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The Road to Runes

April 1st, 2018

The Road to Runes: First Steps

I received, for Yule, a gorgeous handmade set of runes from my father. He made them himself, out of hazel; wood from the tree of wisdom, in Celtic mythology. Of course, runes aren’t a part of the Irish Celtic mythology I’m so fond of, and as such I don’t know a great deal about them other than the very basics. I thought it might be fun if we learn together, so here we go.

My new runes are Elder Futhark, a Germanic alphabet of 24 runes named after the first six runes listed, which are Fehu (F), Uruz (U), Thurisaz (Th), Ansuz (A), Raidho (R) and Kenaz (K).

Although runes are heavily associated with Norse culture, they have actually appeared throughout Europe and across the British Isles, found in inscriptions ranging from curses to gravestones to plain, old-fashioned graffiti. The Elder Futhark is thought to be the oldest of the runic alphabets, and possibly the ancestor of later runes. Each rune has a name, a sound and is associated with something specific. For example, the straight-line rune is called isa, it sounds like ‘I’ and means ‘ice’. Runes were obviously used for writing, but these days are generally used as a divination tool. This suits the very word ‘rune’, which means ‘mystery’ or ‘secret’.

Like all forms of divination, meaning will differ from person to person. Fehu literally means cattle, and also wealth. This makes sense to me, as from a Celtic mythological perspective, which is where much of my study lies, cattle were wealth, and status, so the two terms could almost have been interchangeable. However, to another individual, wealth may mean something completely different e.g. money, jewels, job security, happiness, a big family; wealth is a very subjective term. This is why we have to be open minded in divination, as it’s easy to simplify, or apply meaning where we want to see it, rather than where it truly lies.

Anyway, rather than starting at the beginning and giving a detailed explanation of what each rune means, I would rather try them out and see what they have to say to me, even as a layman practitioner. I learn best by doing, so let’s see what the runes have to say today!

This is a three rune lay out. You start by meditating on your question, or of course, you could be focused on someone else’s query, if you were to do a divination for another. The first rune I pull should relate to my current situation. The second rune should focus on the challenging aspects of this; any obstacle that I might encounter. The final rune should indicate a solution or alternative path.

With permission from a friend who knows I am starting out on this divination journey, I focus on a query for them, which is relationship based. I won’t go into details, for obvious reasons! So, let’s see what runes we get.

 

 

The first rune is Algiz, which makes a ‘z’ sound and means ‘Elk’. The rune is associated with courage, protection and warding off danger. It may indicate the person is in a situation where they wish to do something outside their comfort zone, and are working up the courage to do so. The rune appeared in an Old English poem which told us that the ‘Elk Sedge’ was a plant who would wound all who tried to take a grip on her. Maybe this is an indication that the holder of the elk rune is not open to relationships at this time, or should perhaps open themselves up to the possibility of getting close to someone, if that’s what they truly want. Also, this could mean that the holder of the rune is very protective of themselves, due to having been hurt in the past.

 

 

The second rune I pull out of my rune bag is Ingwaz, which sounds like ‘ng’. The rune is associated with the god Ing who may also be Frey although there is some debate about this. Ing is associated with seed and fertility, and can literally relate to pregnancy when the rune appears in matters of relationships. However, the conception of things is not merely literal, and can also mean that something new is about to be created; a new situation is about to come to light, which may drastically change what is happening now. Ingwaz can mean that great inspiration is coming, or a fantastic opportunity. It is also associated with good health and motivation, so could indicate that life generally is opening up more doors. This may not sound like a challenge, to say this is supposed to be the challenge rune, but if the rune holder is stuck in a rut at the moment, to suddenly have so many options before them may be overwhelming. However, this is a positive rune, and any stress and pressure caused by these new situations will ultimately lead to something good. This rune is known to repel negative influences in your life, and provide protection.

 

 

The final rune is Jera, a ‘Y’ sound (J in Germanic languages) which means ‘year’ or ‘harvest’. I’m immediately excited to see a harvest rune pop up straight after a seed rune, as this seems to indicate that whatever seeds are sown in the challenging phase of the rune holder’s situation will come happily to fruition. This rune is all about the results from earlier efforts, and how good things don’t happen overnight, but are the result of hard work and determination over a period of time. Success will come, but it may take longer than you think. Jera indicates that even if you don’t see it now, your desires are coming to you naturally and harmoniously with the world around you, and it’s important that you keep working towards what you really want, and being honest with yourself about what your goals are. It also indicates that you have the power to change things you don’t like in your own life, and to not be afraid to do this.

 

To summarize this for a shorter reading, I could say that Algiz suggest the rune holder is in a difficult place emotionally, Ingwaz is telling them that many, perhaps conflicting opportunities are on the horizon, and that Jera is saying that if they figure out what they really want, or which of these opportunities is the best for them and work towards that, there is nothing stopping that goal coming to fruition. All in all, this seems like a really positive reading; I hope my friend thinks so! I’m excited to learn more about the runes, and next time, we might do a slightly different cast, to look at the different ways the runes can be used in divination.

*All images copyright Mabh Savage 2018.

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

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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.”

Last month we talked about The Empress, one half of the Sacred Feminine within the Major Arcana. If you have not already read that essay, please do so now. The other half of the Sacred Feminine in the Tarot is The High Priestess, and we will talk about her this month. First, let’s review 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 a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth. There is quite a bit of symbolism to consider regarding The High Priestess, so let’s get to work!

Many Major Arcana cards represent archetypes of people in our lives. In the Tarot, the feminine archetype is split between the High Priestess and the Empress. The High Priestess represents the archetype of the Feminine Mysteries. The High Priestess is the guardian of the unconscious who contains within herself the secrets of life, the mysterious unknown that women often represent (especially within cultures that value the tangible and the known), and of waiting or allowing things to manifest through stillness. As we learned last month, The Empress represents woman’s role as the crucible of life.

The traditional image on The High Priestess is of a woman sitting on a throne, often dressed in a blue robe similar to that worn by a nun or religious woman, and wearing a crown consisting of a crescent moon, representing the Maiden phase of the Goddess and waxing power; often one or both of her feet are also resting on a crescent moon. Her throne is usually flanked by two pillars, sometimes one is dark and the other is light, representing the dual and polarized nature of the world. Often there is a curtain or veil behind her, representing the hidden mysteries she guards, as well as an inner focus. Some cards show a web rather than a curtain, which adds the concepts of relationships, connections, correspondences and synchronicity. In her lap is a scroll or a book, representing knowledge and wisdom, a record of truth, and a measure of time. In some decks this card is named “The Papess.”

The High Priestess is the number 2 of the Major Arcana; this number represents balance, creative partnerships of all kinds, duality and polarity, tension and cooperation; it represents diplomacy, and decisions. The number 2 offers both direction and connection, and can be considered a gateway. This number offers the concept of comparison, The Line (which stretches between two points). In the Tarot, this number represents the first time the energies associated with the card appears as manifested.

The High Priestess corresponds with the element of Water, and thus the suit of Hearts, the color blue and the cardinal direction of West, and inner manifestations of all kinds. This element represents emotions, dreams, divine love, the heart and the subconscious. Water represents purification and transformation, and being grounded in the heart rather than the intellect.

In astrology, The High Priestess corresponds with our Moon. In our solar system the Sun, the star at the center of our solar system, is necessary for our existence; the planets of our solar system, one of which is our home, the Earth, revolve around our Sun. The Moon revolves around the Earth rather than the Sun, and is our Earth’s only natural satellite. 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). The Moon represents the archetype of dreams, instincts, and the anima. Like our Sun, the Moon is a source of illumination, but the Moon presents illumination without heat.

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 High Priestess corresponds with the Hebrew letter Gimel, the third letter in the Hebrew alphabet; this letter corresponds with the camel who safely crosses the desert that is Da’at, the Abyss, and thus, has the secret of life. Gimel is a conduit or transmitter, corresponding with the throat, with walking, and with repayment or kindness.

On the Tree of Life, The High Priestess represents Path 13, running between Tiphareth (the hub of the creation process where energies harmonize and focus to illuminate and clarify), and Kether (the source, limitless possibility). Path 13 is one of the Paths that represent the highest and most abstract qualities of Deity, and of the human mind. It is the only Path on the Middle Pillar of the Tree that crosses Da’at, The Abyss which separates the top three Sephiroth from the bottom seven, representing knowledge of self, consciousness and awareness, and being able to “see.”

