An effective symbol must portray a dilemma of opposition that requires a synthesis to solve. An argument between two ideas requiring a third idea - a resolution. This process mirrors the logic of thesis - antithesis - synthesis. The symbol is therefore a thought provoking exercise to develop critical thinking skills. Or to be presented as challenges for the neophyte undergoing a progressive initiation.
It is precisely this process that is of utmost importance. The goal is personal growth and an expansion of awareness. This allows the naive to partake in the discovery of learning as he/she sifts through the subtle depths of contrary beliefs. Many of these beliefs are acquired in youth, re-enforced in the process of socialization before sufficient defensive intellectual capacity has been reached. Expansion of awareness is the life blood of the Artist - without which most artists would self destruct.
Another primary maxim of Acquiring the Eye for symbolic interpretation is that every image means something other than what is apparent. You should notice in the background of the Crowley XXI Universe Tarot card there is a faint Grecian structure. This is the Parthenon. Ask yourself what you are supposed to see and then what else could this figure represent? What don’t you see if you simply skim the perceptual surface?
A multitude of books exist detailing anything and everything you might ever want to know about the Parthenon. Dates, places, geography, materials… names of significant Greeks. But what is signified in the construction of this architecture? What message did the Temple convey to the spiritual sentiment of the Greek soul?
Well, you can never do anything but guess claim the gatekeepers at the temples of History. Nothing to see here - move on. But Artists pause precisely here and transition from mundane facts to the Acquired Eye for symbolic interpretation.
The Parthenon symbolically represents thought not fertilized by the sperm of actual experience. The Parthenon Temple deifies the value of pure Platonic idealism as independent phenomena existing distinct from the physical world. Perhaps ideas are to be considered eternal in the sense that ideas seem to precede creation, as Plato argued, or perhaps just physical enough to exist as dimensional entities capable of conversing with the muse of the Artist.
Perhaps ideas find their life and residence in the mind of the Universe? Perhaps they are Angels dancing on pins? When we mortals re-act we create language as an after effect to describe what just happened, for future reference. When we act do we not consult our ideas before we actually do something? Musicians reacting in real time are improvising - when composing they ask… what is the mood, the tempo, the key, the rhythmic values, structure, transpositions?
Inherent in this revelation is the assertion that all ideas remain only ideas until measured against outcomes in the external world. To be of value ideas must be put into actual practice, tested and allowed to succeed or fail on their own merit. Is an idea pregnant with the germ of experience asks the Parthenon? Should ideas and expanded ideologies be tempered with the prophylactic of skepticism until such time that experience validates their authenticity? How many ideologies lay forgotten in the garbage of history. How many have stood the test of time?
Here is a secret. Crowley and most authors of mystical writings portray their teachings as a symbolic analogy to the act of procreation. Echos of the first act of creation… the act of bringing this world into being. The World is My Idea shouted Schopenhauer. Crowley portrays the Parthenon as representing ideas that are Virginal, Pure, Untainted, Beyond the grasp of monkeys. To bring an idea down into the world requires an act of sex… an idea tested in this way - does it work in the world or not? If yes, then baptized as true. It has become impregnated with the germ of experience?
This is the first of Two Parts - having the Aleister Crowley Major Arcana at your fingertips is well advised. Part two will explore the historical context of the Parthenon XXI Major Trump Card and why it is relevant today.