds the primary and secondary energy centers known as chakras. During meditation, you are going to cleanse each wheel of energy, or chakra, mentally with an imaginary white cloth and pure water. Whatever is negative in each chakra, you will wipe clean with the cloth. Sometimes you will have to continue wiping the chakra repeatedly, until it remains pristine. Sometimes you will find something that mentally you will need to pull out of the chakra. You might discover a message of some kind. Whatever you find, ask yourself what it means. Usually your higher self, through your subconscious, will immediately communicate its significance to you.
   “Cleanse your primary chakra system, starting with the root chakra, which is between the anus and the genitals. The chakras contain more than one color, but the subconscious mind identifies one basic color with each chakra. So begin by visualizing the root chakra as a turning, red martini glass or a red wheel. Imagine wiping it out with a damp, white cloth.
   “Make a mental note of whatever you encounter within each chakra. Your subconscious mind is communicating with you. The next chakra, in the general area of the navel, is orange. Again, envision the chakra as a turning glass or wheel. Wipe out any impurities. Repeat the same process for the solar plexis chakra (between the navel and the heart), which is yellow. Keep cleansing yourself mentally:

   The heart chakra is green.
   The throat chakra, blue.
   The third-eye chakra (middle of forehead): violet.
   The crown chakra (top of head): brilliant white.

   “This process will not always be easy. You might have to face thorny or repressed aspects of the self. You might ‘see’ that your energy system is out of balance or blocked in some way. You might remember unpleasant experiences or people from your past, but remember also that you are only judging yourself now to identify what interferes with your growth. The subconscious mind of the average person contains a fair share of junk, guilt, strange entities, and even some monsters. The element of fire and the Hebrew letter "shin," which means tooth, or tooth of fire, and suggests the holy spirit, are both associated with this path. Whatever you cannot wipe clean, you will mentally burn away or drain from a hole in your back or your feet down into the earth's core, to be purified by the fire of the earth's mantle.
   “You may find that forgiveness is an important aspect of the cleansing process. Forgive everyone who has harmed you. You can imagine a cup in front of you on a table and envision negative emotions leaving your body and going into the cup, where they drain into the earth. If you feel that you need to be forgiven, call the negative energy from the person that you harmed back to you, channeling it into the cup and draining it also into the earth. See it purified by the fire of the magma.
   “You will know when you are done, at least for the time being. It is possible at this point that you will begin to have visions during meditation because you have cleared the way for the higher self to communicate with you using the language of the subconscious mind: archetypes and symbols.”
   "Look again at the card, noticing the white flag attached to the trumpet. On the flag is a red cross, which you may recognize as a symbol of compassion. Imagine the fire of compassion blowing into you until your entire etheric body is white with fire. No impurities remain.
   “You are light, and you ‘see’ the light in everything and everyone. If you feel negative emotions again because of some event in your life, which is inevitable, don't judge yourself critically. Remember that you can always cleanse yourself again.”

CORRESPONDING COLORS
Atziluth: Glowing scarlet orange.
Briah: Vermilion.
Yetzirah: Scarlet, flecked with gold.
Assiah: Vermilion, flecked with crimson and emerald.

Take the next path.

Cards associated with the tenth sphere, Malkuth:
Ten of Wands.
Ten of Cups.
Ten of Swords.
Ten of Pentacles.
Page of Pentacles.
Cards associated with the eighth sphere, Hod:
Eight of Wands.
Eight of Cups.
Eight of Swords.
Eight of Pentacles.