Ibn 'Arabi's Great Cosmic Cycle

Hi JMD and all...

I suggest that Ibn 'Arabi's Great Cosmic Cycle was influential in the formation of the Tarot's hierarchy and names. Here's a list of Divine Names that he envisioned to form a spiral, about which I have posted elsewhere http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=121176:

0. Large Recompensor Fool
1. Independent Magician
2. Influencer Empress
3. Supporter Popess
4. Knower Emperor
5. Victorious Pope
6. Light Temperance
7. Form Giver Love
8. Reckoner Chariot
9. Guardian Fortitude
10. Curtailer Wheel
11. Living Hermit
12. Quickener Hanged Man
13. Slayer Death
14. Preciously Valued Tower
15. Nourisher Star
16. Degrader Devil
17. Powerful Moon
18. Minute Observer Sun
19. Gatherer Angel
20. Elevator Justice
21. Surrounder World
Dai Leon

Re: Ibn 'Arabi's Great Cosmic Cycle

Hi Psykees,

I think this topic warrants a thread of its own so that your proposal can be explored and discussed, so I have split it out from it's original posting in the topic on Building Blocks of Tarot History.

The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Ibn 'Arabi's Great Cosmic Cycle

The 28 divine attributes and their correspondence to the 28 mansions of the moon and 28 letters of the alphabet as are tabulated here:


See the table of The Mansions of the Moon according to Ibn ‘Arabi (ca. 1200)

1 Al Sharatain The Two Signs 0° Aries The First Intellect, the Pen Hamza & Alef Divine Essence
2 Al Butain The Belly of Aries 12°51'22" Aries The Universal Soul, the Preserved Tablet Hâ’ (unstressed h) The One Who Calls Forth
3 Al Thurayya The Many Little Ones 25°42'51" Aries Universal Nature ‘Ayn The Interior
4 Al Dabaran The Follower 8°34'17" Taurus Universal Substance, prima materia Hâ (stressed h) The Last
5 Al Hak‘ah The White Spot 21°25'40" Taurus Universal Body Ghayn (gh) The Manifest
6 Al Han‘ah The Mark 4°17'09" Gemini Form Khâ (kh) The Wise
7 Al Dhira The forearm 17°08'34" Gemini The Throne Qâf (q) The All-Encompassing
8 Al Nathra The Gap or Crib 0° Cancer The Footstool Kâf (k) The Grateful
9 Al Tarf The Glance 12°51'22" Cancer The Self-Existing Ultimate Sphere, the Starless Sky, the Zodiacal Towers Jîm (j) The Independent, the Rich
10 Al Jabhah The Forehead 25°42'51" Cancer The Sky of the Fixed Stars, the Sphere of the Stations, the Sun of Paradise, the Roof of Hell Shîn (sh) The Powerful
11 Al Zubrah The Mane 8°34'17" Leo The First Heaven, the Sphere of Saturn, the Sky of the Visited House and Lotus of the Extreme Limit, the Abode of Ibrahim (Abraham) Yâ (y/î) The Lord
12 Al Sarfah The Changer 21°25'40" Leo The Second Heaven, the Sphere of Jupiter, the Abode of Musa (Moses) Dâd (stressed d) The Knowing
13 Al Awwa The Barker 4°17'09" Virgo The Third Heaven, the Sphere of Mars, the Abode of Harun (Aaron) Lâm (l) The Victorious
14 Al Simak The Unarmed 17°08'34" Virgo The Fourth Heaven, the Sphere of the Sun, the Abode of Idris (Enoch, Hermes) Nûn (n) The Light
15 Al Ghafr The Cover 0° Libra The Fifth Heaven, the Sphere of Venus, the Abode of Yusuf (Joseph) Râ (r) The Form-Giver
16 Al Jubana The Claws 12°51'22" Libra The Sixth Heaven, the Sphere of Mercury, the Abode of ‘Isa (Jesus) Tâ
(stressed t) The Numberer
17 Iklil al Jabhah The Crown of the Forehead 25°42'51" Libra The Seventh Heaven, the Sphere of the Moon, the Abode of Adam Dâl (d) The Evident
18 Al Kalb The Heart 8°34'17" Scorpio The Sphere of Ether, Meteors and Fire Tâ (unstressed t) The Seizer
19 Al Shaula The Sting 21°25'40" Scorpio Air Zây (z) The Living One
20 Al Na’am The Ostriches 4°17'09" Sagittarius Water Sîn (s) The Life-Giver
21 Al Baldah The City 17°08'34" Sagittarius Earth Sâd (stressed s) The Death-Giver
22 Al Sa’d al Dhabih The Fortune of the Slayers 0° Capricorn Minerals and Metals Zâ (stressed z) The Precious
23 Al Sa’d al Bula The Fortune of the Swallower 12°51'22" Capricorn Plants Thâ (th) The Nourisher
24 Al Sa’d al Su’ud The Fortune of the Fortunate 25°42'51" Capricorn Animals Dhâl (dh) The Humbler
25 Al Sa’d al Ahbiyah The Fortune of the Hidden 8°34'17" Aquarius The Angels Fâ (f) The Strong
26 Al Fargh al Mukdim The First Spout 21°25'40" Aquarius The Jinn Bâ (b) The Subtle
27 Al Fargh al Thani The Second Spout 4°17'09" Pisces Humanity Mîm (m) The Uniter
28 Al Batn al Hut The Belly of the Fish 17°08'34" Pisces The Hierarchy of the Degrees of Existence, not their manifestation Wâw (w/û) The One Who Elevates by Degrees
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Ibn 'Arabi's Great Cosmic Cycle

