The Man Hung (Arcane XII), sacrifice, that is, what gives strength.
The greater the sacrifice of man, greater is your strength.
Strength is in proportion to sacrifice.
He who can sacrifice everything can do everything …
(Piotr Ouspensky, The symbolism of the tarot)
1. The myth of Osiris and the arcane XII of the tarot
After being betrayed, killed and quartered by his brother Set, the fragments of Osiris’ body would be disseminated by his henchmen throughout ancient Egypt. Then Isis, the powerful witch and queen, wife of Osiris, helped by the also magician, alchemist and writer friend of his, Toth, would take on the titanic task of tracking them down, finding them and uniting them until they completely remade the body of the defeated god and destroyed.
The only part that was not possible to find, despite an exhaustive search effort for years, was his penis, lost forever, who knows where on the Nile. It is said that Isis, an extremely skilled sorceress, and healer, forged a sexual member substitute with a special alloy of gold and other elements of vegetable and mineral origin. With the help of Toth, they again performed a spell to give life to the inert and reconstructed body of Osiris. Through the new golden penis, Isis was able to mate sexually with him, giving birth and later giving birth to their son, Horus, in honor of the aurum or gold, the noble metal that would be the vehicle through which Isis would become pregnant with her husband.
For posterity, throughout many millennia to come and until our days, Osiris would be reflected in the arcane XII of the tarot, in the letter of El Colgado: the character who makes a tremendous sacrifice to gain greater knowledge and transform himself, placing himself by his own will in a head position, almost yogic, alluding to the moment when he let himself be overcome by his brother Set.
The powerful presence of El Colgado in the midst of the arcana necessarily refers us to self-sacrifice, to the necessity of voluntarily dying to be reborn, to the renunciation and denial of the identifications and deceptions of worldly appearances, by means of an ancient rite of death in this life. Obligatorily, this arcane and the myth of Osiris go back to various similar myths: that of the crucifixion of Christ, the fight of Mitra against his Bull, the death and departure of Quetzalcoatl, the fall and pilgrimage of Thor, etc. It is probable that many of them were traced to that of Osiris, much more primitive and ancestral, and perhaps all from the same archaic origin.
Attached astrologically to the house of Pisces, the arcane XII or the Tarot Holder, and the planet Neptune, alludes undoubtedly to an undaunted ritual of death and symbolic resurrection that had to be practiced long before the Pharaonic era in Egypt, well before , of course, to Christianity, just like the pyramids and the Sphinx, which were already in the desert when the first Egyptians arrived, remaining a legacy for us and embodied in our current tarot.
Only then do we understand why the magician Gurdjieff claimed time and again that esoteric Christianity was much older than we could imagine.
2. Horus, trained by Toth, beat Set
Horus, the son that Isis was born after that legendary sexual rite with the golden phallus of Osiris, would be educated and trained by Toth, the old magician, healer, and writer allied to his mother.
Toth also has a preponderant place in the tarot of today, located in the arcanum number I: The Magician, called by the Greeks and Romans Hermes Trimegisto or Mercury by the last, after the incorporation of the Egyptian religion to the imaginary and the Greco-Roman daily life. This letter is also linked to the planet of the same name, Mercury, representative of youth, communication, writing, divination, the dark arts. And is that Toth was at the same time inventor of writing, magician, healer, alchemist, musician, and veterinarian. Pattern of the readers of letters, the practitioners of the divination arts, the kirologists and tarotistas; it is attributed to Toth, in fact, having compiled and designed the first tarot of all time, the legendary Book of Toth, which presumably had a printed copy on lithographs in the old Library of Alexandria, which was lost after several fires successive at the hands of Romans and Christians, and to which the magician Aleister Crowley dedicated his whole life to try to rebuild it.
Horus is, the same, present in the current tarot, located in the arcane VII, The Cart, mounted in some decks of cards, such as Marseille, on two horses, one white and one black, who allude to two types of existing energies in the universe. In the Rider tarot, the horses are replaced by two sphinxes with the same colors. Arcane VII is linked to the planet Saturn, intelligence, vision beyond life, mental power and psychological vigor. And that is how Horus was; educated by Toth, he had a little magician, indeed, but also a lot of artisan, merchant, warrior, and soldier. For something, he could finally defeat Set, his uncle, and avenge the death of his father.
Set, the brother of Osiris has an inescapable presence in the arcane XV, known in our current language as El Diablo, the visionary par excellence. The pentagram, located on the forehead of the goat that represents it in the decks of Rider and Toth, Waite and Crowley, evokes the powers of extrasensory perception that allow you to connect your third eye beyond the eras, galaxies, and dimensions. Set was an unparalleled visionary and a traveler of astral worlds. Nothing to do with the current Christian vision, which attributes to this arcane the cause of all the ills of humanity. We can appreciate a very clear reminiscence of the struggle between Osiris and Set in the part of the Gospels when Christ goes to the desert and is tempted by his counterpart: the Devil.
