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  • Writer's pictureMarc-Henri Sandoz

Our life’s journey: the path of individuation, from the Bateleur to the World

ayahuasca, sacred medicine from Amazonia
The Maloca, where happened our Ayahuasca ceremonies

Recently, the Arcanum 1, the Bateleur, and its resonance with Arcanum 21, the World especially struck me. The Bateleur came to meet me in the form of the Magician during a retreat in Brazil punctuated by four ceremonies with this strange and powerful Amazonian medicine called Ayahuasca. It's no secret that I love the Tarot de Marseille. Once again, its rich symbolism gives me reading keys to develop my spiritual experience and decipher the reality and daily experience, unfolding as an opportunity to live the path of individuation through all of my human experience.

Ayahuasca medicine opened me to an intense experience of the present moment

During the last of these ceremonies, the only one that took place during the day and in nature, I intended to better connect with nature through the help of medicine. Sometimes after drinking the beverage, I felt filled with an energy so intense that my body was struggling to contain it. It overflowed everywhere in the form of strange physical sensations and visions as soon as I closed my eyes. Then I felt that I could ride this energy, gather it within me and lean on it to meet reality, nature, and the present

arcana 1 and arcana 21, the magician and the world

moment. So I got up, left the ceremony room, and went to immerse myself in the lush nature that awaited me as soon as I walked through the door. It is as if the medicine offered me its energy to support and reveal my vital energy. With this support, I began to see the intensity and beauty of the moment around me. Each tree was a sacred presence, each plant, each element, the air on my skin, the caress of the sun's fire, the pond's water, the earth under my feet, the silence, and all the sounds. Each person I met was a unique being, sacred, worthy of all my respect, and worthy of being preserved from all my expectations and projections. I experienced the moment, presence, and being like never before—nothing else to do. Just to be there, to be, to admire, to open my heart to all this beauty and these unique beings of which I was a part—just reality, vibrating with numinous intensity. And I stayed there for two or three hours, just there, looking, listening, feeling, opening my heart, filled with gratitude and a sense of religious awe and awe.

Le Bateleur, Arcane 1, an invitation to fully live the human experience and to perceive its sacred dimension

It was during this experience of contemplation that the Bateleur came to meet me. The Bateleur is the first of the Major Arcana. It symbolizes birth, coming into the world, and contains within itself all the potential of existence, all possibilities, and all the experiences that make up humanity. In the Rider-Waite Tarot, his name is the Magician. One arm raised, he channels divine energy and comes to manifest it in the concrete of the present experience. On the table in front of the Bateleur or Magician are all the building blocks of reality for him to explore, play with, experiment with, and learn from. I then felt myself embodying or incorporating this Magician: as if I had just been born into

Arcane 1 du Tarot de Rider-Waite, le Magicien

the world, I was standing there, in the heart of reality, crossed by this vital energy that linked me to everything around me, and I was there to experience this reality, immerse myself in it, learn its lessons. My existence was unique and sacred, at the same time connected to all the other elements of this unique and sacred existence, and I was there to live a unique and sacred experience in this unique and sacred moment.

That is the message of Le Bateleur: we are on earth to live all the experiences that life puts before us. All of these experiences are sacred, and all are there to teach us. The great magic of the Magician is to live life and see in each moment an opportunity to grow and learn. The whole Tarot is contained in this message because each Arcana, Major or Minor, is one of the possible aspects of our global human experience. Throughout our lives, we will all experience them in one way or another; through these experiences, we will grow and become wiser. All the forms that these experiences will take are sacred and have their function in our learning process. None should be despised or dismissed. There is room for joy and pain, boredom, despair, shame, wonder, love, hate, disgust, pleasure, the most mundane and trivial experience as the most subtle and spiritual, grief and reverence, the full range of human experience.

