major arcana

Tarot Talk

June, 2018

Seven of Cups

(The Seven of Cups card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)

We’ve been talking about the Cups cards for a few months now. Let’s continue and talk about the Seven of Cups this month.

The Seven of Cups 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. We should remember however 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.

The traditional image of the Seven of Cups is a fascinating one: it shows us the silhouette of a person (we see the person as if we were standing behind him or her) viewing seven golden cups, each filled with what appears to be a treasure, however a few appear to be potentially dangerous. Traditionally the cups contain a laurel wreath, a treasure hoard, a castle or tower, a dragon, a human head, a snake, and a shrouded glowing shape. Some decks offer variations: rainbows, flames, a green and verdant vine, a dove, brilliant light, a butterfly, or a heart with wings. All the Cups are floating on a fluffy cloud or floating in a blue sky, as if they were being imagined or dreamed of or wished for by the person viewing them. The person appears uncertain or confused; which cup should he choose?

There are meanings ascribed to the contents of each of those Cups. The laurel wreath represents victory, but if we look closely at the Cup we see the shadow of a skull, perhaps warning of the danger of vanity. The treasure hoard represents wealth and abundance. The castle or tower represents power and stability, or perhaps one’s birthplace. The dragon can represent fantasy, magick and the supernatural, but it can also represent anger, envy or bad luck. The human head represents a potential companion or love interest. The snake could represent animal passion and desire, or it could be offering knowledge and wisdom. The shrouded shape could represent the seeker’s need for self-understanding, or of hidden information.

What makes this card’s image even more interesting and powerful is that there is an astrological correspondence to the contents of each of the seven Cups, and the contents of each cup corresponds to a Major Arcana card. The laurel wreath represents Saturn and The World, the treasure hoard represents Jupiter and The Wheel of Fortune, the castle represents Mars and The Tower, the dragon represents our Sun and The Sun, the human head represents Venus and The Empress, the snake represents Mercury and The Magician, and the shrouded shape represents our Moon and The High Priestess. This indicates that even though this is a Minor Arcana card, the choices being presented could very well have Major Arcana effects and consequences!

We already have a lot of information, and a good way to get a deeper understanding of our Seven of Cups is to examine its number, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 7, and the suit of Cups.

In the Tarot, the number 7 tells of that period of time when effort and growth are running out of gas, and degeneration or a period of ebbing is approaching. A perfect illustration of this concept is the way it looks when we toss a ball in a high arc; at first, the ball soars upward with power. Soon enough, the upward motion slows, then ceases, and the ball travels parallel to the ground for a bit. Then, inertia begins to affect the trajectory of the ball, and it begins its descent to the ground. The Tarot Seven cards describe possible effects during that period when the ball is traveling parallel to the ground; not enough power to continue growth, but enough to keep degeneration on the sidelines. Often, the Seven cards tell of some pause or assessment that happens as growth (created by the Motion of the Fives and the Harmony of the Sixes) begins to approach the end of its lifespan.

All of the Tarot Sevens offer this pause or slowing of activity in order to learn something. We have the realization of something achieved and the fortitude to stay with that achievement and defend it (Wands), we experience the pause to assess the readiness for harvest of the fruits of our labors (Pentacles), and we have the pause that comes when our mind and our intellect perceive the approach of a change that we believe may not be beneficial (Swords). In the Seven of Cups, we have the pause that comes with a choice between many seemingly beautiful and desirable offerings, each with the possibly of containing some hidden peril.

We have talked about the suit of Cups in detail already, but let’s go over it all again. Many Tarot decks use images of cups or chalices and water on their Minor Arcana Cups cards. This makes sense because the suit of Cups corresponds with the cardinal direction of West, the color blue, the playing cards of Hearts, and the element of Water. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. Water has weight; picking up a gallon of water proves that. Water tends to gather into or flow to the lowest place; it will use already-in-place channels to get there if it can, but will create its own roadways or channels if necessary. 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. Emotions flow and have currents and eddies, and 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. Our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly, as physical manifestations of those emotions. Water also represents the Inner Voice and the mysteries of the subconscious. That calm body of water can reflect the trees and hills, and even the clouds and the sky around it, on its still surface and hide from our view the dark and cold depths inhabited by mysterious creatures. In order to explore those silent depths and discover the mysteries there, we must break the surface and enter this quiet and hidden realm.

Astrology is another available tool that can offer further information about our card. The Seven of Cups corresponds to Venus when it is in the constellation of Scorpio. The planet Venus is seen as representing the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Pleasure. Venus is a feminine planet, which means its energies are inner and receptive in nature. Venus is associated with feelings and well-being and gentleness, friendship and fidelity, relationships of all kinds, youth, lust, fertility, travel, and an appreciation for art, social life, and beauty. And yes, sex and sexual pleasure are a part of this too. Venus is often seen as being a twin planet to our Earth, and is the second brightest object in the night sky, the Moon being the brightest.

Scorpio is a fixed Water sign associated with stabilization, determination, depth and persistence. Scorpios manifest these traits 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 the other signs. They are also inflexible, rigid, stubborn, opinionated and single-minded. Scorpios are extremely loyal and will always remember a kind gesture. They love to learn about others and about themselves; the curiosity of Scorpios is immeasurable. Scorpios are intense and passionate, even if they appear quiet on the surface.

Venus and Scorpio are not always a comfortable match. Scorpio is not superficial and prefers deeper relationships that go below the surface, rather than the social niceties, friendship and affection of Venus. The energies of Venus and Scorpio give us a bit of a reality check, whether we want one or not. Power struggles can happen, and deep dark secrets will be brought into the light, perhaps not willingly. Intense for sure, but there is a good possibility that all the intensity will bring powerful transformation.

The Tree of Life offers us further insight into the Seven of Cups. All of the Sevens of the Tarot Minor Arcana correspond with the sephira of Netzach (which means “Victory”). Netzach is the seventh sephira, at the bottom of the Pillar of Force (the masculine side of the Tree). When you think about the concept of Victory, you will realize that it tends to bring a bit of inertia into the picture. Often, when we succeed (or think that we have succeeded), we cease focusing on the reason for the conflict and focus instead on maintaining the status quo. Netzach is also about dreams, feelings, and visions, connections with others, and an appreciation of Nature, the pleasures of the flesh, beauty, creativity, and art.

The Llewellyn Welsh Seven of Cups shows a young woman seated on the ground surrounded by butterflies, looking at seven Cups each containing something different, floating in the sky. This card represents dreams, a fertile imagination, window shopping for possibilities, realization of a long shot, and being bemused by options or possibilities. Reversed, it tells of clouded judgment, exaggerated dreams, being ruled by emotions, or extreme effects of alcohol or drug addiction.

The Shadowscapes Tarot Seven of Cups shows a couple standing precariously on top of a hill, with Cups arranged at their feet. The woman, pointing to a castle floating in the sky, is not watching where she steps but rather is looking upward, entranced by the floating castle. The man is examining the real castles on the nearby hills and examining a map that might get him there. The card tells of indulging in fantasies, having too many desires, or too many paths to choose from.

The Thoth Tarot Seven of Cups also has a non-traditional image. It shows seven lotus flowers that are rotting away because of too much water. Crowley sees this card as representing delusions and addictions, and the sinking into the mire of false pleasures. Way too much of a good thing!

The Legacy of the Divine Tarot Seven of Cups shows seven crystal cups filled with treasures lit by a golden light, arranged for our viewing pleasure. We are warned that we need to do our homework before choosing because some of these gifts may not be what they seem to be. This card represents fantasies, romantic illusions, too many choices, and viewing things through rose-colored glasses.

All these interesting choices presented by our card may create a sensory overload of sorts, but we are told again and again, through looking at the image of the Seven of Cups, the meaning of the number 7, the suit of Cups, the astrological correspondences, and the sephira on the Tree of Life that we need to pay close attention, do our homework, and not depend on luck to save the day, when the Seven of Cups shows up in a reading. Visualizing our goals can be beneficial, but not when we become so distracted by possible future achievements that we step into a hole and break our ankle.

There are good possibilities here, but there could be some dead ends as well. The Seven of Cups reminds us that while it is fun to imagine being able to take all seven of those Cups, perhaps our time would be better spent in a more practical manner by carefully examining our choices and their potential consequences. If we do our research and if we are careful not to grab more than we can carry, we may end up happy and content in the end.

** 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/ .

***

About the Author:

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

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

 

Tarot Talk

April, 2018

Two of Cups

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

Last month we talked about the Major Arcana card called The Lovers. Perhaps it is fitting this month that we talk about the Minor Arcana version of The Lovers: the Two of Cups.