In the Tarot, The High Priestess is one half of the Major Arcana representation of the Sacred Feminine (along with The Empress), the half that is about mystery, hidden knowledge and initiation. The High Priestess, who crosses The Abyss, tells of Uniting Intelligence. She is the source of the power of The Magician, the feminine version of The Hierophant, and the Keeper of the Mysteries.

The High Priestess is the Gatekeeper who determines whether we are ready to experience the Mysteries, and she is somewhat removed from everyday life although her mind is receptive. She is not about mental analysis at all; she tells us that in order to access the Mysteries she guards, we must know the inner self completely, and accept the messages of the Inner Voice, even if they defy analysis. The High Priestess and The Empress are sisters, one bringing life into the world, the other inviting the living to the esoteric mysteries.

The High Priestess is the initiatrix who knows the secrets of life and guards her knowledge well. Without her help, we cannot penetrate the darkness of the Dark Night or cross the desert of the soul; we cannot discern the reality that hides behind the veil of the perception of our physical senses. Oswald Wirth describes her as knowing of “the occult philosophy and the subtle doctrines of Hermeticism” and “Gnosis, faith (of the wise), the fruit of the highest forms of thought.” She teaches us to have faith in intuition and in our dreams and feelings as well as analysis and fact, and she shows us how to use and depend upon our own resources. She represents the discernment which allows us to truly perceive and know that which is hidden behind the Veil between the Worlds.

“In the gloam, the night is full of whispers – the secret knowledge of the stars, of the trees, and of the earth.” From The Shadowscapes Companion.

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

This month, we will stay with the Major Arcana, and talk about The Hierophant, one of the three Major Arcana cards that refer to traits of the Sacred Masculine. Before we begin breaking down The Hierophant, let’s remind ourselves of 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. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, a personality, or a behavior. In the analysis of personality, 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; for instance, “girls make good cooks” is a stereotype), or an “epitome” (the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; for example, Venus is said to be the epitome of feminine beauty). 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 personally experienced (or will experience) these archetypes.

Besides the symbolism in its traditional image, each Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth.

The traditional image on The Hierophant is of a priest or religious scholar; indeed in some decks this card is named The Pope. He is often shown seated on a throne between two pillars, similar to The High Priestess card except there is no veil or curtain behind him, as The Hierophant represents revealed knowledge rather than hidden knowledge. He is often holding a staff in his left hand and is gesturing with his right hand, using the Christian gesture of benediction with two fingers pointing up and two fingers pointing down (telling us he is the bridge between the spiritual and the earthly). Traditionally, the right hand is seen as pure (with the left hand having dark baggage); this is why our Hierophant offers benediction with his right hand, and holds his staff of office (a phallic symbol), usually the triple cross or papal cross, in his left, telling us he chooses spirituality over earthly pleasures. Other images show him holding a book or scroll, also similar to The High Priestess card except the book or scroll is held facing the viewer, again reminding us that he offers revealed knowledge. Often there are two keys in front of him, and sometimes there are two supplicants; both the keys and the supplicants look similar at first glance, but they are different (similar to the two dogs and the two towers traditionally found on The Moon card), reminding us that what we see on the surface or at a quick glance is not all there is to know, and telling us that there is more than one way to understand the teachings of The Hierophant.

The Hierophant card is numbered 5. The number 5 is about hard lessons; its energies erupt beyond the order imposed by the number 4, toppling over the stability inherent in the number 4. This number offers the concept of Motion to prevent stability from becoming stagnation. The number 5 tells us to take time to mourn and then move on, to find a silver lining, to defend our position. These energies can be versatile and resourceful, lively and exciting, as well as boastful, irritable, too strict, or indicating a Jack of all trades but master of none.

The Hierophant represents the archetype of the Religious Teacher. Teaching is the art of communicating knowledge, experience, skill, and wisdom to others. Offering instruction of any kind can manifest through parental guidance, business apprenticeship, or by instruction in spirituality, ethics or kindness. Teachers do more than just teach; they pass on wisdom and refine their students’ character. Traditionally The Hierophant works with a group and is responsible for teaching spiritual and ethical culture and traditions to that group, but he can also mentor individuals.

The Hierophant corresponds with the element of Earth, and thus the suit of Diamonds, the color green and the cardinal direction of North. The element of Earth represents the actual physical outcome of our efforts, the cake that is made by gathering ingredients and following a recipe. Earth represents everything physical, all of the processes of Nature, and the things we need to stay alive and healthy; these energies are stable and very slow to change. Earth represents wealth, which brings us not only physical shelter but also mental and emotional pleasure. Earth also offers a spiritual grounding that is very necessary in our day-to-day life. This element represents diligence and an interest in quality rather than quantity; it can also represent greed and avarice, and the lack of an ability to be aware of resources or to access resources.

