tarot reading

MagickalArts

October, 2018

Remembering to Re-Member

I recently did a tarot reading for myself that resulted in the cards clearly relaying the message of re-membering and reassembling my present gifts to enhance the relationships I currently enjoy. Particularly the relationship I have with the various parts of my SELF.

This process is about the alchemy of strengthening existing relationships and creating new ones that offer opportunities for collaborative and creative sharing.  For most of us it is an easier task to attend to those relationships outside of ourselves. The hardest is facing and biding the space of dialogue between the various parts of our Inner Selves. This inner landscape can be frightening and aversion is the go-to when we should instead be diving in deeply.

This turning within to remember and reassemble those parts of self is the first act of collaborative self-relationship. When we claim our natural state of balance – the place where both our light and shadow natures intertwine and become as one source of strength, we begin the act of memory of our Divine potential. When we gather together those gifts of heart and mind and body and align them with our Soul’s purpose we begin the alchemy of reassembling what had been scattered and separated.

As that inner relationship is tended and nurtured we can begin to expand and extend the joy found in that process to infuse those outer relationships we hold so dear. And, the positive energy that flows from a mutual exchange of life lived in totality brings with it the shared experience and sweetness of grace for all that was freely given and all that was gratefully received.

This time of the year, in particular, offers the space of alignment and memorializing both the ancestors who have passed beyond the veils and the current relationships we have with our beloveds that should be cherished while still part of our corporeal experience. We are familiar with the admonition that in the event of a plane crash, the parent, should place the oxygen mask on them self first and then on the child. The reason being that they can be of no help to the child if passed out on the floor. Use this strategy for your process of gathering all of who and what you are together. Re-member to attend to the synthesis and unification of your self-awareness so that you may better commune with those who surround you.

This month I will use the gifts of the harvest, the chill in the air as the seasons change and the parting of the veils, allowing access to my ancestors to spend time reflecting on those parts of myself that have lain dormant and unloved. I will embrace them as my own and use them to build a stronger foundation upon which I may more generously give to those who live and commune with me. I will infuse all of my being with the memory of deep connection to all of life and the blessed quiet of unnecessary chatter that keeps me from being whole in all of my selves. What will you re-member?

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About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Tarot Talk

March, 2018

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

 

We just passed Valentine’s Day, so this might be a good time to examine the Major Arcana card known as The Lovers. Before we begin, let’s quickly define and describe some terms.

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, 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. An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated. The term archetype often refers to one of two concepts: a “stereotype,” a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; stereotypes can be positive or negative, or an “epitome,” which is the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; epitomes can also be positive or negative.

Archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner. Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has (or will) personally experienced these archetypes.

Each Major Arcana card corresponds to an archetype, an image, a number, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth. Let’s get to work breaking this one down.

Many Major Arcana cards represent archetypes of people in our lives. The Empress is The Mother and The Emperor is The Father; we easily understand these archetypes because most of us have these people in our lives. Other Tarot Majors represent ideas or feelings or concepts or stories, rather than people. Temperance represents balance, The Wheel represents fate and Justice represents fairness, all three offering archetypes of ideas rather than people. Our card this month, The Lovers, has several archetypes: the Two Paths, the Union of Mature Opposites, and of course, Romantic Love. With The Lovers we learn how to discern and understand the interactions of duality, of the connections and interactions between pairs with strong connections, and with pairs of opposites (after all, we can’t understand light until we understand the darkness).

In keeping with the idea of duality, there are two traditional images of The Lovers. One shows a man and woman standing before an official or religious leader, with Cupid flying above the pair and shooting an arrow toward them. There is often a brightly colored sun behind the Cupid. A few versions of this image are a bit more sinister, showing a couple holding hands and another woman alongside them, sometimes seen as “the other woman.” Other times, one woman is seen as representing virtue and the other, sensuality. The other traditional image shows an angel with wings spread wide; standing before the angel are a naked man and woman. Behind them all are a blue sky, a blazing sun, and in the distance is a mountain. Often there is a tree behind the man and woman; the tree behind the man is usually heavy with fruit and the tree behind the woman contains a large serpent, reminding us of the Garden of Eden. Many Lovers cards offer other versions of embracing lovers, usually surrounded by flowers and green growing things.

The Lovers is the number six card of the Major Arcana. The number 6 represents victory over the obstacles of 4 (stability that could turn into stagnation) and 5 (movement that upsets stability), and is considered a perfect number because 6 equals the sum of its dividers (the numbers 1, 2 and 3 add up to 6). Perfect numbers are rare; the ancient Greeks only recognized four: 8,128, 496, 28 and 6. This number is also the smallest number above 0 that isn’t a prime or a square number. Snowflakes have 6 points, as does the Star of David, and honeycombs have 6 sides. Because 12 is seen as a number of cosmic order (there are 12 months in a year, and time is measured in units of 12 hours) and is used in other measurements (we use the dozen and the gross as units of measurement), 6 can be seen as representing the concept of “half.” It is also the highest number of the dice and is seen as lucky. The “sixth sense” represents ESP as well as hunches. And finally and quite appropriately for our purpose today, the number 6 is the symbol of Venus, the Goddess of love and beauty.

The Lovers corresponds with the element of Air, and thus the Minor Arcana suit of Swords, the playing cards suit of Spades, the direction of East, and the colors Yellow or Gold. Air is connected to the intellect, and to action, challenges, and a struggle that brings an outcome. This element represents the focused intent to bring forth manifestation, and many times it indicates a struggle as we bring an idea into reality. The element of Air can encourage a focus on truth and clarity, mental focus and spiritual guidance, and encourage a striving to achieve balance between the mind and the heart.

In astrology, The Lovers corresponds with the astrological sign of Gemini, the Twins. Gemini is about communication of all kinds, and about collecting information and stimulating the mind. Geminis are a mix of yin and yang, and they can easily see both sides of an issue. Gemini is all about the intellect, the mind, and the thinking process. They think clearly and make use of logic, and at the same time make use of their fertile imagination. Gemini is a mutable sign, and thus they can sometimes change their mind on a whim or not follow through to the end of a project, but this mutability makes them adaptable and flexible, too.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. They express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. The Lovers corresponds with the Hebrew letter Zain (or Zayin), the seventh letter in the Hebrew alphabet and a member of the archetypal group; this letter represents the spear, sword or weapon, and it is also connected to food and to sustenance.

