court cards

Tarot Talk

November, 2018

Four of Coins

(The Four of Coins card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

We haven’t spoken about the Fours of the Minor Arcana in a while. This month we will talk about the Four of Pentacles, and remind ourselves of what happens when we have begun to find success within the physical world.

The Four of Pentacles is a Minor Arcana card, so as we know, the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 4, and the suit of Pentacles. As we have already discovered, these two ingredients alone could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation. We have other useful things to consider, too, such as symbolism, astrology, and more.

The traditional image of the Four of Pentacles is of a well-dressed person wearing a crown and sitting on a throne, with a pentacle under each foot, a pentacle above the crown, and a pentacle held firmly with both arms. Behind the seated person is the skyline of what appears to be a well-organized and prosperous city; above is a blue and cloud-free sky. Most versions of the Four of Pentacles are similar: four Pentacles being guarded, although there is no indication exactly what they are being guarded from.

The suit of Pentacles (or Coins, Stones or Disks) corresponds with the element of Earth, and of the physical body, physical manifestation, and wealth. Many Tarot decks use images of pentagrams or coins or disks on their Minor Arcana Pentacles cards as well as trees, flowers and green, verdant growth, all of which will make it easy to connect with the symbolism of this suit. A nice place to begin is with the element of Earth itself.

In its natural state, Earth is cool and dry, and it binds or shapes the other elements. Earth is of the physical or physically formed or manifested world, and of nurturing, health, finances and security, and the wisdom associated with living simply and being well-grounded. Earth is the element of form and substance; it is connected to material world security (and even wealth), and to our physical bodies and physical senses, and the pleasures and pains they bring. Earth represents the nurturing and serene side of Nature, and it represents the tangible end result of our labors. Earth is about security and stillness, and knowing what to expect; it is about strength, discipline, and physical manifestation of all kinds, and about enjoying the fruits of our labors. Earthy energies are fertile, practical, and slow to change.

You can see just by examining the paragraph above just how easy it is to connect the element of Earth to our daily lives, our physical bodies, our careers and our finances, our families, and the natural world around us. These things are all the main correspondences of the element of Earth, the suit of Pentacles, and of course, our Four of Pentacles.

The number 4 is about solidification, discipline, balance, authority figures, a foundation being created, calmness, caution, being steady or difficult to shake up. There are four points to a compass, so the number 4 can represent everything around us as it is right now. If we remember that the number 3 usually represents the creation of something new, or the making real of concepts or understandings presented by the number 2, then we can see that the number 4 brings depth or solidity to that creation. On the negative side, the number 4 can represent energies that are slow and plodding, too conservative, or suspicious of or averse to change.

Within the Tarot, the Fours represent the concept of the cube, very stable and hard to tip over; here we have the pause that allows us to take a breath after activating the potential of the Ace through the partnership of the Two in order to manifest the creation of the Three. Briefly, we have the potential to experience abundance, good luck and comfort (the Ace of Pentacles), the power to deal with change in a balanced and beneficial manner (the Two of Pentacles), and the ability to practice our skills with talent, dedication and a focus on details (the Three of Pentacles). The Four of Pentacles offers a glimpse of the success that comes with a long-term application of luck, skill and dedication, and an awareness of just how much we have to lose once that success begins to manifest.

The astrological correspondence for the Four of Pentacles offers us a bit more depth of understanding; the Four of Pentacles represents our Sun when it is in the astrological sign of Capricorn.

In astrology, The Sun corresponds with our sun, the star at the center of our solar system around which the planets revolve. The sun provides our Earth with the heat and light necessary for life as we know it. The arc that the sun travels in every year, rising and setting in a slightly different place each day, is a reflection of the Earth’s orbit around the sun, which is particularly applicable with our Four of Pentacles and the astrological sign of Capricorn (an Earth sign). The sun is thought to represent the conscious ego, the self and its expression, personal power, pride and authority, leadership qualities and the principles of creativity, spontaneity, health and vitality, or simply the “life force.” In Chinese astrology, the sun represents Yang, the active, assertive masculine life principle. In Indian astrology, the sun is called Surya and represents the soul, ego, vitality kingship, highly placed persons, government and the archetype of The Father.

Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, is a Cardinal Earth sign ruled by Saturn. Capricorn people are stable, hard-working, practical, methodical, and ambitious, never losing sight of goals regardless of how many obstacles or distractions are in the way. They are a bit stoic and rigid, and they will stick to their beliefs despite convincing evidence to the contrary. More than anything else they enjoy power, respect, and authority, and they are willing to toe the line for as long as it takes to achieve those goals. The Capricorn personality is one that is firmly grounded in reality, the voice of reason in a chaotic world. A Capricorn person may seem unfriendly, but remember the image of this astrological sign has a fish’s tail. The emotions are there, just hidden within that inhibited exterior. As far as material wealth is concerned, Capricorn approaches finances with prudence, planning, and discipline, and thus, there are not many Capricorns who are lacking in physical-world resources.