In astrology, The Hierophant represents the astrological sign of Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac, which 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.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. These creative forces 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 Hierophant corresponds with the Hebrew letter Vav or Vau, the sixth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, representing the nail, the instrument which secures something or the hook that holds something. In Hebrew, the letter Vav is used as a connector, and thus it is also translated as “and.” Besides holding a tradition in place (the way a nail holds a picture to a wall), The Hierophant is also a bridge or connector; it is through The Hierophant that knowledge is transferred from one place to another.

On the Tree of Life, The Hierophant represents Path 16, running between Chesed (the place where forms and structures are stabilized and nurtured), and Chokmah (dynamic male energy, the origin of vital force and polarity). The 16th Path runs vertically up the Pillar of Force, and is entirely about the energies of the Sacred Masculine. It teaches us about using authority with humility, and using knowledge and wisdom to guide ourself and others to the Mysteries. There is a noble intention connected to the 16th Path, but there are responsibilities connected to it. The 16th Path assists us to uplift our soul by knowing what we believe and what we don’t believe. Interestingly enough, the 16th Path is one of the Paths that crosses the great Abyss, and it is known as the Gate of Royalty.

The Hierophant is an archetype of Spirit (with The Emperor as archetype of the Sacred Masculine, The Empress as archetype of the Sacred Feminine, and all three representing the supernal triad) that reminds us of the value of tradition, ritual and ceremony, and conforming to the rules and traditions with the aim of presenting the highest good of the group. There is duty to be found in this card, as well as morality, and a suggestion that tradition should not be accepted blindly, for there is a level of attainment unique to the individual to be had from within a spiritual practice.

Like all positions of authority, this one contains danger. The Hierophant gone amok manifests as filled with a desire to manipulate or abuse his students. A reversed Hierophant can end up more concerned with recognition than with imparting knowledge, or he can take on an overbearing attitude that is more about imposing control than imparting wisdom. A reversed Hierophant can manifest an inability to allow his students to move on or to become Teachers themselves, choosing to maintain control over each student’s development of mind, body, and skills at all costs. Any religious or political fundamentalist in our world who imposes his own version of law and order on his or her people is manifesting the reversed Hierophant.

Faith is the Legacy Tarot version of The Hierophant. The image on this card is a representation of four of the most mainstream religions in the world, each of them in an attitude of prayer, with a column of golden light connecting them all. This connection is the focus of the Legacy Faith card. We do need to remember that this very connection can be hugely beneficial, or it can be judgmental, terrorizing and murderous.

The Llewellyn Welsh Hierophant is Taleisin, the powerful bard of myth, and the card represents authority and orthodox behavior. The Llewellyn Welsh Hierophant is an advocate of tradition and instruction, initiation and spiritual systems or culture. Reversed, he is warning me of fanaticism and of the danger of conforming for the wrong reasons.

Like The Emperor (who leads by imposing order, balance, form and structure onto his world in order to create stability for those looking to him for protection) and The Hermit (who provides visionary guidance achieved through an acceptance of situations that enable us to abandon the ego and teaches us that through our own struggles and suffering, we can learn to have compassion for others and find the spiritual within the world), The Hierophant also leads. He is our conscience, our mentor, our counselor; he brings us advice and guidance through a deep understanding of tradition and culture, “tried-and-true” methods for coping with life. He is the keeper of those traditions, tasked with keeping them intact and yet assisting each of us to personalize those traditions in a way that resonates for us.

More importantly, The Hierophant not only encourages us to learn about our beliefs, cultures and traditions, but he also encourages us to practice them, to live them. The practice of spiritual traditions itself is indeed one of the nails that hold that tradition in place!

 

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

The Magician

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

This month, we will stay with the Major Arcana, and talk about The Magician, the masculine version of The High Priestess. Before we begin breaking down The Magician, let’s remind ourselves of 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. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, a personality, or a behavior. In the analysis of personality, 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; for instance, “girls make good cooks” is a stereotype), or an “epitome” (the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; for example, Venus is said to be the epitome of feminine beauty). 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 personally experienced (or will experience) these archetypes.

