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Wisdom's Chariot: the Christian Mystic Tarot explores a central concept in life by examining humanity's dance with death and quest for eternal life, as documented by the Judeo-Christian Mystics of Alchemy and Kabbalah of the past. The cards are rich in symbolism, and were created by revitalizing the works for various Judeo-Christian Mystics over the past several centuries whose works are now in the public domain. Throughout history, Christian Mystics, Rosicrucians, and Alchemists have embarked on the most fundamental spiritual quest, which has been referred to by names such as the Quest for the Philosopher’s Stone, the Elixir of Life, or the Completion of the Great Work. All of these titles refer to the same quest; the efforts of mankind to overcome original sin, purify their souls, and triumph over death. The Wisdom's Chariot tarot documents this journey with recreations of wood engravings by various Judeo-Christian Mystics and Alchemists who devoted their lives to that pursuit. This Tarot Deck contains 78 cards, divided into the four suits in the Minor Arcana and 22 cards in the Major Arcana. This deck is loaded with symbolism. If your style of tarot reading is based more on the interpretation of images and symbolism, then this deck will inspired you to contemplate humanity’s timeless struggle with original sin, the purification of the soul, and quest for eternal salvation.
The objective of Mysticism is to gain a personal union and/or understanding of the divine; the mystic seeks to comprehend truth and to obtain a personal relationship with the Most High God. This relationship goes beyond what is typically experienced within a religious setting, and is concerned with an individual’s personal spiritual progression and/or purpose within God’s plan. Yehshua (Jesus) taught a progression in one’s relationship with God, which moved from servant to friend (John 15:15) to family (Romans 8:17), to oneness (John 17:22). The process involves a freewill choice to follow God (Matthew 6:33), and a commitment to purify one’s actions (Hebrew 5:8-9) in order to live a life that pleasing to God (Deuteronomy 30:19).
The ‘Great Work’ within occult terminology refers to the purification of one’s soul – his/her spiritual advancement (2 Corinthians 7:1). As God stated to Abraham, ‘I am El Shaddai (God Almighty), walk before me and be perfect’ (Genesis 17:1). Religious followers may believe that they are saved due to the sacrifice a priest makes on their behalves, but mystics recognize the deeper intent of following God’s will with one’s entire heart and being (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37). Mystics become a ‘New Creation’ (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10, 2 Corinthians 5:17) that is made perfect (Matthew 5:48, Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:5). One’s heart is purified (Psalm 51:10, 1 Timothy 1:5, Matthew 5:8), and God’s commandments are written on the tablet of one’s heart by the Holy Spirit (Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 11:19, 2 Corinthians 3:3).
Prior to the Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism focused on the ‘Work of the Chariot’ (Merkavah Mysticism), and contemplated Ezekiel’s highly symbolic vision of the Chariot of God (Ezekiel 1:1-28). Symbolism is not only the language of the subconscious, but it is also the language God uses to speak with us. Within scripture, it is very rare for God to speak with any person face to face (Exodus 33:11). Most human interactions with God were done through visions or dreams. These dreams, prophecies, or premonitions were often highly symbolic and required interpretation (Daniel 2:36). The interpretation of such signs/messages from the Holy Spirit, are not unlike the interpretation of the symbolism during a tarot reading. Interpretation involves extracting useful information out of the abstract symbolic expressions, and the interpretation of art is similar to the interpretation of metaphoric representations experienced in dreams or at the prompting of the Indwelling Spirit.
For those who undergo the Chymical Wedding (between the Spirit of Wisdom and the Soul of the alchemist/disciple), distinguishing between the guidance of Wisdom (Wisdom 7:24, Proverbs 8:12) and the intuitive feelings in one’s own psyche will require a great deal of discernment, and one might never be able to do so with certainty. However, the thing to keep in mind is that mysticism is a personal experience. In the Tanakh (Old Testament of the Bible), Prophets who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit delivered messages to others, but in the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament/Covenant), the Spirit of God is spread out upon all people; “sons and daughters will prophecy”, the young will see visions, and the elderly will dream dreams (Acts 2:17, Joel 2:29). The difference between the Old and New Testaments is that the Spirit now works within ALL believers on a personal and individual basis. The message given by the Spirit is for one’s own spiritual growth, and the individual mystic is not meant to declare ‘Thus says the LORD’ to the entire neighborhood.
The extent and means of receiving messages from the Shekinah (Indwelling Glory) is a personal one, and is a relationship that develops over time. When I was first Baptized, due to my misunderstanding of scripture (and the misguided teachings of the church I attended), expected to an immediate and powerful experience – such as being able to speak in tongues, perform supernatural feats, etc… However, what I now realize is that the Baptism was only the beginning of my journey, and the relationship between the Spirit and my Soul would develop over time – and in relation to my personal spiritual progress.
