The first few cards of the tarot deck are rather special cards. The concepts set forth in these three cards will be the theme for the deck. The first three cards are the cornerstone, so to speak, that the rest of a deck will be built out from. The first three cards will always work together, like a holy trinity the gestalt that sums up the entire philosophy of the deck.
The first card of the tarot deck has worn many disguises, the most well known are of course the juggler and the magician. A juggler by and large is a street magician, both of these characters use deception and illusions to express themselves. It is ironic that the single most common description of this card is “will,” while the title of the card describes someone who is a master of deception. What is this all about? A third title for this card is the adept, looking at all three for these titles a pattern emerges. These titles are about a state of mind, not an action. These three characters are always looking always balancing always searching.
the first card represents the unending, always reaching-searching-looking-pondering-wondering of the mind. that never ending river of thoughts that engages the moment one opens their eyes in the morning and doesn’t end till sleep turns them off. These thoughts seem to go where ever they like, and it takes great will to control them.
The art above looks chaotic and busy to emphasize all the various incoming images this thought complex have to choose from. Everything we sense from out side and everything we feel on the inside is brought before this thought complex, if we are to be aware of it at all. This card represents that which we are paying attention to at any given moment, all the wires and cables represents all the various senses, feelings, and emotions being filtered and categorized.
Take some time to sit in the quiet. Take a few deep breaths and quiet your mind. Thoughts tend to express verbally in the mind, so listen for words, all these bits of thoughts that are impossible to quiet down are this thought complex represented by this card.
So much to say
Sitting there quietly and observing this train of thought that is unceasingly running through one’s mind, a couple things become apparent. Probably the first thing is that the thoughts are happening while you’re observing them, which means something else is doing the thinking here if you were doing the observing. This may sound trivial but it is actually a really big deal. Another thing that becomes frighteningly obvious is that this thinking just keeps running, with all the inner strength we had we could not shut this voice up.
Taking control of this train of thoughts, this is the big first step of meditation. So this quieting of the mind, it can be done to one extent or another depending on the person and the effort they put into it. But first things first let’s go to the first thing that became apparent, the fact that the train of thoughts is thinking without us.
All of these thoughts are happening automagicly. This thought complex has evolved over time to be constantly processing and thinking about it’s external and its internal environment. This thought complex is always juggling all of the different information about the world it receives from our senses and the current sense of our internal states. The thoughts with the most energy, so to speak, are the ones we notice. In practice we we think of it as volume, since all these thoughts are in a verbal nature it seems very natural that the loudest voice is the most powerful thought directing the thought complex.
Since this card is all about thoughts and thinking and getting the thoughts done the planet Mercury is the obvious choice for this card. As do most other tarot decks
The unconscientious observer
as an aside before we get back to painting we just want to throw out there that the thought complex that is doing the observing of the thought complex that is thinking, that is the fourth card…. We call it the unconscientious observer…
Anytime we finally get into a meditative state where we can observe our inner thought processes we are sitting in the fourth card. We can see over all the terrain of our thoughts our entire estate. In the wild during day-to-day life this never really happens. In practice during meditation it can be attained for seconds and then minutes. There are some that Master this art. If you ever had a turning point moment in your life an event so critical and huge that when it was taking place you were outside of yourself watching it all happen, and during those moments you could force yourself to do what needed to be done but all the while it was as if you were watching it take place like a play, at this moment you were sitting deeply into this frame of mind. You will find that you can recall this moment years and years later, and with some effort you can reexamine the smallest details of that time. If you’ve ever had any of those moments you’ve gotten a taste of being slightly aware for a moment.
But that’s really a whole other discussion that we will get to when we get to the fourth card.