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Enter thro’ the Narrow Gate

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Yeshua

This has nothing to do with little old ladies from around the bay who delight in putting the fear of Jesus into the locals through fortune telling or the embellishment of religiosity through old wives’ tales. In order to better understand the tarot sequence in question we need a general understanding of the author’s primary influences; i.e., a working knowledge of the Kabbalah (Qabalah) would be most helpful in unpacking this pictorial rendition of the Torah. Yet this is no lesson in the basics of esotericism as it is an exoteric and/or open-minded view of the transformative power of death.

Upon closer examination of the 13th major arcana (Death) we receive an uncanny feeling that everything we once took for granted about this world has expired. The king lies dead on the ground and so does his broken crown. His subjects in pious pose await their end. Upon the high ground in the backdrop reside the narrow gate and at its centre the solar deity of immortality. So we make our ascent despite the low morale of the times. Here we are faced with an angel with one foot firmly planted on the solid ground and the other in the turbulent sea.

In the next picture we are even closer to the narrow gate of eternal life. Similar to the entrance of the ancient temple belonging to the sun god Apollo we are confronted with one of his famous Delphic maxims; namely, Temperance, as in Nothing in Excess. Yet this particular arcane possesses much more variety of symbology to unlock and so does the term temperance, which also implies figuring out the right combination of effort in order to enter into one’s flow. What makes the golden ratio shine with efficacy resides in the sum of its parts working in harmony.

Like Geoff Stirling’s NTV logo of the circle—triangle—square aligned with perfect congruency, it symbolizes the intellect, heart and body working in cohesion rather than divided and brimming over with duplicity. The deficiency of moderation, as in abstinence from pleasure, works for those ascetic types who operate along the religious plain, who get off on appearing saintly, but the alchemical workings of temperance requires vision and transcendence, a reaching for that which brings balance between order and chaos. Temperance sometimes requires a whole lot of excess, no different from the abundant affection given to an infant by its mother during the early stage of maturation.

In the next phase of this archetypal journey we lay eyes on the end result of unbridled excess, that which leads to bondage and attachment to the things of this world. Just as we thought we were getting closer to a golden dawn we plummet into the dark recesses of our collective i-magi-nation* to behold the creator (demiurge) of the system of things; the very force that keeps the hamster wheel turning and the predominant culture burning; i.e., burning with passion and self righteous indignation, keeping one another enslaved to soulless jobs, busy as a beelzebub, subjugated, incarcerated, institutionalized and medicated. Those proficient at manipulation and/or controlling others often receive the highest paychecks in this diabolical game. Along this plain of existence burns a false illumination that draws each and every one of us into its dazzling flame. So be sure to keep your head down if you want to keep your place in the grand scheme of this hierarchical reign.

(* The word ‘nation’ in the Kabbalah means desire. Ideally we are to transform it back into light. Kind of similar to the Christian notion of re-aligning eros with agape.)

“Listen to the wind blow, down comes the night. Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies. Break the silence, damn the dark, damn the light. ∞ Chain… keep us together—running in the shadow.” – Fleetwood Mac

In the next post we’ll pick up with the succeeding card; the 16th arcana depicts the collapse of a tall building. This card can represent the fall of a dynasty, not all that different from the 2023 Netflix series of The Fall of the House of Usher which consists of two siblings who make a deal with the devil in order to rise in power, wealth and privilege, only to lose it in the end when it all comes crashing down on their heads. The Tower also stands for disconnecting from a world view that no longer serves our well being, as in the releasing of an egotistic version of selfhood. There’s nothing all that peaceful about this particular transition in life and the narrow gate can remain the furthest thing from one’s mind. Needless to say a lot more has to happen before we pass through that liberating threshold.

About Philosopher Muse

An explorer of volition and soul, a song under a night sky and a dream that forever yearns to be.

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