Atu XXI: The Universe
Letter: ת Tau (Th)
Proximity: Sephira #9 (Yesod) to Sephira #10 (Malkuth)
Pent #32 “Serving” – Water of 坤 (K’un) The Receptive, Earth (Above/Below)
Water of 坤 (K’un) The Receptive, Earth (Without/Within)
Berashith: “Elohim saw all that He had made”
(Upper right) Fire: Hex #23: 剝 (Po) Splitting Apart
(Lower left) Air: Hex #24: 復 (Fu) Return / The Turning Point
(Upper left) Water: Hex #44: 姤 (Kou) Coming to Meet
(Lower right) Earth: Hex #43: 夬 (Kuai) Resoluteness / Breakthrough
Keywords (Dignified): Culmination, Completion, Destination, Closure, Kingdom, Finalization, Accomplishments, Recognition, Coordination, Synergy, Wholism, Solidification, Materialization, Unification, Perfection, Liberation, Kundalini
Keywords (Ill-Dignified): Antisocialism, Shortsightedness, Shallowness, Vanity, Ungrounded, Lost, Petty
Historical: Called The World, in the older decks, the ATU represents the physical world we live in and all of its glorious variety. It does not, however, relate to the planet itself or its ecosystem specifically, but to the actual structure of the World, some of it made by humans and other parts of it made by the invisible world. This ATU, is the culmination of all previous ATU and the final destination of the Fool. The four corners are filled with the beasts of revelation, that surround the throne of God. It is supposed that the nearly naked figure is a hermaphrodite, though, the groin is usually covered, so one cannot tell. There is a wreath, or ouroboros, surrounding everything. The wreath often represents a serpent, where serpent symbology is viewed with suspicion by the vulgar, especially Christians. It represents desire fulfilled, or one’s true desire.
Golden Dawn: Called The Universe, The Great One of the Night of Time, The Universe card corresponds to the planetary Saturn and the zodiacals, Taurus, Leo, Aquarius and Scorpio and places between Sephira #9 (Yesod) and Sephira #10 (Malkuth) in the Golden Dawn system.
Thoth: Also called The Universe, in the Thoth, the card is a depiction of a hermaphrodite or shemale, dancing with a serpent, which is capturing the light, from the all-seeing eye of God.
What is the golden framed structure in the below? This seems to be a holographic illusion, perhaps indicating the Samsaric nature of Universe itself, and of our world, created through the machinations of Man’s mind and vision. Harris has made a really excellent serpent out of the wreath, exhibiting the signs of a grid or network, as seen on the Hierophant card of our own tarot pack. This, before any sort of ideas of computers had emerged, and it conjures visions of Tron, Bladerunner and the Matrix.
The scene is shaped like the Vesica Pisces, the universal sign for the all-mother or Magna Mater, the sign of the great vaginal canal which we are still rooted in. The eye of God looks out to us from within this cosmic vaginal vault, and appears to devour the black crescent moon the hermaphrodite holds. There is No God but Man.
Mutational Alchemy Interpretation: Our Universe is decidedly female, and the serpent, is male. There is no need to divide the serpent from God, since it is *our* God, or as similar a being to God, as we will ever permit in Mutational Alchemy – this is not to say there are not others, but the format of Gods, is a transmutable thing, not some single person, that drifts about in the heavens, managing things microscopically. The silly corner animals have been dispensed with entirely, they are already there in the hexagrams if you like. This card has always been a victim of stupid and ill-wrought scenes, with the exception of the Thoth tarot and the very old Visconti packs, where it is properly shown as being the alembic of Godhead, a centrifuge, or mere plaything.
In Hex #23: 剝 (Po) Splitting Apart, we have the centrifuge. This is the number of Discord and Eris for the Chaotes and Discordians among us. The hexagram is about major and unavoidable, upheaval. It is, perhaps, the nature of the world to be in turmoil. Hex #24: 復 (Fu) Return / The Turning Point follows Splitting Apart, here we have a reticent student, returning to a teacher, or a wayward lover, returning to her paramour, or someone who has lost their True Will’s path, returning to it. In #44, the element of Water is shown, as a powerful maiden, who is not beneficial to the advancement of a person. It may be she has her own agenda. This comes back to the idea of a universal alembic, where the two male and female parts are sorting out issues, and kinks.
Finally, in Hex #43: 夬 (Kuai) Resoluteness / Breakthrough, warns against trying to hold on to anything. It is an image of death, here. The man must dispense of all he owns, as he passes to the other side. There are no material objects in the other world. This is terrifying, to some people, as it should be. Most people squander their lives and rest on their laurels. The universe therefore, has an ominous aspect. True desire, it seems, is well hidden from our lower animal base natures.
The Scene: The Universe is depicted seated in the Tree of Life, surrounded by the Orobouros. Like Devi, who is said to manifest in, and as, young girls (one of the foundational precepts of the Shakti cult,) the Universe is depicted as a young, prepubescent, girl. This attribution is not only Vedic – the Coast Salish peoples with whom the artist and author has relatives with, also regard young pure girls as sacred, and use their hair to decorate their most sacred magickal instruments. Similar rites are certainly to be found elsewhere on the planet. Shakti is a serpent, but here, the masculine force is both the tree and the serpent as the Orobouros. The species is modelled after the Woma, an Australian species, equated to the Rainbow Serpent. Serpents have a long history in religious iconography, such as in Judaism, where they were venerated for a very long time as the Nachash, or in Hinduism, where the Lord of the Ego, Ananta, supports entire universe, to Zuni beliefs ,where the Serpent is the fertile father-protector of the people and the waters. The Orobouros symbolizes the constant renewal and self sustaining nature of Universe. The Universe is sufficient first cause unto itself, requiring no other creator. This form of the creation is similar to the model in Kabbalah, where an infinite, never beginning and never ending light, Ain Soph Aur, self creates the vast pocket of space that contains the physical universe, in its entirety. It is here that the light develops into the Supreme Personality of Godhead, called Elohim, by the Jews, Krsna by the Indians and so on and so forth. This masculine god has a counterpart, in the emptiness created through this action, the container herself. Devi is said to be most accurately portrayed as a jar, as a young girl, or as clay, especially a clay idol. It is the jar, or alembic form, that summarizes the nature of The Universe, in the context of totality – that is, what is outside Universe, as well as within – Ain Soph Aur, the Boundless Light and the Boundless.
The card is highly auspicious, but like all of the cards, it carries with it the hint of boundaries. Knowing the boundaries of a space, or situation, allows one to break out of and into different worlds and universes.