Versus de Arcanis Majoribus

(Verses on the Major Arcana)

John Ops
(c) 1996, 2000


0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21



One Soul, yet two, sets out and knows no bound;
Two Lords, two Ladies turn the Cosmos round;
Eight Couples march in Triumph to the Goal;
These all together the Arcane Whole.
By two and twenty Signs the Truth is found.


Behold! the Holy Idiot, lost within
A private world. He'll have the chance to win
New freedom from confining rules. Rejoice
The madness! For it brings another choice.
Now let the Saturnalia begin!


A touch of the Magician's Wand: a word,
A sight, a sound, a gift by chance conferred,
Transforms your life, and leads the soul beyond
Accustomed bounds, if only you respond.
Attend the Guide whene'er the call is heard!


Eternal Mother, mistress of the grain,
Sustaining growth with either milk or rain,
Engulfs again her children, whereupon
The self-consuming wheel of life goes on.
Within her womb we all descend again!


The Mighty Father makes the laws that bind
The elements, the plants, and every kind
Of beast - but people too. He strives to feed
The folk, defending them by word and deed.
Observe the judgements fathered by his mind!

4.High Priestess

The Shining Queen, who rules the velvet night,
And nurtures nascent growth, concealed from sight,
Transforms and changes, wheeling light and dark,
And seeks the Sun to sire the unseen spark.
The watery depths bring forth the Child of Light.

5.High Priest

The Sun obscured by night, the heavens' fire,
Inflaming lunar waters, looks to sire
The Child, and purify the world with scorn
Severe, that scorches errors earthly born.
He holds the heights to which we all aspire.


Desire draws the Moon and Sun to hold
Each other; hid in darksome depths, the bold
Embrace of sibling spirits joined in love
Unites the world below with sky above.
Unasked, the Dart of Passion strikes; be bold!


The Child Divine is born of Moon and Sun.
She tempers wine with water, never done
With mixing, and her rainbow joins the poles,
For she's the messenger and guide of souls.
Accept her cup, and let the two be one.

8.Victory (Chariot)

The Hero crowned by Victory drives the car
Of triumph, seeking still to venture far,
Accepting every challenge. He commands,
And masters mighty steeds with skillful hands.
Our vision's dazzled by the Hero's star!


With gentle hand and eye she charms the beast
And teaches him the time to speak. Released
From fear of one another, freedom grows
For each, a bond that blossoms like the rose.
It's love, not force or fear, that tames the beast!


The Wheel of Fortune turns; while one declines
Another is upraised, but she assigns
The fate who holds the hidden axle pin,
The sacred source where destinies begin.
Ensure each turn of life the soul refines!

11.Time (Old Man)

No power impedes the measured step of Time,
Who eats away from everything its prime,
For nought endures for long. Yet passing years
May grant us peace and wisdom, free from fears.
Attend the tread of Time: stark, yet sublime.

12.Hanged Man

Desiring revolution, he betrayed
His world; by choice the painful price is paid.
Hanging above the Abyss by Heaven's chains,
He calmly waits for freedom from his pains.
Who dives within the womb will be remade!


The Lord of Death is paid in bitter coin
For dissolution, hoping he'll rejoin
The scattered parts, far better rearranged,
For callous Death's decrees cannot be changed.
"Accept thy fated end," he doth enjoin.


The Master of the melting blaze creates
Material things, and draws together mates
In hot embrace. He works from depths obscure;
To bring him to the Light, the only cure.
Reveal and seize the force he radiates!


The lightning bolt destroys the outworn walls.
Two characters are overthrown; each falls,
Returns to Mother Earth. The Sacred Mound
Is quickened; there the spark of life is found.
Accept the holy blast that overhauls!


The Child of Earth and Starry Heaven waits,
Attending to decrees of Stars and Fates,
While through her hands the waters ebb and flow
In Cosmic Rhythm, then descend below.
She marks the time, and Destiny creates!


The Nascent Moon commands the sunless skies,
And offers wisdom to whoever tries
To cross the desert. Guardians must be
Appeased to make the passage from the Sea.
Approach the dreadful Dark with insight's eyes!


The holy place where dawn is never done,
The garden wherein rebirth is begun,
Is where the children dance the Dance of Life,
With Love and Logic, reconciling strife.
Enjoy the sacred Garden of the Sun!

19.Angel (Judgement)

The trumpet sounds; the Herald calls the Child
To rise and be rewarded - or reviled.
Reborn from ash that roasted in the Arc,
His spirit body bears the golden mark.
Arise, and let the poles be reconciled!


A balance holds opposing forces, bound
But separate. Herein Harmony is found,
The child of Strife and Love. The keen-edged blade
Divides acutely, truth with wisdom weighed.
By balanced deeds the cosmic mind is crowned.


The Dancer looks both ways, and holds the keys
That show the rising, falling vortices.
Her dance expands within the world, and takes
The world within; in her the world awakes.
Unreal divisions yield to unities!


The carnival is done! Let life return
To normal. First and last a Fool we learn
To live by Nature, if the God within
Awakes and we become more genuine.
A Clever Fool, thy Godhead thou shalt earn!

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Last updated: Sun Aug 26 14:08:58 EDT 2001