Gurdjieff Movements: a tool for Self control and harmony, becoming archetypical and … attaining your cosmic soul! 

Most people think that they are in control of their body. If you want to stand up, you stand up without problems, right? However, in fact, most people are grossly overestimating their control of their body. And as a consequence they overstate the control of their Self. The ultimate price for this lack of control is the loss of your sacred potential. And the possibility to attain your soul.

I can hear you think: ‘WTF! What do you mean that I need to earn my soul?! And how would a stupid dance solve this?’. But please hear me out and allow me to explain in less than a 1000 words.

Let’s start with body control. For example, everyone is able to lift his right arm horizontal sideways. But are you also able to do this when moving other parts of your body as well? And if yes, to which degree? With this I mean: are you also able to lift your arm horizontal sideways on the 2nd measure of a total of 7 measures? Next, are you still able to do it when you also do a step sequence backward? Finally, are you also able to do the same when including a sequence of six different alternating head positions?

Some time ago, I had an interesting realization about the nature of the Gurdjieff Movements which is exactly about this: the degree to which you are able to control your body in action.

Gurdjieff Movements are a type of dance meditation where different parts of the body move on the music in different tempos. One can only master the Movements by a technique called divided attention. This means that you are both aware of your inner centre (body, emotions and mind) and your surroundings at the same moment. The different tempos of the different parts of the body give a glimpse of and a chance to connect with a higher cosmic reality.  

I got my realisation when I recorded a Gurdjieff Movement practice and I noticed that I made the similar mistakes in different configurations (combinations of feet, arm and head positions) of the Movement. I was surprised of this, because I felt that I was able to take the correct positions. I started making mistakes when adding the head sequence. This sequence consists of six measures with four different positions: up, down, left and right. When you look at the short clip of this practice below, you see that my right arm is too far back when looking left and down. Also my arm is too low when looking up and right. Although in rest mode I am perfectly able to put my right arm horizontal sideways, in action (the dance), I have difficulty with the proper execution of the movement.

This experience made me realize that although I think that I master the ability to put my right arm horizontal sideways, it differs of the context to which degree I am able to do so. When I only need to lift my arm, I manage perfectly. However when other elements are added, I start to struggle and make mistakes.

Why is it important to be in control of your Self? Many spiritual practices argue that the goal of mankind is to be free. Freedom comes with the ability of choice. And in order to be able to choose according to your Will, you should be able to be in control of your Self (roughly consisting of body, emotions and mind). This is the reason why many spiritual practices advocate some form of discipline in one way or the other. Gurdjieff Movements are designed to achieve complete total control and harmony over body, emotions and mind.

  • Remove the unnecessary and the archetypical appears

The idea of the Gurdjieff Movements is that by practicing them you will gradually achieve control of your Self. As a consequence you will exterminate all unnecessary activities in your Self (body, emotions and mind).  Removing unnecessary movements are a result of a clear sense of will and the outcome of this is that the movements become archetypical. By practising the Gurdjieff Movements you more and more align yourself with archetypical positions and energies and it is exactly because of this that Gurdjieff called them objective art. Archetypical movements raise your energy frequency and allow to tapping into cosmic energies. There are many different Gurdjieff Movements in order to be able to align to many different cosmic energies. Attaining your soul is then the successful and sustainable connecting your Self to these cosmic forces.  It is like achieving the alchemical stone of the wise.

This brings us to another quality of the Gurdjieff movements: its configurational and integrative approach. Many Movements consist of multiple elements (arms, legs, head, torso, etc.) which (can) have their own count, rhythm, energy and archetypical qualities. However, they all coexist at the same time in the Movement. They can be seen as planetary influences and because of this the Movements are also called cosmic dance. The combinations of the different elements have their own astrological quality.

  • Cosmic dance: as above, so below

And this is the final revelation of the Gurdjieff Movements: they are in fact astrological dances. The different rhythms of the different parts of the body represent astrological energies of the classical 7 planets of our solar system. This does not mean that in each Movement always all planetary energies are represented. Sometimes 3 elements of the body represent the sun and a 4th element represents Venus. But every planet has its own rhythm and movement and together they move in orbit around the sun. When planets meet or come in aspect different energy combinations are raised. And although some energies are more pleasant than others, there is always order. And this is what the Gurdjieff Movements teach us. First, as above, so below, our hearts are like suns with our limbs as planets dancing around us. Secondly, although there are many different energy configurations, there is always order. You only need to be atuned to these energies in order to be able to experience the order. Otherwise you perceive chaos.