Besides the symbolism in its traditional image, each Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth.

The traditional image on The Magician is of a person, usually a mature man (although some images show a youth, perhaps a reminder of The Fool) dressed in white with a red robe, sometimes hooded, standing facing outward (toward us) with his right arm up (often holding a wand, also pointed up) and left arm down, often with the index finger pointing at the earth or the symbol of the element of Earth (representing the polarized nature of the elements, and the bridge between the spiritual and the physical, and suggesting that he is a conduit of unseen power). Usually the sky behind him is that of a clear mid-day, although a few images show roiling clouds and wind, and around him are green trees, often heavy with fruit, and red (nature, physical desires) and white (purity, spiritual unfoldment) flowers. Over his head or somewhere within the image is the infinity symbol (infinite circling of polarized energies of nature; cosmic lemniscates, harmonious interaction between conscious and subconscious, between life and feeling, desire and emotion, dominion over the material, eternal life) and before him is a table on which rest elemental symbols. One interesting card image I found shows all the traditional ingredients of The Magician, however the view is from behind him, facing his audience, men, women and children mesmerized by the show presented by The Magician.

The Magician card is numbered 1. The number One is about new beginnings, sowing seeds, potential, start of a cycle, and originality. All numbers are made by comparing with or interacting with the number One; it combines the opposites of odd and even. This number offers the concept of position, The Point. In the Minor Arcana, the Aces represent the purest essence of each corresponding element, the seed that will grow into the element. The Aces are called by some the “gift cards” for they represent the gift of the particular element being offered to the Seeker. The Magician can be seen as a Major Arcana version of the Aces, as he is tapping into his gifts and using the four elements (and their powers and effects) as tools. The number One is about confidence, originality and leadership, but it is also about stubbornness, pride, a quick temper and a tendency to resist authority.

The Magician represents the archetypes of the Active Male, and the Trickster. The Active Male (who does not need to be someone with a gender of male) focuses his abilities outward. He makes things happen, and he does this by learning about, understanding, and manipulating the laws of the Universe. He is determined to find win-win situations, and he is undeterred by ethics or the potential for creating negative consequences. The Trickster archetype represents someone who exhibits a great connection to his intellect, who has learned large amounts of secret knowledge, and who uses these things to play tricks or to disobey normal rules and conventional behavior. The weakness inherent in both of these archetypes is the tendency to disregard ethics and to become manipulative in order to attain desired goals.

The Magician 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. The Sword that symbolizes Air within the Minors is usually a double-edged blade, and thus can represent attacking ~or~ defending. Air can represent logical and analytic thought patterns; it can also represent spite and aggression, or an inability to be assertive.

In astrology, The Magician represents the astrological sign of Mercury. Mercury is known as the messenger of the gods and is known for his ability to move fast. The planet Mercury echoes this, circling the Sun quickly, taking only 88 days to orbit the Sun, spending about 7.33 days in each sign of the zodiac. Mercury is so close to the Sun that it has no atmosphere of its own; 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. In medicine, Mercury is associated with the nervous system, the brain, the respiratory system, the thyroid and the sense organs.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. These creative forces 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 Magician corresponds with the Hebrew letter Beth, the second letter in the Hebrew alphabet, representing the house or the builder. The house can be seen as the “dwelling of man” within the physical and non-physical world which offers support and shelter. A house is a “containing form” and regarding The Magician, it can be seen as that which contains Spirit. The builder has the knowledge, skill, and wisdom to construct the house so that it lasts and continues to offer stability and shelter.

On the Tree of Life, The Magician represents Path 12, running between Binah (female, receptive energy and the origin of form and structure) and Kether (the source, limitless possibility). The 12th Path connects Kether to the top of the Pillar of Form, the Pillar that teaches us about feminine energies. It seems strange at first glance that a masculine (energetic and outwardly-projecting) card would connect with a group of sephiroth that describe feminine energies, but upon further consideration, this makes perfect sense. The 12th Path activates situations that teach dexterity, knowledge, wisdom and truth, presenting us with all the tools we need to grow and evolve. This Path separates the physical from the spiritual in order that we might come to understand that they are actually not separate, that the spiritual and the physical are integrated and connected. These are indeed inner pursuits. Also, the power of The Magician comes from The High Priestess, the guardian of secret knowledge; The Magician cannot be effective without harnessing the powers of the Pillar of Force, for his power does not come from within him but rather, from Deity.

