Meditation on the Knight of Disks

For those of my readers who are not into the occult aspects of my spiritual life, this may be an entry worth skipping. I’m doing some stuff that, in an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to work on while managing a school trip. But… It is sometimes the case that the hours and days of spiritual need don’t always line up with the workaday world. Read on or not as you’re moved.

The Knight of Disks is the king court card in Aleister Crowley’s masterwork, the Thoth Tarot deck. It represents, among other things, the archangel of Earth, Uriel. The image shows a man in black armor — presumably of iron, representing the solidity of earth. His face is turned towards hills covered with green fields, representing earth’s fertility and fecundity. The fields are rounded squares, indicative of the earth’s roundness, but also earth’s reliance on the four elements, and its four imagined corners, recalling the John Donne poem,

at the round earth’s imagined corners, blow,
Blow the trumpets, ye angels, and arise!

His shield faces away from the viewer, allowing us to see the points of a solar design on the inside of the shield. The number of these points suggests twelve points altogether, although only six are visible — thus is indicated the twelve hours of the day, and also the division of time into six months of light and six months of darkness, as well as of hours of night and day. The warrior’s weapon is not a sword, but a flail, by which seeds are beaten loose from the chaff.
This shows one of Uriel’s functions, which is the separation of the divine soul from the mortal body at death, and his role in guiding the mortal upwards through the heavens toward paradise. Likewise, it shows that the seed must die in order to be reborn, just as we die to ourselves to be reborn in God.

The knight rides a brown horse, caparisoned with red bridle and stirrups. Red is the color of fire, and here represents the mortal passion to urge the body to seek the divine. The control is imperfect at this stage, for though the Knight looks toward the rising sun, the horse looks toward us — that is, into our material world. Between the horse and us is a line of growing grain. This signifies the nurturing nature of the power of Earth as the grower of seed and the creator of food. We receive our sustenance from the power of Earth, for the Angel of Earth stands behind and over every seed.

The knight has turned toward the rising sun, which has formed an aura against the sky at the background of the sky. The Angel of Earth is turned toward God, and receives instruction and guidance from Him. At the same time, a lesser brilliance shines out from Uriel — his shield reflects the glory of God back upon the world and the growing fields. Thus does Earth receive the correct amount of the Sun’s power: the right amount, and no more.

The crest of Uriel’s helm is an 8-point buck, apparently standing in a thicket. This is a reminder that we humans are not the only beings dependent upon the angel of Earth, nor are the only powers that we must care for in our quest for the divine, human. The Angel of Earth watches over more than just humans and our interactions — he has a role in the living processes of every living creature on earth, both vegetable and animal.

Both the angel’s cape, and the horse’s bridle, are loose. The horse is free to follow his own path. Likewise the the angel’s movements leave a red trail behind him — of both life and death, of both blood and flowering. The angel’s duty is to bring blessings, but sometimes those blessings are things we could consider negative: disease, death, injury, damage, and so on.

In all, the card’s symbolism shows a being of tremendous power and grace, who is nonetheless turned away from us, and obeys a higher reality and higher duty to God, than to us mere mortals. Things happen in the world for reasons larger than our own lives.

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