With help of the Movements you learn the cosmic dance by aligning yourself with cosmic energies. By disciplining the movements of your Self, you train away your inefficiencies, become archetypical and slowly attune yourself to the energies of the universe. You experience the mystical experience of being a part of the cosmic soul. And because as above is so below, as a consequence you will have attained your soul.

Our tragedic misconception of threesomes

Lately I have been intrigued by threesomes. Maybe it has to do with my curious nature, the period of the year (spring, Gemini), but most notably by the Interpol song ‘No I in threesome’. On the first outset this song is a superficial and dark love song about a guy who tries to convince his girlfriend to have a threesome. But there is something more to the song. It intuitively fascinated me and after listening to the song 10+ times the image of The Lovers appeared. It changed the perspective of the song 180 degrees: now, still being in a relationship crisis, he suggests letting their separate two egos’ go and unite to realize the ultimate connection: the alchemical marriage.

Literally the song is about a relationship in demise. He thanks her for her support in the past and he describes their deadlock. As a result of the crisis they fight a lot. So what do couples do when they are in a relationship crisis? They take the risk and make a jump forward in the deep. Some couples make a third by getting children. Or more superficially in this song, they include someone else to spice things up sexually. It is a new, exiting, but often disastrous final chapter in relationships.
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Seen from a spiritual perspective, however, the current roles in the relationship are finished, but not necessarily the relationship itself. The singer sees this clearly. He sings:

‘You feel the sweet breath of time
It’s whispering, its truth not mine
There’s no I in threesome’

Intuitively he knows that they need to make a jump in the abyss if they want to continue their joint spiritual development (they could stay together but then they would stop developing themselves). He knows that they need to give themselves up in order to truly become one: 1 + 1 = 3. He hints at a profound spiritual truth.
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The singer seems to refer at the alchemical marriage of the king and queen as described for example in the Rosary of the Philosophers.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosary_of_the_Philosophers ). This is a pictorial alchemical process consisting of 20 steps (which are depicted here between the text blocks). In it a king and queen give themselves up in various stages only in order to recombine again on a higher arc. They depict the alchemical hieros gamos. This is the magical 1 + 1 = 3! Usually this is to symbolize an internal path of development, but it can also be extrapolated to relationships as well.

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The song is tragic, however. Because, although the singer feels that something must be done in their relationship, but he doesn’t know how. He is no alchemist. The cost of raising the issue and failing the challenge is tremendously high: it will cost them their relationship. The singer of the song seems to know subconsciously that he will fail: if he was optimistic he would have called the song ‘No I in three’. Now it is threesome. It is the tragic ‘No’ of I in three.

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This song describes a sad reality of relationships in our society: we don’t know how to realize the fabled alchemical marriages. As a result many relationships are ‘stable’, create 3’s by means of offspring, have superficial sexual encounters instead of spiritual unification. As a result most lovers don’t realize their higher potential in the relationship by losing their I but gaining a three.

Pentecost – the time to receive the Holy Ghost and to become a Christ on earth

At Pentacost we celebrate the indwelling of the Holy Ghost and the receiving of the Fiery Tongues from Christ to the 12 disciples representing humanity. From this moment on every human has personally received the Word of God and as a consequence was no longer dependent of a spiritual intermediates: every one could personally commune with God. But this gift also gave us the personal responsibility to act upon the Word of God by respecting and upholding the 10 commandments.

At the time of Pentecost the connection between the Holy Ghost and ourselves is strong. We get inspiration from our higher self and as a result our ego becomes purified and cleansed. When speaking in tongues we also realize again Gods wises. Pentecost is a wakeup for us call to stop being hypocritical.

This message is represented in the video clip of the song Rabbit in your Headlights by UNKLE. An immigrant is walking on the busy car lane towards the light at the end of the tunnel. He is speaking in tongues and is neglected and run over by passing cars. He seems to shout ‘Saint Christopher’ and ‘Shemesh!’ being Hebrew for sun. Surprisingly, although hit by cars, the immigrant is able to keep getting up. In these cars are Christian suburbian eyes: people assumed to church every Sunday, but failing to empathically respond to the needy and homeless.

The end of the clip is messianistic. It is unclear to me if he is Christ returned or that he received the Holy Ghost. Either way, the statement is clear: the cross is stronger than matter.

And with this he hints to the sacred potential that we have: when at Pentecost we internalize the Holy Ghost, we are able to shed off our hypocriticism like a worn out jacket. Then we are able to realize our sacred potential and become Christ on earth.

What makes Hermetic Flow Dance such a magical dance?

Yesterday, I danced on a song [1] and the practice of this dance gave me profound insights on the deeper meaning of the song. I was deeply touched by it, but when looking back at it today, I also was surprised that technically the dance was not my greatest achievement. The question is: what made this ‘simple dance’ so magical?

As said, technically, there seems to be not much to the dance. The feet and leg pattern are not very exciting. The head movements are also basic. I notice that I make these type of movements a lot and that they become a regular part of my repertoire. And even the main drivers of this dance (left and right arm) are not shocking. And yet, an enormous amount of intensity and energy was raised. In the climaxes of the song a Tipharetic smile breaks through on my face. It is a face of pure joy. And it was so easily attained by a ‘simple’ dance. How it this possible?

It comes back to the basics of Hermetic Flow Dance. The bottom of the body is the main driver to raise the energy and the top body is the part which creates energy. Further, the magical experience is enhanced by the Gurdjieff Movement technique of divided attention where different parts of the body have their own rhythms. This technique is very intense and it raises a lot of energy. The dance breaks down in 3 different parts. The first part is the mechanical part. Here the head, arms and feet move staccato and are used to identify with the sorrowful part of the song. Energy is generated here, but not much energy is created. In this phase it is important to note that the staccato movements of head and arms (and later legs) have their own rhythms. In the second part of the song there is a sort of musical climax. Here the two arms start with the second phase of Hermetic Flow Dance: creating energy. There is divided attention here as well because both arms make their own movements and rhythms, but the lower body keeps on raising energy to the mix. As a result the intensity is higher than in the first phase.

At the final part of the song the energy becomes so intense, that the structure of divided intensity starts to collapse. Instead of this being a failure to hold the structure of the dance, it is in fact the natural and essential result of the process. As the structure imploded, joy and ecstasy were able to arise.

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The mystery of Hermetic Flow Dance is represented in its logo. First, you raise the energy by climbing an energetic stairway as high as possible. And then, when you reached your highest possible peak of energy, the structure and discipline can be let go into Flow.

After the dance I feel that my body has been realigned with my soul. Hermetic Flow Dance allowed me to deeper experience the mysteries of the universe. At the start of the dance, I just had a lovely feeling and an interest in the song. But at the end of the dance, I received profound insights deep into my core. Later when making my notes, I realized that I had touched upon the mystery of the Lovers in the dance (currently we are in Gemini of which the tarot card Lovers is attributed).

All and all Hermetic Flow Dance is a magical dance technique which has the alchemistic quality to solva et coagulate. The first two parts of this dance were about divided attention which is the solva phase. The last part where the structure of the dance imploded is the coagulate phase. This dance enables to experience deep insights and this is why Hermetic Flow Dance is so magical and powerful: it is alchemical dance.

[1] https://irkodel.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/true-love-waits-or-the-marriage-with-your-holy-guardian-angel/

True love waits – or the marriage with your Holy Guardian Angel

Today I came across a version of Radiohead’s ‘True love waits’ which I had never heard before. What I really love about this version of the song is that the original always seemed a bit sad to me (which I like being a bit of a sentimental person 🙂 ). Basically it is about this guy putting all his pride away and begging to his love: Don’t leave! But this version has two additional musical elements to it, which make the sound tremendously comforting and uplifting to me. And which add an almost mystical dimension to the song. 

Musically, it starts with Thom on a classical guitar. This is more or less the original version of the song and it is a bit sad indeed. I tried to capture the desperate and stuck in time energy by dancing mechanically and looking around for my loved one. 

Around the two minute mark, the two additional sounds slowly start to appear. On one side there is a catchy repetitive keyboard riff. And on the other side there is this high dreamy sound. Somewhere it sounds like the distant calling of a magical bird. A Phoenix perhaps? Only after a couple of times listening, I realized that this magical sound is produced by Johnny Greenwood on his guitar. Also, only after a couple of times I realized that this sound is in the song from the very start! Although very distant at first and only to really appear at the musical climaxes of the song. I tried to dance on the sound of the Phoenix by letting my left hand fly freely with its ancient cries for love. With my right hand I tried to catch sound of the repetitive keyboard riff. It felt like a straight circular movement but also with an acceleration at the end. As a result the circles which I tried to make with my right hand were 11/12th instead of full circle resulting in a retrograde movement. 

Yes, this version of True love waits gives a magical addition to the original version. With this version it is not only the desperate desire for a loved one on earth. This version conveys the spiritual longing to reunite with your Holy Guardian Angel (represented by the calling of the Phoenix) as well. However, when hearing the magical call of the Phoenix it becomes apparent that it longs to be with us just as much or maybe even more than us!  This is a duet between Thom and the Phoenix. But how come when both parties are longing so much, that the song is so uplifting? 

This is the magical ingredient of the repetitive piano. There is such a positive vibe to it. The force of the keyboard brings both Thom and the magical flute together and bonds them. The piano riff is like the hierophant from the Thoth tarot card. It unites and blesses the Lovers in a heavenly hieros gamos. 

And when they finally are married with their true love, the waiting is over. Finally, both vow and say to each other at the altar: won’t leave!

 

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The mystery of go with the flow

Go with the flow is not a laid back approach. Go with the flow is the intuitive decoding and tuning into the different elements of the flow.

For example, when you are skilled surfer, you are able to handle all waves. But when you are not skilled, your go with the flow might become a not so pleasant experience! You don’t become a skilled surfer by looking at other surfers or read manuals: you need to practice, practice and practice!

Go with the flow allows to discover the multilayered order of the universe. What initially looks like chaos reveals itself as a complicated order. Go with the flow consists of all different energies of the Now and there is no pick and choose.

In order to discover this complicated order, you need to learn to dance to as many melodies at the same time as possible. When your body becomes an agile and competent vessel, you are able to dance the Now.

Dancing the Now is then creating your Self in the Flow. You add your flow to the Flow. And you realize your Self in the Flow of the Moment.

Go with the flow then becomes the ability to realize your Self in the Now.Go_With_the_Flow.png

Dancing the bitter joy

This is my dance interpretation of Paul Simon’s Diamonds at the soles of her feet. A tragi-comic song about a poor boy who loves a rich girl. It is a classic recipe for disaster. But the music is so joyful, comforting and uplifting! It was a great joy to dance on it.

Dancing the fireworks of war and love

Waar mensen wonen (where people live) is a song by Dutch singer The Lau who magisterially combines the fireworks of war with the fireworks of love. In the end the fireworks of love conquer the fireworks of war of course. This song has so much power that I had to dance on it and try to portray these inherent opposite qualities of man. 

Passie vol paal staan

Twee keer in de week sta ik voor paal. Beter gezegd: ik dans voor paal. Vol passie. Als ik de kans krijg, ga ik naar Ecstatic Dance om te dansen. En dan ga ik voor deze paal staan. Terwijl de DJ de muziek start, tune ik in op de magische flow. En ik begin te dansen met de paal. Eigenlijk, met een beetje fantasie, ben ik een paaldanser. Maar wel een fatsoenlijke: ik raak de paal immers niet aan en houd al mijn kleren aan. Maar aan de andere kant deel ik wel alles met deze paal. Tijdens twee uur dansen komen vele verschillende emoties naar boven in een ecstatische passievolle dans. En de paal? Die geeft geen krimp. Onverstoorbaar. En toch houdt zij al mijn tempo’s en ritmes met groot gemak bij. Voor mij verslaat deze paal alle andere dansers en is zij de enige bij wie ik het maximale uit mijn dansavond kan halen. En dat wil ik. Want dansen is voor mij bidden. En daarbij is iedere druppel zweet is een klein gebed.

