Luminous entities in Tarot: from the Devil to the World

Among the images of the Tarot we can notice numerous luminous entities that complement the human characters: in this article we will discover their features!

But first, a small premise on Tarot numerology.

There are different visions with respect to the Tarot numerology and, in particular, on the number 21. Keeping aside the Fool, who has no number, we have in fact 21 Major Arcana.

This leads to articulating the sequence of the Major Arcana with a progression based on the number 7:

  • 1 to 7: Bateleur – Chariot
  • 8 to 14: Justice – Temperance
  • 15 to 21: Devil – World
Tarot progression and Luminous entities in Tarot
The Major Arcana progression to groups of seven

Increasing luminous entities from the Devil to the World Tarot card

Looking at the top row, starting from the Devil, there is a detail that attracts attention. It is a macroscopic detail that can only be grasped with the suggested overview of the Tarot’s progression. It’s a symbolic element that binds all the last seven Tarot cards and distinguishes them from the previous fourteen.

Do you see it? Starting from the Devil, human figures become smaller: they no longer occupy the whole scene like the protagonists of the previous Arcana; on the other hand, the celestial entities are getting bigger and more intrusive: what we could call the “luminous entities” of the Tarot.

It really seems to see a crescendo in the size and power of these celestial entities, as if it were the dynamic development of a cartoon!

The crescendo of luminous entities in Tarot
The crescendo of the luminous entities in Tarot progression

It all starts with the fire of the Devil’s torch, which seems to flare up becoming the “lightning” of the Maison Dieu; then we have the Star, which grows to become the Moon and then Sun. A gigantic angel emerges from the solar disk, and the circular cloud that wraps it will turn into the Vesica Piscis of the World that occupies the whole Tarot card.

Jungian meaning of the luminous entities in Tarot

What does all this mean, from a symbolic and Jungian point of view?

Luminous entities, as a source of light, have to do with the development of consciousness. Starting from the depths of the Devil, the darkness of the unconscious realm is gradually illuminated, up to the achievement of the totality of the World which, in this context, can be interpreted as “pure consciousness”.

Therefore, the Tarot expresses the path of progressive illumination, starting from the encounter with the Shadow (after having faced the “human” events of the previous fourteen Arcana): the Devil, with his torch, introduces a source of light into the bowels of the earth (in the depths of the unconscious).

It is then up to us to bring that flame back to the surface, working it, transforming it and subtracting more and more space from the darkness, towards the light of full awareness.

The Cupid of the Lovers Tarot Card

Actually, a luminous entity already appears in the Arcanum VI of the Lover Tarot card, in the form of Cupid: we can imagine this as a prefiguration of what the Hero of the Chariot will encounter in its path.

In the Lover phase, the Hero is still young and naive. Everything that happens to him is perceived as “destiny”, as external events that “incidentally” change his life.

The Lover does not yet realize that that prefiguration of this “divine spark” (the Jungian Self) is part of his totality; he sees it as an external entity, and in fact the Cupid acts behind the back of the Lover (that is, on the level of the unconscious).

Only after many Arcana the Hero will achieve increasing levels of consciousness, understanding that “That Thou Art” (“Tat tvam Asi”; Kaivalya Upanishad, I, 16).

If you want to learn more about the symbolism of the Lover, I recommend you read this article.

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