Here you can read and meditate on each Book as painted and described by John Starr Cooke (with Rosalind Sharpe).
Please take note of the following:
1) The two ways to approach the New Tarot: intuition-feeling–poetic & thinking-intellectual–noetic. Each ONE of us makes use of these different ways of knowing – some more, some less – so set an intention to activate both ways to access the realm of wisdom and more fully appreciate the message of the New Tarot.
2) There is no ‘official’ order or sequence for the Books (as explained in Hanging Man’s description). The order of the Books presented below is the order in which they were delivered and may be understood as steps upon a single path, or the One in motion.
3) All images are to be regarded as symbolic and not necessarily specific (or a literal reference) to any living thing or object.
4) Avoid falling into the traps of the Mind (the Thinker’s “error”). This means you can try contemplating the Books without reading the descriptions. Look at each Book, according to your own study program, and only read the descriptions when you feel ready to absorb it. Keep a clear focus when meditating on the imagery and symbolism of each Book; intend the Mind not to make conclusions or assumptions on the meanings; take a mental note of associations and unique/original/strange ideas that pop up from the unconscious but avoid making any judgements. Keep an open Mind.
There is ONE only. You are that ONE.
This image – of flaming serpents in the form of a lemniscate, a symbol for infinity – appears on the rear side of all Books. The image symbolizes eternity – eternal life and eternal rhythm.
The Nameless One is the Tarot, for he is the container-resolver, and is the author of the scrolls he carries, which is the Tarot or the Book of T. Furthermore, he bears the signature T, which stands for Thoth-Tehuti and for the Tarot; also the T is the cross of initiation. The T on the Book of the Nameless One plainly says that Thoth-Tehuti is the author of these Books and that he is synonymous with the Nameless One.
The Hanging Man represents the Christ state. This involves the balancing of all opposites by permitting all to flow through him. To do so, he stands on man’s ultimate creations: the convex round dome of a mosque is under his right foot and a concave square tower which represents also a well going deep into the earth hides his left foot. These two structures signify man’s highest aspirations and man’s diggings into the depths, the dredging of the unconscious.
The Nameless One, the Hanging Man and the Mother make up a trinity, the world of emanations. The Nameless One represents the uncontaminated One Self. He is that which is born of the Mother. Yet, without the constant redemption performed by the Hanging Man in his seemingly passive role, there could not be the dynamic action of the creative or positive principle performed by the Mother.
The Virgin, formerly the World, is Beingness, and she is the X, the mandala and the point or center of the mandala — the “point” of the Tarot. The old World card was thought of as containing the entire meaning of the Tarot. No one card contains the total meaning, although each one is an expression of it. However, the Virgin, Beingness — as the point — is that which the Tarot manifest and enacts, for the point is, always, at all time.
Unity signifies Completion, or completeness. Completeness is Completeness of Being, the working together as One. This is not a tale of “soul mates”, but rather a Book expressing the zenith of unification in the seeming opposites. Two do not become one, but each is half of the One, the completed whole, and they function in unison or accord; thus “they go the same direction in all things”.
Triumphant in the battle of Self, the Victorious One walks forward, bearing aloft in his purple-gauntleted right hand an exotic flower — a flower such as a Buddha might carry — and leading by his left a brace of lions, the two lions that formerly pulled his chariot. On his head is a crown of seven blue stars; above his head in the heavens is a soaring eagle bearing spears in the formation of pyramids in his talons. (The eagle of victory reappears later on the left shoulder of the Changer). Many symbols of Victory are on this Book whose meaning is Self-Mastery.
The Way-Shower Book is a golden book — at once a promise, a fulfillment of a hope, and the statement of a breakthrough in consciousness. All its symbols gush and flow downwards. A golden cup pours down multi-colored fluids. A golden waterfall descends across the Book. A rainbow betokens falling rain and is in itself a promise — a reminder of God’s covenant with man. An ever-moving duality of light, moving with a single purpose, showers from the Way-Shower’s eyes, bathing the city of man. That which is above pours down, golden, upon that which is below. The way is showering; and the way is being shown.
The Doer means Right Activity. Man thrives on secrets. His unconscious is built on hiding. Seldom does he dare expose himself as an open book for fear of what another might see. Rarely does he open the door to himself and permit others to read what they will. Man is concerned usually with appearances — what the other person might think — and, hence he dances on masqueraded. There is only one Right Activity, one thing to do: to be as you are. To be, be it openly, and let the sun shine. This is the message of the Book of the Doer.
The Thinker thinks “about” things. The Thinker thinks he thinks. This is his error. Error is the significance of the Book of the Thinker. Bright Lucifer fell, and mind, at its highest, was submerged in the speech world of naming. Lucifer erred by believing he was separated from the Self. The thinking brain is the divider of One Being. Logic is the means used by the Thinker and logic is a subtle trap. That which is named becomes a spell enslaving the namer. Truth is more often obscured by naming than revealed by it. Named forms and abstractions become humanity’s stern commanders superseding the Mother’s creation.
Obviously the Citadel Book is connected with man’s history. The Tarot is the picture of man’s unconscious and as such contains his entire history from the beginning until the present now. In the Book of the Citadel, Completed Man, we see that in his present phase of evolution he has come to the Completed Citadel of the Self.