Also exploring parallels between Ibn Arabi / Sufism and Tarot:

"The Occult Tradition of the Tarot in Tangency with Ibn 'Arabi's Life and Teachings" by Jereer El-Moor

part one:

part two:

In the 19th century a pseudo 'Sufi' allegory was constructed around the tarot in The Mystic Rose of the Garden of the King that forms the basis for Blakeley's Sufi construction of the tarot and is reproduced in his The Mystical Tower of the Tarot .
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Ibn 'Arabi's Great Cosmic Cycle

Maybe this would be of interest.


I think that there is something about it on the ATS website. The book was in a limited edition, and appears to be quite hard to obtain now.
In the 19th century a pseudo 'Sufi' allegory was constructed around the tarot in The Mystic Rose of the Garden of the King that forms the basis for Blakeley's Sufi construction of the tarot and is reproduced in his The Mystical Tower of the Tarot .
I read the Blakeley book sometime in the 1970s, but I don't have a copy now. At the time I think that I took it at face value, but presumably Fairfax Cartwright invented his Persian Sheikh.

Re: Ibn 'Arabi's Great Cosmic Cycle

Thanks for the links, Patrick and Steve. Arabic is a difficult language to translate into english; there exist many dual meanings and poetic connotations. For example, Form-giver has also been translated as Painter. Out of Burckhardt's list, I find Live-giver to be interesting; but Curtailer to be more subtle. Yet at first glance, they are opposite translations.

In Origins of the Tarot, I point out that Ibn 'Arabi's method of direct contemplation of Divine Unity was garnering a good deal of respect when the first Kabbalah teachings addressing such were developed by Arabic speaking Jews living among his Moorish Spain community. The key point in terms of Christian, Islamic and Judaic development of cosmology or theosophy is that for all, after Ibn 'Arabi's Great Cosmic Cycle of Divine Attributes became popularized, the Aristotelian chain of being was conceptually re-imagined beyond astrological and mundane hierarchies. Descent from the Incorporeal was then identified with ascent back to it. A direct contemplator of the Image-Exemplars could realize post-Death divine or immortal stations in this lifetime.

I introduce in the book Sufis prior to Ibn 'Arabi and Eastern Christian Saints whose work all built off of the great Neoplatonists to produce this great tradition of cosmological evolution. With the Plague and war wiping out so much of society in the 14th century, the high period of Neoplatonic philosophy advanced in the 13th century was revived in the 15th, this time in Italy and France. As I say, much of Origins is about that history.
Dai Leon

Re: Ibn 'Arabi's Great Cosmic Cycle

Here is the post linked to above:

Although Sufism is often mentioned in tandem with Kabbalistic cosmogonic theories, the cycle of Divine Names and Attributes made famous by Ibn 'Arabi's academy is generally not addressed by Kabbalists. This being so even though Ibn 'Arabi lived in Spain during the time that Kabbalist doctrine was developed.

I have suggested in published form correlation between IA's Great Cosmic Cycle and the Triumphs, termed in Sufism as Image-Exemplars. Here's an introduction to that:


"Whether through goddess or angelic spheres, Rumi and Ibn 'Arabi fully informed Sufis and Hermetic Christians of the thirteenth century how to be fully liberated, ecstatic, and enlightened. After Ibn 'Arabi, the Chain of Being and the Path of Liberation were realized to be one in the same Way. Through emanated principles or spheres, the Divine becomes the World and the World realizes the Divine in a great cycle of simultaneous and concomitant descension and ascension. Following upon this path of realization, the Tarot was created to represent both cosmic manifestation and spiritual transcendence.

Ibn 'Arabi worked with systems and codes in the manner of an esoteric scientist (the root of which means “to know”). Key to the sacred sciences of Semitic cultures is the science of letters. Both Judaic and Islamic religions are based upon revelations of the Word. The Book of the World is the Logos eternally regenerating moment to moment through its sacred Letters or Immutable Essences. The twenty-eight letters of the Arabic alphabet signified the corporeal and incorporeal emanations of Allah. Ibn 'Arabi explained it thusly:

These transcendent letters that are all creatures, after being incorporeally condensed in Divine Omniscience, are carried down on Divine Breath to the corporeal stages, thus composing and forming the manifested Universe.

This science of letters conjoined with an associated science of numbers to form the root of all other sciences. As we have seen, Kabbalist knowledge was similarly based. It too sprouted in Spain (after germinating in Provence) during Ibn 'Arabi’s time. Like Ibn 'Arabi, Kabbalist masters traveled east to Alexandria, Damascus, and Constantinople.

Of remarkable import to our study of the Trionfi is Ibn 'Arabi’s realization that the Semitic science of letters is itself founded upon a more essential body of knowledge. He elucidates:

Preceding the Letters are the Divine Names themselves. They form a science, which like hidden treasure is known solely to the saints, whose intelligences gather understanding from Allah and whose hearts are bound to Allah, being ravished by Allah’s Bliss.

The Sufi science of letters and names was referred to by an Arabic term derived from the Greek word for signs. It formed a type of primordial semiotics – a code not only of the phenomenal, but also, more radically, of the archetypal noumenal. This complex system came to contain a mix of numerological algorithms, alchemical procedures, and emanationist hierarchies. It was elaborated at great length by Ibn 'Arabi’s school of metaphysics. One of the more popularly described models was composed of ten levels, each with ten attributes. A hierarchically transformative, dimensional, and energetic representation of ascending movement toward the Principal, embedded in the science of names, is what concerns us here.

Medieval scholars (both East and West) inherited from Ibn 'Arabi a cosmology of ascent and descent diagrammed as a circle. In this spiritually emergent worldview, we may find the origins of the Tarot Triumphs’ attributes and names. The Circle of Being does not actually close upon itself; rather it proceeds as an open spiral. It links twenty-eight archetypal stations of Universal Presence, divided into three distinct groups:

1. Through Grace, there is a descending of Divine Overflow as the formed or corporeal world. This descent involves fourteen cosmic stages of being, beginning with the Recompensor (Fool) and the Independent (Magician) and ending with the Quickener (Hanged Man) and the Slayer (Death).

2. Following that are seven degrees of ascending stations, which link the corporeal world after Death to the incorporeal Divine Domain of Surrounding Essence (World). These begin with the Precious (Tower) and the Nourisher (Star) and end with the Gatherer (Angel) and the Elevator (Justice).

3. The final seven degrees of this Great Chain of Causation and Being are beyond even the most sublimely spiritual forms of corporeal existence. They are brought into consciousness through the Universal Man. From the Surrounder (World) to the Divine Essence, these degrees of Allah are the ascendancy of nonformed spirit. They are understandable only as the development of Divine Pleroma (fullness). Because they are incorporeal, it is not possible to “imagine” these stations of trans-world reality, although names for them were revealed to the Prophet. From these seven degrees of Plentitude, the World perpetually manifests via an overflow of Bliss."
Dai Leon

Re: Ibn 'Arabi's Great Cosmic Cycle

Also, for further reading on this subject I suggest Chittick's The Sufi Path of Knowledge:

http://www.amazon.com/Sufi-Path-Knowled ... 924&sr=8-1

and Shah's Islamic Sufism:

http://www.amazon.com/Islamic-Sufism-Si ... 582&sr=1-1

I might also mention that I think the primary cosmological and mystical structure and system represented in the Triumphs is based on 10 stages in the pattern of 6+3+1. Addressing such, which is found in many traditions of spiritual philosophy, is the primary work of Origins of the Tarot. Ibn 'Arabi's representation of a Cosmic Cycle of Unity is only one piece of a long interconnected developmental history that has in large part become understood as the core of a Great Tradition.
Dai Leon

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests