Transform Work into Play

Before finishing up the practical teachings of the first Arcanum, we can speculate about the origins and purpose of the Tarot. The Bateleur was more like a street performer with more skills than juggling. In the medieval era, Hermetists would pose as street performers, horse traders, and similar occupations, that gave them cover. Since their jobs required travel, they could move about from town to town without attracting undue attention. Since books were quite expensive, not to mention bulky, it was easier to carry a deck of cards which served as summaries to esoteric teachings. In that way, the Hermetist could meet with his groups in various places, using the cards as a teaching tool. To the outsider, it would look like men playing a game … one way to look at “turning work into play”.

The transformation of work from a chore into play is completed following the presence of the zone of perpetual silence. At this point, the soul is in contact with heaven. Note how Tomberg is bringing in the idea of reintegration, as taught by Martinez de Pasqually and Louis Claude de Saint Martin. The goal of reintegration is to restore man to his state before the Fall. After the fall, work became toil and man was separated from God. In the zone of silence, the effects begin to be reversed. Work becomes creative play once again, and man’s soul regains contact with heaven. Hence, in the state of silence, a person is never alone.

Thus Jesus’ promise that “every yoke that you have accepted becomes sweet, and every burden that you bear becomes light,” is fulfilled as part of the process of reintegration. Moreover, this becomes one’s actual experience and not just a pretty phrase.

Silence is the sign of real contact with the spiritual world, which in turn leads to the influx of forces.

Tomberg summarizes the practical teaching of the Bateleur with a rule, a very important rule since it is the foundation of all mysticism, gnosis, magic, and esoterism. It has two parts … It is necessary both

  • To be one (un) with oneself (concentration without effort)
  • To be united (uni) to the spiritual world (i.e., to have the zone of silence in one’s soul)

These are the prerequisites. All the remaining cards depend on this, so it would not be wise to skip past this step without understanding it fully. And the only way to achieve concentration without effort is to begin concentrating as everything else is a distraction.

To subscribe to the Medtarot discussion list, please use this form:

Subscribe to Meditations on the Tarot

* Required