Meditation Patterns: The Emperor and the Aries Decans

A Facebook friend of mine just reminded me that Liber Theta, the College of Thelema’s Thoth-based rewrite of the Golden Dawn’s Liber T, includes what author Jim Eshelman calls “meditation patterns” for each pair of Major Arcana that are considered “astrological counterparts” to the Minor Arcanum for the associated decan of the Chaldean zodiac. There are two Majors for each decan, one for the underlying sign and one for the specific planet. Although Eshelman says to place the two Majors side-by-side and put the Minor above them, I find that it works better for me as a meditation aid to lay the Minor between the two Majors. In that sense it “translates energy” between the two, creating a functional interface. Here are the patterns for the Emperor and the three Aries decans; I call it “The Three Faces of the Emperor: Conqueror, Diplomat and Royal Suitor.” The Minor Arcana for the three decans of Aries are 2 of Wands (“Dominion,” Mars in Aries); 3 of Wands (“Virtue,” Sun in Aries); and 4 of Wands (“Completion,” Venus in Aries). The secondary Majors are the Tower (Mars); the Sun (Sun) and the Empress (Venus).

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All images copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, Woodbury, MN

The 2 of Wands (“Dominion”) mediates between the Emperor and the Tower. There is a motivating current in one direction and a moderating one in the other. This allows the Emperor to access his “inner flamethrower” when needful, and permits the Tower to “pull in its horns” when it is politic to do so. I consider all of the Twos to be reciprocal or compensatory (like a swinging pendulum); here the reciprocation looks like an adaptation of the Mars energy between its more conservative and its more radical expressions. Mars is not normally equated with conservatism; when I contemplate disciplined Mars energy I think of the 3 of Disks (and in some cases the Devil, although I believe Crowley was on about fecundating “procreative” energy there). But the “four-ness” of the Emperor can also be brought to bear as a stabilizing agent. I think the best Emperors were builders and not just custodians.

When we get to the 3 of Wands (Emperor-3 of Wands- Sun) it would seem that diplomacy enters the picture. The Emperor, having taken conquest as far as it will carry him, offers an alliance based on mutual strength. The Three is harmonious, representing growth and opportunity. The Sun is exalted in Aries, making it progressive and optimistic. The Emperor is on his best behavior here, “making nice” to further his agenda.

Having forged a tentative alliance, the Emperor now sets out to woo the female scion of the erstwhile adversary (Emperor-4 of Wands-Empress), thus firmly establishing his power base in a presumptive lineage. Crowley’s 4 of Wands is perfectly emblematic of bringing the Ram (Mars) and the Dove (Venus) together in an abiding union. The Empress is his equal in all things, and his better in some. Her composure becomes the “velvet glove” to his “iron fist” and her grace buffers his more abrasive side. Together they exemplify a “marriage of opposites” that creates a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Compared to the “hot” reds, oranges and yellows of the other cards in the sequence, the cool colors Harris used for the 4 of Wands and the Empress convey this admirable, enveloping restraint beautifully.

Although he was a long-ruling king and not an emperor, these vignettes remind me of Louis XIV of France, the “Sun King.” He was excessively war-like (Tower) but also a diplomat in dealing with Spain and a patron of the arts (Sun), and he certainly seemed to keep all of his women pregnant, whether married to them or not (Empress).

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