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Vanavond realiseerde ik mij waarom ik zo graag voor paal dans. Zo’n twee en een half jaar geleden heb ik een project gedaan genaamd Dance of the Passion. Als een kruising tussen Jesus / Dionysos heb ik een middag om een twee meter hoog eiken kruis gedanst. Al met al was het grof samengevat een zeer bevrijdende ervaring.Toen ervaarde ik voor het eerst: in welke staat ik mij ook bevond, het houten kruis gaf geen krimp.

En dat is voor mij juist de magie van het kruis en de paal: doordat zij geen krimp geeft, stelt het mij in staat om mijn dans energie te beheersen en die energie te gebruiken om het kruis en de paal energetisch te beklimmen. Zij wordt een soort van Merkaba: een Goddelijk voertuig naar hogere sferen. Met hoe meer passie ik dans in des te hogere staten kan ik komen.

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Dus vanavond realiseerde ik mij dat ik na 2.5 jaar nog steeds, twee keer per week, mijn Dance of the Passion doe. Met iets meer kleren dan destijds, maar regelmatig nog met even veel passie.

Redefining magic with insights from ritual dance

I have been part of the Western Mystery Tradition for about 4.5 years. Alongside with this, I have also been practicing ritual dance in the form of Gurdjieff Movements for about 3 years. Intuitively I feel that there is a mutual benefit in the integration between the two practices. It is my opinion that that the Gurdjieff Movements have the same quality as the rituals in the Western Mystery Tradition. As a result I feel that the Gurdjieff Movements are an extension and integration of the Western Mystery Tradition wit the body. More and more I come to the belief that traditional magic might benefit from ritual dance in a couple of ways. I will elaborate on these benefits by redefining the definition of magic in this article.

Crowley defines magic as: ‘Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will’. Dion Fortune has a similar definition, although she removed the science part and includes changes in consciousness.

In my opinion science should be included in the definition in order to have a balanced definition of magic. In Kabalistic terms: if Art is Netzach, then Science is Hod. The path which connects these two on the Tree of Life is symbolized by the tarot card The Tower. This seems quite fitting. The Tower is the card of the destruction of the ego (will) which is needed to make space for something higher: the Will. But where could this come from?

The center of the horizontal line between Hod and Netzach (The Tower) is crossed by a vertical line between Yeshod and Tiphareth. This line is represented by the tarot card Temperance and, although they meet on the same place, paradoxically it is the inversion of the tarot card The Tower. Here, instead of destruction, seemingly opposite things are combined in an alchemical fusion. This card depicts an angel which could represent the higher self. This is the Will of the higher self we are looking for in our definition of magic.

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A beautiful representation of the tarot card Temperance on the Tree of Life. The tarot card The Tower (red horizontal line) and Temperance (blue vertical line) meet at the crossing of the lines. Where the ego is shattered on the horizontal, the soul resurrects on the vertical.

The zodiac sign Sagitarius is attributed to Temperance. There is an insightful glyph where the bow of Sagitarius is fixed between Hod and Netzach on the path of The Tower. Its string however is pulled back to Yeshod (in the picture above Yeshod is the pool of water where the angel stands in). Yeshod, being the source of (sexual) power, gives the strength to destroy the ego, go beyond the veil of Paroketh and to land at Tiphareth. It is there where you can experience the so-called Tiphareth experience: the mythical experience of devotion to the great work. Here is the Will of our soul.

So in order to truly exercise our Will we need one more element: Power. Therefore, the enhanced definition of magic would be: ‘Magic is the Power, Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will’.

This enhanced definition in accordance with the definition of the Fourth Way as defined by Gurdjieff. He states that there are three traditional ways of spiritual development which essentially boil down to: power, heart and mind. Although these are valuable spiritual paths in their own rights, they are also essentially unbalanced as they focus on a single aspect of divinity. Gurdjieff argues that we should take a balanced approach and develop all three aspects simultaneously. Then a new force may arise. Gurdjieff calls this force the Watcher, but I would call it Will. This integrational approach most notably comes forward in his sacred dance practices (also called the Movements).

There are a couple of ways to see these three spiritual paths on the Tree of Life. Traditionally, Power might be Yeshod, Heart might be Tiphareth and Mind might be Chokmah. But alternatively we could also see these three approaches below the veil of Paroketh. Then Yeshod remains Power, Hod becomes Mind (Chokmah on a lower arc), and Netzach represents the Heart (Tiphareth on a lower arc). Seen this way, Gurdjieff’s Fourth way fits quite nicely with the enhanced definition of magic.

