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Richard 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zephyros View Post
I wonder, how does it "work?" I mean, the GD system in this respect is almost absurdly simple: the Knights "go forth" and plant the seed, the Queens incubate, the Princes (Emperors, Kings, etc.) rule while the Princesses (ditto) are "us." But what's the "story" being told here? Is there an explanation anywhere?
Maybe there is no "story" as such in the Farrell courts: The Kings and Queens are consorts, and their offspring are the Princes and Princesses.



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Zephyros 
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I found an article by Farrell outlining the process of creating his deck. He discusses the Courts in it, I'm not sure I completely get it:

Quote:
At time of going to press we are yet to create our first court cards. We left these last mostly because I have been researching them and am not yet happy with the results. Some of this is the fault of the Golden Dawn's Book T which created opposing instructions.

Firstly there are the titles. You have Knight, Queen, King and Knave in one section and then you have King, Queen, Prince and Princess in another.

In the description of the cards in one section of Book T makes the statement that “The four Kings, or figures mounted on steeds...”... and “the Princes are seated in Chariots” which is later countered by the description of the “Knight of Wands... a winged warrior riding upon a black horse” and King of Wands “A kingly figure seated on a chariot”. Then in another section the 'King' is referred to by the mystic title 'Prince of the Chariot of Fire'.

Different Golden Dawn teachers have used different systems. The Zalewski's and Crowley put the King in a Chariot, Tabatha Cicero and Wang puts the Prince on a Chariot.

Wang says the reason for this is because of a mystery.

“There appears to be a contradiction. The King is called a Knight, the Prince is called the King and the Princess is called a Knave. Essentially Mathers was pointing to the way the older writers attributed (the Tetragrammaton) to the Court cards. But the principle show was one of the great secrets of the Golden Dawn....” [6]

In an idea which looks like it is borrowed from Crowley's Book of Thoth, Wang says that the King, mounted on a horse is the first Young Knight. He becomes the King and marries the daughter of the old King. He is the vital principle as it pours forth into existance. The Queen is his consort and the perfect balance. From their union come the Prince who is himself the new King and the immediate ruler over what we know of as existence. The Princes forms a union with the prince which brings about the activity of the King whereby he returns to being the young knight. Wang admits that this sounds surrealistic and demonstrates how difficult it can be to express anything in our language.

Wang claims that only Crowley got it right. However in my view Crowley's idea is too complicated and does not actually reveal anything other than the fact that he clearly had a thing about sleeping with his mother.

The Knight is not the primal root of the element. That job in Tarot is firmly that of the aces which are shown in the hands of the court cards. In Tiphareth the Prince receives his elemental power from Kether down the path ruled by the High Priestess, so it arrives with at the same primal level that the King and the Queen receives. Symbolically he is the son of the King and Queen so is therefore freer to express the elemental force than his mum and dad who have the responsibilities of their senior office.

Having been around Golden Dawn documents for a while, I think there is a much easier way of looking at the contradiction. Many people believe that the Golden Dawn ideas were written in stone and that there is something like a perfect version. Where there were inconsistencies, these were termed 'blinds'. But GD texts were often reviewed by the authors and adapted. Over the period of years that the GD existed manuscripts were often reworked. Any one who writes a manuscript will tell you that the more times it is worked on the more likely you are to have mistakes. The original idea is often lost, but resurfaces later in the work. This is the case in Book T. Mathers and Westcott started with an idea changed their minds but the original idea was not edited out from the earlier part of the text.

What happened next is that people, such as Crowley and Wang, came along and found reasons for the contradiction rather than deciding that it was simply a mistake. The Crowley/Wang reasoning then gets built into the GD body of teaching.

Obviously everyone can point to Book T to claim legitimacy so when we came up with our Court Cards we have to work out what we think really important.

Firstly the issue of titles was decided for me by the fact that the GD said the Kings on Chocmah, the Queens on Binah, the Princes on Tiphareth, and the Princesses on Malkuth. The Kings were said to be Abba and the Queens Aima. So the King is father and the Queen is mother. The Golden Dawn's colour scale is also called in order King, Queen, Prince and Princess. Book T does mention that the term Knight or Prince is acceptable. Obviously Knight is connected to the traditional Tarot deck as is the term 'knave'; however the world 'Prince' and 'Princess' works better with the Golden Dawn colour scales and the polarity of a modern deck.

Let us look at the problem of the horse and the chariot. To get the answer to this we have to look at the symbols involved. The use of the horse made the chariot in warfare obsolete. Chariots were too slow, difficult to turn, and had limited fighting power. However its use as a ceremonial ride of emperors continued until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1450AD. The Chariot is a symbol of the state with the King holding the reigns. It is a symbol which is repeated in the Tarot key the Chariot. So therefore the Kings have to be in Chariots and the Princes, as servants of the King, have to be on horses.
http://www.jwmt.org/v2n17/farrell.html



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Barleywine 
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I've been dithering over this mess for 40+ years now. I finally decided that, from a Tree of Life perspective, I have no problem with King/Chokmah/Father, Queen/Binah/Mother, Prince/Knight (or "young King")/Tiphareth/Son and Princess/Malkuth/Daughter as "working titles" for these forces. I don't much care for Farrell's brand of rationalizing, but having the Old King in a chariot "holding the reins of State" does line up with the notion of a "mobile throne" I mentioned earlier, while the "young King's" office would seem to demand a more responsive "ride." I can see why Waite got rid of the chariot altogether and put his Kings on thrones, cutting right to the core of a King's paramount duty of governance (or maybe it was just to retain the Marseille lineage); on second thought, though, having an active patriarch does set him off from the more passive, seated Queen.

It does get messy when you try to line up Fire, Water, Air and Earth with Farrell's model, since Fire is more energetic than Air and would seem to match better with the most agile member of the court. Crowley does make a good point, though, about the virility of the King, which the Prince hasn't yet attained to, so Fire gets the nod as the King's mode of elemental expression, seemingly dragging the idea of the vigorous, spirited steed along with it in Crowley's version.

I would be interested in hearing other viewpoints.



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Zephyros 
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You won't from me, I agree with you.

Upon re-reading the article I understand it somewhat better, at least enough to disagree with it. Farrell talks about a contradiction that never really materializes and is based mainly on the semantic view that kings are old and should rule. He declares that the Knights are not the root of the element as if responding to an argument nobody made. But that just seems like kind of a simplistic attempt to force normal sensibilities onto the Courts when they just don't work like that. Otherwise I would find the whole incestuous relationship between the Prince and Princess really off-putting.

And that's assuming I even understood him correctly. Which I'll admit, is doubtful. But, we should keep in mind that Farrell is talking from the point of view of a magical system as a whole, so there may be issues the article does not deal with. Doesn't seem like it. though.



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Richard 
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Obviously Book T is ambiguous (i.e., sloppy as h***) regarding the card titles, but I am not certain that it is self-contradictory. In other words, I don't buy Farrell's rationalization.

I do like his Tarot deck, however.



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Barleywine 
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I always thought the lofty superlatives were more in the style of aphorisms, inflated honorifics or just embellished elemental descriptors. For example, according to Crowley and Eshelman, the simple Golden Dawn title was "Knight of Wands" (or "King of Wands" according to Regardie);the hyper-extension of that idea was "The Lord of the Flame and the Lightning; the King of the Spirits of Fire; and Fire of Fire, the King of the Salamanders." Since none of that seemed contradictory in nature, I didn't obsess over the indiscriminate sprinkling of "Lord," "King" "Prince," "Emperor," "Princess" and "Empress" (only "Queen" remained unmingled) throughout the nomenclature.

Regarding titles, the whole "Knight, Queen, King, Knave" arrangement always seemed ungainly to me, regardless of the finer points of justification given. I'd think a proper hierarchy would have the supreme potentates, "Emperor and Empress," and the provincial magistrates, "King and Queen." What we have instead comes across as so much fussy, semantic hairsplitting. But I guess the "KISS" principle hadn't been invented yet.



