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Tarot Talk

September 1st, 2015

We have not talked about the Aces in a while, so let’s revisit these unique members of the Pip cards. Aces are different from the other Minors, as they are seen as being the seeds of their suit and element, rather than the manifestation of their suit and element. Aces are not material; they are tendencies that are the foundation of the manifestations of their suit; the Ace of Pentacles, our card for this month, is not Earth, but a tendency to become Earth! Let’s begin our process of breaking down this Ace.

The Ace of Pentacles is a Minor Arcana card, so we know right away that 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. Notice right away that I am qualifying many of my statements with “most likely” or “usually”; as readers and interpreters and students of the Tarot we do need to remember that every message, no matter how insignificant or mundane on the surface, can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue. Nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature.

As we have learned, 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 1, and the suit of Pentacles. These two ingredients could actually give you enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation.

Let’s look at the number 1 first. I see the number 1 as representing two concepts: position and potential. Position is most commonly represented by the point or period. The point is a one-dimensional shape; all we know about it is its position. We don’t know what it can do or how it can affect us, we only know where it is; everything else is potential only. Potential is neither good nor bad because it has not yet moved or manifested or acted. Potential is fertility without the catalyst that begins growth.

So, just by looking at the number of our card, we already know that the Ace of Pentacles is going to present a concept rather than an experience. Aces present energy just as it is preparing to manifest, kind of like the moment just before the Big Bang happened in our Universe, or the situation in your lungs between an exhale and an inhale.

Let’s examine the suit of our Ace. The suit of Pentacles corresponds with the element of Earth. Many Tarot decks use images of pentagrams or coins and trees or verdant growth on their Minor Arcana Pentacles cards, and that 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, 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 Ace of Pentacles. We are off to a good start, and we have lots more information to consider.

The traditional image of the Ace of Pentacles shows a pentacle or coin being held by a hand that is reaching out of a cloud, showing that the Ace is the first and purest manifestation of its suit, so pure that we can’t affect it yet. Often there are trees, tree roots or branches, flowers, fruit, bees, or other animals associated with fertility in the image of this Ace. The sky is usually clear and blue, representing the clarity and purity of the potential being offered, not yet muddied by manifestations or expectations or actions. Often there is a wall with a gate in it and a clear pathway through the gate and off into the distance, showing us the potential for advancing along our Path offered by this Ace.

The Ace of Pentacles has an astrological connection as well, which can help us to add even more depth and texture to our readings. The Ace of Pentacles represents three sun signs, Aries, a Cardinal Fire sign, Taurus, a Fixed Earth sign, and Gemini., a Mutable Air sign, or the season of late Spring.

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, the leader of the pack, first in line to get things going. Those born under this sign prefer to initiate, and they won’t shy away from anything new. Aries people are action oriented, assertive, and competitive. Aries is ruled by Mars, the God of War, bold and aggressive, and able to tap into the focus needed to take on any challenge. The symbol of Aries is the Ram, blunt and to the point, and a sheer force of nature. The great strength of those born under this sign is found in their initiative, courage and determination.

Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac, is all about reward. Physical pleasures, material goods, and soothing surroundings are all important to a Taurus. The good life in all its guises is heaven on Earth to those born under this sign. Taurus is a fixed sign, and it represents steady persistence sometimes seen as stubbornness. Taurus is symbolized by the Bull, and Bulls are among the most practical and reliable members of the zodiac, happy to plod along slowly but surely toward a goal. Taurus is ruled by Venus, the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Pleasure, which is why harmony and beauty are a huge part of this sign’s personality. Taurus is a true-blue, loyal sign as well, and slow to anger; like the element of Earth, Taurus is about strength of body as well as strength of heart.

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; they are very practical. They are adaptable and flexible but they can also tend toward being wishy-washy, and they are not always good at following through to the end of a project. Gemini is all about the intellect, the mind, and the thinking process. They think clearly and make use of logic, and they can be real good at seeing the big picture. Gemini rules the nervous system, and calmness is a quality they need to cultivate. They love to play, love to share their fun and their ideas with others, and they love adventures that stimulate the mind.

