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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Tarot

I'm reading an old article at Ignatius Press today .... Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Tarot: A Review of Meditations on the Tarot by Anonymous (Valentin Tomberg). It's an attempt to explain why a conservative Catholic theologian wrote an introduction to a book on the tarot, and it's pretty mysticism-heavy .....

Hans Urs von Balthasar has compared the author to Charles Williams, Hildegard of Bingen and even St Bonaventure ... the Hermetic wisdom boils down to the doctrine of analogy: "As above, so below." By exploring the implications of this symbolic correspondence between different levels of reality, the author opens a dimension of depth on the Scriptures and dogmas of the Church.

I like the symbolism of tarot card aerwork. Here's an example ...



The Fool is the spirit in search of experience. He represents the mystical cleverness bereft of reason within us, the childlike ability to tune into the inner workings of the world. The sun shining behind him represents the divine nature of the Fool's wisdom and exuberance, holy madness or 'crazy wisdom'. On his back are all the possessions he might need. In his hand there is a flower, showing his appreciation of beauty. He is frequently accompanied by a dog, sometimes seen as his animal desires, sometimes as the call of the "real world", nipping at his heels and distracting him. He is seemingly oblivious that he is walking toward a precipice, apparently about to step off. One of the keys to the card is the paradigm of the precipice, Zero and the sometimes represented oblivious Fool's near-step into the oblivion (The Void) of the jaws of a crocodile, for example, are all mutually informing polysemy within evocations of the iconography of The Fool. The staff is the offset and complement to the void and this in many traditions represents wisdom and renunciation, e.g. 'danda' (Sanskrit) of a Sanyassin, 'danda' (Sanskrit) is also a punctuation mark with the function analogous to a 'full-stop' which is appropriately termed a period in American English. The Fool is both the beginning and the end, neither and otherwise, betwixt and between, liminal. - Wikipedia


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