78 Portraits of the Divine

Each card in the deck of 78 in Tarot is a color in the rainbow of life, what I call “78 Portraits of the Divine”, for each is a ray of light or shade of dark of the Divine (God, Goddess, Yahweh, Allah, Great Spirit, Universe, Source…) expressing itself in its diversity. This idea of shades of a unified source reaches back thousands of years and has evolved over time.

Christine Payne-Towler in her ground breaking book, The Underground Stream (1999) speaks of the unified being, Adam Kadmon, “In the biblical myth of Genesis, before the seventh day of creation when humans were precipitated into bodies of earth, every human soul that was ever going to be born was together in one cosmic entity—the master human, Adam Kadmon, whose organs were the planets and whose body is the solar system.” There are references in the Old Testament about “humanity being constituted ‘in the image of’ God, through the medium of the stars and planets…”

Ancient_Astro_symbolRobert Place in, The Fool’s Journey: the History, Art & Symbolism of the Tarot, (2010) explains, “The seven planets of the ancients were also thought of as the soul centers of the cosmos and corresponding soul centers could be found ascending the spine, from the sacrum to the crown of the head, in the microcosm of the human body. Pythagoras (580 or 572-500 or 490 BCE) developed the diatonic music scale with seven notes, marked by the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet, to capture the sound that each planet made as it orbited the Earth. This harmony was called the music of the spheres.”

Emanation Theory” is a major contribution to the idea that the cosmos not only breaks out into finer parts, but that the parts, themselves, are a stairway back to source.  “Emanation, from the Latin emanare meaning ‘to flow from’ or ‘to pour forth or out of’, is the mode by which all things are derived from the first reality…. All things are derived from the first reality or perfect God by steps of degradation to lesser degrees of the first reality or God, and at every step the emanating beings are less pure, less perfect, less divine.” Emanationism was introduced by Neoplatonic philosopher, Plotinus (204-279 CE). In his work, the Enneads, all things phenomenal and otherwise were an emanation from the One (hen). — Wikipedia

A more modern spin on the idea of cosmic determination is the psycho-spiritual concept of “Individuation” by Swiss Psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, “In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated [from other human beings]; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology.” — Jung, Psychological Types. Collected Works, vol. 6 (1976)

Enneagram-ColorPostsThe inspiration for this notion about Tarot cards representing portraits of the Divine comes from my study of the Enneagram, specifically the writing of Father Robert J. Nogosek in Nine Portraits of Jesus (1987). You may know of the Enneagram as a typology system divided into nine character points, with the idea that we each fall into one of these categories. Father Nogosek illustrates for us that the spiritual pursuit is to embrace all nine points of view using the stories of Jesus to show us this way.

And so it is with Tarot….like a mandala of life, we can embrace every facet, every experience, every lesson, in a journey of unification.

For more information about the “Spiritual Roots of Tarot” please follow this link to my recorded online class at Global Spiritual Studies.


Tarot Astrological Mandala

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