The Beanstalk of Life

Over the last few years I’ve created 60-odd tarot spreads that were posted on the Aeclectic Tarot forum. My approach is usually complex and detailed, with thorough developer’s notes. My goal is to eventually publish a workbook of these spreads. In the meantime, I’ll offer a few of them here. This is one of the more fanciful ones.

Students of the esoteric tarot are well-versed in its correspondence to the qabalistic Tree of Life. While rethinking the cards of the Minor Arcana as expressions of occult number theory, I recalled that there is another descriptive model for the elusive “meaning of life” (no, it’s not “42” this time!) Back in the late 1960s, Keith Reid, the visionary lyricist for the progressive rock band Procol Harum, wrote a narrative piece for their second album titled “Glimpses of Nirvana.” It gave me an idea for recasting the usual “tree” motif in slightly different botanical terms.

“ . . . let me remind you of the pilgrim who asked for an audience with the Dalai Lama. He was told he must first spend five years in contemplation. After the five years, he was ushered into the Dalai Lama’s presence, who said,

“Well, my son, what do you wish to know?’

So the pilgrim said, ‘I wish to know the meaning of life, father.’

And the Dalai Lama smiled and said, ‘Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn’t it?’

Beanstalk of Life Top View

Major Arcana – Archetypal Force

Court Cards – Personalized Force

Minor Arcana – Natural Force

The Universal Pentad – The “Crown:

Aces – Potential/Idealized Force (the “Point”)

Twos – Dynamic/”Triggering” Force (the “Line”)

Threes – Expansive/Developmental Force (ä) (the “Triangle”)

Fours – Stabilized/Stalled Force (å) (the “Square”)

Fives – Disruptive/Corrective Force (ã) (The “Pentacle”)

The Personal Pentad – The “Stem” and “Roots”

Sixes – Balanced/Self-Sufficient Force (à – Realm of the Heart’s Desire)

Sevens – Reactive/Impulsive Force (â- Realm of the Instincts)

Eights – Testing/Refining Force (á- Realm of the Mind)

Nines – Purified/Perfected Force (é- Realm of the Emotions)

Tens – Established/Exhausted Force (ORealm of the Senses)

In the top-down diagram, Ace through Five represent the “crown” of the beanstalk, Six is the “stem” and Seven through Ten show the “roots.”


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