Everyone that is alive has some measure of the Spirit of Wisdom in them, but God pours her out in a greater quantity to those who love him (Sirach 1:10, John 14:23, Romans 8:28). The Hebrew letter Heh (H) means ‘Breath/Spirit’ and represents the Spirit of Wisdom (Sirach 1:1, Proverbs 8:23). Adam was created out of the ‘Earth’ (AdamaH); God took the Heh (Spirit) from the Hebrew word for Earth and breathed the Breath of Life into Adam’s nostrils, which is what made him into a Living-Soul (Genesis 2:7). When used as a prefix to a word, the Hebrew letter Heh denotes the definitive article; it transform ‘a’ person into a specific person. The Breath of Life made Adam into a unique Soul (psyche/mind/personality).
Everyone that is alive has this basic measure of Spirit united with their Soul, because it is this measure of Spirit that gives them life. However, the awareness of Wisdom (one’s level of enlightenment) is something that develops parallel with his/her commitment to God and actions within the world (Matthew 25:21). The Spirit of Wisdom will not dwell within a corrupt vessel (Wisdom 1: 5, 1 Corinthians 6:19), so in order increase one’s level of enlightenment one must first increase in his/her level of purity. As one purifies his/her Soul (Temple), the amount of Wisdom within the person will increase concurrently.
Yehshua did not state how the Spirit of Truth communicated with him (John 12:49), but whether he heard voices or instinctually knew the Mysteries of God (John 4:29), he played a special purpose (John 18:37) within God’s plan (Revelations 10:7), and embodied the fullness of the Spirit in a unique manner (Colossians 2:9, Isaiah 11:2). All other humans receive differing portions/amounts of the Spirit (Hebrews 2:4, 1 Corinthians 12:11), as they need for each particular stage of their spiritual development, in accordance to the providence of God.
Life is about growing in judgment and discernment (Proverbs 8:15), being tested (Deuteronomy 8:16, 13:3, Zechariah 13:9, Wisdom 3:5), and preparing us for something better (1 Corinthians 6:3, Luke 19:17). There are multiple levels of interpretation and meaning concealed within scripture, and the truth and mysteries are hidden within it so that only those meant do understand (according to God’s purpose) will be able to do so (Matthew 13:11-13). Those who are not meant to understand will be deaf and blind to the message (Mark 4:12), but to those who have (some portion of the Spirit) more will be given (Luke 8:18). All of the above connections are meant to help the reader comprehend the title of this tarot deck, and to grasp the meaning of being ‘Wisdom’s Chariot.’
Wisdom is the Breath and Power of God; the Spirit that pervades and penetrates all things (Wisdom 7:24-25). She is the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God) that hovered over the waters during Creation (Genesis 1:2, Sirach 24:3, Proverbs 8:22-24), and then later made her home in the tents of Israel (Sirach 24:7-9). The Presence of the Most High would speak to the children of Israel from between the Cherubim of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:22), which resided in the Holiest of Holies of the Tabernacle and in the Temple of Solomon (Ezekiel 44:4, Hebrews 9:3-5). The Spirit of Truth/Wisdom (John 14:17, 1 Esdras 4:38-40) was found in the Prophets of the Old Testament (Daniel 5:14), but now indwells all believers (Sirach 1:9-11, Romans 8:11, 2 Timothy 1:14).
Each individual mystic and follower of the Most High is a Chariot of Wisdom, and the Spirit of Truth dwells within them. Just as the Shekinah made her home within the Tabernacle and later in the Temple of Solomon, the Spirit now lives within each individual believer, whose bodies have become a living Temple (1 Corinthians 6:19, John 2:21). When the Nation of Israel wandered in the desert, the Chariot of Wisdom was the Ark of the Covenant, and when they set up their tents, the Shekinah would appear to the High Priest between the Cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant.
The bodies of modern mystics are symbolic of both the Temple of Solomon (that housed the Ark) and the Ark of the Covenant, which served as a Chariot of Wisdom in the past. The items (Hebrews 9:4) contained within the Ark (which is also represented symbolically by the suits of the tarot) are also concepts working within each individual mystic/initiate/disciple. The Ark contained the Ten Commandments, which were God’s laws written on stone tablets. Within Wisdom’s Chariot (the body of the individual disciple) God’s laws are now written by the Spirit on the tablet of their hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3, Hebrews 10:16, Ezekiel 11:19), in accordance with God’s promise (Jeremiah 31:33).
The Spirit is the Manna within the Cup (Wisdom 16:20, Sirach 15:3, Revelations 2:17), who guides and disciplines (Proverbs 29:15, Sirach 2:1-5) each individual during his/her personal journey through life (Wisdom 11:1-3). This symbolism was later incorporated by Alchemists as the Quest for the Philosopher’s Stone, which represents the Great Work of Alchemy; the creation of gold, which represents the purification of the alchemist’s Soul following the Soul’s union with the Spirit of Wisdom. This occurs at the beginning of the Alchemical Process, and is referred to as the Chymical Wedding. The symbolism is also found in Kabbalah, as the Wedding between the Sun and the Moon, Tifereth and Yesod (Hosea 2:19, Revelations 19:7, Matthew 25:10). Wisdom’s Chariot refers to all those individual disciples, initiates, and/or mystics who have begun the Great Work within themselves, and have been indwelt by the Spirit of Wisdom. The back of the cards in this deck incorporated many of these concepts.
