by Bruce Johnson —
Bruce Johnson has over 30 years of study in the fields of Ancient Wisdom and occultism. He has taught classes on a wide range of topics, from Atlantis to mediums to Zoroaster. He is also a Spiritualist minister, with a background in spiritual astrology. He lives in Colorado with his wife and their cat.
Five major spiritual initiations accompany specific points along the “Path of Light” that represent marked expansions of consciousness resulting from the successful synthesis of a lesser duality by an individual. Certain numbered cards in the Major Arcana depict these five important stages in human soul evolution. These tarot cards start with 0 followed by 2, 8, and 12, and end with the number 21, with each of the five cards referencing a different initiation.
The esoteric fact that all things emanate from the boundless “First Cause” called Ain-Soph, is the basis for beginning the Major Arcana with 0, The Fool card and ending with 21, The World card. Zero symbolizes no-thing and corresponds to the nature of non-being and abstract space that characterizes Ain-Soph, named the Zervana Akarna by the Zoroastrians, and Parabrahm by the Hindu. The emanation process of manifestation would be ignored by starting the Major Arcana with 1, The Magician and ending it with 0, The Fool.
The 1st Initiation, or the Birth Initiation, takes place in a cave and is linked to the earth element and the physical plane. The first card of the Major Arcana 0, The Fool, is connected to the 1st Initiation and the birth of the inner Christ within a person. The 1st Initiation primarily functions through physical body of the aspiring disciple, now fortified with new thought and orientation. Visible in the upper corner of the card, the sun in its negative expression attunes to the Fool card.
Water is the element of the 2nd Initiation, called the Baptism Initiation, which occurs at a river on flat ground. The 2nd Initiation is related to the astral plane and the strong water symbolism of card number 2, The High Priestess. This initiation accompanies greater purification and control of one’s emotionally-oriented astral body as the disciple interacts with the duality of the astral sphere. The High Priestess card is associated with Luna the moon in its positive mode.
Transfiguration is the keynote of the 3rd Initiation, that traditionally happens on the summit of a hill or mountain. Correlated with the 3rd Initiation, the Strength card shows the higher mind portrayed by a woman dominating and restraining the lower animal nature. This initiation corresponds to the air element and the mental plane. At this point the illumined mind becomes an instrument of the Soul, and the Higher Self controls the human personality. Planet Venus in her positive expression is affiliated with the Strength card.
Mountains and hills are also customarily the location of the 4th Initiation, called the Crucifixion Initiation. The 4th Initiation, the fire element and the Causal/Intuitive plane are all signified in The Hanged Man card. This step marks the completed building of the antahkarana and the willing sacrifice of the personality to be absorbed into the Greater Self. Vibrational body awakening through the dually-charged planet Uranus parallels this initiation.
At the 5th Initiation, a resurrection and ascension is achieved that is illustrated in The World tarot card which also portrays the ether element and the planet Neptune in positive mode. From the darkness of a cave or tomb, permanent illumination is attained, death conquered. and immortality gained. Now aligned with the Soul plane of life, the individual has a joyous awareness of their Soul’s purpose while wielding love, will and intelligence.