There’s a very unusual book coming from Clarendon House later this year (all being well).
It’s called The New Tarot, and it is an exploration of the mystical universe, covering not only the traditional tarot cards of which you have probably heard — a set of cards said to contain mystical meanings — but an archetypal tarot which underlies the traditional version and simplifies it.
It’s being put together by Angelica Green (a pen name) from the purported writings of her father, Tobias Green (also a pen name), and I thought you might be interested to get a glimpse of an early chapter in which Angelica outlines her father’s philosophies about Life and the structure of the universe. If nothing else, this is good material for story prompts:
The Spectrum of All Things
In 1945, my father wrote:
‘There is Fullness, and there is Void. We drift toward one or the other through our actions and inactions, through our participation in the eternal dance between the two.’
That drifting, or that gap between Fullness and Void in which this ‘dance’ takes place, constitutes a scale or spectrum between two poles. In putting together my father’s writings, it was helpful to keep this spectrum in mind. As a matter of fact, because it underlies everything in Creation, the spectrum is useful to keep in mind at all times.
Let’s start with my father’s description of Fullness:
‘We lack much of the language for this now. In ancient times, when knowledge was more complete, there were better ways of describing Fullness. Imagine the cup spilling over, the star being born, a radiance without limit, a light which does not contain even the shadow of anything other than brightness; imagine a love pouring out continually, filling itself continually, receiving itself back from itself continually. Neither darkness nor emptiness exist in Fullness. Sexual imagery may help — sex is a tiny subset of Fullness. A better image, perhaps the best image devised in the heart of humanity so far, is the Christian Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit: that which begets, that which is begotten, and the essence of the love between them, interacting dynamically and eternally.’
As human beings living on Planet Earth, it seems that we are far removed from a direct experience of Fullness, though, and much closer to its opposite, Void. This is what my father said about Void:
‘A void or vacuum is pure emptiness, nothingness, a gap, a hole. But the really interesting thing about emptiness is that it is continually trying to fill itself. Hence all emptinesses, all vacuums, are pulling in what is around them, seeking to be full. Nature abhors a vacuum. The deepest, darkest void of space, the blackest abyss, somewhere in its centre, possesses an awareness of its own lack and seeks to remedy that all the time. It is the nature of a Void to seek Fullness.’
As a human being living in the present day, it becomes obvious how much we are surrounded by emptiness. Our current picture of the universe is one of a limitless void, in which energy and matter are present in tiny and apparently entirely irrelevant proportions. This concept leaks into fields other than astronomy, and is reflected in popular notions of psychology — human beings are isolated creatures, individuals divided by an unbridgeable void, forever doomed to be existentially alone.
Human culture over the last 500 years shows a progression from a world in which Fullness occupied the centre ground of thought to one in which the Void is at the heart. Between these two extremes lies everything that we can perceive — but everything is not static.
If we imagine Fullness and Void as two poles, then we can perhaps picture all of Creation drifting, like iron filings affected by a magnet, to align themselves between those two poles. Life is somewhere in this spectrum, either closer to Fullness or closer to Void, but always moving one way or the other. Fullness is often known as Heaven; Void as Hell.
My father said of Heaven:
‘Heaven is that condition or state of being as close to complete Fullness as it is possible to get. If Fullness is at the centre, then everything that goes into orbit around that centre is in a perpetual condition of bliss, drinking directly from the heart, being fulfilled again and again. Heaven is a place where one’s cup continually runneth over.’
Keeping in mind the spectrum, then we can picture that, in addition to the ones in close orbit around Fullness, there are those whose orbit is so far out from Fullness that the possibility of drifting out of orbit altogether is introduced:
‘Still participating deeply, but occasionally proceeding away from the heart, are those who descend from its bliss, who then re-ascend. Here are the elements of being whose nature has experienced darkness but who are continually redeemed and rescued. They drift away, but are brought back into the fold.’
There is a movement, then, away from and toward Fullness as Life seeks to grow or to undergo a lack of completeness, perhaps as part of some almost incomprehensible learning experience.
However, it’s clear that the spectrum doesn’t end there:
‘On the edge of those who descend are those who topple outward entirely. Here are the ones who fall off the cliff, dropping into darkness or emptiness, who need to be actively sought after if they are to return to the light.’
Entities of light, having danced the dance in orbit around Fullness, can drift so far from the centre that they fall into shadow. It is possible for living beings to journey even further away from Fullness, though:
‘Now, far away from the flowing heart which gives them light and life, these sparks of being can be at times overwhelmed by shadows. Doubt, fear, anxiety, blindness, swamp these entities, sometimes for long periods. When in such a condition, the light can no longer be seen at all and return becomes almost impossible.’
Though overwhelmed, these beings nevertheless can still experience moments of relief or light. Two more stages of descent are perceptible, though:
‘If a living being spends too long in these depths, a mortally dangerous thing can occur: they can ally themselves with it. Losing any connection with the light, they can conclude that the only way that they can continue to survive is by aligning themselves with the darkness — and so they swallow it willingly. They give up fighting it, and instead begin to consume it. Gulp enough of the blackness down and it starts to become what one is made of. And so the bottom of the scale is reached: Oblivion, where Beingness becomes Void.’
Thus a living being can move from participating in the heart of a full creation, to being in orbit around it, to drifting away from it, and eventually to falling into an alliance with the incompletenesses which lie in the outer Void.
The whole of what we call Creation, with our limited understanding of reality, lies along only part of this spectrum.
It should be apparent to the most astute readers that reality as we perceive it as human beings living on Planet Earth stretches from the Void all the way to the beginnings of an inkling of rescue and redemption — beyond that, we cannot see clearly. Humanity is limited to this material portion of the spectrum; behind that, mortal sight fails us, and we must depend upon faith. We see around us plenty of emptiness and the suffering that goes with it: we do not see more than a faint glimmer of the rising souls who are making their way back to Fullness. Our experience stretches to embrace the Void and the edge from which it seems we have fallen — beyond that, our perceptions strain to see anything with lucidity.
As for Fullness itself? We catch a glimpse of it through art, now, perhaps; we used to see it a little more clearly through the church. Collectively, society in Western Europe at any rate, used to gather regularly to cluster as closely as possible around the traces of Fullness that were still discernible in the world of emptinesses: things like the Eucharist or even the light that poured through a stained glass window in an ancient church. Some still do form communities around the remaining vestiges of these things, but for many the light has faded and the world of matter and space has swallowed it up.
The stark truth, though, is that it is not the darkened world that has swallowed the light, but us who have swallowed the darkness.
Stand by for further announcements about The New Tarot as it nears publication. Until a web page is created, you can email me with any questions or to express an interest: