The Biology of the Tarot - Part II
by La Vonne Parker
Once I began to make connections between the elements of the Periodic Chart and the elements of the tarot I asked myself to think of other ways tarot might be interpreted using these facts. If hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon are associated with cups, wands, swords and disks then their relationship will additionally pour over into the Major Arcana and not simply contained within the confinement of pip cards. Additionally, I began to see more biological connections as I studied each card. Demonstrating the biology of the tarot in his highest form is The Magician I, displaying all his tools upon his table. The Wheel of Fortune X, spins around the elements to create new substances. Temperance is careful to never spill a drop. Mastering all the elements is The World XXI.
Through his will the Magician decides which tools to use to create illusions, change, and matter. In the biology of the tarot, in his highest form, he displays all his tools upon his table. The Magician works with all four elements: nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. The World is at his feet. He can create anything. But the question is Will. As Aleister Crowley explains in his definitive work, The Book of Thoth, "It represents the Will.", we know that The Magician's will is the source behind what will be manifested using these elements. Does he demonstrate skill and wisdom when using his will? Nitrogen and oxygen together produces pollution while hydrogen and oxygen together creates water. All the atoms together in varying degrees creates the cycles of life, replenishment and rebirth. It can be complex, it can be simple. Above all, The Magician has a responsibility to his power of regulating The Wheel of illusion, change and matter.
The Wheel of Fortune X, spins around the elements to create new substances. Constantly moving, never ceasing, the cycles that replenish all of life. The four elements; hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon are essential workhorses of the Calvin Cycle which is the cycle that life uses to turn sunlight into food and energy. Cycles and the turning of events is usually depicted as a wheel. In every turn of the wheel a new substance is born. Using the amazing Krebs Cycle our cells breath, accessing the wheel of elements, sustaining the miracle of life. The ATP cycle rolls out the energy needed for maintaining these cycles. One cycle gives way to the next cycle. All working together with the precision of the workings of an old clock, never spilling a drop.
In her companion book to the Shining Woman deck, Rachel Pollack points out that Temperance is card 14 which aligns with the fact that each suit of the tarot contains 14 cards and, "Therefore, we can look at the four suits as four ways...". When the elements of the universe work together perfectly, as they always do, miracles occur in each moment although we take these miracles for granted. A scientist may claim that there is no miracle, it is only science. But is science not a miracle once we look closely at how molecules and atoms work together with other molecules and atoms with perfect precision? Temperance XIV is the card of that precision, that miracle, bringing together polar opposites and uniting them as one. Lipids or fatty acid molecules meet with the dangerous and caustic sodium hydroxide molecules also known as lye, creating a sweet, clean smelling glyceride molecule. Glyceride molecules join together to make pure soap. A scientific miracle. Temperance never spills a drop as she pours with perfect precision.
Mastering the elements is The World and not just the four elements of The Magician but all 92 elements of the Periodical Chart as noted by Aleister Crowley in his work The Book of Thoth. These elements are represented in his foundational Thoth deck, located on The Universe card and, "...is represented the skeleton plan of the building of the house of Matter. It shews the ninety-two chemical elements." It is then reasonable to suggest that since the complete chart of all elements known at the time of Crowley's work are all depicted on the card then the representation would also include even finer particles such as neutrons, electrons, protons and even the smallest called quarks. These components are the components of the fundamental functions of the Universe. In addition, Angeles Arrien, PH.D., author of The Tarot Handbook, states that, "The four animals in the corners of the card represent the four elements..." signifying that while all 92 elements are noted, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon remain as the most essential. Mastering a balance of the four elements creates a universe of perfect equilibrium.
As I journeyed my way through a few chosen Major Arcana cards for the pure pleasure of elemental dissection I began to diagnose that there is some aspect of interplay of elemental atoms on all the Major Arcana cards. Each card emphasizing a unique point of view, a unique tool, representing a different energy for conducting the elements. I see more and more biological connections as I study each card. Demonstrating the biology of the tarot in his highest form is The Magician I, displaying all his tools upon his table. The Wheel of Fortune X, spins around the elements creating new matter as Temperance is careful to never spill a drop but mastering all 92 elements is The World XXI. Do some lab experiments of your own by putting each Major Arcana card under a microscope of your own, testing for levels of N, H, C and O.
Read Part III...
© La Vonne Parker
La Vonne fell in love with Tarot in 1999. Since then she has worked as a public reader, teacher, and research writer. La Vonne went back to college in 2003 at the age of 40 to get a degree in Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Women's Studies to create a research foundation for tarot study and writing.