The Vessels embody the Quintessence, a celestial substance that connects the different realms of reality, binding all four classical elements in a harmonious balance.
The pureness of this element defines the essential key to both physical and spiritual transmutations. Along the suit you may find ups and downs, which describes the difficulties in finding the true nature of this ethereal substance.
We made this suit of Vessels to provide a deeper self-knowledge, in order to achieve a higher level of awareness and rebirth. Through this personal voyage we will learn to understand what Quintessence means to ourselves, transcending any sensorial experience.
In this spiritual journey, each stage counts, and every card is a clue of what is needed to improve and resolve.
The alchemical Vessel represents the ethereal Quintessence. Being transparent and sealed vases, they depict different kinds of operations and transformations occurring mostly in our inner side. The combinations, separations, or other adjustments of the four symbolic elements could be seen through the vessels and felt in the different levels within ourselves.
Visually, the cards may have immediate references to the German illuminated text Splendor Solis by Salomon Trismosin.
The symbology of most of the cards, however, do not follow the book’s sequence or general iconography. We opted to follow different approaches from different alchemical proposals as well as mythological or psychological perspectives.
The tarot itself has its very own and well-established symbolism that confront in certain aspects the most respected alchemical premises.
Our job was to find a reasonable concordance that allowed our own sensibility to have its say.
After all, this is a holistic new suit that aims to give you tools for your own self-discovery and learn to follow your intuition, because the key lies there.
AETHER / QUINTESSENCE
Click in the correspondent card to know more about the symbology, meaning and interpretation.
As you can check in the first image, the first part of this set is divided into 3, with 3 cards each. Representing the wholeness of man, the number 9 (3×3 or 3+3+3) incarnates the beginnings and endings, opening to you a series of transmutations and transpositions to a higher level.
Every group corresponds to a triad – 3 – the number of knowledge and wisdom.
The first stage is Awareness. When you finally realise the true nature of self and what is needed to dissolve your being into a higher state of consciousness. So, the great introspective quest begins.
The second stage is Transformation. Your body, mind and soul must find balance, so you will suffer several changes. You must find your true body, your true shape. Your essence is more valuable than you ever realised.
The third stage is Rebirth. The 3 creatures are not similar: this conveys the many changes we come across in our lives. Likewise, in your life, you keep fighting against internal factors that prevent you from having a greater knowledge and deeper intuition. Every time you change and become different, you are somehow closer to your true enlightened self.
Therefore, the Ace is separated, because, as every Ace in tarot, it represents the greatest expression in a suit. What is relevant in the Vessels is the journey itself, and the Ace regards only the spiritual essence.
THE COURT AND
THE GREAT WORK
The Court family in the Vessels transcends the usual archetypes, representing the 4 processes in alchemy – Magnum Opus. So, each meaning has a double side.
The first process is the Nigredo, linked to the element Earth, where the biggest transmutation occurs. In Nigredo, associated with the Pages, you break down all your complexity and will be reduced to the essential form. Detached from all content, this is a deep analysis into your life and self.
The second process is the Albedo, ruled by Water, as it allows you to enlighten yourself. Linked to the Queens, the goal is to clean all impurities through ablution, or by “washing” you from all toxic and negative influences that surround you. By the end of this process, you will find your brightest side.
The third process, Citrinitas (sometimes omitted in the Magnum Opus), is represented by the element Air, and is associated with the Knights. This relates to the process of healing. The dark night (Nigredo) was a heavy phase to endure, and after you found your gift and essence (Albedo) you need to let body, soul and mind assimilate all and select what is relevant towards your own truth and enlightenment.
The last process is called Rubedo, with the active element of Fire, ruled by the Kings. It is the perfect union between the Red King and the White Queen – the hermetic marriage. Here we fulfil the perfect harmony and are fully aware of our capacities.
THE INNER JOURNEY
The narrative of our spiritual journey begins with a personal crisis and the searching for answers.
An epic adventure on the depths of ourselves reveals many challenges and transformations that allow us to return as a new improved being.
The concept of this journey was strongly influenced by Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, which describes an archetypal hero and his classical descent to the underworld, and return.
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” – The Hero with a Thousand Faces, J. Campbell, 1949, p. 28.
His earlier sequence of stages was personally adapted to our suit of Vessels, joining together some of the steps but keeping its original order.
I- DEPARTURE / SELF-AWARENESS.
2 of Vessels | Call to adventure.
We are confronted with a situation that forces us to dive into an unknown territory, looking for answers.
3 of Vessels | Withdrawal from the family or community
This is a major phase of preparation in which many fears and doubts may compromise the entire journey. It demands strong will and foresight.
4 of Vessels | Supernatural aid
As soon as we get ready for the journey, consciously or unconsciously, a guide appears to us, giving us the symbolic artefacts to light our path.
— Crossing the Threshold —
II- INITIATION/ TRANSFORMATION
5 of Vessels | Road of Trials / The ordeal
This step unveils a series of tests that we must undergo to start our own transformation. These tests may inflict pain and suffering.
6 of Vessels | Meeting with the Goddess/ Revelation.
By finding the goddess, we connect with our subconscious mind, in a supreme act of self-balancing and self-liberation. With that, we find our reward.
7 of Vessels | The Road of Return
After achieving our personal goal, this is a time to return. Here, unexpected new challenges come into play.
— the Return Threshold —
8 of Vessels | Struggling/Refusal to Return
Coming back is more difficult than we foresaw. We will probably see our way blocked or feel that we do not want to return at all.
9 of Vessels | Magic Flight
In this stage we find a way to escape with our prize. This can be revealed as a very dangerous way back, but we are definitely motivated to succeed.
10 of Vessels | Master of Two Worlds
This final stage means that we achieved a balance between the material and spiritual. The prize that was brought to the surface allows us to answer the questions that initiated the journey.
THE SEVEN STAGES OF ALCHEMY IN THE VESSELS
The alchemist studies the goal of reaching enlightenment in seven distinct processes.
As the Great Work initiates, we watch a considerable mutation on the elements from their original state. Nonetheless, the evolution is far beyond the earthly metallurgy. The metaphor behind the altered matter and planetary influence affect both soul, mind, and body.
A few notes first: Despite the visual similarities with the Splendor Solis, the stages’ correspondence follow a different alchemical sequence. The Preparation phase (Two, Three and Four of Vessels) represents the initial and essential preparation of the elements to the next processes of transformation. We define it as a stage of Self-Awareness; that is why Calcination, Dissolution and Separation need to be repeated in another level.
The process of Calcination is the beginning stage in alchemy. To calcine something is to burn it until it is reduced to its essence. This is the false identity or poisoning ego that fights desperately for its survival. It is crucial to remove it from our inner selves. That way we will step up into a new level of spirituality. That beckons a liberation from the impurities of an inflated pride by letting a new self be purified through the sword (active Fire in alchemy), and achieve the maturity of the soul.
This kind of operation demands a cycle of meditation, which is vital for a successful dilution of the parts into a fluid condition – water (emotions). True meditation and reflection brings us an acknowledgement of all things within us and the elements of creation – these are, in its essence, made of the same primitive substance. The operation occurs in the interior to unravel our energy channels, recharging every single cell. This deep immersion opens you a need door.
This stage (ruled by the element Air) is defined by the division of thoughts and emotions acquired by the Dissolution. The separation of the elements allows us to observe them more clearly. Their true nature and shape are finally exposed to us. Such manifestation dissipates the fog of ignorance and obstinacy. The door of self-improvement lets the light of dawn in. This process makes us aware of our authentic feelings. The violence of reality might find us off guard, but this could be the only true way to move forward. The light may hurt our eyes at first but will soon reveal our paths. Solve et Coagula – dissolve everything that hurts, and unite what gives us happiness.
The separated elements demand a new combination to find the balance. The male and female principles are significant for every human being, regarding physical and spiritual lucidity. The Conjunction (ruled by Earth) provides a bed for the royal marriage between the Sun (the male) and the Moon (the female), which is the improvement and evolution of the spiritual self in its search for perfection. The merge of dualities helps the empowerment of ourselves.
The stage of Fermentation is also a metaphor for pregnancy and fecundation, as well as an inspiration from above that reanimates and enlightens the soul.
This is a two-part process. Firstly, the Putrefaction entwines the father and the mother. Matter is allowed to break down and decompose. They die so the child can be born, and their bodies will be the fertiliser for the seed. As we experience this phase, our consciousness confronts the darker side.In the second part, the Conjunction child is born. The forces of the spirit above are merged with the matter below. Here you have the chance to improve yourself, in an effort of persistence.
Post scriptum: Putrefaction is a complex concept that entwines the psychological and spiritual elements needed during the stage of Fermentation. Putrefaction implies the decomposition and decay of matter as part of a natural process. It can be depicted in two ways: as a way of self-discovery towards a psychological renewal akin to what we see in The Hermit; or as form to reduce ourselves to the bare essence and pure energy, like we can see in these Seven Stages of the Alchemy in the Vessels. In other words, our full potential cannot be achieved without putrefaction.
Distillation is the process of boiling the elixirs to increase purity.
“In Distillation many bitter, sharp, and acrid things become very sweet, like honey, sugar, or manna; and, on the other hand, many sweet things, such as honey, sugar, or manna become sharp (…)”, The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus.
The final purge before the enlightenment happens in this stage. Here are no impurities left, for the environment for an apotheosis is attained in a purification of the spirit.
The perfect substance is found. In the most physical way, we observe a fluid state change into a thickened mass. This process is a metaphor for the elevated self.
Maturity is finally achieved and body, mind and soul find the perfect balance among themselves. We will then become truly free in our minds, and our consciousness will be able to connect spirit and soul in perfect harmony. The rebirth of a beautiful new being is revealed.
VESSELS KEYWORDS CHART
Find all the Vessels keywords, to know more about the interpretation, click in the correspondent card.
|Ace||Major Intuition, Enlightenment||Discouragement, Unclear Path, Lack of Perseverance|
|Two||Inner Journey, Inner Balance, Cleansing||Avoiding the Journey, Not Prepared, Fear of the Unknown|
|Three||Meet your Shadow, Introspection, Find your Potential||Denial, Superficial Shadow Work, Lack of Discipline|
|Four||Emotional Purge, New Chapter, Renewal||Delaying Healing, Putting Others Before Yourself|
|Five||Separation, Changing your Patterns, Rediscovery||Reorganized, Restructured Ego, On the Right Path|
|Six||Reformulation, Spiritual Balance, Meet your Spiritual Self||Impatience, Stagnation, Corruptive Environment|
|Seven||Reintegrate, Authentic Feelings||Obstacles, Energy Vampires, Feeling Small|
|Eight||Overconfidence, Internal Conflict, Interruption||Controlled Impulses, Moving Forward|
|Nine||Accept who you are, Reconciliation||Envy, Feeling Drained|
|Ten||Communication, Reintegrate with Others, New Self||Selfish, Pretentious|
|Page||Holistic, Self-Discovery, Self-disciplined||Depressive, Stagnated, Overwhelmed|
|Knight||Peacemaker, Communicative, Supportive||Provocative, Overintelelctualized, Indecisiveness|
|Queen||Clairvoyant, Purposeful, Spiritually Refined||Inflexible, Over-sensitive, Constant Cleaning|
|King||Self-Awared, Straightforward, Strong Willed, Intuitive||Self-Absorbed, Irascible, Self-Centered|