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by Dirk Gillabel, 2001
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The Medicator was my very first major arcana deck. It was done in black-and white and published in a limited edition. It was created at a time when I felt the need to express my esoteric ideas into tarot cards. I wanted to make a deck that would express ideas that lie at the core of each card. I saw the traditional images of the cards as masks of archetypes hidden deep in the subconscious of man. For each card I isolated myself and meditated upon the card to penetrate the veil of the traditional representation. Focusing on the essence of each card and basing myself on knowledge that I had acquired over the years, a natural underlying flow of energy revealed itself through the major arcana. Primarily based on the meaning of numbers, but also on the archetypal content of the cards, a picture of the genesis of mankind emerged. It reveals the manifestation of man from the original divine source, involution into the material worlds, and ascent back to the source.
The basic structure of the Medicator Tarot is based upon the cosmic genesis of man. The Fool, as zero, stands apart because he represent man before he left the divine realm. From one to nine, man enters the cosmic realms descending from the most subtle to the most crystallized levels of existence. This is called involution, as he becomes more and more involved with the created worlds. From ten to eighteen man starts his ascent from the physical world back to the divine realm, that which is called evolution. At nineteen, he stands once again outside the cycle of human experience. Now he has entered the divine light again but has gained valuable experience of the human involution and evolution. The next two cards, twenty and twenty-one are different aspects of card nineteen. The shape of the zero of The Fool encircles the entire human experience, but at the same time is beyond it. With involution and evolution we have two half circles of nine cards, nine being for a long time a sacred number. Many cultures in regard nine to be the number of worlds in the cosmos (also the levels of consciousness) that man came through and has to go through again. The three card after eighteen form a spiritual Trinity with many interpretations. In total it all adds up to twenty-one cards (which is three times seven) plus the Fool, making it twenty-two cards; twenty-two being a second master number (eleven is the first one).
On the surface the Medicator Tarot looks totally different from a traditional major arcana. However I consider it to be an expression of the underlying, essential meaning of a traditional deck. I attach great importance to the sequence of the cards. One can argue that the sequence of cards in the major arcana is arbitrary. When tarot cards first appeared many different sequences existed and the number of cards in a deck varied. When tarot was introduced into France the cards were arranged in an sequence that suddenly would not change anymore. It was a time of flourishing esoteric orders, and tarot was being used in those circles. It is my belief that they arranged the tarot cards in a fixed sequence to express certain esoteric doctrines, especially those based on numbers. Maybe I am wrong, but isn't the tarot an excellent tool to explore the human mind? It is a tool to find out what we are all about, and this is an ongoing process. The Medicator Tarot is one of those decks that explains to you where we come from, who we are, and where we are going.
This 2001 edition is a revision of my original black-and-white deck. The drawings have been improved and the cards have been given English titles. The booklet is also new and makes the deck more accessible for those who are not schooled in esoteric knowledge. The cards have been painted using several computer programs. The philosophy behind the Medicator deck is the basis of all the deck made by Dirk Gillabel.
Sample Chapters from the booklet:
0.Unity of the Primordial State
The FoolThe card shows a melon, or circular mirror, which is a particular symbol of the Dzogchen teachings and of the unity of the primordial state. Dzogchen is the essence of all of the spiritual traditions of Tibet. The primordial state is each individualís own intrinsic nature from the very beginning. To enter this state is to experience oneself as one is, as the center of the universe, but not in the ordinary ego sense.
The Fool is at the beginning of the major arcana. Actually he stands aside, or outside, the cycle of involution and evolution mirrored in the major arcana. He is characterized by zero. What is zero? Zero is not a number but a concept. It is used to comprehend emptiness, voidness, negation, infinity. It refers to the original state of the cosmos, often symbolized by the image of the abyss. A cosmic abyss that is apparently empty but holds potential life. It harbors cosmic consciousness in its primal state.
The circle, the geometrical form of zero, is the symbol of the cosmos in its entirety. It is the oldest and most universal form. It contains nothing and everything. The circle is also seen as the eternal state of being, the unconditioned state of all things. Pythagoras said that God, the Monad or the One that is in everything, has a motion that is circular. Everything in the universe has circular movement, movement of which the beginning and the end coincides.
The gnostics called the primordial state of being Pleroma. Pleroma is the imperishable Aeon, the divine space containing all divine powers and qualities (these are the aeons). Pleroma is also called the Fullness of God. Pleroma is the Kingdom of Light, the Original House of Man. Man as he was before he went into the Darkness. Behind this cosmic light realm resides the Father-Mother. The Father-Mother is a gnostic concept for the divine as both male and female, and at the same time also transcending these polarities. The Father-Mother is unknowable.
In this Light Realm, man in his primordial state of being has a virgin spirit, ready to go out to unfold his latent possibilities. In this gnostic Kingdom of Light everything is one. Here duality does not exist. All beings share and reside in the same divine essence. It is also said that the Kingdom is inside you and outside you. You have to come to know yourself, and realize that you are a Son or a Daughter of the Father-Mother.
Thus the Fool goes out to the world, but though the Kingdom of the Father-Mother is spread out upon earth, he does not see it. He first has to go through the Darkness to find the Light.
In the Cabalistic teachings this state of being corresponds with the Ain-Soph, which is the state of absolute perfection in which there are no distinctions and no differentiation. It does not reveal itself in a way that makes knowledge of its nature possible, and it is not accessible even to the innermost thought of the contemplative. Only through the finite nature of every existing thing, through the actual creation itself, it is possible to deduce the existence of the Ain-Soph as the first infinite cause. It is the cause of all causes, the root of all roots.
