The “Ovum Philosophicum,” which can be translated as the Philosophical or Alchemical Egg, is the principal vessel used in alchemical operations. During the alchemical process, the material, Hermetically sealed in the Egg, is put through a symbolic death and rebirth. When the Egg was cracked, a new mystical substance emerged which was an elixir that prolonged life and acted as a catalyst capable of improving any substance that it came in contact with. This substance, called the Philosopher’s Stone, could change lead into gold and change an ordinary person into an enlightened master.
The World is Alive
The principle behind Alchemy is that everything thing in the world is alive and that all living things share a common purpose. Additionally, every living things seeks the desire or need to evolve into a higher state of of being. The means of fulfilling that evolution is through awareness, communication with our inner wisdom, developed intuition, and consciousness. This is not only evident in spirituality, but we are surrounded by this evidence, as demonstrated by Leonardo da Vinci. Alchemy is intended to speed the process of this evolution by creating a mystical agent, also known as the Philosopher’s Stone.
In Mythological Tradition
Greek mythology tells us the story of Psyche, the wife of the god Eros (or Cupid), and her journey. Psyche a mortal, one of three girls born to a king and queen. When her elder sisters were married, men from all over began swooning over Psyche, but she did not meet a man she fell in love with. The goddess, Aphrodite, or Venus, was displeased that men’s attention shifted from her to this mortal girl, and out of jealousy, she sent Eros, her son, to make Psyche fall in love with the most undesirable man and marry him. However, in the process, Eros accidentally shot himself with his own arrows of passion and fell in love with Psyche himself. Aphrodite highly disapproved of her son’s desires for Psyche and as punishment, Psyche was sent on four impossible missions, an attempt to break the girl.
The final task Aphrodite imposed on Psyche was to travel to the underworld and deliver a box to the goddess of the underworld, Persephone, which contained Aphrodite’s secrets to beauty. The tasks had left Psyche weary, and she feared she would not be beautiful enough for Eros, and made the mistake of looking into the box herself. Aphrodite knew that Psyche would not be able to resist looking into the box, and rather than the secrets to beauty, Psyche was met with death. Eros had secretly been watching over Psyche over her journeys, so when Psyche had died, he brought her to the other gods and made her immortal, transforming her into the goddess of the soul. It was then that the two had married bore their daughter, Hedone, meaning “pleasure.”
The journeys of Psyche is an allegory of the process of the soul, demonstrating that the spiritual world and the material world are connected. With her journeys through earth, the spiritual realm, her dreams, her death, and her ultimate transformation, Psyche represents totality of the unconscious and conscious life, each symbolic of what makes us who we are.
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The Human Psyche
Every individual in this world has a psyche. The psyche consists of the entire human mind, both consciousness and unconsciousness, and the totality of the psychic process, in the terms of Carl Jung. The total psyche is is considered the Higher Self, representative of the true personality, connected to the infinite intelligence of the universe. Jung accepted Alchemy as Alchemy as the precursor to depth psychology, which explores the unconscious and transpersonal aspects of the human experience. Jung studied this depth psychology through studies of images from Alchemist texts and images of patients’ dreams, believing that dreams were mystical journeys that brings our consciousness to places we physically can not go.
Many individuals are not in tuned with their psyche completely, mainly due to our ability to completely detach ourselves from consciousness. With the rise of the digital era, the detachment will be enabled further. The consciousness we do have is known as the Ego. The Ego is successful and effective in separating from the unity of the psyche, or the Higher Self. For many who have never experienced their Higher Self, it may seem as though their Higher Self is a separate personality. This may seem true, for those who have never experienced what is in their unconscious state. The idea behind Alchemy is to bridge the gap between the Ego and the Higher Self by using our inheritance to develop intuition and allow our unconsciousness to merge into our consciousness.
Traditionally, dating back millennia, divination was used to develop intuition, gain access to our unconscious state, and get in touch with our Higher Self. Methods have included, but are not limited to, consultations from oracles, the reading of omens, the throwing of dice, the watching of birds, and the reading of animal entrails, especially of the liver. It should be noted that these methods were not intended to be used as predictions for the future, but used as guide lines for improvements to communication with our Higher Self and to keep in favor of the divine.
The tarot is a common tool used for divination for unveiling the transformed wisdom of the Higher Self. The Alchemy tarot is considered on the best tools suited for the task of developing intuition and connection with one’s unconscious state, thus connecting us to our inner wisdom. The particular cards in Alchemy tarot were drawn to capture Alchemist symbols clearly and concisely in harmony to the aesthetic balance of the composition.
The origins of the tarot card is often clouded in mystery, but there is evidence and theories about the History, Symbolism, and Divination behind the practice.
The Alchemical tarot has decks and cards that include:
- Chariot: The chariot is one of the most traditional card in tarot decks. Faced upright, it is associated with control, will power, victory, and determination. Faced reversed, it is associated with lack of control or direction and aggression.
- Empress: The empress is typically an archetypal of mother earth. Faced upright, it is associated with fertility, beauty, nature, and abundance. Faced reversed, it is associated with a creative block or a dependence on others.
- Priestess: Faced upright, the priestess is associated with intuition, high powers, mystery, and the subconscious mind. Faced reversed, it is associated with hidden agendas or a need to listen to one’s inner voice.
- The Buddha Tarot
- Vampire Tarot
Robert M. Place
Robert M. Place is the creator of Alchemy tarot. Place is a gifted teacher of Western mystical tradition, interested in the history and philosophy of tarot. In addition to his studies and teachings, Place has created and contributed many images to the decks, including the Buddha Prints and the Celtic Prints.
More can be read about the life of Robert Place.
Even further information can be found at Robert Place’s personal website, www.robertmplacetarot.com.
If you have further thoughts or questions, there is a Forum where like minded individuals can discuss the tarot cards of Robert Place.