Friday, October 30, 2009

Pack of Lies

0 The Fool
Do not despise me for what I lack,
the World's burden lies heavy on my back:
hare's foot in my pack and wooden spoon to
ward off the Devil on my journey to
the Moon. But, maybe I'll just return
to the Inn and sup another measure
of ale and wait my turn with greasy Joan.
Anyway, I think the fatted calf would
rather I delay the inevitable
reconciliation with the Father.

I The Magician
As first mountebank I appear as one,
ministering in the marketplace
to both the incredulous and the sly.
My legerdemain is swift and just:
bright coins soon disappear from dupes who stand
before my table; alderman or wife,
mesmerised by cup and pea beneath my hand.
Just a tap of my wand is all it takes
to take it all away, with one quick cut
of my accomplice's hidden knife.

II The High Priestess
If she has a face, it is never seen
in that impenetrable shadow where
above her gleam a circlet of stars, this
Queen of Heaven, seated with the book
of mysteries upon her knees, sees all
but reveals nothing to the common eye:
encompassing and bounding all things real
or imaginary, enthroned between
the pillars of chance and necessity,
one naked foot resting on the Moon.

III The Empress
Sired from the seeds of time and foaming sea,
she rules by love and sweet profligacy,
her pleasures she bestows in abundance
to allay the cruel pains of growth and life,
her gifts transcending the ennui
of dumb being and dull continuance.
Purple and yellow her flowers bloom, signs
of Earth's perpetual union with the sky.
Nothing lives but for her desiring breath
nor dies forever in Love's land of death.

IV  The Emperor
But from love's chaos order comes, bearing
the crown and sceptre of rightful command,
decreed by form and number physis speaks
in geometric and unyielding tongues.
How can rule be lawful without a ruler?
lawyers argue by their blinkered rules,
so man reasons that love and freedom
must give allegiance to an Emperor,
aquiline and sanctified by holy sword,
to guide or bind the hands of wayward fools.

V  The Hierophant
Temporal power does not rule alone where
the triple crown bows down before the hoar
and sacred mystery of winter's pall,
and Persephone's return from dark
Hades thrall weaves its way towards the light.
In caverns and catacombs militant
monks revere the child bound deep within
the circling zodiac and rocky tomb,
who springs  with tauromachian power
to sacrifice the beast of winter's night.

VI  The Lover
Now here I stand undecided, attired
in multicoloured coat, caught between love,
sacred and profane, and forced to choose
righteous duty or give in to beauty's
wayward boy. Overhead his deadly aim
will soon dispel those doubts and illusions
that I am free to choose between the
apple and the sacred tree. Why blame me
if I indulge my fancy, and taste joy
with She-Wolf or Chloe on life's stony way.

VII The Chariot
In princely robes, I grasp the reins of force
to draw the Sun along its stately course.
Wayward the dark horse but steadfast the white,
my path will be strewn with roses from dawn
to dusk or with my blood and broken husk.
In pursuit of power and glory I must
cast fear aside and trample opposition
underfoot in my celestial rush to write
my name in history; a meteoric
rise or falling star my destiny.

VIII Justice
Weighing which hearts are heavy and which light,
she sits sword in hand and contemplates
the Damocletian fate of gods and men.
Implacable and inevitable
are the laws that gape open the doors to Hell,
or to freedom and happiness as well.
Each seed of action contains within itself
the root and flower of its consequence.
Without choice, nature knows no sin or flaw:
expect no mercy where this rule is law.

IX  The Hermit
Still looking for the way, I'm aged now,
my lamp guttering as the oil runs low.
But with each faltering step my mind grows clear,
as I steer midway between pain and joy.
I hold in abeyance all choices or
decisions which disturb the karmic track.
Like the planets, I wander down strange paths
preordained by the footsteps behind me,
glancing back at my steps in time I see,
the doleful traces of my destiny.

X  The Wheel of Fortune
Lashed to the wheel we rise or fall by chance,
powerless to exercise the will or
win Fortune's favour or her baleful glance.
The paradox of will and destiny
resolved only in its contrate motion
or at the still centre of its endless
spin, where the wise take refuge from the world.
The will is but the motion of desire,
which drives the cycles of this awful gyre,
from which not even death provides relief.

XI  Force
When the lion of the will is overcome,
the green tincture of the golden sun is
seen. The body becomes inviolate
and strong, exuding power and sweetness from
each pore. The hero returns undefeated
to the city, still bound by his promise
to overcome the cycle of the sun.
Jealous of his sister's love, false Phoebus
schemes to take back the hero's godly power.
Love's arrow strikes him bathing in the sea.

XII  The hanged man
Powerless I hang inverted by
one foot from a tree, as others have done
before me and will again hereafter.
What does it mean? With eighteen signs I see
the world tree clearly with one eye closed, the
loving, fighting, healing and mastery
to be gained from thought and memory.
Now my sacrifice is over, I will
fly with ravens and see with eagle's eye,
riding through the branches of Yggdrasil.

XIII Death
Death's farmer does not sow but only reaps,
on high or low estate he levies tithes,
no one escapes the scythe of Thanatos.
All those who prosper now will lose their lives,
for beggars or kings he shows no regard
but mows them down and heaps them by the yard.
Harrowed land lies barren 'neath winter's gloom,
waiting the return of Eros' fertile doom;
love's joyful rains descending once again
herald the groaning passage of life's wain.

XIV  Temperance
Harsh absolutes are tempered in the fires
of reason, quenched by dialectic springs,
life and death opposition is folded
in the mercy of an angel's wings.
The eye of Anubis brings the desert flood,
 brief relief from Dog Days burning heat,
and greens the delta with the hope of food
and life immortal for the pious kings.
Pouring balm to heal all suffering physis,
Maria Prophetess reborn as Isis,

XV  The Devil
Typhon, last son of Gaia and ruler
of all material things, hermaphrodite
with scaly wings, creator of gender
and all disagreements among humankind,
also called Baphomet by Templar knights.
Beneath the sigil of the pentagram,
seated upon the sphere and cubic throne,
'solve Coagula' your baleful epigram.
None can free themselves from your awful chains
without abandoning all joys and pains.

XVI  The Tower of Destruction
The fall of Jericho or Babylon
is well known, but any false monument
to gods or men may be overthrown,
but mostly this refers to the hubris
of kings or men of power whose discontent
hurls down both high and low into the dust,
when nations fall or economies go bust.
All forms, manmade or not, are subject to
the sudden shock of change which can unglue
the mind or the fabric of world we know.

XVII The Star
Hope, that last antidote remained within
the box when evils filled the world with sin.
Ishta's star rises early and sets late:
descending, she passes through that dark gate
to gather abandoned souls like flowers
seeking the light in their darkest hours.
She, Queen of Heaven and fertility,
effulgent daughter of the Sun and Moon.
waters the Earth with tears of compassion,
promising suffering will be over soon.

XVIII  The Moon
In the city, the dogs begin to bark
at the strange light that banishes the dark.
The Moon attracts, with mysterious force,
all the waters of the Earth and makes them
dance in rhythmic harmony, and rejoice
in a symphony of abundant life.
Strange monsters come floating up from the deep,
and out of mind hidden illusions creep
into the light of new-born consciousness
to weep upon the shores of moonlit lakes.

XIX  The Sun
The Sun shines equally on every home
with radiance and magnanimity.
Dawn's twin horsemen too shone down equally
in many skies before they founded Rome.
Staring at the Sun in the midday hour
we see the yods flow from the sacred horn.
The Sun is fount of energy and life,
parching the grass or ripening the corn,
but in Ragnorak the wolves will devour
Sol and Mani before Sunna is reborn.

XX  The Judgment
"Judge not lest ye be judged" is not written
in the Angel's book: the strident horn calls
forth the dead to be saved or smitten with
another thousand ills in Satan's halls,
where Gabriel and St George combine
to winnow wheat from the chaff to ensure
that each soul in Heaven is clean and pure.
When humanity has been so refined,
and there is no more need for flesh or mind
will the goldsmith in the sky be so unkind?

XXI  The World
The substantial orb and the world soul stand
united in the Anima Mundi,
completing the quest of each errant soul,
within a transcendent divinity.
Once hidden in matter but now set free,
the creative principle of the three,
foretold by Maria Prophetisa
is revealed by the magic of the light,
instilled in air, earth fire and water
by that first great imperious command.

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