On the Tree of Life, The Lovers represents Path 17, running between Tiphareth (the hub of the creation process where energies harmonize and focus to illuminate and clarify) and Binah (female receptive energy and the origin of form and structure), connecting the Pillar of Balance to the Pillar of Form and the Sacred Feminine of Binah. A keyword for Tiphareth is “Beauty” and a keyword for Binah is “Understanding” so we could say that the 17th Path shows us the Beauty of Understanding as well as an Understanding of Beauty. The 17th Path is one of the paths that crosses Da’at, The Abyss, which tells us that The Lovers is not as simple as it appears on its surface.

Within the Major Arcana, The Lovers can be seen as connected to The Hierophant (which is about the group), and The Devil (which is about bondage, dependencies and addictions). Often, the traditional images of The Hierophant, The Lovers and The Devil have similarities; in many decks each often show s two people standing before some figure of authority or power. The Lovers is also connected to the Minor Arcana Two of Cups, another card that tells of duality, connections and love, and the Queen of Cups, the personification of love and compassion.

The Lovers of the Thoth Tarot has it all: a majestic priest (The Hermit of the Major Arcana), a blindfolded Cupid with bow drawn, a royal bride (who holds a cup) and bridegroom (who holds a lance). Before them are two children; on either side of the children are a white eagle (representing The Empress) and a red lion (representing The Emperor). At the very front of the card is the Orphic egg (the source of all manifestation), and around the egg is coiled the serpent Ophion (the fertilizer and protector of the egg). Above it all is an arch made of Swords. Crowley saw The Lovers as representing the alchemical process of Solution (the process that mixes a solid, gas or another liquid with a liquid, so that one substance seems to disappear into the other).

The Tarot of Bones (the awesome deck by Lupa that I reviewed last month month) Lovers card shows an image of a pair of Galapagos albatross skulls. These birds (who can live up to 50 years and who mate for life) are apart from their mates for most of the year, but in the spring when they reunite to make babies, they perform an elaborate mating dance as they greet and become reacquainted with their partners. The Tarot of Bones Companion Book sums up The Lovers nicely as “The pinnacle of romance and compatibility, bound together through mutual attraction and care.”

The Haindl Tarot Lovers card is chock full of symbolism: a red rose (love) superimposed with the Star of David (as above, so below and the four elements), with each point of the star adorned with a leaf (element of Earth, fertility, Nature); a spear (Wands, element of Fire) pointed down (ownership), and a unicorn (purity, innocence and enchantment). There is a tree on either side of the couple, reminding us of the Garden of Eden and the Trees of Life and Knowledge found there. An important symbol is the fact that the two Lovers hold each other’s hands behind a golden Cup, telling us that while we have many important personal choices in our lives, choices that can affect our physical environment as well as our emotional and mental selves, love is in front of it all.

The Shadowscapes Tarot Lovers card shows a couple who are kissing; they look into each other’s eyes and do not see the sun blazing overhead, the gold and gem-encrusted crown being offered to them. They only experience the oneness of passion and love that brings true union. This card tells of love and a union that can be based on romance, but also can be about the melding of both the heart and the mind, about communion and sharing, and it can even represent the transformative power of love.. The Shadowscapes Lovers card reminds us that this is about choice (and choosing can sometimes be a struggle) and about determining our own values.

The Lovers of the Gateway to the Divine Tarot are not quite touching. The image shows them at that moment just before a kiss that will be life-changing. Between them, Cupid’s arrow flies into the apple of desire that is growing on the Tree of Knowledge, and before them is the uncoiling serpent of awakening desire. Around them are four pillars decorated with lovers’ knots. This card represents relationships, intimacy, communication, unity, and choice, and the motivational power of love. The Lovers also can represent a choice between vice and virtue.

The Lovers presents the two halves that when united with balance are greater than the sum of their parts. This card is about love, but it is also about thinking! Remember, The Lovers corresponds with the element of Air and with the intellect and the workings of the mind. This card is about our personal values, and how they affect our choices and the promises we make to others.

The Lovers is about a one-to-one connection that we choose to allow, or not allow. We’ve all experienced both the pleasures and the pains associated with loving someone else. Trusting in the power of love, even though our minds may be giving other advice, is a very brave personal choice.

And for anyone who believes in the existence of Deity, any love that we humans may feel or experience is an echo or a reflection of the purest and most powerful love offered to us by Deity. The Lovers can be seen to bring us a true understanding of the beauty of love, an emotion which can cure us or kill us, and to show us the Divine nature of the choice to open ourselves to love.

** 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/ .

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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 Journey 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.

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Seeing the Signs

March, 2018

Book Review – The Tarot Companion: A Portable Guide for Reading the Cards for Yourself and Others by Liz Dean

OK – I am not a big fan of e. I don’t have a tablet so I have to read them on my laptop and right there that causes certain problems. I have to sit at my desk – I have sit in my upright chair – I can’t be comfortable in my easy chair – I can’t read in bed – I most certainly can’t read in the tub – which I wouldn’t be able to do with a tablet, either. What can I say? I’m an old woman! A crone. I like books. Real books!

But sometimes books come your way and the only way you can access them is electronically and this is how it was with The Tarot Companion: A Portable Guide for Reading the Cards for Yourself and Others by Liz Dean, published by Fair Winds Press in 2018. So it’s hot off the presses, as the saying goes! I suppose it’s portable if you’re reading it on a tablet or a phone and you are actually carrying the text with you. And technically, I can take my laptop with me – it’s just seven years old now and really heavy so I generally don’t do that anymore. I thought of printing out this book – it’s 176 pages and I decided not to. I have to pay for my printing and that would have put me way over my monthly budget. But believe me – I am definitely going to look for this book in print. It’s a fabulous book. Meanwhile, I have it safely in a file on my laptop – it’s one of my favorite Tarot references!

The cards Ms. Dean features are the Universal Waite cards, which are a brighter, shinier conception of the classic Rider-Waite cards. They also tend to focus more on the main person in the card and not so much on the background imagery. They are a great set of cards for beginners and for anyone who wants to get back to basics with their divinatory skills. I love my Rider-Waite cards but I really like the Universal Waite deck and I’m thinking of picking up a set if I happen to see them on my travels – you know, if they come to me. Like Tarot cards do.

Like many books about reading the Tarot, she starts off with attuning your new deck and how to properly keep them and store them. Chapter one is all about the proper way of shuffling the cards and I was quite interested to see that she differentiated between shuffling the cards for yourself and for another person. She does the same with cutting the deck. She also says to always flip the cards sideways “left to right” (page 9). I admit that it took me years before I came upon this all on my own – I used to flip the cards this way, that way, upside down, whatever which way – it’s amazing I got any good readings at all!

One thing she acknowledges is that sometime you lay down the cards and you don’t get a clear reading at all. She says in that case, to shuffle and cut the cards and then read the cards again. I always felt like I was “cheating” if I did that but now I feel totally vindicated! But even then – sometimes the cards just aren’t telling you anything. One thing she says to look for – “Did the Ten of Wands come up?” She writes, “If so, this often means that there’s too much going on and it’s not the right time to read your cards. Wait a day or two and try again.” (page 9). This was the first time I had ever heard this. The Ten of Wands – with its picture of oppression – doesn’t strike me as a card of busyness – that would be more the Eight of Wands – too much information! Wands going everywhere like too many emails and too many texts! But I’ll keep what she says in mind.

Thinking it over – maybe the Ten of Wands – the man pushing all those Wands – is a card of too much going on – trying to keep all those wands in order and in one place and going forward! And it’s back-breaking! And perhaps heart-breaking too? So, yes – what Ms. Dean says makes total sense. Isn’t a new point of view so refreshing?

Unlike most books about the Tarot, Ms. Dean’s Card Layouts are in the beginning of the book as opposed to the rear of the book. She features a 3-card Layout – basically, Past, Present and Future – but she tells us how to tweak this layout to read for different life aspects, so that this one 3-Card Layout can be used in dozens of ways. Naturally, she presents the Celtic Cross layout – I do not believe that a book about the Tarot would be complete without the Celtic Cross. She also has a “The Week Ahead” layout to predict what the immediate seven days will bring you or your querent. She tends to focus on the immediate future, which makes sense. I have never understood looking beyond a few weeks. Anything could change and isn’t that the whole point? To see what’s ahead so you can make changes?

Chapter Two she introduces the Major Arcana. She presents each card, starting with The Fool and ending with The World, with the picture of the card on one side of the page and the text on the other. On my laptop, I have the picture and the text on the screen at the same time. She gives an “upright meaning” of two or three paragraphs, and then a more in depth look at how each particular card can affect the querent in the areas of career and money, relationships, and at home. Then she considers the “reversed meaning” of the card. Unlike many Tarot books, she doesn’t say that the reversed card is a “blockage” or it’s a “muted” meaning of the upright card. Nor does she have an upside-down view of the card, either. For instance, her analysis of the reversed Fool is this: “Is what you’re proposing – or a situation – a leap too far? The Fool reversed brings out his irresponsible side, as his mouth works ahead of his brain…” (page 17). I like that she tells it like it is. No sugar-coating.

The last thing she has for each card is a “Wisdom Message”. Each one is different for each card. Naturally, for the Fool it’s “Leap, but look first.” (page 17). For Strength, it’s “With strength, you can discover your higher purpose.” (page 33). The Moon card’s Wisdom Message is “Be guided by the messages from your unconscious.” (page 53).

It’s the same with the Minor Arcana, which she covers in Chapter Three. The descriptions of the cards are succinct, to the point, and spot-on. Unlike the Major Arcana, she does not have an in depth look at how the card affects career, money, relationships and home life – perhaps because each suit has a particular strength in each of these areas. But she does mention how, for instance, Aces affect a reading – she writes, “… one Ace brings a focus on the life area according to the suit, which can set the theme of the reading.” (page 63). She goes on to say what two Aces in a reading mean (an important partnership); three Aces (good news); four Aces (excitement, potential). (page 63). She does the same thing with the court cards. Two pages mean friendship but rivalry if they’re reversed; three pages mean lots of social activities; four pages mean a social group of young people. (page 111).

At the end of the book, there is an index to make looking up any card or concept a breeze. I cannot recommend this book highly enough; as I said earlier, as soon as I can find it in book form, I plan to purchase it. I want it on my actual hands and not just on my laptop. But until then, I will be referencing it as an eBook! This book is my new favorite Tarot book. Check out The Tarot Companion: A Portable Guide to Reading the Cards for Yourself and Others  Liz Dean today!

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References

Dean, Liz. The Tarot Companion: A Portable Guide to Reading the Cards for Yourself and Others. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press, 2018.

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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

December, 2017

The Hanged (or Hanging) Man

We in the Northern Hemisphere are currently in a fallow time, pausing between the Third Harvest of Samhain and the return of the sun at Yule. Since we are in an energetic pause, this might be a good time to look at the Major Arcana card known as The Hanged (or Hanging) Man. First, we should quickly define and describe some terms.

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, 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. An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated. The term archetype often refers to one of two concepts: a “stereotype,” a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; stereotypes can be positive or negative, or an “epitome,” which is the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; epitomes can also be positive or negative.

So archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner. Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has (or will) personally experienced these archetypes.

Each Major Arcana card corresponds to an archetype, an image, a number, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth. Let’s get to work breaking this one down.

Many Major Arcana cards represent archetypes of people in our lives. The Empress is The Mother, The Emperor is The Father, The Hierophant is The Teacher; we easily understand these archetypes because most of us have them in our lives. Other Tarot Majors represent ideas or feelings or concepts or stories, rather than people. Temperance is one of these cards; it is the archetype of balance, the kind of balance which demonstrates that moderation can be the path to wholeness. Our card this month, The Hanged Man, is seen by many as being similar to Temperance. However, there are differences: The Hanged Man, like the Temperance card, tells of stillness or a pause, but this pause happens due to a sacrifice or a surrender, rather than balance.

The traditional image on The Hanged Man shows a man hanging upside down from one leg (often with the other leg crossed, similar to how The Emperor is often pictured when shown sitting on a throne) which is usually bound to a tree branch or to what appears to be a cross that is sprouting green growth. His arms are often bound behind his back, or they are free and spread to either side. Some card images show The Hanged Man holding a bag of coins; sometimes those coins are spilling away. He is usually wearing a blue shirt and often has a halo around his head. Occasionally he is blindfolded. The image on this card is chock-full of symbolism. The figure is hanging from a branch sprouting new growth, representing activity and new potential, or from two trees, representing a portal or doorway. Being suspended by one foot can symbolize choosing to not move forward, or being prevented from moving forward. Hands tied can symbolize the choice to not think or act. The bent leg shows flexibility, and the ability to bend to the will of a higher consciousness. The halo represents enlightenment or a higher purpose. And of course there is the obvious similarity to the image of Jesus hanging from a cross or when coins or bags of money are present, the image might represent Judas; and the image of Odin hanging from Yggdrasil. The Hanged Man in the Tarot of the New Vision creates a different image: we still see a figure hanging from a cross by one leg with hands bound, but we are viewing from behind the cross so we can see the crowd watching The Hanged Man, a crowd that appears angry and shouting and pointing fingers. Here is the pittura infamante, the common punishment for traitors once used in Italy.

The Hanged Man is numbered 12. The number 12 is very spiritual in nature, and is found within many religions; for example there are the 12 Tribes of Israel found in the Old Testament and the 12 Olympians in the Greek pantheon. We have 12 days of Christmas, 12 jurors on a jury panel, 12 men have walked on the moon, and humans usually have 12 pairs of ribs. The lotus that represents the Anahata (heart) chakra has 12 petals. Some see 12 as a perfect number because of the formula 4 x 3, with 4 representing the four elements and the four cardinal directions and three being a sacred number that represents Deity. The number 12 is divisible by 2, 3, 4 and 6, making it highly composite. The number itself represents imagination, inspiration, exploration individuality and creative self-expression. The number 12 is central to many systems of counting, including the Western calendar and units of time; it can be seen as a number of cosmic order.

The Hanged Man 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 also adapts to the shape of the vessel that is holding it. 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. 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.

In astrology, The Hanged Man corresponds with the planet Neptune. Neptune, the eighth planet from our sun is not one of the “classic planets” because it is not visible to the naked eye; it is the only planet so far discovered by mathematical prediction rather than by empirical observation. Neptune’s atmosphere has active and visible weather patterns with extremely dynamic storm systems, similar to Saturn, and a faint and fragmented ring system. In Roman mythology, Neptune is the god of the sea, and the deep blue color of the planet Neptune reflects this. Its glyph is taken directly from Neptune’s trident, symbolizing the curve of spirit being pierced by the cross of matter. Kind of similar to our Hanged Man! This planet is associated with dreams, empathy, artistry, enchantment, inspiration, visions, magick, and psychic receptivity, as well as with illusion, vagueness and uncertainty.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. They express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. The Hanged Man corresponds with the Hebrew letter Mem, the thirteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet and a member of the manifestation group; this letter represents water, stability and balance, and the reflective quality of thought. Mem represents the waters of wisdom and knowledge and the ability to dive deep into spirit. It is said that every human thirsts for knowledge of the waters of life. Mem also represents humility; after all, water always runs downhill to the lowest place.

On the Tree of Life, Temperance represents Path 23, running between Geburah (the place where forms and structures are challenged or affirmed) and Hod (provides analysis and communication), representing Stable Intelligence. Both of these sephiroth are located on the Pillar of Form, the collection of spheres that represent feminine energies that are passive and subject to being shaped by the forces around them. When moving up the Tree, the 23rd Path is the first of the more abstract paths, and thus its energies manifest in different ways for different people. This path tells of revelations that cause the blossoming of personal power, and the testing of that power order to test our character and ethical codes. This Path also tends to teach us how to submit to a greater power in order to evolve, and to be less focused on the material in order to be uplifted.

The Thoth Hanged Man is pretty traditional. It shows a figure hanging upside down, arms out to either side (reminding us of the crucifixion of Christ), but the Thoth Hanged Man and his body placement remind us of another card: The Emperor. The traditional image on The Emperor shows a kingly man seated on a throne, with one leg crossed over the other, and The Hanged Man is reminding us that often, the structure and order of The Emperor is counterproductive. The Thoth Hanged Man represents sacrifice or loss (either willing or enforced), suffering, defeat, and even death. It also can represent the kind of surrender that happens when we wait for events to unfold with a sense of fatalism. Crowley warns us that the suspension brought by this card can either hint that we are waiting for someone else to take charge, or that we are sacrificing for the benefit of others. Either of those interpretations can either be appropriate or harmful, depending on the situation.

The image on the Wild Unknown card called The Hanging Man is interesting: a bat hanging upside down, wrapped cozily in his wings, with red, glowing eyes. This bat appears at first glance to be totally surrendering to his upside-down pose, but actually he is quite alert, looking around and perceiving all. Perceiving all from a unique perspective, and maybe seeing things that we aren’t seeing from our right-side-up view of the world. The bat is not forced to assume this hanging position; he actually chooses to see the world this way, and is able to benefit from his choice. And when he is ready to move on, all he has to do is let go, and he is immediately, effortlessly, able to soar.

The Legacy of the Divine deck offers a truly interesting Hanging Man. Here is the same figure from The Fool and The Universe (and several other Major Arcana cards), this time he is hanging from a purple ribbon in a graceful arabesque. One knee is bent and raised and the other foot reaches downward; one arm is lifted as he deliberately drops several golden coins; the other arm reaches downward, ready to drop the mask he has removed from his face. An hourglass, also found in several Majors of this deck, is balanced evenly and laying on its side (thus suspending the passage of time) and is reflected in a mirror framed in gold. In the background is a lake with a still surface surrounded by silver pillars (which are reflected in the surface of the lake), and a full moon and starry sky. The Hanging Man in this deck represents a rest for The Fool in his journey through the Majors, and a moment for him to sit back and see things in a new way. The Fool is not so much hanged in this image as he is balanced.

The Hanged Man is a fascinating card. Did the figure present himself to be hanged on the tree, or did circumstances or the will of others string him up unwillingly? The concepts of sacrifice and surrender can be seen as either voluntary or enforced, and still be valid. The Hanged Man can represent someone who is passive rather than proactive, or introverted rather than extroverted. It can tell of someone who would love to move ahead in life but is being held back by events out of his control. It can tell of a seeker who understands that he must suffer in order to evolve. In the end, each of us will have our own unique connection to The Hanged Man, and in order to perceive that connection we just might need to turn things upside down; we just might need to see things in a different and unexpected way.

It is interesting to note the placement of The Hanged Man in the Major Arcana: right before Death, and right after either Strength or Justice, depending on the deck. Here is a midlife crisis or a crisis of identity or a place in the world. Here is the search for balance between opposing forces when we suddenly realize that the answer is beyond our ability to control or activate. Instead of actively solving the problem, we are strung up and humbled, unable to escape.

Also interesting is that the tree or cross from which the figure is hanging is usually alive and growing, rather than dead wood. The figure hanging from this tree, no matter how uncomfortably he is bound, usually has a serene look on his face and does not appear to be struggling or trying to get free. This is not a card of punishment, or even of martyrdom; it hints at new growth and new birth, at discomforts and tests that bring inner strength and evolution. Here is the vigil of the squire on the eve of his investiture as a knight. Here is a powerful spiritual initiation that occurs after we have been aimed downward and inward, the symbolic place of our deepest and darkest secrets, and survived.

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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 Journey 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.

 

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Tarot Talk

November, 2017

 

Ten of Pentacles/Disks/Coins

 

Let’s continue with our exploration of the Tens of the Tarot Minor Arcana, this time talking about the Ten of Pentacles. If you haven’t already read the articles on the Ten of Cups and the Ten of Swords, now might be a good time to check them 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 Pentacles 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 Pentacles/Disks/Coins, 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 Pentacles. The image on this card usually shows a view of a prosperous city or a manor house, often viewed through the window of another building. There is a tower in the distance, a stairway in the foreground, or a view of distant mountains and clear, blue sky behind the scene. In the center of the image is a prosperous couple often deep in conversation, dressed in bright colors and often surrounded by baskets of food, with a child or children playing nearby or a baby in the arms of the woman. Usually the woman is facing the viewer and the man has his back to the viewer. Often in the foreground is an older man dressed in ceremonial garb; at his feet are two white dogs. The meanings of these images are obvious: here is the “American dream” of a home in a safe and solid community, existing because of long-term efforts accomplished via tried-and-true methods, and cooperation, loyalty and fidelity, and maintained because of vigilance and nurturing, and an eye to the future.

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 Pentacles represents the possibility of attracting prosperity, creating wealth and security, and reaping rewards at the end of hard work yet to come), 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 Pentacles/Disks/Coins corresponds with the playing card suit of Diamonds, the cardinal direction of north, and the element of Earth. In its natural state, the element of Earth is cool and dry. Like Water, when amassed it has weight; it is able to bind together or shape the other elements. 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.

The cards of this suit are about the physical, earthly world, our physical bodies, and everything we need in order to maintain our earthly world and those physical bodies, including health and exercise. Pentacles cards talk about fertility, prosperity, and the wealth that can bring both physical shelter and mental and emotional pleasure. Pentacles cards can show a possible outcome or end result of our efforts, the product of our labors; they can give information about material manifestations of all kinds. These cards can represent discipline and diligence, and an interest in quality rather than quantity, but they can also indicate the influence of greed and avarice, and the lack of an ability to access or be aware of resources.

Like the other cards of the Tarot, the Ten of Pentacles has an astrological correspondence. The Ten of Pentacles represents the planet Mercury when it is in the astrological sign Virgo.

Mercury is known as the messenger of the gods and this messenger is most known for his ability to move fast. The planet Mercury echoes this, circling our Sun quickly, taking only 88 days to orbit the Sun, spending only a little over a week in each sign of the zodiac. Mercury is so close to the Sun that it has no atmosphere of its own, and it can only be seen in our skies with the naked eye right after the Sun has set. Astrologically, Mercury represents the principles of communication, mentality, thinking patterns, a focus on details, rationality, reasoning, adaptability and variability. Mercury is connected to schooling and education, research, moving over short distances, as well as email, telephone and snail mail. Mercury connects learning with communication by also being connected to newspapers, journalism and writing.

The sign of Virgo, the Virgin, is the sixth sun sign in the zodiac. Those born under this sign have a strong sense of service, and feel most satisfied when helping others. They sometimes come off as cold or unemotional, but they are actually cautious, always sizing things up before acting. Virgos are meticulous, practical, intelligent, reliable, analytical and intelligent; of course, they are also over-critical, too conservative, and harsh. Virgos exist within the mind, appearing calm and collected on the outside, but lots going on inside. They are pure and honest, never malicious, and always trying to figure out how to improve things.

Mercury in Virgo can be a high-strung combination, but because of a focus on details, organizing, planning, and taking care of business, these energies are often appreciated greatly by others. Mercury in Virgo is a logical combination of energies, filled with common sense, self-confidence (probably because of the need to check and double-check before speaking or acting), and a concern with accuracy and precision (also due to that tendency to look before leaping). Of course, all of this focus on details could create an inability to see the big picture, or could erode the long-term focus necessary to see a project to its conclusion, but the task at hand will be accomplished in the best way possible.

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 Dreams of Gaia Ten of Earth shows what happens when all aspects of life – career, home and family – are in harmony. This card offers us a vision of something we can strive for in life, and tells us that now is the time to enjoy one of the fruits of our labor and one of the rewards for dedicating ourselves to a life based on service: the love, respect and trust of our family, loved ones, and our community. Reversed, the Ten of Earth tells us that if despite our success we still feel dissatisfaction or unease, we need to determine the reason, whether it be external or internal.

The Llewellyn Welsh Ten of Pentacles shows a prosperous market square with well-dressed people interacting or going about their tasks, creating a sense of commerce, high ideals, and prosperity. Indeed, “prosperity” is one of the keywords for this card, along with freedom from financial concerns, a strong, established family setting, and protection and stability within a clan that allows us to enjoy the fruits of our labors. This card tells of achieving worldly dreams and benefiting from the work of one’s predecessors. Reversed, it warns of loss, theft, fickle luck, family conflict, and smeared reputations.

As is often the case, the Thoth Tarot Ten of Disks is not so happy as the Llewellyn Welsh Ten of Pentacles. The image on this card shows 10 Disks arranged in the shape of the Tree of Life; the colors are kind of dreary, and there is no motion at all in the image. Crowley saw the Ten of Disks as representing the end of the cycle of the Disks (and of the entire Minor Arcana), the card most filled with the heavy and stationary energies of the element of Earth and of the concept of completion. To Crowley, the other 10 cards of the Minor Arcana have somewhere else to go: The Ten of Cups (which is the last card in the cycle of Water) moves to the Ace of Disks (the first card in the cycle of Earth), but the Ten of Disks has nowhere else to go. This card is tasked with a job that no other Minor Arcana card can do: form a link with and reincarnate to the top of the Minor Arcana cycle.

The Ten of Coins from the Gateway to the Divine Tarot offers a different image; it shows a treasure box filled with Coins and gems and chains made from precious metals. On the lid of the box rests a pair of tulips, and the golden key that unlocked and opened the box. This Ten symbolizes the fullness and completeness of a manifestation process that happens via long-term and non-liquid investments. The image implies wealth and security, the value of family heirlooms, and the importance of community, friends, family, family legacy, and the focus necessary to see a process to its successful conclusion. The treasure chest is shown unlocked and open, telling us these resources are accessible and available. Reversed, this Ten of Coins tells of a conflict of loyalties, insecurity, loss, slothfulness and dullness.

The Ten of Pentacles represents the attainment of physical world wealth and bounty, usually achieved through the implementation of long-term plans, and the attempt to maintain and strengthen the status quo and tried-and-true policies. This attainment is not one that falls into our lap unannounced, but instead arrives after discipline, the honing of skills, and the ability to recognize a beneficial situation and take advantage of it. The Ten of Pentacles is not about expecting to benefit from random chance, but rather it reminds us that it is by playing by the rules, rooting ourselves in convention, and setting and living by disciplined standards that we can grow and reap our rewards within our physical world.

The negative side of this card (yes, there is a negative side) is that if we pause too long to look at all the pretties, lethargy will take over. All those valuable coins shown in the images of the Ten of Pentacles will turn into a burden that grows heavier and heavier each day, rather than a foundation ready to be transformed into something new and valuable.

Perhaps the most important keyword we need to keep in mind when working with the Ten of Pentacles is “obligation.” We are benefiting from the fruits of our labors and the labors of those who came before us, but we have an obligation to keep the system working. We need to maintain the quality of our physical world surroundings, and do our part to pass value, security and prosperity on to the next generation.

 

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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 Journey 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.

For Amazon information, click image below.

Seeing the Signs

October, 2016

The Celtic Cross

Samhain is traditionally a time of divination. Some methods – such an apple and tossing the peel over your shoulder and seeing the design of the peel – have gone down in history as “folk love magic”, since the apple peel, left overnight on the hearth, will set into the letter of your true-love. We did this as children.

In my own Samhain rituals, I always use tarot cards – tarot cards have always been my first and favorite form of divination. I first picked up a deck in 1988 – a Rider-Waite deck – and I have never stopped loving the feel and the ease of reading the cards. At this point in time, I own seven Tarot decks. Most of the time, I use the Rider-Waite – it’s just my go-to deck – easy to read in every aspect.

I have a Tarot notebook filled with notes of the twenty-eight years of study. Once a section of my Book of Shadows, it is now a giant-sized notebook of its own with numerous divisions. I have read almost every book I have found in libraries or borrowed from friends or have been able to buy. In the 1990’s, when I became connected to the Internet, I found another rich source of Tarot information and my Tarot notebook grew by leaps and bounds. Now my favorite source of information is Pinterest – for images of cards, for new spreads – for all kinds of enlightenment. I’m at a point with my Tarot notebook where I’m thinking of dividing it up into two notebooks – one for notes and one for spreads alone. I have 102 Tarot spreads as of this writing – organized by subject matter, shape of the spread and number of cards used. There is a section for The Celtic Cross, which was the first spread I learned to read and remains my favorite spread to use.

I have eighteen versions of the Celtic Cross, including the one I developed myself. The first one in the section is from Tarot: A New Handbook for the Apprentice, by Eileen Connolly, which was published by Newcastle Publishing in 1979. I used to own this book but gave it away because I felt it had too much a Christian bias and I am a Dianic Witch. But looking at the spread today, it is a simple and easy-to-use spread that is perfect for the beginner, and I do remember that the entire book was the same way so if you ever come across this book, I do recommend it for that reason. Don’t let the Christian-speak turn you off. For years, this was the only Tarot book I had in my possession – since you have to return library books – so I am glad that the woman who gave me my first deck of cards also gave me this helpful book. Teachers do come from all spiritual backgrounds so it is important not to let religious or political differences get in the way of enlightenment.

In the beginning of my spiritual search, I hadn’t learned the rules of research so many of my spreads do not have bibliographic information telling me from which book I found it, which is disappointing to me today. But nowadays I make sure I cite all my sources on each page. Some of the spreads are named after the person who wrote the book in which I found the spread – therefore, Celtic Cross #5 is subtitled “Angeles Arrien” Celtic Cross #6 is subtitled “Joanne Kolwalski”. Celtic Cross #7 has the subtitle “Mary K. Greer” and it is one of the more involved spreads that I have seen, in that for each position it presents between seven and ten concepts to consider. Mary K. Greer is one of my favorite Tarot instructors via her books, website and blogs. Her book, Tarot for Yourself: A Workbook for Personal Transformation has an entire chapter devoted to the Celtic Cross and just rereading it for this column was like a refresher course in Tarot! I bought this book back in 1993 and did all the exercises – many of them turned into poems. I cannot recommend it enough. ALL of Mary K. Greer’s books are fabulous.

My personal Celtic Cross came about simply because when you do something all the time, you naturally start seeing things in a certain way and the cards start speaking to you in a certain way. Reading all the spreads that I have collected, I can see how they all influenced me – from the very simple ones to the very complex ones. Being on the simpler side, I keep my spreads easy to read and to the point. I scanned the page with my Celtic Cross but since it was written in pencil – which I do in case I make a mistake and can easily change things – my tiny handwriting didn’t show up very well. So here is the basic spread, which is of course the same as everyone else’s Celtic Cross:

signs1

This is how I read it:

  1. Cover. The basic situation.

  2. Cross. What is screwing up the situation.

  3. Base. What is at the bottom of the situation.

  4. Past. What is no longer happening but is still affecting the situation.

  5. Hopes. This is connected to #9, Fears.

  6. Future. This is connected to #10, Outcome.

  7. Environment. What is surrounding the situation.

  8. Querent. The person who wants to know what’s going on.

  9. Fears. Worries & anxieties surrounding the situation.

  10. Outcome. If this card is from the Minor Arcana, then deal three more cards and see if a card from the Major Arcana comes up. If none appears, then the situation is as yet unsettled spiritually and set it aside for another day. This is the way it is sometimes. Meditate on the issue and do another reading on another day.

signs2

 

I have kept records of my tarot readings in my regular diary and in special tarot journals since I started using the cards in 1988. It’s a good

practice to acquire. Looking back on my old readings, I can see how I have developed as a reader. I rarely read for other people – I look for my own answers – and I use the cards for meditation. But I’m at the point where I can lay out the cards and generally read them at a glance. Quite often – after writing it all down in my journal – I’ll refer to one of my Tarot books or the notes I have in my Tarot notebook for more enlightenment. As I said before, I love all of Mary K. Greer’s books. Another favorite is A Feminist Tarot, by Sally Gearhart and Susan Rennie. Originally published by Persephone Press in 1976, it is now published by Alyson Publications and is in its sixth edition. I have the fifth edition, which was published in 1981.

signs3

Of course Radar has to get in the way when I’m recording the reading in my Tarot Journal!

There are as many versions of The Celtic Cross as there as tarot readers – many more than I have in my Tarot notebook – so find some of the books I have mentioned and teach yourself some of the finer points of this easy to learn, easy to use Tarot spread. And on Samhain evening, as you sip your apple cider by candlelight, shuffle your favorite deck and find out what your ancestors have to say to you. Brightest Blessings!

Tarot Talk

February, 2016

I love comparing cards! This month we will look at the Major Arcana Strength card and then come to understand it even further by comparing it to The Chariot, the card we examined last month. If you haven’t yet read last month’s column, please do so now.

Next, a quick review.

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, 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. An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated. The term archetype often refers to one of two concepts: a “stereotype,” a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; stereotypes can be positive or negative, or an “epitome,” which is the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; epitomes can also be positive or negative.

So archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner. Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has (or will) personally experienced these archetypes.

Each Major Arcana card corresponds to an archetype, an image, a number, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth. Let’s start breaking this one down; we’ve got a lot of work to do!

Many Major Arcana cards represent archetypes of people in our lives. The Empress is The Mother, The Emperor is The Father, The Hierophant is The Teacher; we easily understand these archetypes because most of us have them in our lives. Other Tarot Majors represent ideas or feelings or concepts or stories, rather than people. The Strength card is one of these, as Strength is the archetype of goodness and endurance. Like The Chariot of last month, Strength is about courage and self-discipline; however, Strength has an inner focus that allows us to tame and live with our instincts or animal nature.

The traditional image associated with Strength is a woman and a lion under a blue or golden sky, with the woman appearing calm, gentle and cultured, gazing peacefully at the lion; not a figure typically associated with the ability to dominate a wild beast. Often the woman is clasping the jaws of the lion or petting or combing his mane; on a few versions she is prying open the lion’s mouth. Some cards show the lion sleeping at the woman’s feet, others show the woman riding the lion. Many Strength cards contain a lemniscate, a geometric shape also found on The Magician. There are often flowers, green grass, and mountains in the distance. The lion is a symbol of our passions and instincts and desires, and it is interesting that while The Chariot offers us the Warrior, Strength presents a woman to tame the lion. Here is the first hint that Strength is not about physical strength at all. The woman tames the lion with gentleness and patience; in many images the woman’s left arm (representing mental effort) is exhibiting effort while her right arm (representing physical effort) is merely resting on the lion.

Strength is the number 8 card, which tells us that we have skill to move forward, and the time has come to move, and to follow our instincts. This number represents the concept of a Remedy or a Reaction to the degeneration of the number 7; 8 is the number of building and of destruction that asks us to present a conscious and deliberate response to what has been presented to us to date. In some decks, Strength is switched with Justice and thus is numbered 11. The number 11 reduces to 2, the number of balance, polarity, diplomacy and the energy of “distance between.” This number offers the concept of comparison.

Strength corresponds with the element of Fire. Fire corresponds with the Minor Arcana suit of Wands, playing cards suit of Clubs, the cardinal direction of South and the color Red. It represents creativity, ideas, ambition, and growth. This element represents seeds being planted and things being born; Fiery energy encourages us to move forward and to take action based on Divine Will rather than our ego-based Self. In its natural state, the element of Fire is hot and dry. It tends to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects. Fire transforms everything in our world. Fire can sanitize or cleanse, and it can destroy everything in its path; Fire can warm us and keep us safe, or it can kill us. Fire is associated with our ability to experience joy and passion (including sexuality), and can represent enthusiasm and a pull towards being physical or artistic; it can also represent recklessness and apathy, a lack of energy and potential health issues.

In astrology, Strength corresponds with Leo (“I am,” passionate, dramatic, egotistical). The Sun sign of Leo is connected with the Lion, the king of the jungle, and the Lion plays a huge part in the Strength card. Leo also corresponds with our Sun, the center of our solar system; it is a fixed Fire sign. In Astrology, Fixed Signs are associated with stabilization, determination, depth and persistence. This means that Leos are powerful and willful in all they do, often achieving more than expected. Of course, they can also be inflexible, rigid, stubborn, opinionated and single-minded. Leos are passionate and courageous; they can combine dignity and strength in order to be effective leaders who have a talent for inspiring others to also go above and beyond what is expected. They tend to plunge into a situation without a second glance, but since they thrive on risk and competitive situations, the end result is often good.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe, and they express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. Strength corresponds with the Hebrew letter Teth, the tail or the coiled serpent, the 9th letter in the alphabet which falls into the archetypical level. A coiled serpent has built up its power and is ready to strike; this is seen as a hidden spiritual awareness the release of which creates a reminder of our divine origin.

On the Tree of Life, Strength represents Path 19, running between Geburah (the place where forms and structures are challenged or affirmed) and Chesed (the place where forms and structures are stabilized and nurtured), representing Spiritual Intelligence. The 19th Path tells of the balance between strength and severity, and affection and gentleness. It encourages us to endure the tests and challenges that give us the strength and skill to wield Perfect Love and Trust. The 19th Path is one of the Paths that crosses the Tree of Life horizontally, moving in both directions between the sephiroth and spanning the Pillar of Form/Restriction and the Pillar of Force/Expansion. If you remember, The Chariot is a vertical Path, also originating in Geburah, the center of the Pillar of Form/Restriction, but moving upward into Binah and remaining on this Pillar.