When a universe has moved through the cosmos and ceased to exist at its end, all beings reside in a state of universal homogeneity, before a new universe will be emanated. The experiences of the previous universe rises up in the mind of Man as a mighty vision. At the same time it is a vision of what is to be, because it contains the potentials for a new emanation. In this way the Fool, at the beginning of the major arcana, is looking upwards at the vision, carrying the potentials for a new life in his bag. He is ready to go out to new experiences.
The card shows the emanation of divine sparks, or beings, from the primordial unity.
At a certain point, referred to as in the Beginning, the divine sparks, individual divine beings, who were united in the all-embracing Light, left their Home and entered the Darkness. Thus they became separated units, each of them became a unit by its own. The gnostics called these sparks Pneuma. It is what you and I are. In essence we are all divine sparks.
The Greek word pneuma means breath or spirit, and refers to the expiration of the sparks out from the Light Realm. Each one of us, as human beings, is such a divine spark, a unit on its own, an ever-abiding, timeless, spaceless being. It is our essence. It is that what we were, what we are, and what we always will be. Because we come from the same source, we share the same essence with each other. Because of its divine origin, the spirit does not quite belong to the world we live in. The soul and the physical body are like garments, or vehicles, and are not of the same substance of which we fundamentally are. They are part of the created universe and thus part of the Darkness. When the spirit wakes up it will want to return Home.
In the Indian Rig-Veda it is said that Purusha, the Original Man, sacrificed himself and entered the created universe. Only a part of him entered, the other part remained unmanifest in its divine realm. In reality he has not really divided himself, because that is impossible because he remains a unity. His consciousness has manifested itself both in the created universe and remained unmanifest in the divine realm.
The essence of a human being is an undividable unit. Only consciousness perceives a duality of a higher self and a lower self, or a divine being and a physical being. When perception changes one will only see unity. The number one is about unity, a dimensionless point. The magician indicates this unity. It is the essence of all beings, it is not polarized, it is consciousness in its undifferentiated state. In this way each human being is the center of the universe. In this center is stored all the power of our inner magician. From this center the magician manipulates the divine and the physical forces, the greater and the lesser, time and space, the here and now.
With our dualistic consciousness we perceive this original cosmic movement, this energy, the concepts of sparks as a male quality. The female quality follows next.
9. The Pilgrim
The cards shows that the Light of the Hermit is in the inner world. The path back to the Light is seldom straight. Often it winds and diverts into many different side roads. The flaming heart at the top of the card shows you to follow your heart, the center of your being. The book is Mutus Liber, the worldless book, a well known alchemical manuscript.
Involution is completed at card 9. Involution is the entering of the spirit into spiritual substances and finally into physical matter. It is like a "downwards" movement from the Light Realm all the way to the most condensed or crystallized substance in the universe. After having formed his soul body man finally acquires a physical body. Now he has become an individual being capable of experiencing the world around him. Living in his physical body he is like the prodigal son who is sent forth from his fatherís house (=the Light Realm). Being immersed in the physical, he has wandered along many paths and the blanket of substance and matter has diminished his awareness of the Light. His inner Lamp (his divine essence) has become obscured. He has forgotten who he is and why he is here.
Along the way spirit will rouse itself and make man feel that there must be something more than eating, sleeping, working, and sex. So he starts to ask questions and looks inside. He longs to discover his true self. Deep in his heart is the Light that connect both heaven and earth, the sun and the moon, the stars, and everything that is and is not. The entire cosmos is present within oneself. He who knows himself knows the cosmos.
Waking up is not easy. Matter weights heavy, darkness blinds the way. The Demiurg wants to keep man in ignorance. In order to overcome the obstacles man has to go through an initiation. Liberation from the chains of matter and ignorance is not easy. Gnosis (=knowledge) is necessary to know how to prepare for the journey, what road to take and not to get lost. The flame in his heart has to grow. Its light will guide man back to where he came from. Thus he becomes a pilgrim.
The Hermit carries a lamp, sometimes underneath his cloak (=body). In the Cabala "lighting the lamp" means illuminating the spark of Neshamah (=the divine spark in man that had been emanated directed from the Divine itself) within oneself in order to bring down the heavenly light. The gnostics said that "the lamp of the body is the mind", and they urged us "to light the lamp within us". Hermetic philosophers kept the Perpetual Lamp lit on the altar of Truth, so that the flame would live through and beyond the ages of passing knowledge on to those who are ready to receive it.
The number nine is the traditional number of fullness. It is often used in the meaning of the full expression of the Divine in the universe. Man as a complete being, or a complete expression of the Divine has the full meaning of the number nine. Having completed his involution, he is now ready to ascend and start his evolution, the way back Home.
The card shows a dragon with glowing eyes harboring the pearl of wisdom.
Dragons have always inspired awe because they represented power beyond the reach of common man. Kings, magicians, shamans have all been associated with dragons because of their unique status and great power.
The cosmic dragon shown on the card, harboring the pearl of wisdom, is a symbol for the great and unlimited powers of a realized man or woman. He or she who has become divine, has the unlimited powers of the divine at his/her disposal. The powers of the divine, working throughout the cosmos and nature are depicted as a mighty dragon whose power penetrates every living being. It is all around us, all the time. Who is able to face this fearsome being?