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Last edited by Barleywine; 26-04-2016 at 08:24.
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Michael Sternbach 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
I can see why Waite got rid of the chariot altogether and put his Kings on thrones, cutting right to the core of a King's paramount duty of governance (or maybe it was just to retain the Marseille lineage)
It was the latter, imo. Waite neglected a lot of the Liber T symbolism in the design of his deck, as especially evident in the Courts. In many ways, Crowley was actually considerably more faithful to the GD scheme.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zephyros View Post
He declares that the Knights are not the root of the element as if responding to an argument nobody made.
Right. The Knights are the Fire of their respective element and in Chockmah, the Aces are its Spirit and accordingly are above them in Kether.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard View Post
Obviously Book T is ambiguous (i.e., sloppy as h***) regarding the card titles, but I am not certain that it is self-contradictory.
As far as I remember, the Book T is neither ambiguous, sloppy nor self-contradictory. Despite the multitude of titles given to the Courts, what it boils down to is that it refers to two different systems of Courts, the classical one (Marseille) and the revised one (GD). To somebody who knows the correspondences between them, there are no unclarities.

Quote:
I do like his Tarot deck, however.
Me too. But it seems to be almost a requirement for the creator of a GD deck to diverge from the system it is based on in some way.

Last edited by Michael Sternbach; 26-04-2016 at 04:19.
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Richard 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
.....It As far as I remember, the Book T is neither ambiguous, sloppy nor self-contradictory. Despite the multitude of titles given to the Courts, what it boils down to is that it refers to two different systems of Courts, the classical one (Marseille) and the revised one (GD). To somebody who knows the correspondences between them, there are no unclarities........
Book T never clarifies whether the terminology being used is traditional or GD.

From P4 and P5 of book T:

THE Four Kings, or "Figures mounted on steeds," represent the Yodh forces of the Name in each Suit: the Radix, Father and commencement of Material Forces, a force in which all the others are implied, and of which they form the development and completion. A force swift and violent in its action, but whose effect soon passes away, and therefore symbolized by a Figure on a Steed riding swiftly, and clothed in complete Armour.

The Four Princes
These Princes are Figures seated in Chariots, and thus borne forward. They represent the Vau Forces of the Name in each suit: the Mighty Son of the King and Queen, who realizes the influence of both scales of Force. A Prince, the son of a King and Queen, yet a Prince of Princes, and a King of Kings: an Emperor whose effect is at once rapid (though not so swift as that of the Queen) and enduring. It is, therefore, symbolized by a Figure borne in a Chariot, and clothed in Armour. Yet is his power vain and illusionary, unless set in Motion by his Father and Mother.

From P5 and P6 of Book T:

King of Wands
A KINGLY Figure with a golden, winged crown, seated on a chariot....

Knight of Wands
A WINGED Warrior riding upon a black horse with flaming mane.....



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Zephyros 
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I think that ultimately the words are less important than the attributions. Book T has its share of problems, no doubt, but while the pompous descriptions may vary the system is sound, and I don't know of any contradictions there. Or at least no glaring ones that upset everything. Certainly not the kind that Farrell uses to justify his changes. Here, and there, though,it seems as if the writers did become confused in their own terminology. But like Michael said, if you know what's what, there's no real contradiction.

In any case, the text quoted bears a strong resemblance to the corresponding text in the Book of Thoth about the Courts, especially concerning the transient qualities of the Knights.



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Richard 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zephyros View Post
......But like Michael said, if you know what's what, there's no real contradiction........
I can certainly go along with that.

I just don't think the traditional court titles (King, Queen, Knight, Knave) played any significant role in Book T. Also, Book T may have been tinkered with quite a bit, and this is reflected in the "standard" text which we all have. This could account for the seeming ambiguities. While the descriptions and intentions are clear, we may as well admit that the titles really are a mess. A cleaned-up version (something like Eshelman's Thelemic adaptation, Liber Theta) would be welcome.

By the way, I've always thought that the little "story" about the courts seems terribly contrived.



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