The Chariot tells of having the control necessary to focus on our goals, and to avoid distractions, and it represents the ability to get to where we need to go, perhaps even the ability to get there quickly, rather than walking. Sometimes The Chariot can represent our mind and intellect and the way our feelings can affect them; both our mind and our feelings need to be controlled with a firm hand.

Strength does not tell of physical strength or the use of strong muscles. This is energy without brutality, a feminine strength, irresistible in its gentleness. The Strength card is seen as being connected to The Magician (they both contain that sideways 8, the symbol of eternity), however, The Magician must learn his skills, while the Strength card represents the ideal to be attained and strived for. The lesson The Magician must learn is that gentleness tames violence.

Like The Chariot, the Strength card also represents determination focus and power, however there are differences. The Chariot represents the Will, Strength represents Endurance. Two powerful forces, one with an outer manifestation and one with an inner manifestation. Originally, Strength was called Fortitude, one of the cardinal virtues (the other two are Temperance and Justice). Fortitude tells us that we need to moderate our expectations regarding pain and danger, for while we don’t usually want either of them, they can’t be avoided but rather endured. The Chariot has strength and focus, and is able to direct the forces around him in order to arrive at his chosen destination. Strength adds patience and composure to the mix, taming the unpredictable energies so they no longer present obstacles.

Strength has a powerful yet subtle message for those who seek to understand the energies of this card: it is not holding on that makes us strong, but it is the act of letting go.

It’s In the Cards

June, 2009

Dear Reader,

Welcome to ‘It’s In the Cards’ for www.PaganPages.org. At one time this column appeared in Finer Things Magazine in New Haven, CT, and I am very pleased to be writing my column again; this time for the Pagan Community.

Every month, I will do a tarot reading for one person whose question I choose for this column. Also, by writing me, you will have a chance for a free tarot 10 minute reading on the phone. If you would like to contact me about purchasing a reading, please visit my web site at www.SubRosaMagick.com or write me at SubRosaMagick@aol.com.

Since I first began reading for the public 13 years ago, I found that I fell in love with being able to help people in their personal lives and on their path as a spiritual counselor. The cards, I have found, often tell us what we need to know, and not necessarily what we want to know. They provide a way for me to see deeper into the heart of an issue and often what magickal advice I also need to give to bring about change.

Even if you aren’t familiar with tarot cards as a form of divination, they also work in the same way other forms do, be it the Runes, I-Ching, oracles or Ogham. The symbols of the tarot speak on many levels, and allow a connection to be created with spirit; opening a doorway for the universe to communicate on a personal level. As an artist as well as a priestess, I acknowledge the power of these symbols, but as a psychic, I use them to “see” more clearly.

Mediumship isn’t something I intentionally practice, but sometimes I do receive messages from spirit or departed loved ones, and if I receive messages I will relay these to you as part of the reading.

This following is the question chosen for this month.

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Dear Alicia,

Question: What do I need to do to accomplish my dream (i.e., independence, mobility, freedom)? What plans should I make, or mindsets adopt?

~Namaste~ Phoenix
Birth date: 07/17/1985

Dear Phoenix,

I chose your question because I felt something stir when I read it, almost like seeing a broad expanse of horizon. I immediately knew that your dream, when it all happens for you, will change the lives of others. Getting there though will not happen overnight. I have a feeling it will take you the better part of the next ten years to truly achieve your goals.

Your Sun and Mars are in Cancer, and Jupiter is in Aquarius. Finding work that inspires you is key, as you will need to combine work and pleasure. 1985 is a birth year marked by freedom, and so by freeing yourself you will free others. Work hard, make your own luck, and everything else will follow.

I’ve chosen a eight card Quest spread for your reading, and it should offer you guidance in the days ahead. I laid down the cards twice – as I was surprised by the cards that turned up. Many of the same cards reappeared, and so I decided to read them exactly as they are – the universe is telling you something here that looks a lot like tough love – because it is.

The first card is The Wheel of Fortune inversed, and the second is the crossing card of the King of Wands. As benevolent as he is, he is still in your way. Sometimes the people who love us the most really don’t know what is truly best for us, and you will have some tough decisions to make, but make them you must. This first card is your quest; to overcome the cards in your life you have been dealt. The Wheel of Fortune card is a powerful one when it is upright, and so you must turn things around so that they go your way.

The second card is the Five of Wands inversed, reflective of the path you are on now. You have hit something of a dead end, and your course needs to be corrected as you set sail for The Wheel of Fortune card to be turned upright. Do not be easily deterred by others or even yourself. I see some sorrow and pessimism in this reading.

The third card is where you are lead to – The Chariot inversed. This mobility issue is a tough one. I believe you will need to strengthen yourself. In this deck, the Chariot also carries an association with water and horses – both of which are used in rehabilitation. Look into this.

The fourth card is what opposes you, as is signified by The Horned One (the Devil card) inversed. There is an imbalance here, and oppression. I do so hope that no one is holding your religious views against you, but I fear that they are. The Old Religion has a very long history of secrecy that you may need to employ as well. Don’t make things harder on yourself.

The fifth card is The World, inversed. It, ironically enough is what will aid you. Character is strengthened when we are at our weakest points, that we might break over the fires in our life as we are tempered and hammered into shape. What may actually be happening is part of the process I feel we go though, in order to be made useful to higher powers and the others we are intended to help.

The sixth card is the Ten of Pentacles – what you must sacrifice. This too is hard. You must sacrifice your comfort where you are now with your family if you truly wish to have independence. Birds have to fly sometime and leave the nest. It’s what makes them birds – they are meant to fly.

The seventh card is the Ace of Pentacles, and it too is inversed. When I see a reading with good cards that are in inversed positions, it means that there is a way to turn things around. Money should not at all be part of your goal here.

Now, I am going to tell you a little secret someone once shared with me. “You will always have yourself, no matter what. When you come to the place within yourself that knows that you can always count on yourself, and that you will always have yourself, you can do anything!” This has brought me great comfort over the years, and has empowered me to get through some the hardest of times.

But if you do not ‘learn how to ride the horse, the horse will ride you.’ Horses are pretty heavy, so you had better grab those reigns. You are the only one who can control your life’s outcome.

I believe in you, and I believe you can do it. So should you.

Blessed be,
Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth

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If you would like me to do a reading for you in the next issue of Pagan Pages, please send me your:
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