About the Mandala *
Explore the origins and deeper meaning of this unique deck
by A. T. Mann
Mandala is an Eastern term for a consecrated place, a map of the cosmos or a geometric projection of the world reduced to an essential pattern. A mediator uses a Mandala to identify with the forces of the universe and to collect their power. Mandala images bring heavenly essence down into manifestation. A Mandala is a reflection of the universe, often with representations of the gods and their abodes clearly positioned upon it.
The classical form of the Mandala is like a circular unfolded lotus flower, symbolic of creation as it blossoms upon the celestial waters. The Mandala is a support for mediation, an external instrument to provoke and procure internal visions of the godhead. By using Mandalas, the mediator can concentrate the mind and rediscover the way to reach the secret inner reality.
The Mandala is, above all, a diagram of concentric circles, a protected space within which images of the archetypal world of paradise are represented as an ideal landscape such as the holy Mount Meru or the ideal city.
The Card Images
The Mandala Astrological Tarot presents each Tarot card as a Mandala image -- circular images upon square cards. Each card may be placed with any one of its four sides to the top because each side refers to one of the cardinal orientations. The images are traditional variations, but the symbols are displayed centrally and the positions of all landscape details, rituals instruments and other symbols are determined by their meaning within the whole. Meditation upon any card is not only a way to discover its inner meaning, but also a way to contact your own psychic center.
The major arcana cards contain many images arranged in Mandala format, as though they were ideal images of the perfect world of archetypes. Each card leads from the periphery to the center, wherein balance reigns, just as in the human psyche. The form of the cards is conducive to wholeness.
The square shape of the cards is very important. Typical Tarot cards are rectangular like playing cards. Since the card images have a top and bottom, many commentators describe the meaning of each card in its upright position as positive and when reversed as negative. Since the process of enlightenment is centrally concerned with eliminating the distinction between positive and negative, and indeed all pairs of oppositions, to value the card in this way is essentially dualistic. The square cards provide a solution to this dilemma.
The four cardinal orientations at any location are above, below, right and left. The astrological significance of these cardinal positions provide qualifications for the Tarot card meanings.
A card in the upright position shows that one's conscious of the quality described. If the Fool, indicating innocence, is upright it implies one who is not only innocent, but knows that he is innocent.
A card in the upside down position is unconscious of its quality. The reversed Fool would be someone who was innocent but unaware of being so and therefore truly a fool.
When the upper title of a card is to the left, toward the eastern horizon where the Sun rises, the quality of the card is carried in the personality and acted out. Thus the Fool in this position would be one who acts like an innocent.
When the upper title of a card is to the right, toward the western horizon where the Sun sets, the quality of the card is derived from, or a projection on to, someone else in the outside world, such as one's partner.
Each card therefore has not just one, but four meanings based upon its position. The symbols and images of each card also change position, creating many permutations of all cards in the deck. Although this is a degree of subtlety which is not required in the beginning, it provides great depth and accuracy later on in your use of the Mandala Astrological Tarot.
*This material is excerpted from the book, The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann.