The blond boy is on our left; his left leg is in the center of the circle and his right on its circumference. The boy's left hand touches the girl's womb; his right palm is open upward to the sky. The brunette girl is on our right; her right leg is in the center of the circle and her left on its circumference in a shallow stream, which flows through the garden and makes a tangent to the circle. The girl's right hand is on the boy's left shoulder; her left palm is open to the earth. Both children wear egg shell-colored, dome-shaped caps.
The round wall behind the children has five courses of stones; twelve stones are visible in each course. Many exotic plants, with carnelian fruit and lapis lazuli leaves, grow along the wall. Among them, four crystalline roses, with thorny stems, are open toward the sun; a fifth rosebud is aimed toward the children.
The solar disk has the following form: A rayed inner disk is contained within an outer disk. The inner disk is golden yellow, the outer is light yellow. Four golden triangular, pointed rays are oriented horizontally and vertically, and stretch from the inner to the outer disk. On the diagonals between each pair of triangular rays is a triple of red, S-shaped wavy rays, which also stretch from the inner to the outer disk. Edges of adjacent pointed rays meet on the circumference of the inner disk, where the wavy rays also merge with them. There is a dot in the center of the inner disk, which is surrounded by three small circles. Together, the dot and three circles suggest a face.
Droplets, seven on the left and seven on the right, descend from the solar disk. The droplets in each group are colored violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red, from top to bottom.
The Children of the Sun represent the spontaneous creativity and innocence of the new conscious mind; they are illuminated masters, yet natural and unsophisticated as they dance the dance of life. They are fraternal twins who harmonize the opposites through their sacred union; they are Logos and Eros reborn, dancing in dynamic synergy, uniting body and soul, flesh and spirit.
Though the Garden of the Sun seems to be a friendly place, it is also a trial, for the Sun may scorch as well as comfort us, and excessive consciousness can desiccate anything into lifelessness. The Garden is a delight, but it is ultimately a dangerous place for children, because Apollo, the lord of consciousness, likes order, and he may punish those who naively pick his flowers or eat the fruit of his garden.
The transition from 17.Moon to 18.Sun represents the alchemical Magnum Opus. The sea of 17.Moon is saturated with the alchemical salt, whose corrosiveness represents the Nigredo (Blackening), which reduces the soul to prime matter. During the reign of Sol Niger (Black Sun) we emerge from the bitter waters into the moonshine, which is the alchemical mercury, and the daybreak depicted on 17.Moon represents the Albedo (Whitening), which purifies the prime matter. Likewise, the sun represents the alchemical Sulphur, the libido, the psychic life force, the generative and transformative power, and as the solar disk appears over the horizon we enter the Citrinitas (Yellowing), in which the prime matter is ennobled. When the sun reaches the zenith, the Rubedo (Reddening) is achieved, which is the highest state. Thus the alchemical process is driven by the sun as it turns through the Zodiac like the ouroboros serpent; the sun is the Lapis Philosophorum (Philosophers' Stone), the Quintessence, which unifies all the elements. But the Dark Sun and the Bright Sun are both required for the transformation, two brothers, alternately alive and dead like the Dioscuri (see below). (Gad 287-90)
Apollo is the son of Dark-robed Leto, a goddess of the night, and thus he is the natural successor of the Star and the Moon. Mesopotamian mythology is more explicit: Shamash, the Babylonian sun god (Sumerian Utu), is the son of the moon god Sin (Sum. Nanna-Suen). (Black & Green s.v. Utu; Pollack I.112)
The Moon is the nearest heavenly sphere to earth, that is, the lunar world is nearest to the mundane. The sphere of the sun, however, is midway between the earth and the Empyreum, the sphere of fire, which is outermost. (Below the solar sphere are those of the Moon, Mercury and Venus; above it are those of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.) Thus the Sun is the bridge between the mundane and the celestial, between the earthly and the spiritual. (Gad 286, 290)
With this trump we enter the Garden of Apollo, who is the supreme god of consciousness, which like the sun burns with the fire that illuminates all things. Apollo the Far Darter, who shoots the solar rays, dispels the darkness and fear of those Far Darters associated with the Moon: Artemis, his twin sister, and Hecate (see 17.Moon). In this trump the illuminating power of Apollo has triumphed in the trials set in 17.Moon. (SB&G 75-6)
Both 17.Moon and 18.Sun represent the transcendent psyche, that is, the suprapersonal psyche; in 17.Moon we confronted the collective unconscious, and in 18.Sun approach transcendent consciousness, the impulse toward consciousness in all life, which unifies all life. The Moon and Sun are complementary, matter and form. Without the Sun, the Moon is formless and chaotic; without the Moon, the Sun is without substance and disembodied. The Sun imparts order, the Moon imparts reality. Thus each transcendent psyche, conscious and unconscious, is incomplete without the other, and their unification is needed (21.World). (Gad 286; Pollack I.113; SB&G 76)