The Magician is a representation of true magick, but he is also a representation of slight-of-hand. In some decks, he is known as The Juggler or The Mountebank (a mountebank is a charlatan), and in some cases he can represent stage magic or illusion, rather than true magick, which creates a desired outcome through knowledge, skill and wisdom. But don’t forget, illusionists need to hone skills, too, and they spend hours practicing even a simple illusion so that it appears effortless, even magickal. The Magician works hard to perfect his abilities, to make use of those abilities in unexpected ways, and to focus and carry through to the end of a task (the end result is pretty important to him).

He also understands the eternal nature of his efforts, mainly because of the polarized nature of the elements with which he works. Indeed, in order to be effective The Magician must master each of the elements. His mastery over the element of Earth is symbolized by the pentacle on his table, his immersion into and understanding of emotions and visions is evidenced by the cup, through confronting and controlling Air, he is awarded the sword, and through being tested by Fire and achieving initiation he obtains the wand which points upward to the aether.

In the Tarot of the Magicians, Oswald Wirth shows us a Magus with the symbols of the elements and their energies and manifestations, standing before us, dazzling us with his skills. He even has a slight smile on his face, as if he is well aware of how he appears: mysterious, handsome, confident and dashing. Wirth feels that The Magician needs to be in the number One position in the Major Arcana because the operations of the universe are a mystery to us and we “are the dupe of appearance produced by forces at work which are unknown to us.” Wirth describes the infinity sign of The Magician as comparable to “the living sphere made by the living thoughts emanating from the intelligence.”

The image on Wild Unknown Magician is of a seated jaguar, a powerful predator who survives by using his own strength and his own intelligence. In front of the jaguar are the four symbols of the elements and the Minor Arcana; both of the jaguar’s front paws are resting on the symbol of Earth/Pentacles, and there is an omega sign on his chest or heart. The jaguar is alert, looking behind him with ears pricked, but he is also relaxed. His eyes are open, but they are relaxed (in that very cat-like fashion). Behind the jaguar is a brilliant sun. The energies of this card are confident, strong, and connected to the physical world, but all four elements (and their correspondences) are there, waiting for the jaguar to access them.

Aleister Crowley considered The Magus as representing the second highest level of spiritual illumination a human soul can attain. He saw The Magus as representing the alchemical element of mercury, and of action in all forms and phases. The Magus is a representation of The Will, and thus we are to “create freely; absorb joyously; divide intently; consolidate completely.”

In the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, Marchetti chose to use the image of “a man of learning, both a student and a teacher of the sciences and physical forces of the universe.” This Magician is surrounded by books and instruments and test tubes, and he is concentrating intensely on his current experiment, evidenced by the bolt of electricity connecting the instruments before him. Here we have a more modern Magician with knowledge of the past, the present, and the future at his fingertips. Marchetti created his Magician with a unique physical deformity: he has an extra finger on each hand, a symbol in some cultures of a gifted individual.

This card is personally significant to me; an understanding of the skills of The Magician was gifted to me after a particularly harrowing experience. Unlike the card itself, I was also gifted with The Magician’s ethical dilemma, the need to keep in mind that while I may be able to wield the powers of the elements, I need to be very aware of consequences.

My personal keywords for The Magician are action, self-empowerment, and purpose; three powerful concepts. Notice there is no mention of ethics; The Magician uses the tools that he owns in a manner that he deems appropriate. Power without compassion or mercy or empathy can be quite effective, but also quite devastating, and The Magician does not necessarily consider the impact of his actions on others.

In the end, while The Magician has the potential to be either good or evil, he reminds us that wielding power requires a lifetime of effort, and an awareness that once we impose our will, even good intentions can have unexpected consequences. Making the effort to learn and dedicating the time to practicing our skills are part of the recipe for success, but so is mindfulness. So is an awareness of the needs of all and the consequences of imposing change on the world.

***

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

Death

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

This month, since we are heading toward Samhain and Halloween, we will return to the Major Arcana, and talk about Death. The Tarot Major Arcana card Death, that is. Once we take a closer look at this card, you will come to understand that the Death card rarely foretells death of the physical body, and it really is something to be celebrated, not feared. Before we begin, let’s remind ourselves of some terms. If you know them, go ahead and skip down to where we talk about the traditional image of the card.

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. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, a personality, or a behavior. In the analysis of personality, 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; for instance, “girls make good cooks” is a stereotype), or an “epitome” (the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; for example, Venus is said to be the epitome of feminine beauty). 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 personally experienced (or will experience) these archetypes.

Besides the symbolism in its traditional image, each Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth.

The traditional image on Death is of a skeleton in black knight’s armor, sometimes also wearing a black robe, riding a white horse whose bridle is decorated with skulls and crossbones, and carrying within his bony hand a flag or banner featuring a white rose. Standing before the horse is a priest, his hands together in prayer. At the feet of the horse are people who are dead or in the process of dying, one of which is often a child. Also at the feet of the horse is a discarded crown. Where the horse walks, the ground is brown, yet in the background are green trees, mountains, and a river on which a boat moves, its white sail filled with air. On the horizon are two white castles, and what could be either the rising or setting sun. In some decks, the horse being ridden by Death is also a skeleton. Other Death cards show the traditional version of Death himself, a Grim Reaper skeleton in a black or a blood-red robe, carrying a scythe, with skulls and bones and body parts littering the ground around him; often he is standing beside a stream or body of water, and sometimes the sky is filled with dark clouds.

Most of the symbolism within the traditional images of the Death card tells of endings and beginnings, transitions of some kind, and often, a return to balance. Death is a frightening figure, and yet his banner is emblazoned with a rose, the symbol of promise, hope, love, and new beginnings. The rose is also often found on The Magician, Strength, and The Fool, all three of which could offer us advice for dealing with the Death card. The sun on the horizon could represent the ending of a day or the beginning of a day. Water tells of emotions, visions, and dreams, all ways to communicate across the Veil between those who are alive and those who have passed. Water also tells of birth and death. The scythe represents the harvest, which happens at the end of the growth season when the harvest is leveled, and the discarded crown tells us that no one, even a king, is immune to death.

The Death card is numbered XIII. The number 13 has a lot of baggage attached to it, not all pleasant. We can break this number down several ways. We can add the digits, 1 + 3, and get the number 4. The number 4 is about balance, stability and depth, not concepts we would connect to Death. However, cycles of being born, living, and then dying and resting only to be born again are a part of our natural world, and death is a key part of the renewal that comes with birth, a part of the balancing of those cycles. We can break the number down as a combination of the numbers 10 and 3. The number 10 tells of the completion of a cycle or effect, and the number 3 tells of broadening our ability to perceive, or the physical manifestation of an idea, or a new creation out of the union of opposites. Or, we can take the number on its own. 13 is seen by many as representing bad luck, rooted from that Friday the 13th in 1307 when the Knights Templar were mostly assassinated. However, the number 13 can represent the “enlightened guest”; Christ had 12 disciples, which means there were 13 people at the Last Supper: 12 disciples and the “enlightened guest,” thus offering keywords such as ascension and resurrection to the Death card. In ancient Greece, Zeus was considered the 13th god of the pantheon, and the most powerful. This offers keywords such as completion, attainment and realization to our card. The number 13 is also a prime number, which tells of purity and an incorruptible nature.

The Death card represents the archetypes of The Reaper and Rebirth. The Reaper clears the growth from the fields and brings in the last harvest. Again, we are shown the cycle of life, and the importance of endings and completions. Only then, once the harvest is gathered and the fields are cleared and allowed to rest, can Rebirth begin. For even during the darkest winter night when the fields are covered with snow, the seeds of the last harvest begin to germinate. These archetypes tell of letting go of the old to make way of the new, of moving from the known into the unknown (which can be frightening), and that new beginnings will follow a period of grieving for what has gone.

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

Feelings and emotions are the main correspondences of the element of Water. 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, Death corresponds with the astrological sign of Scorpio. Scorpio is a fixed Water sign; in Astrology, Fixed Signs are associated with stabilization, determination, depth and persistence. For Scorpios, these traits are found through achievement, and through going deep into the timeless mysteries of the imagination, dreams, and passions. Scorpios are powerful and willful in all they do; they stick with a task to the end, often achieving much more than Cardinal and Mutable Signs. On the other hand, they are also inflexible, rigid, stubborn, opinionated and single-minded. Scorpios will ruthlessly fight on behalf of their beliefs, regardless of any contrary evidence, but they are most at home when immersed in a sustained, worthwhile situation. Scorpios love to learn about others; the curiosity of Scorpios is immeasurable. Scorpio is about beginnings and endings, and about understanding the deep, dark secrets of the self. Scorpios stick to the plan (Scorpio is a Fixed Sign, after all); they are intense and passionate, even if they appear quiet on the surface.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. These creative forces 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. Death of the Major Arcana corresponds with the Hebrew letter Nun, the fourteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet which falls into the level of manifestation, representing the fish. In Aramaic, the fish is a symbol of activity and life. Nun is said to represent both faithfulness and the reward for faithfulness. The origin of the pictograph representing the letter Nun is said to be a seed sprouting, representing perpetuation, offspring and the verb “to continue.”

On the Tree of Life, Death represents Path 24, running between Tiphareth (the hub of the creation process where energies harmonize and focus to illuminate and clarify) and Netzach (the stimulating factors of emotion and inspiration). The 24th Path explores the differences between materialism and spirituality; it connects Netzach, the bottom of the Pillar of Force, with Tiphareth, the center of the Tree. The 24th Path helps us to face our fear of change; it shows us that death is a natural part of the evolutionary process, and of living. Through working with this Path, and with the Death card, we learn that death is actually a beginning, and we learn that change and transition are healthy.

The alchemic process of Putrefaction can be seen as a form of death. In biological death, putrefaction is one of the stages of decomposition in which the cohesion between tissues is broken down and the organs are liquefied. Within the alchemic Great Work, Putrefaction destroys the old nature and form. “Everything that has lived, dies; everything that is dead putrefies and finds a new life.” Dom Pernety.

In the Tarot of the Magicians, Oswald Wirth shows us a skeleton with a scythe, surrounded by body parts and the head of a woman with long hair and a man wearing a crown. In this deck, many of the cards are named: the Magician, the Priestess, the Empress; however Death is not named, only numbered. Wirth tells us that death is not to be feared for it is liberation, rather, Death “extinguishes nothing, but sets free the energies overwhelmed by the weight of Matter’s increasing inertia.”

The Dreams of Gaia Major Arcana Death/Rebirth card is **the** change card of this beautiful deck; the keywords for this card are endings, beginnings, cycles, transformation, transmutation, change and growth. Death/Rebirth tells of the death of the things that no longer serve and the birth of the new and exciting things that will replace the things that died. The process is not reversible (which is one reason we fear death); once we pass through Death and into Rebirth, there is no re-do. The LWB offers pointed advice: “. . . it is time to take a long, hard look at your life, and understand that it is time to let go.”

The image of the Death card in Thoth deck is what attracted me to this deck initially. The Death card shows death as a dancing skeleton bearing a scythe. He wears the Crown of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead and is shown in the waters of Amenti, an Egyptian after-death state. The sweep of his scythe creates bubbles which contain the seeds of new life. This version of Death does not show the usual version of the Grim Reaper; instead this being dances!

I adore the image on the Wild Unknown Death card; it absolutely captures the idea of transformation without bringing in the fear. Here is the duckling of The Fool and the swan of the Cups Court Cards of this deck, or at least what is left of them after their life forces have departed and their bodies have mostly decayed and gone back to where they began so new life can spring from their ingredients. There are still some feathers left, and a beak on the skull, like the fading memories left in our minds of someone who was once alive. Most of what was here once has gone on to another plane of existence, the life force back to the Divine and the body back to the Earth. We don’t know what it is like to die, but there is a rightness to this image that reassures. Life may not be forever, but neither is Death.

The Legacy of the Divine Death card has everything you would expect: a skull, spiders and scorpions, a grim reaper on a rearing steed, wearing armor and carrying a tattered banner, a dead bird and winter-bare branches along with a beautiful, perfect white rose blossom. This card tells us that we have indeed died, maybe not physically but we have been irrevocably transformed. We are not existing in the same form. The keywords are letting go, death, rebirth, regeneration, and metamorphosis, among others.

Endings are as necessary in life as beginnings, and the Death card reminds us that the cycles of life, no matter how pleasant or feared they may be, have a beauty about them. Our life cycles have an elegant simplicity about them. Nothing is wasted, and everything has value. As we move through the changes and transformations of life, we need to remember to not dwell too much on the events of the past, or the possibilities of the future. Instead, we should embrace this moment in time and look for the possibilities hidden within it. Those possibilities have so much to offer, and they are right here, in our hands.

** 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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