From The Devil through The star to The World
The order of the last seven cards in the Major Arcana always raised questions. The more I tried to find rational explanations, the more I came across new contradictions.
Why The Star, The Moon, and The Sun? What’s the logic?
I have tried to compare this order to various laws known as esoteric doctrines, or to various influences from the stars, and even various depictions of human development.
But I found no explanation or compatibility to the last 7 cards.
I met and read various materials, written by people like myself who did not understand the order, and claimed that at some point in history the order of the cards was intentionally or unintentionally changed.
There were others who claimed that certain cards had been removed.
Although these theories were interesting, they did not provide answers. They only opened the door to more questions on which no one could answer.
Either way, the question of the order of the cards was neglected, and my life led me to other subjects and less related to Tarot.
But in retrospect, this period provided me with many answers directly related to tarot cards.
And after a while, an understanding was formed.
To explain the order of the seven cards, I will use some of Plato’s words. Although it is known that some of his words and the words of his teacher Socrates are taken from other, more ancient cultures. Yet Plato put them in the most effective way.
I will focus on the parable of Plato’s cave; The great similarity between the parable and the seven cards and their order.
The parable of the cave deals with man’s situation and the possibilities available to him for development.
The parable can be understood in various ways. What interests us, as the author wrote, is the reference to life on earth and the and the ascension of the soul up, and especially the difficulties that stand in its way.
Humanity is described in the cave parable in a disgraceful manner; Humans live underground in a cave, like prisoners bound in their shins and necks, unable to move or turn their heads. The only light in the cave comes from burning fire, which lies behind the prisoners on higher ground.
If we examine the first card in the last seven – The Devil, we will find a great similarity between the description in the parable and the image on the card. (Of course, there are cards with great similarity and other cards and especially newer ones with minimal resemblance to the description, so as not to confuse anyone I recommend using Raider cards).
The Devil card shows us a man and a woman tied in chains, the figures are not entirely human, and this is to emphasize that this is not their natural situation. Behind them sits a figure (Devil) with a torch, the same single light source in the cave.
The parable tells that between the same fire and those prisoners there is a wall, along which people walk, carrying tools and statues of various figures that protrude above the wall. Shadows of those statues and tools, falling on a wall in front of the prisoners. The people who carry the sculptures, naturally, make occasional sounds. The prisoners, that the only sights they had seen all their lives were the same shadows, falling on the wall in front of them, and in addition to the sounds, sure that the shadows were the real thing, and the voices were the sounds of the shadows.
The only source of light shines on the figures who cast their shadow on the wall opposite the prisoners, and the voices of the people carrying the characters constitute all the stimuli in the lives of the prisoners. While they are shackled and cannot move or turn their heads, and see the truth, they are sure that the shadows and voices are their real world.
This existence, according to the parable of the cave, is very similar to the situation of humanity in reality. Life on earth is like the life of prisoners inside the cave. The miserable fire that illuminates the cave is like our sun. Our lives caught by the five senses are shadows and echoes.
The next step in the cave parable describes a situation in which one of the prisoners is released and forced to stand and walk towards the fire. The question arises, how will that person react?
First of all, one can understand that the person will be completely frightened and confused. Both from the sights and from the new efforts that were forced on him.
The frightening fire and its sparks would sting and hurt his eyes, and when he will notice the statues whose shadows he had seen all his life, he would surely think that all this was madness.
It may take a long time for the muscles of that person to grow stronger and he will learn to walk.
One can expect that the person will want to return to his place, to the sights he is accustomed to and able to see, which in his eyes are clearer and more logical than the new sights. To sink back into his familiar life and his old habits. But in this case he has no choice, someone pulls him by force, toward the mouth of the cave, into the sunlight.
Here we are already moving to the next card – The Tower. The lightning striking the tower, and destroys it, symbolizes shock; Breaking of the existing, a way of life, habits, perceptions, understandings, lies and more. The lightning strike comes from an external source, the person himself cannot create such a shock. Just as in the parable, when an external force releases the prisoner and forces him to change his life patterns and draws him to see and deal with reality.
In the end, with great effort and with the help of external force, the prisoner reaches the entrance of the cave and is exposed to the light of the sun. Because his eyes are not used in broad daylight, the light will dazzle and blind the prisoner.
Therefore it is necessary to remove it from the cave gradually! At first, at night in the light of the stars, and even then he can only look at the shadows and reflections on the surface of the water. After his eyes get accustomed to this power of light, he will be able to look at the environment as it is, and even at the elements of the sky – the stars.
Of course, this is The Star card, where we can see what is described in the parable of the cave. A figure next to a pool of water, watching it, and stars above it.
Later we will expose the figure to a stronger light, the light of the Moon.
And then when ready, even in Sunlight.
Of course, these are the next cards, The Moon and The Sun.
When it comes to human development, there is a need for gradual work. Exposure without proper preparation can be harmful, just as sunlight blames the person at first. Therefore, it is necessary to expose in stages, at first it must be exposed to weak light – the starlight, then to a stronger light – the moonlight, and eventually the light of the Sun. Of course, only external power – a qualified instructor can understand what can be harmful and how to treat this person.
In the meantime, I am referring more to the order of cards, and I will not relate to all the other details that appear on these cards. They usually describe the difficulties of each stage.
Now, when the person is outside the cave and functions in daylight, another question is asked.
When he remembers the days when he was in the cave and his friends in prison, will he consider himself happy because of the change in his condition and status, and will pity his fellow prisoners?
If in those days he and his fellow prisoners, respected and praised those who saw a sharper view of the shadows and remembered what shadow came before and after, and what shadows came at the same time. Would this man desire these honors and praises?
Of course, the answer is not too late to come, both in the parable and on the next card – the Judgment.
Of course, the person who is now above the cave understands his past condition and understands how improved his condition is. He will not want to return to being a prisoner bound in the dark cave. But yes, he went down again to help his friends!
Some will say that he is acting out of compassion, and some will say that only then can he continue to develop. If you want to go to the next stage, you must put someone else on the stage you are currently on. Others will say that there is no contradiction here, and compassion does not contradict the desire to continue to develop.
On the Judgment card, we see the man returning to the cave in the form of an angel and blowing the trumpet, thus awakening the prisoners – the unconscious humanity.
It is believed that the man knows that if he goes back to the cave, he will not be welcomed. There might be those who would understand him but many others would be frightened by his ideas, just as he was frightened and confused when he started out of the cave. The same people might hurt him…
A person accustomed to sunlight, and no longer accustomed to the darkness in the cave, will be considered by the prisoners as a liar.
And if he had to compete with his fellow prisoners in the shadow contest before he had his eyes fixed on the darkness, it would be laughable, and the prisoners would say that he had returned from above with broken eyes and that the attempt to reach the top was not worthwhile.
Either way, the reaction of these prisoners will no longer change, the last effort of that person to help and awaken his friends will free him to the last stage of development on this world – The World card.