The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate how the Qabalistic Tree of Life combined with the symbolism of the Tarot and Astrology can be utilized as a diagnostic tool for healing.
Western Esoteric Philosophy
The Western Esoteric Method, sometimes referred to as Hermetic Philosophy or “Magick,” is a mystical system that mixes the symbolism of the Hebrew Qabalah with the divination systems of Tarot and Astrology. It is hard to say where this method originated from or who might be responsible for its creation, but it first came to public attention in the early 1600’s during a period known as “The Rosicrucian Enlightenment when certain arcane documents revealed how the symbolism of the Tarot, Astrology, and some of Alchemy fit perfectly into the basic template of Qabalistic Philosophy known as “The Tree of Life.”
The Tree of Life
Consisting of ten symbolic spheres or energy vortices connected by 22 pathways, The Tree of Life is a symbolic map illustrating the basic concepts underlying the Hebrew Mystical teachings known as “The Qabalah.” (See following diagram).
On a macrocosmic level, the ancient Hebrew Adepts considered the Tree of Life to be a theoretical representation of the universe. On a microcosmic level it was referred to as the body of Adam Kadmon or “The Heavenly Man,” whereby it represented a prototype for a perfect human being created in the image and likeness of God. With the anthropomorphic ideal of Adam Kadmon in mind, it is my theory that the Tree of Life (including the Tarot and Astrology) can be applied to the human body just like the Acupuncture map of Chinese Medicine in order to reveal the underlying esoteric and/or spiritual factors at work in human health.
For the sake of clarity, I will begin by explaining how this method works with the Tarot. Afterwards, once the general mechanics of my system have been outlined, I will then demonstrate how it works using the symbolism of Astrology.
Comprised of 78 cards, the traditional Tarot deck is divided into 2 sections, the Minor Arcana totaling 56 cards and the Major Arcana totaling 22.
The 56 cards of the Minor Arcana are subsequently divided into 4 suits that each relate to one of the 4 symbolic elements of Hermetic Philosophy, namely Wands or Fire, Cups or Water, Swords or Air, and Pentacles or Earth. Each of these suits in turn contains cards numbered from 1-10 as well as 4 court cards (King, Queen, Knight, and Page). Traditionally the numbered cards of the Minor Arcana are assigned in numerical order to the 10 spheres of the Tree of Life, while the court cards are assigned as follows; the Kings are placed in the second sphere, the Queens are placed in the third, the Knights in the sixth, and the Pages in the tenth.
The 22 cards of the Major Arcana have nothing to do with the spheres of the Tree but are instead assigned in numerical order to the 22 pathways, beginning with “The Fool 0” in the 11thpath and ending with “The World XXI” in the 32nd. Below is a diagram illustrating all of these placements.
Going back now to what I previously mentioned about applying the Tree of Life to the human body, what follows is a diagram of the Tree with its subsequent Tarot associations superimposed over a generic human form.
When applying the Tree of Life to the body, it is important to keep in mind that the diagram on the printed page is a mirror image and must be reversed for it to correctly correspond to your own body. For example, it can be observed in the preceding diagram that the 5thsphere would be on your left side from the perspective of looking at the diagram, however, the 5thsphere is traditionally associated with the right shoulder, hence the need to reverse the map when applying it to your body. Aside from the optics just cited, another reason to reverse the diagram is that if you don’t then you are effectively saying that the energy of God or the “Heavenly Ideal” is something separate from you as an individual. By reversing the image you are essentially acknowledging the body of Adam Kadmon to be your own and thus accepting the higher responsibility of being a Co-Creator with the Universe rather than merely a product of it.
Before explaining how to use the Tarot in the Tree of Life as a diagnostic tool, I would first like to make clear that what I am about to share is not intended to be a replacement for health care by a trained professional. What I am presenting is a different way of thinking about health and disease in order to reveal how sometimes physical symptoms can actually be driven by psychological issues that exist on a deeper, more esoteric level of consciousness than we are commonly aware of.
I would also like to point out that in my experience the following exercises are best performed with an actual deck of Tarot Cards rather than a book. For that reason I would suggest that the reader purchase a deck of cards. I use the classic Waite/Smith deck because to my mind it connects the best with the mystical symbolism of the Qabalah. The bottom line though is that one should buy whatever deck they feel personally connected to.