In the sequence of tarot trumps, the Sun triumphs over the Moon, for it is Sol Invictus (the Invincible Sun), the power of transcendent consciousness to tame the beasts of the Abyss, the potent and wild forces of the collective unconscious. Thus Apollo defeated the Python, and brought its powerful chthonic forces under control, but without destroying them, for the Pythia continued to fulfill her function. Thus blind instinct and primitive fears are not suppressed, but are channeled toward more productive ends. (Cooper s.v. sun; SB&G 77)
Similarly Shamash (Utu) helped Gilgamesh defeat the semibestial Humbaba (Humwawa), the guardian of Enlil's cedar forest, and helped Dumuzi escape the Galla (Gallu), demons who tried to drag him into the underworld. Shamash is also the one who showed Etana how he could ascend to heaven to win the Plant of (Re-)Birth, which we saw in 17.Moon. (Black & Green s.vv. gallu, Humwawa, Utu)
Among his offices, Apollo is lord of prophecy, knowledge and music, and so his consciousness is lucid ("filled with light"), combining intellectual striving with a vision of the future. In music especially we hear the voice of his transpersonal consciousness, for music combines people into an ecstatic community in which they may ascend to the Empyreum (the realm of pure fire and light). For Crowley (113), he is the lord of life, liberty and love. (SB&G 75-6)
Music is the most abstract of the arts, and the essence of sound generation is the amplification of the harmonies inherent in an essentially chaotic phenomenon. (Thus the flute calls a pure tone out of a rush of air and, in accord with Pythagorean principles, the string of a lyre converts the violence of an impact into gentle tone.) It is no accident that the children sing and dance in 18.Sun.
Since the Sun brings his illumination to every corner of the earth, he is a god of truth and knowledge - so Apollo and Shamash. Recall also that Helios, called Panderkes (All-seeing), was the only god who saw the rape of Persephone, and so informed Demeter when Hecate brought her to him. So also Apollo and Helios were often called upon as witnesses to oaths. (OCD s.v. Helios; Oswalt 128; Pollack I.118)
The arrival in the Garden of the Sun corresponds to the yogi's achievement of the Dhyana state. For example, Crowley (Bk. 4, Ch. VI) says, "One of the simplest forms of Dhyana may be called 'the Sun'. The sun is seen (as it were) by itself, not by an observer; and although the physical eye cannot behold the sun, one is compelled to make the statement that this 'Sun' is far more brilliant than the sun of nature." In this state of all-consuming illumination, subject and object collapse into one, and extension in space, time and thought are abolished along with the ego. The only state remaining after Dhyana is Samadhi.
The dawn brings the welcome light of the sun, reaffirming our confidence in the cosmic order. But there are two sides to the bright solar consciousness, for the sun may burn as well as comfort; this is especially the case if the heat of the sun is premature and withers the young shoots. The austere, brilliant, rational Apollo was often unsuccessful in love, for even semidivine nymphs found him too intense. (Nichols 334; SB&G 77)
The Sun is the source of all nature's power; he creates the day, but also illuminates the night, since the Moon reflects his light, and even the stars are specks of the same solar energy. Indeed, Macrobius calls the Sun "the intelligence of the world" and argues that the universe and all things in it are emanations of the sun (Saturnalia I.17.2 ff). All forces of nature flow from the transcendent solar consciousness. (Case 195; Cooper s.v. sun; Nichols 333; OCD s.v. Helios)
The descending solar influence comes in the form of droplets of solar manna, which bring his energy in a gentle form. It is the transformed dew, gathered by the moon (see 17.Moon), now reenergized; as the sun climbs higher, the dew will vaporize and become spirit, or prana, again. There are seven droplets on each side (male/female or conscious/unconscious), representing the the planets and the chakras - the components of the psyche. (Gad 291; Nichols 335; Regardie II.14)
Shamash, the son of Sin (17.Moon) and the twin brother of Ishtar (16.Star) emerges at dawn from twofold Mt. Mashu (see 17.Moon), the Eastern Gates of Heaven, which are opened by two gods, the Gate Keepers (who may be the Great Twins, Lugal-irra on the left and Meslamta-ea on the right, who correspond to Gemini), and brings beneficial warmth to people and crops. (Black & Green s.vv. Lugal-irra and Meslamta-ea, Utu, fig. 152 for the gates and gate keepers)
His sign is the Shamshatu or Niphu, the sun disk of Shamash (Black & Green s.v. solar disk), which we may interpret as follows: The golden, pointed rays represent the light of the sun, and the red, wavy rays represent its heat. The pointed rays show that light energy propagates in a straight line by electromagnetic radiation, which may travel through a vacuum, and the wavy rays show that heat energy corresponds to matter in vibration. The pointed rays represent linear, progressive change, whereas the wavy rays represent oscillatory, cyclic change. The pointed/wavy distinction further symbolizes penetrating/shaping, gathering/encompassing, energy/matter, male/female, and the ambivalence of Apollo's arrows, which can cure or kill, protect or destroy. (Case 192; Cooper s.v. sun; Gad 289-90; Pollack I.112-3) Thus the four pointed rays also represent the qualities, Hot, Dry, Cold and Moist, in clockwise order, and the four sets of wavy rays represent the elements comprising the adjacent qualities (Fire = Hot + Dry etc.).
The outer disk symbolizes that the sun contains all the elements and qualities, and the inner disk represents the source of illumination and intelligence in the center (beyond distinctions of quality or element). The rays unify the inner source and the outer manifestation. The solar illumination reveals that all things come together at the center, the source of "meaningful coincidence" (synchronicity). (Cooper s.v. sun; Gad 289-90; Nichols 334)
There are twelve individual wavy rays representing the twelve signs of the Zodiac. They are in groups of four, the number of Mundane Law, but are have begun the division into twelve independent rays, the number of Celestial Law. This process is completed when the divine children of the Sun are united in the World (21.World). (Crowley 114; Regardie II.14) The wavy rays are S-shaped to represent the form and matter of the Sun, Sol and Shamash.
The edges of the pointed rays meet on the circumference of the inner disk (where the wavy rays also merge with them), so that inner disk is completely surrounded by the pointed rays. This represents the multiplicity in the world of manifestation (the outer disk) projecting back to unity at the center (the inner disk). (Gad 289)
The central unification is again the Coniunctio, where the masculine penetration (pointed rays) blends with female embrace (wavy rays). This implosion of solar power is the fountainhead of creativity, which manifests as love, power, and fecundity of all kinds. The pointed and wavy rays represent alchemical Sulphur and Mercury, essential Fire and essential Water, the principles of the fixed and volatile. Their unification is the goal of the alchemical opus, the Splendor Solis, the Fiery Water and Watery Fire, which fixes the volatile and volatilizes the fixed. The spiritus, the pneuma, the anima, the psuche, the ruah, the prana, the Breath of Life by whatever name, is compounded of celestial Heat and Moisture (Air = Hot + Moist). (Gad 290; Nichols 334-5; Regardie II.14)
The solar disk has eight sets of rays (four pointed, four wavy), which represent the trump's position, which is the Octad in the Hendecad (see below). The center and rays together, 1+8 = 9, correspond to the number of the trump 18, which reduces to 9 (Gad 285). The Pythagorean interpretation of 9, the Ennead, is completion, the threshold of a new beginning (10, the Decad), which is what happens in the garden of 18.Sun.
The three small circles around the center of the sun disk represent the three wheels of the solar chariot, which symbolize the three phases of the sun. Together with the central dot they subtly suggest the face of the sun god, thus manifesting nature (represented by the sun) as a mode of consciousness (represented by the face). (Biedermann s.v. sun; Case 192; Cooper s.v. sun)
The Hortus Conclusus (Enclosed Garden) is a sacred place. It is the womb of the virgin mother goddess, the "womb of darkness" between successive reincarnations. In 17.Moon gestation occurs in the amniotic sea, tended by Mother Night, the Doomsday Crone, whereas in 18.Sun the Goddess of Dawn, Eos (Aurora), brings forth the Children of the Sun. These children are the Shining Twins, the Two Lights of Heaven (Sun and Moon), Apollo and Artemis (Diana), born of Leto (Latona), the only pre-Greek goddess or Titan accorded worship by the Greeks. She is a daughter of Phoebe (Phoibe = Bright One), a name of the Moon, and Koios, called Polos (Pole) because he is the Cosmic Axis, and she is the sister of Asteria the Star Goddess (cf. 16.Star). She is called Leto of the Dark Robe because her raiment is as dark as the night, for she is the goddess of the primal darkness. By Hera's decree she could give birth only where the sun never shines, or during the "wolf-light" (lukophos or lukauges) just before dawn, when only wolves see clearly (cf. animal intuition in 17.Moon). Indeed she was born in Lukia (Lycia), "Wolf Country," which we saw in 17.Moon, and wolves accompany Leto and her twins. Apollo is called Lukeios, which means simultaneously "Wolfish" (lukeios), "from Lukia" (Lukios), and "God of Light" (from a rare Greek word lukê, morning twilight, related to Latin lux = light). The latter comes from an Indo-European root leuk, which means light or brightness, and is the origin of the English words light and lynx (perhaps because of its bright eyes, showing also the association with wolves). (AHD App. s.v. leuk-; Jung, P&A 186; Kerenyi, Goddesses 75, Gods 130-2; LSJ s.vv. lukeios, lukê; OCD s.vv. Leto, Phoebe; Oswalt 171; Walker 127)
The Shining Twins, Apollo and Artemis, celebrated the Sacred Marriage by mating in Leto's womb, which is the enclosed garden. So also the divine twins Osiris and Isis mated in the womb. (Isis, like Artemis, is a goddess of magic and the moon.) Their parents were the twin gods Geb and Nut, Earth and Starry Night Sky, whom Plutarch identified with Kronos (Saturn) and Rhea (i.e. 11.Time and 16.Star, the Lord and Lady of Necessity), who rule the second Hendecad. From this union was born Horus (Egyptian Hor), the regenerated sun; as Hor Meti, Horus of the Two Eyes (the sun and moon), he unites the opposites in one being (see 21.World). (Larousse 14-7, 19, 21; Walker 125)
Osiris, like Apollo, was identified with a wolf god (Khenti Amenti), and like Saturn he was Lord of the West, the regent of the dead who ruled the Elysian Fields (cf. 5.High Priest and 11.Time), another enclosed garden. He is the spirit of regenerated Nature. (Cooper s.v. garden; Larousse 17)
It was told that Apollo and Artemis mated again at the sacred altar at Delos (see also 6.Love). There the Kabiroi (Cabiri) celebrated the winter solstice, the rebirth of the Sun, by carrying to their hearths the sacred fire (both solar and lunar) from that very altar. According to Gad (292), "They were assigned the task of keeping the unknown forces of the human spirit in reserve." In this way the reborn sun incarnated as Heracles, who was sired by Zeus and twin to Iphicles, who was sired by a mortal (cf. the Dioscuri, below). Recall (16.Star) that the Kabiroi, who guide the transcendent world into manifestation, comprise four male-female couples, the males being the "astral semina (seeds)" and the females the "elemental semina," the coupling and uncoupling of which is the life-flux of the universe. (Gad 292; Walker 125)
The Kabiroi in turn worshiped the Divine Twins as the constellation Gemini, which was an alternate name for this trump in some old tarot decks, for the Greeks and Romans associated this sign with the Sun and Apollo (Manilius, Astronomica 2.440). (Regardie II.14; Walker 125)
The Gemini (Twins) are of course the Dioscuri, Castor and Polydeukes (Pollux), who were so closely identified with the Kabiroi as to be confused with them. The Dioscuri constitute one half of an important quaternity, comprising also the twins Helen and Clytemnestra (the same two who appear in the Trojan cycle). In Hyginus' version of the story (Fab. 77), Zeus came as a swan to their mother Leda, and they made passionate love. She is the primordial Woman, for Lada means "woman" in the language of wolf-land Lukia, whence came Leto (whose name probably also derives from Lada). Later that night Leda lay with her husband Tyndareus, and as a consequence four children were engendered as twofold twins. Although Castor and Polydeukes are called the Dioscuri (Dioskouroi = Dios Kouroi = Sons of Zeus) it is Polydeukes and Helen who were sired by Zeus, and the other two were from Tyndareus. Thus we have the male Gemini, Castor and Polydeukes opposed to the female Geminae, Clytemnestra and Helen. Conversely, we have two male-female pairs of fraternal twins: Polydeukes and Helen, who are born of Zeus and immortal, and Castor and Clytemnestra, who are born of Tyndareus and mortal. In time Leda gave birth to an egg (or twin eggs) from which the four siblings were born; the empty egg shell was still preserved in Sparta in Pausanias' time (c. 150 CE). In our image, the Divine Twins wear the halves of the Cosmic Egg for their hats, which are reminiscent of the Phrygian hats worn by the Dioscuri. (Kerenyi, Gods 107-8; OCD s.vv. Dioscuri, Helen, Leda, Leto; Oswalt 292-3; Pausanias III.xvi.1)
The caps worn by the Dioscuri, the "felt-capped brothers" (pileati fratres), are called pilei or pilea because they are made of felt (Greek pilos), that is, matted hair, a material of great mythological, alchemical and esoteric significance. Here it must suffice to say that it is made from hair, which is a repository of the life force, and represents the heavenly canopy. In ancient art, two felt caps with a star over each represent the constellation Gemini. Its two principal stars are never above the horizon at the same time, and their alternate rising and setting represent the alternating life and death of the twins (see below). The two caps represent the halves of the Cosmic Sphere (or Egg): heaven and earth, gods and mortals. The twins hold a weapon and a lyre, and by their conjoined duality represent the harmony of the cosmos. In the ancient world, the pileus was the liberty cap (pileum libertatis) worn by the free middle classes (the "knights," equites); it is the origin of the bonnet rouge of the French revolution. At the Saturnalia (which is represented by the Major Arcana; see 0.Fool, 11.Old Man etc.) the guests wear pilei, which symbolize their freedom from ordinary rules. It is also significant that according to Fulgentius (5th cent. CE), Saturn was the son of Pollux, representing humanity, so that Saturn, Lord of the Golden Age, is the "Son of Man." The pileus is also worn by the savior god Mithras, whose birthday was celebrated on December 25 (the old solstice), as was the birthday of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), following the week of Saturnalia (Dec. 17-23). (Olschki 31, 39, 44-5, 64-5, 76; Onians 144-6, 231-5; OLD s.vv. pilleatus, pilleus; LSJ s.v. pilos)
In another myth the youthful Dioscuri raped the twin daughters of Leukippos, who were called Hilaeira (Gracious) and Phoebe (Bright One), which are lunar names, in spite of their being considered Children of the Sun. (We have already seen Phoebe as the mother of Leto.) Like the Dioscuri and Helen, the two Leukippides (i.e. Hilaeira and Phoebe) were worshipped by the Spartans and had a shrine in their country, in which the halves of the Divine Egg were hung, as noted above. (Kerenyi, Goddesses 75; Oswalt 292; Pausanias III.xvi.1)
Idas and Lunkeus, the cousins and betrothed of the Leukippides, pursued the Dioscuri, and in the ensuing fight they died along with Castor, the mortal twin. In his grief, immortal Polydeukes prayed to Zeus that he be allowed to share his brother's death, and so each lived for half the year and rested in the earth for half; thus the opposites were reconciled. (OCD s.v. Dioscuri)
Twins symbolize that which is simultaneously identical and nonidentical. They represent duality, separation and contradiction, but also similarity, duplication and repetition. Divine twins represent the potential energy of opposition and the great creative force unleashed by their unification. For example, Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus (N.B., raised by a she-wolf), in which it was necessary that they fight and one die. The twins represent the opposites: light/dark, extroversion/introversion, objectivity/subjectivity, action/thought, action/passion, aggression/pacifism. In 18.Sun we have a girl and a boy, one mortal the other immortal, who represent the body opposed to the soul, the flesh opposed to the spirit; in psychological terms they are the conscious and unconscious minds, or the mortal Ego and the immortal Self. They are Eros and Logos, the principles of union and division. (Biedermann s.v. twins; Cooper s.v. twins; Nichols 331; Polack I.117)
Creation requires that the brother and sister unite, but this must be a Hieros Gamos (Sacred Marriage) between purified partners: the mortal priestess and the immortal god, or the mortal priest and the immortal goddess. Nichols (333) observes that incest symbolizes one's relation to oneself, therefore the Sacred Marriage - the embrace within the waters of the unconscious - unifies the opposites within the individual; it is the alchemical operation that "fixes the volatile and volatilizes the fixed," immortalizes the mortal and mortalizes the immortal, for only alchemy can unite the contradictories without the opposites annihilating each other. (Nichols 331, 333)
The Sacred Marriage between mortal and immortal is celebrated at New Year's in the enclosed garden at the top of the ziggurat called E-temen-An-Ki ("Foundation of Heaven and Earth," the Tower of Babel; see 15.Tower). There, at the time of the Sun's rebirth, in the garden at the meeting-point of heaven and earth, at the summit of the heavenly mountain, immortal and mortal could unite. (Black & Green, s.v. Sacred Marriage, Tower of Babel, ziggurat; Perry 69)
In 18.Sun the brother and sister have not yet united; they are learning the dance, and by their mutual contact the two opposed components of the psyche become synchronized and begin to function in concert. Each partner revolves around the other, and they each keep a foot in the center of the fairy ring, for the psyche spirals inward to the integrated Self. From this emerging conjunction is born the wholeness of the psychological androgyne (21.World). (Case 194-5; Gad 292; Nichols 333)
The fairy ring (which is formed of reddish, edible mushrooms) is an appropriate place for the children's dance, for the moon is now full (it was waxing in 17.Moon). At this time the children may contact the fairy realm by dancing nine times around the ring, and their wishes for the future will be granted. (Guiley s.v. fairy ring) The nine circumambulations is given by the number of the trump 18.Sun, for 1+8 = 9.
In Norwegian mythology, the Divine Twins are Hjuki and Bil (i.e., Jack and Jill) who, like the Gemini, are the star-souls of the universe. After Ragnarok, the rebirth of the universe, they tumble from the top of the heavenly mountain, bringing the seeds (the astral and elemental semina) of the new world. They were brought to the mountain by way of the Moon (cf. 17.Moon) as they were bringing the Water of Life "from the spring called Byrgir, carrying between them the bucket called Saegr, on the pole Simul" (Prose Edda, Young 38). Concretely, Hjuki and Bil correspond to the waxing and waning of the moon, respectively, but more abstractly they are the forces of growth (jakka = assemble or increase) and dissolution (bil = break up or dissolution), which must unite in the creation of the new world. (Mercatante s.v. Bil and Hjuki; Walker 126)
The two children unite the elements. Though each has one foot planted in the center of the circle and one on its circumference, the boy's right (conscious) foot is on earth, while the girl's left (unconscious) foot is in water, which flows from the Fountain of Aqua Nostra, the Fountain of Youth, whose waters fan out like a rose (Jung, P&A 119, 174-5). Thus the twins unite the inferior, passive, or cold elements, earth and water. These elements correspond to Taurus and Cancer, respectively, which are united by Gemini. In addition, the boy's right hand is turned skyward in the classical attitude of celestial invocation, whereas the girl's left hand is turned downward in chthonic invocation. Thus the children unite the forces of Heaven and the Abyss, the astral spirits and the elemental spirits. In this way the superior (active, hot) elements, fire and air, are united with the inferior. The boy's elements are fire and earth, which are dry, that is firm and rigid; the girl's are air and water, which are moist, that is yielding and adaptive. From the children's perspective the boy is on the right, conscious side, and the girl on the left, unconscious. (Regardie II.14)
In both 17.Moon and 18.Sun there are trials to be passed; but, whereas in 17.Moon it was a frightening ordeal, or at best an "adventure," in 18.Moon it is child's play (Nichols 327). The adult says, "It's not a problem, it's a challenge"; the child says, "It's not a challenge, it's a fun game!" The spontaneity of the child can accomplish much that is beyond the capabilities of the ordinary adult, thus the need for rebirth and rejuvenation before the way is opened to the adult. (Hence Gilgamesh's Plant of Opening, which restores youth.) Then indeed are we the Divine Children, the Dioscuri - the Children of Zeus (Dios Kouroi).
This trump is sometimes called Youth Eternal, which reveals its essential meaning, for these twins have been reborn and are therefore forever young. (Thus, in some old decks they appear to be adults in diapers or children's clothing; in general their age is ambiguous.) The stationary sun represents the Nunc Stans (Eternal Now) at the world navel, where youth is everlasting; the Eternal Child bathes in the rays of the Spiritual Sun. (Cooper s.v. sun; Crowley 113; Gad 291; Nichols 330; Walker 127)
Children represent the archetypal Self; here they symbolize innocent play and spontaneity, the enjoyment of the here and now. Innocence is symbolized by their nudity, as in other trumps (6.Love, 16.Star). In Apollo's garden, the sun shines on imaginative play, not intellectual contortions; thus creativity is nurtured and the garden flourishes. The Children of the Sun are incarnate gods, so their illumination is embodied, not abstract, for rebirth demands the reunification of mind and body. (Case 191-2, 194; Cooper s.v. sun; Gad 291; Nichols 327-31)
Jung explains that children often represent the inferior function, that is the least developed, in a given individual, of the four functions of consciousness (thinking, sensation, feeling, intuition). Since the inferior function is least developed, it is the closest to nature and the unconscious. The children, male and female, dance arm in arm, which represents the reunification of opposites. Had they been separated they would symbolize the divided, self-critical Self, which slays creativity, but dancing hand in hand they represent the innocent self-confidence of youth. (Nichols 328-30)
As we saw in 17.Moon, the Garden of the Rising Sun contains extraordinary plants:
Gems represent crystalline purity and perfection, so the gem-plants represent the apotheosis of life, the transfigured life at the top of the cosmic mountain, ascending to the heavenly plane. We should not be surprised to find gems growing in the Garden of the Sun, for the Liber Subtilitatum of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179 CE) says:
"Gems have their origin in the East and in especially torrid zones. There the Sun heats the mountains like fire, and the rivers are always boiling hot.... The mountains upon which many large precious stones come into being in this way, are as bright as the light of day. The gems originate from fire and water, and for this reason they also contain heat, moisture, and many powers...." (Biedermann s.v. precious stones)Thus the solar gem-plants are the alchemical fusion, the Philosopher's Stone, which is described as the Fiery Water and the Watery Fire: the sacred marriage of Venus and Mars (i.e., Love and Strife, the Empedoclean primal forces, which mix and separate the elements). We are in the Rosarium, the Rose Garden of the Philosophers, where it is eternally spring, for the rose is a symbol of eternal spring (Cooper s.v. garden; Jung, P&A 118). Here the sun is always rising and life is always new born (Nichols 328).
The four roses open to the sun represent the four worlds of the current (Piscean) aeon. At the mundane level, they are the four kingdoms: mineral, plant, animal and human. At an esoteric level they are the four Neoplatonic spheres of being: body, soul, rational intellect and pure intelligence, and also the four qabalistic worlds (Assiah, Yetzirah, Briah, Atziluth). The roses face the sun because the four kingdoms and the four spheres draw their energy from the solar life force. There is also a rosebud which reflects the emergence of a new kingdom, adeptship, in the aeon to come (Aquarius). The rosebud faces the children because it will draw its energy from reborn humankind, for whom evolution and conscious intuition will come to coincidence. (Case 192-3; Gad 291)
In the Gilgamesh epic the rejuvenating plant (Shibu Itstsakhir Amelu = "Old Man has become a Young Man") is thorny like a rose and has its roots in the Abyss, as do the crystalline roses in our image. He calls it the "Plant of Openings" (Shammu Nibitti) and plans to use it in a communion with the elders of Uruk so they will all be rejuvenated, but the wise serpent takes it first. (Gardner & Meier 249-51) (Many other folktales tell how we can recover the rejuvenating plant from the serpent; see Appendix VII in the Loeb edition of Apollodorus.)
The alchemist Philalethes (fl. 1660), in his "Metallorum Metamorphosis" (Mus. Herm. 770; Jung, P&A 238n) tells us where the alchemical transmutation takes place:
vas nostrum verum occultum, hortus item Philosophicus, in quo Sol noster orietur et surgitThat is, "our true hidden vessel, also the Garden of the Philosophers, wherein our Sun rises and ascends."
This is the Hortus Conclusus (Enclosed Garden), and the wall creates a temenos, a sacred space, hidden from the profane, where the mystical transformation can take place. It defines the garden of conscious illumination, both by protecting it from invasion by the primitive creatures of the unconscious (seen in 17.Moon), and by containing and focusing the energy of solar consciousness, so that the garden's fruits can flourish. In this sacred place the dark, hidden things can be released and transformed; indeed Nichols (328) suggests that the canines of 17.Moon have become the children of 18.Sun, like werewolves saved from their curse. Here is a safe place for children to play with magic, for the walled garden is a feminine, nurturing place, a spiritual womb where new birth is protected. (Biedermann s.v. garden; Cooper s.v. wall; Nichols 328-30, 335)
It is well known that nothing should be taken from the Sacred Garden (unless special permission be granted). Thus the shaman knows not to steal from the underworld, and northern folklore tells us to take nothing from the Land of Fairy; we also know the consequences of Persephone eating of the fruit of the underworld. The theme appears again in the Odyssey, for after Odysseus' journey to the underworld, he and his crew are told that when they pass between the twofold guardians (Scylla and Charybdis) and come to the Garden of the Sun (the Isle of Helios, Thrinakia), they should not disturb the god's flocks. But, as a consequence of Odysseus' lapse of consciousness, and motivated by physical privation, the crew break their vow. On the threshold of nirvana, they flee the island, but the vessel is blasted by Zeus's thunderbolt, and Odysseus, the sole survivor must backtrack between the twofold guardians. A seven-year sojourn with Kalupso (Calypso, the Concealer), the Atlantean spirit who dwells "at the Navel of the Sea," is necessary before he can attempt the journey again. Thus the consequences of breaking the taboos of the Garden. (Gantz 705; Odyssey XII)
The wall keeps the mystical experience in bounds, for Apollo's arrows may bring madness as well as illumination. Unlike the tower, which was made of brittle bricks, the garden's wall is made of stone, which represents the human adaptation of nature. The bricks were made from little bits of nature stuck together by human artifice; the stones are forged in Gaia's womb by her Titanic forces. There are five courses of stone, representing the five senses, which must not be abandoned if the illumination is to be kept in bounds; they represent reality checking and the solid foundation of past experience. (Case 193; Gad 113; Pollack I.112)