The Seeker is that in everyman which cause him to seek — and sense — the light. Blazing upon the mountain-top, the Shiva fire of the One light shines like a mighty jewel. This is the crown chakra of the Citadel. The mountain is the Tree — the former tower or pyramid. The mountain is the Self upon which the One jewel blazes. The fire on the mountain-top is also the Way Shower whose eyes irradiate the earth with beams that are like searchlights. For the jewel blazes and can be seen by everyone. And it is day.
The Actor — the Mind — is the Emperor. His throne is real, he is real, and the effects of his performed acts symbolized as stars are real. All the rest is show to keep the audience intrigued, amused. The Actor is the persona. He holds up a mask. He is the Knower but pretends to be a role player. He can be entrapped in the play only when he believes himself to be the persona or ego, lured on by the world. For the Actor is the creator of sensations through forms.
The Feeler is life’s longing for itself in manifestation. She is the magnetic Moon that draws man into the Maze of Destiny the Mother has spun. She is the weaver of the cosmic threads, the intertwinings and connections making up the Maze. The Feeler is no deceiver nor is her web one of illusion. She is that which moves within the unconscious consciously, that which stirs it — the Prime Mover, the source. All outward actions are prompted by the Feeler.
This is one of the most complicated Books in the Book of T and is central to its design. The meaning of the Royal Maze is Destiny. At the center is the crown with its five senses. The five jewels may be related to the five senses. This is the tree of the Citadel looked at from above. The seven circles represent the seven levels of consciousness, also the seven chakras; the white circle surrounding the crown being the white light of the crown chakra or Brahmanic consciousness.
Who or what is the Deliverer? “The Deliverer is not the woman nor is he”, it was written, referring to the woman extending her hands into the vat of fire and the young man drinking the cup of fire. “The flame is”. Fire is the deliverer. Fire was seen at the top of the mountain-top in the Seeker Book. In this Book, we have reached the mountain-top. The cauldron is the mountain upon which it stands. The significance of the Deliverer Book is: That which is to come to Each. Deliverance is to come. It is to come through the fire. But this fire is not the fire of earth. It is electric fire. It is the fire of spirit.
The Changer’s significance “cannot be said”. Nobody can ever pinpoint the Changer in words. No one can name that which he personifies — for he is always changing and the meaning of what he expresses is of the moment alone, now. His acts are mercurial and, as the trickster, his nature and effects change in a flash. He is as unpredictable as a wind-song and only he who listens within can follow his melody.
The Renewer was formerly the Death card. The old figure of Death was a skeleton, mowing a field with a scythe in which human hands sprouted up as the mower mowed down human heads — some crowned, some uncrowned. The cycle of death and re-birth was symbolized by the old Death card. The Book of the Renewer also represents Death, for it is only through the gates of Death that the final mystery is revealed. Death is not necessarily physical death. It is the death which is the necessary prelude to re-birth. But only when Death is seen as an absolute can the birth into greater Being take place.
The Reacter is not the Actor. These words are the only significance according to the Book of the Reacter. The Actor performs acts. The acts the Mind performs hypnotize the Mind further. They englamour and cast shadows across his sham stage. The Reacter is the awakened Self. He is as a new-born babe. He performs nothing. Reacting, he simply is. He follows his new-born feelings spontaneously. He is one with the flow of the Moon, whose light streams down the path behind him, and with the sun in front of him toward which he walks.
“There is no judgment anywhere”… it said in the notes. Once the baby has opened the gates to the Kingdom with his two keys and stands within it, he encounters, as in a mirror, that which he has accomplished — signified by the Donor. The Donor means: That which is earned is given. The alternating black and white gates of the Reacter Book are now represented by the black and white pillars which the Donor upholds in her two hands. These are the same pillars that the Mother strode. But black and white have been reversed. The Mother’s right foot was on a white pillar, her left on black. The Donor upholds a black column in her right hand; a white in her left. The Mother was the door to two realms: spiritual and physical. Her pregnant belly was about to give birth to her son. And the star on her breast was birthing the sun.
The Speaker of the Speaker is like an eruption and it is clear that his words are no mere speech. The significance of the Book is It is Done. With love, it is done when the Speaker is with you. The key to the Speaker is his shimmering heart, in other words, love. But this is the transfigured heart. It is the heart of the One who drank the cup of fire. It is no longer tinged with the suffering that weighted down the Thinker, nor is it connected with redemption, the Hanging Man. It is the heart of One, or the heart of hearts.
The androgynous figure of the Reverser, formerly Temperance, is at once the simplest and most meaningful Book in the entire Book of T projected by the Nameless One. Early versions of Temperance sometimes showed the angelic being proceeding from the sun, wearing a golden robe to indicate that it was not an earthly creature who poured water from one vessel into another one. The meaning of Temperance must be studied in connection with the Reverser, for the reversal essentially has to do with the reversal of flows. The Reverser Correctly Channels Flow.
The Book of the Knower is the final statement of the new progressed Tarot. It says: “I am One. I am the Self. I am that which You are. I am the Goal. I know and I know that I know”. The Knower functions as the Self. The Knower has always spoken. But now he is closer. He speaks within you, here and now. Will you listen?
John Starr Cooke
The American mystic John Starr Cooke painted the New Tarot images and wrote the original descriptions of each Book.