Ten of Staves: Oppression
Historical: Lord of Oppression
Ruling Pentagram: Pent #10 “Resplendent” – Air of 巽 (Sun) The Penetrating, Wind
Berashith: “And Elohim said, “Let Tiamat be collected in one place”
Ruling Hexagram: Hex #57 (巽 xùn), The Gentle (The Penetrating Wind)
Tiered Bigrams: Fire (Above), Earth (Middle), Air (Below)
Element/Planet: Fire of Earth (Malkuth, Kingdom)
Planet/Sun Sign: Saturn in Sagittarius
Keywords: An Overwhelming Force, Old, Ancient Power, Cthonic, Hell, Mastery, Insurmountable Obstacles, Divine Punishment
Keywords (Ill-Dignified): Petty Aggression, Jealousy, Violence, Lack of Control, Weakened Force, an Enemy With a Weak Point
Golden Dawn: Called The Ten of Wands Lord of Oppression, The Ten of wands card corresponds to the planetary Saturn and the zodiacal Sagittarius and places at Sephira #10 (Malkuth,) in the Golden Dawn system. The angels associated with the card are Reyayel and Avamel.
Symmetrical crossed wands with sharp spear or arrowheads on their tips, with flames issuing from their junctures, are pictured, and the astrological or planetary symbols are on fire if pictured.
Thoth: Two strong wands with the heads of “Indonesian deities” he does not name are present. One appears female, the other male, but they are on the wrong sides, according to Mutational Alchemy (the female should be on the left.) So it is an image of the natural order, overturned. The background shows cruelly clawed wands and the whole scene is an inferno.
As the tens correspond to Malkuth, of course they are considered the naughtiest of all the small cards. “Earth is bad, mmkay?” goes the old and crusty Gnostic bullshit. Aleister Crowley may have had the spark of a Tantrika in his soul but he denies it, instead opting for the old order. At least he acknowledges the great power in the station. Then, he announces, “It is a stupid and obstinate cruelty from which there is no escape. It is a Will which has not understood anything beyond its dull purpose, its “lust of result” and will devour itself in the conflagrations it has evoked”. (The Tarot of the Egyptians, Aleister Crowley 1944) This strikes at the heart of all of Crowley’s terrible problems.
Living in Victorian England was a horrible thing – I can’t imagine why anyone is obsessed with this disgusting period of time and space, although the Steampunk, Goth and Historic Reenactment crowd are trying to redeem it, I must say I am not attracted to it at all. Just as in the equally horrid modern Middle Eastern socio-legislative climate of today, the only thing worthy of note was the interior decor and architecture. (And even in this, the Arabs surpass the Victorians by far.) Perhaps, the (double-edged) machismo and chivalry of the males and the overemphatic phallus-worshipping femininity of the females, (forced, so usually inauthentic,) is the appeal. Crowley is forgivable up to a certain point for insisting on perpetuating these beefheaded ideas, but as the Prophet of the New Aeon, more was expected of him, and still is. No rest for the wicked Crowley! You’ll have to sort and fix all of this alongside your brothers and sisters! Irresponsible. /End rant.
Mutational Alchemy Interpretation: Malkuth is one of the most precious jewels in the tree, we know this by the attention that is paid to it by Heaven and the Emperor. Most other authors treat it is as a cosmic toilet bowl of some sort, but it is not. That special attribute belongs to Da’ath alone. The Ten’s represent the element taken to its maximum strength.
As the father of the elements, Fire stands in a position of authority like no other. Neither of us felt the names of the cards needed to be changed – the Ten of Staves or Wands can be exceedingly cruel, after all. This, however, may be somehow deserved, and if the card is not ill-dignified, probably is. If it is not deserved, then there is a complication somewhere, elsewhere, in the spread. As a single card reading, when this one is pulled, it should always be crossed – I recommend this for any difficult card.