If the Sun is about the Self, and Capricorn, an Earth sign ruled by Saturn, is about resources and reality, then when our Sun is in Capricorn, there can be a strong focus to deal with and master the more tangible aspects of life and living. We are talking about ambition here, but also responsibility. These energies are not about going forth into the unknown, but rather they are about working hard and making the most out of the resources at hand, solving challenges through focus and endurance. The Sun in Capricorn is about being admired for accomplishments, as well as dependability, creativity, discipline and a sense of humor.

The Fours have a place on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; they are found in the sephira of Chesed in the middle of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. This sephira is seen as the place of both expansion and stability. Chesed represents Mercy and tells us that love cannot happen without understanding. Chesed also represents the concept of authority, which brings the danger of self-righteousness and at the same time offers us the opportunity to learn humility.

In The Naked Tarot (the awesome book I reviewed this month; check it out!), the Four of Coins is described as someone who is poor-minded rather than someone who is actually deprived, a perfect description of the personality of this card. Janet Boyer’s description of the Four of Coins as actually about withholding and stockpiling to the point of being paralyzed by what we have accumulated, is spot-on. The personifications of King Midas and Ebenezer Scrooge fit well with the message of the Four of Coins, as does the health issue of constipation.

The Wild Unknown Four of Pentacles shows four Pentacles, each connected to the others by belts or straps. We can almost hear the hum of those belts as they turn, creating lots of energy but only allowing each Pentacle to turn in one direction, in only certain ways. The image shows the benefits of the energy of this card, as well as the restrictive nature of the devices which not allow things to grow or evolve in new ways. This card is about valuing the things we have right now and protecting them to the point that they are stifled. Keeping things as they are, holding tightly to those possessions we value, prevents us from using them to create new things. But the support offered by structure and a strong foundation can just as easily grow into a prison.

The image on the Thoth Tarot Four of Disks, called “Power,” looks like a fortress with four square watchtowers, surrounded by a moat that can only be crossed at one place. The Four of Disks represents assured material gain in the form of dominion, rank, and earthly power that have been obtained but are leading to no further growth. After all, a fortress offers useful protection but if our enemies surround us with strength and focus of their own, a siege becomes a long and painful process.

The Llewllyn Welsh Four of Pentacles shows the traditional image for this card, and tells of a need to focus on growth opportunities closer to home, and of acquiring new possessions and guarding them, maybe to the point of over identifying with them. The card hints at a tendency to parade our wealth in front of others and warns of the danger of ostentation.

The Legacy of the Divine Four of Coins shows a man dressed in a manner that indicates material wealth and success achieved through effort. Despite his outward appearance of power and security, the man grasps four golden coins to his chest in a very insecure way, and looks at us out of the side of his eyes as if saying “these are not the Coins you are looking for; move on!” Saving for a rainy day is a prudent thing to do, however the fear of losing our physical possessions can easily overcome our ability to enjoy them.

The message here is pretty clear: yes, managing our resources in order to make certain that our physical-world needs are seen to is smart. The ability to provide for oneself takes training, effort and perseverance, but constantly questioning ourselves as to whether or not we have enough ends up blinding us to the true pleasure of personal satisfaction and comfort, and the joy of sharing our own bounty with our loved-ones. These kinds of connections are valuable too, and they are also necessary for our sense of worth and our joy of living.

This process of holding tightly is well and good for a little bit; it allows us to gather ourselves in order to take the next leap. However, realizing that eventually the process of holding tightly will begin to prevent the very leap for which we are preparing is a necessary realization for that leap to actually happen.

** We Feature the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk. You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.

The Gilded Tarot Deck on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

Seeing the Signs

July, 2018

The Appearance of the Jack of Clubs

I have been living in this current apartment for over a year now. I am a neat freak – not because I really want to be – but I have three cats and I am allergic to their fur so I am always dusting and sweeping up so that I am not sneezing all the time. And cleaning the house is a way to get up and moving when I am writing – I don’t want to sit all day – so doing a few chores around the house takes care of that. Plus, I just like to have a neat and tidy home.

My son just moved back in with me so I had to move a bunch of things around and of course that meant another bout of cleaning. Not that I mind – a lot of stuff went out to the curb just in time for the “big” garbage pick-up that the City of Buffalo has twice a year. I had to make room for my son’s furniture and housewares that he had collected in the two years that he had lived on his own. So I spent at least two weeks rearranging and cleaning my entire apartment. I even put up new curtains and repotted and hung more plants in the windows.

My point is that given all these facts, I am thoroughly acquainted with every inch of my home.

So I was really surprised to see this sticking out of the molding the other day:

(I added the red arrow so you would see it easily)

I was like – where did that come from? And – how long had it been there? And – what made it move so that it stuck out – just enough – to get my attention? The recent movement of boxes and furniture in and out of the apartment? Or something more esoteric and spiritual? And then I wondered – was it a note? A love letter, perhaps? Or a poem someone stuck into the wall? Or maybe it was something more mundane, like a list of items for the grocery store. I decided to pull it out of the crevice between the moldings and see what it was.

I almost pushed it back into the space between the molding and the door trying to get it out but I did get it. It was a playing card! I set it on my desk and looked at it. It was the Jack of Clubs. A rather ordinary Jack of Clubs. The kind you’d see at any poker table. Its backing said “Stardust”.

I have to say that this has never happened to me before. I have moved as many times as the years of my life and I have found all kinds of things in the places I have lived – strange and mundane both – but never has a playing card appeared from the cracks in the wall. I have to say that I was glad that I was sober when I noticed it!

Even though I am not a gambler, I recognized the Stardust name on the back of the card immediately. The Stardust was a legendary casino in Las Vegas – it opened in 1958 and was renovated in 1964, 1977 and 1991 before being closed in 2006. It was imploded in 2007. But during the 1960’s and 1970’s, it rocked. It was a favorite hangout of the Rat Pack. Siegfried and Roy got their start there. The casino and the events that happened there were the subject of the movie “Casino” starring Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. Although I never gamble and my shadow never darkens the door of any casino, I am fascinated by the history of this now-defunct party palace.

I have never – and I mean never – wanted to go to Las Vegas but in the past few years I have acquired a few very good friends that now live in the Sin City and I think I am going to have to take a visit to that sparkling town. I am told that there are many things to do and to see that have nothing to do with gambling or seeing shows and I could have the time of my life without ever setting foot in a casino. So maybe this card – with the name of a casino that was blown up eleven years ago – is telling me to take a trip. Maybe not today – but soon.

Now – the Jack of Clubs. I have always like the suit of Clubs. I don’t know why. When I was a little girl, it was my “favorite” suit – in that irrational way that children have of picking favorites. I think I thought a particular Queen of Clubs of a particular deck was especially pretty – or her dress was pleasing in some way – I remember that my grandfather had a deck of cards which depicted the court cards of the Clubs in glowing green costumes – the Spades were dressed in blue and the Hearts were dressed in red – I do not remember the color of the Diamond court card’s costumes. Perhaps orange or maybe white? I really can’t remember.

Even when playing any silly card game as kid – Rummy or Go Fish – I thought of the Court Cards as people and they often had conversations in my hand. The numbered cards had personalities too but not as vivid as the Court Cards with their pictured faces. But still – a 3 of Hearts had a different voice than a 7 of Spades, for instance. I always thought that all cards should have pictures on them. I was really happy when I discovered the Tarot and all the pictured cards.

The Fortune Teller’s Workbook: A Practical Introduction to the World of divination by Sasha Fenton has a wonderful chapter on playing cards. It is my go-to reference – the first place I look – when I am using playing cards, at least. Her definitions of the cards are short and to the point. I almost always find them applicable to my uses. Although she links the suits of the cards to the suits of the Tarot and to their corresponding elements, the definitions of the cards read more like definitions of Lenormand cards. With that in mind, I have started using the various reading techniques that I have been learning in Caitlín Matthew’s The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards – “The Line of Five” spread most often but also “The Ladder Layout”. Learning how to read the Lenormand Oracle has enriched all my divinatory skills.

For the Jack of Clubs, Fenton writes, “Traditionally, a dark-haired young man. A reliable friend who will help the Questioner.” (Fenton, page 182).

This could be my son who just moved in. He is – as the saying goes – tall, dark and handsome. He is also young – only twenty-five – but of course he thinks he’s all grown up. He’s a Jack – not a King.

Clubs correspond to Wands and Jacks are equivalent to Knights. If I found the Knight of Wands floating free in my house, I would immediately think that I was going to move soon – or that someone was going to move in or out of my house. Of course – my son recently moved back into the house – so that covers that. But – this is just temporary. He has a plan. He wants to go to Colorado when he finishes college. There’s more movement here – this is a busy Jack.

The Stardust was out west and that’s where this Jack wants to go. Not to some stupid casino – but to a place where there’s a million stars in a desert sky. Somewhere far away from this rust-belt city.

Meanwhile, we’re staying here for a while. I put the card on my wall by my desk to remind me that things are going to change. That change has already come, honestly. The appearance of the card says that.

Until next month, Brightest Blessings.

References

Fenton, Sasha. The Fortune Teller’s Workbook: A Practical Introduction to the World of divination. Wellingborough: The Aquarian Press, 1988.

Matthews, Caitlín. The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards. Rochester, VT: Destiny , 2014.

Wikipedia. “Stardust Resort and Casino”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stardust_Resort_and_Casino.

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Tarot Talk

September, 2017

Ten of Cups

(The Ten of Cups Card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

Last month we finally talked about the Tens of the Minor Arcana, discussing the Ten of Swords. Let’s reexamine the Tens, this time looking at the Ten of Cups. If you haven’t already read last month’s essay, now might be a good time to check it out. As always, here is a bit of basic foundational information about the Tens of the Tarot Minor Arcana.

A Tarot deck has 78 cards. There are 22 Major Arcana cards, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. There are 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements (sometimes called “Pips” or “Pip Cards”), with numbers from Ace to 10; the Minors usually deal with day-to-day issues.

The Ten of Cups is a part of the Minor Arcana. We already know that the easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 10, and the suit of Cups, and understanding these two categories of information will give us a good initial understanding of our card this month.

First, let’s look at the traditional image of the Ten of Cups. The traditional image on this one is of a loving couple often arm-in-arm, usually with two or three happily playing children nearby. Everything around them is strong, healthy and verdant: green grass and bushes and trees, brightly-colored flowers. Usually there is a house in the distance, also surrounded by green trees and lawns and multi-colored flowers, and there is also usually a lake or pond or river, sometimes in the foreground of the image, and sometimes in the background. The sky is usually blue and clear, and there are 10 Cups in the sky, usually arranged in an arc along with a rainbow. The image is calm, serene, and trouble-free, offering an idealized version of country life and a happy family.

The number 10 represents the end of one cycle and beginning of another or a transition point from one cycle to another, closure, a plateau or rest before moving on, culmination, and attaining the level of perfect combination of the 1 and 0 energies (as the number 10 reduces to the number 1, 1 + 0 = 1). Within the Minor Arcana, the Ten cards are usually seen as offering the concept of the end result of the application of the element, the sum total of everything accomplished and learned from the Ace of the suit (which for the Ace of Cups represents the possibility to experience strong feelings or emotions or visions or dreams), or the physical vehicle of the previous nine numbers. In many ways, the Ten cards can be seen as the opposite extreme of the Aces of their suits. The effects of the number 10 are different from the number 9, which represents the completeness of the experience of the effects, rather than the completion of the process.

The suit of Cups corresponds with the element of Water. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. When amassed, it has weight, and it tends to gather or pool at the lowest place. Because of this tendency, Water creates its own roadways or channels, and it prefers to use those already-in-place channels if it can. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

Feelings and emotions are the main correspondences of the element of Water, and the suit of Cups. Emotions flow and have currents, a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing, emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice, and our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly through sadness or joy or anger, as physical manifestations of those emotions. Water also represents the Inner Voice and the subconscious, the dark and unknown depths hidden below the smooth reflective surface.

Like the other cards of the Tarot, the Ten of Cups has an astrological correspondence. The Ten of Cups represents the planet Mars when it is in the constellation of Pisces.

The image for Pisces is fish, and this sign is connected to all the correspondences of Water. Pisces is a sign of feelings of all kinds, of the suffering that brings growth, and of duality (picture a body of water; there are two worlds, one above the surface and one below the surface). The fact that the symbol for Pisces is two fish (as opposed to one) speaks to the duality of Pisces, their yin and yang sensibility.  Pisces is the twelfth sign of the zodiac, and it is also the final sign in the zodiacal cycle, and thus brings together many characteristics of the other eleven signs. Pisces people are selfless, spiritual and very focused on their inner journey and their feelings. Many people associate Pisces with dreams and secrets, which makes sense because their intuition is highly evolved. Pisces are fluid and easy-going, in keeping with the Mutable Quality assigned to this sign.

Mars is known as the “Red Planet,” and this makes sense because Mars is about energy, passion, drive and determination, all fiery personality traits. Mars is commanding, confident, and powerful, asking us to stand up and be noticed without fear. Ambition and competition are also associated with this planet; Mars encourages us to face challenges and to be our best, with honor. Mars rules our sexuality and sexual energy, and governs weapons, accidents and surgery. It’s important to note that Mars’s energy can be constructive or destructive. In the end, however, the energy of Mars can be quite useful if used properly.

Mars in Pisces may seem like a combination of opposites, and in some ways this is true. The combination of Mars and Pisces tends to have less-obvious energies because a lot of effort is used at emotional and subconscious levels, rather than in conquering outer challenges. Mars in Pisces is not about material world rewards or material world ambitions, but rather about spiritual fulfillment. This combination of planet and constellation encourages activities that feed the soul rather than the pocket, and encourages altered states of consciousness, often through the enjoyment of music or art or literature (and sometimes through alcohol and other mind-changing substances). Fulfillment is found through emotionally rich relationships, and through helping (and championing) those less fortunate.

Minor Arcana cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Ten cards correspond with the sephira of Malkuth, along with the Pages of the Court Cards and the element of Earth. Malkuth is the bottom sephira on the Tree, corresponding with our physical world, and opposite of Kether at the top of the Tree, corresponding with the purest form of Deity, mostly unknowable by physical world beings. Malkuth is located at the bottom of the Pillar of Balance and is receptive in nature; it receives emanations from all the other sephiroth on the Tree. This sephira and the Tree itself show us that the physical world is created by traveling downward through the sephiroth of the Tree, and these two sephiroth can be seen as one representation of “as above, so below; as below, so above.”

The Llewellyn Welsh Ten of Cups shows a house at the end of a rainbow, located in a green valley, next to a mountain stream. The waters of the stream tumble down and around boulders, and the stream is spanned by a bridge. Near the bridge are a happy couple and two children, playing by the side of the stream, alongside 10 Cups. On the other side of the bridge and in the distance is a house surrounded by green leafy trees. This card tells of having a full heart; I love this description! It represents mature love, real companionship, safety, security, and dreams that have come true.

The Thoth Tarot Ten of Cups is not so happy as the Llewellyn Welsh Ten of Cups. The image on this card is 10 Cups arranged in the shape of the Tree of Life, and the water flows with power from each Cup. But that water is flowing with such intensity that it does not fall into the Cup immediately below, but rather overflows onto the floor. Crowley sees this card as suggesting “the morbid hunger which springs from surfeit.” He tells Lady Harris (his illustrator) to make the card menacing and to keep in mind the cravings of a drug addict. Instead of representing the realization of the potential of the rest of the Cups cards, this card is merely about fullness. Crowley blames this depressing end-of-the-line of the Cups cards on the influence of the planet Mars, which he sees as “a gross, violent and disruptive force which inevitably attacks every supposed perfection.” The divinatory meanings of the Thoth Ten of Cups reflect this influence: lasting success inspired from above and kindness, moving to pity and quietness, and on to dissipation, debauchery, wantonness and waste.

The Ten of Cups from the Gateway to the Divine Tarot offers a cozy variation of the traditional image for this card. This Ten shows a golden dog sleeping in front of a roaring fireplace. Leaning against the dog (and also deeply asleep) is a ginger cat. Hanging in front of the flames of the fireplace are the symbols for Pisces and Mars, and on the mantle shelf above and on shelves to either side of the fire are 10 Cups. Dogs and cats are associated with domestic scenes, but what makes this image so powerful is that these two creatures who are usually at odds with each other are coexisting in trust and peace. Here is the harmony, hospitality, mutual love, mutual trust, and the happy family of the Ten of Cups.

If we look back at all the information we have discussed regarding the Ten of Cups, we can see where each of the variations I’ve described arise. If we begin with the Ace of Cups and think about the positive feelings and emotions and dreams we wish to attract to us, and then move through the Cups cards and the experiences they offer, one possible end result can certainly be the traditional interpretation of this card: the emotional fulfillment of a mature relationship. We do need to remember, however, that the happy ending presented by the Ten of Cups is not about money or mansions. The pleasures presented by this card are represented by a simple home in the woods, a loving companion in a mature and fruitful relationship, and the ability to enjoy the beauty around us as it naturally appears.

The lesson of the Ten of Cups is that we should not focus solely on achieving the goal, for once the goal is achieved, there is no feeling of satisfaction. Instead, there is the letdown of “now what?” or the surfeit of overindulgence. Instead, we should enjoy the journey and understand that the goal is not to achieve something material in the future, but rather to enjoy what we have now, things like love and peace and safety, which cannot be purchased with any coin.

** This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ .

Tarot Talk

July, 2017

The Page of Cups

(The Page of Cups Card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

Back to the Court Cards! This time, we will revisit the Tarot “Royals” by examining the Page of Cups. We haven’t talked about Court Cards in a little while, so first we will review some basic information.

A Tarot deck has 78 cards. There are 22 Major Arcana cards dealing with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. There are 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements dealing with day-to-day issues.

The Court Cards are a part of the Minor Arcana that can act as a representation of the family unit. Individually, the members of the Tarot Court represent particular personality traits, traits of people, places and events in our lives. These cards can also tell us about our own personality, and how it is perceived by others. I think of my Tarot cards as people, with each card having an individual personality. This is particularly appropriate for the Court Cards, as they are the most human of all the cards in a Tarot deck. Even the illustrations for the Court Cards usually show humans in the majority of Tarot decks.

Generally speaking, there are three different ways that Court Cards can speak to us in a spread: they can indicate personality traits of our Seeker or someone affecting the Seeker; they can refer to actual individuals in the Seeker’s life, including the Seeker; and they can refer to the general aura or atmosphere of a place or situation. Court cards offer us these descriptions of personality traits and of different ways of being or acting, so we can make use of these styles or avoid them, whichever is appropriate. Of course, the trick is to know which message is being given in a particular spread!

Instead of numbers, Court Cards have rank. The early creators and users of the Tarot lived within a culture that was layered according to rank, so it makes sense that the Tarot Court shows a progression from low to high. We don’t live in a feudal culture any more, however our culture has its own set of rules and ranks and roles. The Tarot Court can help us to understand the roles of parent, teacher, manager, laborer, scientist, priest, and many others.

The lowest ranking Court Card is the Page, usually seen as the messenger or intern or apprentice (sometimes male and sometimes female, depending on the deck) who is still learning of life and living, but who is also good at dealing with the unexpected. Being the lowest in rank does not necessarily mean being the least important; something we should remember when thinking about our Page of Cups. Next comes the Knight, the representation of strong, focused and even excessive manifestations of his suit.

Both the Queen and the King usually represent mature adults. The Queen manifests her suit in a feminine or yin or inner way, and the King manifests his suit in a masculine or yang or outer way. This manifestation does not necessarily correspond to gender; a man can be represented by a Tarot Queen if he has a strong inner focus, and a woman can be represented by a Tarot King if she projects a strong sense of authority.

The suit of Cups corresponds with the element of Water. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. When amassed, it has weight, and it tends to gather or pool at the lowest place. Because of this tendency, Water creates its own roadways or channels, and it prefers to use those already-in-place channels if it can. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

Feelings and emotions are the main correspondences of the element of Water, and the suit of Cups. Emotions flow and have currents, a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing, emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice, and our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly through sadness or joy or anger, as physical manifestations of those emotions. Water also represents the Inner Voice and the subconscious, the dark and unknown depths hidden below the smooth reflective surface.

Water is not the only element that corresponds to our Page. In the Tarot Court, the suit of the card has an elemental correspondence, and the rank of the card has an elemental correspondence. Pages correspond with Earth, Knights correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck), Queens correspond with Water, and Kings correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck). Since we are talking about a Page today, we are also talking about the element of Earth.

In its natural state, the element of Earth is cool and dry. When amassed Earth has weight; it is able to bind together or shape the other elements. For example, Water and Earth bind together to make mud, and a lake is shaped by the Earth that supports it. Earth energies are tangible, stable, and practical, and they are slow to change.

Earth is about the physical, earthly world, our physical bodies, and everything we need in order to maintain those physical bodies, including health and exercise. The element of Earth represents fertility, prosperity, and the wealth that can bring both physical shelter and mental and emotional pleasure. The element of Earth can show a possible outcome or end result of our efforts, the product of our labors; it can give information about material manifestations of all kinds.

All Pages represent the element of Earth, as well as the element corresponding to their suit; this means that our Page of Cups presents an Earthy version of Water. Earth and Water share the quality of coldness and the tendency to be binding (and that can be positive or negative, depending on the situation and the other cards in the spread). They are each fertile, they compliment each other, and they encourage inspiration.

Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our Page of Cups corresponds with the season of Fall and the signs of Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius. Libras are true team players concerned with creating balance, harmony, cooperation and partnerships, with fairness to everyone. Because Libra is Cardinal Air, this sign initiates through new ideas, and by being a balancing force among people.

Scorpio is a fixed Water sign, associated with a focus on achievement and on striving to understand the mysteries of the imagination, dreams, and passions. Scorpios are inflexible, stubborn, opinionated, loyal, intense and passionate, even if they appear quiet on the surface. Still waters run deep, and Scorpios love hard, and love forever.

Sagittarius is often seen as the wanderer, but remember, not all those who wander are lost. Sagittarius is the truth-seeker, the enthusiastic consumer of information who loves knowledge achieved by traveling the world and talking to everyone, and who desires to understand the meaning of life. This is a mutable Fire sign, and thus while exploration and adventure are a necessary part of life, procrastination is also a danger.

Our Page of Cups brings cooperation through emotions, and sees the world through rose-colored glasses at times. The Page of Cups reminds us of the pleasures of youth, and tells us that it is okay to have fun, to not take things quite so seriously.

Because they are Minor Arcana cards, Court Cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Pages correspond with the sephira of Malkuth, along with the Tens of the Minor Arcana and the element of Earth. Malkuth is the bottom sephira on the Tree, corresponding with our physical world, and opposite of Kether at the top of the Tree, corresponding with the purest form of Deity, mostly unknowable by physical world beings. Malkuth is located at the bottom of the Pillar of Balance and is receptive in nature; it receives emanations from all the other sephiroth on the Tree.

Pages are often associated with the Ace of their suit; the Ace of Cups is the root of the powers of Water (not the manifested powers, but the beginnings of them), and the potential for those powers to manifest. The Ace of Cups tells us that we could be dealing with intangible feelings and experiences such as love, friendship, attunement and spirituality. Pages are also seen as representing a more immature version of the Queen of their suit; the Queen of Cups represents someone who is in touch with their intuition, sensitive to the emotions of those around them, finds joy in their connections to others, and can be both nurturing and practical. The Page of Cups offers us this potential and asks us to embrace it.

The Thoth Tarot Princess of Cups is surrounded by the ocean’s depths; she is dancing, with an expression of pleasure on her face and a scalloped Cup containing a turtle in her hands. Her dress is also decorated with scallops (the same motif found on the Ace of Cups of this deck). Her character is sweet, gentle, kind, tender, and voluptuous. She is about dreams and romance and rapture; she is able to manifest dreams and romantic ideas into reality and ideas flourish in her waters.

The Llewellyn Welsh Page of Cups is card whose image is filled with Water; unlike The Moon and its deep and silent lake, the Page of Cups stands precariously on a rock, surrounded by the spray and foam of crashing waves. Our Page stands steadily, holding up a Cup with a fish jumping above it. This Page feels safe here, trusting that the rock will hold steady and understanding the waves and the tides (and applying that understanding), and their push and pull. This is a card of cheerfulness and innocent optimism, of romance and playfulness and imagination and beautiful creativity.

The Hermetic Tarot Princess of Cups stands within a churning sea with white-capped waves, surrounded by creatures who live in or on the water: two swans, a dolphin and a turtle, and framed by what look like fronds of seaweed. The Hermetic Tarot sees this Princess in an upright position as representing sweetness and dreaminess, kindness and imagination.

The Legacy of the Divine Page of Cups is wearing gold silks with teal shells on his shirt, and wears a downward pointing triangle at his throat (representing the element of Water). He looks at us with an open and innocent expression and steady and kind eyes, and offers us with reverence his Cup, a container for emotions and intuition. He reminds us that relationships of all kinds are important, and he asks us to pay attention to dreams and the messages of our inner voice.

The Page of Cups is a dreamer, a messenger, a friend, and a student; our Page is concerned with connections, warmth and affection and offers us messages of love and connection. Some decks present the Page of Cups as being child-like and passive, but in other decks the Page of Cups offers feminine potential and the ability to look within ourselves without being misled or distracted by the prejudices that life experiences sometimes bring. The Page of Cups is Earth of Water, and thus all about feelings and sensations, particularly pleasant feelings and sensations. This is a card of soft and tender energies and of getting fulfillment through connections to others, and through innocent and simple joys The Page of Cups tells us to be open to our feelings, to say yes to the opportunity to connect with others, and to listen for our inner voice and value its message.

*** **This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.

Tarot Talk

January, 2017

kingofswords

(King of Swords Tarot Card from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

 

For this last essay of the year 2016, let’s go back to the Court Cards of the Tarot by examining a Tarot “royal,” the King of Swords. A good start would be to review some information regarding the royal family of the Tarot.

A Tarot deck has 78 cards. There are 22 Major Arcana cards, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. There are 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements (sometimes called “Pips” or “Pip Cards”), with numbers from Ace to 10; the Minors usually deal with day-to-day issues.

The Court Cards are actually a part of the Minor Arcana, acting as a representation of the family unit. Individually, the members of the Tarot Court represent particular personality traits, traits of people, places and events in our lives. These cards can also tell us about our own personality, and how it is perceived by others. Thinking of my Tarot cards as people, with each card having an individual personality, is one method I have used with success in order to connect with my cards. This is particularly appropriate for the Court Cards, as they are the most human of all the cards in a Tarot deck. Even the illustrations for the Court Cards show humans in the majority of Tarot decks. Generally speaking, there are three different ways that Court Cards can speak to us in a spread: they can indicate personality traits of our Seeker or someone affecting the Seeker; they can refer to actual individuals in the Seeker’s life, including the Seeker; and they can refer to the or atmosphere or personality traits of a place or situation.

Court cards offer us these descriptions of personality traits, of different ways of being or acting, so we can make use of these styles or avoid them, whichever is appropriate. Of course, the trick is to know which message is being given in a particular spread! One way to become more confident in determining this is to learn about the Court Cards themselves, and how the personality of each Court Card interacts with its particular suit. Many times if you break a particular Court Card down to its rank and correspondences, you will understand its message. Let’s get started.

Instead of numbers, Court Cards have rank. The lowest ranking Court Card is the Page, the messenger or intern or apprentice who is still learning of life and living, but who is also good at dealing with the unexpected. Next comes the Knight, the representation of strong, focused and even excessive manifestations of his suit.

Both the Queen and the King represent mature adults. The Queen manifests her suit in a feminine or yin or inner way, and the King manifests his suit in a masculine or yang or outer way. This manifestation does not necessarily correspond to gender; a man can be represented by a Tarot Queen if he has a strong inner focus, and a woman can be represented by a Tarot King if she projects a strong sense of authority. Since we are talking about the King of Swords today, we already know that our King will manifest his suit in an outer yet mature manner. Our King is concerned with results; he exhibits outer, public expertise in his field, and he is an authority figure. In many ways, the Kings of the Tarot Court can be seen as four facets of The Emperor of the Major Arcana.

Let’s talk about suit first. Our King’s suit this month is Swords. The suit of Swords, which corresponds with the element of Air, the Spades of playing cards, the direction of East and the color of yellow, often has some discomfort associated with it. Maybe the tendency for discomfort has to do with the fact that Swords usually tell of some focused intent to bring forth a manifestation of some kind, or they tell of a struggle and then an outcome. Swords cards are about purposeful actions and the thoughts, intentions or beliefs behind them; these actions are different from the other Minor Arcana cards because they are deliberate, rather than as a response to random effects presented to us by the elements around us. Simply put, the effects of the Swords cards are sourced from within us; we are the main catalyst that creates the manifestation of a Swords card. In many ways the Swords cards represent our attempt to manifest our chosen reality, and they tell us that we might be causing the very challenges we are trying to prevent.

The element of Air corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic. Thus, the Swords cards indicate the workings of our mind and our mental state – the beliefs we have, and actions we take in response to effects around us. A Sword has two edges, a perfect metaphor for this suit, which can represent attacking or defending, logic or aggression.

The suit of Swords is not all bad; after all the element of Air also represents the intelligence that clears away the fog of ignorance and allows us to understand what we are dealing with. Air is the medium of our voices, and it supports communications and sounds of all kinds; Air allows both expression (out from within us) and hearing (in from outside of us) to happen. Of course, words and communications are double-edged swords, too, and they can also heal or hurt. The Swords cards also represent an opportunity to feel more empowered; think of how you feel when you solve a problem by thinking your way through it.

The suit of our King is not the only ingredient to offer an elemental correspondence. In the Tarot Court, the suit of the card has an elemental correspondence, and the rank of the card has an elemental correspondence. Pages correspond with Earth, Knights correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck), Queens correspond with Water, and Kings correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck). Since we are talking about a King today, we are also talking about the element of Air, or the element of Fire, depending on the deck. For our purposes today, we will see the King of Swords as Air of Air. In its natural state, the element of Air is hot and wet, and it tends to either separate or adapt. This means our King is the epitome of logic, idealism, and discernment. He is good at analyzing and cataloguing information, and he is expert at adapting his world to fit the structures he has created and his personal ethical and moral code.

Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our King of Swords corresponds with the cusp or joining point of the signs of Capricorn and Aquarius. Capricorn people are stable, prudent, hard-working, practical, methodical, and ambitious, never losing sight of goals regardless of how many obstacles or distractions are in the way. They can be are a bit stoic and rigid, and they will stick to their beliefs despite convincing evidence to the contrary. More than anything else they enjoy power, respect, and authority, and they are willing to toe the line for as long as it takes to achieve those goals.

Aquarius is connected with those who have humanitarian and philanthropic tendencies, and are interested in making the world a better place. Aquarians are intelligent and inventive and they work well with others, although they can be impatient, even temperamental, with those who disagree with their ideas. Aquarians are also into technology of all kinds, and they use modern communication apparatus and social networking with ease. Aquarius is a sign of connections of all kinds from friendships to love, and it focuses on the group rather than the individual, and on the higher good of that group.

A Capricorn-Aquarius combination can offer lots of excitement. They work hard and have high standards, so they often are very successful. And yet, they can have difficulty with personal relationships, more so than the other three Kings (who all tend to be focused on the outer world rather than one-to-one interactions). Our King of Swords is good at maintaining his kingdom. He is methodical and exacting, yet he enjoys spending time entertaining groups of people. This King is good at balancing opposites, after all he is both the practical and hard-working Capricorn and the inspired Aquarius who enjoys playing with technology.

Because they are Minor Arcana cards, Court Cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Kings correspond with the sephira of Chokmah, along with all of the Twos of the Minor Arcana and the element of Fire. The Kings sit at the top of the Pillar of Force in the sephira of Chokmah, representing the Sacred Masculine and the Catalyst of Life. Chokmah is seen as dynamic thrust, the Ultimate Positive, the Great Stimulator and the Great Fertilizer (one of the symbols of Chokmah is the penis), and thus is connected to the Wheel of the Year. The energies of this sephira represent dynamic male energy and Chokmah is the origin of vital force and polarity.

The King of Swords is the father/boss/judge/leader of the Swords cards. He is commanding and authoritative; he values truth and honesty, and he is the champion of moral and ethical standards. He uses logic and analysis to solve problems and is the master of abstract thought. He can be rigid, unimaginative, overly critical, or cold, however he can use knowledge and personal experiences to make wise decisions. The King of Swords is a good judge of people and situations. He uses his intellect to analyze, so he may not be compassionate but he is trustworthy, and he can be trusted to fiercely stand by his decisions.

The Shadowscapes King of Swords is seated on his throne, his mighty Sword held in his hands, point up, one boot resting on a skull. On the sword sits Owl, symbolizing the wisdom to be found on the tip of the intellect that is his weapon; beside him are two ravens, dark as shadow (and shadow can only be present when there is illumination!). This King is a perfect blend of art, science and balance, and he is a wonderful example of a pillar of strength and morality.

The Legacy of the Divine King of Swords upholds the law and order of his kingdom, the kingdom of the mind and of theories and science. His Queen understands people, but this King understands things; “knowledge is power” is his motto. He cares for his people carefully and always puts their needs before his own. However, he expects recognition for his accomplishments and for the personal sacrifices he makes in order to provide for his subjects.

In the Thoth Tarot, the Kings are known as Knights (the Knights are called Princes in this deck), and Crowley describes the King of Swords as focusing on “activity and skill, subtlety and cleverness”; Crowley also states that this King is “fierce, delicate and courageous but altogether the prey of his ideas.”

The King of Swords is the creator and the destroyer. He harnesses and directs ideas so they can benefit everyone, and he uses his communication skills to defend the truth. He would make a dangerous enemy if thwarted, but having the King of Swords on your side would allow you to sleep peacefully at night!

 

**This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.