The stones of the wall represent words; in Latin calculus means pebble, but especially a pebble used as a token in some definite information processing task, such as calculating (N.B. calc-), gaming or voting. (Similarly, "isopsephia," the ancient Greek word for gematria, derives from iso + psephos, which means "equal pebbles," that is equal in number.) Thus the wall represents human language as an instrument of definition and limitation to keep the force of the solar illumination in bounds. Nevertheless, the children have their back turned to the wall, which reflects the inability of language to adequately capture the mystical experience. In the Hortus Conclusus two underlying forces cooperate in the regeneration of nature: Logos, the enclosing wall, and Eros, the enclosed efflorescence of life. Both are necessary to accomplish the Work; thus in the Hermetic tradition Logos is called "The Good Gardener of Life," for he ensures that the garden bears fruit. (Case 193-4; Cooper s.v. garden)
The twelve visible stones in each course represent the signs of the Zodiac, and the entire wall represents the circle of the Zodiac. The circular wall is broken in just one place, which is the entrance that allows us to pass from the profane world to the sacred. The gate is hidden, and many circumambulations outside the wall are required to find it, for the unconscious mind circles the integrated Self before it finds it. (Biedermann s.v. garden; Cooper s.v. wall; Jung, P&A 217; Regardie II.14) Could the gate be Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, who resides by the Scorpion and the Archer (17.Moon and 18.Sun)?
Parpola (177-8) identifies Shamash with the Sefirah Din (Judgement) on the basis of his epithet Bel Dini (Lord of Judgement). This Sefirah is also called Gevurah (Power or Might), which corresponds to Shamash's epithets Strong Man and Hero. Thus Shamash is a protector of truth and right (Black & Green s.v. Utu). (See 17.Moon for the other Sefirot.)
The numerical value of O HELIOS (Ho Eelios, Helios, The Sun) = 393, which reduces to 11+3-9+3 = 8, as does APOLLWN O CRUSOUS QEOS (Apollon Ho Khrusous Theos, The Golden God Apollo) = 3385, for 11+5-8+3-3 = 8. The numerical value of Apollo's motto, "Nothing too much," is MHDEN AGAN (Meden agan) = 162, which also reduces to 11+2-6+1 = 8. This is triple confirmation of the fact that 18.Sun is the octad of the second hendecad.
The Sun trump of the fifteenth century Pierpont Morgan-Bergamo Visconti-Sforza tarot deck shows a putto (winged infant) holding a red-faced sun over a landscape; the Rosenthal Visconti-Sforza deck has a sun shining over a castle. The fifteenth century Guildhall deck shows the sun above a dagger surrounded an ouroboros serpent (unless the card is the Ace of Swords; they are unmarked). The fifteenth century "Gringonneur" deck has the sun shining over a woman with a distaff in a meadow; Kaplan (I.115) thinks her disheveled hair is "a sign of her innocence and virginity." We also see the sun as a nimbus around the head of Apollo in the 1664 Tarocchini of Mitelli. Other decks of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries show the sun shining over some scene, often revealing something hidden, such as a clandestine meeting, a lovers' tryst, or a crime, which recalls the sun god as witness. Waite's image - an infant on horseback with a banner - appears as early as c.1650 in the Sun of Jacques Vieville. In all these decks the sun has a face, and many have eight wavy rays (sometimes with eight pointed rays between them). (Kaplan I. 52, 54, 55, 73, 99, 111, 115, 117-8, 128, 130, 135, 158-9; Simon 51)
In several late-seventeenth to mid-eighteenth century decks we see the Sun showering droplets over two infants in diapers standing before a wall; the child on our right has his right arm on the left shoulder of the other child. O'Neill (221) observes that children playing in a garden is a common Renaissance symbol of the idyllic life. In the Mayer pack (c.1750) they stand in a grassy ring. In the Marseilles (late 17th cent.) and Payen (1743) decks the wall has five courses of bricks. The Payen deck has 24 droplets; the Mayer deck shows 21 but implies 24 by their pattern. In the Mayer pack the sun has 12 wavy rays and 12 pointed ones; in the Marseilles pack it has eight wavy rays and eight pointed ones. In these decks too the sun has a face. (Kaplan I. 136, 148; Simon 25, 51)
I'll conclude with a prayer to the Sun God for travelers, which I've paraphrased from the "Yale tablet," which is tablet VI of an Old Babylonian version of the Gilgamesh Epic (col. vi, ll. 31-33; see Tigay 169):
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Last updated Mon Jul 12 10:46:59 EDT 1999