This means the Ace of Pentacles is about the potential for experiencing new beginnings or awakenings, the slow and conservative building of an environment that encourages growth, and the diversification and exchange of information that creates the ability to adapt to the world around us in a positive and beneficial manner.

Each of the 78 cards in a Tarot deck also has a home on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; all of the Aces correspond to the sephira (or sphere) of Kether. Kether (or Crown) is the first sephira at the top of the Tree of Life. It is the top sephira of the Pillar of Balance, the center or trunk of the Tree, and is considered to be the cause of manifestation; not manifestation itself, mind you, but the catalyst that begins the process of manifestation. Nothing actually exists yet within Kether, but the Source of All awakens within Kether. However, it does not know itself yet because there is no other form from which it can view itself. Once again, we are speaking about the “point” or “position” without any dimension or manifestation.

That is quite a bit of information, all attained by breaking our card down to its basic ingredients. Not so complicated after all!

All the Aces remind us of the potential connected to their Suit; the Ace of Pentacles represents the potential to achieve prosperity and abundance, security and trust, groundedness and strong foundations. The Ace of Pentacles suggests that we use common sense when approaching problems, and make use of the tools we have at hand, tools that are tried-and-true; it tells us that we have the ability and skill to use those tools (or at least the opportunity to acquire those abilities and skills). It reminds us of the importance of taking care of our body, our homes, and our families. And it presents the opportunity to reach a goal or see rewards through expending efforts over the long term. All of these opportunities might present themselves in an unexpected way, perhaps through some change or opportunity for growth within a career, a family, or a home.

The Legacy of the Divine Ace of Coins reminds us of the beauty of Nature, and the spiritual fulfillment that can be had through experiencing and appreciating beauty. The image on this Ace contains representations of beneficial animals and insects, and emphasizes the benevolent feel of the energies of this card. The Shadowscapes Tarot Ace of Pentacles emphasizes the potential to be found in a seed. That seed will sprout, but the growth will require both work and patience on our part in order to succeed; what grows from that seed is what we make of it.

Through its Ace of Pentacles, the Witches Tarot tells of a possible new source of income, perhaps obtained by acquiring a new skill. The Tarot of the Sephiroth reminds us that our Earth is the vehicle of all life, and thus the Ace of Pentacles represents life springing forth, as well as creation, evolution, and construction. Aleister Crowley believed that the Aces could be seen to contain the other numbered cards of the suit, and thus our Ace of Pentacles can be seen as containing the other Pentacles Pip cards, or at least the potential to become those other cards.

The Ace of Pentacles does not guarantee riches or health or security, but it does guarantee that we will have a chance to work in order to bring those things into our lives!

Let’s review the Court Cards of the Tarot this month by examining another Tarot “royal,” the King of Cups. First, let’s review the information we went over the last time we discussed 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 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! 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 Cups 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.

Our King’s suit this month is Cups. The suit of Cups corresponds with the element of Water, and many Tarot decks use images of cups or chalices and water on their Minor Arcana Cups cards. A nice place to begin our exploration of the suit of Cups is with the element of Water itself.

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.

The element of Water corresponds to our feelings and emotions, and this makes sense. Emotions flow and have currents and eddies, 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. If we were to sit beside a lake on a calm, clear day, we can understand this connection. As we look out on the surface of the lake, we will see a reflection of the trees and hills, and even the clouds and the sky, on its surface. We can’t tell how deep the center of that lake will be by looking at it from the shore; it might be shallow and easy to cross, or it might be deep and dark and cold, the home of mysterious creatures. If we were to step into that lake and keep moving away from the shore, we will discover the hidden depths of that lake, not visible from the surface.

Water is not the only element that corresponds to our King. 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 Cups as Fire of Water.

In its natural state, the element of Fire is hot and dry. It tends to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects. Fire is passionate in nature, and 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 corresponds with creativity, ambition, growth, passion and actions, and how their presence or absence can affect our lives. Fire also represents Spirit or the Divine Will, and Wands cards also can present the possibility of some interaction with Spirit or the Divine.

Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our Queen of Swords corresponds with the cusp or joining point of the signs of Libra and Scorpio. Libras are usually very focused on the people around them, and how they interact with those people. Libras always put their minds to good use, considering and balancing carefully before choosing a course that brings the highest good to all. Scorpio is about beginnings and endings, and about understanding the deep, dark secrets of the self. Scorpios stick to the plan; they are intense and passionate, even if they appear quiet on the surface.

A Libra-Scorpio combination can be attractive and seductive. This combination makes for a person who is a natural in any social situation, a good communicator who can handle abstract reasoning with ease, but who can also come across as bossy or sarcastic, manipulative or sly. This is a person who is interested in both the mystical and the scientific, who can see all sides to any situation and who has a passion and strength that is admirable. This combination can also create someone who has trouble letting go, or who wants everything to be perfect, and if something has to be presented in a lesser state the Libra-Scorpio will be embarrassed.

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 is the origin of vital force and polarity.

Let’s recap! Our King of Cups is Fire of Water, and Fire and Water are not friendly. This could mean that our King feels divided between his sensitive side and a world where power and dominance are respected. Here is the source of the idea that while the King of Cups is very qualified to see to the emotional needs of his subjects, he is not real good at dealing with his own emotions. Again, we are reminded of The Emperor of the Major Arcana, the benevolent yet strict Father Figure who maintains structure and order so that we all can thrive.

The King of Cups is the most benevolent of all the Kings, mainly because of his association with the element of Water, and with feelings, emotions and instincts. He is the wise elder who is motivated to help others, the family friend who can overlook his own needs in order to serve those he cares for. This King aims to manifest the higher good of all by allowing himself to be guided by his own instincts, and by stirring and encouraging the feelings, emotions and dreams of others. This King often represents a healer, a counselor or a therapist, or anyone in a service-oriented field. He can also be a boat captain or an artist (remember, we are dealing with the element of Water). The King of Cups has his challenges as well, and may be oversensitive to criticism, pessimistic, delusional, passive-resistive, easily seduced, or co-dependent.

The King of Cups fits the description of a fairy tale king: he can see right into the heart of any matter, and can balance the needs of many people, while encouraging compassion, diplomacy and tolerance in all. He easily keeps his head in a crisis, and projects calm into every situation. He is usually the first person to volunteer to help others, or to use diplomacy to bring together opposite parties. The King of Cups is a protector who cares for and watches over all who are near him. He strives to balance the needs of others with his own needs. He has learned the value of doing less rather than more, and his inborn ability to care for others allows him to willingly meet his responsibilities with a smile on his face and love in his heart, and still be accepted by those under his care as the authority figure.

July was a Blue Moon month (in fact, the Blue Moon, the second full moon in a calendar month, was yesterday, the 31st of July), so it is only fitting that we look at the Major Arcana card known as The Moon. We will compare The Moon to last month’s card, The Sun. 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 start breaking this one down.

The Moon, the eighteenth of the Major Arcana cards, represents the archetype of dreams, instincts, and the anima. Like The Sun, The Moon is a source of illumination, but The Moon presents illumination without heat. The Moon is also seen as the archetype of feelings, emotions, and the mothering principle. The Sun may be about the conscious self, warmth, vitality and ego, but The Moon is about the soul, childhood, home, and family/community/tribe.

The traditional image on The Sun is well-lit and bright, and hints at the masculine, but The Moon is usually more feminine or mysterious in nature. The traditional image usually shows two towers that at first glance appear the same, but upon more detailed consideration exhibit subtle differences. Of course, there is a Moon in the sky, often a Waning Moon, and the face on this moon is either androgynous or feminine. There are usually two canines howling at The Moon, one with short, smooth fur and one with long and more wild fur, representing the concepts of tame and wild. There is usually a body of water in the image, representing the subconscious, often with a lobster or crayfish visible, representing the unconscious mind, and the primordial and primitive (and often unexplained) impulse of life.

The Moon is numbered 18. In numerology, the number 18 tells of tolerance, humanitarianism, the ability to sacrifice in order to achieve a goal, and the ability to perceive the world without judgment. Very different from The Sun, number 19 in the majors, which encourages us to use courage in order to deal with past issues and actively manifest blessings in our lives. The number 18 is also connected to secrets, and thus, to lies.

The Sun corresponds with the element of Fire, which corresponds with the Minor Arcana suit of Wands, playing cards suit of Clubs, the cardinal direction of South and the color Red, and represents creativity, ideas, ambition, and growth. The Moon corresponds with the element of Water, which is not friendly to Fire at all. Water, which is connected to the suit of Cups, the Hearts of playing cards, the cardinal direction of West, and the color blue, is about emotions and inner manifestations, rather than the outer world. This element represents dreams, divine love, the heart and the subconscious. Water also represents purification and transformation, and being grounded in the heart rather than the intellect. Besides emotions and feelings, the element of Water represents our connections and bonds at many levels. This element can represent a caring and sensitive nature; it can also represent dreaminess and self-delusion, the presence of some emotional trauma, and possibly a refusal to address the hurt associated with that trauma.

The Major Arcana Moon card corresponds with the astrological sign of Pisces. Pisces is a mutable sign, the twelfth sign of the zodiac, and it is also the final sign in the zodiacal cycle. Those born under this sign are selfless, spiritual and very focused on their inner journey. Feelings and emotions define the sign of Pisces, and empathic talents are common among the Pisces-born. This is also a sign of intuition and secrets, and of people who are comfortable in an illusory world (and comfortable jumping between that illusory world and logical reality). The symbol of Pisces is a pair of fish, representing the dual, yin/yang nature of this sign. Pisces is also a sign of the suffering that brings soul growth.

The Moon is an interesting celestial body unto itself, and its traits deserve consideration when contemplating The Moon of the Tarot Majors. The Sun card corresponds with our sun, the star at the center of our solar system around which the planets revolve and which star is necessary for our very existence. The Moon revolves around the Earth rather than the Sun, and is our Earth’s only natural satellite. The Moon is thought to have formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago, not long after Earth, most likely formed from the debris left over after a giant impact between Earth and a Mars-sized body called Theia. The Moon is in synchronous rotation with Earth, always showing the same face. It is the second-brightest regularly visible celestial object in Earth’s sky after the Sun, and although it can appear a very bright white, its surface is actually dark. It is prominent in the night sky, and its regular cycle of phases causes it to appear to change shape. The Moon’s gravitational influence produces the ocean tides and the slight lengthening of the day. The Moon’s current orbital distance from the Earth causes it to appear to be the same size as our Sun (which allows the Moon to cover the Sun in a solar eclipse).

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 Moon corresponds with the Hebrew letter Quoph, the nineteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, a member of the cosmic group; this letter corresponds with the back of the head, which holds the primitive brain (which keeps the body running even during sleep), or with the eye (or hole) of a sewing needle. Either way, we are talking about darkness, or the Shadow Self, as opposed to The Sun, which represents the front of the head, where the eyes are located, and the ability to see where we are going.

On the Tree of Life, The Moon represents Path 29, running between Malkuth (the physical world of action and physical, outer reality) and Netzach (the stimulating factors of emotion and inspiration). This Path connects the bottom of the Pillar of Force with the root of the Tree of Life, and tells of an energetic connection to all cycles and a perception of just what those cycles are. It allows us to see past the veneer of civilization to the eternal, primordial cycles that support it. The interesting thing here is that on the Tree of Life, the Path of The Sun, the next card in the Majors, represents the scientific discovery that validates the experiential knowledge of The Moon. Here we see another hint of soul growth that occurs during the Dark Night of the Soul, one of the possible meanings for The Moon, and then the illumination and sense of rightness that comes with the survival of that Dark Night found in The Sun.

Imagination can be a creative catalyst, or it can be our downfall; what we believe to be true will most likely manifest itself in the end. The Moon tells of perceptions, and it tells of the falseness of many of those perceptions. Knowledge can either be false or true, and “truth” in the end is really “truth until proven to be false.” Fear is also connected to this card, and fear can easily overcome us. Or, it can make us stronger; after all, we don’t know if we are really courageous unless we experience real fear.

Whether upright or reversed, The Moon maintains its correspondences. It is only our chosen response to the dreams and visions of The Moon that flavors the result as good or bad. Thus, a reversed Moon card can tell us that those dreams and visions won’t blind us to the truth, while an upright Moon card could be telling us that those dreams and visions will distract us.

The Moon and its connection to dreams and the imagination can challenge our customary way of seeing our world, which can be daunting. The light of our Moon creates shadows that are different than those created by the Sun; Moonlight changes the colors we see in our world from the way they appear in the light of day. “Cold hearted orb that rules the night, Removes the colors from our sight. Red is grey and yellow white, But we decide which is right. And which is an illusion.”

The Star (17)

tarottalk

“Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality.” ~ L. J. Suenens

Image Description:

The Rider-Waite deck depicts a nude woman kneeling near a pond with one foot submerged in the water. She is pouring crystal clear water from two jugs into the pond and onto the ground. In a cloudless sky a grouping of stars shine above her, bathing the countryside in light. Flowers grow on the bank, and an Ibis is perched in the branches of a nearby tree.

Symbols:

Star: Hope, wish fulfillment, guiding light

Seven Stars: Seven main chakras, seven ancient planets

Five Rivulets of Water: The five senses

One Foot in Water, One Foot on Land: Spirit/subconscious (water) and material/conscious (land)

Water: The subconscious mind

Ibis perched in a Tree: Thought and mind

Key Words:

Hope, Inspiration, Rejuvenation, Faith, Tranquility

Fool’s Journey:

Having weathered the storm the Fool sits by a nearby pond with a feeling of emptiness, as if he has lost everything, including his faith. Gazing up at the night sky he wonders what is left. It is then that the sound of pouring water draws his attention. His eyes seek the source and he observes a nude woman emptying the contents of two urns onto the land and into the water. The Fool watches, inspired by the sense of tranquility this simply act brings him. Much like the land and water the woman is nourishing, he, too, feels as if he is being rejuvenated. Embracing a renewed sense of hope, he rises and resumes his journey, using the stars in the sky as his guide.

Lesson:

To learn how to renew oneself after experiencing difficult events, and to recognize and follow our higher purpose in life.

Meaning:

Throughout the ages people have looked upon the star as a signpost and symbol for guidance, inspiration, and hope. In biblical theology, three wise men saw a star they believed foretold the birth of Jesus. In Arthurian mythos, a star in the shape of a dragon shot across the sky signifying the future King of Britain had been born. Even now, in modern times, people have been known to ‘wish upon a star’, believing stars to be lucky.

In readings, the Star can be a welcomed symbol of hope and rejuvenation when grief and despair has overwhelmed us. When we need it the most, an unexpected blessing can instill within us a new sense of purpose, inspiring us to reach for our dreams during our bleakest moments. The Star encourages us to believe in our heart’s desire and our most cherishes wishes; anything is possible as long as we have hope.

The Star can also indicate a period of tranquility and serenity. When we free ourselves of the negative emotions and residue that life’s struggles create, we can experience a measure of confidence and the assurance that all in life is good.  By opening our minds to righteousness and faith, new opportunities and possibilities can arise giving us a deeper understanding of true inner peace.

INTERPRETING THE CARDS

The Tarot’s meanings can be personal and subjective to each of us in accordance with our unique experiences and
views of the world. For this reason there are no immutable or absolute definitions that can be applied to the cards.

The cards mean what our intuition and experience tell us they mean, and this can differ from person to person. As
you study the cards do not be afraid to allow your inner voice to suggest nuances of meaning.

When examining the Tarot, you’ll notice that the titles, illustrations, and symbols of certain cards seem to openly
convey their meaning, while the informative clues for other cards may appear more allusive at first glance. When
you encounter a card that you may not easily understand, take the extra time needed to recognize its energies.

In subsequent articles we will examine some of the more commonly accepted card meanings in great detail. For
now, simply acquaint yourself with the Major Arcana and begin to explore their surface meanings.

SURFACE MEANINGS

(0) The Fool: Entering a new phase, starting an adventure, living in the moment, being new and innocent, taking a
risk.
(1) The Magician: Experiencing movement through willpower, understanding your intentions, focusing your
energy, having singleness of purpose, utilizing your creative power.
(2) The High Priestess: Being passive, employing your intuition, experiencing spiritual enlightenment, sensing
the secret and hidden, having esoteric insight.
(3) The Empress: Showing maternal instinct, enjoying prosperity, experiencing growth and fertility, focusing on
the senses, feeling connected to the earth.
(4) The Emperor: Using masculine power, creating order out of chaos, enjoying security, dealing with authority,
leading or being led.
(5) The Hierophant: Established codes of behavior or belief, learning or teaching, honoring ritual and ceremony, participating in an organized group, giving or receiving wise counsel.
(6) The Lovers: Participating in a partnership or affiliation, experiencing physical passion and desire, confronting your own beliefs, staying true to yourself, making important moral decisions.
(7) The Chariot: Winning a victory through will, desiring to achieve, experiencing bold confidence, mastering
and curbing impulses, having a clear purpose.
(8) Strength: Showing preservation and endurance, exhibiting calm tolerance, feeling sympathy toward others,
using gentle force, having mental and moral fortitude.
(9) The Hermit: Following a personal quest, accepting or giving wise advice, spending time alone, engaging in
self examination and discovery, withdrawing from the world.
(10) The Wheel of Fortune: Experiencing fate, discovering opportunities through new developments,
undergoing rapid change, standing at a crossroad, coming full circle.
(11) Justice: Confronting equitable or impartial treatment, being accountable, choosing rightly, recognizing the
results of your actions, restoring balance.
(12) The Hanged Man: Pausing to reflect, experiencing a change of mind or circumstances, letting go,
voluntarily losing, giving up control.
(13) Death: Completing a chapter, experiencing crucial and profound change, entering the start of a new cycle,
eradicating the unnecessary, enduring an inevitable ending.
(14) Temperance: Avoiding excess, achieving a harmonious balance, blending forces together, finding peace
through compromise, experiencing good health.
(15) The Devil: Being lured or enticed, experiencing unhealthy attachments, focusing too much on the physical,
being unaware, feeling tied down against your will.
(16) The Tower: Experiencing havoc, facing annihilation, enduring painful alteration, undergoing a shocking
catastrophe, having an emotional outburst.
(17) The Star: Having faith in the future, finding motivation, experiencing renewal, having a sense of belief,
enjoying peace of mind.
(18) The Moon: Feeling apprehension, confronting the unfamiliar, seeing what is not there, having troubled
imaginings and thoughts, becoming confused.
(19) The Sun: Attaining a new level of insight, having your day in the sun, becoming radiantly energized, feeling
invigorated, experiencing a sense of confidence.
(20) Judgment: Judging or being judged, forgiving yourself or others, reaching a higher level of being, becoming
transformed, making a fresh start.
(21) The World: Realizing your goals, coming to a journeys end, experiencing success, feeling satisfied,
reaching a conclusion.

THEMES

Each Major Arcana card seems to follow a particular theme. Simply knowing a card’s basic theme can help you
explore the many other avenues of expression that a card can adopt in a reading. Take the time to study the
following themes and adapt them to your own understanding of the Tarot.

Fool: Beginnings
Magician: Will
High Priestess: Intuition
Empress: Creation
Emperor: Authority
Hierophant: Spiritual/Academic Teaching/Learning
Lovers: Relationships
Chariot: Control
Strength: Inner Strength
Hermit: Introspection
Wheel of Fortune: Change
Justice: Balance
Hanged Man: Sacrifice
Death: Endings
Temperance: Blending
Devil: Bondage
Tower: Destruction
Star: Guidance
Moon: Illusion
Sun: Realization
Judgment: Rebirth
World: Completion

It was a pleasure to once again share with you the wonders of the Tarot. Next week, we’ll take an upclose and
personal look at the ‘Fool’ card. Until then, may the Tarot be with you!

Last but by far not the least of the Six cards of the Tarot Minor Arcana is the Six of Wands.  As we’ve come to discover, in the Tarot Minor Arcana, the Six cards are kind of unique.  This is in part because of the properties of the number 6, and in part because of the properties of the Sephira corresponding to the Tarot Sixes on the Tree of Life.  Before we talk about the Six of Wands, if you haven’t read October’s essay on the Six of Pentacles, and in particular the information regarding the number 6, please do so now.

 

The Six cards of the Tarot offer the concept of forward momentum achieved through victory over the obstacles presented by Four (in the case of Wands cards, the creation of a strong foundation that allows us to look toward the future) and Five (inconveniences and cross-purpose efforts).  These victories are met with the healing achieved through negotiation; of course, this means that acceptance is a part of these Six cards, self-acceptance and the acceptance acquired through effective interactions with both friends and enemies.

 

In sacred math, the number 6 is considered to be a powerful and pure number because the first three numbers, 1, 2 and 3, add up to 6, and because in the Christian creation myth it took Yahweh six days to create the world.  This number offers the concepts of both vertical and horizontal balance, and the corresponding element and suit at their practical best.  This is particularly true of the Six of Wands, which tells of the achievements associated with growth, often through the successful navigation through some kind of challenge.  Remember, the Six cards often present the corresponding element and suit at its practical best, and since the suit of Wands is about creativity and passion, it makes sense that the Six of Wands offers an acknowledgement of achievements gained through the application of creativity and passion.  In most cases even a reversed Six card has many benefits to offer a Seeker, and the meanings of the reversed Six of Wands can be similar to the upright interpretation, just less intense.

 

Tiphareth or Beauty is the sixth Sephira on the Tree of Life, the second on the Pillar of Balance (which is the “trunk” of the Tree), and it represents harmony, equilibrium, and the epitome of balance.  Above Tiphareth are the top three Sephiroth of the Tree, the Supernals, representing God/Source/the Higher Self.  Below the Supernals and above Tiphareth is a void known as Da’at or the Abyss; the Abyss separates (and also bridges) Deity/the Higher Self and the rest of our life experiences.

 

Traveling upward through the Abyss is usually an uncomfortable but in the end beneficial process, for it involves coming to know our Shadow Self, and thus our entire awareness.  This knowledge is terrifying to our conscious mind and empowering at the same time, for it is the source of our personal ethical code and our ability to tell right from wrong. The Abyss is also associated with the cerebellum and the powers of memory and concentration, which allow us to recognize and sense the meaningfulness of life events in a personal, experiential way.  The knowledge and awareness associated with the Abyss are not about the outside world, for the Abyss is connected directly to the one who is doing the knowing and the learning, the Self.  The Six of Wands represents that moment when we realize that our efforts to conquer the Abyss are bringing results that are worth celebrating.

 

Now that we’ve talked about the number 6 in a general fashion as it connects to the Tarot and the Six of Wands, let’s begin the process of breaking our Six of Wands card down even further.  The Six of Wands is a Minor Arcana card, so we know right away that 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.  Remember, while on the surface a Minor Arcana card can appear insignificant or mundane, it can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue.  Nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature.

 

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 6, and the suit of Swords.  These two ingredients could actually give you enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation, especially with all the cool information out there regarding the number 6.

 

The suit of Wands corresponds with the playing card suit of Clubs, the cardinal direction of South, and the element of Fire.  In its natural state, the element of Fire is hot and dry.  It tends to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects.  Fire is passionate in nature, and 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.  The cards of the suit of Wands teach us about Fiery attributes: creativity, ambition, growth, passion and actions, and how their presence or absence can affect our lives.  The suit of Wands represents our ability to experience joy and passion (including sexual passion), and the Wands cards can represent our creativity, our ability to be artistic or to be drawn to beautiful things.  Fire often represents Spirit or the Divine Will, and Wands cards also can present the possibility of some interaction with Spirit or the Divine.

 

Astrologically speaking, the Six of Wands represents Jupiter when it is in the sign of Leo. In Roman mythology, Jupiter is the ruler, guardian and protector of the gods. Similarly, the planet Jupiter is in many ways the ruler of our solar system.  Some astronomers believe that Jupiter with its massive gravity actually protects the rest of our solar system by attracting or deflecting comets and asteroids that might otherwise threaten Earth.  Like passions and emotions, Jupiter is brightly colored and covered with large and intense storms; the planet is symbolized by a lightning bolt.  Jupiter needs 11.9 of our years to orbit our Sun, and it spends 361 days in each sign of the zodiac.  Astrologically, Jupiter is associated with growth, expansion, prosperity, freedom, exploration, and good fortune. Jupiter is connected to long distance and foreign travel, higher education, religion, all humanitarian pursuits, and the law (and its role as a protector of society). Jupiter is also associated with gambling and merrymaking.

 

The Sun sign of Leo is connected with the Lion, the king of the jungle, our Sun, the center of our solar system, and the element of Fire; it is a fixed 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.

 

When we combine these ingredients together, we end up with a pretty nice description of the Six of Wands!  Let’s reassemble our card.

 

To sum up: the number 6 tells of the vertical and horizontal balance that is achieved through negotiation and acceptance; even the reversed number is still beneficial.  The Sixes of the Tarot correspond with balance and beauty, a child’s ability to find innocent joy in simple things, and the ability to remember and understand events of the past, whether pleasant or uncomfortable or challenging, in order to be a better person.  The suit of Wands is about passion and ambition, creativity and the courage to take action, and the ability to feel vindicated by succeeding through hard work.  The energies of this suit (and the element of Fire) are hot and dry, they tend to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects.  Jupiter is about expansion, growth, exploration, prosperity and protection.  Leo is about leadership abilities, courage, loyalty and honor, ambition, creativity, and an enjoyment of being in the public eye.

 

This means that the Six of Wands expresses the celebration we feel when we have passed some test or successfully met a challenge.  This card is about realizing that we’ve established our reputation with others, perhaps through an uncomfortable process; its most common image is a victorious warrior receiving the accolades and recognition of those around him.  The Six of Wands can tell of having our day in the sun, and it can tell of feeling good about what we’ve accomplished.

 

The Tarot of the Sephiroth sees the Six of Wands as being connected to successes and riches of a spiritual nature, or at least achieved not only through our own efforts but also through Divine guidance and intervention.  The Shadowscapes Tarot describes this card as representing someone who has ascended to authority and distinguished himself by being strong and clever.  The Shadowscapes Six of Wands warns, however, of the danger of falling prey to pride.  The Thoth Six of Wands reminds us of the balance and harmony of Tiphareth, and it reminds us that the strength which brings Victory (Crowley’s keyword for this card) comes through being able to blend together opposites.  The Llewellyn Welsh Tarot tells us that the Six of Wands represents establishing authority through gaining the respect of our peers.  The Legacy of the Divine Tarot reminds us that the victory of the Six of Wands comes us because we were able to make use of the foresight of the Four of Wands, and because we were able to maintain our focus despite the churning energies, competition and cross-purpose of the Five of Wands.

 

A reversed Six of Wands could indicate that we don’t yet have the right to celebrate.  It could indicate a possible loss or humility or defeat, but the presence of the card, even if it is reversed, gives a bit of hope even on the darkest of days.  A reversed Six of Wands could also be a warning that we have passed through justified pride and moved into arrogance and a sense of self-importance.

 

There you go; we have covered all the Sixes of the Tarot Minor Arcana.  That requires a bit of a celebration of our accomplishments because we successfully dealt with the challenges of the Sixes, eh?

 

Next time, we will go back to the Major Arcana and look at the Justice card.

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