Saturn in Sagittarius is temperate justice, in its purest form. Centaurs were considered for the painting, (perhaps that will be on a future Mutational Alchemy Tarot II featuring the Temporals arrangement instead of the Primordials.) Fire of Earth as we have just stated, reveals the aftermath of Awakening the Eld of the All-Father. It’s interesting to note in this story and this painting that Siva is not the All-Father. It is not the position of The Abrahadabra Institute that Siva is the All-Father, as a matter of fact. This is primarily the reason why he cannot stop Kali outright, he has to die first and then make her realize her mistake in this way. The alchemical formula I.’.I.’.I.’.I directly correlates to this card. This is the magickal name I took while I was in the OTO; although I did not stay to take the third, as it was only about the OTO, not the Book of the Law past that point. I refused to swear allegiance to an old aeon institution.
As with a few other small cards, the Hexagram doesn’t seem to quite fit with the traditional title. However, the description of the meaning attributed to Confucius and the image attributed to the sages, is helpful, as it indicate what one must do in a situation like this. Confucius said, “The Gentle. Success through what is small. It furthers one to have somewhere to go. It furthers one to see the great man.” and “Winds following one upon the other: The image of the Gently Penetrating. Thus the superior man
Spreads his commands abroad, and carries out his undertakings“ (The I Ching, translated by Wilhelm/Baynes, Princeton University Press 1967) One may easily view the winds following one upon the other, as feeding the ferocious flames of the ten. The gentle nature of the winds is what wins the day.
In this Hexagram, is the silver lining of the card – small things can be achieved, and being gentle, as well as finding a great man, achieves success. This great man may be the spirit of Fire itself, and it may be useful to work with some Fire elementals if one is not equipped to deal with the Lord of all Fire himself. (A good manual for this is The Practice of Magical Evocation by Franz Bardon, but all of the names of the spirits and their attributions should perhaps be taken lightly – the methodology itself is interesting, and useful, especially considering the ease by which one may obtain colored oil lamps today.)
The tiered Bigrams reveal a strong Fire element at the top line and an Earth element standing between an Air element, in the below. The image infers an obstacle of some kind. The key to dealing with oppression once again in Earth, the Daughter. This is the gentleness of Sun over Sun.
The Scene: Siva and Kali are consorts, two sides of one universe. The supreme goddess is the forbidden one, she who slays and who is considered a dangerous, protective creatrix, who is also called the goddess of change, the black alchemist. Siva is the partaker of the forbidden, the omniscient one, patron of yoga and the arts. Both of them are complex and mysterious and can often be attributed opposing traits at once. The summation of all of this is that the universe is infinitely complex and difficult, but not impossible to understand in its changes.
Oppression here is not the goddess. Instead she is the great liberator. When the soul is bound by consternation, regret, anxiety and despair, the goddess Kali is considered to be the greatest ally to the practitioner. However, she also brings terrible dread to the wicked. She is the enveloping darkness of the end of time, the onset of the absolute night in which she and Siva will sleep at the end of the world in perfect bliss.
Ten of Staves is a heavy card, representing the kind of desperate situation only the energy of the dark mother can unbind. This is the moment where Siva himself is dead, killed accidentally in Kali’s blind fury after finishing off all of the demons. She is both the only one who can slay him and the only one who can revive him. In this great mystery lies the answer to whole universe.
The tale of Kali’s rampage across the cosmos against demon and man alike is strongly reflected in the tale of Sekhmet, Ra’s avenger, from the Kemetic mythology, who is found on the Five of Staves, Strife.
The oldest stories of Kali have probably been lost. Most of what we have left to us are Vedic stories which only served to prop up imported Brahmanic Gods instead of really explaining the native original gods and goddesses like Kali. She is more indigenous to India than Siva or Vishnu. It is perhaps for this reason the modern stories never seem to really touch upon what her devotees see in her, or her professed attributes, Merely a demon-killer she is not, and the stories fail to convey the idea of a mistress of all time and space. Her yantra does, and the five koshas and TwinStar fit perfectly over her yantra, revealing her as a mistress of the Body of Light.