“Throughout this article the reader can find words which are evocative of nature. Some, like stream, river, and current, refer to water, to movement, others, like field, harvest, and cultivation, refer to earth, to growth. What is interesting to observe now, since this article is a collaborative effort, is the fact that while writing, each of the authors chose precisely the same kind of words, and moreover, did so at the same time, without consulting the other. 

…given our choice of descriptive terms, we can see from the character of this ensemble that it is dynamic, not static; living, not dead. Thus, the field of western esotericism is indeed a living field. As we proceed with its cultivation, we must approach it as we would any living thing, with care, and perhaps even with a measure of respect, simply in virtue of the fact of what it is, or at least, of what it appears to us to be.”

Antoine Faivre and Karen-Claire Voss, Western Esotericism and The Science of Religions, Numen, Vol. 42, 1995, pp. 71-72


     "Tilopa now filled several vessels with water, emptied them into one vessel and then refilled the many from the One.

      I understand this filling and refilling as the fact that one value appears in many (forms) and that the many have only one value."

Guenther, H.V. The Life and Teachings of Naropa, Oxford  University Press, Oxford, 1971. p. 38.  

14      The esoteric meaning here is that the tenets that were thought to have been exterminated are carefully transferred for safety's sake into another vessel.”

Margaret Starbird, The Woman with The Alabaster Jar, Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail, Bear & Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1993. p..112.

These two quotations from two different traditions deserve a certain amount of attention. The symbolism of Two Jugs, or Two Vases, also appears in Arcanum 17, The Star.  It seems that the left jug is Silver and the right, Golden.  According to the Church of Light: "

"Arcanum XIV is figured by the genie of the sun holdling a golden urn and a silver urn, and pouring from one to the other the conducting fluid of life." And:

"The fluid transferred from one urn to another is the symbol of transmutation..."

     We are under no obligation to read this ".. conducting fluid of life..." in a literal sense.  For Margaret Starbird fluid = tenets. In other words, the Teachings, which are transmitted from from Form to another.  This is in essense what the word transformation means.  And it is a subject that has caused no amount of grief to esoteric scholars.  Then this is this very potent statement by Hesse:

". . . cross-fertilizations between the disciplines occurred frequently"   Hesse, The Glass Bead Game.

Here, disciplines = forms = vessels = fluid = tenets.


cross-fertilizations = transference

Let us look at a Masonic example:

“Although there is evidence for a generic connection between the Craft and the Ancient Mysteries, there is no explanation of how the material  might have been transmitted or how the tradition  could remain hidden through the rigours of the Dark Ages and the probing of the Inquisition.” 

 W. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry – A Journey through Ritual and Symbol, Thames and Hudson, London, 1991, p. 67..   

The Masonic Lineage - is also a codification of the Architecture of the Universe into mathematical and geometrical patterns. God as the Grand Architect of the Universe, so to speak -

Transmission cannot take place in a Void - and thus a FORM is necessary. These FORMS are not always what we expect. That is to say, they are NOT necessarily clothed in an esoteric garb, or controlled by academics or politicians.  Culture is one example - music another. 

Culture-forms that are more exoteric - manifested in the Renaissance in particular. Often, the violent hegemony of a particular theological system - for example the Christian Inquisition - which ran for almost 800 years - made it necessary for the Secret Teachings to be placed in codes and ciphers. This struggle to survive - birthed an entire range of esoteric languages - one of which is the Sacred Tarot - another the system known as Alchemy, or for example, the symbols embedded in watersmarks from the 13th century onwards, of which Harold Bayley made a study..

Wherever the Transmission reveals itself in Activity, there is a parallel translation action.

 The Transmission moves across various cultural forms. In this sense, strictly speaking, it is TRANSFORMATIONAL. In turn, we, as the observers of this process, and its participants, have to have the necessary mental elasticity to perceive these forms, without falling into the various traps of separatist thinking. For example, Astrology cannot, historically, be separated from the doctrine of the Microcosmos-Macrocosmos. But this doctrine is essentially Hermetic. Therefore, Astrology, is an Hermetic Art. The same applies to Alchemy. And the other esoteric Sciences can be included as well. The Hermetic Transmission is absolutely inclusive. Again, the stream of this transmission, merely translates itself. if such a stream can be said to have a self.

"It has been our endeavor, therefore, to transmit the tradition exactly as it has been revealed to us by our researches."

Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game, p. 49

In this superbly cryptic statement, Hesse lays before us a few routes from which to commence. The Tradition is transmitted. The Nature of this Transmission, is in itself highly coded.

The Tradition, is Revelation. NATURE AS THE TRADITION

That 'Nature' itself, is the Transmission. This perspective is very much embedded in the Tao, which uses analogies from Nature to represent the various qualities of existence. Part of this vocabulary, is of course, the world of the Elements, Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

Using the analogy of the snow-peaks, from which the streams descend, joining into rivers - and then into the sea. So the Lineage has literally flown down the Ages. Another good example is the Transmission from Tilopa to Naropa - and so on in Tibetan Buddhism.  Streams, rivers, the sea, are all fluids. The fluids flowing from the Silver urn to the Golden urn.


     Which ever way we look at this problem, there is only one solution that my own research has convinced me as being probable. If we look, by analogy, at the 20th Century transmission of Tibetan Buddhism to the West, we see that many variations and different Schools of Tibetan Buddhism have taken root in the so-called Occidental World. The same applies to the various branches of the Christian Church, which all seeded themselves in the New World, e.g. the Puritans in America, Catholics in South America and Anglicans in the English Colonies.

     Therefore, why should the same not apply to, for example, the religion of Ancient Egypt? The religion of Egypt in any event, with its vast history of bifurcation, its various sacred centres and galaxy of Gods, certainly did not present a unified, monoform to the outside world. It makes sense, as a paradigm, that the different Schools and Religious Colleges of Egypt, would send diplomatic streams into the 'outer' world, to civilizations beyond the Nile Valley. One such stream, via the matrix of Roman colonization, allowed for the dispersion of  Egyptian  religions as far afield as the Alps. There were Isis Temples in the Val d'Aosta and Bologna. But  in terms of sheer cultural concentration, the Bay of Naples seemed to attract the most initiatory activity. 

When I first read  the C.C.  Zain claim that the Tarot could be traced back to Ancient Egypt, I was not very impressed.  40 years later, there is no so much doubt in my mind, that  there might be a partial truth to this. And this evidence, is historically embedded in what I call the Anthony and Cleopatra paradigm. Rome and Alexandria, and on this axis, the Mystery Schools of the Bay of Naples play an important role. And in particular context to the Tarot, the:


    It is this light that guided me through life, and now that I look back upon this life's long road, I can see it winding through a wide and variegated landscape, dominated by a mighty stream, the stream of spiritual tradition, that has been flowing from beginningless time and through the millenniums of human lives and endeavour. It embodies the experiences of untold generations of devotees, seers and singers, thinkers and poets, artists and scholars, sinners and saints. The sources of this stream are the Enlightened Ones, who ever and again manifest themselves among human beings, like Sakyamuni Buddha, whose message was of such universal significance that even after two and a half millenniums we have not yet exhausted the depth of its meaning and its manifold ways of expression and realisation. 

Lama Anagarika Govinda, The Way of the White Clouds, Rider, London,  1966, p.284.

“The Tarot is a monumental and singular work simple and strong as the architecture of the pyramids, and in consequence as durable. It is a book which is the sum of all the sciences and whose infinite permutations are capable of solving all problems; a book which informs by making one think. It is perhaps the greatest masterpiece of the human mind, and certainly one of the most beautiful things handed down by antiquity.”

 Eliphas Levi.

“But the Tarot may serve a larger function as well. With its Western-based spiritual roots and cultural expression, its philosophical ties to both the golden Renaissance and the great wisdom traditions of the ancient world, Tarot may today serve as a complex and comprehensive map for healthy psychological functioning that brings continuity to bear from previous areas yet remains fresh and constantly reinvented and revitalized. It is uniquely multi-cultural and cross-cultural. The tremendous outpouring of newly-conceived Tarot decks speaks to the outstanding creative activity and fascination these cards continue to inspire in younger generations. And as noted, the timelessness and ‘nonlocality’ of Tarot images free them from provinciality and territoriality that often hinders organized movements, making Tarot cards by contrast universally recognizable and accessible, cross-cultural, language-independent, and perennially contemporary. Few would argue that a map of higher possibility is notably absent in the Western psychological archives, which today encourages little aspiration beyond normalcy, adaptivity, and functionality.” 

Arthur Rosengarten, Tarot and Psychology. Spectrums of Possibility, Paragon House, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2000, pp. 244 - 245.