Looking at the Tree of Life from the perspective of the Movements give the following insights. Netzach can be seen as the art of dance. Hod can be seen in its strong mental aspects of exact movements (further challenged by circular counting). And Yeshod can be seen as the cultivation of power by means of Kundalini energy. When these 3 centers (body, head and heart) are combined in Movements, the experience of Beauty in Tiphareth can be attained.

Let’s continue this enquiry by asking ourselves: what are changes in consciousness exactly? In my view (and in accordance with the adagio as above so below) a change in consciousness should result both in a change of spirituality and in a change of behavior (matter).

One of the pitfalls of spirituality is its tendency to become dreamy and disconnected with reality. This occurs because of the failure to effectively ground Yeshod into Malkuth.

For this reason in the Western Mystery Tradition, rituals are used. Rituals are predefined recipes of symbolical actions (sometimes with physical attributes) which help to reach higher forms of consciousness.

But the involvement of the body in these rituals is quite limited. In the Gurdjieff Movements however the body is central. It is seen as our temple and grail. The degree to which we are able to direct our body to perform the Movements, is the degree to which we have mastered to execute our Will.

I have experienced myself how the Movements in fact are group rituals which have enabled me to reach a level of consciousness, which I am (currently) unable to attain in ‘normal’ rituals. I had been practicing a set of Movements intensely with a group for 10 days and every day I was able to go to an even deeper level into the Movements. In two hours of Movements I feel to achieve a similar result in increased consciousness as I would have in a complete day of meditation.

One other benefit of ritual dance is that its spiritual attainment has verifiable results. In sacred dance it is immediately clear if someone has mastered a certain level of development or if the person is present or not. It would show directly in his/her movements. I even suspect that for this reason ritual dances were used as advanced temple passwords at temples in the Far East.

In the Tree of Life, matter is represented by Malkuth. So in order to include our body into magic, we need to draw the string of the bow of Sagitarius back even further. The vertical line between Yeshod and Malkuth is represented by the tarot card The World. When looking at the different paths connecting the Sephiroth, there is a strong link with the three lowest paths (1): Moon (qoph), Judgment (shin), and The Universe (tau). The 3 letters spell the name bow. These three paths are forces, when combined, send the arrow of Temperance skyward toward Tiphareth. And although the letter Tau (which means cross) is attributed to it, it is also known as the universal dancer. Shiva, when depicted as Nataraj, has similarities with the classic Raider Waite depiction of The World. Summarized this path can be seen as a very passionate dance.

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The image of Nataraja (depiction of the Hindu god Shiva as the cosmic ecstatic dance) has quite some similarities with the tarot card The World, which is also sometimes called ‘Universal dancer’.

As people with experience with spirituality will attest: it takes effort and passion in order to lift your consciousness from the level of matter to the spiritual realms. This effort is even greater when you want to raise your body consciousness as well. Ritual dance, however, is a great medium for achieving this.

After the integration of magic into matter (Malkuth), we can add the final element to the definition of magic. For this I changed the element ‘changes in consciousnesses’ from Dion Fortune’s definition to ‘changes in conscious behavior’. The definition of magic has thus become: ‘Magic is the Power, Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conscious behavior in conformity with Will’.

Finally, I like to end with a statement about Will. The Will of the soul has a different quality than the will of the ego. We all want to achieve certain things and some would use magic for this. The Will in Gurdjieff Movements however is not goal oriented, but process oriented. You don’t achieve a certain goal, but you train your executive capacity in order to be able to fulfill your long term life’s mission. Often you would not know what that is, but your mission would become clearer when continuing with the Movements. In this sense ritual dance is mythical, rather than magical.

In this article I have elaborated on the traditional definition of magic inspired by ritual dance. With the insights learned from ritual dance, I have added two elements to it: power and matter (conscious behavior). In my opinion, these two elements improve the current limitations to magic being: the pitfall to get lost in illusions, not having enough power, the tendency to focus on will instead of Will and the overemphasis on goals as opposed to improving spiritual capacity.

1 – The Qabalistic Tarot, Robert Wank, p. 180