The Tarot helps us see behind the veil and pierce the mystery of our human experience to reach its spiritual dimension

In this, the Tarot is more than an instrument for knowing the future, and I find it infinitely precious. Here is the deep meaning of divination: it helps us see how our experience of the present moment is sacred and carries a deep spiritual meaning. When I do a reading, the cards that appear to me have symbols and messages; the synchronicity allows me to know that these symbols and these messages are in phase with what I am experiencing now, and my Inner Wisdom, through my intuition, enables me to read this message, to draw links between the images, and to build little by little a story that makes sense with my present experience. I do the Magician's work: I turn and return to my experience, draw the spiritual lesson from it, and extract the meaning from it. I thus allow myself to be taught, one experience after another, by the constituent elements of reality, fire and vital energy, air and thought, water and emotions, earth and body. Beneath the surface of reality, behind the opacity of my experience, so often frustrating, painful, or seemingly insignificant, I learn to divine the presence of the sacred. My life is transfigured because it becomes a unique opportunity to experience what Jung calls the process of individuation, the process by which I increasingly realize my true nature.

The World, Arcanum 21, symbolizes the purpose of human existence, the fulfillment of our path of individuation

And so I come to the World, Arcanum 21. The World appeared to me at the end of my motionless journey of contemplation of nature and immersion in the present moment while all these reflections and realizations were simmering below the words in the cauldron of my experience, with the precious help of the sacred medicine. The World represents a naked woman, holding in her hand the same staff as the Bateleur, surrounded by an oval crown of laurels, the mandorla, which symbolizes divinity, and framed at the four corners by the four constituent elements of reality, the Coin for the earth, the Rod for the fire, the Sword for the air and the Cup for the water. She stands in a position much like the Bateleur, her arm raised, and her card contains the same elements represented differently. The World is the end of the journey; it is the Magician who has gone through all the stages, lived through all the experiences, and has learned the lessons. He passed in turn and several times through the 22 Major Arcana and the 78 Minor Arcana. He understood life's lessons; he fulfilled himself; he accepted and welcomed his experience in all its dimensions. He thus realized his divine nature and fully accomplished his process of individuation. The Juggler or the Magician represents a masculine principle: at the beginning of the path, he stands up in the direction of the future, ready to immerse himself actively in the experience, manifesting through him the divine energy which inhabits him and which he came to incarnate by being born into the world. The World is the feminine principle which is its accomplishment: the soul has realized its divinity, and it is turned towards the past, from which it welcomes and embodies all the experiences because it knows that all that she lived constitutes her treasure of wisdom, the unique and sacred material in which its infinitely precious dimension reveals. It is the reception and integration of all that has taken place, and it is in this that it is its accomplishment.

This accomplishment is also the beginning of a new cycle. The Bateleur bears the number 1, the symbol of potential infinity and birth, and the World itself inaugurates a new beginning and an accomplishment with the number 21, 1, which follows the second ten. In our lives, we will repeatedly have this experience of coming to the end of a cycle, integrating a sum of experience and wisdom, and based on this integration, starting a new cycle and a new moment of our human adventure. And we are allowed to hope, at the end of our lives, by turning our gaze towards the whole of our experience and by integrating it, that our soul, at the end of its earthly experience, will enter a new stage of its journey, beyond the dimensions that we can apprehend, and enriched with the wisdom acquired during his earthly pilgrimage.

Integrating all of our human experiences makes our lives a spiritual adventure and a sacred journey

If you were born one day, if you are on earth, you are invited on this journey. This awareness transforms the mundane, meaninglessness, and sometimes hopelessness of our human existences into a sacred, meaningful experience, a spiritual pilgrimage, a path of individuation in which we realize our beauty and our divinity, even within the most every day and sometimes the most painful experience. It is this call of which the Tarot, among many other spiritual instruments and traditions, can be the echo and carry the invitation.

I specify that, in this article, I only share my individual experience and in no way intend to recommend or promote the taking of hallucinogenic substances, especially in countries or contexts where these substances are still illegal.

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