“17” – The Star, Hope, and Rebuilding after the Destruction of Illusion

In the Hermetic Arcane of the Tarot, the archetypal idea of the “star”, which is Key 17, follows the “the Lightning Struck Tower” (Key 16) which represents the destruction of illusion (Key 15) and is what prompts the “the dark night of the soul” as an identity crisis that comes as the “dissolution of the false ego”. The tower represents the material illusion that’s destroyed by the Light of Truth in a shocking revelation that frees the soul that was imprisoned by its own delusions, providing a clean slate on which a new reality can be built that’s based on higher Truth. Key 17 is represented by the Hebrew letter “TZADDI”, and has a value of 90, and like all spelling and numeric values of archetypal ideas, provides those initiated in the Mysteries with a form of secret code that acts as a set of instructions for how to undergo the process involved in a fully conscious manner.

Each letter in the spelling of the word indicates the Key associated with that letter, and also forms a numeric equation out of the value of the individual letters. This code is designed to help us gain deeper insights into its true meaning. All archetypes and symbols of the Tarot provide us with Keys for interpreting all other systems of Spiritual Sciences through a dynamic series of correspondences. It’s through the intuitive interpretation of the symbolic language that all of the Mysteries are written in that we discover “hidden operations” that provide us with a form of “instruction” for undergoing the process of personal transformation as rising out of the darkness of illusion and into the light of Truth.

The word Tzaddi means “fish hook”, signifying that which draws the fish (Nun) out of the water (Mem). Fish is the symbol of Nun (Key 13) which represents “death” as the process of spiritual transformation, and Mem (Key 12), symbol of the Initiate, represents a complete change in perspective and attitude. Water represents personal existence of the higher Soul as the reflection cast within the subconscious mind. It’s the ocean of subconscious mentality (instinctual plane) that projects the whole of reality as a reflection of the etheric body fashioned on higher planes by the Human Soul. The symbol of a fish represents death as the transformative and regenerative powers of the spirit. This idea symbolizes the “activity” which lifts us up out of the material relations of personal existence by utilizing the reproductive forces of the soul’s regenerative agency.

The fish hook is a symbol of “angling”, which is related to the idea of experimentation, research into new ideas, and the quest undertaken as the means of growing into something more. It’s the quest after that which hasn’t been realized yet, and a form of searching that’s often called “fishing for ideas”. This represents the journey into your own subconscious mind (water) where you investigate what can’t be seen in order to solve enigmas, realize what lies hidden within you, and begin forming new realizations that lead you along a new path for solving a mystery. The value of “90” indicates a 90 degree turn in perspective and how you go about things, where you draw on a higher plane (vertical line) for original ideas instead of the material (horizontal) plane of human activity. 9 is the number of completion as a perfected state (Key 9), which comes by learning how to program your own subconscious mind using your higher mind, represented by Key 18, which proceeds out of Key 17.

The image used to represent this idea shows a beautiful naked woman with golden hair (solar energy), knelled down with one foot on land and the other in a pool of water, holding a vessel in each hand, one gold and one silver, with water pouring out of one into the pool and being drawn back up into the other, in a natural landscape with a tree in the background that has an ibis perched on a branch, and a snowy mountain peak in the background. Overhead is a central 8-pointed star (higher octave) with seven 8-pointed stars surrounding it in a circular pattern (Monad). The ibis in the tree is a scarlet ibis, which is the symbol of Hermes representing higher wisdom. As with all glyphs that serve to communicate higher wisdom, every aspect and detail represents an idea or aspect of the greater whole. Every number, color, symbol, geometric shape, and definition articulated within the arrangement is pertinent in understanding the whole idea as a “process” based on the “relationships” necessary for undergoing the operation indicated by its entire composition. The part is always a direct correspondence to the whole.