The symbol on the back is the same on both sides, alluding to the concept of ‘As Above, So Below’, which is found in Scripture (Exodus 25:40, Hebrews 8:5, Matthew 18:18), and was later incorporated by Hermetic alchemists as well. The symbol represents as the squaring of a circle, and in represents the Philosopher’s Stone. Yehshua was the original Philosopher’s Stone (Psalm 118:21, Acts 4:10-12), and those who follow/emulate him become Living-Stones (1 Peter 2:4-5) and will be allowed to eat the Hidden Manna (Revelations 2:17, John 6:51). The symbol contains all of the elements alchemists use to create the Philosopher’s Stone.
The Square represents the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, which are also symbolic of the letters of the Holy Name (Tetragrammaton), and in the tarot, represent the different suits. The four suits of the tarot are symbolic of the items stored within the Ark of the Covenant (Wisdom’s Chariot), and are also the elements (psychological principles/experiences) that are at work within the alchemist during his/her spiritual journey (the purification and solidifying of the stone with them). The Triangle represents the three Substances of Alchemy, which are Salt (Body), Sulfur (Soul), and Mercury (Spirit) and represent the Chymical Wedding (union with the Holy Spirit) taking place within the individual (who now serves as Wisdom’s Chariot).
The Alchemical Process is described in the phrase, ‘Solve Et Coagula’, which means to Separate and Recombine as part of the purification process. Solve represents the first phase of the process, where a Solvent is heated in a Boiling Flask and the liquid is transformed into a vapor, which then ascends out of the Boiling Flask and extracts the Essence (Sulfur) of whatever body/substance (Salt) is being purified. The Solvent represents the Spirit of Wisdom, and in alchemy can be either Water or Alcohol (Spirits), but it is always an external substance. The Sulfur represents the Soul, and in Spagyrics (Plant Alchemy) it was be the Essential Oil (Essence) contained with the Body/Corpus (Salt) of the Plant. The Spirit (Water) is heated (with Fire) into a vapor (Air), and the Soul is extracted then extracted out of the body (Earth). The two (Spirit and Soul) then enter the condenser, where the air is cooled and vapor is transformed back into a solid.
The resulting Solvent and Essence (Water and Oil) are then collected in a receiving flask, and are then separated. The left over plant material is then burnt (calcination) into ashes (purified with fire). At this point there are three separate purified substances, which is was the Triangle represents. Next, the three purified substances are recombined (Coagulated), and are mixed together (similar to how concrete is made) in order to eventual produce a stone like substance (hardened ashes mixed with oil and water). The stone is not a reincarnation of the previous stone, but takes the original state, removes the dross, and produces a new purified creation (2 Corinthians 5:17, John 3:5). Within the Triangle are the Hebrew Letters Aleph, Mem, and Shin, which the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation) of the Kabbalah connects with the Primordial Elements of Air, Water, and Fire respectively. These Primordial Elements connect the above with the below, and provide the Earthly pattern the physical elements were derived from – showing how the three prime elements were condensed into the material elements represented by the smaller square. .
The symbol contains two circles, representing the Macrocosm and the Microcosm. They are similar to the Wheel within a Wheel of Ezekiel’s Chariot (Ezekiel 1:16), and represent the connection between the above and the below. Alchemists study the Microcosm to understand the Macrocosm. God created everything according to a pattern, and by understanding a smaller process, one can understand both the larger workings of the entire universe and the even smaller workings of the cells within one’s own body. This pattern contains the logic of God, and comprehending how all of the pieces fit together, provides humans will a glimpse into the mind of God.
The Cherubim of Ezekiel’s Chariot had the tips of their four wings touching (Ezekiel 1:11), which would form the shape of a Square. Above their heads there was a crystal firmament/doom (Ezekiel 1:22), which would form a Circle within a Square. Beneath the Cherubim were the wheels, which touched the earth (Ezekiel 1:15), and represented the earthly connection of the Above (Heaven) to the Below (Earth). The Above and the Below (Heaven and Earth/Microcosm and Macrocosm) are intimately connected; when one moves in a certain direction, the other does the same, because “the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels” (Ezekiel 1:19-20).
If the Heavenly Chariot described by Ezekiel was represented on Earth by the Ark of the Covenant, then the Wheels within Wheels would be the four Israelites who carried the Ark as they journeyed across the desert. So in modern times, humans would be the living creatures who had the Spirit within them, guiding their directions in their journeys. ‘Ora Et Labora’ is another Alchemical Motto/Axiom, which means ‘Pray and Work.’ Humans should pray for what they desire to manifest on the earth, but they also must work towards their objectives. It is through the efforts Spirit and Soul working together, that the Great Work takes place.