In my opinion the best way to start using this system would be to first try it out on your self. After all, we each know our own pain more intimately than anyone else could. To begin, find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. If you have not committed the placements of the Tarot within the Tree of Life to memory, then it might be a good idea to have a copy of the Tree nearby for easy reference. Next, you will want to enter into a short meditation. If you already practice some form of meditative exercise such as yoga or zazen, then using whatever you’re familiar with will be fine. If you are completely new to all of this then I would suggest learning “The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, “ a basic Magickal exercise that is both short and effective for clearing yourself as well as the space you are in of any unwanted or “negative” energy. Instructions for the Pentagram Ritual can be obtained either by doing a search online or consulting my first book entitled “Modern Magickal Keys.”
Once you have become sufficiently relaxed and focused, the next step will be to contemplate any aches or pains you are experiencing. After you have identified your discomfort, it will then be necessary to pinpoint its relative location on the Tree of Life. When doing this it is important to keep in mind that the area you’ve identified on your body might not fall exactly on a specific pathway or sphere in the Tree of Life. If this is the case, then find the nearest pathway or sphere to your area of discomfort. If the area in question is situated at the junction of more than one pathway, or perhaps includes both a sphere and a pathway, then simply take into consideration all the corresponding Tarot Cards. If a sphere is involved, it will be necessary to either muscle test or use a pendulum to determine which of the four Tarot suits applies to the number card associated with that particular sphere. For example, if your left shoulder hurts then it will be necessary to determine whether its is the four of wands, cups, swords, or pentacles.
At this point, you have now obtained a Tarot reading about your body that can include anywhere from one to several cards. If more than one card is involved, make sure to take your time and meditate on the images that have come up. The idea behind a divination system like the Tarot is that it is supposed to induce you to go within for answers; therefore, don’t be impatient. Keep in mind that everything our socialization and education has taught us would lead one to believe an exercise of this sort is a waste of time, but don’t buy into that! Another important thing to consider is that if you’re not accustomed to using your intuition then it would be unreasonable to think that it would emerge fully developed the first time you called upon it. In my own experience there have been times when I have used this method and the deeper meaning of what I was looking at didn’t dawn on me until after I had walked away from the cards and was knee deep into something else. Once again, be patient. In some cases it takes years to develop bad habits and imbalances so be willing to allow yourself a healing curve and don’t expect instantaneous results. Also, don’t be locked into only considering the meanings of the cards that are listed in some book. The traditional meanings outlined in most books are just a starting point. It is important to remember that the cards present us with archetypal images, meaning our understanding of them will vary somewhat in regards to each person’s unique experience.
Now of course a skeptic might immediately reply that because there are only a limited number of Tarot Cards does that mean everyone with a lower backache would be diagnosed by the same card or cards and therefore have the same root problem? Just like an aspirin doesn’t get rid of everyone’s headache, using this method is not a one size fits all cure. In fact, it’s a flat out mistake to think that just because there are millions of people in the world there are millions of different problems. In my experience with clients, I have found that there is a basic menu of problems out of which develops an infinite number of variations. Therefore, in answer to the above question, yes, everyone with a lower backache will end up being diagnosed by the same Tarot cards, yet each particular person’s life will involve different circumstances. For instance, the two cards associated with a lower backache would be “The Tower XVI,” symbolizing the false structures in our lives that must be dismantled and rebuilt to better suit our needs, and “Temperance XIV,” which is about the need for emotional balance if we intend to attain our highest potential and have harmony in our lives. With that in mind, while it is true that two different people with a lower a backache will essentially have the same cards involved in their diagnosis, it doesn’t mean that these individuals need to be healed in the same way. Each will have markedly different life circumstances surrounding their imbalance. For instance, the symbolism of “The Tower” speaks to eliminating the false structures in our lives that inhibit growth. This could pertain to either a bad marriage or a lousy job, as both situations stem from the individual identifying with something that doesn’t honor them.
From an objective point of view, much of what I have just said may appear to be stating the obvious, but that’s only if you’re indulging an obvious frame of mind and are expecting certain results. It is often easy to see the problems of others, yet it is truly a revelation if we can manage to accurately see the imbalances in ourselves. It is truly an aware person who can make the connection between their bodily discomfort and the deeper psychological patterns driving the circumstances of their lives.
Sharing the Love
After first exploring the efficacy of this system on one’s self, the next step if you are a Healer would be to use it as a general method of diagnosis for others. This does not mean that you need to abandon whatever other healing modality you may be using. In fact, the act of employing this diagnostic method may very well be instrumental in evolving your current practice.
When working with a patient, begin by putting them in a relaxed position, either lying on a healing table or sitting comfortably in a chair. At that point you can then ask them to describe their ailment or else use whatever technique you commonly employ to determine where their blocked area is. When the problem area has been identified, you should then make a mental note of the portion of the Tree of Life being affected and the Tarot cards associated with that section. At this point, the Tarot symbolism can be used to supplement your own intuitive impressions about what issues may be driving the patient’s condition. Once you are done, any cards that may have come up during the reading can also be prescribed to the patient after the session as a meditation aid to empower their own healing process.
Besides the Tarot, the Planetary and Zodiac archetypes of Astrology can also be placed into the Tree of Life. Below are a pair of diagrams showing the Astrological correspondences to the Tree as well as their direct application to the human body.
The method that was previously outlined for using the Tarot in the Tree of Life can also be used for Astrology, with some slight differences.
Begin as before by identifying the problem area on the body and then locating it on the Tree of Life diagram. Once you have determined what Planets and/or Zodiac signs are involved, the next step will be to consult the natal (birth) chart of whoever is being examined. As a result, you will need both the birth information of the person involved as well as the ability to construct their Astrological chart. The reason for this is because it will be necessary to check where the particular planet or sign identified on the Tree of Life is located within their chart, as well as what current transits may be affecting that sign or planet. For example, an acute pain in the left leg or knee would correspond to the Astrological sign of Pisces (pathway 29 in the diagram). One would then need to look at the natal chart to determine what house is ruled by Pisces as well as what planets are situated there. It will also be important to see where the rulers of Pisces (Neptune and Jupiter) are located in the chart, both natally and by transit, along with whatever other planets are currently transiting through the sign.
Once the natal and transiting planetary influences have been determined in the individual’s chart, the resulting aspects will serve to reveal what may be at the root of the patient’s discomfort. For instance, let’s use our previous example and say an individual is suffering from a sore left leg. Let’s additionally assume that Pisces is the ruler of their seventh house and that Uranus is currently transiting there. At this point it would be reasonable to deduce that the esoteric cause for the pain may be the result of some unexpected change or stress (the effect of Uranus) on a one to one relationship such as a marriage or business partnership (the domain of the 7thHouse). If the circumstances in the person’s life confirm this observation, then it would be reasonable to assume that dealing with the relationship constructively would be an important supplemental aspect to whatever steps are being be taken therapeutically to treat the leg.
Of course what I’ve just written may sound fantastic to an individual who is not intuitive or esoterically inclined, yet in my experience the validity of this method is far more effective than one might think. It should also be noted that using the Tarot and Astrological methods together allows for a much more detailed analysis of the situation, as well as having the advantage of being able to use one method to confirm the other.
Admittedly, the efficacy of being able to use this method depends to a great extent on the operator’s experience with the symbolism of the Tarot, Astrology, and the Tree of Life. On the other hand, if the mechanics of the Western Esoteric Method are new to you don’t allow yourself to get discouraged so easily. Anyone possessing an experiential understanding of spiritual energy as the connecting force of the Universe, whether they know that force as Tao, Prana, or Grace, should easily be able to use what I’ve written to begin to “feel’ their way into an understanding of the above mentioned systems.
Something else that I feel is important to keep in mind when working with this method involves giving some thought to what is known as a “Placebo” in scientific medical trials. What is commonly referred to as “The Placebo Effect” occurs when some of the patients being treated in a study are told they are receiving the test medicine, when in actuality they are being given a sugar pill. Amazingly enough, it has been found in an alarming number of cases that the individuals who have been given the sugar pill during these tests are sometimes the only ones whose condition improves! While I feel this is utterly remarkable, conventional thinking customarily disregards the placebo effect as merely the power of suggestion…..But wait a minute, if those who are given a placebo end up getting better and those who are given the actual medicine don’t, wouldn’t it also stand to reason that there is a great deal to think about here in regards to the untapped power of the human mind? After all. Modern physiology tells us that the average human being utilizes only about 10% of their brain capacity, if that’s the case, then what is dormant and waiting to be discovered in the remaining 90%? Perhaps these unexplored regions of our awareness hold the answers for many of the unsolved mysteries of the Universe, like for instance how a placebo (or this method I’ve written about) could actually work?
I guess the ultimate question that remains now is whether or not you believe it’s possible for us to heal ourselves with the power of the mind? I won’t make any promises I can’t keep, nor will I say anything is for sure, but if our socialized, compulsive, and misguided thoughts can make us sick by masking over our inner wisdom with conformity and fear, then why can’t it also be possible to reverse such dis-ease by actively seeking out some of the other hidden possibilities within us?
Learn to be your own placebo.