A Tarot deck consists of 22 Major Arcana cards with archetypal correspondences that deal with broad and far-reaching life experience issues, and 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits corresponding with the four elements (sometimes called “Pips” or “Pip Cards”) that usually deal with day-to-day issues. The Two of Cups is part of the Minor Arcana; as we have discovered, one effective way to understand a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number (or in the case of Court Cards, its rank), its suit, and its traditional image. In this case we are dealing with the number 2, the suit of Cups, as well as the traditional images associated with the Two of Cups.

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. However, “day-to-day” does not mean insignificant or mundane, and we need to remember that the message of the card can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue. Nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature, and while the image on the Two of Cups seems serene and uncomplicated, it is filled with unmanifested potential.

The typical image on the Two of Cups shows a man and a woman, usually dressed in fine clothes perhaps appropriate for a celebration of some kind, standing close to each other (sometimes embracing), each holding a cup. The sky is usually blue and clear, the ground is smooth and sometimes there is water nearby. In the distance are green hills; sometimes there is the roof of what looks like a comfortable home. Sometimes the couple is surrounded by roses or lilies or some other flowers. Many versions of the Two of Cups show the Caduceus of Hermes above and between the couple, with a lion (representing strength, courage, authority over the subconscious, sound judgment and prudence) between the wings at the top. The Caduceus of Hermes or Staff of Hermes shows a staff being climbed by two serpents (representing peace, rebirth, restoration and regeneration) entwined in the form of a double helix, and sometimes surmounted by wings. The Caduceus itself is a symbol of commerce, negotiation, a balanced exchange, and reciprocity. Of course, we also have the connection to Hermes the Thrice Great and the process of purification, transformation and perfection that is alchemy.

The suit of Cups corresponds with the cardinal direction of West, the color blue, the playing cards of Hearts, and the element of Water, and many Tarot decks use images of cups or chalices and water on their Minor Arcana Cups cards. 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. 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, as physical manifestations of those emotions.

Water also represents the Inner Voice and the mysteries of the subconscious. That calm body of water can reflect the trees and hills, and even the clouds and the sky around it, on its still surface and hide from our view the dark and cold depths inhabited by mysterious creatures. In order to explore those silent depths and discover the mysteries there, we must break the surface and enter this quiet and hidden realm.

When dealing with the Minor Arcana, another important ingredient is the number of the card. In the Tarot, the number 2 usually represents balance, polarity, comparison and the energy of “distance between.” The number 2 offers creative partnerships, duality, cooperation, and diplomacy; it offers both direction and connection, and can be considered a gateway. In the Tarot, this number represents the first time the element is manifested. Within the suit of Cups, we have the beginnings of strong emotions, a focus on creating, nurturing and protecting partnerships, particularly loving partnerships, and the potential for experiencing important dreams or visions and the ways the information provided within those dreams or visions should be manifested (all possibilities offered by the Ace of Cups and manifested within the Two of Cups).

On the Tree of Life, the Tarot Twos correspond with the sephira of Chokmah, the first actual manifestation after the pureness of Kether (Kether represents the cause or catalyst of manifestation). Chokmah is found at the top of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. It is seen as dynamic thrust, and as the Ultimate Positive, the Great Stimulator and the Great Fertilizer (one of the symbols of Chokmah is the penis), and thus this sephira is connected to the Wheel of the Year. It represents dynamic male energy and is the origin of vital force and polarity. In Chokmah, pure being becomes pure force (and thus, pure formlessness), and independence is possible. Thus, the Twos of the Minor Arcana show the full power of their element and correspondence, in the purest expression that is not yet influenced by anything else.

Astrology is a tool that can offer subtle effects for us to consider as we analyze the Two of Cups. The Two of Cups corresponds to the planet Venus when it is in the astrological sign of Cancer.

In astrology, Venus corresponds with love, romance and harmony in marriages, friendships and other emotional attachments, and unions of all kinds. Venus is a feminine planet, which means its energies are inner and receptive in nature. Venus is associated with feelings and well-being and gentleness, and an appreciation for art, social life, and beauty. In Venus, we find allure, refinement, and the urge to join or sympathize with or nurture others, as well as the ability to appreciate the people in our lives and the things we possess.

The astrological sign of Cancer, the Crab, is responsive, emotional and generous, but that hard shell can shield a person who is moody, insecure or sensitive, and is often affected by the environment and people nearby. Those born under the sign of Cancer, the 4th sign of the zodiac, experience strong feelings and emotions, and are very protective of those feelings and emotions. Cancer people tend to be attuned to the past, and like to have mementos of the times and people of their childhood. Cancer people place a high importance on family, both family of the blood and family of the heart. They nurture and protect those they love. Cancer people are hard workers, and that paycheck is important not only for what it will buy, but also for the security it provides.

The energies of Venus when in the sign of Cancer are filled with sensitivity, affection and the need to nurture and care for others. Together, Venus and Cancer create the possibility of greater intimacy, of sharing our self with others, and of creating and maintaining long-term relationships. They also enhance intuition, empathy and the ability to feel compassion for others.

The Thoth Tarot Two of Cups has the title of “Love” and tells of the perfect and placid harmony of the male and the female. This card is about love and connections, and a recognition or acknowledgement that a bond is beginning to happen, or is beginning to be restored after forgiveness is offered and received.

The Shadowscapes Tarot Two of Cups shows a male and female dryad entwined with each other, twisted together to form one trunk yet retaining their individuality. They hold one cup between them, each offering it to the other with love. The Shadowscapes Companion describes this card as “. . . the melding of water, earth and air, the alchemy of elements.” This Two of Cups is about making a connection, the bringing together of opposites. It tells us that relationships are like living organisms, growing and evolving.

The Llewellyn Welsh Two of Cups image contains the Caduceus of Hermes, and is about romance, love, the attraction of opposites, entwining energies, magnetism, and union. This card most often represents a romantic relationship, but it can also indicate a friendship, a strong alliance with an emotional component, or compatibility of a kindred polarity.

The Legacy of the Divine Two of Cups shows two hands arising from clear blue water, each holding a glass flute. Reflected in those flutes are the two faces from the Major Arcana Lovers card. Within the Gateway to the Divine Tarot it states that “. . . the success of our relationships depends in great part on how we see ourselves reflected in the eyes of our loved ones.” What better metaphor for deep personal relationships can there be? This card is about those deep personal relationships, as well as committed love, and the exchange of loving energies.

The Two of Cups offers contentment and a sense of commitment that comes through love combined with a deep understanding between two people. It indicates cooperation, friendship and mutual respect along with a meeting of the heart, and of being grounded in the heart rather than the intellect. We can interpret the Queen of Cups as a personification of the Two of Cups. Another way of understanding the Two of Cups is by exploring the harmony and balance of the Six of Cups, except that the Two of Cups usually focuses on only one other person.

The bonding, connections, partnerships and relationships of the Two of Cups show the result of the power of attraction. When opposites are drawn together, there is always the potential for a union of people, groups or ideas. The Two of Cups tells us that now is the time to encourage these unions and to reconcile any differences, for a new partnership is in the works that can bring love, passion, respect, balance and honor.

** 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/ .

***

About the Author:

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

Click Image for Amazon Information

Seeing the Signs

March, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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References

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

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About the Author:

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

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

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

Tarot Talk

January, 2018

The Queen of Cups

 

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

 

We haven’t talked about the Court Cards of the Tarot in a while, so this month we will examine a Tarot “royal,” the Queen of Cups. First, let’s review some information about 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, 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 Tarot cards as people, with each card having an individual personality, 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. 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 Queen of Cups today, we already know that our Queen will manifest her suit in an inner yet mature manner. Our Queen is not so much concerned with results as with the enjoyment of just being in the world and surrounded by her element. She is associated with feelings, relationships and self-expression; she is relaxed and natural. The Queen expresses her suit from the inside, setting the tone without imposing it; she embodies the qualities of her suit, rather than acting them out.

Our Queen’s suit 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.

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). All Queens represent the element of Water, as well as the element corresponding to their suit. This means that our Queen of Cups represents Water of Water! This can be seen as a reflective force, where emotions end up strengthening and supporting themselves.

Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our Queen of Cups corresponds with the cusp or joining point of the signs of Gemini and Cancer.

The astrological sign of 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 practical, 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, seeing the big picture, and the thinking process.

Cancer, the Crab, is responsive, emotional and generous, but that hard shell can shield a person who is moody, insecure or sensitive, and is often affected by the environment and people nearby. Those born under the sign of Cancer experience strong feelings and emotions, and they are very protective of those feelings and emotions. Cancer people tend to be very attuned to the past, and they place a high importance on family, both family of the blood and family of the heart.

The Gemini/Cancer cusp is an emotional and caring combination. Those born on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer may be emotional, but they are also logical and honest. They tend to be a bit private about their own feelings and even if they are hurting inside, they will welcome you with a glowing smile, hiding their inner discomfort. They may be slow to warm up to a new idea or a new friend, but once the Gemini Cancer cusp commits, they go all the way. They tend to be “foodies,” perhaps because meals are a big part of most social gatherings, and they love to be surrounded by friends and family.

Because they are Minor Arcana cards, Court Cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Queens correspond with the sephira of Binah, along with the Threes of the Minor Arcana and the element of Water. The Queens sit at the top of the Pillar of Form; Binah, representing the Sacred Feminine and the Womb of Life, offers shadow and contrast, which in turn gives us shape and form. Binah restricts in order to provide a springboard, and that restriction can also be its downfall if it becomes greed. The energies of this sephira are the purest of receptive energies.

Our Queen represents people who are warm, gentle and caring, people who are good listeners and who are sensitive to the emotions and feelings of others. Unlike the King of Cups, who can be conflicted by his own sensitivities when dealing with a world where power and dominance are respected, the Queen of Cups is comfortable with emotions of all kinds. She feels what others are feeling (sometimes to the point where she seems to be telepathic) and she allows her heart to guide her. Her goal in any situation is personal satisfaction rather than the manifestation of a material outcome. She may be shy or even ethereal, but she is good at creating a harmonious environment. She enjoys art and beauty of all kinds, and encourages us to dream, to create, and to meditate.

In many ways, this Queen manifests the energy of The High Priestess of the Major Arcana with one difference: The High Priestess is more similar to the Maiden aspect of the Goddess, while the Queen of Cups is more similar to the Mother aspect of the Goddess. This Queen is often a caregiver of some kind: a nurse or doctor, therapist, or medical assistant; she may also be associated with the arts, as an actor, teacher, designer or musician. She could be a religious counselor or a psychic.

The Queen of Cups is open to the unconscious, and to the messages of her well-developed sixth sense. She is about romance rather than lust; she encourages others by her own actions to be ethical and virtuous and to focus on what we love, because she is able to resist indulging in effects that might harm herself or others. She has a reverence for all life, and she feels connected to Deity and to the universe. When reversed, she is a showoff or enabler of others or a drama queen, and can be downright dangerous and cruel, surrounded by scandal and corruption and vice.

The Llewellyn Welsh Queen of Cups tells of a woman with imagination and a romantic and compassionate air who encourages the dreams and talents of others. She is a loyal lover who believes in fair play, virtue, and generosity.

The Thoth Tarot Queen of Cups is a softly colored card of blues and greens that emphasizes within its image the idea of Water of Water, and reflection of reflection. In his book, “Understanding Crowley’s Thoth Tarot,” DuQuette describes the Queen of Cups as being popular and able to easily make friends because when others look at her, they see themselves.

The Legacy of the Divine Queen of Cups is comfortable with her own feelings and visions (whatever they are), and she is comfortable dealing with the feelings of others (whether serene or uncomfortable) without losing her own serenity. The image on this card shows a Queen adorned with pearls, associated with hidden knowledge and esoteric wisdom, accompanied by beautiful koi fish, flowing and undulating in the currents around her. She helps us to get in touch with the ebbs and flows of feelings and emotions, and visions and dreams.

The Queen of Cups is a true model of virtue, pure of heart, and a loyal friend who reminds us that “All you need is love, love, love is all you need.”

** 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/ .

***

About the Author:

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

 

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Tarot Talk

December, 2017

The Hanged (or Hanging) Man

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

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated. The term archetype often refers to one of two concepts: a “stereotype,” a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; stereotypes can be positive or negative, or an “epitome,” which is the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; epitomes can also be positive or negative.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

About the Author:

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

 

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Tarot Talk

October, 2017

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/ .

Tarot Talk

September, 2017

Ten of Cups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tarot Talk

July, 2017

The Page of Cups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tarot Talk

May, 2017

tarotfaith

(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/.

Tarot Talk

February, 2017

 

page of swords

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

 

Let’s cement what we learned last month when we talked about the King of Swords, by examining another Tarot “royal” of the suit of Swords, the Page of Swords. This will be the first time we talk about the Pages, so first a review of some basic information.

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

Court cards offer us these descriptions of personality traits and of different ways of being or acting, so we can make use of these styles or avoid them, whichever is appropriate. Of course, the trick is to know which message is being given in a particular spread! 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.

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

The lowest ranking Court Card is the Page, usually seen as the messenger or intern or apprentice (sometimes male and sometimes female, depending on the deck) who is still learning of life and living, but who is also good at dealing with the unexpected. Being the lowest in rank does not necessarily mean being the least important; something we should remember when thinking about our Page of Swords. 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 Page of Swords today, we already know that our Page will manifest her suit through an inquiring mind that enjoys challenges, learning, and experiencing new things. Our Page is not afraid of the fact that she is learning how to wield her intellect, and her willingness to learn will make her powerful some day.

The suit of Swords corresponds with the element of Air. The element of Air corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic. Air is considered as hot and wet, and it both separates or expands, and adapts to the energies around it. The Swords cards indicate our mental state, the beliefs we have, and actions we take in response to effects around us. A Sword has two edges, a perfect metaphor for this suit, which can represent attacking or defending, logic or aggression.

The element of Air also represents the intelligence that clears away the fog of ignorance and allows us to understand what we are dealing with. Air is the medium of our voices, and it supports communications and sounds of all kinds, not without danger for words and communications are double-edged swords that can heal or hurt. Air allows both expression (out from within us) and hearing (in from outside of us) to happen, and the job of our Page of Swords is to encourage us to learn and to find new ways to manifest our ideas.

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

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

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

All Pages represent the element of Earth, as well as the element corresponding to their suit; this means that our Page of Swords presents an Earthy version of Air. Earth and Air share no traits; Air is active, kinetic and has the power to create and destroy, and Earth is passive, conservative and stable; the two elements can weaken each other (and that can be positive or negative, depending on the situation and the other cards in the spread).

Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our Page of Swords corresponds with the season of Winter and the signs of Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Capricorn is stable, hard-working and practical, telling us our Page will diligently strive to attain her goal despite distractions or obstacles. Aquarius is an unconventional, progressive, idealistic and eccentric sign, telling us our Page will be able to look at the big picture despite her inexperience and will strive to attain the highest good for the group. Pisces is a sign of feelings of all kinds, strong intuition and a charming personality, telling us our Page cares about others more than herself (although Pisces deals with duality, too; something to remember).

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

The Page of Swords is a messenger and a student; she is alert and clever, daring and audacious. She likes mental challenges, puzzles, conspiracy theories, gossip and secrets, and she loves to be challenged. She can use her sharp wit as a weapon, and can be a bit too secretive at times. She can be an adrenaline addict, but she is very proficient when working with information, data, or communication.

Pages are often associated with the Ace of their suit; the Ace of Swords tells of the possibility to experience intellectual potential, the birth of ideas and concepts, and that feeling that occurs when lightning strikes and a new idea is formed. There is no guarantee the ideas will manifest in a good way, or manifest at all, but with a bit of luck, good things could happen. The same thing can be said of our Page of Swords; she strives to create these situations, or to bring you the message that these situations are important.

The Thoth Page of Swords is known as the Princess of Swords. She is seen as firm and aggressive, with practical wisdom and dexterity when handling complicated affairs. The Princess of Swords wears a medusa-headed helmet, and she indeed has the power to turn things to stone by calming the volatile or manifesting ideas.

The Page of Swords of the Shadowscapes Tarot embodies logic, honesty and truthfulness. Her mind is agile and analytical, and she readily assesses each situation and stretches her sense of Self in order to make room for new ideas.

The Llewellyn Welsh Page of Swords tells of secrets, hidden matters, plots and conspiracies, and the need for caution. Is there a reason to suspect foul play? Is a spy accessing private information? This Page can warn us of such things, or be the culprit who creates them.

The Legacy of the Divine Page of Swords is dressed in light blue and wears a hat adorned with white feathers and the alchemic symbol for the element of Air. This Page offers a pair of daggers, one silver and one gold, tools of honesty and logic, precision and discernment. Marchetti’s Gateway to the Divine Tarot companion book offers an interesting comparison between the Page of Swords and the Two of Swords. Both cards offer crossed Swords, and both cards can indicate balance and compromise, or duplicity and indecision.

Yes, these card descriptions are varied, but they all show that the Page of Swords is adaptable and light on her feet. She would make a great lawyer, an effective diplomat, and a formidable spy or secret agent. Her enjoyment of learning and stretching the limits means she would excel in risk-taking opportunities, such as sports and law enforcement as well as business and finance. The Page of Swords encourages us to connect with our own Inner Child, and to remember that while that relationship may be difficult or troubled at times, looking within without pre-judgment and with an enthusiastic acceptance of what we find, could be just the ticket!

**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/.

 

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