Function and Mode of Consciousness

The Function associated with this idea is “meditation” as the unbroken flow of higher knowledge into an “appropriate object”. We tune into and receive higher knowledge from within through the agency of the subconscious mind. All manifestation as perception is produced by the programming of our subconscious, which is the “passive and receptive aspect” of our mind that’s operated by our higher will. This represents the “conception” of ideas into the subconscious that are reflected in our mind and serve as a form of guidance for manifestation as our personal existence. The germinal process of both plants and animals takes place in darkness. This represents the mental unfoldment of ideas that are not already fully developed as the “genesis of ideas”. This is the process of all new inventions and creative manifestations that are unique and novel in nature and don’t come through the reformation of personal memory. This comes as ideas that are mentally “tuned into” and “drawn down” from the higher regions of the “astral plane” (starlight) of cosmic memory.

The Mode of Consciousness represented by 17 is “Natural Intelligence”, which comes as intuition. Natural intelligence comes as the awareness of the “hidden qualities” in all things and is arrived at through an ongoing state of meditation. This is not the type of meditation popularized in Western society, but is referring to a state that’s cultivated on an ongoing basis as a constant connection to our Higher Self as our natural way of being. It comes by quieting the random thoughts that are constantly playing out in your mind based on personal memory, rendering your “thinking” mind passive while connecting to your direct source of higher consciousness, and acting as a circuit for “streaming” higher consciousness to form all of your perceptions. This is the true secret to occult power. All powers can only be developed by intense concentration as a prolonged state of meditation.

Numeric Code of Principles

Like all numeric combinations, the numbers used represent principles that provide us with a code for gaining deeper insights into their meaning. 17 > 1 + 7 = 8. Some only look at the sum as being the meaning, but this is a mistake, because numbers represent relationships. The sum of an equation shows us what principle is represented through the full manifestation of all numbers that comprise it. There’s no such thing as an independent idea, and everything exists as a part of a greater whole and serves to show us its hidden aspects. 8 for example, is the full manifestation of the numbers 1 through 7. Key 8 represents using the higher agency of the human will (Key 7) to tame the lower animal-nature (etheric body) used for casting the shadow of personal existence.

 The number 8 represents the principle of “strength” as the soul’s ability to tame and direct its own animal nature through concentration of will. This represents the secret to transformation comes by using our higher mind to introduce new ideas into our etheric-body, which serves as the energetic matrix for manifestation. We only change our outer world by making the necessary changes to our inner world. All manifestation as personal existence comes “through us” and “by way of us” as our perception. In order to change our experiences we have to reprogram our own subconscious and upgrade our mental paradigm.

Number 1 (Magus) symbolizes directed attention as an undivided form of prolonged concentration. As we concentrate on an idea we connect with it internally and “enter into it” as a stream of consciousness, and lose all awareness of ourselves as being separate from it. As we become an idea in mind and spirit through the faculty of our imagination, it moves us deeper and deeper into its essential nature and we experience it from within it, as it. As we look at it from the inside out, we experience our self in new ways that bring a flow of new insights and realizations that transform our way of being and perceiving. All powers are only developed by “becoming them” in mind and body as a unified whole or singularity. 8 is the number of the octave that forms a greater whole that’s comprised of 7 aspects, which when harmonized form a progression as “steps to a higher level of consciousness” on a higher plane of existence.

The number 7 represents the human will exercised as speech and the spoken word that works to organize light-essence into the form indicated by the meaning of the words. We all call forth our reality by how we think and speak. Sound is comprised of 7 primary notes that make up a whole scale, and directly corresponds to the 7 colors of the spectrum, which together form our sensory reality. Sound is vibration that has both a pattern and an organizing agency in it that serves to shape light into the pattern as a reality. It operates first through the power of the imagination, forming a kind of “metaphorical lens” that we look through in order to reorder the outer reality to be of the same nature and idea as the inner one. As we think, we imagine the reality of our thoughts, and the imaginary reality serves as a form of instruction and command for the subconscious to produce as a corresponding outer experience of the same type and kind. We exercise our will to create our personal existence through our thoughts, which form the basis for our outer speech and all of our activities.

The 8-pointed star overhead is yellow, like the hair of the woman, and signifies cosmic energy, and forms the geometric shape that’s similar to the 8-spoked “wheel of fortune”, symbolic of personal destiny. All of our material creations come by mentally using an actual force which has a definite physical form of expression. 4 + 4 = 8, represents the fact that the same physical form (4) exists on both the upper planes of spirit and the lower plane of material manifestation as correspondences and mirror images of each other that are mediated through the mind. Meditation transmutes and modifies this cosmic energy into a personal expression (7) through “nerve-force”. 8 represents an octave as a whole unit comprised of 7 levels of sound and color as a progression that builds upon itself in order to culminate into a higher vibration. The summation of one octave forms the base note for the next higher octave. This represents the process necessary to raise our vibration to a higher level by reprogramming our subconscious through meditation and concentration on a higher ideal.

The 7 smaller stars that orbit the central one, are white, and refer to the “7 inner stars” of our subtle body (Key 8), which also correspond to the 7 notes of the musical scale, the 7 colors of the spectrum, the 7 planets of the zodiac, and 7 metals of alchemy. Each one represents a level and quality of consciousness. By focusing our attention upon the centers themselves, we stimulate them into an active state. Attention (1) is both a stimulating and organizing force of the will. By meditating on these centers we enter fully into them and gain realization around their hidden nature as aspects of our own subconscious mind. The higher will works through the etheric-double of the subtle organs of the subconscious to instruct, direct, and express through them.

This idea doesn’t represent meditating on things that are already created and fully manifest, but rather meditating on “modes of operation” as qualities of consciousness that also recognizes natural laws as interconnected to the larger whole. 8 symbolize the 7 aspects of God (mental states) that make up a greater whole which can be used as the means for evolving the greater whole to new levels of self-realization. In all Spiritual Sciences, such as the Kabbalah, each sphere represents a “type of experience” as a mental state that’s necessary in order to “enter into” and understand the knowledge it contains. We have to cultivate the proper state of mind in order to be able to vibrate at the frequency necessary to be able to conceive its inner knowledge. All knowledge of the higher planes of the mind is attained through sympathetic resonance. We have to work using our own mind to “become like” whatever it is that we desire to merge into and attain for ourselves.

We can also access higher knowledge as a form of intuitive conception by meditating on symbols and glyphs that arouse activity in corresponding spiritual centers without any danger of energetic congestion. We can concentrate on the archetypes symbolized in the Tarot, the Zodiac, or in Sacred Geometry, which will also act to arouse the energies associated with them in our imagination where they’ll unfold to reveal their hidden secrets to us. This method of accessing hidden knowledge is called “mental angling”, synonymous with “fishing”, where whatever we bait our hook with determines what we intend to attract and ultimately attain. This is the intended use of the Tarot and other universal sciences where symbolic ideas come to life by meditating on them as an operation performed naturally through a “quality of consciousness” as a mental state.

When we remove all attention from what’s already manifest in our life and instead embody the proper state, relinquishing all need to try and control it using preconceived ideas and needs, we’re able to conceive of brand new ideas and truly begin creating our experience of reality from a whole new level of awareness. The Tarot provides the Keys to the liberation of spiritual powers by the same method as the Patanjali Yoga Aphorisms. Beyond their symbolism are practical secrets of occultism which can’t be put into words and can only be known through direct experience (Gnosis).

The snowy mountain peak in the background is the symbol of the “Great Work” of Alchemy which comes through concentration on an ideal, constant striving as a means of self-development, and by cultivating virtues in a devoted manner. The scarlet ibis, symbol of Hermes, and its long bill is a fish hook used for fishing. The tree it’s perched on represents the human brain and nervous system, and symbolizes bringing intellectual activity as thought processes to rest by concentration. We have to stop thinking in order to meditate, and in the silence of our mind, Truth unveils herself to us as a stream of consciousness.

The woman symbolizes Hathor as Mother Nature and is the same woman symbolized in Key 8 (Strength) who tames the lion, symbol of our lower, animal-like nature, by opening its mouth. Meditation is largely the utilization and direction of the powers of deduction and imagination peculiar to the subconscious. Knowledge gained in meditation is gleaned through the imperishable record of the memory of Nature known as the Akashic Records. We render our body and mind as passive and inactive in order to act as a receiver of knowledge that’s currently unknown to us. We create the proper state of mind as the means of “tuning into” the sympathetic quality in the astral field of cosmic memory. We have to let go of our personal memory, which is what generates all of our experiences as the shaping mechanism for reality in order to tap into and absorb new memory that’s universal in nature and provides us with the basis for genesis. Genesis means the “genes of Isis”, which corresponds with Binah of the Kabbalah and the High Priestess of cosmic memory drawn down as the means of seeding the subconscious to produce personal experiences of the same type and kind. Meditation (Key 1) is how we work with our own mind to develop specific powers by directing the animal forces in human personality, symbolized by Key 8.

The pool of water symbolizes universal consciousness as the reservoir of cosmic mind-stuff stirred into vibration by the soul through concentrated attention, represented by the stream flowing from the pitcher in the right hand (projection) that feeds and sustains the pool. The stream blends into the pool of the subconscious where it’s turned into sensory experience and is then drawn back up into the pitcher in the left hand (magnetic) through 5 smaller streams (physical senses) that unite into one as they ascend, representing projection and contraction as a full cycle that flows infinitely, represented by the number 8. This represents the direct modification of the cosmic mindstuff (etheric substance) apart from sensory experience, which also modifies sensation and unfolds higher types of sensory experience.

The right knee is bent at the 90 degree angle of a square, positioned over the pool, and her foot rests on the surface of the water. While her left leg supports her on the ground, her right leg balances her by water. The sensations derived from physical forms are the main support for meditation (grounding) these are balanced by experiences gained directly from the subconscious. All sensory experience is formed out of the ideas that populate the subconscious as memory. The key to all material transmutation lies in utilizing the powers of the subconscious in conceiving new ideas and translating them into sensory realities through the imagination.

The Third Stage of Spiritual Unfoldment

This idea represents the 3rd stage of spiritual unfoldment as the “calm that follows the storm”, depicted by Key 16 as the destruction of ignorance that bind the soul to a prison of its own making, represented by Key 15 of the Devil. It’s the process of rebuilding on a foundation of Truth after the slate has been wiped clean. It sends us on a spiritual quest and search for a higher existence. While stars appear as dim lights when seen from the Earth, they’re actually distant suns whose light illuminates the cosmic soul. Stars are what “guide us” on our search to know ourselves through higher Truth. The angle of the stars in their constellations at the time of our birth charts our soul’s destiny through time.

The 5 rivulets as separate streams of consciousness that form into One represent the microcosm of the human soul and universal consciousness as it flows into and through the path of least resistance. Higher consciousness only flows through us when we vibrate at the same frequency and there’s no longer any resistance. This idea is expressed in the saying, “When we have found the beginning of the way, the star of our soul will shine its light to guide us”, and the Hermetic axiom, “as above so below, and as below so above, in the wondrous workings of the One Thing”.

When the veil of illusion falls away, what will provide the seed for a new reality built of Truth? What source do we draw on when we realize that the world we built out of society and what we were taught by others proves to be false? This symbolizes the idea of no longer taking in ideas from the will of others in the manifest world, and instead aligning your mind with your higher self and acting to draw down the Will of higher consciousness, using it to seed your subconscious in order to give birth to nobility as your souls chosen expression, and transform your outer experiences of life accordingly.

Dr. Linda Gadbois

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Linda holds a doctorate in Spiritual Sciences, and a BS in Clinical Hypnotherapy, along with numerous specialty certifications. She's a professional writer, educator and Mentor, and offers a wide variety of Mentoring and Consulting Services, along with professional training programs. Her specialties include Personal Transformation, Self-Mastery, Spiritual Sciences, Transpersonal Psychology, and Integrative Mind-Body Medicine. For more info visit our Personal and Professional Services pages in the top menu bar of this site, or email us at: info@drlindagadbois.com