Isis is located in the arcane number II, in La Papisa, possessing the veil which the initiates must know to do aside to find the secrets that she has to show. The papisa is governed by the Moon, inviting the tarot consultants to introspection, calmness, and patience, searching in themselves before attempting to advance towards external achievements. That is the only way in which the initiate can access the learning of what is beyond his veil.
3. The presence of the Egyptian deities in the tarot
The advanced tarot readers sensed from centuries ago the presence of the Egyptian deities in the deepest background of their cards. And it is that the tarot is a teacher who by itself is teaching new things every time, awakening new emotional capacities, helping him little by little to connect with new knowledge, revealing in each symbol new panoramas. For many years it was a half-truth that not many dared to affirm, but a few knew in one way or another: the Egyptian gods are behind every arcane of the tarot.
Both Waite and Crowley sensed the presence of Egyptian gods and symbols in each letter, so they planted the designs of their tarots with keys, signs, images, and allusions to the ancient Egyptian world. However, this presence was hardly suggested, disguised or veiled.
Presumably, Toth would have delivered his book to the first men, who were responsible for studying and safeguarding it. We do not know if Hermes or Toth really was a half human and half deity character who was a teacher for prehistoric men, or if it was a millennial school that over the centuries was devoted to the study of hermetic wisdom, including its symbols, rituals, and teachings.
The tarotologist and esotericist Sebastián Vázquez Jiménez identifies San Antonio Abad, or Antonio the Hermit, as one of the repositories of the hermetic knowledge of Toth and presumably of the tarot. Born in Lower Egypt, at a time when Christianity did not yet have the dogmatic, doctrinaire and inquisitive character that it acquired in later centuries, it probably could be filled with a free syncretism, mixing in its thought fragments of primitive Christianity, Gnosticism and Hermetic teachings, fusing the first of Christianity and the last that remained of the Egyptian religion. We do not know if at some point, already baptized as a primitive Christian, he came into contact during his meditations in the desert with some esoteric group of followers of Hermes Trismegistus, or even contacted the same Toth at some point, who would transmit part of his teachings, symbolism and even the tarot.
Antonio el Ermitaño formed a certain school with his followers in the desert, who dedicated themselves to prayer, reflection, and meditation in silence. Probably, also to the study of various esoteric theories linked to the teachings of Toth and the tarot.
Religious orders and later brotherhoods such as the Templars and the Hospitallers traveled to the East, consciously approached the followers of Antonio who met in the desert and had contact with their initiatory wisdom, taking it back to Europe, where this knowledge would have been absorbed by various groups and specialists in occultism.
Also, the gypsies, expelled during the Middle Ages of India by Islam, in their pilgrimage from the East throughout Asia Minor and Europe would take with them the tarot as an instrument of divination and transmission of deep knowledge, disseminating it throughout the world and introducing it in West.
4. The Last Judgment, The Resurrection of the Dead and Psychostasis
After the popularization of the Waite Tarot, in the twentieth century various versions of it were printed with a frankly Egyptian setting, but they were not at all decals or copies of the Waite, without contributing anything to clarify the link between the modern tarot and the Egyptian deities, using rather a paraphernalia that pretended to be Egyptian to attract buyers and give the letters a more interesting character.
Then appeared the Egyptian tarot of Dr. Moore, which was based on a rereading of the old testament and part of Egyptian mythology. There is a quite remarkable advance on the part of the author of the same one, naming for example to arcán XX, known like the Judgment, the Resurrection of the Dead, alluding to the process of resurrection of Osiris. Dr. Moore’s tarot reached a certain popularity in some circles of sorcerers, fortune-tellers, and letter readers, especially in the markets and in the popular classes of Latin America, but we have observed that it has gradually fallen into disuse and is becoming increasingly difficult find a deck of his.
And finally came to our hands The Tarot of the Egyptian Gods, created by the aforementioned Tarotista Sebastian Vázquez Jiménez, which is a novelty and contribution to show explicitly each Egyptian deity linked to its corresponding tarot arcana, clarifying much of what the veteran readers of letters already intuited from years ago, the nexuses of each arcana with each Egyptian God, with the planets of our galaxy and the zodiacal houses.
In The Tarot of the Egyptian Gods by Vázquez Jiménez, for example, the arcane XX, described above, is named: The Judgment, Psychostasis, now in frank allusion to the process by which Isis and Toth reconstructed the body of Osiris and restored his life by a magic rite.
Answering the initial question that gives a title to this note – what is the true Egyptian tarot? – we have only to affirm that all the current tarots in the background have an Egyptian origin. With the passage of time, the efforts of Waite and Crowley were clarifying the bridges that existed between the tarot and Egyptian mythology, also with the Kabbalah and astrology, along with that of Dr. Moore.
But the tarot that unveiled all the links between each Egyptian deity, starting with Isis and Toth and passing through Horus, Osiris, Set, and Ptah until reaching Psychostasis, is The Tarot of The Egyptian Gods.